The dictionary would define Legacy as a gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from one person to another. It is something descendible one comes into possession of that is transmitted, inherited or received from a predecessor.
I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies recently. We called in hospice for my father today. He could have months or years – no one knows. We can’t control God or time – only how we react to both. I’m on a personal journey to get to know God better and to use my time and talents in ways that develops me and adds value to others.
As my friend Kevin said in Little Rock, “Use your powers for good…”
I’m on a cross country legacy tour – attending five West Point Founders Day dinners from California to DC over the next few weeks. I’m doing it for 3 reasons:
- I spent my first 18 years at the Academy and I love the chance to connect with grads and their families. For them, I represent an innocent time in their lives – before divorce and success and failure and age chipped away at the tarnish on their shiny brass rings. Maybe I can encourage them – just once – and remind them that God is still good, that the ideals of their youth are still worthy, that all things dull can be made new again.
- “Old Home Week” nourishes my spirit.
- My father’s legacy is West Point Fellowship of Christian Athletes and his foundation, C4 (Chaplain Camp Christian Charities). Our mission is to “build spiritual muscle in cadet athletes at West Point.” How do we do that? By resourcing and advising WP FCA.
My mission is to reach grads and remind them – to remind YOU – of what you know is true: Trust+God=Hope
Founders Day #1 – Little Rock, Arkansas. My host, the Society President, is a grad I’ve gotten to know well over the years. Kevin Kullander, USMA 82, West Point FCA alumn – grandson of one of the most influential people in Little Rock – maybe all of Arkansas – and the most fantastic tour guide. I was treated to his home turf through his eyes and it was a joy to know him in such a personal way.
Legacy Trip Tip #1:
View things through another person’s lens.
Matthew Kelly in “The Seven Levels of Intimacy” says,
“Intimacy is not always about seeing new things. Sometimes it is about seeing what has always been before you, but in a different light or from a new perspective.”
Take time to know people from a new perspective.
At the dinner, I met so many delightful grads and their spouses – lovely people who I hope to know for years to come.
Traveling with the host meant I was able to peak at the guest list and immediately had a star struck moment. General George Crocker.
Let’s back up. I’ve worked in politics for years. I’ve known famous men and women from West Hollywood to the White House. I can handle the brush with fame. There are a class of people that leave me breathless – the men of ’66 from The Long Grey Line. General Crocker has an impressive resume: two tours in Vietnam, Silver Star, Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, retired General.
I didn’t ask for his autograph. Instead, I moved around the table cards so I could sit next to him.
I regret nothing.
I had a marvelous evening, led the guests in the Cadet Prayer and even led the singing of the Alma Mater with my new friend Devin Shirley ’96. I was humbled and grateful for the experience.
Legacy Trip Tip #2:
Find the heroes among us. Celebrate them. Learn from them. Be like them.
My next trip was to Orange County, California where the weather and the people are ridiculously beautiful. I was met by one of my best friends Lindsay. Spouse of a Navy Submarine Commander, cancer survivor, runner, encourager. We ran together in DC with Camille Grammer a few years ago. Go big.
Founders Day OC was a unique experience. It was the first time I’ve ever seen flip flops with a bow tie. With the ocean breeze in my hair, my sister-in-law and date Barbara on my arm, we mixed and mingled with the eclectic crowd that makes So Cal so great.
Our hosts were General and Mrs. Knapp ’87 who I had known in the latter years at West Point. They were gracious hosts and kindred spirits.
Last February, my dear friend and LA native James Chun (’95) passed away. He was 45 years old. Last summer I was privileged to speak at his memorial service at the Academy. My fellow participant, Josh Hatfield, was a classmate of James. We had lunch together with his beautiful wife – a special opportunity to build upon a relationship built on shared experience (even if it was a tragedy). At that same memorial service I met James’s sister in law who tackled brutal LA traffic to spend a few hours with us. We have an unusual connection – Pastors’ kids, mothers, caretakers, warriors of Hope. James left us these relationships to nurture. What a legacy!
Legacy Trip Tip #3:
Invest in people. Don’t hold back. You never know when the investment will pay dividends of hope in your life and in theirs.
Erma Bombeck, my favorite comedic author, likens friendships to gardening. She says,
“Friends are “annuals” that need seasonal nurturing to bear blossoms. Family is a “perennial” that comes up year after year, enduring the droughts of absence and neglect. There’s a place in the garden for both.”
I’m on a mission to plant seeds of spiritual muscle in grads, family and friends around the world. What is spiritual muscle?
They are the muscles you need when times get tough – when you have to make hard decisions from the football field to the battlefield.
They are the muscles that get honed and cut through moral, ethical and spiritual development.
They are formed through fellowship, conversation, prayer, reflection and wrestling with the deep questions of life – who is God and what does He want from me? What does a relationship with the Creator look like? Where does my Hope come from? My Hope comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth.
Two down, three more to go. I’m humbled to be able to connect and encourage so many graduates through these experiences. I’m thankful to have the shared history that brings us to the table together.
I’ll be honest – there are days when I’m a HOT MESS.
Why me? Send someone else! My Visa is sweating bullets and my fake eyelashes expired a week ago. I’ve got one travel perfume left that TSA hasn’t discovered and they’ll have to pry that Tom Ford sample from my cold, dead hands. I’ve learned how to pack spanx, heels and a strapless bra into a suitcase fit for a Muppet. I’ve run through rain and puddles chugging sugar free red bull shouting vulgarity not fit for a pastors kid as I chase down a hotel shuttle driver at 11pm on a Thursday. I’ve had to make the horrific decision between lunch and the zipper on my cocktail dress.
These trips both excite and drain me. I wonder if I’m really the best messenger or if I just have the most dress options. But I’m convicted. I’m called to share my story, my journey, my struggles – even though I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. God isn’t finished with me yet – and He’s not finished with you. We’re in this together. The race has started. Step up to the line with me. Let’s run together. You can learn more about our foundation’s work building spiritual muscle in cadet athletes here. You can support West Point FCA directly by donating to Chaplain Camp Christian Charities here. We are a 12 man board led by 11 West Point graduates and me – your person, in-house rabble rouser. Beat Navy!
“You’ve all been to the stadium to see the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. They’re after a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after a prize that’s eternal.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
Run to win!