Mothers Are Memory Makers
Will our children have precious memories of their childhood? Or will they be bad? Memories provide a basis for the future lives of our children for blessing, or for bitterness and hurt. Happy memory making is one of the most beautiful things we can do as a mother. God is very interested in preserving memories from generation to generation. If it is important for God to organize things for us to remember, don't you think it should be important to us too? Let's look at a few of the things God wanted His people to do to help them remember His glorious acts.
THE SIMPLE THINGS OF LIFE - TALKING WITH ONE ANOTHER
Malachi 3:16, "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name."
This scripture tell us that when we fellowship together and talk to one another about the things of the Lord, that God writes it in His "Book of Remembrance." God is pleased when we fellowship together. This is a wonderful thing that we can also do together as a family. Not only does God record it in His "Book of Remembrance" but it also produces precious memories.
Recently I gave a message on "Making Memories." Before I shared, I thought I would call each of my children and ask them to tell me their favorite childhood memories. They shared a number of things but two were consistently mentioned by each of the six children. Firstly, they all said that they loved me reading to them.
I am so glad that this was a favorite memory, because sometimes I would be hoarse with reading. Whenever the little ones would get fussy, I would immediately gather them around and read to them. This always settled them. Also, each night before bed, I gathered the children around and read to them. We usually read serial stories with a number of chapters each night.
They were never content with one chapter, but wanted me to keep reading and reading. I loved these times too. Sometimes the book would be sad and we would all cry together.
The other favorite memory they all mentioned was the wonderful fun we had at the family meal table each night, where we all talked, shared, debated and communicated. Our youngest daughter, Serene, said that her best memories of all, were the family meal table and all the other times when the family would just "sit around and talk together." As the older ones left home one by one to get married, she grieved for these times. Her favorite times now are when the family all comes back home and everyone communicates together.
The family meal table was a special time in our home. I have always felt it most important that we sit together around the table as a family. We canceled schedules that interfered with the evening meal. I believe that this cementing time which establishes life-time memories is more important than the so-called pressing infringements that scatter so many families at this hour of the day. We would often give the children a subject to consider at the table - it always produced animated and often heated discussion which they loved.
We never left the table before opening the Word of God and praying together. Family Devotions is such an important part of the meal table, isn't it? I believe that the table is not only a place to feed the bodies of our children, but to feed their souls and spirits too. Bible reading and question time opens the way to talk about the things of the Lord.
Do you notice something else? The favorite childhood memories of our children did not cost money! They were simple. Often we think that in order to make wonderful memories for our children that we have to take them to this and to that - and usually these things cost money. Oh yes, it is nice to go to these things from time to time, but it is the simple things of life that can make the most pleasurable memories. It is not running here and there, but the atmosphere of your home.
Pearl shared that another of her very exciting things was when I would give them a little 'treat'. If the children were feeling bored and irritable, I would say, "Let's have a treat. Hide over here and close your eyes." I would then arrange some apples, raisins or pieces of cheese in a special way on each plate, sometimes making them into the shape of a face. How simple. But they loved it.
Pearl said that she could hardly contain her excitement as she waited for her little 'treat'. Would this be too simple for today's children? It is sad, isn't it, when children have to be entertained all the time and cannot be 'excited' about the simple things of life?
I feel sad that when many young people get together, that they always have to 'go out' or 'to a movie' to enjoy themselves? Have they lost the the joy of just communicating together?
God believes in feasts. When He wanted the people of Israel to remember something very important, He commanded that they keep a feast once a year to remember it! Exodus chapters 12 and 13 tell the amazing story of the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt. It took the slaying of the first-born son of every Egyptian for Pharaoh to let God's people go! The first-born in the land of Israel were saved because they put the blood over their door posts. This is also a type of our wonderful redemption from the bondage of sin and the kingdom of darkness. We have been delivered by the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins.
God never wanted His people to forget this mighty deliverance so He commanded:
Exodus 12:14,17; 13:2-10. "This day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever."
Today, the Jewish people still keep the Passover Feast every year. It is a feast of remembrance. All five senses are involved and if you have been privileged to enjoy a Passover meal, you will never forget the memory of the bitterness of Egypt as you eat the 'bitter herbs' The tears will run down your face! In fact, Jesus was drinking the third cup of redemption at the Passover Meal Himself when He gave the commandment that we now adhere to as we take communion, "This do in remembrance of me."
If God thinks that a feast is an important way to keep memories, don't you think this is a good way to celebrate special occasions? I think we should make any excuse for a celebration meal.
When the children were younger, we often had color nights. For example, I would say to the children, "Tonight is Red Night. Come to the table dressed in red." This would keep them busy finding red clothes to wear, while I prepared a red meal of potatoes colored with red cochineal, beetroot, tomatoes and anything else I could create to be red! Dessert would be red plums and red jelly. It wasn't such a healthy meal, but it was fun to have on the odd occasion.. We did this with many different colors.
Annual Family Concert
When the children were all home, we used to have an annual family concert. We would have a big feast (like a Christmas dinner) after which everyone in the family - parents, grandparents and all the children would give an item. They could either write a poem and read it, sing a song, perform a skit, or give a speech on a subject of interest.
We not only celebrated birthdays, but other special dates. When living in Australia, we annually celebrated the date of our arriving in that country, the date of our coming into our home, the date of our starting our church and so on. Birthday feasts are always special times in our family and definitely a precious memory.
It has gradually become tradition in our family for each member of the family (and whoever else is asked to the birthday feast) to give a speech to the birthday person. This is an opportunity to say all the nice things that they can about the birthday person, to encourage them, and inspire them to be all that God wants them to be.
By the time everyone has given an encouraging speech, the birthday person is fortified and inspired to face another year. Even small children can learn to give an encouraging speech and say all the nice things they can think of about their brother or sister.
A KEEP SAKE
God miraculously fed His people in the wilderness for 40 years with manna. It was a miraculous provision of the Lord and He didn't want them to forget it, so He commanded that they keep three quarts of it as a reminder.
Exodus 16:31-34, "The house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. And Moses said, this is the thing which the Lord commands, Fill an omer (three quarts) of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt......lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations."
Keep sakes are important to God, so they should be important to us. Of course, we can't hold onto everything, but it is good to keep special things for remembrance. Photo albums are wonderful keepsakes aren't they? It is hard to keep up-to-date with them, but if you can, it is a wonderful memory for the children.
I have kept ours in chronological order from the birth of our oldest child up until our current grandchild. The children have, and still do, spend more time pouring over the old photo albums than any other thing. It is the memory of their lives and they are constantly referring to them.
Do you keep a little snip of hair of each child? Their hair changes color so much over the years that it is a wonderful memory for them to know their color when they were little. One mother audio-taped each of her children laughing and crying when they were babies. She also taped them singing and talking to each other at different stages of their lives. Now they are older, they love to listen to how they sounded when they were little.
When my seventh grandchild was born, my son-in-law purchased a trunk for a keep-sake for his daughter, that he will give to her when she is 21 years. So far he has put in it the newspaper of the day she was born, a Nashville magazine of current events the week she was born, uncirculated coins of the year she was born, her first dress, her first shoes which they have bronzed and a snip of her first hair cut!
When my husband turned 50 years, I wrote to all our family and friends all over the world and asked them to write down an incident in his life that they had shared with him, or what he meant them and send it to me. I then compiled it into a special book and presented it to him on his birthday. It is a memory of his first fifty years!
WRITE IT DOWN
- Exodus 16:14 says, "The Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book."
- The Living Bible says, "Write this into a permanent record, to be remembered forever."
- Psalm 102:18 says, "This shall be written for the generation to come."
- Malachi 3:16 says, "A book of remembrance was written before Him."
God is so interested in having words recorded that He left us with our most precious legacy, the infallible Word of God, our guideline for life. He knew it would be necessary for us to have His Word in written form.
What are you writing and recording for the generations to come? We must not think only for today, but we must remember that generations will follow us. As parents, we have the awesome mandate from God to pass on His ways, not only to our children, but to our children's children and to their children! In this day of easy communication by telephone, we can often delay putting pen to paper.
Many people's memoirs and biographies were written from the letters they wrote to family and friends, but many today are leaving nothing behind that they have written.
I have been challenged about writing for the coming generations and recently wrote a legacy for our children which I will give to them at the appropriate time. As each grandchild is born, I write a poem for them - the story about their birth and the destiny that I feel that God has for them.
At present, we are keeping a family diary. We have done this from time to time, and wish we had kept it up regularly. We keep the hard-covered book on the family table. Everyone in the family can write in it - what is happening at the time, their thoughts or something they want to say to someone else, or something new they have learned. When visitors come, rather than signing a visitor's book, we ask them to write in the family diary - and so it becomes a record of our lives to keep for the generations.
My sister-in-law made a beautiful memory for each of her children when they turned 21 years. In a book she placed a photograph of each year of their life wrote a poem to go with each photograph. What a beautiful memory and keep sake.
Many mothers keep special baby books to write down all the little things their children say. Oh I wish that I had done this. I was so busy in the early days with three children in seventeen months, then four children under four years and later six children But if I had realized then how important it would have been for memories, I could have easily made the time. We think we'll remember all the cute things that each child does or says, but as the years go on, the memory fades. It is so important to write them down.
BUILD A MONUMENT
After God performed the miraculous parting of the Jordan river ("the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap") to allow the Israelites to pass through into the promised land, God commanded Joshua to make a monument of twelve stones.
Joshua 4:7 says, "These stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever."
Read also Joshua 22:26-28.
There may be special incidents in the life of your family where you could build something as a memory. When our seventh grandchild was born here at our home, we planted a willow tree to remember her birth. The tree will grow with her and she will remember the place of her birth.
Esther 9:20-32. "Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces.... that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, as the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor....that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed."
Each memorial feast that God established for His people in the Old Testament were days of feasting and holiday. Later, Christians have kept Easter and Christmas as holiday celebrations of the most wonderful events in history. When Queen Esther was successful in nullifying the plans of the wicked Haman and saving her people from destruction, Mordecai instituted the Purim holiday which is still kept every year until this day.
The early Thanksgiving celebrations held by the Pilgrims were celebrated for three days with feasting, fun and fellowship. All these annual celebrations can be precious times of learning and remembering the wonderful deeds of the Lord. We should turn our children's hearts to the true meaning of these celebrations, because they are for the purpose of remembering.
THE WAYS AND THE WORDS OF THE LORD
As we seek to make precious memories for our families, let us remember that the most important memories are the works and ways of God. Let us daily teach our children and remind them and remind them and remind them of God's principles and His living Word.
"I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old."
Deuteronomy 32:7; 1 Chronicles 16:12; Psalm 77:11; 103:2; 105:5; 143:5.