Seeing the Past, Cherishing the Present

I wanted to put words around the slide show I posted before, but simply ran out of time.   The military park was amazing, with such descriptive images of the battle sites until you couldn’t help but leave with an appreciation for what each side in the battle had to endure—the heat, the mosquitoes, the continual tests to their physical bodies.    The kids were intrigued by how surprisingly hilly this area was, and I think it brought to light how difficult pulling cannons, riding horses, and even fighting within hundreds of yards of each other must have been.

 

During the trip, we also took in Natchez, Mississippi, allegedly the wealthiest antebellum city in the country, with more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States.    Some of the tours through the more famous Stanton Hall and the House on Ellicott Hill were a bit pricey for a family of five ($40+ for the tour) , but we found a true treasure in the Natchez Historic Park.    This was Melrose, a 16,000-square-foot estate built in the 1840’s.  To put the wealth of the owners in perspective, this man made $30,000/year from a law practice when most people brought home an annual $200-$300.    Now a national historic site, the home had a perfect picnic area under the beautiful magnolias.   Next time, we’ll come better prepared—a couple of hours on the property, and I was starved!

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The park ranger explained that the 1st floor of the home was far more ornate than the 2nd and 3rd in order for guests of the family to be impressed.    Here are shots of the sitting rooms, complete with gold window treatments and the original wallpaper with gold flakes.     The library was especially inviting for us; the oldest and I almost instinctively rushed to compare the family’s bookshelf content to our own.    We should have just attached a sign on our foreheads that said HOMESCHOOLERS HERE.

 

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This is a courting chair that kept a safe distance between any gentlemen callers and the girls of the family.   I’m thinking to buy one of these for our home! (smile)

 

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Above this dining room table is what I think of as the original ceiling fan.   It is called a ponka (sp?), I believe, and has a rope attached to it.   A slave about the age of our son would gently pull and loosen the rope while the family ate, creating a pleasant mealtime breeze.

 

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The items below are also interesting.   I learned that the 1st child of this family died at about 16 months old.   It was a custom of sorts to paint a “death portrait” of anyone who passed, and so this little precious one was captured in oil on canvas.    The other device is a carriage to transport another of the children, who was unable to walk on his own.   Again, a young slave might have the job of pulling the handle and the child around during the day.

 

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These are shots of the upstairs, which is, again, more simply stated, yet equally elegant.   The actual daybed below the full-sized bed was available in case someone wanted a nap during the day–you never crawled back into the bed that is used for overnight rest.   Others in our group noticed that the bed was a full-sized bed, but appeared shorter than modern-day beds.   Did you know that the average height of a man in that day was around 5’8”, and an average woman was 5’2”?   I wonder, what happened?

 

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Outside the rear of the house were separate facilities for the kitchen and the laundry room.   Each of these “homes” had one facility below, and on the 2nd floor lived a house slave who was responsible for what was on the first floor.   The third picture shows the home of the field slaves, much smaller and much farther away from the rest of the facilities.   For the purposes of the tour, these homes were glamorized to look like 3-room cottages, a very different depiction than I’ve found in most of my reading.

 

Laundry room (downstairs) & home of the house slave (upstairs)

 

Kitchen (downstairs)/ home of house slaves (upstairs)

 

Field slave homes

 

It was a wonderful trip, but perhaps equally moving was the opportunity to pray with my dear sister in Christ, bubbebobbie.  She and I have had an exchange about our choices for a Presidential candidate over the last several months, and though we disagreed on our ultimate choice, we agreed that prayer and repentance was what this country needed most.   So we decided to pray, except that I was on the road, so finding the time to connect was near impossible.    We wound up interceding over the phone in the midst of our family transferring to another hotel that was roach-free–YIKES!  Suffice it to say that the devil was busy, but oh, what a time, what a time.   I could not articulate how good it felt to pray with someone whose heart so sought the Lord.   Finding Christians in this time who truly take God at His word and don’t sound like the unsaved is a rarity, and I don’t take lightly the time we spent together.    I was so taken by her diligence in praying for each of the candidates and their families, her obvious attention to each person’s special needs, and her passion for this country to return to Christ, our real leader.   My life will never be the same.   

 

So, I couldn’t help but reflect on last week as I watched Barack Obama make his acceptance speech on last night.   We allowed the kids to stay awake and watch history in the making.   I thought so much about my dad, who would have been surprised and proud to see a ‘colored boy’ (the term he used often, and no doubt, had been called a time or two, being born in the early 1900’s) become President-elect of the United States.   It was a great day to be alive, and a lot to smile about.   I thought McCain’s concession speech was eloquent, and I could only add that whomever God uses and how He uses them, our task as Christians is not to judge or “freak out,” but to pray and trust.

 

Today, with my heart still full of joy, the kids and I studied the battle at Gettysburg and worked on their learning of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.    As I read the words of then President Abraham Lincoln, it all came together as I thought about the slaves at Melrose, my dad, and the fight that led to this historic time:

 

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated [this land], far above our poor power to add or detract…It is for the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.   It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…

 

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7 thoughts on “Seeing the Past, Cherishing the Present

  1. What wonderful photos of the field trip! Now, I feel like I've been there myself. 🙂

    Rachel and I stayed up last night watching and listening to history in the making. It was quite an experience. One that many will never understand.

    Today though, I'm quite sad. The hatred and taunting Rachel received at school today was very disappointing. Lots of racism alive and well today. It's seen so clearly in the children – even at Sarah's age. It saddens me what the parents are teaching in these homes. I just want to take my family, move far away and live in peace all by ourselves…in the country. So much hatred and anger… and all in the name of "Christianity". Better yet, it makes me long for heaven all the more. This experience has been an awakening for me. It's been a sad realization of how "worlds apart" we still are – especially in the south. 🙁Edited by karen0317 on Nov. 5, 2008 at 11:01 PM

  2. YES WE CAN! YES WE DID! I am very excited to be living in this time and place. What a wonderful field trip and a timely reminder of how close the past is. Our nation has come along way.
    Blessings,
    Dawn

  3. Sorry about last night's comment. Lots of prayer last night. It's a new day. What a healing God we serve. Kept Rachel home from school today. God is so wonderful.

    Yes we will !!!

  4. It looks like you had a wonderful trip! Hmm… I think I like the courting chair too. 🙂

    Joining you in prayer for our President-elect and rejoicing with you, my sister in Christ,

    Andrea 🙂

  5. To have such a sister in the Lord. You are right many atrocities were committed in the name of Christianity, but I do have a hard time swollowing that they were Christians. When I think of Christians I see men and women who risked their lives hiding others be they Jews or Africa Americans.I do not see believers I see people of hate using the Lord's Name for their agendas. But Christians as You and I define Christians, no. So we agree, but the definition may vary. The Jewish heart in me deals with this in many of my people who see the cross as an impilment of war and the Believer in me sees it as the bridge to o my salvation. It is my their fruit that they are known, not by titles and denominations. Done in Jesus' name is not always truth. Remember the Jews in Acts that went around casting out demons in the Name of Jesus, they did not know him either and teh demons told them so!
    I find it interesting that your thoughts went to your dad, because mine went to my dad too. My dad is still living. I am sad your dad did not see this day. I do rejoice with you. I pray this causes us to become more color-blinded and not less.

    It was an honor to pray with you and I do look forward to praying with you again soon. I am glad the roaches were vanquished. Being apart of this history with your family makes it very special to mine.

    What a field trip you had, how fun. I have been to George Washington's Mt Vernon before and this reminded me of that.

    And I loved Gettysburg. I was in awe of the size of it, so small an area with so great and impact. It was easy to understand how they could be knee deep in blood. As is typical with my family, I have family on both sides of that war too.

    I agree with you on this, Pres-elect Obama is articulate. I believe one day your great grandchildren ( should the Lord tarry that long) will be reading the words of our 44th President with the same awe and respect. His words, like FDR, like Kennedy, Like Reagan, Obama's greatest power is in his words. It will be interesting to watch which ones he keeps.

    Being your sister is a great gift to me.
    Because of Jesus, Bobbie

    Edited by bubbebobbie on Nov. 6, 2008 at 1:50 PM

  6. Ooooh, that looks like a wonderful place to visit. I don't think my kids are at a point to appreciate all that quite yet, but it is close enough to home for us to plan a visit "someday." They do enjoy Civil War battlefields, just not old mansions. Great pics!

    And, no, I'm not a pro. photographer, but I do love to take photos.

  7. You have great pictures of your trip. I love places like this.

    That is great that you got to pray with another blogger via phone. It is neat to make friends with sister in Christ, isn't it?

    And thank you so much for coming by my blog this past week and sharing such encouraging words about the situation I had with the two girls, Taylor and Tala. Your resonse and comment showed me so much insight and revealed spiritual insight by yourself. I value friends like that. Thank you very much.
    Antoinette

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