impact

Legacy Sown – Legacy Returned

Our conversation led us to the round four seater table placed a the edge of the kitchen. Our husbands were in the next room having their equally important conversation. Quality time with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law is hard to come by, so we hung on each others words. When we are blessed to share time, we speak of things that matter, and we laugh a little too.

On this day our conversation led to the topic of legacy. An explanation of legacy I read recently defined it as “making a difference today with tomorrow in mind” (Inside Track).  And I love to hear stories of those who are making THIS kind of difference!

Joyce knows my heart for pouring into the generations that come after us. It’s not about a program, but about intentional authentic relationship that makes a difference.

She shared about a woman who made a huge impact on her life throughout her years serving as a teacher in the public school system. With Joyce newly retired, she has made a decision to continue to give of herself, and I find it so beautiful to see her give back to one who poured into her.  Pearl left a built a legacy while she lived that will be touching others even after she is gone.

Joyce’s story:
As I retired from 25 years of teaching this past December, I was praying that God would lead me in a direction to be able to give and share with others. Teaching was definitely my “calling” in life and it pretty much consumed my every waking minute. The joy I received from interacting with my students and watching them learn was such a blessing to me.
In January I decided to visit some of our widows that are in nursing homes. One in particular, Pearl, had touched my family’s life for many years. She was a  nursery worker in our church, and she helped many children grow in the Lord. She, also, would call church members on their birthdays and whenever she knew someone was sick. She would always let us know that she was praying for us. Through God’s grace she was able to carry out these ministries through many illnesses, the death of a son, and a husband with Alzheimer’s.
The first time I visited Pearl I suggested that I could read to her whenever I came to visit. She resisted at first because she said she could still read her large print Bible. But, the next afternoon I received a phone call from Pearl and she asked if I could read her Sunday School lessons with her. I procured two lesson booklets the following Sunday. Her class’s curriculum is different from mine, so I am blessed with two lessons of Bible study each week. I read the lesson and highlight key points, then I read it with her and we discuss the Bible truths. It is amazing how much more you receive when you discuss with others.
Whenever we are finished I try to engage her in conversation about her past and her family. I see the joy in her face as she shares. I want to be an encourager for her,because the realization that she will never go home again can be daunting to anyone, especially if you are still “as sharp as a tack” at 88.
God is truly blessing me each week as I try to give back to those who have left a legacy of sharing God’s love with others. Pearl is truly a Pray-er Warrior.

Pizza JOY

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It may look like its just a pizza but it’s much more really. It is somewhat of a tradition. No – I don’t prefer to eat this pizza by myself, but with a younger friend whom I have been blessed to call friend for almost ten years now.

She KNOWS how to custom order a pizza. On occasion I have texted her from Cootie Brown’s Restaurant to ask for the list of toppings.

It’s that good.

I had a conversation with another friend recently about how mentoring rarely if ever is one sided. It was a healthy debate between us.

Both people in the relationship are offered opportunity for growth in the time spent together. My relationship with Melissa is a relationship that has grown us both personally and in mutual relationship with one another over the years.

There have been times I have had to humble myself and ask her forgiveness for not handling something well. Worse yet, if I were to totally expose myself, for not being completely honest in my conversation with her. Concerned how it might be received, I wasn’t willing to risk being authentic with my answer. She was gracious and chose to forgive.
We stretch one another.
We compliment one another.
We grow one another.
If we are willing.

God puts us in classrooms which become catalysts for the lessons He desires to teach us. Not always comfortable. Not always what we expected. But He offers them as a place to learn and grow through.

I am thankful for those who have made my life full to overflowing for having been in the classroom with them. In my life, to walk alongside a younger woman is to desire to show her Christ in all things – through relationship. It’s not just about teaching from the scriptures but about living them out in relationship with others in a way that impacts. Yes – if we are both growing – we are both impacted.

Who knows what the next ten years will look like. Maybe by then each of us will have our PhD!

What do YOUR classrooms look like?

Open Life Impact

I can’t remember what color the sofa was, but I can clearly recall the change that was made in my life because I sat there with Linda that day.

I came to know Linda about 33 years or so ago at a meeting she and I both  attended.  We were both waitresses at the time.  I suppose the common connection at the time of our introduction had something to do with restaurants.  I had not been back in North Carolina very long and was very intent on saving money for a trip back to Florida.

My eyes could only see from one perspective at that point in my life. I had focused through the same lens my whole life.  At eighteen my world had been turned upside down by waking up from the reality of my decision to have an abortion.  But I had no idea what to do with the condition of my heart.  Seeing from the same point of view after pulling away from everyone was a challenge.  Why wouldn’t my life work the same anymore?  My life had been on a downward spiral before the abortion, but now I couldn’t seem to find my ground.  Nothing worked anymore.  The satisfaction that was familiar to me in the things I previously sought after was no longer my reward.  Where was I to turn now?

The details are not clear all these years later, but I remember the invitation was extended for me to attend a bible study at Linda’s house.  Truth be told –  when I watched my peers, Leigh and Debbie’s lives, and saw them say yes to the bible study, I wanted to be like them.  So I followed.  What happened next though was quite the surprise to me.

For the first time in my life – the Bible was opened and I saw and heard things I’d never known.  I can’t tell you what book of the bible we studied.  What I can tell you is my eyes were opened for the first time to the teaching of Jesus Christ crucified, buried and resurrected.  I saw my life in view of the cross Christ was crucified upon.  My life choices were part of what nailed Him to the cross.  And He chose it.  For me.  When the bible study ended I was hungry for more.  Much more.

As Linda and I sat on her living room sofa, I made a decision that would forever change every fiber of my being.  With her explanation of Christ crucified willingly for my sins, I understood the weight of all of my previous decisions.  I experienced freedom from the weight like no freedom I had experienced in my lifetime.  I surrendered my life to Christ at that moment and have been learning under His tutelage ever since.

My friendship with Linda is a gift from the Lord.  The impact she has had upon my life is beyond earthly measure.  The life lessons we have shared over the years walking alongside one another has impacted my singleness, my decisions preparing for marriage, my marriage and parenting relationships…just to name a few.  Whether I was riding with her to a ballgame, running errands with her, walking with her or sharing a family cookout, I was always learning at her side by how she chose to respond (and still does) to God and to others.  No matter what she faced or what I faced, she always directed me back to the Lord.  The real starting place of our relationship.

These many years later I have a worn leather sofa in my home.  My hearts passion is to pour into young women with the same hope that was poured into me so long ago.  The hope I found in Christ.  It’s not uncommon to hear one of my friends say “I need some time on the leather”.  You see, it’s really not about me being good at this.  It is about offering Christ as the only real answer.

As I share with others the need to invest in the generations that come after us, some think they could never do it…they wouldn’t know where to start…how to go about it…what to say.

Maybe Linda didn’t know either, I have never asked.

What I do know is that she opened her home, opened her life, and opened her bible.

Because she did – My life is forever changed.

I am willing to bet YOU have a sofa.

Have you considered the impact you might have if you opened your home, your life, your bible?

Impacted for the Journey

The kitchen assignment chart.

Now it seems a crazy place for the impact to start. But as thoughts come flowing gently back, that’s where they land.

Enter the back door of Grandma’s house, through the screened in porch, and I can count on it to be there…attached to the front of the fridge. Four columns to be exact. One for me and one for each of my three brothers. I couldn’t wait to see what my “job” would be today. She would assign us aprons and give us job descriptions for meal time, then she would step back and become the supervisor overseeing all jobs. Of course…she trusted us and let us know that as she kept her distance and gave us independence. I remember feeling like the queen bee!

Leaving behind a world of fear and chaos the from the home life we lived, every time I walked though those doors and into her home as a young elementary aged girl I found safety and comfort beyond all I hoped and longed for. In her home I mattered. She would sit for hours and teach us to play games. Board games. Card games. Building forts. She made it all about us. She knew we needed it. It was our escape from reality.

Over the next few years as the chaos in the home escalated we would often sneak by her house as we walked to or home from school. Thank God it was on the way. She offered a safe place we knew we could take refuge in. Even if it was temporary. At age ten the courts took us from that home and placed us in another. For a season, she breathed life and hope into a child who might not have known it otherwise.

Could she see past all the pain we endured? Could she trust God would use it all for His glory one day? Did she see who I could become all those years ago? Did she have any idea the impact her love for me would have on my life? My WHOLE life?

All these years later as I consider who has impacted my life – who intentionally made a decision to love me and pour into my life – it begins here. She could have chosen to open the door when we walked in and went about her business as an adult. Surely she could have chosen to. Grandma didn’t. She sat on the floor with us and joined us in our world and made it an exciting child-like place to be. We needed it.

Who was the first to impact your life in such a powerful way? What was the impact?