nancy williams

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Archive for May, 2010

Leaving a Positive Footprint

Have you considered the influence you have on the children in your life, the legacy you are establishing and the inheritance you will pass down? We tend to think of the inheritance we are leaving to others primarily in terms of property, material possessions, finances or bequests made in a will. But the legacy we create also includes the personal aspects of our lives. Our identity, the beliefs we profess, the values we live by, the priorities we establish, the choices we make, how we take care of our belongings and the way we treat others all form the essence of our unique character which is also part of our legacy. Each of these qualities has a powerful influence on the lives of those we love. It’s part of our footprint that will impact them long after we’re gone.

Whether we realize it or not, as parents, grandparents, and influential adults in the lives of children, we begin building the legacy we will pass on to them the day they are born. And we continually shape that footprint each day of our lives. They watch how we live life and determine whether or not they will embrace the patterns we’ve set or choose their own course. They listen to what we teach them about what we believe in and what we deem as right and wrong. Even more so, they watch how we apply those teachings in our own lives.

Our own personal character and integrity are powerful influences in the lives of our children and will be remembered for generations to come. They listen as we speak and watch as we react to life experiences, looking for congruency between our values and life choices. That consistency along with a sense of safety and security will be the basis for their trust in us.

Are we clear about our principles of right and wrong? And do our lives reflect our values? Do we stand up for our beliefs in a positive way? Or, do we criticize, find fault, and condemn? How do we express our concerns? Are we building up or tearing down? Do we speak and conduct our lives in a way that draws others toward us? Do we honor and take care of ourselves? How are we managing our emotions? How do we respond to victory and what about defeat? As we look at our individual life, do we see a glass half-empty or one half-full?

When we live authentic lives with character that’s based on God’s principles, the children in our lives—children of all ages—will be more likely to draw close to us. When they feel our love and respect for them, they’ll be more open to consider our values, respect our actions and understand our heart. When they trust us, they’ll be more apt to share life with us. When they see us model the approach to life we want for them, they’ll be more likely to consider our words of encouragement and counsel.

If we seek God’s guidance and do all we can to live in a manner that honors Him and reflects His truths, we will create a legacy of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—fruits of His Spirit. When our children see us making wise decisions, managing life’s challenges effectively, living authentically and creating stability in our own lives, they will be more apt to seek our counsel or reflect on our lives as a positive reference when they face their own challenges. may not always make the same choices but they’ll have seeds of positive influence planted in their minds and hearts that can flow from generation to generation.

We give many things to our children through the years. May we ask God to guide our minds and hearts and grant us wisdom, as we consider not just what we are doing for them but also what we are instilling in them through our words, our actions, and our gifts. May the legacies we pass on be ones that will be pleasing to God and helpful to the children we love—no matter what their age—as they embrace whatever their futures hold.

Life Lessons in My Backyard

I do so enjoy spring in Texas. OK, maybe I should qualify that. My sinuses could do without the pollen. But, while I deal with that nuisance, I also look forward to the gifts of beauty this season holds as God’s creative handiwork comes alive all around us.

The spirit of rebirth and renewal. The aroma of new life. The warmth of hope that replaced winter’s chill. The process of pruning and shaping that makes way for new growth. And the amazing color palette that brushes across the fields and roadsides as wildflowers burst into full bloom and butterflies dance about. Unpretentious yet vibrant reds and golds alongside cool, crisp whites, and calming blues and yellows – the perfect photographer’s backdrop and a most cheerful welcome to the season.

I love the colors of spring and I also love the sounds of spring. Conversations fill the air as neighbors emerge from hibernation and reconnect with each other. There’s the laughter of children as they set aside indoor games for bicycles and baseball. And then there are the birds. Have you heard them thanking us for refilling their feeders and welcoming them back?

I’m blessed to have a backyard that’s inviting to these little winged creatures. I suppose it helps that my husband hung birdfeeders in prominent places so they know they’re welcome. Actually, the birds seem to know we welcome them but the squirrels don’t communicate that same warmth to our feathered friends. In fact, I frequently watch them all scramble for feeding rights.

The blue jays and woodpeckers zoom in, grab a bite or two, and then perch on a nearby tree to enjoy the seeds. They seem to like the privacy of eating alone. The cardinals sometimes come in pairs and politely share an intimate meal-for-two. The white-winged doves and sparrows are more social groups, often crowding around the feeders and making a place for all to enjoy both food and company. Once they’ve enjoyed their feast, they retire to a nearby tree to relax and hang out together for a while. They remind me of favorite get-togethers with family and friends.

The squirrels, however, are a different story. They arrive in the morning for breakfast and then scamper among the trees. They may go off for a while but are soon back for a snack. Once they spot the birdfeeder hanging from the porch’s upper ledge, they begin their trip to the meal table by scaling a large elm nearby and racing to see who will make it to the finish line first.

The branches come close enough to the porch so it just takes a stretch for them to reach the screen. Cautiously, they scale the web of wire until they come close to the feeder. With determined spirit and a confident leap of faith, they hit their mark where they nestle in for a leisurely meal. Never mind that there may be a number of birds waiting in the tree for their turn. Squirrels don’t seem to share well with others.

Wanting to be sure everyone gets to eat, I’ll get the squirrel’s attention and warn that its time at the table is up and others are waiting. Unfortunately, my attempts to speak up for the birds only sends them flying away. But not the squirrels. Oh, they may run off a bit if I get close or make enough noise, but before long, they’re back for another bite. My attempts are often met with defiance: They just don’t quit.

I suppose there’s a lot we can learn about life as we observe God’s handiwork, as we enjoy the gifts of nature, and as we care for His creation. Perhaps those determined squirrels can teach us about boldly going after what we want in life, taking risks, keeping our eye on the prize, and pressing through obstacles to achieve goals. The doves remind us to make room at the table and share what we have, and also take time to be still, relax, and enjoy what God has provided. Then there’s the scorpion we found yesterday in the bathroom. Hmmm. I’m not sure about the lesson there, but that’s a story for another time!