A Jar Full of Nails
By Robert Payne
My parents, Linda and Ronnie Milton Payne, recently decided to restore an old family barn that had been built by my grandfather, Harold Milton Payne. My dad grew up on his parents' farm, and as the years went by the barn grew old and worn. After my grandmother passed, my parents decided to invest in restoring and "saving" our old barn for all their grandkids.
While helping clean out the barn, then clean up once the project was completed, I began to reflect. These reflections didn't really get serious until my two young boys, Ryan age 5 and Tyler age 4, were gathering up all the old rusty nails. I couldn't help but think that my grandfather held those old nails as he drove each into place.
I never got to meet my grandfather. He died before I was born. As a tribute to him and his old barn, I wrote the following message. I also wanted to give something to each son, his great-grandsons, so they too could reflect back on him. I gave everyone a Mason jar filled with these nails along with the following message:
"A Jar Full of Nails"
A jar full of nails today, once strong sturdy nails in their day. As this rusty old barn lives on, these nails expose a gift from another day. The nails were guided by our loved one with his wrinkled strong hands and every ounce of tough known to man. They now lie in this jar reflecting back on the man you once knew, or the man we wished we knew. These nails embody all the love, hard work, integrity and faith, lived out in life today — as we learn from him every day.