Legacy

Deb blog

How are you living your life? Are you living today with the end in mind?

I’m posting this blog intentionally on February 21st because my dad would have been 97 today. But instead of celebrating his 97th birthday, we’re celebrating his life well lived. My dad entered his heavenly home on February 2nd and 8 days later we celebrated his life together as family and friends.  His celebration of life service was a beautiful reminder that we live our lives one day at a time and that our legacy is built little by little by the choices we make on a daily basis.  What made my dad’s legacy so special is that it was built on service, integrity, compassion, and truth.  Ultimately, those qualities, lived daily, resulted in a life of love.

Dad was nothing special by worldly standards. He didn’t have an exciting job or a position of importance. He regretted not being able to go to college, but that didn’t stop him from working hard and caring for his family.  His greatest act of love came in the final years of his life as he tirelessly sacrificed his time and energy to care for my mom who had Alzheimer’s.

My dad was certainly not perfect, but he consistently made choices that revealed his values that were rooted in his love, first for his God, and second for the people around him.  As I watched my dad care for my mom, I saw sacrificial love in action, and it motivated me to examine my own life.

If I desire to have people speak positively of my legacy, as one that revealed the love of Jesus, then I need to reveal the love of Jesus. Daily.  A life of love can only happen if I give the Spirit of God permission to reveal my selfish thoughts and actions, and then surrender to his power to change me.  A legacy that gives glory to God begins with surrender to his will; “Not my will, but his.”

Take time today to think about how you’re living your life. How are you revealing God’s love in the smallest of acts? How are you displaying Jesus’s character in the words you speak?

Legacy.  A word that says less about you and more about God’s glory.  How are you building your legacy today? Continue reading

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Promise. Failure. Hope.

dec blogI recently read an Advent devotional chronicling the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter one.  The author*mentioned promise, failure and hope as he described how the individuals in the genealogy of Jesus exhibited the truth of these words.  I was struck by the simple but profound truth of these three words as I processed their impact on my own story.

Promise.  My (our) relationship with God is predicated on the truth that God keeps his promises. To Abraham, he said, “I will make you a great nation.” To David, he said, “I will establish an eternal throne.” To you and me he says, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” What an amazing promise! In essence God says to you and me that we matter; we are loved and we belong.

Failure. How often I struggle with failure.  I fail to do or say the right thing in the way I relate to others. I fail to obey God’s word more times than I want to admit. And, if I’m honest, I can often speak lies to myself that cause me to believe I really am a failure.

Hope.  But then I am reminded of the hope that I have in Jesus. He gave his life so that His promises can be a reality in my life.  He sees past my failures and reminds me that there is hope even in the darkest of times.

As I continued to reflect on the connection between these three words, I suddenly saw that Promise and Hope were the bookends to Failure.  My failure was safeguarded by Promise and Hope, both of which are not my responsibility.  God offers me Promise and Hope as he writes my story in his story.  My Failure is redeemed by his sovereign grace and mercy, and is ultimately wrapped in his love.

There is a message in these words for you and for me. I can’t let my failures overtake me. Instead I need to let them be lifechanging as I remember that they are transformed by the promise and hope of God.

Promise. Failure. Hope. Read these words through the eyes of a loving God who transforms our story for His glory.

(*Douglas Finkbeiner. 31 Day Advent Devotional. Lancaster Bible College. 2018)

A Love Story

a-love-story.jpgWe live in a culture that promotes love—at least that’s what we call it. Hallmark writes cards and movies about it, people search for it and often we are confused about how to really define it. I have had the opportunity to watch a love story unfold between two people that truly reflects the meaning of selfless, committed love.

My parents celebrated 76 years of marriage on March 7, 2018, and on March 8 my mom entered eternity. Even now as I write this, it’s hard to comprehend the depth of love that they shared. It was not a marriage without its struggles, trials and hardships, but one thing always remained: their commitment to one another. They were faithful in all aspects of their relationship. Their love was revealed every day in the way they interacted. Even when they were at odds because of their differences, they still showed respect and care and worked toward solutions that brought them closer to each other. The greatest evidence of the love they had for each other came when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my dad declared that he would take care of her as long as she needed care. He commented that he married her for better or for worse and he was committed to her through everything and anything. And he fulfilled that vow staying by her side and caring for her until the end of her earthly life.

As I reflect on my parents’ love story, I can’t help but be reminded of God’s love for us. He is always faithful. His love perseveres through all circumstances and his commitment to us is forever. He will never leave us, abandon us or reject us. I know that my parents’ love was rooted in God’s love for them. They always believed that God was at the center of their marriage, and they clearly lived that belief.

I have been challenged by my mom and dad’s love story. It has caused me to think about the way that I love others. Jesus challenged us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others the way that we love ourselves. God is using the picture of my parents’ love to remind me that I am called to the same kind of love toward my husband, my family, the family of God and to the world that desperately needs to see faithful love in action.

We are all creating a love story in some way. Join me in committing to a live a life that reveals God’s faithfulness to us which in turn will reveal a love story of faithfulness to others.

Advent

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Christmas Greetings!

As we enter the month of December and anticipate the Christmas holiday, I am reminded that the meaning of Advent involves waiting and anticipation.

I remember the year that I was pregnant with our first child. As Christmas approached I was thinking of Mary in a new way as she anticipated the birth of Jesus. We still had 4 more months of waiting for our first son, but that Christmas season, the idea of waiting took on new meaning for me.  Being pregnant was a time of waiting with anticipation for what was to come.

Advent is a season in which we practice waiting; we wait for the coming of God as the baby Jesus. We need him to come. Our world is messed up and we are messed up. We struggle at times with our circumstances and long for God to set things right, to make us better. So we pray and watch for signs of his answer indicating that he has heard us and is present with us. We do all we know to do so that we are open and ready.

In the midst of hardship and disappointment, we continue to wait. We wait in hope. We wait by faith believing that something is happening in our world and that God is at work. We trust that the Spirit of God is shaping and transforming our lives into something wonderful and life-giving. Even in December’s lengthening darkness, as we anticipate the meaning of Christmas, this seed of joyful hope grows within us. We are pregnant with it. In our waiting, we are stretched; our thoughts and our feelings are forced to focus on what is coming. God is coming!

These words from Scripture remind us that waiting is a reality for all of us in one way or another. “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Romans 8:22-25 The Message)

May your heart be enlarged this Advent season as you anticipate the reality of God’s work in your life. Christmas is a time to not think only about the baby who came in the past, but the opportunity to think about this same Jesus who is at work in our hearts in the present.

Anticipate. Wait expectantly. Be pregnant with Hope.

Perspective

life change july

I have a nemesis. And it’s a dandelion that refuses to give up.

This particular dandelion has made its home between the driveway and our house. Seriously, how does that even happen? There is no dirt of any kind to support a root system. I FAITHFULLY pull that weed out, but because it’s wedged between the house and the macadam driveway, I can never pull out the roots. And so it returns. Last year we spent a hefty sum of money to re-do the driveway. The company that did the work completely dug up the old driveway, put down a new base of crushed stones, poured a new layer of macadam and even created a thicker edge along the house so that water wouldn’t seep into the basement.

And that dandelion came back!!

Grumbling to myself, I marched down the driveway and pulled and yanked with all my strength to rid myself of that pesky weed. Then, I sprayed weed killer on what remained and triumphantly proclaimed that I had won. No more weed. Right. Back it came. Again and again.

Then, two weeks ago, I grudgingly drudged down the driveway to pull out that dandelion…again. As I did, I had a different thought. What if instead of resenting this green nemesis, I viewed it with new eyes? This pesky, really insignificant annoyance could be symbolic of something greater and more positive. It reminded me that even though life brought hardship and struggle, I could persevere. If my roots were deep enough, I could continue to survive and thrive, even when conditions were less than desirable. And suddenly, that pesky dandelion became a symbol of perseverance, tenacity and hope.

Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we  also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Truthfully, I will continue to try and beat my dandelion nemesis, but my perspective has changed. Even as I write this, I am thinking of some things in my life, over which I have no control, with new eyes. I want to have God’s perspective about the difficulties of life. I want to persevere in a manner that builds the character of Christ in me and reveals hope to those around me.

Will you let the Spirit of God change your heart and give you a new perspective?

Declare

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Declare. A word that means to pronounce, proclaim, assert and affirm. A word that I don’t normally use in my everyday conversations. However, recently, as I spent time reading and reflecting on the book of Deuteronomy, I was deeply impacted by the word declare. In chapter 26, Moses writes, “You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him. And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised” (Deut. 26:17, 18a).

There is no ambiguity in the word declare. It is sure, definitive and certain; this is how it is. As I read those verses written so long ago, I felt compelled to ask myself, “Do my words declare that the Lord is my God? Do my actions declare that I am walking in His ways? Is my life a true and certain declaration of my belief that the Lord is my God? There was something about the certitude of those verses that pesters me like a fly when I’m trying to relax. I can’t seem to get the word declare out of my head and heart. I want to speak and live a life that declares the greatness and grace of God in my life. Even as I write these words, I am reminded that it’s not possible to live like that unless the Spirit of God is given the freedom to change me. Only then can I declare that the Lord is my God.

This past week my husband and I were able to spend a week in Ocean City, New Jersey. While there we celebrated our anniversary with a walk on the beach at sunset. As we walked, the sky was beautiful with nuances of color, the sun was radiant as it set in the west, and sound of the ocean was rhythmic and soothing. As I took the picture included in this blog, I couldn’t help but think of another declaration, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). All around us are evidences that declare the existence of God. How can we, as His children keep silent? Should not our lives also declare the glory of God?

Declare.   Affirm.   Pronounce.   Proclaim.  Why should these words matter to our journey of faith? We declare the Lord is our God because He has declared that we are His people, His treasured possession. Our declaration comes as a result of what He has done for us; it comes as a recognition of His grace and work in our lives. This day, declare with your mouth and your actions that the Lord is your God. Let your life be a declaration of His love in such a way that others see how He is changing and reshaping you to be more and more like Christ.

Declare.

 

 

 

THY WILL BE DONE

 

I lfie-change_6don’t know how old I was when I first learned the Lord’s Prayer, but I know I was young, probably four or five.  I dutifully repeated the prayer when it was a part of the worship service, but I can’t say that I said it with passion or even deep understanding.  As my church experiences continued, it seemed that there were fewer and fewer times that we said the prayer together. I remember thinking, “I wonder if this church says, ‘debts’ or ‘trespasses’?”

In all candor, there were times that I almost mindlessly repeated the prayer, and then there were other times when I thought about it, pondered it and even journaled about it. However, recently I had a light bulb, “ah ha” moment about this most important prayer. The phrases, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” took on new meaning for me.  It became very apparent to me that Jesus wanted me to pray with an attitude of total surrender because that’s what it takes to live in the Kingdom of God. My posture before the Father in this prayer should be an acknowledgement that I have been invited to be a part of replicating His Kingdom on earth. In Heaven, all things happen in obedience to the King’s will, and my prayer should be that I live with that same attitude. The magnitude of that privilege was overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.

Since that “ah ha” moment, I have frequently pondered what it looks like for me to say, “Thy will be done.” The word that keeps coming to mind is, surrender.  Surrender, my daughter, to my will. Surrender to my love, my goodness, my control.  Surrender, and let your life reflect the contentment and peace that I desire for you. Surrender to me, your good, good Father.

Truly praying, “Thy will be done. Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven,” is life-changing! It will re-orient our thoughts, our attitudes, our actions under the loving hand of God with the realization that nothing happens in Heaven that isn’t His will and that His desire for us is to live the same way now, on earth.

Take time to reflect on the privilege it is to bring Heaven to earth by the way we reveal God’s will in our lives. May His will be done!