Home > Family, Spotlight > spotlight: a story worth reading, recording

spotlight: a story worth reading, recording

Hereditary planets came into alignment this Christmas.

Beth’s dad has been doing some serious research into the Kirby family tree.  Over the past few months he has managed to trace the family back 7 generations, digging up old photographs, family stories, and relatives he did not know they had.

It was really cool to sit with him as Beth and I flipped through photographs and he explained who these curious old characters, frozen in yellowed black and white, were in relation to Beth.

After some ancestry 101 with Papa K, we had the opportunity to spend some time with Beth’s grandfather and hear him tell stories about his childhood, service during World War II, courtship of the lovely Julianna, and the three children they had together (well, not “together” in the full sense of the word … Grandpap managed to miss the birth of each and every one of his babies).

One of the classic Rayburn road trip traditions was to get on the highway, push record on a handheld cassette recorder, and document stories from the past, events of the present, and hopes for the future.

These cassette tapes of Rayburn family history, combined with Papa K’s research on the Kirby family (originally Lakerby), really resonated with me.

There is a tremendous value in knowing who you are through knowing whose you are and who your family is.

One of the gifts I received this Christmas is this awesome little digital video camera called a Flip Mino.  Over the break I started using the little camera to record some of Beth and my favorite stories, as well as take some videos of Grandpap telling his own stories.

Sometime in the future I will try to sell you on the Flip Mino – its really handy, easy to use, YouTube friendly, and inexpensive – and you will probably have the opportunity to view some of these clips.  For now, however, I share this with you because it explains why I enjoyed the following story when I read it on my buddy Brandon Roger’s Irruption blog:

christmas 08-136

This is Bethan’s grandmother, Peggy Jones — we call her Gu (pronounced like the “gee” of “geek”; it’s Welsh for grandmother).

She has been visiting Bethan’s family in the states for a little while now, so we were able to spend some time with her over the Christmas break. She has an uncanny ability for storytelling (perhaps it’s the British accent), and has plenty of tales to choose from in her own life. At times, we have discussed the Welsh revival, her decades of sitting under Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster chapel, her life as a World War II nurse, etc. The list could go on. But I have one that’s my favorite:

In 1942, Peggy was married to her husband, David. He was 20, she was 21. They were married only two weeks before he was shipped off to war. He went to North Africa, she stayed home to nurse wounded soldiers back to health in London. She said she and her fellow nurses would drive down to South Hampton and wait for ships to come in with the wounded, and then cart them all back to London. I can’t imagine working on those who were wounded, while knowing your spouse is in a position to become the same.

Three months after David was shipped off, she became a Christian. An evangelist had been preaching nightly in a small, tin chapel for a couple weeks. She decided to attend a service, and through the preaching of the Word realized she did not know Jesus. She made her faith public that night and came away with new-found joy in her Savior. She told me that she began writing letters to David, telling him about Jesus and her conversion, trying to explain what it was all about. He wrote back that he did not quite get it all, “Until I see the light, I’ll just have to carry on.”

Later, David would return from the war, and they lived life together for 62 years, Peggy praying for him every day for those years that he might trust in Jesus. He would attend church at times, even meeting privately with Lloyd-Jones a few times to discuss the Lord. He even went with Peggy to a Billy Graham crusade in London, afterward asking his wife, “Why can’t I just believe? Why don’t I have what you have?” But he did not believe.

In his later years, David became ill and near his life’s end was in an intensive care unit in a London hospital. One night, Peggy was told by her daughters that she needed to come into the room where David was. He was beaming.

David: “Jesus came to see me.”
Peggy: “What?”
David: “Yes.” (pointing at the end of his hospital bed)
Peggy: “What did he say?”
David: “He said, ‘I died on the cross for your sins, and I love you.’ And I said, “I know and I love you too, Lord Jesus.”

And they all wept together for joy that David had finally “seen the light” and believed in Jesus. For his final two weeks on this earth, they were able to sing hymns together and rejoice in the Savior. Even the nurses acknowledged that something had profoundly changed his demeanor.

62 years of praying for her husband. 62 years of hoping tirelessly. The Lord is gracious to grant such a gift.

My first instinct is to say that a story like this is unforgettable, and maybe it is.  Maybe Brandon and his wife Bethan will treasure this story in their hearts, encouraged and spurred on to a long life of faithful prayerfulness because of Gu’s 62 years of prayer.

But will the story be unforgettable for their children? Their children’s children?  No, not unless it is written down, recorded, filmed, or otherwise engraved in stone for future progeny.

I have seen the pictures of Beth’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather (I know he had a wicked awesome beard), but I don’t know anything about his story – and I wish I did.

What do you want the future generations to know about you? About the God who has saved you and providentially shaped your entire life?  Why don’t you figure out a way to tell them?

Thanks for writing down Peggy’s story for us Brandon. You’re a good man for it.

Link: Laboring in Prayer for 62 Years: Peggy’s Story

. . . . . . .

What are the family stories that have most shaped and influenced you?  The stories that bring your family closer together as you share a laugh/sober moment/wistful thought around the dinner table?

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