A Living Legacy

Today I’m thinking a bit about legacy, as Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on Monday, and MLK was a dad (he had 4 children). Having children in and of itself contributes to the future of the world, and is necessary if we want to have a next generation to live after we die. How those children are raised has an even bigger impact on the legacy we leave and help create. Even if we don’t choose to have children ourselves, even the smallest of interactions that we have with children can have a big impact on them and their future.

MLK made a legacy for himself through all of the activism he was part of as well as the children he raised. He’s inspired countless children ever since and will continue to do so because not only was he a leader, he was an inspiring leader and left a message that’s timeless and powerful in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Few people are as well remembered and empowering to future generations as MLK.

One of the reasons we have children is because we don’t want our legacy to end, and we don’t always feel that we can make the biggest impact on the world and hope our children will have a bigger impact than us (even if we do have a big impact). While I don’t think it’s a good idea to force our kids or the next generation into our idea of ‘a big impact’, I do think we should encourage them, like MLK, to dream and want to have an impact on the world.

There are big and small ways that we can help support the next generation in having an impact on the world, including doing our best to care for the gift of the world that we’ve been given.  If we leave less of a mess for them to clean up they’ll have more resources of all kinds to make improvements instead of working to undo our damage.  How will you support the next generation?

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Reality Reflection: A Grandparents Legacy

Sunday in the US is Grandparents Day. It’s a time to remember the grandparents for all they’ve done for our families and celebrate the many years they’ve lived. This week in one of my newsletters I talked about the importance of including grandparents in our lives, and especially about having them share their stories with us. Why? Because if they don’t share their stories and experiences with us, we’ll lose them forever.

It may not sound monumental that we’ll never hear the stories of how they walked to get milk or went into the big city as kids without adult supervision. But we’re talking about a way of life that most of us will never experience in our lifetime or any lifetime in the future. The life that they lived isn’t something any of us can experience, and the only way we’ll ever know it happened, let alone be able to share it with future generations is if we talk with them.

Doing things with grandparents can also help you see the world in a different way, and spending time with them creates memories that can’t be erased when they’re gone. Some of my best and most special memories as a child are of spending days and vacations with my grandparents. I often wish I could have spent more time with them, and that in their later years disease didn’t steal their memories as it did, it’s one reason that I choose to spend time with other grandparents now that mine are gone.

The grandparents of the world have a lot to teach us if we’re willing to listen. While our lives may be different in many ways, in many other ways they’re very similar. What have you learned from the grandparents in your life?

The Wisdom of Nelson Mandela

One of the great men of all time was born 100 years ago yesterday: Nelson Mandela.  He endured through many challenges and struggles, yet never gave up, never gave up hope and always tried to do the best for everyone involved.  He’s a great example of what’s possible when you do your best, be your best, and lead regardless of the challenges in your past.  So today I thought we’d honor his life by taking a look at some of the great wisdom he shared.  

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.”

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

“Even if you have a terminal disease, you don’t have to sit down and mope. Enjoy life and challenge the illness that you have.”

“People respond in accordance to how you relate to them. If you approach them on the basis of violence, that’s how they’ll react. But if you say, ‘We want peace, we want stability,’ we can then do a lot of things that will contribute towards the progress of our society.”

I want to close with an invitation for you to read what other people had to say about the great man.  The words they chose to honor this man reveals yet again what a distinguished, caring and exceptional man he was.  How has Nelson Mandela touched you?

Reality Reflection: Salute the Flag

Thursday here in the US was Flag Day. The US flag, like some of the other flags around the world is iconic. It’s a flag that many people recognize, even though it’s only looked exactly like it does since 1960. The flag has actually been redesigned 26 times since 1777, and what’s stuck around for all the versions are both the strips and the colors. The current flag is awesome because it honors the past and the present, with the 50 stars representing the 50 states, and the 13 stripes representing the original 13 colonies.

I think the fact that it’s developed and changed over time is also an important reflection on our country. It means that we’ve become our own country (the original flag looked pretty similar to the Britain one where the original colonists were from). We’ve developed our own personality, our own values, and struggled through our own challenges. And we’re still growing, learning, and changing.

Our flag is a symbol of what we’ve been and who we are now, as well as a reminder that we’re strongest and greatest when we work together. Days like Flag Day are opportunities for us to show that we’re part of that nation and proud of it. So whether you get some small flags to stick in your lawn or hang in a window, or are able to hang one from your home or garage, make sure you’re ready for the 4th of July, the next opportunity to show your pride in the USA.

Trust and Hope for the Next Generation

One of my favorite things to do is watch dogs and puppies. I love to watch all animals, but especially dogs and puppies. OF course in this internet age there are tons of videos on YouTube and lots of social accounts for animals (including an adorable husky my brother shared with me the other day). I also love watching and supporting the organizations that have great missions like those who raise assistance dogs or work on conservation of species. As I was watching the puppies on one of my favorite sites, Explore, they posted news that a baby osprey had hatched so I popped over to check out the new little one. As I was watching I was reminded of the uncertainty of life and the hope that we all live with.

Bird parents sit on their eggs for however long and hope they hatch and then hope the babies don’t get eaten as they grow. The same is true for dogs, they are pregnant for however long hoping that all the babies are born healthy, hope they grow up with no health challenges and live a long life. Humans are the same, that we’re pregnant and hope the babies are born healthy, and then hope they grow up to be amazing men and women who make a difference in the world.

But the simple fact is we don’t know. We don’t know that they’ll live and be healthy and thrive.  Sometimes they don’t.  But we have to rely on God and trust that God has the best plan for those animals and those babies. The Bible shares in Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” God has a plan for each of our lives, we may not know the full amount of that plan, but we do know that it’s a good plan, a plan that includes a future.

So if you’re going through a period of uncertainty, I encourage you to remember the birds and the animals. If they can trust God to provide not only for them but provide and protect the next generation, shouldn’t we do the same. Trust that God has a plan for your life, and that He will be with you through whatever you’re going through now.

Reality Reflection: Who will you be at 92?

With much of the world looking at England for the Royal Wedding, my ear was caught by a couple of statements made not about the royal couple, but about the Queen. I’m not a huge history person, nor am I really on top of all that goes on in England, but every statement I heard in the days surrounding the wedding regarding the queen were positive, which is a huge statement about who she is and how she has ruled.

The first statement that stood out to me was regarding her fashion choices. According to those who pay attention to these things, her fashion statement has always been “I need to be bright,” and her fashion choice for the wedding certainly was that, and you couldn’t miss her in the bright green outfit she wore. But it’s far more than just a fashion choice in my book. I think the bright fashion choices not only help her to stand out, but they’re a reminder to her, and the world if they pay attention, that we’re at our best when we’re being bright lights in the world.

The second statement was regarding that at age 21 she gave a birthday speech and in it she said I “shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family…” That’s far different than saying ‘I will lead this country’ or ‘I will be the best leader I can be’ or anything along those lines. It’s really a statement about how she chooses to put others first and considers their needs/worries/concerns/hurts. And it’s a statement that she has lived up to, and something she has passed on to her children and grandchildren.

When you’re 92 what will people say about you? Will they smile and think of the cheer you brought to the world, way you uplifted others, and the service that you led? What will they remember you for?

Earth Day Encouragement

Earth Day is less than a week away, and as I was reflecting on some of the earth/nature related Bible verses, the earth related events I know about coming up this weekend, about tax time, and still about Easter which is only a few weeks ago, I was reminded that it all eventually circles back to one thing: community.

Let me explain. Yes, the Bible tells of God doing things for just one or a few people, but Easter is really about everyone, not just one person or a few people. Everyone pays taxes, because it’s too big of a burden for just one person to take care of. The earth is something we all share and we’re all going to either keep it or lose it depending on how we live on it. As much as we’re all individuals and God sees us that way and has individual relationships with each of us, we’re all still part of a body of believers and called to meet together, care for each other and love each other.

Earth Day is one of those things that individually we’re responsible for doing our part to pay better attention to how we live on the earth as well as make sure we give back to the earth. But it’s only when we look at our collective effort that we can really see the difference over the years since 1970 when Earth Day officially began. It’s only when we recycle all year long, and not just on Earth Day, that we’ll make a difference. It’s only when we consistently choose the environmentally friendly choices that we begin to see a difference.

The same is true for our faith communities. You may not think you’re doing much only talking with one person about what faith means to you, but when many people are talking with others about their faith, not only does the Great commission not seem so overwhelming, but it actually looks like we’re making progress spreading the word.

So today I encourage you not to give up. Don’t be disheartedned if you don’t see your personal efforts having huge effects. Take the time to be part of your community and see what your community is doing to make a difference in the world, both your local community for Earth Day and your church community for the Great Commission. I’m not suggesting that when you see everyone else is doing the work that you let others do all the work and don’t give a personal effort, but rather be encouraged that the work you’re doing in connection with the work they’re doing is making a difference.

“Sometimes—by sheer determination–we can just kick the stone away from the door of the tomb and march out triumphantly into Resurrection Life. More often, we must wait: wait for circumstances to change, wait upon on God, wait on others for help. When Lazarus was called out of the tomb, Jesus said: “unbind him.” You –you friends and family of Lazarus—you unbind him. Sometimes we cannot unbind ourselves, but have to wait for others to help us into freedom.” Br. Mark Brown