Legacy of Love

Family. The word alone can bring various emotions from different individuals. For some, it brings about a rush of unwanted memories. The hurt caused by betrayal or abuse. Others recall a sense of loneliness and fear. Still others experience the peace and comfort like that of a warm, soft blanket wrapped around them on a cold night. Yet none of us can escape the truth that we are connected to a family whether by birth or by choice.

Although God’s original plan was for families to operate in an atmosphere of love and joy, too often man’s fallen nature destroys that plan. So what happens when someone around us feels the rejection or abandonment from their earthly family? God has already provided that answer. He showed His love by giving us the body of Christ as family. Although they still are not perfect, when they show the love of Christ, they created the loving atmoshpere of FAMILY.

The main motto of our ministry to Haiti is to “end the orphan cycle through family.” Our aim is for orphans in Haiti to find homes and not feel labeled ‘orphan’ but known as family. I love the example lived out daily through Banner, our child who has Cerebral Palsy. We rescued Banner from a ditch. Banner was 4 years old when his dad left him there to die because of his CP. Doctors told us he would never walk. Yet placing him in our kids’ home, he has experienced the love of a family. Although his walker is not far from him at all times, a year ago Banner started walking by himself. This January, Banner went to school for the first time. Why? Love of his God given through family saw that he was cared for and believed in.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13:13

God’s plan is for His word to be taught within the family unit. It’s for parents to create an environment where His love will be felt within the home. And He desires that same model to be shown within the body of Christ – His family. It is a legacy Christ walked before us and one that He desires us to walk in – to relfect those godly character traits. That type of family love can bring hope and healing to a hurting world.

Today, let’s choose to live a life of love and leave a legacy for those around us. After all, we never know when there might be a Banner waiting to walk because we chose to love.

All Inclusive

Highlights and disappoints. Both were seen this past weekend during Mother’s day. For me, it was a full weekend with family events. Yet sitting now and reflecting on our time, it is not just the activity with family that stands out to me. It is also posts and videos. Stories shared by others which left an impact. Family at times is complicated. Messy. Joyous and heartbreaking. But it all becomes a blanket of fabric that has been woven together and wrapped around us.

One post this weekend was from someone I admire, Tracey Mitchell. Tracey and her husband have a ministry headquartered in Dallas. Not only is she a powerhouse speaker, but she also has a writing style that grabs your heart and pulls you into the story. This weekend she had a post that spoke volumes:

As Mother’s Day approaches and pictures of smiling families fill my timeline my mind and emotions drift in countless directions. My heart goes out to the seven-year-old girl who will put on a brave face and battle through feelings of abandonment and rejection. She hasn’t seen her mother in years; may never see her again. My stomach feels tied in knots when I think of the young woman whose husband was unexpectedly killed last month. This will mark her first holiday as a single parent. She now carries the weight of being mom and dad all rolled into one. Tears begin to form as I think of my dear friend who will be unable to hug her incarcerated son. I cannot tell you the number of sleepless nights she has lost to grief …

Life is messy. Special days aren’t always special. For many, Mother’s Day is a complex time of reflection. It is a mixture of heartfelt memories and pain filled moments. What matters most is not what we have experienced but what we are yet to encounter. Maybe you need to experience the freedom of forgiving someone who wounded you or was simply never there for you. Trust me, the joy that comes with forgiveness is far better than a tear stained past. Maybe you need to bridge the gap in a distant or strained relationship. The initial step is always the hardest. Be brave. Be bold. Be daring enough to make the first move. Motherhood is not limited to birthrights or DNA. A mother is anyone who helped birth a better you. As you take a trip down memory lane pause and thank the women who supported you, defended you, created space for you and loved you unconditionally. Celebrate them. Love them. Honor them.

Such powerful truth! This is a Mother’s day message I have spoken on before. I can still see the faces of moms in one church I was speaking at who had lost kids to death. And the woman who was barren due to her husband’s cancer. Too often on Mother’s day we forget those women and they sit in our services hurting or feeling ‘not enough.’ But God makes His acceptance all inclusive and loves to show us creative ways bring this balance to our ministry.

“Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 31:31 NIV

Another post that grabbed my heart was from my own daughter, Lauren Nelson. Although she has a son almost three and another who is just eight months old, God told her to go to Haiti. Alone. He was calling her to ‘come away’ with Him. After much struggle and tears to leave her babies, she obeyed. While planning the trip, she decided to surprise the other eleven kids that she has mothered in Haiti. The video of those surprised kids was priceless!

There were other posts that spoke as well. A niece who is a stepmom. A friend rejoicing over reconciled relationships. And the silent posts – those empty spaces where many hid from ‘mom notes’ which would be a reminder of abuse or neglect.

Yes. May has become a month for moms. But let’s not forget to minister to ALL women and recognize the spiritual moms among us. May our churches and lives be all inclusive when showing gratitude to those who serve among us. Honor the women who have chosen to foster, adopt, or just be that mom chosen by our hearts. And if that is who you are, we honor you as well for taking the step to mom whoever comes in your path.