A key managerial task, Stephen Covey noted in his famous book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is to “begin with the end in mind.” Good print designers do this: they work on how a book or other project will be bound, then work backwards. After all, if a project gets through prepress, then is printed, only to discover that it cannot be bound the way the designer thought, that’s a lot of money, time and paper wasted.
Christians can learn a valuable lesson from this concept, beginning with the end in mind. Recently I was reminded of that at a memorial service for four members of a family of six who had died in an early-morning house fire. The mom of the family, Mandy Kelly, was more than a wife, mother and blogger. She was a friend of mine. She encouraged me in so many ways to live whole-heartily for Jesus. As I sat on a pew in the crowded church during the service, with pastors who had known her and her husband Scott for years, I was reminded of this: Her life served to glorify God even at her death.
She began with the end in mind. She lived her life knowing this is not all there is -- that we are to keep our eyes focused on what is to come: the Hope of Heaven, the Joy of being with Jesus. I once did a project in college in which I had to write my own obituary. It was a humbling and deeply moving experience for me, and I learned a great deal about what I wanted people to remember about me upon my death. Today, sitting on that pew, I realized that Mandy’s whole life exemplified what she lived: a life all about her Savior. And that love for her Savior spilled out over absolutely everything she did, said, and wrote. Her life wasn’t about her so much as it was about her Savior.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Did you get that? Live a life worthy of the calling.
Mandy did that. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to do that too. We don’t need to worry about what our obituary says about us; we live our lives in such a way that people know for Whom we live. Our deaths, then, certainly will be sad for those that remain, but for Christians, just like Mandy, Scott, Lizzie and Judah – deaths are promotions from this life to immediately seeing, touching, and walking with Jesus.
I learned so much from Mandy in life. I remember the first time I met her at a 2:1 Conference – big bold necklace on this tiny little woman, even bigger smile – she oozed Jesus – in a wonderful way. She was filled with a contagious and irrepressible joy….joy that can only come from the Savior.
How do we, then, do this? How do we live in such a way that there’s no doubt Whom we believe and follow? Deuteronomy 6:5-9 states the following:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
Heart, soul, strength
One of the pastors at the memorial service said that Mandy “flat loved God.” I just love that. Mandy loved God with every fiber of her being, with her heart, soul, and strength. Christ-followers who say they follow Jesus act like they follow Him. Mandy taught her children about Jesus and discipled others. She cared about others’ faith walk. There was not a doubt Who she put first in her life -- and everything else was in place behind.
Loving God with all your heart, soul and strength means that you focus on God. While on the way to the memorial service, which was two hours from my home, I was looking at the maps feature on my phone, but didn’t press the button that indicated where I was in relation to my destination. I inadvertently turned left when I should have turned right. As I drove and drove and things started looking sketchy, I stopped and looked at my phone again, but this time pressed the button. A little blue dot popped up where I was – and I had to scroll to find the triangle that indicated the church! I had lost focus of my destination. I had not centered the path I was on to where I needed to be. Turning around and retracing my steps to the church, I had to laugh. Thank you, Jesus – what a great illustration! Mandy must have had something to do with that!
The verse in Deuteronomy says to “impress” knowledge about and love for God upon your children. “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads,” states Scripture.
My husband and I once held a Christian Passover, or Seder, Meal in our home and invited another couple. One of the aspects of the meal is that you leave one chair empty, supposedly for Elijah. In a Christian Seder Meal, the chair represents the place that Christ has in our homes. I know I'm guilty of not always talking about what God is doing in our lives with our children -- just going about our day, getting stuff done. Laundry, dishes, writing, volunteering, schoolwork, taking care of pets, laundry, vacuuming, breaking up arguments, picking up stuff, taking Laura to softball practice, errands, laundry...thanks to Mandy, I will now make sure Christ is prominent in our lives. He will be shared, talked about, prayed to out loud, and the Word of God actively studied as a family. We will impress God upon our children.
You see, when you talk about God to others, you are sharing Him. If you get a great deal on a beautiful pair of shoes – would you not share that news with someone, a friend perhaps? If you saw a baby drop his pacifier on the grocery store floor, would you not tell his mom?
How much more should we share the Good News of salvation made known only through God’s Son, Jesus Christ? According to a pastor at the memorial service, Mandy had what he called “multiplying faith.” Someone in Mandy’s life had poured into her faith walk, and she discipled others, talking about God at all times. She shined with what Jesus had done and was doing in her life and couldn’t wait to tell people about it. Her zeal for God made her faith transparent – you saw Jesus through her.
Write them on your door frames
In this day, being a Christian blogger is often a hard road. The world with its political correctness and tolerance for anything that isn’t biblical puts Christian bloggers at odds with most of the Internet. Yet, Mandy did not let these things stop her. She loved God and loved discipling people more than what the world thought of that.
She loved her husband and wrote – often – about what being a Christian wife looked like. She loved her children and wrote – often – about what a biblical mother did and said. She exemplified what being a Christian wife, mother, and blogger was all about.
She poured wisdom and love into fellow bloggers, encouraging us and sharing Jesus with us. She shared our posts and encouraged us to help each other out with shares, pins, tweets – all the social media stuff that bloggers use to promote their writing. The blogging family is better for having had Mandy in it.
Mandy glorified God in death by her witness in life. She lived as a demonstration of the Gospel to one and all. I learned from Mandy Kelly that a real testimony of faith is not one that is centered on the tests of life – but on Jesus.
Special thanks to all the bloggers who have joined me to pay tribute to Mandy Kelly from Worshipful Living. Take time to go and visit each one and see how Mandy impacted others. We are also all linked up at Awe Filled Homemaker.
Talk a Walk in My Shoes
Near Your Altar
Clarissa R. West
Coffee With Maria Hass
Ben and Me
Our Crazy Adventures in Autismland
Let's Get Real
The Multi Taskin' Mom
The Musings of Mum
Jamerrill's Large Family Table
Life of a Homeschool Mom
Lisa Easterling -- A Beautiful Life
Becoming a Strong Woman of God
Home to 4 Kiddos
Being Confident of This
Satisfaction Through Christ
Faith Along The Way
Finding Joy In The Journey
A Productive Endeavor
Busy Being Blessed
Thou Shalt Not Whine
The Holy Mess
Future Flying Saucers
Your Vibrant Family
The Joyful Truth
A Work of Grace
Write Bonnie Rose
Whole Hearted Home
Teach Them Diligently
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