Leaving a Legacy Worth Imitating

Field Day 2011. Groups of moms stand around and chit chat. I chase two pre-schoolers.

Mrs. Morgan asks if I can help with the name tags and I say “Sure” and thankfully the two preschoolers don’t do a dive off the bleachers while I’m helping, although trying to keep an eye on them effectively prevented any chit chat on my end.

{And I wonder why I always seem just a bit out of sync with everyone else around me.}

While the other moms stand around and talk or sit in the bleachers to watch the races, I take the preschoolers for a ride down the hill in the stroller.

When I get back to Mrs. Morgan, she says, “How does my hair look? I don’t do sweat,”   and I wonder if she is trying to say something.

I watch oldest ditch it several times doing the three legged race…they didn’t even finish! They had to have their legs untied in the middle of the field, the poor things… and then we go for stroller fun again. I walk them up the hill under the trees and marvel at the way the wind plays those leaves. It’s music to my soul.

We find a bench in the sun and I dole out trail mix, one little grubby handful at a time.

That’s when I see it, a stone under the tree. From where I sit, I read the words, “Leaving a Legacy Worthy of  Imitation.”

The graduating class of 2002 gifted it, their imprint on their alma mater.

And I know it: we are all leaving imprints.

For a moment a deep sadness washes over my heart, a grief over pieces of legacy I’m leaving that aren’t worthy. Pieces like bad choices, quick choices, thoughtless choices, selfish choices.

I could stay in this grief, remain immobilized by introspection. It’s one of my signature sins and I’ve spent years of my life doing it.

But Loving Father’s shown me a better way. “Lord,” I prayed one day, “there is so much wrong with me, I don’t even know where to start.”

“You start by getting your eyes off of what’s wrong with you and onto what’s right about Me,” came the reply.

Yes Sir.

It’s a huge jump, going from a self condemning, sin groveling person like me, who frets about all she’s messing up… to one who fixes her eyes on Jesus and basks in His utter, complete  SUFFICIENCY.

“He is able to save to the uttermost…”

Yes, it is a re-training process and a discipline to be sure, but it is gloriously possible!

After the little ones have made lunch off of trail mix, while moms still sit in bleachers, I walk over to the stone.

The smaller print on the stone reads “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt. Among these people you shine like stars in the world because you hold on to the word of life. This will allow me to say on the day of Christ that I haven’t run for nothing or worked for nothing.” Phil 2:14-16

Holding onto the word of life, the sufficiency of Christ, our completeness in Him, this is the key to shining like stars. This is the key to leaving a legacy worth imitating.

I pack up makeshift lunch and with it, pack away the groveling introspection that has become less and less appealing in my life. We walk back through the rustling trees and I run the kids down the hill in the stroller.

“Go faster, mommy!” one of them shouts and I give it my all. We pass a parent who looks at us like I’m a bit off my rocker, a little out of sync. I just smile and nod.

We make it back to the chit chatty moms and the teacher who never sweats and the scores of other parents who know nothing of a stone that reads of legacy worth leaving.

I can’t get the silly grin off my face.

Thank You, Jesus. I’m shining like a star.

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Finding Your Voice for Words That Matter

I was in 6th grade when I had the dream.

It was about the roller coaster of life and getting lost in the festivities and how most people who go in to the carnival never come back out.

It was strange, like dreams are, and I’m not saying it was prophetic or even important, but it was after that that I knew I was to write.

I knew written words were to be how I communicated things I couldn’t say otherwise.

So I wrote my first book, in sixth grade.

I’m sure I would have given up altogether because I found putting down on paper what I held in my heart extremely difficult… except that I had found a new friend in this new school, in this new city. His name was George and every day on the bus to school he would ask me what happened next.

He believed in me and my story.  {I’m sure it was a gift from God.}

I reckon I could write a book on how “not” to write…because I’ve tried and tried again and learned a whole lot about what not to do…   And still I wonder if I can write a single post and do it anywhere close to “well.”

And yet I believe we all have words to contribute. We all leave legacy with words. Whether we write words or not, we are each leaving behind a “testimony,” the weaving of threads to form a central message.

“This is the testimony of John…” John 1:19

Testimony means “witness.” We each live a life that is making a theological statement about God. ~~~What does mine say? ~~~

Testimony means “martyr.” We each are giving our lives~ expending them drop by drop, with our time, toil, and tears~ for the “somethings” we value the most. ~~~What do I value? ~~~

John’s testimony was true, his cause was Christ. What can he teach me about words?

 

“This is the testimony of John, when he was asked, “Who are you?”” John 1:19

Words begin with a question. It isn’t so difficult. It isn’t complex or hard to understand. It doesn’t take degrees and influence and platforms and special titles.

Words ~lives~ that matter, find their birth with a single question. “Who are you?”

Why? Why is it so important to know who we are?

Because who we are determines what words we speak. It decides whether our words are Voice or Echo.

Walking in John’s footsteps, we must first know who we are not. “I am not the Christ.”

“I am not Elijah. I am not the Prophet.”

We must know who we are not and allow ourselves the freedom to not be someone else. I am not John Piper. I am not Beth Moore. I am not Sharon Jaynes or Shaunti Feldham or Jane Doe.

That is good. I can’t be me and I can’t speak my words and I can’t live my testimony until I give up on trying to be someone else.

“Who are you then, What do you say about yourself?” John 1:22

 What I say about myself is incredibly important. I must define myself properly. John defined himself by the words that had been spoken over him before the beginning of time, words recorded in the Book.

“I am a voice…” John 1:23

(He found his Words in Is. 40:3)

 When we define ourselves according to Words, His spoken about us, we move from being an echo to being a voice.

Each of us have had Words spoken over us, Words that define us, Words that tell us who we are, Words that give purpose for our individual lives.

~~~Have I identified those words that “belong” to me, that I belong to?~~~

  I do not speak words well.

I do not write words well.

But finally, after doing so many things wrong, maybe I’ve finally started at the beginning: I have identified the Words that belong to me.

I’m letting those Words define me, give me purpose, shape my speech, form my testimony.

And that makes me a Voice, not an Echo.

  How about you? Have you found your Words? Care to share what they are?

  

  

 


Mouth on Fire

I feel the Rock beneath my feet and drink in His fresh waters. I sense His confidence becoming mine. I’m sure of the path I take.

Then I open my big mouth and suddenly the waters are muddied.

Time after time of doing this makes one reticent to speak at all. Especially when others are listening.

Oh how I long to speak as the mouthpiece of God. Why is it so hard, this taming of the tongue?

And yet does He not ask, “Who will go for us and Whom shall we send?”

He is looking for mouthpieces.

And so it is back to the Presence of the Holy One I go, because it is in encountering Him that Isaiah’s lips were purified. Mine need it too, which means I need to see the Lord High and Lifted up. I need to linger longer in His presence, instead of getting my confidence and rushing away before the purification is complete.

Will I rush out trying to be His mouthpiece, attempting to speak His oracles without first bending the knee and submitting the mouth to His fire?

It is only after the purification that Isaiah received the message to speak.

So be it for me. So be it.