Classy Act

My sister-in-law Renee is an artist who owns and operates a business out of her home called Classy Plaques ( Her business is growing nicely and her artistic creativity has recently been catching the eye of influential people from all over the world.

Less than a week before Father’s Day, she received a request for a plaque from the CEO of a well-known Fortune 500 company. This powerful CEO was looking for a gift for her father and was running out of time – just like the rest of us (with the exception of the personal assistant who did the shopping research and ordering for her).

Having found the perfect gift of a custom-designed ceramic plaque for her father’s new house, this CEO daughter was faced with the challenge of getting the gift produced and shipped to California in time for her to forward it on to her father who lived in Oregon. She really wanted the plaque for her dad and told Renee that money was no object if she could make it work.

While researching all of the high-speed shipping options, my sister-in-law realized that the father of her customer lived less than thirty minutes from her home (and business) in Oregon – so she simply offered to personally hand-deliver the plaque to her customer’s father when it was finished. Needless to say the CEO daughter in California was grateful for my sister-in-law’s problem-solving offer to go the extra mile - literally.

Given the influential position of her customer, I’m sure it was a good business decision but one thing I know about Renee is that this wasn’t just a business decision designed to create another satisfied customer. It was really all about loving and serving God by loving and serving people. Renee believes in the power of God to change lives and she was simply living out her faith – like she does everyday.

Christians are called to care – to be shining lights in the darkness that illuminate the way for a dark and dying world to find Christ. It’s often as simple as going the extra mile.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:14-16

Passing the Baton

I recently traveled to Bend, Oregon with my husband to attend commencement exercises for two nieces who were graduating from high school and college, respectively. Our high school age niece graduated with honors and is very talented in the area of photography. The older one is an exceptionally talented artist who graduated from college with a 4.0 GPA and was selected as the outstanding student of the year for the entire fine arts department. Her professors spoke of full ride scholarships for graduate school and we even attended an art show where her work was prominently featured. We are very proud of both of them.

I started this post with the idea of writing about the girls, their graduation, and their obvious love for the Lord. But as I pondered our outstanding graduation experience in Bend recently, it occurred to me that the primary story is about the generational blessings of Christian parents who live out their faith day by day, year after year – blessings that are passed down from one generation to the next. We observed first-hand the frequently inevitable outcome of many years of faithful, diligent, obedient, Christ-centered family living and how it is now manifesting itself in the lives of the next generation.

Over the years, God has granted to my brother and sister-in-law all of the wisdom, patience, love, and discipline required to care for, parent, train, build up, lead, shape, influence, and mold their daughters into the gracious, loving, beautiful, and responsible young adults they are today – young women who truly know, love, serve, praise, and follow God with their whole hearts. They are now beginning to make their own unique and significant contributions to society. What a blessing!

I’m not saying there haven’t been obstacles and difficulties, problems and pains, bumps and bruises along the way. Like all of us, I know they had their share of high points and low points. God never promised us an easy life here on this earth - but he did promise to walk through it with us and to always be there for us.

My husband and I have both been married before so I have only been part of his family for eight years. That weekend I found myself stepping back and observing the many family members who make up this clan. God’s influence in each family member over the years is evident and the deep love and respect they share for and with each other is powerful.

I enjoyed the chance to get to know my sister-in-law better. What an amazing woman, wife, and mother she is. Her sunny personality and welcoming attitude made everyone feel right at home. Her husband is very much involved as a husband, father, and leader in their home and the love and respect his girls (wife and daughters) show toward him speaks volumes.

I also met my sister-in-law’s parents – another amazing Christian couple. They exude that quiet inner strength that comes from knowing God is in control and that Christ holds a central position in their lives. The same is true of my mother-in-law. She also raised her children in a Christian home where they learned God’s word and his ways. These parents instilled Christian values deep within their children’s hearts – values that remain to this day and have resulted in Christ-centered families that follow hard after God. And now the baton of faith is being passed to yet another generation. Family done God’s way is a blessing like no other.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. ~ Ephesians 6:1-4