Thursday, October 21, 2010

When All is Said and Done

It's been almost fifteen years since I first heard the song by that title.  Darin Peterson, one of Scott's teachers at Immanuel High School, recorded the song by Geoff Moore on a collection of songs he compiled to comfort us in our loss.  The song speaks to what really matters in life; what will be remembered ~ when all is said and done.

About five years ago I participated in a two-year program on leadership being offered at my church.  The final assignment was to write a Personal Mandate ~ a capstone for our twenty-four months of training.   In writing my Personal Mandate, I had to ask  some serious questions. How will I choose to live? Why will I live the life I am living?  What will be my legacy ~ how will I be remembered?

Quite honestly, I moaned and complained about this project.  It totally stretched me to break down my life into a statement of purpose, articulate my core beliefs and create the strategies to achieve a desired legacy.  I remember that for me, the best way to accomplish the task, was to start at the end and work backwards.  So I began with the question in that Geoff Moore song ~ what will be said about my time here on earth, when all is said and done?

I have to admit, in the end, I loved writing my Personal Mandate.  I find it to be a solid rock on which I balance in my life, and determine how to invest my time and energies in those things that conform to my God-given purpose for living.

That brings me to this week.  Through the wonders of technology, I was able to be present for the funeral of Todd MacDonnell, a former pastor from our church.  Although his memorial service was held in the small community of Pierz, Minnesota, I was able to participate in the service from our local church sanctuary via a Skype connection.

Todd was just 48 years old.  Eleven short weeks ago he went to the eye doctor for a sudden change in his vision.  As glasses did not help, and other symptoms surfaced, Todd was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  There he was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. No known cause. No known treatment. No known cure.  Todd's health declined dramatically, and he went to be with the Lord in less than 3 months.

At his memorial service, speaker after speaker stood to read some of the thousands of notes and letters which were sent to Todd during his brief battle with CJD.  Again and again, each writer spoke of how Todd had been instrumental in helping them become who they are today.  Each commented on the consistent and faithful way Todd lived out his faith ~ never wavering, even with his impending death.

As I listened to the tributes ~ Todd's legacy ~ I remembered the words of that song once again ~
When the music fades into the past,
When the days of life are through,
What will be remembered of where I've come?
When all is said and done?

Will they say I loved my family?

That I was a faithful friend?
That I lived to tell of God's own son?
When all is said and done.

Of how I long to see the hour,

When I would hear that trumpet sound.
So I could rise and see my Savior's face,
And see him smile,
And say 'Well done.'

You can forget my name

And the songs I've sung,
Every rhyme and every tune.
But remember the truth of Jesus' love,
When all is said and done

When all is said and done.
And so this morning, I am thanking my friend, Todd MacDonnell, that in life and in death, he continues to urge us on to greater things, for eternity's sake. With my Personal Mandate in front of me, I am once again focusing on the importance of leaving a godly legacy ~ when all is said and done.

It is never too late to redeem the future and leave a legacy that will continue to speak, when you have nothing left to say.

NOTE: For information on how to write a Personal Mandate, please leave a comment with your contact information, and I will share the process with you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Irresistible Invitation

I am often amazed at how much news coverage there is when a state dinner takes place at the White House.  The limos. The tuxedos and gowns. The pomp and circumstance.

Everyone seems to want the details ~ from the design of the place settings to the details of the menu; who's in and who's out.

Now we even have White House party crashers who somehow get in under the radar to see for themselves what is going on, even though they never received an invitation!

Truthfully, I really do not find the thought of attending a state dinner very exciting ~ not that I would ever expect to be invited. Seriously ... How many pieces of silverware does one person need to enjoy a meal? How much does a dress need to cost to be acceptable? Everything about the event seems to revolve around outward appearances.

I am reminded of an invitation of a different sort.  One where there are no expectations. No need to put on airs ~ just come as you are.  In fact, the invitation states for those who accept, to put away all pretense, forget about outward appearance, and become real.



Nourishment for your body and soul, absolutely free!

This invitation truly embodies the spirit of this blog.  For I am firmly convinced that it is possible to redeem the future, transform those things that seek to destroy me, and find a healing place for my heart and soul. This invitation offers me a place to come just as I am ~ with all my baggage, sorrows, disappointments and fears.

This invitation beckons me to that healing place of transformation described in Psalm 85, where ~

“Mercy and Truth have met each other: 
Justice and Peace have kissed.”

The invitations have been sent.  The question remains ~ am I willing to accept this Irresistible Invitation?  To look at my life through the lens of TRUTH  and receive His MERCY?  To accept His JUSTICE which ushers in PEACE? He invites me to come to this healing place, to attend His banquet, to allow Him to bring restoration and transformation.

It really is an irresistible invitation!

Footnote: The original copy of this invitation is in Old Testament writings, believed to be written sometime around the Babylonian captivity, near 580 BC. The invitation is no less irresistible today.

Come, all you who are thirsty,come to the waters;
and you who have no money,come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations that do not know you will hasten to you,
because of the LORD your God,the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor."
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:1-11

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apple Hill

Early in our marriage, we made our home near Sacramento. It was a great place to live. The cities surrounding the capital still have a rural feel to them.  It is such a beautiful area ~ did you know that Sacramento claims more trees per capita than any other city?

Remembering our years spent in northern California always brings a smile to my face.  Our children were born in a small local hospital.  We made friendships that remain part of our lives today.  We learned many lessons about faith and life that strengthened our marriage. And, every October we went to Apple Hill.

Apple Hill is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills in the small El Dorado County community of Camino.  The original sixteen apple orchards that made up Apple Hill have grown through the years to include 55 ranches, wineries, a micro-brewery, spa and vineyards.  The various orchards offer many ways for visitors to experience the fruit of their labor ~ fresh-pressed cider, apple donuts made-to-order, apple pies, apple milk shakes, caramel apples, and the list goes on!  You can even grab a bucket and pick your own apples!

It has been almost 30 years since we moved from northern California to make our home here in the central valley.  Many years have passed since we loaded up our two small children to spend a day in the orchards. 

Last year we took a road trip back to Apple Hill with our daughter Amy and our grandchildren.  Amy was only three years old the last time she was there! How fun to see it for the first time again through the eyes of Kaitlyn, Kyle and Jack, and taste anew the delicious treats! 

Well, it is October again.

We are finalizing our plans to travel north again to reconnect with friends and spend a weekend at Apple Hill with the whole family!  The trees will put on a grand display of fall foliage and the scent of apples will permeate the air.  Aside from the vibrant colors and edible delights that are part of Apple Hill, for me, it is a privilege to retrace my steps, to remember how things used to be, and to focus on God's faithfulness over the years of my life. 

You see, there were times in those early years of our marriage when we went to Apple Hill because it was free ~ money was very scarce.  Those who walked with us then know the many ways God provided for our every need ~ money slipped anonymously into an envelope, bags of groceries delivered on our porch, and even the time the doorbell rang and we found a Christmas tree leaning against the door jam.  We may have had little in those days but we were truly blessed.

Apple Hill is a place where we were a family of four.  Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that someday Scott would not be part of this life.  But even in losing a child, God has graciously cleared a path and caused our feet to not stumble. The sights and smells of Apple Hill remind me of who I am ~ the mother of Amy and Scott.

The orchards of Apple Hill are a reminder for me of the different seasons of life.  Some seasons bring forth fruit; some seem cold and harsh.  Some provide a time of refreshing; thankfully, some usher in the promise of renewal. So I look forward to once again immersing myself in Apple Hill.  To see and feel God's faithfulness.  To remember and renew my hope in Him.