7/30/08

Perpetual Heritage

Grandma Dorothy made the best Scotch-Irish Potato Soup with Egg Rivels (stringy dumplings). When I saw this odd heart-shaped photo, it reminded me of how much I love this rich, creamy soup. I’m so thankful that Grandma shared the recipe with me, so I can pass it down to my sons and their wives. When my sons were married, I gave both of their wives the “Wilson Family Cookbook,” chocked full of recipes—many that my sons loved.

Passing on recipes is more than the recipes themselves; it’s all about preserving the traditions of a family. Grandma’s potato soup recipe isn’t about the humble spud. It’s about the memories we shared as I watched her make it, and the warmth I felt as we shared it around the table. I’m glad she didn’t hoard her recipes. It was such a wonderful, loving choice.

I was in a home recently where the woman knew something about treasuring her heritage. She had framed a handwritten family recipe and hung it on her kitchen wall. It was preserved for all of the family to enjoy for many years to come. I loved the idea!

Another good choice is to pass on the truth about your faith. Both of my grandmothers and grandfathers gave testimony to their faith in Jesus Christ. We knew they loved the Lord. I want my sons to know that I love Him, too. I’m praying that they will grow in their relationship with God and pass that heritage on to my granddaughters. My desire is that we create a perpetual godly heritage. I want to be sure that we all take occasional “time outs” to remind each other that there is more to life than here and now. Life passes so quickly. The heritage we leave is built upon our choices today.

7/23/08

The Best Tombstones

I wandered through a cemetery last summer, searching for the grave of an old friend. In the process, I passed by some old headstones, “nameless” from weathering. I remember thinking, “I hope their lives were about more than names on a chunk of rock!”

Charles H. Spurgeon once addressed this, saying, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” (Profound, isn’t it? Spurgeon always had a way of capsulizing great thoughts. Another favorite of mine is: “Of two evils, choose neither.”)

There is a time appointed for death—we are all terminal—and the Bible says every one of us will face a time of judgment (Hebrews 9:27). We can’t know a person’s destiny by looking at a gravestone—except, perhaps, in some cases where the date of a deceased person’s New Birth is inscribed—but everyone leaves behind something of who they were.

When I attend funerals, I find sweet comfort in Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Though there is pain when loved ones pass into eternity, when they are believers who have carved their love and character upon our hearts, sweet memories remain.

When you have time, linger in a cemetery and think about your own future. When you are gone, how will others remember you? What choices are you making today that are etching memories on the hearts of the people you love?

7/16/08

True Woman '08

Satan has really done a number on women today. “I wish I felt more fulfilled,” a woman told me, recently. “I really don’t know what God expects of me, as a woman.” My heart went out to her. I remember having those feelings years ago.

God graciously revealed not only His love and grace to me when I became a Christian in 1971; He also opened up a whole new way of thinking. Although I’d never been a typical feminist, I did have some feminist attitudes. I’d “picked them up” through the media, books, and in observing some of the women in my sphere of life. When God showed me His plan for women—not to be a doormat; not to be a manipulator—I remember how it felt to release some of those attitudes. I softened into biblical femininity, but I also toughened up with biblical resolve. God’s Word made a huge difference in forming my understanding of why God made me a woman.

Are you searching to find the “True Woman” in you? I am delighted that a unique conference for women will take place this fall—a gathering that will call women back to true biblical womanhood. It’s one of the best choices I’d recommend to any woman seeking direction from God.

True Woman ’08 will take place in Chicago, October 9-11. Speakers include author and radio teacher Nancy Leigh DeMoss of Revive Our Hearts Ministries; author and pastor John Piper; Joni Eareckson Tada of Joni and Friends; radio show host Janet Parshall; author and Women’s Studies professor Mary Kassian; Fern Nichols of Moms in Touch International; pastor’s wife and author Karen Loritts; a dozen powerful workshop leaders; and Irish composer-artist team Keith and Kristyn Getty, leading worship. For more information, visit www.truewoman.com.

7/9/08

Little Eyes, Ever Watching

A maxim well-applied to parenting is, “Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Children are all eyes. They observe parents and imitate what is modeled, even if the example is unintended. When parents least expect it, children take note and internalize what they see. This should be a powerful motivator. Little eyes are ever watching, and parents are the child’s first teachers.

A youth pastor once told his youth group members to point to their noses. The only problem was, he pointed to his own chin. The teens also pointed to their chins. What we do is indeed more powerful than what we say, and this is especially true with small children.

Children might hear what we say, but they will respond to what we do, mirroring our actions. We must be careful that our actions line up with God’s truth and our most treasured beliefs and values.

This isn’t just an option for the Christian parent. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 talks about the extent of our example in teaching about God and His Word—wherever we are, and at all times of the day. In The Message, these verses include a powerful admonition: “Get them [God’s laws] inside of you and then get them inside your children.” Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., the founder of Life Action Ministries, used to tell parents that their values were better “caught” than taught, because children are eager sponges, absorbing the truths that we most cherish as evidenced by our actions. Clearly, parents’ choices are not made in a vacuum.

7/2/08

Eagles or Turkeys, We Need Courage!

I saw my first eagle — outside of a zoo — while visiting friends in Washington State. A powerful eagle swooped down out of the pines across the street, right in front of our car. I remember how strong it looked. “What a fitting symbol for our country,” I said to my friend.

Although a number of birds were proposed for the Great Seal of the United States — a two-headed eagle, a rooster, a dove, and a “phoenix in flames” — the bald eagle was chosen as an emblem of the United States of America on June 20, 1782. The eagle represents freedom and strength.

Benjamin Franklin objected to the Bald Eagle as our national bird, claiming that it lacks courage—it often flees from mobs of smaller birds—and it exhibits bad moral character. Eagles, he said, were too lazy to fish for themselves; they rob from the catch of other birds. Franklin suggested Americans revere the turkey, instead. The turkey, he wrote, “is in comparison a much more respectable bird … a bird of courage.” (Hmmm… I might not react the next time someone calls me a “Turkey”!)

As we celebrate our country’s independence this week, I have many thoughts about America and courage. Certainly our military lacks no courage, but what about the citizenry. Have we become so accustomed to tolerating evil and immorality that we are afraid to stand for truth, decency, and the ethics and morality outlined so clearly in the Word of God? If we do not decide ahead of time that there are things worth standing for—even worth dying for—where will we get the courage when those things are threatened? We must make little daily choices for courage if we hope to be prepared for times of crisis.