Making a Eulogy List, not a Bucket List

I recently went to the Memorial Service of a friend’s grandpa.  Now, I had only met his grandpa one time, but after hearing the speeches at this service, I could have given a short synopsis of this man’s servant heart and his love for God and family.

The eulogy is like the window into the true heart of a person.  You won’t hear about the size of their home or the 37 cruises they took, but you WILL probably hear about the time they saved a friend or influenced a young child.

There’s been some talk on the web about creating a Eulogy List v. a Bucket List, ever since David Brooks wrote this editorial for the NY Times.  In it he said:

“We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.”

This is fascinating, yet concerning.  I know how to keep a clean home and feed my children healthy meals, but are those the issues I want people to talk about at my funeral?  Or maybe I can drive like Richard Petty (that’s what Mr. YT says) or talk as fast as the Hot Wheels dude, but those aren’t really the traits I want talked about when I’m lying dead in front of the speaker.

While I definitely think it’s important to make goals and have dreams, and I myself have a list of places I’d like to go before my time on earth expires, I can’t help but shake the feeling that the Bucket List is unimportant because it’s all about ME while the eulogy list is of most important because it’s about what I did or the positive influence that I left.

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My grandma passed away almost 2 years ago and I was able to write a eulogy for her funeral.  The thing that kept coming back to me as I wrote was how much she valued her time with me.  Her face lit up when I came through her door.  She was genuinely happy to see me and eager to sit and listen.  Her name was Martha, but she had a Mary heart…she unknowingly blessed me with the gift of her time.  When anyone was at her home, they were the #1 attraction and her actions reflected that.

I’m not sure I do well at giving people my undivided attention.  I know I’m easily distracted by my phone and the things on my agenda.  If I died today, I’m not sure people would be running to the church podium to talk about my gift of time.

There’s many other things that wonder if I’m really generous enough with:

my faith

my money

the legacy of my children (i.e. knowing that they have the values that Mr. YT and I stand for).

I guess a Eulogy List can be considered an Intentional Life list.  When you list the values your family has, and then are intentional with all time based upon that list, it’s much easier to know that you’re living the best way you know how.  If you want to be intentional with making eye contact and focusing on your children, you’re going to have to turn off the TV or put down the cleaning list and instead play a board game or throw a baseball (<- a sermon to myself).

There will always be seasons of life.  And I’m definitely not as guru on time management, let that be known. Your values for your eulogy list may not be mine.  I value Christ and so I deeply hope that my faith impacted another!

I do know that I need to get away from the “what am I doing for me?” mentality that so permeates our country and consider more of “what helps others?  What is my contribution here?” thinking.

Even though I love to travel and write about travel, my #1 treasure is people.  I guess I know the start to my Eulogy List…

What do you think?  Do you have a Eulogy List or a Bucket List? Are you more apt to make a Eulogy List now?

For your continued reading

My grandma’s Bible was full of her sermon notes and underlines and highlights.  It is a treasured book to our family as we see her heart through the notes and markings that she made.  Here is a blog about being intentional with the Bible you leave behind!  I love this idea – and I would have more fun doing this than a scrapbook.

 

How good mentorship can change your finances and your life

Why do young men begin a life of thievery or violence in order to support their habits?

Why do some women serial date men that will never commit to marriage?

Why do young students go out and borrow $100,000 for a Bachelors degree?

This, and other issues, I believe can be radically changed by changing the level of mentorship in our society.

Sometimes, this mentorship will be called parenting, but many times it won’t come directly from the parents.  I remember reading something that said from the early teens onward, children aren’t keen to take mentorship from their own parents, they want to hear things from a trusted friend or family member, like an aunt or uncle or grandparent.

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The concept of mentorship has been around since Biblical times.

Paul writes in Titus 2 (ESV):

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.  Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.  Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,that the word of God may not be reviled.  Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Oh, how I’ve failed at this, too!  I’m not sure how much I’m teaching younger women to love their children or husbands when I’ve had a bad day and I’m crabby about my circumstances.  My grandma mentored me for much of my young life, and that didn’t mean she was perfect.  She had bad days, too!  But she committed the time just to sit with me,  let me talk, and then engage me with her thoughts.

In his book WreckedJeff Goins said:

“We need initiation- the older generation walking with the younger one, helping them learn where to walk and how.  This is called mentorship and its grossly needed in our schools, churches and culture… We need practical training where young people, even children, learn by doing, not merely watching or hearing.”

I think much of our student loan crisis could go back to a lack of mentorship.  If the parent who is co-signing the loans or helping the child apply for loans doesn’t explain, “Hey Jr, these 4 years of late nights and fun are going to cost you the equivalent of a mortgage payment.  Enjoy your fun now, because you’re going to be paying $700/month for the next 20 years,” how are young people supposed to know what they are really in for?  I’m thankful for my dad, who when I wanted to go to a different college said about my full-ride to Capital University, “You’re going there, you’ll thank me later.”

Many parents would rather see their children be happy than teach them to make wise choices.

I have a friend who went to college two years after high school because his parents took the time to teach him that college debt wasn’t necessary. He worked full-time those two years to help pay for his education.  In the grand scheme of life, him getting his bachelors degree at 24 instead of 22 did not ruin his career, but it did save him from a lot of interest payments!

Russell Moore wrote a piece on mentors and a few of his suggestions were very practical.  Be specific when you ask for mentoring.  Rely on different mentors for different aspects of your life.  You may know someone that has fruit on the tree when it comes to their finances or business- seek them out for advice on those matter.  Maybe you know a couple that has a marriage that you want to emulate- ask them how they do it.

There is nothing wrong about seeking out a mentor.  I’d rather look dumb by asking about a subject with which I need help than just go about something blindly.  After all, when I want to know more about something, I’ll pick up a book and take advice from someone I know nothing about- how much better to take counsel from someone from whom I have directly witnessed their character.

Do you have a mentor in your life?  Maybe someone mentored you as a young person and you believe it changed the trajectory of your life?   I’d love to hear!

For your additional reading:

A mentoring cheat sheet

Kids will be kids- a talk on character v. behavior

Last week we were at a friend’s house and Olen climbed up into a chair with his shoes on.  He wasn’t trying to jump around, just literally get his body into the chair.  I immediately told him to sit down and reminded him we never climb on any furniture with our shoes on.  I was probably a little embarrassed when one of the ladies (who is 89 by the way) said to me, “All kids do that. He’s just being a kid. Don’t worry about it.”

I know she probably doesn’t realize what an impact those words had on me, but I came home from our visit thinking about the emphasis among moms (especially in Christian circles) to focus on behavior over character.

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Now, I’ll be the first to say that there are some “cultural nuances” that kids need to be reared to know.  Please and thank you.   Respecting others belongings- i.e. no shoes on the furniture.  Most simple lessons in manners, and modeling these values in your own home, are simply enough.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 15-yr-old boy climb up on a couch with his shoes on.  Or at least I hope not.

However, when we go to a playdate or meet for an outing, why do we assume that kids must not be kids?  Oh, my son didn’t share with your son.  I AM SO SHOCKED.  Three year olds don’t like to share.  Oh, my 16-month old baby tried to climb up and sit on the table. LET ME APOLOGIZE.

These behaviors obviously aren’t learned from mom and dad, they are born out of our sinful nature.  But instead of acting like our children are full-blown heathens, maybe we should just remember that THEY ARE KIDS.  Bambinos.  Babies.  Little SINNERS. Hahaha.

I’ll be the first to admit that it would be really nice if my kiddos would always do what I say, follow where I go, and sit when I tell them to sit.  Mostly because IT WOULD MAKE MY LIFE EASIER.  Just because I have a 3-yr old that can throw a nasty fit doesn’t mean it’s not a phase and he’s headed for prison.  Sometimes I throw fits!  I mean, sometimes I get mad and lose my temper, the only difference between a three year old and a grown woman is I can control myself  without wailing and flailing for thirty minutes like preschoolers like to do (I’ve wailed a flailed, too, sadly).

When all we do is teach our kids behavior, they learn to be “good.”  I can’t think of any greater antithesis to the Gospel than the word “good.”  (Maybe a little strong?)  Considering the Bible states  that NO ONE is good except God, maybe we should stop hoping that our kids turn out to be “good kids” and instead hope that they are “sinners saved by grace.”  I really don’t want good kids, I want bad kids that love God.  Not bad in the sense that they are partying heavily, sleeping around, and running a muck, but the fact that they KNOW that God saved them in spite of him or herself– In spite of their daily struggles and temper spats and irreverence.

After all, we all know adults with great esteem and etiquette who are just giant jerks!   Kids will grow out of being kids, but they won’t grow out of their selfishness (even if they learn to control it) and  they won’t grow out of negativity (we all battle that, I’d say).  So let’s teach them deep-seated character, repentance, and a love for Christ-  things that they can hold onto tightly when the storms of life rage…and let’s leave the worry over coffee-table-climbing to the fact that kids are going to be kids!

The Destination Always Beats the Path

I’m currently sitting on the next to last row of a Southwest Airlines flight.  Sometimes when flying domestically I wish I could look out the window and see below a “Welcome to Kansas” sign instead of seeing only dry soil and lots of farmland and thinking, “Hmmm, Kansas?”

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Isn’t this true in life, we know the final destination, but we can’t see the path.  As a believer in Christ, I know my destination is Heaven.  But as far as the path-what will happen before I die- I wonder if I have 5 years or 55 more years?  Will we have more children, embark in ministry, or accomplish the dreams and goals we have for our family?  The pains of uncertainty sometimes leave me paralyzed as to the next leap we should make when it comes to friendships, family, or even investments.

I heard a quote this past weekend: “If you don’t live your life on purpose, you’re an accident waiting to happen.”  This spoke to me so much, because how many times do I find myself avoiding the difficult decisions only because I’m crippled by imagining the possible outcomes.

The reality is– my outcome (Heaven) is ALREADY DETERMINED.  I don’t need a sign post on the journey because the path is set before me.  I can choose to act now or I can procrastinate and let the fear keep me from acting.

In the book An Enemy Called Averagethe author John Mason says there is a correlation between spiritual maturity and how quickly a person responds to mistakes and failures.  I really believe that when we know our destination is secure, we are wise enough to handle the veers off of path (that God predetermined, yet we maybe aren’t pleased with).  I’m working on letting go of what people think of me or how others may perceive my journey and resting alone in the hope I have.

What do you think- do you struggle with the daily decision to live intentionally and make big goals for your family because you can’t see the destination ahead of you?  If you’re a Christian- do you consider that God knows the days of your life and will lead you on His path to that destination?

 

(And as a sign note, I ended this post just as we hit some pretty rough turbulence and I nearly had an all-out freak-out on the plane!  Thankful for my sweet husband who sees marriage as a destination (Forever!) and that he let me wake him up and say, “You can’t sleep! I need you!”  I’m working on the faith I need to trust the Lord that He knows my destination – AND the arrival time).

5 Reasons Why Marrying Young is a Good Thing

I’ve been thinking of this post for a long time, but I’ve noticed a few other posts in blogland that also talk about marrying young so I debated whether to share our experience.  You can never have enough of a good thing, though, right?  So here’s 5 reason why I think marrying young is the way to go…

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Just kids!

 

1.  Maturity isn’t a number.  I’ve met 18 year olds that act like they are 30, and I’ve met 30 year olds that don’t act a day over 18.  I don’t think there’s a perfect number out there for when you should take the plunge into matrimony.  I think all things considered one should look at whether they really feel this is the man or woman they can do covenant-style marriage with, every day for all days.

2.  Instance Cure for Selfishness.  Marriage should never be approached as “making life better” in the sense that you hope once you marry someone they’ll stop being a real jerk. Ha.  But marriage will cure your selfishness, and in a day-and-age of the #selfie generation, we could all use a step away from thinking the world revolves around us.  Putting someone else first, ironing their work shirts, or helping out with chores will make you realize quickly that you aren’t here only for you.  If you wait to do that for the first time when you are 35, yikes, it’s going to be a harder transition!

3. You’ll Grow Up Together.  Brian and I started dating the weekend I turned 16.  Not everyone goes that far back with their spouse, but the thing I’ve noticed with friends that met in college or beyond is we had a lot less drama or baggage to work through.  He was there when I got college acceptance letters, and I was there to edit his first resume.  There’s not much to surprise you when you’ve done most of your “firsts” together.

4.  There Will be Plenty of Want.  I always giggle when the pastor at a wedding says, “In plenty and in want” instead of “for richer or poorer,”  it’s like by changing the wording things will work out better.  Brian and I made a lot of dumb decisions when we first got married (before we tuned in to the teachings of Dave Ramsey), but either way, we were broke and pretty much had the money from our wedding as our back-up plan.  I was still in college and writing papers in our closet.  No joke, we had removed the 2nd murphy bed and put my desk in the closet!  When we had friends over we flipped our murphy bed into the wall and got out a card table! Ha! You could also sit on the toilet, put your hands in the sink, and your feet in the bathtub- our apartment was a love nest and that is all!  I still choke up when I hear John Denver sing, “I know we ain’t got money, but I’m so in love with you honey…”  I know that a lot of parents don’t want their kids (i.e. young adults) to get married because they don’t think they’ll be able to afford it.  And you know what- they won’t!!  But they’ll do what the rest of us did and they’ll have to figure it out.  I believe that if you guide them into staying out of debt and living on less than they make, they will be fine!  Let them live off of love for awhile (and please preach this to me when my kids want to marry at 20. ;))

5.  Sexual Sins.  I’m a Christian, so it has to be said.  The longer you meddle in serious relationships, the more sexual sin you are going to have to deal with.  One of you may come to the marriage with a past, or maybe you delayed marriage and now you’ve crossed the line you hoped to keep.  We remember what being teenagers and young adults was like (AHHHH!) and I think there’s something to be said for setting a standard…and then not having a long engagement!!  I have no idea how we will broach this subject as parents (Lord, help us!), but I think as a Christian community we need to be more upfront and vocal about this topic.

Would you add anything?  Did you marry young and think it taught you something?

 

I’m by no means saying that marriage (young or old) is always fun or easy- we have both made a LOT of mistakes over the years!  

 

Do Not Grow Weary

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  -Hebrews 12:1-3  My emphasis added.

I’m weary about every day.

Heck, even my name means “weary” in Hebrew.  That’s depressing.

I totally underestimated the time, patience, and lack of rest that three children would require. While I treasure them as my greatest earthly blessing, motherhood is hard work!  My human flesh wants to stay in bed some days and eat french toast and watch British-based PBS shows, not wrestle with Legos or do another.load.of.laundry.

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I really struggled after the birth of C.  My hormones were out of whack, Brian and I were in a busy season, and of course I wasn’t sleeping.  I was a wreck.  There was little joy.  Little enthusiasm.  And many tears.  (I probably should have sought out help for PPD, but I did not.  I beg of you to please please please reach out if you are feeling hopeless after having a baby- it was bad!  Please email me if you need to!  Please!!)

Here’s the deal- Seasons of life will come and go, but Jesus is ALWAYS our rest.

For the joy set before HIM.  HE endured the Cross.

Consider HIM who ENDURED such opposition, so that YOU will NOT GROW WEARY.  

(I can type that now, I could not have 6 months ago- no guilt here.)

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

And tomorrow will look imperfect.  There will probably be things I don’t like, and definitely things I would change.

I do not take this well.  There are nights when I’ll lay in bed and tell Brian that I’m not sure I can do it all over again.  That the mundane has stolen my joy.

Then I remember that my greatest sin is my unbelief.  And it’s not that I don’t believe in Christ or in His saving work, it’s that I don’t believe that this work is worth it or that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  I don’t need to go to the jungles of the Amazon or the dusty streets of Haiti for mission work, I can go to the dining room table where there are three little hearts that need to see my joy and my peace and hear of the joy set before Him.

He died to live.

In my own selfishness, I must die (to sin) to find life (in Jesus).

I’m thankful for my Savior.

Additional reading:

Don’t Give Up

Our Children For Our Joy

Is Exhaustion the New Status Quo?

 

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I listened to a podcast yesterday by Michael Hyatt (I was busy with the kids while I listened, but if you want to know the exact one, contact me and we can narrow it down) and Mr. Hyatt said that he read somewhere recently that exhaustion is considered to be the new status quo.  That basically, we prove our worth by proving how busy we are.

For some reason that statement ran over and over again in my head last night.  I couldn’t shake it.  It convicted me.

In my early morning before-kids-wake-up time, I googled “exhaustion status quo,” “are we exhausted,” and “is exhaustion new status quo?”  It brought up one article that was pertinent which I will share some exerts from.

Here is what jumped around in my mind last night:

Since the invention of social media (a.k.a. my college years- not to be confused with The College Years which are totally Saved by the Bell episodes – ;)).

We brag about how busy we are! It appears to establish us.

Remember Instant Messenger?

You’re away message was something like, “coffee, then 3 hour class, then internship, and back here to finish that thesis.  Some day there will be time for friends. Sad face.”

Now we call or text other moms and talk about how busy we are between Jr’s soccer games and exercise and loads of laundry.  We make an idol out of busy-ness because everyone is doing it and we might as well follow along.

The more I dwelt on this, I could see how I’ve done this to make myself feel less like “just a mom” and more like the other women I see that are working outside the house.  I know that Social Media at times has made me feel like I don’t do anything important because I’m too busy wiping snotty noses or reading Berenstein Bears.

An article in the Atlantic may sum it up better than I can:

“We do talk about how busy and overwhelmed we are all the time—think about how we talk to each other. “How are you?” “Fried. You?” “Same.” When was the last time someone said, “I’ve been doing absolutely nothing.” We usually launch into an exhausting laundry list of stuff…

We’re working more hours—more extreme hours at one job at the upper end of the socio-economic spectrum and cobbling together several jobs to try to make ends meet at the lower end. Our standards for what it takes to be a good parent, particularly a good mother, are insanely high and out of proportion to all reality.”

If you go read the entire article, I don’t agree with all of her premises, but I do think that we somehow need to stop being so busy – to prove to an employer or a co-worker or even our family that we have self-worth.

This doesn’t mean we decide to balk the status quo and become lazy.  Proverbs will show you otherwise.

As a last thought- before I opened Google this morning, I opened the Bible.  I’ve really been drawn to Ecclesiastes lately and this just jumped off the page at me-

“The fool folds his hands and ruins himself.  Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”

I want to intentionally choose to be less busy so I can enjoy God’s greatest gifts.

I want to stop talking about being tired- because that conversation could probably go on for another 20 years…

I want to focus on those things that are important to my legacy.

 

What do you think- is exhaustion the new status quo?  Why is that?  Do you feel guilty if you don’t take on another project or enroll the kids in another educational or extracurricular activity?  Is this worse for men or women?  I would love to hear your thoughts.