Tag Archives: legacy

Too Old

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Lately I’ve been battling the feeling that my opportunities are slipping away and that I’m quickly approaching the “Too Old” category to begin to pursue my dreams. I know it’s not true, but emotions can get the best of us despite knowing better.

I am a Gen-X’er. Right smack in the middle of the Gen X generation as a matter of fact.  We grew up on the heels of the extremely large Boomer generation and were trailed by the equally large Gen Y. When we became young adults, ready to begin careers and make a mark on this world the Boomer generation was nowhere near ready to retire. They made it abundantly clear that they would not be making room for us as anytime soon.  We were patient and we found a way to wait it out. Now as Boomers are finally beginning to come to terms with retirement Gen Y is hitting the work force and they come with their own expectations of their place in the work force.

For a long time we were told by Boomers that we were just too young and needed to wait our turn and now we’re told by Gen Y that we are getting too old and no longer have a place, that it’s their turn to run the show.

Add this to the usual middle age angst and you can understand why we may be tempted to think we missed the boat. I know we haven’t. I know I haven’t. But knowing something and feeling it are not one and the same.  So while I keep putting one foot in front of the other and pursuing my dreams I battle despair trying to tell me it’s too late.

This morning I was listening to Rick Warren’s podcast Daily Hope when he mentioned Caleb of Old Testament Bible fame (Joshua 14:6-15). When Caleb was 40 he was ready to take his inheritance, live his dream and build a legacy, but others were not convinced. As a result an entire generation ended up missing out on their dreams and their calling and all except 2 (Caleb and Joshua) died without achieving what they could have. Forty plus years later Caleb got to see his dreams fulfilled and achieve his goals.

Caleb was ready at 40 but he didn’t get to see it happen till 85. I can only imagine what he must have felt in those 45 years between. Disappointment and frustration because even though he was ready and willing to move ahead he was held back by other people’s unwillingness to move forward.  Perhaps he even felt frustration as he watched a new generation grow up and have ideas about what the future would be like and those ideas didn’t mesh with Caleb’s real life experience. Discouragement at how long it was taking and how much longer it would still be.  Doubt about whether or not he would actually be able to do it when the time came. Perhaps he would no longer be heeded as a leader. Perhaps no one would follow him and would instead tell him to, “Get out of the way old man!”

Caleb had so many opportunities to let his dream die in those 45 years, but he didn’t. In the middle years, in those horrendously long waiting years Caleb kept himself strong and fit. He kept his dream alive and he prepared for the day that would come, must come. He was ready when those 45 years were up. I wonder if he was a little giddy, maybe even having to stifle laughter at the funeral of the last member of the nay-sayers group.  It was time to go and get on with it and Caleb did not wait to declare he was ready, willing and able.

I admit I’m still in the middle years. I can just see the dream on the horizon and the naysayers in my life are dying off. It’s almost time to go and live that dream so while doubt and discouragement, fear and disappointment may try to make me give up, I’m going to do what Caleb did. I’m going to make sure I’m fit and strong, capable and able both physically and spiritually. I’m going to work on building my strength, developing my understanding and planning the legacy.

I’ll be honest, I’m really praying I don’t have to wait till I’m 85! What I do know is that if something was promised to me, if I have a calling to live and a legacy to leave then when the right time comes, when the waiting is over, if I’ve prepared, kept strong and done my part to be ready my age won’t matter. Neither will yours.

Prepare, stay strong and build strength. Develop your understanding and grow in wisdom. Then get ready.  Maybe you too will have to stifle laughter at a funeral!

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Are You Limiting Your Legacy?

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Ladies, let’s be honest. If you walk into a room full of women what are most of us eventually going to be talking about? The latest book we read on leadership principles? The newest scientific discovery? Economic principles? Political developments? No? How about proposals for community improvement? Educational theories? No? Well, maybe we are discussing truths from our recent Bible study? Discoveries of life principles? Or maybe about how we are planning to make a difference this week in the life of the family down the street?

No. We are most likely going to be discussing our latest diet, exercise and food restriction programs. We are most likely discussing our body image and our desire to lose some weight, get slimmer and fit into some arbitrary size that we feel will make us more acceptable to others. I know, this is a gross generalization, but even so it is not too far off the mark.

I’ve recently gotten to meet lots of women in various settings, of various ages and various educational levels. By no means has this been a homogenous group. Yet the common thread with each group was how quickly the conversation turned to weight loss, food restriction and a desire to be smaller.

I get it. There is a lot of pressure on us as women to meet an ideal and it’s hard not to get sucked in, even in the name of getting healthy. There are so many experts out there spouting off what is considered to be the most current understanding of healthy eating and weight. The cultural ideal of beauty assaults us in the grocery store, the gym, the doctor’s office, even the library. The pressure is everywhere and the reminders are constant.

As women we turn to each other for reassurance and support in this rough environment. By discussing our latest struggle, making self-deprecating comments about our ‘extra’ weight we disarm our critics before they can fire disapproval at us and we become part of the tribe. It’s not easy being a woman in a youth-obsessed, skinnier-is-better minded world.

“I so want to have a cupcake right now, but I’m over my calorie limit already today!”
“I have to get my workout in today because I had a slice of bread with my salad at lunch today.”
“I’m not buying any new clothes until I lose this extra weight and get back into size X clothes.”

I have been guilty of these comments, these conversations. I too have tried to be part of the tribe, to fit in (pun intended). I’ve apologized for my size, for eating when I was hungry. I’ve made excuses for having a slice of cake lovingly prepared for a celebration of a loved one’s life. I’ve been there. That’s why my heart aches.

Girls, is that all we are? Is this the legacy we want to leave our daughters? Our very actions tell our precious girls that despite all the dreams, hopes and imaginations within them, all they can truly look forward to is becoming experts on weight loss, calorie counting and food restriction. Whether we realize it or not, this is what our actions and girl-friend conversations tell our daughters!

Are we unknowingly restricting not food, but our potential to leave a mark on this world? Are we limiting our legacies? Short changing our potential by focusing so much time, energy and emotion on controlling our food intake?  Are we letting food control our lives?

For the vast majority of us, food is not something we worry about having enough of. No, in fact we worry instead about eating too much. We are not in fear of starving, but we are starving ourselves in fear of eating more than we deserve. I believe that Jesus addressed this very issue in Luke 12:23 when He said, “For life is more than food…” In the middle of teaching about greed, eternal life, spiritual choices, hoarding, generosity and trust Jesus tells His disciples not to be anxious or troubled about their lives, what they will eat (or wear). Jesus states that life is more than food (and clothes). In the Aramaic-English New Testament this passage is translated as the soul is greater than food.  The soul, that part that is our personality, our uniqueness, our identity. Jesus says that part of us is more important than the food we eat.

Who we are. Who we were created to be. All the potential placed within us has far more value than the ability to control our food intake. Our ability to plan, dream, create, design and implement was intended for far more than managing a food and exercise plan. We were meant to have an impact on this world.

Women are capable of wrestling with matters of greater consequence. We can tackle matters of great spiritual, intellectual, artistic, social and moral importance. We are capable of contributing far more to our homes, churches, work places and communities than just the latest weight loss plan. We are more than a number on a scale. More than a size on our clothing tags!

What could our friendships be like if we encouraged each other to develop and grow our  souls? What if we spent more mental and emotional energy on making a difference in our relationships? Our communities? Our children’s school? What if we were as determined and focused on developing interpersonal skills? Spiritual development? Work expertise?  How could we impact that world if we spent as much time becoming active students of the Bible as we do on implementing the latest weight-loss craze? Imagine how we could impact the world if the focus of our souls was on almost any other thing rather than restricting our food?

This is not meant to be a guilt-inducing lecture lovely. No, I do not want to replace the legalism of weight-loss and food restriction with a different set of rules about the time you spend reading your Bible, or the number of seminars you attend, hours you volunteer or any other program. No my lovely it’s quite the opposite! I would love to see us break free from the gravitational pull our size- and food-obsessed society has created and truly be free to live in the fulness and joy we were meant to have.

When Jesus said that He came to give us a full life (John 10:10) I don’t see an asterisk that says, “Except for women. You women will have to forever contend with watching your weight and restricting your food.” It does NOT say that because Jesus never intended for us to live like that!

Yes we are to develop self-discipline. Yes, we need to take good care of our bodies. Yes gluttony is a sin and yes it can cut our lives short. But so can obsessing over our weight and restricting the food we need to stay healthy and strong. The amount of obsessing, restricting and talking about our food we do says, “God, I just can’t trust You to meet my needs. I’m afraid if I don’t worry about it, You may forget me.”

The One who knew you before you were conceived can not forget you!

Lovely, please listen to my heart. I so hope for your sake that you can move beyond letting your food and your weight determine your legacy. I pray you’ll give up the need to always be on top of every morsel that crosses your lips and instead you’ll learn to eat with gratitude. Eat to fuel your body so that you have the energy to live in the fullness of your purpose and passions. Let go of your need to hit a magic number on the scale or on the clothing tag and instead explore your calling!

I pray you’ll discover the depths of the legacy you are called to leave as you develop and grow in fullness in every part of your being. I pray you catch a vision of what is possible and the difference you can make in this world. I pray as you explore the fulness of the life God has in store for you other women will rise up and join you and find the same freedom!

May our conversations become life-giving, purpose-affirming, joy-multiplying, legacy-creating, sources of encouragement. May we become women of wisdom, courage, strength and beauty. May we be examples of health, peace, unity and passion. May we live on purpose!

Greater Good

Over the last few days I have been wrestling with the idea of greater good. Our society seems to favour individual rights over being our brothers keepers. Don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating we give up our own rights and freedoms for the greater good of others, but I’m just wondering if maybe we weren’t so hell bent on what was best for me then we could create a safer environment for our children to grow up in

Maybe if we weren’t so dogged about my right to watch what I want, listen to what I want, wear what I want, do what I want, own assault rifle if I want then perhaps our children would never have to know the fear of gunmen entering schools, abductors selling them for the profit that can be made off little bodies, vile and cruel words, looks and actions. Maybe if we were a little bit more willing to consider our choices and actions and how they affect others than just maybe we could finally stop asking why these things happen?

For generations we understood that life didn’t begin and end with me. I was just part of a line of lives who came before me and those who would come after me. I was responsible not only to honour the sacrifices of my ancestors for my present freedom, but I was also responsible to pass on even greater to those who would come after me.

Some cultures still understand this, but even they are losing hold of this truth. Instead we have bought into the lie that it is all about me, my fulfillment, my pleasure, my comfort, my ease. If I leave nothing behind it doesn’t matter, my kids need to make their own way. Just so long as I live a happy and fulfilled life. Just so long as I leave a mark on the world. It doesn’t matter that it destroys the generations coming up behind me or those around me. It’s all about my right to do as I please.

I don’t think we need to go to the other extreme and live miserable existences just so another generation can benefit. What if we thought less about our own satisfaction and a little bit more about how our choices impact others? What if we were willing to give up something that we may enjoy but don’t absolutely need in order to ensure that others aren’t hurt? What if we rediscovered the concept of honour?

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