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Religious Reflections

Leaving a Legacy

by Pastor Karen Helsel

Memorial Day weekend seems less of a "memorial" these days and more of a "weekend," indicating the coming of summer.

People attend patriotic parades, but many more enjoy back yard barbecues. Some will gather with family to put flowers on grave sites. Others see little use in dwelling on past experiences or people.

The truth is that we all glean something from our ancestors, our heroes, those we remember throughout our lives. The late Erma Bombeck said, "If you're not being an example, you're serving as a warning!"

The Discovery Channel has done a poll of 100 greatest Americans. Not surprisingly, included in the list are people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Billy Graham. Also included are Madonna, Lucille Ball, Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Jackson and Brett Favre. (He's probably only a great American if you're from Wisconsin!)

All of us will leave some kind of legacy for those who follow us. Maybe we'll never make the top 100 list of "Greatest Americans," although if some of those above made the list, anything's possible! One day our children and grandchildren, family and friends will remember things about us: how we napped and snored while watching Sunday afternoon football, what unique clothes we wore and our penchant for coconut ice cream. Is that all we want to be remembered for?

Or will they remember more:

• Our investment of time watching our kids' sporting events, for the sheer joy of seeing them enjoy the sport, not necessarily to win?

• The energy, money and self-sacrifice we made to grow healthy, productive kids, who wanted to make a difference in our world, not just get all they could get for themselves?

• How we weathered marital struggles, stayed together and worked out difficult problems? Will we have taught them the importance of being faithful to our spouse and committed to God's plan for fidelity and integrity in marriage?

• Will our children grasp how vital the Scripture is as a road-map for life?

• Will our families know how important it has been for us to spend time every day talking to God about them?

What legacy are we leaving for those who follow us? Whether we have children of our own or not, whether we have an intact family or not, others are watching our lives, and they will be impacted by the choices we make.

Leave a legacy of love and concern for others around you! Someone's watching!

• Karen Helsel is the pastor of the Sunnyside Church of God

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