I wish I could have meaningful talks with my relatives long gone. My appreciation for history and the people who lived before me is growing greater by the year. I’m not talking about family trees. Those are just names. Shallow and vague. I want stories. Important life moments. Journals. Treasures.
While reading Francine Rivers’s series Marta’s Legacy, I felt like I had that opportunity.
Though the story wasn’t my own, it helped me imagine what the life of my great-grandmother might have been like as she made the journey from Norway to America in the early 1900’s. What was the boat like? How did it feel to leave her family? Was it hard to manage the new language?
In the book, when Marta’s daughter Hildie is about the age of six, it switches to her perspective, and I imagined I was listening to my own GG telling me about her past. Traveling cross country as her parents tried their hand at farming, unsuccessfully. The trials of World War I. Poverty and doubt.
Then, during the wild days of the 60’s, the book switches to the life of Carolynn, and I can hear stories my mom told me of free spirit living and of her years experimenting with… well, a lot, prior to finding Christ. Vietnam. The rise of television and new music. Struggling with faith.
To my delight, the story then went to Carolynn’s daughter, May Flower Dawn, my own counterpart in the book. Dawn grows up in a wealthy society without the harsh realities of the women before her. I grew up in a great Christian home surrounded by every advantage known to our generation.
Reading about the stark contrast between my life and the life of my great-grandmother was shocking. It made me want to get off the couch and start cleaning something. Work hard with my hands. Bake some bread or do something industrious. (Of course, my new-found ambition had to wait until after I finished the book… and I don’t bake…)
Even my daughter’s counterpart in the novel was “brought in” at the end, and I wonder what the future holds for my children. A world with technology at their fingertips, and I pray faith in their hearts. Will years keep advancing as quickly as they are? Or will something happen to change life as we know it? I pray that their trust in God can grow enough in their comfortable lives to prepare them for unknown days ahead.
One final thought:
This book reminded me to give GRACE, and give it abundantly. We don’t know people’s pasts. Their hurts. Their misunderstandings. Only God can know the heart of man.
Instead, we are called to love lavishly. Unashamedly forgive. Overcome evil with good.
What hurts am I holding onto? What pain in our family surrounds us? What misunderstandings threaten to cause bitterness? What do I need to release to God, and as I look at the brokenness around me, what can I do to make amends?
If there is a woman in your life, this would make an excellent Christmas present. And along with the book, include a certificate that allows her time to read and savor this gift guilt-free as the dishes sit in the sink and the children fend for themselves. It will be worth it.
This 2-book series was truly a treasure I can’t wait to share.