LEAVING A LEGACY
by Eric Elder
This is one of my all-time favorite pictures. It’s a picture of my wife, Lana, giving our oldest daughter, Karis, one big last kiss before sending Karis “off to school” for the first time ever…at age 19!
Since Karis was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, we had never sent her off to school before. But when Karis decided to move 4 states away to Virginia for her sophomore year of college, we finally got to experience it.
Karis and I had gotten up early in the morning to start the 12-hour drive to drop her off in Virginia, but Lana called me after we had been on the road for about 30 minutes. Lana was crying because, even though she had said goodbye to Karis, she realized she hadn’t given her a goodbye kiss. I said I could turn around and meet her half-way if she wanted. Lana said, “Would you?”
So I turned around and drove back towards home. Lana met us half-way, still crying, and pulled over on the side of the road. She jumped out of the van and ran to give Karis one big last kiss. It was one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever seen in my life.
Looking back on that picture now, I’m so thankful I turned around that day, and so thankful that Lana wanted me to. I had no idea that 18 months later Lana would be diagnosed with terminal cancer, and 9 months after that she would be gone.
As hard as it’s been to lose Lana, memories like these remind me of the legacy Lana left us. Her life was filled with love for me and the for kids and for those around her, and that love still helps to fill the holes in our hearts that were created when she passed away.
Some people, because of their great love for others and the investment they’ve made in their lives, leave a legacy when they die. Others, because of their lack of love or the abuse they’ve doled out to others over the years, simply leave a vacancy. It’s much easier to fill a hole in your heart that’s already been filled with love, than to fill a hole in your heart that’s been empty for years.
Thankfully God can fill both kinds of holes, because His love is limitless! But I’m thankful, too, for Lana’s love, as it has helped me through so much of this past year without her. It inspires me to want to leave a legacy when I leave this life as well.
As we come to the end of 2013, and as I’ve come to the end of this first year without Lana, I can honestly say I’m looking forward to the New Year ahead. I feel that God has many more things for me to do in my lifetime, and I want to make the most of the days I have left.
Two weeks ago, my daughter Karis turned in her final paper and graduated from college with a 4-year degree in biblical studies. Two weeks before that, my second oldest, Lucas, walked across the stage at his college graduation, graduating with a 3-year degree in worship in leadership. And next May, my third oldest, Makari, will graduate with a 2-year degree in transformational ministry with a focus on acting.
As much as I wish Lana were here to see these milestones herself, I can’t help but be thankful for all the fruit that her years of labor and love have brought forth.
When Lana left, she left a legacy, not a vacancy. And that inspires me to want to leave a legacy as well. How can I do that? I believe the best way to do it is to do what Lana did, which was the same thing that Jesus called each of us to do: love God and love others as we love ourselves. Jesus said:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
I want to leave a legacy in the future, not a vacancy. Of all the goals I could set for myself in the New Year, this one inspires me the most. I pray it inspires you, too.
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for helping us through 2013, and I pray that You’ll help us through 2014 as well, with love in our hearts for You and for others, so we can leave a legacy of Your love everywhere we go. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. One of Lana’s many legacies was to inspire me and help me to write the story of St. Nicholas that I shared with you during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Many of you have asked me if you can get a copy in print to read over again in the years to come, or to pass it along to others who might be interested in the story. So on Christmas Eve, I published the book on Amazon, and you can now get a copy in print!
In addition to buying it directly from Amazon, there are two other ways you can get a copy.
1) Just make make a donation of any size to The Ranch, we’ll be glad to send you the beautiful paperback version of the book as our way of saying thanks.
OR 2) Just post a 1-2 sentence review of the book on Amazon.com, then send us an email with your name, mailing address and a link to your review, we’ll be glad to send you a copy of the paperback for at no cost whatsoever! Your reviews help us get the word out about the book, and that in turn helps us to get God’s Word out to even more people.
I’ve already had several people take me up on both offers. The donations are a blessing, especially as we come to the end of the year, and the reviews that people are leaving on Amazon are super helpful in passing Lana’s legacy on to even more people. I’ve included some of the reviews below so you can take a look, too.
“So grateful to have experienced this well written gift. Thank you. You will be blessed to have read each word.” Marie
“Once I began the story I couldn’t put it down. The Elder’s captured the beauty of Saint Nicholas and his generous, giving heart. I will reread this story each year! Starting a new tradition.” Danielle
“I will be buying this book for many family members as I know it will become our newest holiday tradition. As a mother of teenagers it is easy to forget the true spirit of giving at Christmas. With the world trying to take Christ out of everything we do, this book is a wonderful way to remember Christ is the reason for everything we do. Thanks to the Elders for a wonderfully written story of Saint Nicholas.” Sarah
“I truly loved this book. I am a mom to a 8 month old and was trying to decide if we were going to do Santa at Christmas time. After reading this I have decided that we will incorporate Santa into our Christmas celebrations. I have never really studied Saint Nicholas and really loved the history of him. Can’t wait to make this a tradition in our family!” Beth
“Soon as I read the first chapter, I could not read it fast enough. I planned doing a chapter a day but it turned out to be the whole week in one day. Many times it brought tears of joy to my eyes. It was wonderfully written and put a new type of joy into my heart.” Roger
“This book was such a treat to read. The Elders have carefully, thoughtfully woven together the historical elements of the life of St. Nicholas while fleshing out his story and drawing the reader right to the heart of this man- this one life that so beautifully illustrates the work of the Holy Spirit in a yielded believer. I love being able to teach my children who “Santa Claus” really was and how he can be an example for them today. This is a great story. Thank you, Eric, for sharing this treasure with us.” Ann
You can read the rest of the reviews here:
If you’d like a copy of the book for yourself or others, just use these links:
2) Make a donation of any size to The Ranch and get the book as our thank you (The value of your donation that exceeds the $15 suggested donation is fully tax-deductible. Make your donation by December 31st to count towards your 2013 taxes.)
Thanks again for your love and support throughout the year, and for helping us to get God’s Word out to even more people!