Monday, January 10, 2011

I Don't Take This for Granted {Updated}

* Updated* 

As it turns out, I didn't do a very good job of guessing who had written what notes, particularly in relation to Bibles #10 and #11.  Thankfully, my mother sat down with me this evening after supper and set me straight about the real author, so I have now gone back through this post and rewritten some parts to make the necessary corrections.  The part that really touched me is that my granddad had written most of the notes, whereas I had assumed that it was my grandma.  By the time I was old enough to be thinking deeply about spiritual matters, my granddad had already progressed fairly far in his Alzheimer's Disease; so, even though I have numerous pleasant memories of him, I don't remember many significant spiritual conversations with him.  To have this glimpse into his thoughts regarding God, the Bible, and his family makes these pictures even more special to me.

* Original post*

This is the kind of post which will likely make my mother cry.

This is the kind of post which will likely be rather boring to most other readers.

This is the kind of post which I will likely look back upon in years to come and be extremely thankful for!

Before Jeff's mother came for her month-long stay last fall, Jeff and I worked extensively in our library, which also functions as our guest room, to get rid of a lot of stuff and organize the remaining items to make it a pleasant, welcoming, functional room for her.  We accomplished a lot, but there is still much more to do in that room.  However, we were able to meet our goal of getting rid of enough stuff to eliminate some bookshelves that stuck out into the middle of the room.  With them gone, the room seemed adequately spacious and neat, though not fancy in the least.

Most of the time, Jeff and I are terrible at getting rid of books.  I scan the shelves and find plenty of books we could get rid of, but it just so happens that they all belong to him and he wants to keep them.  He looks around and sees numerous books we no longer need, but they are mine and I can't imagine life without them.  We make quite a pair.  :)

We're getting better at it though; and even when it's a sacrifice, we're learning to take the plunge and say, "OK, we can give that away.  Let someone else be blessed by it."

Like with these Bibles...

Oh my goodness gracious me!  We have shelves full of Bibles; and since both Jeff and I are passionate about the Word of God, we view these books as precious treasures.  Nevertheless, it was time to thin the ranks and pass along a few that could be used and loved by someone else.

Here are some of the Bibles we got rid of (and let it be known that the act of taking pictures of them and writing about them eased some of the pain of separation!) ...  :)

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Bible #1 - the Bible my parents gave me when I was 10 years old

While memorizing the Sermon on the Mount for school one year, I (over)zealously used my highlighter, which has faded to a dull yellow.
Having these tabs along the edge surely made it easier to find each book.  The only disadvantage was that it disqualified me from using my own Bible for Mrs. Fawley's Sword Drills.  (Not familiar with Sword Drills?  It's simply a competition to see who can find a verse first when the teacher calls out a reference.  Mrs. Fawley would say, "Romans 8:28!" for example, and the class would scramble to see who could find it first.  Lots and lots of fun, and a great learning tool as well!)

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Bible #2 - the Bible I got when I was 13 years old; among other places, I carried this with me to Mexico during a missions trip when I was 14
After growing up with the good ol' KJV, reading the text of the Good News Bible was quite a switch--a change I enjoyed!

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Bible #3 - the NIV Study Bible my parents gave me on my 17th birthday

I was still using this one a few years later, as evidenced by the note I wrote beside Psalm 45:10-11:  "received 22 July 96 during Jeff's first visit."  :)

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Bible #4 - the Bible I remember Mother using when we were children
Much harder than getting rid of my own Bibles was saying farewell to the ones belonging to my parents and other relatives.  So I took the easy way out:  I photographed them to blog about, then sent them home with my parents so that they could figure out what to do with them!  :)
I didn't know, until I saw the above inscription, that Mother was nine years old when she was baptized.
The illustrations in this Bible were woven into the fabric of my mind as a child; and perhaps they, in part, inflamed my imagination enough to make me determined to someday visit Israel.
This Bible had occasional notes in the margins, written in my mother's neat writing.

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Bible #5 - another Bible I remember my mother using; unfortunately the cover sustained some damage over time
She had passed this one along to me, and I enjoyed using it because of the memories of her using it.  I wonder who gave me these flower petals pressed into it?  ;-)
I can see clearly, in my mind, her sitting with her Bible and a small ruler, carefully underlining verses that particularly stood out to her.  It must be the firstborn in her that compelled her to be so neat.  :)

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Bible #6 - this one belonged to my paternal grandmother, given to her in 1923
I'm so glad for this inscription inside it that tells the history of it.

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Bible #7 - this Bible, the edges now crumbling, once belonged to my paternal grandfather
Granddad apparently used this in college and after.  To think of him as a young man, carrying this Bible around, turning its pages, studying its words - wow, what a treasure!
I had never heard of a Precious Promise Bible.  Until I saw this one, that is.  :)

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Bible #8 - this Bible with an olivewood cover was intriguing; who in my family would have something like that?
My maternal grandfather apparently, who received it from his uncle.

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Bible #9 - this Bible came in a box

I soon discovered why:  it was falling apart!  That's a badge of honor for a Bible, however.  No shame there!
I found an interesting piece about the Church of the Brethren ( my grandparents on both sides were members of this denomination).
But I still didn't know to whom the Bible belonged until I saw this inscription:
I never knew my great-grandfather, but I'm thrilled that he gave this Bible to his daughter, my maternal grandmother.  
This article, "The Bible as Literature," had been tucked into this Bible, and was interesting to read.

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Bible #10 - this Bible had a plain cover
I discovered gems within!  Notes my granddad had written...
...about a wide range of topics...
...even "The warfare of Spirit filled believers..."
 ...and "Speaking in tongues."  I didn't know Granddad thought much about those topics!  :)
A list of his grandchildren (and this was especially touching:  Premature baby boy Coy and Premature baby girl Coy were also listed)...
A record of births of his immediate family, including two sons-in-law...
A record of marriages, including my uncle who got married in Peru...

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Bible #11 - another Bible with cover falling apart
Granddad's name, in very faint letters, on the front.
The treasure inside this one was all the notes--most written by Granddad, but this one was by Grandma: "The Lord's service a Daily one"...
 I was very interested to see that Granddad wrote a polite note expressing dissatisfaction with the prescribed lessons for Sunday school.  In his words, "There is a very great lack of scripture in these quarterlies.  If we take the Scripture out of our Sunday School lessons it is like taking the wheat out and leaving the chaff."  History repeats itself, they say; and I can hear my husband's voice saying the exact same thing about a year and a half ago!
Here's a study he did on "What the Holy Spirit Does for Us"...
 ...one on "Sin"...
 ..."Conversion"...
...and a scrap of paper that simply said, "A PLACE OF PRAYER" and "ABRAHAM BUILT AN ALTER (sic) UNTO GOD."
 Then I found a piece of paper that had "Deuteronomy 6:4-7" at the top, followed by what looked like an announcement (or plea, rather) for more involvement in the Sunday school program, beneficial for both the training of children and adults.  Words and sentences were crossed out and rewritten, arrows pointed here and there, phrases were inserted at various places.  Did my granddad work and rework this to get the wording just right?  Did he stand up and give this announcement?  No matter.  What really caught my attention and stirred my heart was the last line:  "Come and join us in this service for our master and let us prepare for that home above."

A few days ago, we marked 12 years since my grandmother's passing from this life to the next.  How poignant to be reading her words and those of my granddad and touching their Bibles and getting insight into their spiritual heartbeat, even as I remembered her death.  Without a doubt, she--and my other family members whose Bibles I held in my hands--did indeed "prepare for that home above."  May I faithfully do likewise.

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And so, back to the title of this post:  I Don't Take This for Granted.  What don't I take for granted?

First of all, the abundance of Bibles we possess, marking our comparative economic prosperity and the ready availability of Bibles here in this country, as well as the amazing freedom we have to own and read and live out the words of the Bible.  When I think of what people throughout history have done--and what people in other countries do even now--just to have one Bible, I feel like the most spoiled little girl imaginable.  But if it helps, I know I'm blessed, I appreciate it, and I don't take it for granted.

Second, the legacy of faith that has been passed down to me on both my mother and my father's side is unique in today's world and exceedingly valuable.  I had nothing to do with it, of course; but how grateful I am that my parents and my grandparents (and going back further than that, although I don't know the specifics) were people of deep faith, who not only owned Bibles, but read them, studied them, pored over their contents, and lived lives guided by them.

I didn't realize this until I started preparing this post, but I had Bibles from all four grandparents, as well as my mother.  (My dad, to be sure, has always read and lived by the Bible, too; I guess he just hasn't given me any of them!)  It's not just the Bibles that are precious to me, of course; it's also the times I remember hearing my grandparents read aloud those words and pray from their hearts to the God who wrote those words.  How blessed am I!

I discovered one other gem as I looked through these Bibles:  a small booklet from the little country church my maternal grandparents always attended.
 Inside was a list of members, and there in the "W" section, I saw the names of my grandparents, their two children living at home (my mother was already married by this time), as well as brothers, a sister, and other members of the Winters family.  This is a picture of legacy.
This is a picture of treasure.

And I am determined to never take this for granted.

11 comments:

Morning said...

I also feel the weight of too much clutter, but find it difficult to give up memories. Isn't blogging a wonderful way to record precious items without giving in to an over-abundance of stuff?
And by the way, I loved your comment on my blog. Imagine being the subject of dinner-table conversation so far away! The flooding is quite far north of us -- it is moving down into New South Wales, but still a distance from us, although we're in the middle of a very rainy period. I'm managing fine with Geoff away so far, although I'm sure I'll miss him terribly by the end, but he sends lovely newsy emails and is so obviously having a wonderful time that I can't begrudge him the experience. I must mention, too, that my SIL, Margaret, and I both follow your blog, and often comment on what your boys and your family is up to! And we've both taken a look at Jeff's hair salon online!

Homeschool on the Croft said...

Davene, that post was, in itself, a treasure. I can assure you that your mum isn't the only one to be tearing up! What unspeakable blessings these bibles held; your heritage held; the history, the names.....everything about that post just make me gasp again and again. I'm off to show it to my kids. It's simply wonderful, and I can really understand how hard it would be giving any of these treasures up.
Actually - may I link to this post on my blog? Really - it's so precious, so moving....
Thank you so much for posting...x

Davene said...

Anne - you are so kind! I would be honored if you linked to this. I'm grateful that you found it to be uplifting!

Morning - I'm so glad you're not affected by the flooding...and that things are going well with Geoff's trip and your staying-at-home time...and that our paths crossed here in cyberspace! Does Margaret have a blog? I'm continually touched by your kindness; thank you!

Mike and Katie said...

Oh, those would be so hard to give away. My grandpa saved so many things: card from his kids, their report carts, records of sale, so many photos. It was fascinating to look through after he passed but we couldn't bear to throw away what was special to him. On the other hand, I'm trying to not save so much stuff because I don't want kids to feel like they have to hold onto so mch stuff. Granted looking through his things was part of the grieving process but I'm sure there will be plenty of stuff for that. ;) Last year, I finally threw out all of the cards I had saved from my graduation, our wedding, Tyler's birth, Tyler's first birthday, Tony's birth, etc. Good memories but it was time to move along.

Sarah-Anne said...

wow! i mean, i'd like to say something so profound and such, but words are escaping me. so much history...
Sarah-Anne

mary bailey said...

I enjoyed this post, Davene. What a treasure-trove of Bibles your family has. I have only had three Bibles of my own: a beloved illustrated Children's NIV that I got when I was 9yo. It had fallen apart several years before my parents gave me another: a leather bound Women's Devotional NIV when I was 21yo. That's the one I still use today. Though it has a lot of wear and tear, it is super sturdy. My newest I got just last year on my birthday, a small portable NIV to carry in my purse--the old one was like hauling around a brick!

How fortunate that you have Bibles from all of your grandparents. I've been trying to find out what happened to (as in which relative got it) my maternal grandparents' Bible, which was The Living Bible.

Lovely post! Thank you for sharing with us. I would love to see another post on the other books you have in your library!

Valerie said...

Loved this post. I have one old family Bible from my Maternal Grandparents, it's a Catholic Bible. I hold onto it because I feel like it's special but I don't ever open it, we're not Catholic! :)

Patrice said...

What a wonderful post! I'm visiting from Homeschool on the croft. I'm so glad Anne linked to you.
Blessings!

Sally said...

This is so special! I don't know how in the world you parted with those Bibles. I'm with you on feeling the space crunch. I think you manage your space and your earthly possessions very well.

What stood out so loud and clear to me was the deep, genuine faith in Christ that your family has held fast to, and still is. Looking back over my own lineage (and my husband's) fills my heart with fear when I see so many who have wandered from the faith. Will our children seek the Lord with all their hearts, or will they cave to the lure of the world? I know that the family of God is made of faith, not blood, but I want my children there in that spiritual family SO BADLY! It scares me to action! Anyway, it is encouraging to see the cycle of parents and children keeping the faith. May God be merciful to our children that they will hearken to his voice and follow the God of their parents.

Thanks for this wonderful post.

Pam said...

Wow Davene, what a wonderful, wonderful legacy. It stirs up my heart. How wonderful that you have become the keeper of such treasures. It really makes me think and realize what we leave behind for our own children in our well-used, and well marked up Bibles.
Thanks for the wonderful post.
Much Love, Pam

bekahcubed said...

I echo the thoughts of others when I say what a blessing it is to have such a heritage of faith! And I know that by God's grace, you are modeling faith to the next generation--to your boys.