Gone home to the Lord
On 9th March 2017, I received shocking news that a fellow homeschool mother, Jenny, suddenly went home to be with our Lord. While we rejoiced at her reunion with her Father in Heaven, our hearts are heavy with her family that is left behind.
Although we both have a large family (she has 8 children, oldest is in his 30s and youngest 21) and homeschool, I did not know her until 2012. I had sought her advice on switching to Abeka homeschool curriculum for my post-PSLE children. She was generous with her advice : on homeschooling, as well as on managing her large family.
Both her pastor and her family gave a moving tribute, with her Pastor calling her a mother of mothers. I concur. Although I do not belong to her church and only knew her a short while, she has mothered me in her gentle way.
In my eyes, she has left a beautiful legacy to her children. And it made me wonder – what legacy am I leaving behind?
Life is unpredictable
We all know in our heads that life is unpredictable and yet we often live as though we have all the time in the world. Most of us, me included, are not redeeming our time here on earth. Often, we are distracted with the cares of the world and other urgent but unimportant things.
Cliché as it sounds, we really don’t know when we will be called home or given a second chance. We need to get our lives right. Not only in taking better care of our physical health but our spiritual one. And we need to start thinking of the legacy we are leaving behind for our children.
What will they say at our wake and funeral?
In Michael Hyatt’s Living Forward : A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, he asks his readers to design their legacy now. To ask, “What will family, friends, and colleagues say when I am dead?” Our Asian sensitivities may not be able to take it! 😛
He writes, “When you are gone, the only truly important thing you will leave behind are the memories you’ve created. How do you want to be remembered?” p23
He continues, “(your) legacy … (is) the sum total of the beliefs you embrace, the values you live by, the love you express, and the service you render to others.” p61
Sounds good, eh? But how can we make that happen?
Be intentional about our legacy
We need to be intentional. Not just cruise along and hope for the best. If I want my children to say that I am a good mother, or my husband to say that I am a good wife, what am I doing to make either happen? While there is no guarantee that they will say nice things about me and mean them, after I am gone, being more intentional about how I live my life gives me a better chance.
Food for thought
Or are we merely being pushed along by life’s demands and distractions? How will we account for our life on earth? How are we passing on our faith to our children and their children?
By no means am I saying that this is easy to do. Because some seasons, all we are trying to do is survive.
One way to do so is to keep a journal or record of our life. How are we to leave anything for the generations if we do not let them know who we are?
Do our children know who we truly are?
They know as their mothers and so they only see one facet of our personality and life. They do not truly see us. I recently received further insight into this when I read the Introduction of Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card.
Different voices for different persons
He writes about being a profaned mouthed person when he is with his colleagues but not when he lived at home. He writes, “This (not uttering profanities) was not, by any herculean effort, either. I didn’t think about changing my behaviour; it simply happened. When I was with my parents I wasn’t the same person…. We have special voices for different people; our attitudes, our moods change depending on whom we are with.” p(xix)
Have you noticed that about yourself? My children have pointed this out to me many times. As a mother I interact differently with them than when I am a friend or a customer.They (maybe even our husbands?!) don’t really know who we are.
Involving our children in all aspects of our lives is one way but it is not practical or possible for most of us. I am thinking that journaling (paper journals, blogging) is the next best way.
Writing out our thoughts and feelings, the reasons we do what we do, helps us remember why we do what we do. It also allows our loved ones to understand us better if they choose to read what we wrote.
Journal it down!
If we do not document, no one will know. And that is why I have tried to document our health woes, our homeschooling journey, our parenting philosophy and even their birth stories in this blog. Not just to encourage and provide support to fellow mothers but as a resource for my own children when they have their own families. And give them a glimpse of who I am, how I think, besides being their mother.
We cannot dictate the legacy we leave behind. Nor can we dictate how history will remember us. But we can do our best to make sure that we have done our part.
Yeah, says the person who hates taking photos. We really cannot remember well. Without photos and/or videos, how will our children tell their children what we look like, and sound like when we are no longer around?
Our youngest does not remember the family visiting Perth, Australia when she was 3. But the photos documented that she was indeed there and had fun with her siblings!
I don’t know about you, but even though I know the value of taking photos, I still have to force myself to be the subject. It is always more fun to take photos of others. And some days, I really do not like how I look. But I am trying!
The legacy of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards
To end, I leave you the legacy of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. Many have attributed the legacy left behind more to Sarah Edwards who raised their 11 children. Quotes are taken from Elizabeth Dodd’s book, Marriage to a Difficult Man : The Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards.
*Whatever the family has done, it has done ably and nobly. . . . And much of the capacity and talent, intelligence and character of the more than 1400 of the Edwards family is due to Mrs. Edwards.
By 1900 when Winship made his study, this marriage had produced:
- thirteen college presidents
- sixty-five professors
- 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school
- thirty judges
- sixty-six physicians and a dean of a medical school
- eighty holders of public office, including:
- three U.S. senators
- mayors of three large cities
- governors of three states
- a vice president of the U.S.
- a controller of the U.S. Treasury
Members of the family wrote 135 books. . . . edited 18 journals and periodicals. They entered the ministry in platoons and sent one hundred missionaries overseas, as well as stocking many mission boards with lay trustees. Winship goes on to list kinds of institutions, industries, and businesses that have been owned or directed by Edwards’s descendants. “There is scarcely a Great American industry that has not had one of this family among its chief promoters.” We might well ask with Elisabeth Dodds, “Has any other mother contributed more vitally to the leadership of a nation?”
*This passage was excerpted from a post in Desiring God,
Sarah Edwards: Jonathan’s Home and Haven
What legacy are YOU leaving behind?