Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a Legacy

Do you ever have periods of time in your life where you feel like God is using everything around you to shout at you?

Like He’s got something important for you to hear, and it becomes apparent that you either aren’t listening at all or just not giving it enough attention?

Lately, I have been completely surrounded by the idea of leaving a legacy, specifically as a mom.

Moms, you’ve been heavy on my heart lately.

There have been quite a few things in my life that have just been urgently reminding me that the life we get is so short in the grand scheme of things.

But more than that, I keep being reminded that when we leave, we leave something.

What we leave is totally up to us.

Ty’s grandfather, Irv, died this Memorial Day weekend. As we spent time remembering and honoring him, we were blown away by the people that came out of the woodwork to say that he had significantly impacted their lives.

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He was a basketball coach that expected very much from each of his students and players, both on the court and off. He is in 3 halls of fame for his coaching. But in the weeks after he passed, it became evident that who he was and who challenged other people to be was a much bigger legacy.

A few weeks before we lost Irv, I was in California with the boys for my grandpa’s 80th birthday. But more than that, his mom was there. That’s right. She was at her son’s 80th birthday party.

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My boys got to meet their great-great grandmother.

She also passed away just a few weeks ago. She was 101 years old.

When we were at the birthday party, all I could think about was seeing my boys when they are turning 80. Watching them interact with and love their great-grandchildren. Seeing my grandchildren become grandparents.

I can’t imagine being so lucky.

As I type this, I am sitting in Maine with my mom’s whole side of the family.

My Grandad is here, as are his 6 kids, their spouses, their kids and spouses, and their grandkids. In all, we are 32 people in one house. We spend our time playing games, kayaking, doing puzzles, playing catch, and eating insane amounts of food (Costco loves us).

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But the most amazing thing about this week is that every single one of us is here. We all enjoy spending time together, and we are all committed to making this week work.

My Grandma passed away many years ago, but when I look around at all of these people working on puzzles, swimming in the lake, and chatting until all hours of the night, I see her everywhere.

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My mom and her sisters are all exactly like her in their own way. Together, they make up a perfect picture of her. My cousins and I are who we are because of who she was. I catch myself telling my kids something, and I know that I learned it from my mom, who learned it from hers.

Two weeks ago, the sermon at church was about Paul.

Paul didn’t have children. He had churches.

He spent his life with people.

Changing people.

Loving people.

Educating people.

The pastor reminded us that pretty much on a daily basis, I am reading something Paul wrote. My life is changed just about every day by Paul, even 2,000 years later.

Before Maine, we were in Boston for a day.

My kids have been really into the Revolutionary War lately. It was so humbling to stand in the places where normal people with big, important ideas and values came together and stood for something significant.

Those people didn’t list their job descriptions as “revolutionary” or “founding father.” They were lawyers, blacksmiths, cobblers, merchants. Just regular people. James, Paul, Abigail. They were wives and husbands with houses and children and day jobs.

They felt that things weren’t right. They said something, they started something, and then they left a legacy that has lasted to this day. We’re visiting their homes, their churches, their shops in reverence and awe because this is where important things happened and important people stood.

Through all of this, I’ve been contemplating what it means for me. What does this have to do with me?

When it’s my funeral, what do I hope that people will say? What will they actually say?

As a stay-at-home mom, it sometimes starts to feel like there is really not a lot of significance to what I do.

Whose life am I changing by doing laundry?

Children are lonely, starving, and vulnerable all over the world. And what am I doing about that from my kitchen sink doing dishes?

Being consumed by this thought of leaving a legacy started about the same time that I started writing part one of the story of our car accident. Since then, I have been really overcome with the idea that no matter where we are or what we do, we are here to make a difference.

We all have the ability to change the world.

You guys, Billy Graham had a mom.

On plenty of occasions, he said that his mom had the greatest influence on his life.

Can you imagine?

Do you think when she was doing laundry and dishes, or praying with and for her kids, she could have imagined what he would do for Jesus in the world? What his kids would do, and on and on?

Mother Teresa had a mom.

Her father died when she was very young, and she became extremely close to her mother. Her mom is the one who taught her compassion, charity, and love. Invitations were extended to children and the destitute at every meal in their home.

I don’t think her mother could have known that setting that humble example would soon make her daughter synonymous with charity and selflessness throughout the world.

My boys have a mom.

At the end of my life, I want to be holding Ty’s hand, looking around at the life that we built, and watching the branches of our family tree growing exponentially.

I want to know that the things we said to our kids about life, love, and Jesus have flowed all the way down that tree to the budding leaves.

It’s changing the way that I live my life. The way that I talk to my kids about Jesus. The way I think about loving other people.

I hope that Ty and I live a long life, filled with love, laughter, Jesus, and our people. But no matter how long we have, I can’t wait to see how our kids find their place in the world and learn to make their mark. I can’t wait to see what Jesus does with those boys, and I am so humbled that He chose me to use to get them there.

Your kids have you, Mom.

1 Comment

Mary Jean

about 3 years ago

We have been blessed with wonderful parents, grandparents, etc. I always had a dream to write a book about how mom's influenced their boys to become great men. See if there was a common thread that made a difference. But, that dream was set aside to raise my boys the best I could with all the love I had. Now, I'm just grateful they turned out as great as they did. I applaud your goals with the grands and how they are such kind, loving, smart and, Jonni would agree, so darn cute! Not just in looks, but attitude and cleverness. Some of their goofiness definitely comes from their dad - but it's all fun to watch. It breaks my heart to think of the children out there who are trying to figure it out on their own, even if their parents are in the picture. Legacys are a big deal and are the most important piece of your "estate planning." Well said D.i.L.!

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