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Last week was my husband Eric’s birthday, and as such it is a fitting opportunity to discuss Legacy & Blessing. Legacy is the gift you leave, either overtly or covertly. It is the stamp you leave reminding people you were here. A spoken blessing has been used through the ages as the promise of the gift within you called into existence. It is someone seeing in you the legacy you have the potential to leave and covering you with it before it has come to pass. It can also be speaking out-loud the good you already see in the person. You see, when I think of Eric, I think of the amazing legacy he has carried on. On his birthday, I posted a birthday post on Facebook for him. I shared how, 55 years ago today, Harry and Suzanne Walter’s life changed forever–and the lives of many to come would be changed as well.

Harry and Sue birthed into this world a baby boy on April 7, 1959. They supported him spiritually, emotionally, educationally, socially, and physically. They built up a strong man who would be prepared for whatever came his way. Harry worked on the road most of Eric’s life, but on weekends he was the scout leader, the cheerleader at basketball games, and the wilderness guide on family camping adventures. Harry held his boys to a high standard. It was a different era, so there was never a question about who was the boss in the house. But right alongside the stern voice with the high standards came a tender, loving blessing of the frequently spoken phrase: “I’m so proud of you, Eric.”

Sue was a wonderful servant. She modeled the golden rule and always put others above herself–but she still was intentional about taking time for herself. Eric probably could have used more of that kind of modeling, because if there is one thing he lacks today, it is the motivation to take time for himself, although he is certainly improving. But if there is a flaw in someone, I think that is a noble flaw to have!

Eric and I raised three boys together. Each of them are so much more than we could have ever dreamed of, and I know the legacy Eric inherited from his parents plays a part in that. Eric never withheld the blessing our boys so needed: “I am proud of you.” Every person needs this blessing, this encouragement, in order to thrive. Strong leadership, realistic expectations and countless words of blessing are a recipe for a successful legacy in your family.

If you haven’t done so today, think of someone who needs a word of encouragement or a blessing spoken to them. It might feel awkward at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it feels. We started a tradition when our boys were young that at birthdays and important occasions, we all toast the person of honor. Our boys have become masters at this. It is sort of a lost tradition that few people know how to do, but it truly is a blessing. At his (and every) birthday dinner, we  go around the table, hold up a glass, and take the opportunity to verbally showered our loved ones with our blessings: why we are proud of them and what we love about them.

Don’t let those words go unspoken to those you cherish; thinking it just isn’t the same as actually speaking it out loud. Let that person hear those words and receive that blessing. It will build up future blessings for future friends and family, and that is what we call a Legacy.

So here’s to you, Eric Walters. Here’s to my husband, and the strong legacy he is building today and for future generations!

And here’s to YOU. May you muster the courage to surprise someone with a blessing and speak their (and your) legacy into being.