A life-long legacy of real-deal faith

Moving sometimes feels like God’s ultimate character-training ground.

And when you’re moving with four young kids,  it’s a faith-growing opportunity for the whole family.

When we first started this process, I didn’t even want to get my kids’ hopes up too much about all the possibilities of  a new house.  I organized closets, purged junk, and packed up boxes for storage without telling them why.

It wasn’t until they were all gone for a day and I painted  their room that I finally fessed up.

The confession went something like this:

“While  you girls are gone, I’m going to repaint your room.”

“What?!!  Paint?!!  I hope it’ll still be purple!!!”

And that was it, the big  moment when I had to share the news.

“Well, actually, no, the whole point is to cover over the purple.  You see, we’re preparing the house to  sell  it and that means making the rooms neutral colors.  Your walls will be cream.”

Long pause.  Long, long pause.

An initially disappointed face:  “Cream?  Cream?  I really liked the purple.”

Then the news sinks in. “Wait!!  We’re going to try to move?!!!!”

And oh the ups and downs of moving have involved us all.  I tried to prep the girls’ hearts for how long it may take to sell our house or what it all  involves.  How we shouldn’t get our hearts set on a particular house unless our contract is accepted.

Truthfully, though, God has been so good to us and the process has been fairly smooth as far as these processes ever go.  But what I love the most is how my kids celebrate the good things He has done.

When a buyer put an offer on our house so quickly after we put it on the market, one of my girls said, “Look how God answered our prayers!  We prayed this would be fast and He did that for us!”

When we picked the new house and it had the right number of bedrooms and was still in their beloved school district, one of my daughters said, “God really gave us what we needed!”

And as we worked through inspections and repairs and all the prep work for moving, they prayed right along with us for God to  help the process go smoothly.

We’re actually still praying!

They are engaging in active faith and using the language of faith.  They are turning to prayer in times of need and praising God for answering  the prayers we offer.

And it’s a beautiful thing.

In life, there are some things we can’t always share with our children, not completely, especially not when they’re young.  We shield them from some of the hardest and scariest situations..

But there are also times and seasons when it’s right to draw them in to see how our faith fares when we don’t know all the answers.

What  does faith look like when we’re waiting?

When we’re uncertain?

When we’re hurt?

When we’re disappointed?

If our tweens and teens think faith is easy, what will happen when decisions are hard and oppression is real and personal?

I’ve been feeling a heart-check, the need  to make sure my faith is sincere and to live that out with my kids.

When I say, “God answered our prayers,” I need to make sure that’s the truth, that my kids knew I was praying….and they see how God came through.

I find that Paul slips this word “sincerity” into his letters quietly and frequently (2 Corinthians 11:3,  Philippians 1:17, 1 Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 1:5).

He doesn’t lay out a long sermon about what sincere faith looks like, but he makes this consistent distinction.

Don’t just have faith.

Have sincere faith.

Maybe it was the former Pharisee in  Paul showing through here.  Genuine faith mattered to him because otherwise it’s just show and outward actions.

This is what Paul says about Timothy:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well (2 Timothy 1:5 ESV).

Timothy’s sincere faith is something he learned from his mom, who learned it from his grandmother.

Because they were the real deal, Timothy grew to be the real deal also.

This is what I want for my kids and what I want for me–a lifelong legacy of “real-deal faith.”

May our faith be sincere, rooted so deep-down within us that our automatic response to trouble is the fruit of belief:  prayerfulness, trust,  confidence in God.

May our faith be genuine, not just outward show with Christian catch-phrases and good-girl actions, but  a life led sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

She Left an Impression

2-timothy

She left a mark on me.

I mean a deeply beautiful impression, the trace of her fingerprints etched around my life and my heart and my future.

That’s what mentors do.  They don’t just listen and guide, teach and encourage, give advice and share experiences; they change who you are.

They say, “I see who you can be and I want to help you get there.”

And then they pour into you a little (or a lot!) of themselves.

By the time I met this one mentor of mine, she was already in her 80’s.  She had been directing music and teaching for over 60 years already and I was a baby in comparison.

Ann invited me over to her house.  She pulled out a basket of programs, one for each musical she’d ever directed.  That basket was a heavy load!

Then she showed me how she marked her music, how she made notes at auditions, how she ranged the singers.

In perhaps the most literal way possible on this earth, she passed the baton to me.

Last week, this dear lady with a fiercely spunky and loyal soul passed away.

And every single day since I’ve been meaning to write this post as a kind of tribute to her, a way to remember her long after we’ve said goodbye, cried at her funeral, and reminisced together about her.

But it’s hard.

She’s been on my mind all the time but I couldn’t quite collect all the words I’d like to say.  I miss her.  I will miss seeing her on the front row next week when our community theatre group performs their latest show.

While we do have forever with Jesus, we do not have forever to walk on this earth.  That is the way of things.

So I think of her and remember to live loyal, live love, and live with passion and gusto.

And I remember this: to live to be mentored and to mentor, to be taught and to teach others.  This is a legacy beyond compare.

At the same time Ann was saying goodbye to loved ones and farewell to friends, I was reading the book of 2 Timothy, the very last letter Paul wrote in the Bible before he died in Rome.

These are his farewell words.  His final thoughts poured out for his “beloved child” in the faith, Timothy.

(This is the beauty of God at work, how He was preparing my heart for a goodbye of my own by letting me listen in on Paul’s goodbye.)

As I read, I longed to be a Timothy.

I wanted to lean in close and listen to a faith giant tell me what’s what.  Mentor me.  Teach me, please!

Paul wrote,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)

This is a life well-lived, a finish line crossed.  He didn’t give up along the way or chicken out when life got hard.  He pushed and persevered and kept on moving forward so that in those last days and those final moments, he could say with confidence that he had kept this faith and finished this race.

Amen.  I know people who teach me how to do that.

When we ache with weariness, may we all have others to lift us up.

When we’ve emptied ourselves out, may we know that Christ fills us anew and often He refills us through the overflow of others.

May we find mentors and teachers who will show us how to live life well and to live out faith.

But I don’t just want to be a Timothy, I also want to be a Paul.

I certainly know some people who need to hear me say,

“I am reminded of your sincere faith….fan into flame the gift of God…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:5&6 ESV).

I want to pour into others and encourage them in their calling and their gifting.

Paul wrote to Timothy,

“You, however ,have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and sufferings…” (2 Timothy 3:10 ESV).

This was no superficial friendship.

May I similarly leave a mark on their own hearts and their own ministries because I’ve been willing to make myself vulnerable with them, share the honest places of my heart and my struggles and how God shows so much grace.

May I be a spiritual mother to others in the way that Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy.

At any moment in our lives, we have this choice:To learn from another and to teach another.

May it be both.

May we always be humble enough to learn and gracious enough to give what we’ve learned away.