I’ve got a birthday looming. And while it’s always fun to start the morning with a free coffee from my favorite coffee chain and perhaps snag a free birthday dinner on a date with the hubs, each year I’m growing precariously closer to a new decade – one that involves dead roses, black balloons, and those “hilarious” cards about hills and being over them.    

Instead of bemoaning the addition of a few more “laugh lines” and wincing over the fact that I haven’t been carded when I order a glass of wine with dinner in…well, a really long time, I’ve been pondering the notion of legacy.

Creating one. Living one. Leaving one.  Legacy is defined as the handing of something down from the past to the present – as from an ancestor to a descendant.  

Legacy feels clunky and big and like it belongs in a decade four decades from my current one.  It doesn’t feel relevant to my current life as I nag encourage my children to complete their homework, as I sit in the spectator chairs in dance studios and on soccer sidelines, as I am in the parenting trenches of elementary school.

But if we aren’t thinking about legacy now, in the midst of diapers and toddlers and backpacks and lunch boxes filled with fuzzy green mold after being left in a locker a bit too long, then we are doing it wrong.   

And while we tend to think of leaving a legacy as something belonging to the wealthy and famous, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Legacy is built in the un-glamorous moments, in the handling of adversity, in the daily trenches of parenting, one homework assignment at a time.

Legacy is built in the quiet pouring out of time and resources into lives around you, one heartfelt chat over a cup of coffee at a time.     

Legacy is being intentional, in living a life that looks beyond your own life and into the lives of those  who are around you and who will come after you.

If you are a woman living in the United States of America, then you are blessed beyond measure.

Women in our nation are members of an amazing club – we enjoy the most freedoms and are the most educated, most resourced group of women, ever, in the history of the world.

It is no accident that we live now, in this time and place.

The question is: what will we do with this gift of freedoms and education and resources? What will we do with the days we’ve been allotted?

Wherever you are on your faith journey, be encouraged!  As Christ-followers, we are called to look beyond ourselves, beyond our families, and to leave legacies that reveal the character of Christ to those around us. This doesn’t mean that you need to sell everything you own and move halfway across the world. You might find yourself leaving a legacy in a million small kind acts spread over eight decades, by praying for women you’ve never met, by serving quietly in the kitchen of a shelter, far from the limelight.

Legacy is a marathon, not a sprint.  And it is something that is built over a lifetime, not overnight.

Just don’t put it off, thinking that you are too busy and that you’ll get around to it later.  You have too many gifts, too many skills, too many opportunities to change lives around you for the better, right now. 

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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he 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 sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Lord, use our hands, our hearts, our minds to help those around us. Open our eyes to suffering around us and give us hearts to do something about it. Move us beyond social media activism and into places where we get our hands dirty and our hearts full. Let us be lights on the hill, beacons of faith in a world that is in pain, and examples of how completely you change lives.    Amen.