Category Archives: making a difference

The Legacy I Live and Leave Matters

Standard

dad-1716160_960_720

“Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

In the wake of his dad’s death in April, my husband John reminded me a legacy can just as easily be negative as positive. He said, “I’m my dad. I’m overweight, I have a bad attitude, and I blame others and feel sorry for myself when things don’t go my way.”

He was being especially hard on himself and his dad that evening. However, what he was experiencing and expressing is exactly what happens when we face death. After our goodbyes and burying the people we love, we’re left with whatever they left us – an inheritance or debt; the work of cleaning out their stuff; what they willed us or didn’t will us; what they gave to others that we didn’t get; what we got that someone else thinks they should have; the pain of family turning against one another; the fear we’ll turn too.

Mostly, we’re left with their legacy – the one we inherit even if they didn’t leave us money or goods.

gravestones-918566_960_720

I thought about Dad’s legacy this past Sunday, August 13th on the twelfth anniversary of his death. Dad and I were estranged the final three years of his life. If I’d had a Fitbit back then, I would have exceeded every step goal walking back and forth to my upstairs bathroom window that overlooked our driveway, looking for his truck to pull in one more time.

I recognize now that Dad loved hard, took things hard when he was hurt by people, and acted hard towards them afterwards. I understand more about his response when I wished him a happy 70th birthday and he said, “I hope the next 70 are better.” I figured out some about why driving eight blocks to my house was too difficult for him and why him saying “I’m sorry” seemed impossible.

In light of his legacy and the one left by John’s dad too, I’ve pondered a question I heard at a women’s conference. The speaker talked about working with survivors of sexual abuse. I wrote about it here, “Whose Legacy Are You Living?” She said it helped to ask the women something like, “Whose legacy are you living, your abuser’s or yours?”

I was pretty sure I could answer for John and me. We’re living the legacies of our fathers.

Dad struggled with family relationships and with having friends. He struggled with self-esteem and self-doubt. He struggled to get over being hurt and sad.

Dad also painted, made pottery, and wrote love letters to us. One he wrote to me a couple of months after I was born is taped in my baby book. He played board games with me when I begged. He collected oriental figurines, he added to my doll collection, and he accumulated unusual postage stamps. Dad oversaw building a house for his mom, remodeled the house we lived in, and talked about buying and fixing up a beach house.

He bought a motel and opened an ice cream parlor after he returned from Vietnam that marked his retirement from the Air Force. He walked, rode his bike, and jumped rope in our backyard. A couple of times a week, he’d put on boots with metal hooks on the toes and, to improve his blood flow, he’d hang upside down from a bar he mounted between two trees. I’d watch him from the kitchen window. Dad read the Bible cover-to-cover at least twice. He crafted lanterns and planters to give away and built a toy box for each of his four grandchildren.

 

glass-671963_960_720

I didn’t have to go on and on here, listing every memory of Dad that’s good and fun and quirky, but I wanted to. It reminds me how much our daily choices matter, just like my friend told her dad when he was dying alone and lonely. On his deathbed, he asked her, “How’d I get here?”

“Thousands of bad choices, Dad,” she said. It was all she could think to tell him. Their conversation haunts me, but hopefully it saved him like the thief who hung by Jesus on the cross. In the last minutes, his legacy changed.

So, here’s the thing about a legacy – we leave one, good or bad, whether we intend to or not. There are qualities from both of our dads we hope to keep alive, and ones we don’t.

Here’s another thing about legacy – it matters. John and I gave voice to this when we recognized how much our dads’ legacies shaped us, even our body shape, our weight.

The final thing about legacy – we decide.

Each one of us has been influenced by someone, but we’re not destined to live how they lived. We decide whose legacy we’re living – a parent, an abuser, a mentor. We decide whether we’ll live out their difficult ways or their productive and creative ones. We decide if we want to ditch everything they modeled and live differently. We decide whether to be sloppy about our own legacies or intentional.

I knew I’d inherited my dad’s creative spirit even though I hadn’t given him credit for my painting and writing until just now. He definitely passed on his appreciation for homes and remodeling them. I’ve enjoyed collecting things most of my life like artwork and shoes (a justifiable collection, I think). I started walking daily when I was pregnant with our son and kept it up for nearly three decades. It never crossed my mind until writing this, though, that I’d taken on Dad’s melancholy mood.

Legacy. We leave one. It matters. We decide on our own.

Whose legacy are you living? Is it one you want to keep going?

#gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

In This Together,
Kim

Advertisements

What Truly Matters to You? (finding your “why”)

Standard

 

12400929_10207162502532421_2022320945572691796_n

“People lose their way when they lose their why.” Gail Hyatt

 In the series, Finish Your Book in 2016, author Jerry B. Jenkins talks about finding our “why.” He asks, “What truly matters to you?”

It seems I’ve known since I was a little girl that relationships matter and we need each other.

Friends and I sit for hours in restaurants and coffee shops sharing stories about things we didn’t know about each other in high school, things we’ve been through since high school, and ways we wish we had been there for each other.

We stand in sweltering and freezing parking lots to catch up and confide with each other about the families we grew up in, the ones we couldn’t get along with, but we miss them terribly now that they’re gone.

We stay up past midnight to message back and forth about our marriages that never should have lasted, but they have and we’re grateful.

The more I tell the truth and listen to friends tell theirs, the more I realize how much we as women need to speak up. My “why,” the thing that truly matters to me, is living in relationships honestly and honestly telling my story.

[I’ll post a disclaimer here since I used to confide in the wrong people. Use discretion and discernment when you share since not everyone is a friend.]

Even though I knew I needed to write on this topic, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to open up about my life. It wasn’t until I read Lysa TerKeurst’s blog post on her site at Proverbs 31 Ministries, Jesus Loves Those in Messy Marriages, that I thought I may be able to tell anything. She starts her post, “I threw the cup of orange juice across the kitchen.”

Lysa wrote that post four years ago. It’s taken me a while to follow her lead. Until I reread it last night, I didn’t remember anything aside from the juice. I’d also thrown orange juice, except I threw my glass across the dining room while screaming at my husband to get out. The juice glass broke a pane in the French door. My husband left, only to have me call him two minutes later and beg him to come home. Doubled over on my hands and knees, I alternated between sobbing and sopping up sticky juice and glass.

Why share a story like this one? My secrets kept me despondent and in bed. So did my unwillingness to talk and write about our messy marriage, my scary reactions, and the depression they led to. My husband and I recognized healing happened when I talked about things like the broken windowpane. I felt less broken every time he listened and tried to understand. He said, “It’ll be uncomfortable, but I want you to tell our story. It’ll help us and others.”

We both realized …

If one friend had told me what she threw across her kitchen and how crazy she acted and how isolated, dark, and afraid she felt, we both would have felt less isolated, dark, and afraid. That’s how this works.

If one friend had let me know her Facebook post about being best friends with her husband wasn’t always true, but they’re healing, then posts about husbands sending flowers and couples going on cruises would have been less painful.

If one friend had let me know her home life didn’t feel safe or sane, I would have told her mine didn’t either. We would have felt safer and saner.

I am telling my story so we can help each other. That’s what Lysa did for me.

In This Together,
Kim

A big thank you to 16-year-old Abigail Sawyer for giving permission to use her drawing. Abby is a homeschooler and a self-taught artist whose family realized her talent when she took a painting class. She hopes to attend art school and draw for Disney. To see more of Abby’s artwork, check her out on Instagram @abigails_art13.

Blog-by-Blog, a blog about tithing

Standard

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” William James

Gina Holmes, novelist and founder of literary blog Novel Rocket, challenged writers to tithe our blogs by posting an article (click below on Inspire a Fire).

Simple enough, right?

So simple it was tempting to leave it for others to do. That way, I’d stay the course and keep ticking off important items on my to-do list.

Then I wondered, “Like what?”

Too often I put aside a random act of kindness because it seems too small, and busyness takes priority.

What difference will it make anyway?

Maybe I’ll never know who was helped, or that anyone was helped at all. There may be no news on the outcome.

I may never hear another word about it.

Come to think of it, that’s even more reason to do it.

What might you tithe, no matter the size or result?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Heart-warming seasons remind us to make a difference year-round, like in this story shared on Inspire A Fire.

On the side: Tithing 10 percent is about money, time, talents, and even blogs.