Messy Fingerprints, Legacy and Influence

photoA week later they are still here. Smudgy little marks on my windows. I don’t want to wipe them off because they remind me of a curly red headed blue-eyed dolly that I love with all of my heart that had to go back home last Saturday. I was trying several attempts to photograph the fingerprints on my window, but it is nearly impossible. No matter which angle or what kind of light, I couldn’t capture it in the way I see it. If you look closely in this picture you might be able to make-out the blur of the fingerprints but they are illusive.

No matter, I know they are there and when the sun shines through the window it is a reminder of little Codi Joy’s presence in our home. I remember her squeals and laughter as she pressed her chubby little face against the window and expressed in her own 2-year-old language the beauty and wonder on the other side of the glass. How could I possibly wash that off? I won’t for a while because it is an imprint on my heart of the memories we made.

As I looked through the smudged glass this morning it made me think about the fingerprints we leave with others. We might not visibly see them on the glass of one’s soul, but they are there indelibly marked with our words and actions.

The good, the bad, our greatest and our worst moments leave marks on the people we do life with.

Love, grace, forgiveness and our choices etch themselves and rub off day in and day out.

My grandmother indelibly left her fingerprints on my life. Many people wouldn’t know but those marks have shaped much of who I am. I think of her nearly every single day and aspire to grow old leaving the same kind of legacy that she worked at when she was alive. Her legacy of fingerprints on others is hard to capture in words. I don’t know if she really even thought about it much other than she lived and breathed out the faithfulness of God to those she touched.

She was kind, gracious, generous with all she possessed, soft-spoken, full of wisdom and knew how to make you feel like you were the most important person in the world.

She was a Jesus lover and walked her faith out with quiet gentleness, never pushy or self-righteous, never shaming or belittling in her correction.

She oozed love and those fingerprints on my life of grace and beauty have forever marked my soul. I want to be just like her when I grow up and leave the same kind of legacy for my grandchildren.

I know that the choices I make everyday become my influence and that influence will outlive my life and become my legacy. That is why it is so important to choose what kind of fingerprints I am going to leave and where I leave them. They might be illusive right now, but someday they will be visible on the lives I’ve been entrusted to love, nurture and bless.

So I think that I am just going to clean my windows but wipe around and leave the little circle of fingerprints for now because it is my legacy.

Why I Am Letting Go Again

photoA smiling and giggling crowd was gathering in Costco where a little girl about 7 years old was singing her heart out unaware of people coming closer to hear her belt out her favorite Disney tune, “Let it Go.” She sat in the shopping cart with her sister while her Mom was working away at the task of getting groceries. Her Mom kept shopping like nothing was out of the ordinary while her daughter sang loudly and I might add quite well using hand motions and her whole body to express the lyrics of the song made famous by the movie Frozen. Indina Menzel would have been so proud! And by the way, they were in the frozen section of the warehouse. Go figure! Whether that inspired the little girl or not while her mother threw bags of chicken nuggets and frozen peas in the cart, we will never know.

I stood there for a few minutes and watched as this child unabashedly sang with confidence as if she was rehearsing to record her next album. The song jogged my memory. Not because of the movie, but of this time last year when I went away by myself to escape the noise of life and get alone with God so I could listen and sort some junk out of my heart.

After spending nearly a week away last summer, I came home with my soul breathing again and determined that it was to be an annual event.

I had to let go of life on every level and make room in my schedule to step out of what I do so I could reflect on who I am. I had to let go, or as it is better said in Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. I like the rendering of the translation that says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” (NASB)

Cease from everyday tasks,

cease from routine,

cease moving, running, planning and scheduling and just rest.

That is what letting go paints for me. I picture just stopping my life for a few days to listen deeper to my own heart and significantly closer to God’s heart as I open myself up to the silence and quiet of not moving so fast everyday.

I am not very good at letting go of my schedule and busyness of life. I don’t like to be all alone for an extended time. So please don’t think I am some spiritual giant, because I am not. What’s driven me to realize that I need this time is the clutter in my heart of late. I need to sort through the piles so I can sit and rest in the messiness of life in God’s presence and be loved by God and yes, maybe even spanked a few times.

After totally unwinding last year and reveling in the warmth of His presence, on the second to last day, God whispered gently something that was keeping me from growing.

Discouragement.

With the precision of truth, he helped me unravel the why’s and I was able to let go of some crusty layers that had accumulated on the walls of my heart. Those whispers lingered days and months after and helped me combat lies by practicing gratitude on a new level to defeat the discouragement.

So here I am this year back again, letting go and anticipating God to love me as I sit and wait for Him to whisper words of hope, encouragement and truth before I pack up and head home in a few days.

Already, my mind is challenged with emails unanswered, tasks not finished and deadlines looming next week. I am actually busier this summer than last and yet I had to make sure these few days were unmovable.

As I type these last words at my computer looking out over the placid waters of Lake Washington, I sense myself beginning to let go and the windows of my soul are ready to receive the wind of God’s spirit with this prayer hovering over me, “Here’s my heart Lord, come speak to me.”

The Smokey Haze Over My Heart

photoThe sky looks like something out of an apocalyptic movie scene.

There is a smoky haze suffocating the sun and blocking the normally beautiful blue sky of summer. We have been in a record heat wave and multiple wildfires are burning which is causing the smoke to drift miles from the fire. The air is thick and it’s difficult to breathe. One thing I did notice is the way color looks under the haze. It seems brighter and more intense, kind of like one of those filters you can choose from on your camera to enhance an image. My flower pots are more brilliant and it seems odd to me that the sun’s rays are diminished and yet the vibrancy is so intense on my front porch.

The smoke and the haze serve as a reminder of the temperature of my heart today.

It feels overwhelmed and choked with sadness which is attempting to steal my joy.

I hate that, because I have so much to be grateful for.

I can’t explain why I feel this way sometimes, all I know is that I am way too melancholy for my own good! So I am not going to beat myself up. I will just lean in and allow God to help me sort out my twisted thoughts and feelings.

Sometimes life just seems complicated and difficult. It doesn’t always have to be the big “crisis” or the “catastrophic” events that can create a hazy smoke over my heart.

Sometimes it is just a conglomeration of lots of little things that start to nest and build into a crescendo of discouragement.

There have been a series of little nagging negatives from difficult relationships to small physical injuries that have threatened to cover up my ability to be content.

I know the solution and so last night, I walked around my house before I went to bed and spoke out loud as many things as I could think of to be thankful for. Gratitude did the trick and it lifted the gloomy haze over my heart, not immediately, but it changed my attitude.

Getting my mind out of the rut of the melancholy “the sky is falling” mentality and focusing on being content and practicing joy isn’t always easy but necessary. I Thessalonians 5:16 reminds me to “Always be joyful, never stop praying, be thankful in all circumstances.”

To be honest, I don’t like these verses, it seems to be an impossible task to ALWAYS be joyful and yet when I kick my feelings out of the way and lean on the truth, something shifts, first in my heart and then in my emotions, and in time, joy sets in. I don’t think the author means the jump up and down kind of joy, I think it means a quiet godly contentment, a knowing, a peace that settles over me that God has everything under control. Even when the staggering little negatives pile up, I can choose joy by practicing being thankful.

I realize that everyday I could complain about something, isn’t that so true? Yuck, I hate that about myself, and so today, even though I can’t see the sun in the sky, I can rejoice in the brilliance of the color of my flowers on my porch. I can choose to see the colors in my life amidst the negative pile of haze that is threatening to hang over my heart.

I choose joy! How about you? Is there a bunch of little things that are attempting to make a pile and take away your joy? Let’s determine to not let the haze cover up all the great things that give us the vibrant color of joy in our lives!