Taking the Lead

Last week I enjoyed writing about my mom, thankful for the upright heritage she left behind. Judging by worldly standards, Mom died an old lady of 92 who never worked outside her home or accomplished anything of note. Strangers might have said, “Hers was a wasted life.”

 Fun-loving MomBut those of us who knew her, know otherwise. Before Mom died, we used to joke she’d have a big funeral, and we were right. The crowds came in droves, filling the large room where her body lay, spilling out into the halls and out the front door. The funeral director came running just before the service began with alarm on his face. “Why didn’t you tell me!” he said.

What he meant was, “Why didn’t you tell me this woman was popular? We don’t usually see this for old ladies like her!”

As we greeted guests, Mary and I noticed how most were from the generations behind Mom, people our age and younger. These were the “children” she’d loved and influenced throughout her life, loving all of them as her own. Rather than wasting her life, she’d used it for lofty purposes, leaving footprints that led them all to Jesus.

Here’s an important question for each of us still marching along on this side of our funerals: “Where will my footprints lead?”

FootprintsSteve Green’s song “Find Us Faithful” says,

“As those who’ve gone before us,
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives.”

God gives us a simple but effective way to leave footprints others will find it worthwhile to follow: just track the steps of Jesus.

IMom and Linnin Mom’s last year of life, she continually had her nose in a Bible. One day I asked if she’d looked at the biography of Julia Child I’d just given her, or her new book about hymn authors. She said, “Honey, I don’t have any time for those. I’m studying for my finals.”

Despite not owning a trophy case or being written up in periodicals, Mom finished well.

“After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind,
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find.”
(Steve Green)

“God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)

Marking Time

My October calendar looks like party-central: eight birthdays, two anniversaries, one birth (yesterday’s blog), two bon voyage parties, and one doggie birthday.

???????????????????????????????A special birthday this past weekend belonged to little Emerald as she turned two. She’s at that wonderful age of discovery (including that fire is hot!), and is half baby and half runaround-kid. Most delightful to witness is her language development and her gradual improvement in conversing with the adults in her life.

Never mind that we don’t understand most of what she says. Her voice inflection is just like ours, and eventually we’ll figure out what she’s talking about!

Emerald isn’t the only one making significant progress. It’s been a long two years for Birgitta as a single mom, since she’s trying to do full time college, part time jobs, and full time mothering.

When I think of her diligence in managing her many commitments, I’m reminded of the Scripture verse in Isaiah that tells us the best way to accomplish things is “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.” (28:10) That’s the way Birgitta is getting it all done, by making wise use of every hour of every day.

During Emerald’s party we reminisced about one year ago on her first birthday and also two years back on her day of birth. Of course she’s made dramatic leaps in her development between those milestones as all babies do, but pausing to think about them was a healthy exercise for all of us older party guests.

???????????????????????????????Life happens one year at a time but more importantly, one minute at a time. The sooner we become conscious of that and then of using our minutes wisely, the better off we’ll be. Not that we shouldn’t relax or party with some of those minutes, but the scriptural principle is that we’re to number our days… and hours.

I’ve learned a great deal by observing Emerald, but even more by watching her mommy. If we set wise goals and inch toward them day by day (line on line), then after a year has passed, significant progress will have been made.

One of my personal goals for the coming days is to pay closer attention to my conversations with Emerald. Maybe that way I’ll eventually figure out what in the world we’re talking about.

First thing in the morning, [a good woman] dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, and is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. (Proverbs 31:15,18 – The Message)

Who are you?

When a family is expecting a new baby, each one speculates about who that baby might be…. for 9 long months. By the time D-day arrives, everybody’s dying of curiosity to find out: Is it a he or she? What color hair, eyes? How big or small? How long or short?

#10Immediately after the birth, those questions are answered, and we begin the process of getting acquainted with someone new.

Our extended family has started that delightful process this week with the birth of Mary and Bervin’s 10th grandchild, Harrison Arthur Ytterberg. On Thursday we learned “it” was a boy weighing 8 pounds 9 ounces with light brown hair, blue eyes, and features much like his older brother Beck.

But our guessing continues, and we wonder who is hidden inside that little body. Will Harrison be mild-mannered or tantrum-prone? Will he be a people-person or a loner? Talkative or quiet? Mechanically inclined? A good student? Artistically gifted? Only time will tell.

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Questions answeredMost of us view each new baby as a blank slate and expect good things from him or her. We think the best of every newborn and ascribe no negative traits. So an interesting question is, why can’t we view every new adult acquaintance the same way?

When we’re introduced to an adult we’ve never met, our tendency is to take one look and assume we know all about them, quickly supposing facts that most likely aren’t true. Then, based on our inaccurate assessment, we choose to either show favoritism or partiality. God frowns on this kind of judging.

Still, most of us are prone to peg people based on what we see at first glance. We “size ‘em up” and think we can somehow land on accuracy just by looking. The truth is every person is far more complicated than that. As we get to know someone, little by little we usually find out we were wrong in those first radical jumps to conclusions, and we feel ashamed of ourselves. God is the only completely accurate Judge of who a person is, because he can judge thoroughly, inside and out.

First Chronicles 28:9 says,“The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. As human beings we could never hope to see into someone like that, and yet we act as if we can. It would be better if we’d let God be the only insta-judge, taking a wait-and-see approach to decide what we think.

Harrison ArthurAs we watch little Harrison grow and change, may we never peg him prematurely but wait patiently to see who God has made this brand new person to be.

God does not show favoritism. Acts 10:34