Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Life Lessons & Legacy

My husband turned forty recently. It was a big event for him. He has been dreading it for years. I don’t know why. I guess it’s a natural time to re-evaluate your life and see how you’ve done. I knew he wasn’t looking forward to it, so I wanted to go out of my way to make his birthday special and some how soften the blow for him.

With that said, I decided to make him a special memory book. What better way to see all of what you have accomplished! I wanted him to see first hand the lives he had impacted and to hear it personally from those he had touched all along the way. The whole project took three months to send out messages, gather notes, and put it all together. I was amazed at the response. There were birthday wishes, thank you’s, and lots of funny stories. Some responses were short and lighthearted while others were long and purposeful. They all were so encouraging!

My husband’s response as he opened it was unforgettable! He was shocked and couldn’t believe his eyes. What was this? How did I get all of these people to write him? His high school friends too? He was overwhelmed. He began to read immediately and was swallowed up into the book. He read it from beginning to end… laughing, smiling, and tearing up. It was powerful. He said it was the best present ever. His life’s impact wrapped up in a book. I think I was touched just as deeply as he.

This is what he posted on his Facebook status reflecting back on it all…

It was the most amazing gift she could have given me as I reflect over the last forty years. It was a huge reminder that the most important things in life are those that we share life with. Thank you to all of you who took the time to share memories, stories, and words of encouragment with me. You ALL are a part of my story and I am who I am today because of each of you. THANK YOU!!

As I look back over the last forty years I see lots of highs and lots of lows, but what I truly see is a life well lived. I have some regrets, some missed opportunities, and some curves in the road that I never expected, but what I see most clearly are all of you. What I see are my amazing wife and incredible sons. What I see are the people who have loved me, challenged me, cheered for me, shared with me, corrected me, pushed me, amazed me, and laughed with me. This is the essence of my last forty years and you all are what has made this journey incredible....thank you.

I am the compilation of all of the lives that have touched me and that I have touched and when I compare that to the few troubles and trials......I am well pleased with the first forty years of my life. I thank God for his incredible blessings. I do not take them for granted. I am truly looking forward to my next forty years!!!

The other night we spent some time as a family talking and sharing about the upcoming year. Daddy discussed his memory book and how it had touched his life. He even read some excerpts from it. He explained how it inspired him to live for eternity now. What did he want others to say about him after he died? In order to make that a reality, he had to live that way today! The boys shared how they wanted others to see them and their goals of who they wanted to become this year. It was precious.

Not only did daddy talk about living for eternity, he also talked about leaving a legacy. Passing on what God has done in us to others and letting it spread. What a concept! It’s a domino effect. Be today what you want others to become tomorrow. Many of the notes in his memory book were from students from our many years of ministry as youth pastors. It was incredible to see how much they have grown and what they are doing now to make a difference in their world for God. We’ve had a part in that. We took what God did in us and passed it on to them, who are passing it on now to others.

One excerpt from a student said this…“I owe the greatest part of my success as a leader of this nations finest young men and women (Navy) to your own dedication and leadership of each one of those young souls you cared for like we were your own children. God bless you! Your influence has grown farther than you could possibly imagine. I thank you, my wife thanks you, and my children thank you for helping me find out what it means and looks like to be a man of God.”

Wow… my kids were inspired! They couldn’t believe all of the lives that were touched and changed. They want to make a difference in their world for God. Watch out world, my boys are going to tear it up for Jesus!

What about you? Who do you want to become in 2012? What do you want others to say about you? Who do you want to touch and impact for God? Live for eternity today! Dream big my friend. God has amazing things in store for you. I hope you are ready. 2012 here we come!

Living to leave a legacy!