Tag Archives: inheritance

The Times, They Are A-Changin’

As a friend recently described a special envelope she had typically kept in her Bible for safekeeping; in this envelope was a list of significant events in her life, events that served as milestones in her family over a span of several decades.  In hearing her describe the joy she experienced upon discovering the list after having misplaced it for a period of time, it struck me that that list was a part of a permanent, even eternal legacy.  She will give that paper to her children as a record of momentous spiritual events in the life of her family.  Those events have eternal value.
Conversely, some things may contribute to our legacy but may not be a permanent part of it.   Just as we buy different kinds of clothing for different seasons, and we accumulate various types of supplies for particular chapters in our lives (baby bottles, children’s books, snow suits or sleds, pool toys, cameras, typewriters, computers, bread machines, even sound equipment that subsequently becomes dated), some items outlive their usefulness.   At intervals, we are compelled to sort through our “stuff” and give away or throw away things we no longer need (but to which we may have become attached).  This process is not always as simple as it sounds, as nostalgia can easily overwhelm us!
The challenge is to discern what is part of the permanent, eternal legacy of our lives and what might be temporarily vital but not carry lasting value.   With Aglow, we also face new seasons:  we distill what is and will always be part of who we are as a ministry, but we must lay aside the strategies that may have been pivotal in the past, but which no longer are proving useful or relevant in our current culture.   When God has used certain things to minister deeply to us, it can be very challenging to release those activities and approaches.   (Just yesterday evening, I was looking through a photo album and was overwhelmed with nostalgia at the sight of photos of our eldest two children when they were small; even their clothing was very dear to me, as it was passed down to their younger siblings yet ultimately given away or thrown away.  I remember how difficult it was to part with those clothes, as they symbolized the end of an era!  As a result, it was a bittersweet experience to gaze on those photos and wonder how those years had evaporated so quickly!)
The temporary things may CONTRIBUTE to the legacy, but they are NOT the legacy.   Jesus is our inheritance!   I am so grateful!  These days, I am continually asking God what has eternal value and what is merely temporary — what has outlived its season of usefulness — so I can focus on the eternal things.  Often, despite my earnest desire to move forward with Him, I find it challenging to welcome new seasons that, at least at first glance, seem unfamiliar and even frightening.   May the Holy Spirit empower me afresh to embrace the next part of my journey with confidence in His goodness and in the knowledge that He can be trusted to retain those aspects of the past that have eternal value!   Yes, we can agree with the Psalmist that we have a beautiful, eternal inheritance:  “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, my cup [He is all I need]; You support my lot.  The [boundary] lines [of the land] have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.”  (AMP:  Psalm 16: 5-6)
I love this song by Amy Grant called “Heirlooms.”  Jesus is more than an heirloom to you and to me.  We can praise Him forever for that!

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Re-Defining Home

d12edeb1a0bce4778fefb21e1ecc327cGrowing up, I was never from a particular place, as we never lived anywhere more than three years.   We learned to associate “home” with where our little family happened to be; home was more a relational concept than a locational one.   I grew up without ever feeling connected to a hometown and occasionally felt envious of friends who actually had an association with a physical place and context   However, my home was always connected with my parents and sisters and whatever friends happened to gather wherever we happened to be living at any given time.  The house was full, and my parents were charismatic and generous; they attracted people to themselves like a flame attracts moths.   I thought this phenomenon was normal; it never occurred to me that it was unusual.

When I married, I was attached to my husband and did not care one bit where we lived; however, after giving birth to three of our five children in Norway over the course of over seven years in that breathtakingly beautiful land, it was a challenge for me to move back to the States.   Moreover, I didn’t feel very “at home” in the tiny Texas town to which we were transferred.  As a result, my sense of “home” remained  relational rather than physical — connected to my husband, children, and parents (who always were several states away from us).

We set about building a sense of home, rooted in traditions but designed to reflect our personality as a couple and as a growing family.   Over the course of decades, we have hosted hundreds of people in our home from all manner of nations and backgrounds.  After all, that is what I was taught to do!  As wanderers, we included other people as a matter of course, people who were different from ourselves.

Ultimately, my parents retired and moved to the Rocky Mountains, where they personally shared some history.  They built a beautiful home on six acres of land — their dream home after decades of moving around the country — and welcomed us and whoever else wanted to visit them.   Unfortunately, my mother began an arduous downhill spiral not long after their much-anticipated move to the Rockies.  It seemed one affliction struck her after another, and soon the family gatherings were tainted by her pain and our collective concern about her health.

Through all the challenges, my father remained resolute in supporting my mother in word and deed.  When her infirmity became psychological and neurological, he did not waver.   Much later, we finally realized that she had been tormented for years with progressive phases of dementia; after several trying years, Dad reluctantly admitted  he was no longer able to care for her, and we assisted him in placing our mother in an assisted living facility two miles from the house they had so excitedly built together.  There were many tears, and our father was left alone in a hollow house replete with memories, yet with the love of his life absent.

Undaunted, my dad visited my mother faithfully every day; he was resolute and unwavering in his devotion.   When he entered her assisted living apartment, she would briefly snap out of her doldrums and beam in recognition.   As she weathered the trials of a fractured hip and a broken femur, as well as multiple bouts of pneumonia, he was always at her side, only returning home at night to eat and sleep in the empty house that echoed with the memories of long-evaporated dreams.  During this time apart, he adjusted to Mom’s absence and the sense of distance created by dementia, and he faithfully cleaned the house, learned to cook for himself, paid the bills (always my mother’s job), and grew familiar with a life of relative solitude that revolved around his daily visits to Mom.

Recently, the time came when Dad could no longer live alone, despite his valiant attempts to manage everything himself.   His own health had deteriorated, and my sisters and I suggested that perhaps he should join our mother in her apartment.   He could no longer drive and spent his days fretting about how he could visit her, worrying about how she was faring, and desperate to be with her.   Ultimately, an emergency situation prompted his physician to recommend he not be left alone in the house any longer.   Reluctantly, he relinquished his independence and chose my mother in her little apartment over the beautiful home full of memories and majestic mountain views.

When the day came for the transition to her apartment, he worried she might reject him.   He wondered where he would sleep.   We assured him there was plenty of room in that apartment for the two of them, and, intending to comfort him, we reminded him that Mom had been sleeping in the recliner of late.  He responded wistfully, “I wish she would sleep in the bed with me.”   That statement brought tears to my eyes.

The first night after installing him in the apartment with our mother, the two of them slept together in the bed they had shared decades before, on the same sides of the bed we remembered them sharing when we were children.   It was as if they had not missed a day together, and the four-and-a-half year gap when they had been separated by Dad’s inability to care for Mom at home simply evaporated.   Now they are together every day, all day.   Although Dad is a bit bewildered at times by what is happening with the physical property that was their home for twenty-five years, he is not looking back.   He has clearly chosen our mother over their physical house.   He belongs with her, and he does not question that.

Nothing means more to me than watching my father gaze admiringly at my tiny mother (who is gradually losing her teeth) and proclaim, “You look so pretty today!”   Sixty-five years of absolute devotion, commitment, respect, and admiration far exceed any physical house anyone could ever build.   My father has chosen well, and he loves my mother unconditionally and forever, whether she speaks his name aloud or not (and sometimes she does).  Instinctively, she knows he is home; and HE knows he is home.   And I know that I have inherited matchless treasures.   My heavenly Father is revealing His Kingdom to me, this side of heaven!  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

My father chose well — his treasure was in relationship, not in any building or possession. Just as Mom had left many friends and houses behind when Dad’s job repeatedly required  re-location over the course of their life together, he forfeited all for her and never looked back.   May I be as devoted as he — first to My Savior, and second to my earthly husband!  Thanks, Daddy, for an invaluable heritage and your priceless example!

 

 

 

 

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