Today is the 150th birthday of the state of Kansas. Being a 5th generation Kansan, I am proud of my Jayhawker heritage. Stories have flown about me since I was old enough to recall them. From poor English immigrants that traveled to southern Kansas with dreams of cheap land and a new life to the single mom, whose life consisted of providing for her daughter. Her only help was ownership of a hotel as the railroad came through Protection, KS. I could go on and on with the interesting tales of my family’s rich heritage.
My great granddad, whom I remember quite well, was the first white baby born in Kiowa County. Herbert Prairie Parkin made his first appearance in a sod house in the side of a hill. Perplexed at what to name him, his middle name surfaced as ‘Prairie’ as that was all that was there. Prairie chickens, prairie rattlesnakes, prairie antelope…..well, you get the idea. From humble beginnings he turned sick abandoned calves from the Dodge City bound cattle drives into a very prosperous life. Great stories like the one of young Herb milking Jesse James’s cow while Jesse was on lam have been left in diaries, pictures, and all sort of artifacts pertaining to my ancestor’s life. If you have Parkin blood, you know his story.
A few years ago something began to haunt me. The Greensburg Tornado came and wiped out almost an entire town and many houses in its path. It spared Great Granddad’s by a mere mile. It took with it was not one, but two churches in town that Great Granddad willed small fortunes to when he died many years prior. The legacy that outlived his life in those two buildings was ‘gone with the wind’ in minutes. Now, we will not know this side of heaven the rewards credited to him from his investment in the people those ministries touched and still touch today, but the less important buildings are no longer.
Since my curious brain can not shut off, a question started to form: What had happened in his life that made it so important that he left money to 2 churches and not just one? Anyone during that time period could play the socially acceptable ‘church-goer’ game. In fact it was expected of them, but this two church loyalty hinted there was more to God and Herb’s story.
What was it? I don’t know and sadly, anyone who would know is gone or just doesn’t know. I can only imagine and speculate, but not know for sure.
Before long the wheels started churning about my other ancestors. Granny Dovey was next. I know it had to be unbelievably hard to run a hotel on the open plains with a small child to be responsible for on your own. On top of that, she led a very colorful life when the hotel days ended for her. How did God extend his hand to her to make it so important that she provided every one of her offspring (in-laws included) with not only an Old Time Gospel Hour Edition of the Bible, but a Strong’s Concordance and a Bible dictionary? The Word of God had to have been incredibly valuable to her, but why? Sadly, no one knows and it drives me crazy.
So the questions continue to plague me with all the other family members-past and present. How valuable those testimonies are! Thank God I pinned my mom down before her world became a cloud. Many of my assumptions had been wrong and her story was much richer than I had dreamed.
With my questioning has come a challenge and a passion. I can’t retrieve those precious treasures, but I can make sure my kids know my story. While it’s interesting that I was Miss Congeniality in the Kansas High School Rodeo Queen Contest in 1980 and have the unique claim to fame of running a cat through the dishwasher, what is really going to matter are those stories of grace, faithfulness, and provision. The list of God’s mercies never end. I can not keep what He has done in my life and the grace He has extended to me hidden. I don’t want anyone to wonder. I want them to be able to grab on to any encouragement and awe God would give them in the stories. After all He is the star in them!
So I write and write and write to glorify God and invest in my family. Until my heart stops beating, this testament will continue to be added to. If I wasn’t possessed with the writing thing, I am sure God would show me another avenue. He is creative like that.
Usually my blog leaves you with a giggle but today I leave you with this Scripture that continues to challenge me “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.” Psalm 102:18
Is your lineage ( biological or relational) worth the investment of you sharing your legacy? Just asking…….