A Legacy Worth Leaving.

Something happens when someone dies. For the majority of my life, in reflecting on death there was pain, sorrow, even silence. An astute stagnancy that I could never seem to digest or comprehend.

The first time I can remember really understanding what was going on was in 2010 when my Grandfather passed away. It was quiet. It was reflective on a man who loved Jesus and was probably caught singing “Soon and Very Soon” the moment his feet hit the floor in eternity. 

The most recent deaths in my family hit me deeply. On the outside, it may not make much sense. I’ve known my father-in-law’s parents a very short amount of years. But something about their love hit me deep. There’s something about a life lived with unconditional love that changes perspective radically. Something about their insanely rich and Godly legacy has stopped me silent before the throne of God fumbling with the question “What am I leaving behind?”

Writing is all I have ever done to sort through what is in front on me. Even these words that I choose so carefully cannot compare to the legacy that will trail me when my time here is over. The story will be written. And most of it without the effort of my pen, a clicking keyboard, or assortment of pictures. 

The thing about these lives that were laid out before me is how different they were to the lives of people I saw growing up. There was no talk of the family fortune left to the children. No talk of the family business built up from sweat and tears. No talk of the cars and china from some other country.  

There were stories. There were smiles. There was laughter. Reminiscing about a life and marriage filled with the grace and abundance of Jesus. All I could see was Jesus and a constant choice to serve in marriage and family. I don’t know what it looked like all the time from the inside…but from where I stood there just was overwhelming waves of God’s grace and unconditional love. 

This is a jaw dropping and uncomfortable place to be. I secretly prayed to see this for years. I suppose at times I even pleaded with God. I just wanted to see a glimpse and understand what could move someone to drop their own agenda. But to see it, and suddenly realize this is what I have been called to do by choosing to follow Jesus… it’s just not what I expected.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.”

It’s in these moments you realize how much you live for yourself. It becomes surprisingly loud. But in one of these times and moments at some point, guilt will no longer be the judge and ruling factor. A clear conviction comes and waves over you with grace, not condemnation.

No lists. 
No voices. 
No scolding.

At some point because of God’s great love over your entire life, you will just want to be better because He is amazing. The promises and pleadings I made with Him in prayer at 17 are utterances He has never forgotten even when I have wanted to erase or take back something I’ve laid down. 

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.”

I’ve not only asked God to take it (whatever is in front of me) away three times. I’ve begged, pleaded and screamed thousands of times just to come back to the resounding power of His endless grace and love.

I’m not going to make something out of this life. For too long I have thought this life is something that is mine. But you can’t take an author’s name off his writings and put your own name in place. I may have been wrong for a while. I may be wrong for a lifetime. But I know He can cover it with all that He is. 

I can’t keep living life on the gift that’s been given to me. I have to start giving and serving so that gift doesn’t return empty.

The legacy worth leaving had nothing to do with me to begin with.

 

 

 

2014: The year of things I don’t like to do.

Lately, I’ve wondered where my passion’s gone. Driving to nanny at 7 AM this morning, I wondered how long the light hadn’t been lit.

I get caught in the flow of technology and sleep deprivation. That seductive light that lures me to “relaxation” for hours of Facebook, Instagram, and marathons of my favorite TV shows. It’s amazing how all that relaxing is so exhausting.

If I am not happy with where I am…why not move? Why do I sit frozen by excuses and guilt, and remedy that change will come…tomorrow.

Tomorrow… tomorrow… I love ya! tomorrow… it’s only a day away. (Insert jazz hands, bright lights, and shimmery costumes)

I don’t know what happens for you, but tomorrow never comes. I only ever have today. And if I do have tomorrow it winds up being consumed in the regrets of all the time I lost and wasted yesterday with worthless and empty technology spans. All the excuses I make as to why I can’t live today.

After reading a fellow blogger’s posting, I dusted off my bible app and read a few Chapters out of Matthew.

“Some Bad Yeast” aka “The Pharisees and Sadducees Seek a Sign” aka Matthew 16:1-4.

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given except of the prophet Jonah. And He left them and departed.

I remember the story of Jonah. In fact, I recently told the story of Jonah to my son and we both agreed it would stink to get eaten by a whale. But after reading this, I realized not only am I no better than Jonah (fellow sinner and human being) but I could relate to him. I could be him. (Pardon the satire on the story of Jonah. Comedy seems to be the only way I can really explain this story.)

Here’s the skinny:
Jonah depends on God. God asks Jonah to go talk to some people Jonah doesn’t really like. Jonah runs away. There’s a huge storm while he’s on his boat heading to no where good. Some strangers throw him overboard. God has a fish eat Jonah. Jonah comes back to God because he realizes he needs Him. Jonah gets spit up on a beach 3 days later smelling like regret and looking like…well…

moving on…

Jonah goes to Nineveh (the people he does not like). They realize Jonah’s right and they need to get their act straight. Jonah gets angry because God won’t smite them. God’s all, “Really??” And Jonah throws another fit, says he’d rather be dead, and walks out of the city to wait for God to destroy it. But He (big He is God bee tee dub) doesn’t. In fact, He has a tree grow over Jonah to give him shelter from the insane heat. Jonah is all “aww, this is so nice!” God send s a worm to destroy the tree so Jonah is, again, exposed to the horrible heat and wind. Jonah throws a fit again and says he’d rather be dead.  (This is definitely not word for word so check out the book of Jonah in the Oh Tee. Old Testament.)

(Getting back to the actual Bible version…) Then the Message put’s what God says to Jonah like this: “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?”

That’s it. That’s the end of the book of Jonah. There’s no miraculous signs and wonders. Jonah doesn’t kill himself. God doesn’t kill Jonah.  It’s just I love you. I love them. My grace has covered you. My grace can cover them. The end. (mind blown.)

Jesus said in the passage from Matthew that it’s the signs and wonders kind of people that will miss God. Jonah was held in the belly of the whale for 3 days much like Jesus who would later be buried for 3 days and rise again. Jonah missed the boat and so did Jesus’ followers when he was alive again. The prophet who threw temper tantrums compared to the blameless Son of God who died for the sins of the human race. And just like Jonah, I’m covered by His sacrifice. Temper tantrums, opinions and all.

Jonah humor aside… It isn’t God’s communication with me that is lacking. It’s my dedication to communicating and spending time with Him. And like Jonah, if I only take the problems in my life and the world that really irk me to Him, I’m missing out on the capacity and depth of the grace and love this relationship can contain. I miss out on how big God really is.

Another year with no resolutions.
No resolves to be a better person, mom and wife.
No Martha Stewart creations and innovations that will guarantee a more harmonious home.
No 10 ways to spend more time with my kids.
No set date night every Friday (That usually doesn’t happen because lets face it, life happens and Netflix is waaay cheaper than dinner out and a movie.)
No religious precepts and theories to mold my life into a better picture only to view the disarray and mess left behind when I close the front door when the day is done.
Nope.
Not this year.
Not ever again.

This is the year I’m running towards Nineveh.
The year I know I don’t want to do it and because of that, spite my feelings, and do it anyway.
This is the year I love those around me and get mad about the person I let myself be to them.
The year I tell my depression that Jesus is the Lord of my mind, the maker of each day, and the movement in my step.
The year I wait for reward.
The year I put myself aside and give more.
No this year isn’t about me.
This is the year of the Lord of my life.
Creator of my inmost being.
Author of everything.
Grace giver.
King over the Kings and rulers of this world.
Lover to the unlovable and repulsive.
Comfort to the burdens I cannot hold.
Peace to my confusion.
Beginning and the end.
This is the year.
Today is the day.
Today is His day.
Not mine.

 

Palette Cleanser

The moments that the routine of life gets almost tasteless. The human condition. I get tired of things quickly… Even the things I know are good for me. Especially the middle and in between.

The parts of life that I get going on cruise control or am looking for a break. I want to avoid the tough, the rough, the challenging.

I hadn’t taken my kids to the library for a while. With the holidays and all the searches for missing books we decided some breathing room for a few weeks would do. When I brought them for their first trip back, I made sure to put a cap on the books we would take out. The normal 20 or 30 was capped at 6, 3 per kid. I put my son over by the early reader books and went to help my daughter pick some books as to keep the librarian from putting away a large pile of rejected literature.

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I caught sight of this book. I had heard of it, couldn’t remember how or when, but recalled it from somewhere in my childhood and grabbed it for my daughter’s pile. A book about running away from the scary things in life…or facing them.

Those in between moments. Those moments where I tend to bow out, take a breather, or think it’s just time to move on. Even at the end of books I read to my kids, I say “the end” and close those last few blank pages. When we sat down to read this particular book, I flipped past the last words.

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I was silenced. My children waited in the thick of it, wondering, hoping for more words. But I continued to stare at the page. I was 12 again sitting in Spanish class, watching the horror unfold on the TV screen and hearing the President’s helicopter thunder overhead. At 12 wondering how September 12, 2001 would happen. Wondering how all the next days would happen. Yet the thought in this book 24 hours after the horror…was life.

To live.
To walk.
To breathe.
In absolute certainty, move forward.

The beauty of living a life with Jesus, is this certainty that no matter my feeling in the moment, the promise of never walking alone is always fulfilled. The beauty in the horror of life, is I can move forward in absolute certainty that this step is not the end, no matter my fate.

The challenge before me becomes a mere palette cleanser to taste and see the grace and the goodness that my Creator has set before me. A reminder in love. A reminder that His love has set it all out before me. A reminder that He will pen every letter to the very end.