Thanks for the Memories

An old family friend writes a column titled "Scoops", in the Sheridan Headlight, my hometown newspaper. His column is comprised of well worded memories of his boyhood in the small town of Sheridan, Arkansas. Born in 1946, his childhood years were spent during the 50's; and what I find intoxicating about his stories, is that he grew up living next door to my dad (who was only a couple of years younger) and has occasionally mentioned "Si and Beulah" in his tales. Si and Beulah are my grandparents. Si, who I affectionately know as "Papaw", died in 1988 just before I graduated High School. "Mamaw" turned 84 last May, and if you haven't already, you can read the earlier blog about my relationship with her.

I love nostalgia...in fact, the photos you see dispersed in this blog entry are actual shots from my former home, where I have items from either my past, my mom or dad's past, or my grandparents' past .  So my love for significant things from my past... especially things that involve my family, is obvious.

(Some items in the first photo above: my high school band jacket on the right, cub scout uniform on the left, all 13 yearbooks, diplomas, and other high school paraphernalia, INCLUDING the set of metal lockers which actually came out of the very gym my father and I both used in our school years.  My dad went to high school in the same building I attended middle school and during his senior year in '66 and my 8th grade year in '84 we had the exact same locker - #742...cool, huh?  The old Sheridan Headlight newspapers are seen in the second photo, and in the last photo below are, some assorted items I've collected over time.)

But though I LOVE the past, I don't LIVE in the past. Spiritually speaking, I don't want to. In the fall of 1992, "to the praise of the glory of His grace" Ephesians 1, God saved me out of my past...my past and previous life of sinful, self centered living, and granted me new life in Christ. I only look back on my spiritual past now, to be reminded of God's mercy to me, a chief of sinners (
see very first blog entry). In fact, in a recent email to Bill Lancaster - the author of the much loved "Scoops" column, I wanted to thank him for the memories he have given me via his writings, and in doing so was reminded of what spiritual memories I must leave for my children. I've copied the actual email below, editing out only what 's irrelevant to us here. But first, let me give you just a glimpse of Bill's flair for memory making:

My youth was so special and we did spend about every day playing outside--myself, brother Bob, Melton and Gopher and others in the neighborhood. I wouldn't take anything for the experience. There were days when we would go up to Mr. Waddell's pasture and climb a pine tree and just sit there all day, like monkeys. A dip in the swimming hole at Hurricane Creek where the water was ice cold...and fishing in the local ponds and creeks with homemade gear. People today can't relate to it, but it was special. It was something just to get through the day and the dust from the gravel road, but we didn't know anything else. Your grandfather was one of the hardest working men who ever lived. He was always walking real fast...this is one thing I remember about him...when he would come home from the mill to eat, he would park his truck and walk very fast into the house so that he could eat and hurry back to work..They probably gave him 15 minutes for lunch. And he was a wonderful craftsman who could fashion anything out of wood. And he drank instant coffee...this amazed me about Si and Beaulah...that they had instant coffee and their Christmas tree had the bubble lights, which were later taken off the market as a fire hazard. So much to remember and as I get older, I reflect back on it more and more.
His friend "Melton" - well, that's my dad. The excerpt above was taken from an email he sent me in response to this initial email (below) I sent him, thanking him for his column. Here's what I wrote him:

Bill, I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading your "Scoops" column in the Headlight. I look for it each time I'm in Sheridan visiting my family or my in-laws, and often convince them to give me their paper so I can take it home with me. In fact, just this morning, I finally put my subscription request in the mail to have the Headlight delivered to our home in Little Rock - primarily (though not exclusively) so I can read your column.

Now, I must be honest, there are self-serving motives for my obsession with your column...and you've probably already guessed it! My love for your column is rooted in my love for my grandparents & the simple pleasure of reading their names as participants in your nostalgic tales. I know it's only a brief mention of "Si & Beulah" as you're describing playing under large oaks or "stealing" coleman lanterns for a fishing trip, but it's still a treat to be reminded of them in such fond ways.

I still have many articles and items decorating my home study &
my son's room, that were either built by Papaw or belonged to him, and of course, Dad still has all of his shop tools (along with every last scrap of useless junk that Papaw couldn't bear to throw away!). These priceless items, along with many memories, are dear to me.

I even have many fond memories of your family...your mother especially. I remember walking with her to the strawberry Patch (behind Nita's house, maybe?) and picking some fresh strawberries, then bringing them home to eat with a bowl of sugar. I remember sitting in her tiny house with your son, Eric playing "I Spy In My Eye..."...and the small organ you would first see upon entering the house (I just realized that Nita probably spent hours practicing on that very organ)...I rememeber the "Hi-C" orange drink she'd pour from a metal can for us to drink...swinging on
her porch swing (her's may be the first porch swing I ever experienced)...riding my bike up and down the dirt road that served as the driveway to Nita's home & Harold's...and others.

I don't know if my "good 'ole days" were as good as yours - certainly not as 'ole - :o) - but it's great remembering the past. And I truly appreciate your assistance - via the Scoops column - in remembering some of my past.

It reminds me of my God - given duty to not only leave, but to create such memories for my children - Aaron Job, Abby and Anna (and one more in May '06, Lord willing!). And though I certainly want to leave memories of strawberries and Hi-C and shady oaks and wood shops...I more so want to leave a godly legacy. I want my children to look back when they've grown and know that their mother and father loved the Lord Jesus Christ, sought to serve Him and His church with selfless sacrifice, and were striving everyday to "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4, not just on Sundays, but each and every day of our lives. I think this is the idea of Deuteronomy 6, when fathers are instructed to teach God's Word "diligently to your children, and... talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (Deut 6:7).

Throughout the book of Deuteronomy we're give the reason why we should teach our children - so we won't forget - or, stated positively, so we'll REMEMBER! (See 4:9, 23, 31; 6:12; 8:11, 14, 19). Just as God wanted Israel to remember how He delivered them out of bondage to Egypt, so too He wants us to teach our children that He is the Deliverer from sin. He wants us to teach our children - every day and in every way - that He has provided an escape - an "exodus" from our own inherently sinful & depraved hearts, through the person of His Son Jesus. That by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone can we be saved - saved from God's own righteous wrath against sin, by His own righteous & merciful love toward sinners (Romans 5:6-11).

Thank you, Bill, for your column. Thank you for helping me remember my past as you remember yours. Thank you for reminding me to be reminded to leave reminders for my children.

And, thank you Lord, for commanding us to leave reminders of eternal things... heavenly things... spiritual things... cross-centered things.

Ok, so the memories don't mean quite as much to you as they do me, but making memories - not forgetting - is what beleivers are to be about. It's been well said that we're only one generation away from a godless society. As much as it depends on me, it won't be my generation.

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