Faith amid the fire

October 30, 2007 at 5:01 am | Posted in Faith | 2 Comments
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One of the most moving accounts I heard about last week’s devastating California wildfires was the experience of Mark Pozorski, a 52-year-old Malibu resident. His story was aired October 25 on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”

After wildfires in the 1990s burned Pozorski’s original Canyon home to the ground, he rebuilt it and bought an assortment of professional firefighting equipment. Last week he described his thoughts as he prepared to evacuate his home, not knowing if it would escape destruction. “You say what should I take . . . you go around the house and you start picking up stuff that defines you. And I would decide between one thing or another and leave something behind.”

“But it was very interesting,” Pozorski continued. “When I was running out the door and I was closing the door and every time thinking it was the last time I was going to close the door, I left my father’s cane on the front door. And when I came back to the house later, I realized that I had left stuff in every room to protect my house if I couldn’t do it. So I think it worked. I really do.”

I’m pretty sure I heard Pozorski’s voice tremble a little at the end of his interview. I got choked up too. I was imagining this man rushing crazily through his house, grabbing the items that meant the most to him and leaving behind unmanned hoses and fire extinguishers and flame retardants to stave off the flames.

It was Pozorski’s last effort to ensure the safety of his home — hanging his father’s walking cane on the front door — that touched me most deeply. Although I’ll never know Pozorski’s motivation or whether his dad’s still alive, I saw his act as one of supreme faith that this inanimate object held more safekeeping capacity than all his expensive firefighting equipment. The cane was embued with the ultimate protective power of Pozorski’s father. What a wonderful relational connectivity these two men must have shared.

By the way, Pozorski’s Malibu house still stands.

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What will your legacy be? (Part 2)

October 21, 2007 at 11:26 pm | Posted in Legacy | 2 Comments
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happy-boys_000004399705small.jpgThe struggles in our lives can be viewed as obstacles that prevent us from being all we’re created to be . . . or they can be seen as a springboard for our discovery of new meaning and fulfillment. Perhaps, you’re already in the second camp. If not, you may want to consider changing your perception, as I did.

The desire to change generally takes hold in a serious way when you become sick and tired enough of some repetitive event or feeling, i.e., continually getting your heart broken . . . feeling as though you’re a miserable failure because you’re not “perfect” . . . never having a moment to yourself . . . being desperately afraid that your kids will end up with the same issues you have.

That last one — fear that my legacy for my son and daughter would be primarily sorrow — was the motivation I needed 15 years ago to seek a new approach to life.

My transformational process was lengthy and complex, as it is for most people, and involved supportive friends and professionals, experiential learning, journaling, and some important reading. In fact, my change process actually began when I read “Kids Who Carry Our Pain: Breaking the Cycle of Codependency for the Next Generation” by Robert Hemfelt and Paul Warren. This book helped me realize how vital it was to address my lifelong relational hang-ups so I could minimize damage to my children.

This is when I recognized, with the encouragement of others I trusted, that I could let the brokenness of my past inspire me to embrace wholeness and hope instead. It wasn’t an easy growth process, and because I’m human I sure don’t feel whole or hopeful 100% of the time. But I’m committed to ongoing development of a legacy of relational health for my kids and the others in my circle of influence. This approach makes all the difference in my life, my marriage, my parenting, and the work I’m called to do.

Those liberating creative risks

October 16, 2007 at 5:19 am | Posted in Creative Risk | 2 Comments
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neptunus-rex.pngCreating something new that’s never existed before can be scary business. Whether you’re delivering a motivational speech, or singing an original song, or sharing a feeling with a friend that you’ve never voiced before, or having a baby — you can never be sure how others will respond to what you’ve so lovingly crafted. It’s always a risk, isn’t it?

The sensationally encouraging news is that even though it’s rewarding to have others appreciate our creativity, there are times when it’s good and right to take the risk to put something fresh out there in the universe and release any anxiety about the reaction of others. How incredibly liberating to stand back and declare, “I did it!” It makes us feel alive.

Today I hope you’ll indulge my parental pride for a few moments as I celebrate my son Logan’s willingness to take creative risks. The particular risk he took about 18 months ago was to move from Phoenix to New York City to pursue his passion to write professionally. One of the projects he wanted to work on with his friend Robbie was a film script. The very short version of that lengthy process is that now the 41-minute film, “Neptunus Rex,” is finished. In fact, it premiered this past weekend at the New Hampshire Film Festival and was awarded “Best Student Film.”

This is one of those times when creative risk met with praise. But the dream of critical acclaim was not the prime motivating force behind Logan and Robbie writing a film script. They came up with a novel concept and some endearing characters who had a fun, distinctive story that simply begged to be told.

Taking creative risks — whether or not there’s an audience, whether or not we’re pleased with the result — is an essential element in our becoming more whole and fearless . . . and infinitely more free.

What will your legacy be? (Part 1)

October 10, 2007 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Legacy | 3 Comments
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My mom recently celebrated her 80th birthday with a backyard get-together for about 50 of her closest friends and family. It was a lot of fun for me, my mom, and step-dad (and, I think, for everyone else) to visit with people from the different seasons of my mother’s life, including her church groups, community volunteer activities, and career in college administration.

Clearly, one of the elements that anchors my mother’s life is relational connection; she still has active friendships with people she’s known for nearly 70 years. Her high value for sustained relationship is a legacy my mom has passed on to me, and it’s had a significant impact on my life choices.

What, then, is the legacy I will pass on to those in my influence? It’s definitely a mixed bag, which I’ll explore further in Part 2 of this legacy series.

I heard two stories today that illustrate very different types of legacies. The first came from a friend whose son is currently stationed in Iraq. This father told me his son is now in the habit of gathering his squad in a circle and asking everyone to hold hands so they can pray together before they leave on patrol. I happen to know this is the kind of courageous faith and leadership that’s been modeled by this young man’s father.

The second story came from another friend whose mother was frighteningly abusive. When my friend was a little girl her mother would sometimes rage uncontrollably at her simply because she disturbed her mother’s concentration. One of the legacies left to my friend was that for many years she felt like a non-person. She’s worked for a long time to develop her sense of wholeness and self-worth, to un-do the power of her mother’s legacy.

We have such a precious opportunity to leave a legacy of emotional health and hope for those we influence. While we can seldom select the legacy we inherit, we can choose a great deal of the legacy we leave to others. What will yours be?

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