Tag Archives: Family

What Kind Of Legacy Are You Leaving Your Children?{We interrupt our regularly scheduled Proverbs 31 programming to bring you this completely random post}

I was listening to NPR this morning and a story came on about wills. Something like half of Americans don’t have wills, and it can leave a mess for loved ones when people die without them. 

They mentioned a type of will I’d never heard of before, called an “emotional will.” According to one website I found, an emotional will “is designed as a way for you to share your thoughts, values, lessons in life, passions, hopes and dreams with your children and future generations in the years to come. This is your chance to ensure that you don’t leave this life with things left unsaid.” 

This struck me as odd, and a little bit sad that this is actually a thing. I mean, I understand the concept behind it, but should this type of thing be necessary? 

I want to leave an emotional will for my family. But I don’t want it to be a piece of paper they read while they are mourning my death and working through what life is going to look like without me.

Just like I don’t want my family to have to figure out what to do with my physical assets when I’m gone, I don’t want them to have to figure out what my thoughts, values, passions hopes and dreams were after I die. I don’t want to relegate those lessons to a letter they open in my absence.

This interview made me realize that every day, I am leaving an emotional will for my children. Everything I say, everything I do, is showing my children what I value, and therefore what they should value. 

I can do this accidentally, or I can do this intentionally. When I get to the end of my life, whenever that is, I want my children to be able to say to themselves and to others, “We know what our mother’s emotional will for us is.” I want them to be able to point to my life and say, “this is what our mother loved, this is what she valued, and this is how she wanted us to live our lives.”

Recently I listened to a sermon series by Matt Chandler about discipling children and families. He made the point that we are all making our children into disciples, the question is: of what.

If we are constantly talking about financial security, worried about money, striving for material comforts and being envious of people who have more than we do, our children will see that those things are important to us. And those things will become important to them. 

If we stress the importance of education, worry constantly about the state of our children’s schools and place great emphasis on grades and getting into college, our children will see that we value those things. And they will value those things as well. Certainly these are good things, important things even, but its easy to let these and other worldly concerns to take precedent over what should matter most. 

We can tell our children what we want them to value, but the lasting legacy we will leave on them comes from the way we live our lives. Our children learn by listening, but more than that they learn by observing. If they hear me say that Jesus is the most important thing in my life, but see me cling to worldly things, they will see right through my words and into my heart.

I can write an emotional will out on a piece of paper, telling my children about the life I wish I had lived and the values I wish I had shown them, and hope they listen to my posthumous words of wisdom. Or I can write my emotional will on my life, through the way I live, the way I love, the person I am because of my love for Jesus. That’s the legacy I want to leave for my children, and for everyone who knows me.

W


Image via FlickrI hear a lot of talk, and read a lot of blog posts and articles, about how hard it is to be a parent. Heck, every other blog post of mine is about that. But one thing I feel like isn’t mentioned often is how hard marriage gets when you have children.

Marriage before children is hard. There are bills to pay, houses to keep up, stressful jobs, in-laws, moves, financial hardships. My first couple years of marriage were spent a thousand miles from home in a foreign land (okay, it was Massachusetts, but it felt like another country) while one of us was in school and the other was working a job she hated and then getting pregnant (that was me). We had money issues from the beginning, and we’ve always been “fighters,” so it was never purely sunshine and roses for us. But still, we had our freedom, we could go on dates, take trips and sleep in.

Then we had a kid.

Everyone told us it would be hard, but so worth it because we would be so in love with this little new life that none of the hard stuff would matter. And that was true, about the parenting part.

The marriage part? Well, all of that crap we had brought into our marriage was still there. Wait, you’re telling me I have this baby to take care of around the clock, and I still have to find ways to be loving toward my spouse, to spend time with them, to get along with them and work through issues with them?

Issues. Let’s talk about issues. Remember how when you got married, all of these issues came up that you never even knew were issues? How you dealt with finances, how you related to family, how you handled emotions, how you arranged your pillows at night? Well, guess what. Bringing another life into the world brings up a whole new host of issues. Who gets up in the middle of the night? Who wakes up with the baby in the morning and who gets to sleep in? How late is too late to come home from work when the other spouse is drowning in diapers and baby food? WHOSE LIFE IS HARDER? (I’m convinced this is one of the great mysteries of life, one that will forever be disputed. “I have to come home from my job every day and go straight into my other job of being a parent!” “Well I never get to leave my job! Ever!” And so on and so forth).

I’m a firm believer in premarital counseling. But since having children I’ve decided that what we really needed was pre-parental counseling. No one ever sits you down and asks you if you’re really ready to add another life into your marriage relationship. In fact, from the second you get married, all anyone ever wants to know is when you’re going to start having kids. No one asked me if I felt like my relationship with Marshall was in a good place to start a family. People talk about being financially ready to have kids, and while that’s important, I think it’s much more important for your marriage to be strong enough to handle everything that comes along with becoming parents.

So if you’re thinking about having children, I’m not saying you need to go see a counselor (though I’m not saying you shouldn’t), but I do think it’s wise to take stock of your marital relationship and whether its ready for such a monumental change. If you have children, it’s never too late to start better tending to your marriage. It’s easy to say “We’ll deal with it later, I’m too tired right now.” Don’t do that. Talk to your spouse. Go on a date. Learn how to enjoy one another even when your children are going crazy. Let your spouse sleep in. One of the best gifts we can give our children is a happy home, which starts with a happy marriage. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

 W


This Christmas was all about Santa Claus for Shook. It was the first year we could explain it to him and have him somewhat understand the concept, and it was pretty exciting. We had a great time telling him about the presents Santa would bring, where he lived, how he would come down the chimney, how he would get lumps of coal if he was bad (just kidding, that comes later).

But you know what I realized in the midst of all of this Santa stuff? It was really easy to tell Shook about Santa. He was everywhere, and everyone wanted to make sure he knew all about him. It was not nearly as easy to tell him about Jesus.

Santa is easy. Hey buddy, do you like presents? Well, Santa is a big guy in a red suit who brings you lots of presents on Christmas. Do you want to meet Santa? Well, he’ll be at every event and shopping center we attend over the next month, so you’ll be seeing a lot of him. They talk about him at school, they talk about him on TV shows, he’s everywhere.

Not so easy with Jesus. He doesn’t bring you presents, he isn’t at the mall, they don’t talk about him at school, Daniel Tiger doesn’t mention him. Christmas, this holiday that was begun to celebrate Jesus, has started to overshadow Jesus himself. Even in Christian homes, it’s all too easy to focus on family and decorating the Christmas tree and getting and giving presents, adding in Jesus almost as an afterthought.

A couple of days before Christmas, I tried to explain Jesus to my two year old. We were sitting on the back porch, and I told Shook that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday, and that he was God’s son, and he was sent here to save us. But when I tried to explain to my toddler what Jesus came to save us from, I got stuck. He doesn’t know what sin is. I started to try to think of some analogy from his life that would make sense, but I was at a loss. So I kind of gave up.

Then my husband, the pastor, came outside, and I asked him to try to explain Jesus to our two year old. And HE got stuck too! He started trying to analogize it to getting in trouble and going to time out and Jesus taking away time out…he was close, closer than I was, but by that point my son was way more interested in his Thomas the Train than whatever his crazy parents were trying to explain to him.

And there it was. Jesus is hard to explain. And not just to two year olds. I can barely wrap my head around Him at times, so why would it be easy to explain Him to our children?

So what do I do? Well, I could keep trying, which I have been. The other day in the car he asked me “Where’s Jesus?” and after some hemming and hawing I finally said something along the lines of “Well, He’s everywhere…He’s with us all the time, He keeps us safe, and He loves us…” I later asked Marshall what he would have said and his response, in classic pastor form, was a (jokingly) self-righteous “Um…sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty? Obviously.” As you can see we still have some work to do.

But you know what else I’m going to do? I’m going to ask other mothers. I don’t think we were made to parent in a vacuum, and we certainly weren’t meant to teach the gospel in a vacuum. So I’m going to reach out. I’m a learner, I love gathering knowledge. This is what I did with pregnancy, childbirth, sleep training (the myth, the legend…), you name it, I’ve read about it, asked about it, read about it some more.

I don’t know yet what this will look like, but I hope to find some way to translate what I learn to you, through the blog.

Tell me what you think – is this something that is hard for you, teaching your children about Jesus? Something you are interested in learning more about? Something you have been successful at? What resources have you found about this subject? I would love to know your thoughts as I begin this little research project!

W