Monday, November 20, 2017

things that last // LEGACY-MINDED

since becoming a mother, legacy is something that is very important to me, and is often on the forefront of my mind. i am convicted to leave a meaningful legacy for my children and future generations. i think about the "vending machine"  - how my daily choices impact my lifetime legacy - all the time. considering my legacy, and that of my family, helps me to do things with purpose, make intentional decisions, and truly focus on the things of life that matter and that have the kind of lasting impact that i want to be our legacy. 

nichole nordeman's song, Legacy, is one of my favorites:
I want to leave a legacy,
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to you enough?
my Grandma passed away last year. a few weeks after the funeral, my family visited her home as her belongings were being sorted, packed up, and distributed among cousins, aunts, uncles, and loved ones. her treasured teapot collection. her favorite books. her well worn playing cards. her handmade quilts. it was hard. i went into Grandma's closet and admired her necklace collection. simple pieces, beautiful because of the wearer. i took home a few of Grandma's necklaces, because they were special to her they are special to me. but the truth is, i'd rather have Grandma's habit of drinking a mug of hot water first thing in the morning. i'd rather have her commitment to sending a card to every single family member on their birthday. i'd so much much rather have Grandma's steadfast faith and relentless trust in Jesus. i'm most thankful to have Grandma's name.

the legacy a person leaves behind is far more valuable than their material possessions. it's good to do a heart-check from time to time to remind myself of what's important in life. especially as i'm raising my children, it can be very easy to succumb to materialism and lose sight of the things that really matter. it can be very easy to go through the motions of life, not giving consideration to my why i'm doing what i'm doing, not thinking about the impact of my daily choices, or my legacy. what, then, can i do in my life that will outlive me? i want to leave behind something more meaningful than the temporary trappings of this world.

here are some "things" that we can pass on to future generations that make up a meaningful legacy:  

// FAITH what am i teaching my kids about faith? prayer? God? hope? heaven? i like to imagine my kids as adults with their own families, praying the same prayers with their children that i pray with them today. how am i modeling faith now so that when they face struggles and uncertainty in the future, they will respond with a heart that fully trusts God? a strong and true faith in Jesus would be the absolute best gift i can imagine leaving for my children, my grandchildren, and future generations beyond me.

// MEMORIES & STORIES don't you just love hearing stories from your parent's childhood? or your grandparent's childhood? there is something truly special about stories that are passed down from generation to generation. it's legacy! living legacy-focused will keep me mindful of the importance of making memories with my family.

stories we heard from our fathers,
counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
we're not keeping this to ourselves,
we're passing it along to the next generation—
God's fame and fortune,
the marvelous things he has done.
(psalm 78:4 message)

// PHOTOGRAPHS if you ask my husband's Grandma what she misses most from all the belongings her family lost in the tornado of 1979 that demolished their home, without skipping a beat she will say her photo albums. the memories are in her heart, but the tangible, printed, sepia-toned proof of her life are mostly gone. i cherish the big clunky old photo albums on the bookshelves in my parents' home, and in my mother-in-law's home! there was a time when people only took photographs on special occasions because getting them processed and printed was such a big deal. to have snapshots of my family's past means the world to me, and i imagine it will mean the world to our children. take pictures and PRINT THEM. put them in albums. don't leave them living on your phone that will be a worthless dinosaur 20 years from now.   

// TRADITIONS what traditions does your family have now that were passed on to you by your parents or grandparents? aren't those the best? the smell of garlic toast reminds me of our family's Christmas Eve tradition of going to look at Christmas lights in the neighborhood after spaghetti dinner. my mom grew up with that same tradition and passed it on to me, and it's a tradition i have brought to my family now. tried and true family traditions are what we remember year after year, and are what we can pass on to future generations; not the presents or the amount of money we spent.

// RECIPES you know the ones: nini's buttermilk pie. mom's spaghetti and garlic bread. dad's tabouli. grandma's sausage balls. these are the recipes that are not only delicious but are staples of family meals, especially on holidays. they are handwritten on cards that are now tattered and aged, but they stand the test of time and because i make the effort to pass them on, these recipes will absolutely be shared on tables long after i'm gone.   

// VALUES what does your family value? education? service? strong work ethic? faith? generosity? take some time to think about what (positive) values were instilled in you as a child and what kind of values you want for your family and future generations. writing a family mission statement or establishing non-negotiable priorities will help frame family values that can then be passed on and part of your legacy. write it out, talk about it, and purposely pass it on.

// ROUTINES & HABITS my Grandma sat at the kitchen table every morning and drank a mug of hot water. not coffee - just plain water. when i find a good parking spot i say, out loud, every single time: "thank You Jesus." my husband has a habit of throwing a dishtowel over his shoulder when he's cooking or eating a meal. my mom brings my kids a bag of "treats" - random newspaper articles, happy meal toys, pens from hotels she's stayed in - every time she comes to visit. what my kids love is not the trinkets inside the bag, but the fun habit of Granny bringing it to them. these are small, every day, established habits that are unique to us and that are likely to be (accidentally) passed on to the next generation. saying grace before dinner. leaving notes for the family to let them know where you're going and when you'll be back. saying "peace be with you / and also with you" when leaving the house. it's the little things. what routines and habits might you be passing on? 

// NAMES & NICKNAMES this legacy seems more obvious. my Grandma's name was passed on to me and i passed it on to my daughter, and i pray she passes it on to her daughter and so on. a family nickname gets passed around to toddlers. uncle's nickname is shared with another cousin. giving our children family names and passing along beloved nicknames is an easy, meaningful way to leave a lasting legacy.

// HEIRLOOMS heirlooms hold special meaning to your family. baptism gowns. jewelry. art. quilts. any object that your family values and that will be cherished for years to come can be a legacy for future generations. the funny thing about heirlooms is that they don't usually start out with the intention to be an heirloom. an heirloom is usually something that is particularly valuable AND meaningful to a person throughout their lifetime, with that person not realizing the potential of that item's legacy. for instance, when a deployed soldier buys a diamond ring to propose to his girlfriend back home, he isn't thinking about it's heirloom potential at the time. but 3 or 4 generations later when that same ring has been passed down among the family, with the stories of the past, that ring is a cherished family heirloom. an heirloom might lose it's monetary value over time, but that's okay because it's the significance and meaning of it that matters.   

// SKILLS & INTERESTS what are your family's skills and interests? music. gardening. crocheting. sports. arts. cooking or baking. home decorating. fashion. teaching. consider the interests that you and your family prioritize. was your dad an avid golfer and now you are, too? was your mom an event planner and now you have a knack for organizing parties? it's not by accident! the things we show interest in and invest our time in today just might be the things future generations are interested in, as well. 

a legacy comes from a life lived on purpose. the legacy we leave is the life we lead. let's consider the life we're living, the things we are doing, and let's live on purpose, legacy-minded, so that the things we do today are worthy of being passed on.

"don’t hoard treasure down here 
where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust 
or—worse!—stolen by burglars. 
stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe 
from moth and rust and burglars. 
it’s obvious, isn’t it? 
the place where your treasure is, 
is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."
(matthew 6:19-21)

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