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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Legacy

I am unearthing skeletons.  Exhuming secrets.  It’s not really what I intended, but when you follow a thread of curiosity, you must be prepared for the unexpected.

My mother has always been the record-keeper of the family: whose great-great-grandmother married whom on what date, which cousins are twice removed (does anybody really get that?), birth dates, death dates, anniversaries, etc.  The whole genealogy thing seemed a big bore to me.  Why should I care?

But I am middle-aged now.  If my life follows the insurance agent’s actuaries, I am half-way through that dash between my birth date and the date God waves me in to home plate.  I will likely have descendants, not just ancestors. 

I am not the end.  One day, there may be a great-great-granddaughter who thinks the particulars of my life a bore.  In light of this, I decided that perhaps my ancestors deserved a little more honor, more care, more respect.  After all, they were people like me.

So I began to research.  Through www.ancestry.com, I am peeking into the lives of the family members who lived before me.  It has been anything but boring.  There are mysteries.  There are lies.  There are cover-ups for sins.  There are essentially good people, making mistakes, fumbling, struggling, and trying – just like me.  Yes, you would be surprised what the records will show about a person’s life.

If some days hence, my great-great-granddaughter takes a peek at my records, the way I have lived during my vapor of a life, what will she see?  Will she see that I messed up a lot, but that I have been forgiven much?  Will she know of my struggling faith, and the faithful God whom I serve?  No, she won’t see that from the census records, or my birth certificate, or my death certificate.

But she will know.

Yes, she will know.

On Sunday, my older daughter was confirmed into the church.  Dressed in ivory, hair up, heels, she looked so beautiful, so grown up.  Side by side, we served communion to the congregation, signaling that she has not just passed some test to “get in”, but has agreed to live her life in service to God.  As people came up to receive communion from my girl, I knew…

The faith will go on.

My faith…

Her faith…

Her daughter’s faith…

That is what I hope my great-great-granddaughter will find – when one day she goes looking for skeletons to exhume.

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Sometimes a holiday break can be one day too long.  Such was the case at our house this Thanksgiving weekend.  One daughter had a bad day.  The other daughter provoked her.  The wronged daughter decided to show her displeasure by defacing a piece of our property.  A valuable piece of property.

My husband got “that look.”  His jaw was set about two inches farther outward than usual, his eyes narrowed, and his breath shortened.  I suggested that he take a moment to compose himself before responding.

Through clenched jaw and gritted teeth, he replied, “You handle this.”

Well, we handled it together.  After a coarse tongue-lashing, the offender was sent to her room so that we could discuss her sentence.

Once we had vented, we mulled our options.  There was so much damage done to the property that even if we held back her allowance for an entire year, it wouldn’t be enough money to fix it.  Oh there would be consequences, but we realized that this is one debt she cannot re-pay.  It is too big.

We went to her room to deliver said consequences.  She was utterly torn up with guilt and shame.  I was stomach-sick for her.  I know how it feels to wish with all your heart that you could take back something that you did or said.  We still had to discipline her, but we also told her that we love her, and nothing she could do would ever take that away. There was a tearful apology, forgiveness was extended and hugs exchanged.

So this is what it must feel like to God, I thought.  Maybe like me with my daughter, He is stomach-sick over what we’ve done and the pain we’ve caused ourselves.  We’ve done so much damage that there is no way for us to re-pay the debt.   It is too big.

This is it.  This is the reason for Jesus.  This is the reason He came. 

He comes now to blot out our mess.  He comes to make us right once again, to wipe our tears, to give us comfort and to extend forgiveness.  He has paid our overwhelming debt. 

Remember His gift as you enter Advent, and prepare with a grateful heart.

Remember to extend grace, love and forgiveness to all.

And if you are suffocating under a blanket of shame, throw it off.  The debt has been paid. 

Remember?

paid in full

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”  (Romans 13:8, NIV)

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I did it.  I completed my first 5K.  It was so cold that my feet were numb for the whole first mile.  Even though my nose dripped, my stomach was jittery and my gloved hands were not faring much better than my feet, I was content – thanks to adrenaline and an unexpected gift.

I won’t kid you.  I hate to run.  I’m not good at it either.  In karate class, I may aspire to be ninja-like, but running, I resemble something more like a shuffling geisha.

This race was a family affair.  My daughters had partnered with friends, and my husband, an experienced runner, wanted to run for time, so I was on my own.

Shuffle, shuffle…

I ran in my own little world, just taking in the experience.  Then I became aware of something going on, everywhere I looked.  Encouragement.

Runners who had already made the turn were high-fiving those heading to it.

A race volunteer yelled, “You’re almost halfway!  Water station up ahead!  Woo hoo!”

Spectators held a sign which read, “Go Katie J.!”

Runners spoke words of encouragement to one another: “C’mon!  Don’t stop!  You can do it!  Let’s go!”

My husband, who finished well before me, tracked back and ran with me.  “You’re doing great, Honey!  You’re almost there.  Do you hear that cheering?  That’s the finish line.  Do you have some speed in you?”

Apparently I did.  I ran.  Fast.  Faster than I thought I could.  I sprinted past the finish line, while people who didn’t even know me cheered wildly, just because I was one of the people running.

The Apostle Paul often compared living the Christian life to running a race.  Now that I have run one, I totally get that.  And I can see how terribly important it is for us to encourage each other. 

Encouragement can bring a fallen runner to his feet.  Cheers can give a runner speed she didn’t know she had.  Running alongside someone can be the wind in their back.

I am shuffling along in my life race.  At times, I can almost hear the cheers from those who have finished before me.  I am grateful for those who run beside me.  And one day, they will say, “Do you hear the cheering?  That’s the finish line.  Do you have some speed in you?”

And I will run my hardest, straight into my Father’s arms.

 Run the race!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders… And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

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In my husband’s family, there are several people by the same name.  There is a James, a James Paul, a James Stephen, a Stephen, a Paul, and two Davids.  And that’s just on his father’s side.  The only way I can keep everyone straight is to play a mental game of “Who’s your daddy?”

I have been a member of this family for seventeen years, but this weekend at a family reunion was the first time I had met many of them.  Seeing their faces next to those of their parents helped me to understand who is who, based on their similar appearance.  (OK, the nametags helped, too.)

All the people gathered at this event were connected by DNA, or by marriage.  We were all related, either way.  There was acceptance just because we’re family.

My daughters made instant friends of their cousins.  Having the same last name meant that the awkward stages of friendship were foregone.  They all knew they belonged, so they simply went about the business of being friends.

Hmmmm…

I forget sometimes that we are all family.  I’m not talking about people with the same last name.  I’m talking about all of us in God’s family.    

This means that every single person I come in contact with is my brother or sister – even the people who cut me off in traffic, who talk too loudly on their cell phones, who look different than me, who are homeless, who have annoying habits, or who just make me mad.   God says they are His children, too.  Family.

I have to ask myself, do I treat everyone like family? 

I wish I could say that I do, but I probably treated the family members I just met better than I treat others – especially the ones that bug me.

I want to look like my Father.  I want the family resemblance to be unmistakable.  I want people to see His acceptance in my eyes, His compassion in my face, and His love through my actions.  Oh, I have so far to go…

Who’s your daddy?

Do you look like Him?

We are family.

family

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  (1 John 3:1 NIV)

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