Leaving a Legacy

Legacy Planning Series

 What:     45-60 minute conversation with individuals and their loved ones
When:    TBD
Where:   TBD
Why:      So that you can express your wishes clearly. There are important but often difficult decisions and conversations that we need to have regarding end of life matters. Specifically:

  • Planning your Life Celebration Service
  • Planning and communicating your end of life medical decisions
  • Planning and communicating your Will and Estate wishes
  • Planning and communicating your financial legacy

Why Plan:

  • You do have preferences – so communicate them clearly.
  • You don’t want to be a burden – so make the decisions that are yours to make
  • You do want to be helpful – so give as much information as possible
  • Your life will impact people after you’re gone – so take control of that legacy.

Invite your friends, family, and others who you wish to participate in this conversation with you or who want and need to have it for yourself. Following this presentation, opportunities will be provided for deeper individual conversation or additional more in depth discussion.

For additional information please contact:

Rev. Dr. Ken G. Crawford   ~    KenGCrawford (at) gmail (dot) com


 

Legacy Planning

Whether you are young, older or somewhere in between, everyone needs to let their loved ones know their wishes as they age and approach end of life.  Making these decisions now takes the burden off your loved ones because your wishes are clear and there is no doubt about who, what and how your wishes are handled. With each of the four parts below you will have a 1 page overview worksheet to guide your thinking, planning and discussion. You can give copies of these summary documents to people who may need to have access to the information at a later date.

Life Celebration and Remembrance Services:

“How do you want to be remembered?” – plan your life celebration (scriptures, hymns, stories, etc); write your own obituary and eulogy. Use this exercise as an opportunity to share what matters most with who matters most. Give a copy of this worksheet to your church pastor or secretary so it is available when the time comes for them to help your loved ones plan your final life celebration service.

Advanced Directives

(Medical and financial powers of attorney, declarations of guardian, living wills… in Texas a physician’s directive, agent to control disposition of remains, DNR, organ donation.)  These are important because they allow a trusted family member or friend to step into your shoes to make decisions for you when you cannot.  They also tell your medical and financial providers what you want in advance.  This takes the guesswork out of making these decisions when you are unable to and gives the family member or friend the authority to make these decisions when you cannot make them yourself.  This takes the burden and confusion away from your loved ones in a time of what is often great stress and heartache.

ABC’s of Estate Planning and Probate
Getting Your Act Together So Your Loved Ones Don’t Have To

Having an estate plan and a will in Texas is easy and imperative.  It significantly cuts down on the cost and ease of probate which is nothing more than transferring the ownership of property from the person who passed to the persons who inherit.  Without an estate plan and a will, Texas makes these decisions for you and it may not be what you want.  Having an estate plan and will in place makes your wishes known, clear and easily implemented.  Not having an estate plan and will in place can result in confusion, a lengthy passage of time before the estate is handled, and potentially, fighting and resentments among family members.

Financial Legacy:

The ABCS of the how tos, possibilities and whys for leaving a legacy to your family members, your church, or those causes and charities that you are passionate about.  Understanding these options allows you to leave a long lasting impact on your community.

 

Our Attachment to Identity

Our identity in Christ supersedes all others.
No allegiance is more important.
This is the basis for our unity in Christ.


When you meet someone new, what do you tell about yourself so people will know and understand who you are? What do you not need to say verbally because they can see it in your person?

What conclusions about you will people draw? The ones you want to project, or something else? We draw initial impressions about people based on our observations. It is one of the ways we naturally make sense of our world, and may have roots in our early ancestors and their need to assess friend from foe, safe from dangerous on a daily basis – their lived depended on it. This continues still today in some communities, as we’ve heard on the news over the last year and many have experienced for decades. Recent violence in Europe and Africa makes clear that this issue is wide spread.

Me? I’m a straight, middle aged and middle class white guy. On most days all of that is pretty obvious. You wouldn’t know I’m of German, Irish and Scottish descent. Occasionally we go to the Irish Festival or Octoberfest and enjoy some of the very surface expressions of our cultural heritage, but we don’t take any of it very seriously. You wouldn’t know I’ve got doctors and professors and teachers and soldiers among my ancestors. By talking to me you wouldn’t guess where I grew up – my accent is pretty nondescript. Depending in large part on where you grew up and the environment in which you were raised, you might draw one or another set of conclusions about me and what I’m probably like. You wouldn’t know I’m a preacher most days, though once I say it you’ll think, “Oh, of course. I see it now.”

Veterans are an interesting group to observe in this regard. Some who served generations ago still proudly proclaim their affiliations today with pins, hats and other insignia. Others never mention their service unless specifically asked. I don’t know what makes the difference, perhaps the type of experiences encountered during the service. Were they in combat? Were they wounded? (The Brite Soul Repair Center is a great program helping veterans, their families and communities return and reintegrate after military service, which has a lot to do with identity.)

I have no stake in what identities other people claim for themselves, as long as they are not rooted in hatred and promoting of violence and destruction. My interest here is in the way our various identities intersect and when one trumps others. We have national identities, racial identities, ethnic identities, religious identities, gender identities, familial identities, sexual orientation identities, college or professional sports team identities, regional or city or even neighborhood identities. All of that is fine, wonderful, and interesting.

What I’m wondering is how we decide from among those identities which to highlight in various situations. Which is most important in most or every situation? What happens when they conflict? Or when your choice conflicts with those close to you?


**  A reflection for “Our Attachment to Identity” From 1 Corinthians 7:29-31   &   Mark 1:14-20 First preached Sunday 1/25/15 @ http://www.StPaulUCCDallas.org

See also: “Are You My Mother?” and “Where Does Identity Lead You?

Personal Needs in Intimate Relationships

Download pdf here: SL- Personal Needs in Intimate Relationships

Needs to be met (write in your own observations in each category quadrant):

Physical:

  • Affection and caring shown through touch
  • Sexual intimacy that is open, vulnerable, tender and safe
  • Safe, secure shelter
  • Financial security
  • Nourishment
  • Encouragement of physical health and wholeness
Psychological / Emotional:

  • Affirmation
  • Shared interests
  • Respect
  • Space
  • Companionship
  • Security
  • Trust
  • Support
Social:

  • Public Affirmation
  • Public Naming and Claiming
  • Affirmation of other’s ‘social style’ (Introvert/Extrovert)
  • Mutual circle of friends
  • Acceptance of other’s family
  • Support for other’s interests & appropriate participation
Spiritual:

  • Support of freedom
  • Challenge to grow toward wholeness
  • Spiritual connections
  • Some shared spiritual interests
  • Agreement on spiritual relationship

His needs / Her needs:

Take time, on your own individually, to think through the four categories above. Read through each list, spending time thinking over each item. You may add some others that you think or feel are important and worth listing separately. Pray about each area, and seek to know yourself and your partner honestly and fully. Listen for the leading of your own spirit and God’s Spirit together guiding you through this process. On separate sheets of paper, give yourself plenty of room to elaborate on each item in the four quadrants. Identify both the what and the how of the need – specific enough that you can follow through later. Complete the exercise both for what you perceive your partners needs to be, and what your own needs are. Then, from that work, list below the top needs of each of you that can/should be met by the other. Before you begin, read the back of this page fully.

My needs to be met by my partner:
My partner’s needs to be met by me:

Affirmation and Agreement:

As you come together once you have completed the lists of needs, consider simply trading papers without comment, each of you taking some time, again by yourself, to read through the list, think and pray. What do you hear your partner saying from her/his heart? Then come back together and work through the following:

  1. Affirm the things that your partner discerned about you, both in what your need is now and how they think it can be met. Remember, you are building a foundation for a life together – the more open and generous your conversation, the better your relationship will be and the stronger it will grow over time.
  2. Ask clarifying questions where you do not understand. CAUTION: Your goal is not ot show up your partner and how little they know about you – rather, you want to take this opportunity to reveal more of yourself to your partner for your mutual benefit.
  3. ALERT: Are there some places where needs have been identified that are not yours to meet? No partner or friend can or should try to meet every need in the relationship. Most of us need friendships and interests outside our most intimate relationship. Some needs are only God’s to meet – we can not save one another, fix one another, make one another righteous, heal one another’s brokenness, give one another meaning and purpose in life, or give one another a healthy sense of self-worth. Only God can give these things. However, we can do things to erode or undermine God’s work in our and our partner’s lives.
  4. Agree together on what the priority needs are in your relationship and how you will intend to meet them. Your marriage vows will include your covenant statements to meet one another’s needs – this is a step in that journey together.
  5. Affirm again. Express your gratitude to your partner for the willingness to be open and vulnerable, to trust you with their deepest self, and for their desire to meet those of your needs that are theirs to meet.

Next Steps

A marriage, a family, or any other intimate relationship takes work. And anything that takes work takes commitment. Whatever would be healthy must be fed and nurtured regularly, or it will wither and die. Different relationships require different amounts of nurture and tending, just as do different plants. A cactus needs far less water and nutrition and can bear greater heat and scorching sun – but how many of us want to snuggle up to a prickly-pear?

It will be worth your while to keep this exercise handy. Consider reviewing it at least annually on your anniversary as a way to keep your commitments fresh, and to continue to grow in your awareness of yourself, your partner, and your relationship with one another and with God, as all of these grow and change over time and through experience.

A blessing

May the love that joins you together be boundless as the sky, deep as the oceans, beautiful as the mountains, and powerful as the love that God has for you.

Mothers

ruth-crawfordI, Kendrick Garrison Crawford, had a mother. We all do, or did. Ruth Grace Wagner Crawford was mother to myself and my sister Kimberly Ann, by Ruth’s husband, our father, James Garrison Crawford Sr. I realize now, 15 years after her death, that I really didn’t know my mother all that well. I knew her only really as a son. We did not get to spend much time together once I was an adult –and even then there were so many other distractions – other people, her illness, my plans and dreams. If I could, today, I’d love to ask her about her childhood, about her views on politics and religion, about her faith in Jesus. She was quiet and unassuming. She was confident in what she knew and she lived it out, though rarely shared it with others unless it was her task to do so. She was one of the most tender and loving people I have ever known, but that love never took her far from home or the school where she worked. She simply loved the people around her, not seeking out new strangers to love.

Mom was diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma when I was 18, again when I was 24, and finally when I was 27. She lasted only a few weeks after the final diagnosis. At her memorial service, as people were coming through the receiving line I hugged my mother-in-law, Camille, and said, through my tears, “Will you be my mommy now?” I was twenty six, and felt like I was four. And of course she said yes. And she has been loving and tender toward me in my own right, not just through her daughter Laura. I’m so grateful for wonderful in-laws. I’ve never known anything of the nightmares of immaturity and strife that so many people share.

Dad remarried the next year – Jackie. Thin as a rail and sweet as Texas pecan pie. I remember vividly arriving at Dad’s house, perhaps the first time we met her. We walked in and in only a few moments I realized that all the photos of Mom (Ruth) that had displayed only days earlier were gone. I came unglued and ran out of the house and walked around the neighborhood for nearly an hour. When I arrived back at the house I learned that Jackie was hurt by my actions, because she thought I was rejecting her. Nothing could have been further from the truth, though I certainly understand her interpretation now. It was simply that the absence of all the photos brought a new level of concrete reality to Mom’s death, it was the next stage of good-bye, and it took me by surprise. Jackie was in ICU when Dad proposed (he’s certainly a bold one!) and they were married for 7 years before she succumbed to pneumonia and other complications. She was always frail, but in a remarkably and mysteriously strong sort of way that still makes no sense even as I write it. She was really the only grandmother that my kids knew on my side, the kids called her Grams. Camille was two when Mom died and thinks she has some faint memories that may be recollections or constructions or a combination of both. Russell was three when Grams died. She loved them deeply and fully as though they were her own, and loved us the same way. I was 35.

Dad remarried again (yes, that’s right!). Faye came along by way of someone who was supposed to smooth his ruffled feathers over a civic organization gaff (and maybe make him go away?) Well she’s been trying to smooth those feathers now since 2006. She’s kind and gracious with us and the kids, and she and Dad make each other happy.

An aside: Jackie and Faye were both mothers long before meeting Dad, with grown children of their own, and Jackie with grandchildren. So it’s interesting to think about observing them as mothers of their own children, and experiencing their mothering instincts in a different sort of way toward me and my family. And if your Dad’s wife’s kids are your step-siblings, what relation are they after she dies? It’s not a weighty thing, but it is curious.

You may not believe this, but Dad was actually married and divorced before he met my mother. (The man does believe in the institution of marriage – and loves women – one at a time!) So, Kim and I have a half brother and sister (That sounds so weird, like “Top half or bottom half? Left side or right? Is that half a brother and half a sister?” Anyway…) So they have a mother different from our mother, which is interesting – siblings with different mothers –what relation is Floretta to me? How do I think about my love for her on their behalf? It’s another curious thing.

And I’m married to Laura Camille Evans Crawford, the love of my life, who has given me two beautiful children, Camille who is now 16, and Russell who is now 10. So I’m married to a mother as well. It is wonderful to see how mothering works “from the side” as it were, rather than from below. Eventually I’ll get to see it, perhaps, from above, if Camille and Russell get married and have children. For now, I watch and learn a new view of motherhood. I see its challenges differently now. I know what it is to hear a mother regret that she doesn’t or can’t do more for her kids, when I know she does so much. I know what it is so watch her cheer for them and grieve for them, and want to wring their necks, and to share together in all of that with her – our experiences distinct, but together. I treasure Laura as my friend and wife, and particularly, this weekend, as the gift of motherhood she is to our children, for I know how precious that gift is, and I know that generations will be blessed because of her loving care for them.

Finally, I watch mothers. I watch our sister Carol, our cousins, our friends, our neighbors, our church family, community colleagues, and strangers at the park or the store. I watch the women who do not have children of their own, like our beloved Kimberly, yet who shower so many children with a mother’s love – particularly those who seem to be getting short changed by the world somehow. I marvel at the diversity of what it means to be a mother, when the essentials are so basic and share such clear commonality. Mothers love unconditionally. Mothers nurture, feed and tend. Mothers protect and defend. Mothers hover and smother. Mothers worry and fret. Mothers hope and dream and pray. Mothers receive, and they give, they cling tightly, and they let go. But mothers never really let go, any more than we let them go. They are, in that way, like God. Always with us, even if we can’t see, hear or feel them. Always loving and being loved, we are never out of their thoughts, even if they are out of ours. I thank God for the mothers in my life.