1. I recently attended the memorial service of a woman who had lost her mother. As her brother talked about his mom (and dad who had died several years earlier), it made me think of my parents. Jim and Peg Smith were married in December of 1942 (Margaret was my mom's given name ... I still don't get how Peg is so often a nickname for women whose given name is Margaret!). Mom was from Altoona, PA and my dad from Harrisburg. Fourteen years into their marriage is when my twin brother and I joined our family, making us a family of six (my oldest sister was twelve at the time, my other sister six). Now when my twin brother and I came along, my parents were only expecting one baby. My mother did not know
|Jim on left; me on right (age 2)|
My parents taught us many things, such as "Mind your manners!" and "Don't forget to change your underwear!" (Funny what I remember!). My mom never learned to drive. So after my dad taught my two sisters to drive, he told my twin brother and me that we would have to hire a driving instructor. Looking back on that, I don't blame him one bit. Teaching TWO teen aged boys to drive at once? Certainly not an easy task! My dad was a good provider, sometimes working multiple jobs to provide for us. And there was never a doubt in my mind that my mom loved me!
My folks passed away a little over six weeks apart (Dad in middle August and Mom in early October in 2003). Neither wanted a large memorial service (they were private people). So mainly family gathered for a simple graveside service to say good-bye. I never felt as honored to officiate a graveside service than when I did so for both my parents. After saying "good-bye" to my mom, I recall standing in front of my mom's sister's and her husband's grave, reading their grave stone and reflecting on their lives (my parents were buried right next to my aunt and uncle). My cousin joined me and we talked for a moment about his parents and my parents and how they just loved being together. He then said something that really struck me. "John, with the passing of your mother do you realize that she was the last of her generation? We are now the oldest generation in the family!" Wow! He was right (since sharing that insight with me some 13 years ago, my sister, Bev, has also passed away (December 2013).
Forgive my rambling here ... but here's my point. Life is passing ever so quickly (James 4:13-14). None of us know how many more years we have to make a difference in this world. So what are YOU doing to leave a legacy behind that will honor God and advance his kingdom once you are gone? Time is short and the opportunities are great. Let's get intentional to live life for Christ and not waste our remaining days!
2. At one point as I was typing this post, I paused and looked at some post-its that are hanging from the bottom of my computer's monitor. There is a note from my 3 year old granddaughter, June,
which she wrote for me when she was two (see adjacent photo). There is also a note from June's mother, my daughter Kate reminding me of her love for me (and the long term affectionate nickname she has for me ... which I choose not to reveal!). In addition, a prayer hangs in between these two love notes. It is a prayer I ran across in reading of one of John Piper's many devotional books (this one I highly recommend), Life as a Vapor. As I read his prayer ... I then went back and prayed his prayer. I would encourage you to do the same. Here it is:
Thank you Lord, for the lives of flawed and faith-filled saints! Thank you for grace, amazing grace, that saves and uses sinners! Lord, don't let me limit your power by what I see in the mirror.
Help me to trust you. Help me, as William Carey said,
to expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.
I am not great. But you are great.
Your power is made perfect in my weakness.
I surrender all worldly claims on my life.
Make me useful for the glory of Christ.
In his great name I pray.
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