You Can't Re-Read Phone Calls
I realized this in January 1999 when my mother passed away to be with the Lord. My parents lived in New Zealand and we are here in USA. I have always kept in touch by letter but before, during and after the Christmas season I was so busy with people coming and going that I didn’t get time to write. Of course we were communicating by phone. On one of my last calls to my mother I asked her what she was doing.
"Oh, I’m looking through the photos and re-reading all the letters," she replied. I felt very convicted. Oh why hadn’t I written a letter since Christmas! She could be re-reading a more current letter. I realized that even though phone calls are special and we can hear one another’s voices, we can’t re-read phone calls! At this time, although she was getting weaker, we didn’t realize how ill she was. I booked a fare to get back to see her. In the end I had to get an earlier flight, but sadly I didn’t make it to New Zealand in time. She passed away on my journey home.
Over two years before this, I decided to do a Memory Book for my parents. I wrote to friends and family all over the world asking them to write an incident they remembered of their lives and received so many wonderful memories and stories. I was still working on it in January and planned to take the book back to New Zealand on my visit. On the way over, I wrote a poem for my mother to celebrate her saintly life. I planned to read it to her when I arrived, but sadly she never got to hear it. I had left it too late!
Phone calls are a fading memory but the written word lasts!
If you have parents and other members of your family far away from you, phone them of course. What would we do without our telecom system today? But don’t forget to write too. Phone calls are a fading memory but written words last! They can be read over and over again. They can affect a person’s life. They can be preserved for future generations.
It is so easy with our modern communication to forget about the old art of writing. We must not lose it. Autobiographies, biographies and memories of past generations are written because people took the time to write! Oh I know it takes time. It takes discipline to sit down and put our thoughts on paper. A phone call is much easier – but remember it will never be re-read.
Think of all the ways you can write memories. Write to your parents and your family and ask them to keep your letters. It will be a record of your lives. You may like to take up my idea and do a Memory Book of your parents. But start in plenty of time. I started when my parents were 80 years of age! I think it would be better to start when they are in their fifties! This memory of their lives will not only be a blessing to them, but also a record of their lives for your children and grandchildren and the generations to come.
Ask your father and he’ll tell you!
It is also important to write down the stories our parents tell us and to ferret from them as much history of their lives and their parents’ lives as we can. At present, my father is staying with us here in Tennessee and I am taking this opportunity to write down as much as he can tell me. Actually, the Bible tells us to do this. Deuteronomy 32:7 says, "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee: thy elders, and they will tell thee…" Once again, can I encourage you to not wait too long before you do this? We don’t always have our parents with us. Even as my father and I have talked together these last few weeks, there are questions that are unanswered because my father hadn’t asked his parents before they passed away!
At the moment, I am in the process of writing a legacy for our children – all the stories and memories that I can gather on both sides of the family. I’m also writing a legacy of the kind of character we want to pass on to our children, our grandchildren and following generations. It’s still not finished, but I am plugging away at it.
Speak and write encouraging words to each other every day!
Think of the many ways you can to write encouraging words to your children. Write poems for their birthdays and special occasions or to remind them that you love them. They don’t have to be great literary works. It’s easy to write a rhyme if you take some time to think about it. I now write a poem for each of our grandchildren when they are born. I write about the circumstances concerning their birth and also an inspiring word for their future destiny. These memories can be kept to inspire them throughout their whole lives.
My gift to Pearl for the celebration of her first baby was a book of poems of her life. I wrote poems about the different stages of her life, the memories of her childhood and as she grew into womanhood. I think it is one of her most treasured possessions, and it will be a memory of her life for her children and grandchildren.
God commands us in Hebrews 3:12,13 to "encourage one another every day." We must remember to speak words of encouragement to each member of our family each day, but it is also important to write words of encouragement. You can do this at family meal times too. Write a card for your husband and each of your children with a special encouraging word in them and place the cards by their plate ready for them to read when they come to the table.
On another evening you could have a "Bless Daddy Night." A couple of days before get each of your children to start writing a letter, a card, or a poem for their father, telling him all the good things they can think of about him. These can be placed at Daddy’s plate waiting for him to read. These can all be kept as "treasures" to read in years to come.
When my father arrived from New Zealand to stay with us we had a big family gathering – 26 of us altogether. I decided to write a limerick for each person. Instead of just typing the name on their Name Place Card I wrote a limerick about them – I had to think of 26 limericks! You will think of many other ways to write special memories for your family.
Try keeping a family journal!
It is also a good idea to keep a family journal. A personal journal is good, but I like a family journal, even though it is often hard to get everyone to write in it. The journal can be kept in a special place in the kitchen where anyone in the family can write about what is happening at the moment, or about a special incident of the day or whatever their thoughts are at the time. Visitors can write in it when they come. It becomes a memory of your lives and the people who are a part of your lives for the years to come.
This is very Biblical too. God commanded Moses to record the happenings of the children of Israel. Numbers 33:2 says, "And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord." When David was king of Israel, he appointed Jehoshaphat to be the "recorder" or the "remembrancer" of the happenings and events of the people of Israel. The Living Bible calls Jehoshaphat "the historian." 1 Chronicles 18:15. Mother, I know that in your busy days, it is hard to find time to journal, but perhaps you could appoint a ‘historian’ in your family who could be responsible to write the happenings of your family each day. Or even better, encourage the whole family to write in the family journal.
Communication is the spice and the delight of life. Keep encouraging one another daily. Keep phoning all your family and friends. But don’t forget to write! It’s only what you write that will be remembered correctly in the years ahead and for the future generations.