Your Heritage Can Start Today

This summer has been special for my brother and me, because for the first time, we were able to introduce our spouses to our family camp in New Hampshire. This place of our childhood holds so many memories and history we wanted to share with them. It’s also the same place that inspired the setting for Secrets Beyond Lake Winona’s Shore.

Going to camp always feels like stepping backward into time. There’s the small wooden cottage my great-grandfather built, the generations of chipmunks my grandfather taught to eat out of his shirt pocket, the memories of family reunions from years past, and the collection of family pictures on the walls.

My heritage. It includes a godly great-grandfather who rocked me (a once colicky, crying baby) to sleep with a smile on his face. He must have been a saint! It includes grandparents who boarded a ship to Colombia as missionaries and later returned to the States to pastor a Connecticut church. It continues through my parents and now me.

Today’s choices are tomorrow’s legacy.

Have you ever stopped to think that we’re making our own heritages today? People talk about “leaving a legacy.” That’s a heritage, a history that defines your story and mine. I’m grateful that God saw fit to give me “the heritage of those who fear [His] name” (Psalm 61:5b NKJV).

However, maybe you can’t say that about your family. Maybe you’re the first in your family to call Jesus your Lord and Savior.

If so, I have great news for you. You have the privilege of beginning a godly heritage. It’s your choice and mine. Even those blessed with a Christian family must choose for themselves what legacy they’ll leave behind.

Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart. (Psalm 119:111 NKJV)

Does God’s Word make our hearts rejoice? Do we care about what He says? Do we seek to please Him with our daily choices? How we answer those questions will shape the course of our lives.

Our present will become someone else’s pictures.

Imagine a wall in a home, decades from now. Perhaps it’s your child’s or grandchildren’s home. There are pictures on the wall –pictures from your graduation and wedding, pictures of your children and family, pictures of places you’ve been and places you’ve served. What will the pictures you leave behind tell about your life?

I want mine to show a life well spent for Christ. As Elisabeth Elliot said, “Is anything offered to Christ ever wasted?”

The question is rhetorical, because the answer is no. God can use anything we give to Him. May we live with eternity in our hearts and with the awareness of God’s presence in our lives.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful this post first appeared on DailyPS.com.

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Jamestown Lessons on Faith and Government

There are so many places I could share with you from my trip to D.C. and Virginia, but today, I want to leave you with just one more: Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.

The second day of the Alpha Omega Academy trip took us to Jamestown, or rather, the scale-size model of that first community that sits on the opposite side of the James River where the actual excavation site lies.

There, we encountered replicas of the three ships that brought the first settlers to American soil: the Godspeed, the Discovery, and the Susan Constant. Next, we explored a Powhatan Indian village and the fort itself, including the church where members, according to our tour guide, were required to attend several times a day or risk severe punishment.

You see, the church of Jamestown was a transplant of the Anglican state church of England, and other types of worshipers (including Puritans and Catholics) were prohibited.

In other words, the “freedom of religion” guaranteed to Americans today was not available in this first community. However, in 1791, the first amendment of our Bill of Rights made that freedom not only possible, but also a Constitutional right.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …

The reason for “separation of church and state” is not meant to take God out of government. Rather, it is to ensure the freedom to practice one’s faith and prevent America from following England’s example of a state church.

Still, despite the restrictions Jamestown imposed on religious freedom, the colony reveals how important faith was to the early settlers. It was not something to be taken lightly but a vital and integral part of life.

Parting thought: Thankfully, no state church requires us to attend mandatory services. However, Hebrews 10:25 admonishes us not to neglect church fellowship, because it’s essential to our spiritual growth. Do you take church for granted? What benefits do believers reap from spending time in God’s house?

~ Kristen

 

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The Lincoln Memorial and a Mother’s Day Tribute

Of all the monuments and memorials in the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial might be the most famous. (By National Mall, I don’t mean a shopping plaza with a food court. It’s the name of the national park lined with many of D.C.’s monuments.)

Engraved on either side of Lincoln’s statue are both his Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address. The lesser well-known of the two is his inaugural address, which focuses on the Civil War conflict that had been tearing the nation apart during his presidency.

I want to share with you an excerpt that reveals our sixteenth president’s faith and humility.

Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease … Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes.

Lincoln acknowledged that good men on both side of the fight believed their cause to be just and prayed to the same God. You see, although slavery was a point of division (and certainly needed to end), it was not the only reason for the war. In fact, not all Southerns were fighting for slavery, nor were all Northerners fighting against it. There were other factors at stake that jeopardized the interests of both North and South. As a result, good people disagreed.

Regardless, Lincoln recognized that God would accomplish “his own purposes” through the conflict, and he desired to see the Union unified once more. In his last speech, he revealed his desire to reunite the nation and do all things necessary “to restoring the proper practical relations between these [seceded] States and the Union.” Unfortunately, his assassination six days after Lee surrendered at Appomattox served to further divide the already war-torn country.

A Tribute to Mothers

The Lincoln Memorial represents the contribution this man made to our country, but it provides only a glimpse into who Lincoln was.

Before becoming president, he experienced some tough failures. In fact, he tended to have nearly as many setbacks as he did successes.

Why didn’t he quit? His character and perseverance doubtless did him credit, but something Lincoln said about his mother suggests the impact she made on his life, the impact any praying mother can have on her child. He is quoted as saying:

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. – Abraham Lincoln

If you have (or had) a mother who prayed for you, you are truly blessed. Even if you don’t, you personally have the opportunity to have a relationship with God and talk with Him in prayer.

The Bible specifically tell us we should “pray for one another,” and that doing so makes a difference (James 5:16). You never know the impact you might have on someone’s life.

Happy Mother’s Day!

I want to wish all the mothers a wonderful Mother’s Day and say a special thank you to my own beautiful mom who so very faithfully prays for me.

Parting thought: Lincoln recognized the influence his mother’s prayers had on his life. What impact has someone’s prayer made on yours? Are you praying for others the way you should? 

~ Kristen

 

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Heritage in American History: Jefferson Memorial

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of chaperoning Alpha Omega Academy’s first field trip to Washington, D.C. Students from the states and abroad converged at Dulles and Reagan airports to start a week-long tour of our nation’s capital.

Never having been to D.C., I soaked up the history and culture like a sponge. Day after day, I witnessed landmarks that revealed our country’s faith-based heritage and the wisdom of our early leaders.

Blessed. That’s how this trip made me feel. Not only was I thrilled to explore “history” with an amazing group of students and chaperones, but I also felt as though God had given me a gift, an affirmation for my new trilogy.

One theme in my new release The Revisionary is rediscovering heritage to find hope for the future. Over the next few posts, I’d like to share first-hand glimpses into that heritage from our nation’s capital.

The Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of our Declaration of Independence and a man known for his eloquent pen.

The rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial bears inscriptions, excerpts from documents he wrote.

Consider this piece from one of his writings, engraved in the rotunda. The first line expresses his acknowledgment of and respect toward God as the Creator of life and liberty.

Were our early leaders perfect? Of course not. Did they make mistakes? Yes, they did. Many people think Jefferson himself was a Deist or heavily influenced by those beliefs, but regardless, he recognized God’s hand in America’s destiny.

Parting thought: Jefferson believed that God was the giver of life and liberty. What other “gifts” has God given you? Are you thankful for them? Count your blessings today.

~ Kristen

 

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