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Posts Tagged ‘Harvey’s Chapel’

Gravestone of Mom's Grandparents, Charles Washington "Wash" Wyatt and Julia Pearl Edmonston Wyatt.

Gravestone of Mom’s Grandparents, Charles Washington “Wash” Wyatt and Julia Pearl Edmonston Wyatt.

Family gathering at Pick's Pond around 1988 or so.

Family gathering at Pick’s Pond around 1988 or so.

This past weekend my wife and I accompanied my parents to the annual Harvey’s Chapel Homecoming in Marmaduke, Arkansas (population 1,111). My Mother’s parents and at least two generations prior are buried there. For the past few years I have been researching our genealogy and have built a fairly sizeable family tree using my grandmother’s 40 years of research on Dad’s side of the family, my Mother’s recollections and assorted notes, and Ancestry.com. I was excited to go to the reunion to meet cousins who might share my interest in genealogy and be able to help flesh out my tree. My most recent finds have been ancestors from England back into the 1300 – 1600’s (which I find really cool), but the time in Arkansas gave me a fresh appreciation of a more personal reason we traveled the 600 miles – to build relationships with friends and family and to experience a common life that we share as God’s children. I want to share vignettes from the weekend that provided life lessons for me.

The first day we drove to the Harvey’s Chapel cemetery to place flowers on the assorted graves. As we walked from grave to grave Mom recited stories from her childhood visits each summer to Arkansas from her Michigan home. I saw my great grandparents with new eyes and a keener appreciation for what life was like in the 1940’s and 1950’s in rural Arkansas. Mom’s mother passed away when she was only 5 years old giving birth to a baby sister who also passed.

Mom at her Mother's Grave in the Harvey's Chapel cemetery.  Her mother was Lorene Zelma Wyatt Pickler.

Mom at her Mother’s Grave in the Harvey’s Chapel cemetery. Her mother was Lorene Zelma Wyatt Pickler.

Mom, Joy Pickler Moss, sharing stories from her childhood summers spent in northeast Arkansas.

Mom, Joy Pickler Moss, sharing stories from her childhood summers spent in northeast Arkansas.  Harvey’s Chapel is in the background.

Mom telling Wyatt, her youngest grandchild, about his relatives.

Mom telling Wyatt, her youngest grandchild, about his relatives.

Yet Mom’s maternal grandparents, Charles Washington “Wash” Wyatt and Julia Pearl Edmonston Wyatt, were her second family and played a huge role in raising her. I had their names, basic life details, and pictures from my Ancestry.com research, but listening to my Mom and later several of my cousins, I began to see them as real people with trials and challenges, hopes and dreams, times of loss and times of abundant joy – not much different from you and me. It was like the black and white pictures I have took on color and life while listening to the stories from their loved ones.

Later that day we headed to Pick’s Pond where, as children, our family would regularly spend the fourth of July Holiday. Grandpa Pickler purchased the land and with the help of my uncle Don, built a series of catfish ponds on the property in Crowley’s Ridge near Boydsville, Arkansas for Grandpa’s retirement. Sadly, Grandpa was diagnosed with Chronic Leukemia in his late 50’s and his health deteriorated fairly quickly limiting the amount he was able to do on the farm. Yet I still fondly remember his fun-loving antics and his love for his grandkids. He always wanted to “tell me a secret” only to get me close enough to nuzzle my ear with his grizzled chin – a trick I now do with my two grandsons.

Fishing on the big pond at Pick's Pond in 1985

Fishing on the big pond at Pick’s Pond in 1985

Bo. the black Labrador retriever, loved to play king of the inner tube - and he often won.

Bo. the black Labrador retriever, loved to play king of the inner tube – and he often won.  About 1974.

A favorite game of "bounce the boys".

A favorite game of “bounce the boys”.  About 1988.

Step three of the Game Bounce the Boys.

Step three of the Game Bounce the Boys.  About 1988.

Seining one of the breeder ponds.

Seining one of the breeder ponds.  About 1988.

Mom - Joy Pickler Moss, standing in front of the Big Pond at Pick's Pond.

Mom – Joy Pickler Moss, standing in front of the Big Pond at Pick’s Pond.  About 1977.

The farm at that time was basically a large open field with six ponds on the gently sloping hills. One thing that Grandpa insisted on is planting lots of trees on the property. He lined his driveway with “little-bity” pine trees and surrounded the “big” pond with small cypress trees.   I feel certain he knew he wouldn’t see these trees grow to maturity, but it was his desire to leave something of beauty and worth for future generations. I was stunned when we pulled into the driveway.

Pick's Pond, May 2015.

Pick’s Pond, May 2015.

Another view across the Big Pond at Pick's Pond, Ma 2015.

Another view across the Big Pond at Pick’s Pond, Ma 2015.

Fishing under the Cypress trees at Pick's Pond.

Fishing under the Cypress trees at Pick’s Pond.  May 2015.

2015-05-15 13.41.05There was no field. Nor were there any little-bity trees. Instead was a beautiful pine canopy over-shadowing the tree-lined drive with forests on either side. An even more amazing sight awaited at the big pond where Grandpa’s cypress trees now soar above the shoreline providing shade respite from the brutal summer sun.

Grandpa Pickler around 1975 - 1977.

Grandpa Pickler around 1975 – 1977.

My heart was full of thankfulness for my Grandpa’s vision and desire to make something beautiful for those of us to follow and for my uncle Don who helped Grandpa turn his vision into something tangible.

The next vignette came on Saturday evening when we gathered at my first cousin Kelly’s home in Piggott, Arkansas. Since Kelly was a lot younger than me we did not play together a lot as children. As we drove up I saw the landscaping Kelly and her husband Jamie had installed and we had an immediate connection that I didn’t realize existed. I enjoy landscape design and making those designs become a reality. We talked extensively about plants, landscaping, and the challenges of our hobby.  Today instead of being simply my younger cousin with a husband and two fine sons, my relationship with Kelly has taken on depth and life through our similar experiences and passion. This theme repeated itself throughout the weekend as I met new family members, 2nd and 3rd cousins, who shared some of the same interests and tastes as me, but had experienced life in a much different place and time. The sense of what a small world we live in and the impact of shared DNA was really fascinating.

Our final event was the Memorial service at Harvey’s chapel on Sunday morning. The chapel is now only used this one weekend a year. I guess it seats about 60 or 70 folks comfortably. With the rain showers that began about 45 minutes prior to church time, I wondered if the crowd would be pretty sparse. As we entered it was definitely a throw-back to simple days and the small country church. My sister said she was half expecting Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie to slip in. As 10:30 arrived I looked around and happily noticed that the church was almost filled in spite of the nasty weather. The service was camp meeting style with songs and order of service a good bit different from what I am used to. But there were a number of things that were welcome touch-points for me. The scripture used was the same tried and true Word of God that I read every day. The verses were familiar ones God has used numerous times to guide, strengthen, and challenge me in the past. During the invocation the speaker quoted CS Lewis, one of my favorite authors. But the thought that sticks with me is that my ancestors over 150 years ago met in this same place seeking to establish a community of faith. One relative donated the land. Another relative started the church meetings in their home. Many others made up a large portion of the congregation. Even the current Memorial fund which helps keep the grounds maintained and the building in good repair has been funded in large part by other relatives. While the community now gathers at other newer and larger churches on Sundays, the fact remains the roots for those churches are the small country churches like Harvey’s Chapel and they stand on the legacy of our forebears in the faith.

The lessons reiterated from the weekend. We are connected to the family of faith throughout history. Those that have gone before us sweated, cried, cheered, prayed, and lived so that those following would have a place to stand… a place to live… a place to worship God.

We are more alike than we realize and God made us that way intentionally. God is most interested in relationships. Person to person, but especially person to living Lord. Strive to really get to know the people God places in your life. Ask God to make those connections from which relationship grows. And out of those relationships, the life of Christ can be shared.

We may not always fully comprehend the purpose for the events of our life until much later. In fact when the group met in the Edmonston’s home in 1859 for the first time as what would become the Harvey’s Chapel congregation, I would be really surprised if anyone spent much time thinking about the fact that in 2015 a group of 60 believers from all over the US would still be meeting in the church they would birth. Jesus talked about faith the size of a mustard seed, though extremely tiny, able to produce amazing results. I saw that this weekend in a little country church and the families that have lived, loved and served the Lord in a steady faith.

Have a blessed day and be a blessing to someone today.

A few more fun pics from Pick’s Pond.

Don explains why these mulberries taste so much sweeter.

Don explains why these mulberries taste so much sweeter.  It’s the fertilizer.  This tree sits over the old outhouse.

Keith's double handful of sweet mulberries.

Keith’s double handful of sweet mulberries.

I think Don left the truck parked there a little too long.

I think Don left the truck parked there a little too long.

Cousin Anna, Don Pickler's youngest daughter.

Cousin Anna, Don Pickler’s youngest daughter.

Mom wins the fishing contest this day.  Day is awfully proud of his entry although I don't remember why.

Mom wins the fishing contest this day. Day is awfully proud of his entry although I don’t remember why.

Sister Christin Joy Moss and Cousin Kelly Robinson Wilson.

Sister, Julie Elizabeth Moss Denton, and Cousin, Kelly Robinson Wilson.

My parents and siblings with our entries in this day's fishing contest.

My parents and siblings with our entries in this day’s fishing contest.

Uncle Don shows off his physique.

Uncle Don shows off his physique.

Keith and Julie.  Keith's description of an Arkansas 4th of July trip.  "Go to Grandma's. eat a biscuit, and sweat!"  July 1989 I think.

Keith and Julie. Keith’s description of an Arkansas 4th of July trip. “Go to Grandma’s. eat a biscuit, and sweat!” July 1989 I think.

We ate watermelon until just before it started growing out our ears.

We ate watermelon until just before it started growing out our ears.

Cousin Jason and my oldest daughter, Rhiannon.  About 1988.

Cousin Jason and my oldest daughter, Rhiannon. About 1988.

Eric's jet ski on the big pond.  Jason prefers Rhiannon power though.

Eric’s jet ski on the big pond. Jason prefers Rhiannon power though.

Eric takes Rhiannon for a ride on the big tractor.

Eric takes Rhiannon for a ride on the big tractor.

Aunt Allene was Mom's Mother's sister.  This is Aunt Allene and Uncle Rex's 50th wedding anniversary.

Aunt Allene was Mom’s Mother’s sister. This is Aunt Allene and Uncle Rex’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Aunt Fay and Uncle Roy.  Fay was Grandpa Pickler's little sister.

Aunt Fay and Uncle Roy. Fay was Grandpa Pickler’s little sister.

Dad, John Moss and my lovely wife, Lisa.  This is about one year into our marriage.  We just reached 30 years of wedded bliss last month.

Dad, John Moss and my lovely wife, Lisa. This is about one year into our marriage. We just reached 30 years of wedded bliss last month.

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