My dad and his brothers grew up playing “Cowboys” as many little boys do, but it wasn’t so far fetched in their California hometown that one or all of them could grow up to actually be a cowboy. My youngest uncle did grow up to be a cowboy. He and most of his children, in fact, are active in rodeo competitions. And, they have run the family ranch since my dad and his other brother sold their shares to them. When I was eleven years old, my dad took our family to the ranch for our only family reunion before he went to Heaven eight years later. As it turns out, I took my own little family to visit the house that my uncle built on that property one last time before it was sold.
My dad and his brothers grew up playing “Cowboys” like many little boys do, but it wasn’t so far fetched in their California hometown that one or all of them could grow up to actually be a cowboy. My youngest uncle did grow up to be a cowboy. He and most of his children, in fact, are active in rodeo competitions. And, they have run the family ranch since my dad and his other brother sold their shares to them. When I was eleven years old, my dad took our family to the ranch for our only family reunion before he went to Heaven eight years later. As it turns out, I took my own little family to visit the house that my uncle built on that property one last time before it was sold.
In his ten gallon hat (I guess…I actually don’t know how many gallons each cowboy hat are, but that sounds about right, doesn’t it?), my uncle toted us and his youngest daughter around in his big white Chevy truck, for what he called, “The walkabout.” We went down to the barn where my Great Great Grandpa once had his homestead, staking claim for our family on that piece of land. All that remains from Grandpa Manuel’s home are the barn he had for his animals and the massive palm trees he planted after he came over from Portugal. That’s where my baby boy met his first horse.
We drove down the road a little ways and my uncle mentioned that my Grandpa Glen, who died when my dad, he, and their other brother were small children, had always planned to build a house in that valley. When he was a little boy, Grandpa Glen went with his dad and planted an orchard. That’s what they did back then, my uncle told me. Whenever they set up a homestead, they planted an orchard with fruits to help bring nourishment to their families. It was just starting to rain when I rolled down my window to catch a better glimpse of Grandpa Glen’s orchard, with trees standing tall, outliving the man my dad called, “Dad.”
And after that, we had a family reunion…in the cemetery with many ancestors who have left this world. If tombs could talk. They sort of did with this person laid to rest on this side because of the falling out they had with that person and that person who was a hard-working man who taught others all they knew and so on and so forth.
We pulled back into the driveway and said our goodbyes. It was a whirlwind visit, lasting less than 24 hours. We went in to say our goodbyes to the rest of the family with whom we had savored our short time together. Standing on the porch, underneath a massive oak tree, I hugged my aunt’s neck and looked down by my feet. I noticed a large seed-like thing. I had never seen anything like it. I picked it up and showed it to her. Deducing, I asked, “Is this an acorn?!” She replied yes and casually obliged my request to take it as a momento.
I was the last extended family member to get back to that part of the ranch before it was transferred to a new family. But what I took with me was more valuable than the million dollar view that engulfed that beautiful house.
I took the Holy Spirit’s whisper to my heart home with that acorn.
What fruits am I planting, not just for myself, but that will last beyond my lifetime?
Am I being intentional to plant my roots so deeply that what’s left behind will offer fruits and seeds for those who see what’s left of my time on earth?
Interestingly, it’s been a year full of saying goodbye to special family homes. On the east coast, we just said goodbye to my grandparents’ home. That spacious family lodge nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains will always be woven in the fabric of my story, not just because of the unique design and character it held, but because of the seeds that my maternal grandparents planted to be sure that their children, their children’s children, and future generations to come would have fruit to taste and take their own seeds from of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Much smaller acorns have always sprinkled their driveway. Before that house went to new ownership, I had my mom collect North Carolina acorns for me, too.
Ironically, here we are moving again. We’ve had growing pains and birthing blessings in our Virginia home. We’ve planted important seeds to grow good fruits in this neighborhood.
As we move down the street, we will take not only our moving truck and carloads full of stuff, but hearts full of seeds to keep planting for those who come behind us.
And as I move through life, I’ll take those acorns from my family homesteads, and I’ll ask the Lord to help me plant His seeds of truth, love, grace, and hope so that my family and my world will have lasting fruit to feed their hearts because God let my feet be planted exactly where He did for such a time as this.
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What fruit bearing plantings do you want to leave behind to nourish the souls of others long after you are gone?
“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3
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