Leaving a Legacy

What would you do, if during your child’s last hour on earth, they asked you to make a promise to carry on their work?

Six years ago today marks the last time I ever saw my brother.  My husband, Austin, and I went to see a movie and laughed together.  I had no idea it would be the last, that the very next day he would be missing.  I think he did though.  I think he had a plan for the next day that we still don’t know all the details of, but meant that we would never see him again.  I think that night out might have been a gift, something he gave me without me knowing at the time what it meant.  Or maybe that night changed his plan, not wanting to bring pain into our home.  Or maybe there was no plan that night, maybe there was only laughter and the illness of depression took it’s final stronghold that next morning.  We may never know.  We have lots of maybes, and very few knowns.

I struggle with those questions, and with what he would want us to be doing six years later.  I don’t think he could have seen, in the darkness of depression, that what he did would still be so heavy on us.  His heart was too good and loving to want this for us.  But I do believe if he could see now, he’d be proud of what we’re trying to do.

Last week I had the great honor of hearing a man speak, a man who almost 18 years ago made a promise to his dying daughter.  She asked him to carry on her work.  Her name was Jenny Eller, and she’d battled Leukemia for almost four years.  During that time, she was a fierce advocate for donating blood, as she had herself needed hundreds of units during her treatment.  Her father, Dean Eller, started fulfilling that promise just a few days after her death when he spoke to a group about the need for donating blood, a group she was scheduled to speak to.  He went on to become a tireless advocate, and eventually to lead the Central California Blood Center where he helps ensure that there is always blood for any patient who needs it.  I’ve been in the beautiful building that he had a vision for, named for his daughter, and seen donors in the chairs fulfilling that promise.

He is fulfilling a promise.  He is leaving a legacy.

Since hearing Dean speak, I’ve been thinking more about my message and my legacy.  Not just for Austin, but for my own sons.  When I’m gone one day, what will I have left or impacted.  What do I want my message to truly be?

I want to help others find their purpose and leave their legacy.

Dean helps ensure that there is blood for everyone who needs it.  (And we should be a part of that by donating at our local blood center!)  My mom Christy works in Search and Rescue, helping families like ours, and is leaving a legacy of service.

What is your passion?  Where can you have an impact?  Never think that your story, your voice, or your life is too small.  Never think that what you do doesn’t matter.  It matters.  You may not have a platform like Dean, or the skills of my mom.  But what you have can have an impact of your family and the community around you.  And when you teach your children to be involved, to care, to donate, you are leaving a legacy.

This year, I have a new purpose, to grow out of my comfort zone and go where God is calling me.  This year I plan to speak to groups, churches, and my own community, about finding your purpose.

I can’t wait to see where that takes me.  It can’t take me back six years to another day with my brother.  But maybe it can help others facing that same darkness of loss.

 

The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.
~ Proverbs 20:7, NLT

Shelter Safe

Our church has some amazingly talented people, especially in music.  Last week as this song was sung and the words flowed through my heart, I did stand in awe.  It is based on Psalms 46, and says:

You’ve been our home, You’ve been our shelter safe
For young and old.  For generations past.
We stand in awe, Of a God so great.
We stand in thanks, Of your faithfulness.
Oh Lord, you’ve been our dwelling place.

my aunt, JoAnn

I’ve heard it many times, but I needed the reminder that the things that I’m battling, the issues my family is dealing with and our friends are hurting over, that those are not new.  30 years ago, my grandmother had already seen heartbreak and loss greater than I’ve been able to imagine.  My God is the same God who watched over her and the same God she worships today in heaven.

He was shelter for my parents through losses that included my Mom’s sister and my Dad’s twin brother, both as teenagers. Even when they didn’t want the comfort or couldn’t see it.   

I hurt for friends who hurt today, I ache over my own tired and worn out spirit, and I can so easily get self focused on that.  But my pains and struggles are no greater than those before me, and I think to the end of my Grandmother’s life and the fact that after all of that, she still knew the true joy and peace that knowing Him brings.  God was her shelter and will be mine.

My own family legacy of losing those we love at a young age can sometimes grip my heart with fear for the future, and for what my boys’ will need shelter from.  But I read those words and know that God will protect them and be their home, just as he was for generations of our family.   

What are you facing?  I encourage you to look for comfort in the shelter of Him.  

Little Adventurer

The biggest adventure most two year old’s get is a trip to the zoo.  But most two year old’s don’t have a missing uncle and a grandmother who does search and rescue work.

So my two year old had a big adventure this week, getting to tag along on a short search.  He of course had no idea what they were truly doing, no idea what they were looking for, and thought it simply was a fun walk with women who laughed at his antics (which are many).  

Beyond adventure, what he got was the start of a legacy being handed down.  A legacy of serving others, with nothing in return for yourself.  Serving others, even when no one is looking.  I’m thankful that he gets to witness that in action, and has from his earliest days.

I pray that we show him more than tell him how important serving is, so he can pass that legacy on as well.  It’s what is right, it’s what we’re called to do.  How cool, that he gets to witness it in action from such an early age.

1 Peter 4:10
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.