Living toward Legacy: Creating the Gift You Leave Behind

You and I stand on the threshold of a new year—whether it’s a calendar year, a fiscal year, or simply the next 365 days from today. You may be looking ahead: making resolutions, dreaming bigger dreams, or hoping for the best.

I want to challenge you to do something different.

Your legacy--how you will be remembered--is being built today. Will you leave the legacy you want? Continue reading

Christmas and the Art of Gift Giving

Giving gifts is an art. Some of us whip out masterpieces every holiday.

And some of us . . . are still finger-painting.

At Christmas and all year, a master gift-giver knows the art of giving freely, without strings attached.

We can all conjure up mental images of gifts gone wrong—or right. The Perfect Gift. The Ugliest Gift. The Unintentional White Elephant Gift. The Generic Gift. The Are-You-Sure-the Nametags-Aren’t-Switched Gift.

What is it about gift-giving that some people seem to do so well, while others of us (raising my hand here) struggle to figure it out?

Here are some lessons I’m learning about the art of gift-giving. Continue reading

You Have a Place at the Table

Picture my church’s Thanksgiving potluck. Long tables covered with platters of steaming turkey, slow cookers brimming with dressing and green beans and potatoes, bowls of fruit salads and vegetable salads and Snickers “salads” (one Midwestern oxymoron I can’t quite accept), and pies of every kind.

You have so much to give. Come to the table where every contribution is welcome.

The cooks step back and survey the table, satisfied. Kids sidle closer as the last dishes get nudged in among earlier ones.

Someone wedges a tub of store-bought broccoli salad in behind the homemade offerings, looking apologetic.

And off to the side fidgets someone who arrived empty-handed, wondering if they’re really welcome at this table.

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Gifts from a Hiatus

Ever had one of those times when life feels fast and furious—and you have to let something go? (And you hope it’s not your sanity.) You have to pick something to set aside. Isn’t that a tough call to make?

Juggling too many balls? Need a hiatus? A break may be a gift in disguise.

If you’re a perfectionist like me, you may think letting something go is akin to failure. All you can see is that you’ve dropped one of the balls you’re juggling.

Or maybe you suffer from FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. You lie awake at night wondering what you’re losing by not staying on top of that one responsibility.

Well, I am here to testify: you can survive a hiatus. And before it’s over, you may receive some pretty sweet gifts. Continue reading

God’s Story: His Glory

This is a guest post by Marit Rheinheimer.

When you finish a book, do you think about how the author created and ordered events to tell his story?

I love finishing a good book. When I close that back cover, I take a breath and pause, wandering backwards through it in my thoughts, appreciating in hindsight how each piece of the story came together. As I meander back over the pages, unraveling it, I am amazed. The author, a master weaver, took all of these different threads (personal characters, situations, dialogue, emotion, language) and artfully wove them into a story that captured me, entertained me, challenged me, or brought me to tears. It is an incredibly satisfying experience, one that prompts in me a humble respect, admiration, and even awe for the skill of that writer.

Recently, I have experienced this same feeling–only this time, the story didn’t come from the shelf at the library. I realized that I am the story. We are the story. God is the Author. And the book is  Continue reading

4 Powerful Life Lessons from My Dad

Fatherhood is almost a lost art. But not in the house where I grew up.

One of the world’s best dads raised me. So for those who celebrate their own fine fathers, as well as for those seeking role models to emulate, I am passing on today some of the important lessons I learned from my dad.

Fatherhood is an art my Dad perfected. It involves endurance, learning, growth, and loving encouragement.

Endurance is the Name of the Game

I don’t think I ever saw my dad quit anything. He has amazing stick-to-it-iveness. Whether he was working away on his 1915 Model T or teaching me to drive a stick-shift (no, that neck brace he wore was not my fault), he always persevered until he reached his goal.

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Give it Time: Transition and Transformation

Everyone I know is in transition.

Friends are transitioning from parenting to empty-nesting. My adult children are transitioning from school to the workforce, from singleness to marriage, from one child to two. My parents are transitioning from independence to dependence. And me? Still transitioning out of the parking lot.

We want transitions to be smooth, quick, and easy, like on-ramps to the next stage of life. They usually aren't.

All of these transitions look different. Some, we saw coming and started planning for. Some blind-sided us. Some we hoped to put off longer. As we describe our transitions, our voices twist with frustration, longing, anxiety. And I ache for us all, because we all want the same thing. Stabililty.

Stability. Yet we’re in flux, changing. Instability is “in.”

We all want our transitions—whether expected, unexpected, or inevitable–to be the same: quick, smooth, and easy. A brisk walk down a short hallway to an open door. A gentle turn guided by a crisp British GPS voice: “The destination is on your right. Arrived.” We want to steer, we want to control the speed, and we don’t want any bumps along the way.

Most of all, we want it to be over.

But transitions serve a bigger purpose than to merely come to pass. Continue reading

Living the Unexpected Life

I recently interviewed a man whose siblings have birth defects. What, I asked, would he tell expectant parents who have just learned their coming child may be born with defects? What if that’s not what they had planned?

He replied, “I don’t know anyone who can say that their life is what they planned.”

I’ve been pondering that remark ever since. How many of us live lives we didn’t plan? Unexpected events can come like beautiful surprises and change our lives forever. Continue reading