The Thing About Life
I hope I'm given the grace to wax personal, with this week's post. Not that how I see other areas of our lives, as parents, not affecting me personally, but this week will delve into my past, believing it has a promise, for the future.
The simple state of Oklahoma is home for me. This is much to the chagrin of my husband, who was born and raised in "the great state of Texas" and firmly believes, because I was born in Texas, it should hail as my origin. No offense to my Texas-Loving-Readers, but, of course a Texan would said that. <sigh>
Everything, outside of the place I breathed my first breath, here on this planet, has taken place in Oklahoma. And, it's not just my roots that grow deep there, but my parents'.
My mom. Born in a small town, raised in a bigger one, surrounded by close family relatives, parents who said what that meant and meant what they said, and two older sisters who showed her the ropes, whether on purpose or by default.
My dad. Born and raised in the same county in Oklahoma and didn't venture out much until he went to college, only about two hours from home. His cousins were his brothers, being sandwiched between an older sister and a younger. With parents who lived humble lives, but surely not escaping the teaching of hard work, integrity, and passion for what you believe in.
When I go home, I don't go to a place.
I go to a legacy.
My daddy's passion to preach was birthed early in his humbly-reared life. He stood behind a small wooden pulpit, at the young age of 17, struggling with a painfully shy demeanor, but impacted by his high school speech teacher to "do the thing". His notes turned upside-down, but too nervous to turn them around, he stood on the side of the pulpit, the entire time, making the notes readable.
His home church, the youth pastor, as well as other leaders helped shape that young heart and cheered him on as he did what very few people with a fear of public speaking do....speak. He was given opportunity after opportunity to share this God-given gift and he bravely took them all, even choosing his college path to help train him in what he believed would be a life-long calling.
My mom was no stranger to the calling, though. At an early age, her heart was prompted to respond, be obedient, and follow what she knew, but couldn't see, as a future for her and what would soon become her family. She chose an educational path that would prepare her to complement a husband and make room to be available for her future children. Then, she sat back and waited. Believed. Hoped.
I could take one million hours of your lifetime, building stone upon stone of my parents' story. You would see seasons of effortless hope, willful strength, and exhausted sorrow. You would meet some of the greatest people on the earth, selflessly pouring their very best into my parents, taking their mission to influence with the utmost of sincerity. You would walk through halls of extreme laughter, and you would sit in rooms of heartbreaking silence. You would see births, deaths, full dining room tables and empty bedrooms. Birthday parties that rival the best and framed pictures of everything from Grammy's first grandchild hold to selfie-stick attempts of capturing 16 moving bodies.
All held under the canopy of a God-fearing faith.
We celebrated my parents' retirement, from a 50-year legacy of vocational ministry, yesterday. To be politically correct,it was actually my dad who "retired", but there's not a person who knows my mom who would argue against those 50 years being just as much her investment, costly and sacrificially, as his. There were standing ovations, tears, moments remembered, and gratitude given. The aroma of heartfelt love, encouraging words, and warm embraces wafted in the air, long after the last person exited the building. People were taken back to "that time when", over and over again, speaking with words, to my parents, what their hearts had so long held onto, so dearly.
It was glorious.
A true reflection of moments, days, weeks, months, and years of counting the cost to love God and love people and willingly being obedient to whatever that looked like.
As I reflected back, last night, I found myself wondering what my children took from the day. They knew it was different than our usual trip to Grammy and Paw Paw's house, but I doubt they swallowed the magnitude of the impact that day would have on their future.
Thus, why I included this to you, my fellow sojourner on this thing we call parenting.
What kind of legacy am I building for my three?
What will be said of their father and I, when a possible celebration is thrown, commemorating the ending of one season and the beginning of another?
What kind of people, outside of our home, will have been affected for the good?
I think one of the most impacting things about yesterday's celebration wasn't necessarily seeing all the people affected by my parents...but, more, that my parents' affect was for the good. See, I believe we have "watchers" all around us and not just those eyes seeing us from the comfort of our homes, each and every day. But, multitudes of lives, crossing our paths, whether we realize their gaze, or not.
I know my parents would suggest to weigh the wealth of complementary words, spoken about them, against what we, as their children, lived knowing. There are few who know us better than those inside our circle. That fact, alone, will leave me undone and striving for change, in my own life, for as long as I live.
But, just like my parents were struck with the grandeur of the caption of a big family picture, sent by a man who sat at my dad's feet, learning and gleaning, early in his life, that read:
"All of these people were impacted, because of your impact on me",
I want to not just take the day in-day out influence of my children seriously, but every life God has allowed to intersect my own. Letting my children and those around me see me make mistakes, ask forgiveness, and try again. Involving them in decisions for my life, cultivating hearts of valued opinion and honesty, and the truth that a tribe isn't made up of a bunch of individuals seeking for their own.
For, when that day comes, I desire to sit with a contented expression of gratefulness, overwhelmingly receiving the voice, from heaven, saying "well done", as I watched my first two favorite people on the planet do yesterday.
Mom and dad, this one's for you. Soberly taking the baton you've extended out. To tuck that thing under my arm, guarding it from the distractions this world throws at us, and running. Even when I'm weary. Even when I'm full of excuses. Even when I'm discouraged, disgruntled, disheartened.
Congratulations to the two people who shaped more of who I am, than I will ever be able to pay back or pay forward. Your lives have left me undone and I'm eternally grateful that I will never be able to get over it.
Every bit of my love, for you.