Today, my friend Rachelle Alspaugh is sharing about the legacy of prayer that was passed on to her from her grandfather. We met through an adoption group at church, and connected about her new book that is being released in April, continuing the story of her families adoption of their son. I love her ability to paint such a vivid picture with her words through poetry.
As I walked through the door of my grandparents’ house, waves of both joy and sadness hit me all at once. How long had it been since I last stepped foot into their home? Perhaps ten years already or possibly even more? One glance at my aging grandfather’s frail body filled me with such regret over not making more of an effort to visit.
During my childhood, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all lived in other states. I was lucky if I saw my grandparents once a year. Then after I got married and had to split any time off between my family, my husband’s family, and numerous travels that led us to an international adoption, visits with my extended family became nearly non-existent.
I was so thankful my mom suggested a quick visit for my grandfather’s 90th birthday on the way home from our first family vacation with our newly adopted teenage son. It meant so much to me to show off my grandparents’ home to both my boys, and I cherished the opportunity to introduce my adopted son to his new great-grandparents.
Less than nine months later, my grandfather took his last breath on earth and his first breath in heaven. As I sat through his funeral, I couldn’t have been more grateful or proud to be one of his granddaughters. While each speaker talked about his life, I finally began to grasp the reality of the legacy he left us.
My grandfather, Jack Greener, lived his life with purpose, following God’s directions rather than his own goals or pleasures. He lived every stage of his life in constant service for others. He fought in World War II and earned several medals. As an adult, he began his mornings in prayer, grounding his faith in the Word of God. He always found opportunities to share Christ’s love and invite others to go to church with his family.
When he lost his wife at a fairly young age, after raising his first three children, he followed God’s leading to marry another woman also passionate about her relationship with Christ. She was a recent widow herself with a young adult daughter and teenage boys who’d just lost their dad. My grandfather embraced them as his own children and guided them toward maturity in Christ as they entered adulthood.
Later in his life, after he retired from many years as an engineer, he served overseas as a missionary, both long-term and short-term, for as long as his health could tolerate the travels. When he could no longer travel, he still gave both generously and sacrificially toward missions and supported them often in prayer.
His examples inspired everyone around him, but the way he modeled a life of prayer had the deepest impact on me and affects me still today. I guess that’s what makes it a legacy, the fact that he passed it on.
I don’t recall many specific details, but I remember hearing he had a health scare once while I was a child. In order to regain his strength, he started walking four miles every day. During those walks, he spent a considerable amount of time praying for all of his family by name–for each of his children, step-children, grandchildren, and eventually his great-grandchildren.
What a comfort to go through life knowing you’re prayed for on a daily basis. When hardships came, I knew at least one person had prayed for me, likely before I’d even gotten out of bed. That’s not to say I didn’t have other family members who prayed for me often (and even on a daily basis), but my grandfather made no secret about his constant prayer for his family. Though I didn’t see him often in my life, his daily prayers molded me into the person I am today.
Before I left my grandparents’ house during that last visit, my grandfather didn’t hesitate to tell me, “You know that I pray for you every day, early every morning.” Ninety years old, suffering from a broken back that couldn’t be repaired, dealing with intense pain on a daily basis, yet he still started out his days praying for all of us.
I, too, am an early riser, and I believe his example inspired me to begin my mornings the same as he had always done. This poem that I wrote for my own family is evidence that my grandfather’s legacy lives on in me each and every morning. It is a legacy I pray will continue for many generations to come.
The lamp light
Tucked in the corner by the fireplace
Sit a small lamp and a chair,
A few books and pens and notecards,
A worn and tattered book of prayers.
Before the sun comes up each morning,
I turn the lamp light on.
I sit to talk with God
About how my days have gone.
I fess up all my failures,
And add to my journal of praise.
We adjust my grumpy attitude
And address my selfish ways.
I read a portion of Scripture,
Ponder over a devotional page,
I reflect over how it affects me
So differently each year I age.
Once my heart is in tune with the Spirit,
I open that tattered book by the chair.
I anoint my family with Scripture,
And surrender them all in prayer.
Though I often fall short as a wife,
A mom, a daughter or a friend,
Know I give you the gift
That matters most in the end.
Every morning when you wake up,
And you see the lamp light on,
It means you have been prayed for
Even before your day has begun.
By Rachelle D. Alspaugh
Follow me at www.fromtheheartofrachelled.blogspot.com
Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for my books (our family memoir about our adoption journey) at www.abhbooks.com (Surviving the Valley series, Unexpected Tears—Book 1, Painful Waiting—Book 2)