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248753_10150195927401213_183571_nTwo weeks ago our family said goodbye to my wife’s mother, Carole Fisher. She was diagnosed with stage four cancer almost two years ago and ended her battle with cancer early Monday morning on May 4th.

She was the first of our parents to leave this earth and even though we knew this day was coming, having some measure of preparation and awareness didn’t make it any easier.

As we have been reflecting on her life in the days following her death, there have been four things that just about everyone who knew her has been remembering.

The first was her faith. Carole was a woman of faith. I commented at her memorial service that Carole would have greatly disliked the service. Not because it wasn’t meaningful, worshipful or beautiful, but because it was all about her. Carole hated being the center of attention. She was always more comfortable being unnoticed and off to the side rather than front and center. Her greatest desire was that her life wouldn’t be about her, but would clearly point to Christ. Above her bed in the final days of her life was the verse,

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:5

All throughout her life Carole trusted and worshiped God in all things, even in her battle with cancer. And up until her final moments on earth her life clearly pointed to Christ.

Next was her heart of compassion. It’s said of Jesus multiple times in the gospels that he was “moved with compassion.” The same could be said of Carole. Not only was Carole most comfortable with being unnoticed, she was also most comfortable with others who could easily go unnoticed. Carole had a strong love for the “least of these” in our world. There would be many times when she and Jim would visit us here in Atlanta and would make plans to go downtown on a Friday night to serve the homeless with different churches they didn’t even attend. She was always on the look out for opportunities to serve. God’s love for those in need was most evident in Carole.

Third was her life of simplicity for the sake of generosity. Carole held the things of this world loosely. She believed that too much stuff would clutter and complicate her life. She sought to live a simple life so that she could be free to give things away as the needs, or even desires, of others presented themselves. I’ve heard stories of Carole giving away the coat on her back or the gloves off her hands to individuals who had none. There were times I would be perusing the books on her shelf and if she had a book that caught my interest, she would give me her copy saying, “Just take it. You’ll enjoy it more than I will.” Her vision was so focused on her eternal home that the things in her earthly home could easily be given away.

Lastly was her joy. Carole’s joy wasn’t something she manufactured, it was a natural manifestation of her faith, compassion and generosity. Her joy was most evident in her smile. It was infectious and could light up a dark room. Her joy carried her through life and as Jesus noted in John 15, his joy in her was complete.

***

When people pass from this life to the next we often expect them to leave behind something for us who remain. Sometimes we anticipate homes, family heirlooms or large sums of money. I don’t know if Carole left any of those things behind, but what I do know is that the legacy she did leave behind is far more valuable than things, possessions and cash. All that stuff is temporary and fleeting. It’s the stuff of this world.

What Carole left behind was eternal, the stuff of the Kingdom, a legacy of faith, compassion, generosity and joy. And because those things are eternal, we will always have access to what she left for us know matter where we are or what we are going through.

So Carole, thank you. Your life was well lived. It will never be forgotten and your legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.

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I hate moving. The packing and sorting. The pain that develops in your back. Taking a part beds just to put them together again. Maneuvering objects through doors and hallways that are bigger than a those doors and hallways. PIVOT! I hate moving!

Two weekends ago my family and I moved to a new house about 3 miles away from our old house. Since being married 9 and a half years, this was the third time my wife and I moved. The first two moves it was just us, no kids and all our stuff fit into a 8X12 foot pod with plenty of room to spare. Three kids and a full house of stuff later, we rented a 26 foot truck and filled the thing… twice!

Even though I hate moving it reminded me of a few very important lessons.

1. I can be too easily attached to stuff. Not our stuff, the stuff we packed in boxes (although that’s true as well). But the stuff that made up our house. There are certain things that I LOVED about our old house that we don’t have in this house. There were certain updates and newer appliance that were really nice and gave the house a bit of a trendy feel even though was a fairly old house. The house we live in now (even though it’s a great house) isn’t quite the same. The cosmetic features of it are a bit more old and worn out and as I sit writing this at our kitchen counter my eyes are drawn to all of the things that are less than perfect. And saying good-bye to those things in our old house reminded me…

2. It’s far to easy to compare. It’s easy to look at what other people have and what we used to have and think we’d be happier with different stuff. The latest model of this. The newest update of that. If only I had _________, then I’d be content. For me, comparison is often rooted in being overly concerned with what other people think of me and ultimately steals my joy. Comparison breeds anxiety and takes our focus off of what’s truly important, people. Because ultimately…

3. People make places. This is what I’ve been most thankful to remember. As I left our old house for the final time I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I stood in our kitchen and thought about all of the people who had been in our house over the 6 years we lived there – the groups we hosted, the parties we had, the holidays we shared and the relationships that developed. I also thought back to the day we brought each of our three girls home from the hospital and all the joy and laughter we shared as our family has grown. As I shut the door behind me for the final time, I was reminded that we have the potential to do the exact same thing in our new home as we did in our old home.

A home isn’t meant for the purpose of impressing people. Apart from the basic necessities, it’s a place to share life with people. It’s about opening your doors and simply inviting others in with the hope of sharing in meaningful relationship.

I know it’s cheesy and cliché, but it’s the people not the place (or the stuff for that matter) that make a house a home. I look forward to sharing our new place with our family and friends and hopefully make some new friends along the way. I trust that there is much about life that we will learn while living in this place and that when the day comes when it’s time to move again my heart will be equally full from the experience of living here.

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“It’s never too late.” So the saying goes.

So many of us have dreams of different things that we would like to do or accomplish in this life. Learn a new skill. Pick up a new hobby. Run a marathon. Write a book. Start our own business. Etc…

However, when we look at our already busy schedules, it seems impossible. When we see the finished product of someone else’s work we naturally think, “I could never do that.” Or we think that the right season of life to have pursued that dream is behind us and we missed our opportunity. But those are just excuses and lies we tell ourselves to avoid taking the risk of trying something new.

The truth is you do have the time, you just have to find it. You are able to do it, you just need to keep at it. And there is no better time than now.

Today I want share with you a musical project that my wife has been working on for the last year or so. It has always been her dream to write and record music and with the help of some good friends she’s done it!

It wasn’t easy. It took sacrifice. With a growing family of three young kids, there were plenty of reasons to think, “Not now isn’t the right time.” But at the end of the day the price of NOT doing it was great than the sacrifice it required.

I am so proud of her for not giving up on her dream and want to encourage all of you to check out her EP titled My Beginning at NoiseTrade.com. It’s free to download and I think you will find her songs to be thoughtful, honest and true.

Happy Listening! It’s never too late!

 

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