May is often a month of closure for many of us, of saying goodbyes and celebrations. This month holds many such events for me. Last week I had my end of the year recital with my students. It was a beautiful evening of glorious music and I was so proud of my students as they let their voices soar and gifts shine. We have talked so much about how as singer/actors we have the power to tell stories. And they did! They made us laugh and cry and touched our hearts with beautiful melodies, thoughts and stories to ponder. As I watched each one perform, I reflected on the year teaching them. I though of some of the struggles through which they had persevered, not only in their music, but also personal challenges. Then, there were the seniors....tears! I’ve had more time with them and it is always so hard to let them go, even when you are excited to see them pursue their dreams. They are our future! When I look at them, at their character, integrity and courage, the future doesn’t look so dim. God raise them up with bold faith!
As teachers we can have such influence over the lives of those whom God chooses to bring across our paths. Our words can influence their future and even future generations. Often in my mind, I recall the words of voice teachers from my past. Their influence on the path I chose as a singer and teacher speaks into the lives of my students today. They left a lasting legacy in my life with their words of encouragement and challenge. Their words equipped me as much as the vocal technique they taught. They inspired me to reach for the best that I could be and to strive for excellence in whatever I chose to do in my life.
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Today, as I write, it is Mother’s Day. It has been a simple day with my mom. My daughters are in their homes far away, but I was grateful to have a quiet lunch in the garden with my mom and Ken. He grilled a wonderful steak for us - mom's favorite! As I listened to her words and questions over lunch, I thought of how much her legacy has influenced me. She asks the same questions over and over with her Alzheimer disease, but in the repetition it is clear the legacy she has left me. She wants to know how everyone is doing - genuinely concerned about my children, son and law and grand child, although she can no longer call their names.
She asks about my teaching over and over. How are my students doing? How many am I teaching? How are we enjoying our new church? Are we happy? Is there anything she can do for us? Oh, and the flowers are so beautiful in your garden! About every five minutes, your garden....the flowers...I could sit here all day, she says. I remember her roses and beautiful flowers when I was growing up. There were always fresh flowers on the table cut from the garden. That is the legacy she has left me....a love for beauty and for flowers, and genuine love that cares deeply for others above herself....words that encourage and express concern over your well being. What a beautiful legacy!
I knew just what to give her for Mother’s Day. A beautiful plant for her little patio. She was thrilled and wants to go with me to visit the place where I would find such a plant. Actually, it was first given to me by Sherry as a surprise gift last week. I had to call her and ask where she had found such an unusual plant because when I saw it I knew I had to get one for mom!
I remember as a child walking the garden paths with my grandmother as she explained the flowers that grew in the gardens at her home in north Louisiana. I loved being with her in the garden. Her joy and love for her flowers was contagious! I loved spending time with her as we walked in the beauty. She passed on that love for flowers through the generations! A legacy of love for God’s creation and taking the time to nurture it.
Our garden has been evolving for 33 years. The garden statues you see in the pictures below are from my grandmother’s and mom’s gardens and gifts from my husband, Ken. Now much of the beauty of it, I owe to him since my back doesn’t allow me to work it the way I used to. I’m so grateful for the haven it has become to our friends and family.
I’m writing in the garden now as the sun sets, the fountain flows and the birds sing...a gift from the Father for the senses. It is so very lovely, soothing and inspiring!
In a couple of days I will have the closing Bible study luncheon at my home. For the last three months about twelve of us have gathered every Tuesday to look at the Scriptures and study a book by Sally Clarkson entitled “Own Your Life” - Live with deep intention, bold faith and generous love. It has been a powerful, thought provoking study for us all and I highly recommend it for young and old. It is a book that causes you to deeply examine how you are living your life, the choices you make, and the legacy you will leave behind.
What I have loved more than anything over the last few months is listening to the hearts and words of these women sharing their faith journeys. There is no pretense here. We are simply sharing the Word, our stories, our very real struggles, our questions, some answers, and our prayers.
I’m so grateful for the words of wisdom from these faithful women each week as we gather in my kitchen. I cherish their words, their laughter, and their dreams. I will miss our time together and their presence in my home as we close the study this week for summer break.
The last section of the book looks at the legacy of love we leave behind as women...in our homes, in our marriages, in our motherhood. You can imagine the rich conversations we have had as we have perused the Scriptures for wisdom in these areas of our lives. Sally Clarkson’s words have left an impact and challenge on all of our lives. We have examined how our words and actions have impacted our homes, and are seeking to live our lives intentionally with generous love and bold faith as we move forward. You’re never too old to make a difference in the lives of those around you!
Several years ago I wrote these words in a blog entitled "The Worth of our Words."
Our words can build up or tear down, challenge or disappoint, inspire or discourage, praise or criticize, protect or deceive. They can comfort or frighten, heal or hurt, show love or hate, enlighten or confuse, welcome or exclude, forgive or blame, bless or curse, offer wisdom or folly, restore or destroy.
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 6:19 (NIV) Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
As we have shared our hearts and our journey, I think we would all say that we have seen the power and influence of words in our lives. I don't want my words to be careless. I want them be thoughtful, Spirit led, and full of wisdom and kindness like those who have blessed me. I want my words to reflect the heart of Jesus.
Is there someone the Lord is bringing to your mind whom you could call or write words of encouragement, wisdom, comfort, or kindness?
Do you have a group of believers to journey with in your faith with whom you can honestly share your heart and the Scriptures. If not, consider inviting others into your home for Bible study.
Our words, through the power of His Spirit at work within us, are able to restore, to heal, to inspire and to offer hope. Let us not take the privilege and responsibility for granted!
This Tuesday we will study our last chapter entitled, “Living intentionally to leave a legacy of faith”....Owning the influence your life can make. Ultimately, it is the Kingdom legacy we leave behind that really matters.
Our lives have a beautiful story to tell. I pray that mine will lead others to the love and beauty of Jesus and that I will choose each day to live boldly for Him. When other’s look at my life, I want them to see the fingerprints of God because I have chosen to live my life for Christ in the hidden and public moments of my life.
God has placed within us all unique personalities and abilities that He wants to use for His kingdom purposes.
“Now is the time; today is the day. Own your life. Heaven will tell your story throughout eternity. May you live one worth telling. May you leave a legacy of vibrant faith and a pathway for others that is lavished with generous love and the kiss of God’s favor each step along the way.” Sally Clarkson
2 Timothy 4:7-8(NIV) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
In the days ahead consider the legacy of your life and the legacy of faith you will leave behind.
Consider the power of your words and use them to influence for good.
How can you be a vessel of the love, beauty and grace of Jesus in the lives that you touch this week?
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Resources: Archives 3/19/14, Sally Clarkson, Own Your Life, Scripture Images - Pinterest
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