A friend of mine, Mary Jensen, recently rediscovered an old journal that she kept when her children were young. Its now tattered pages preserve the following conversation between Mary and her then 3-year-old daughter, Bethany.
Mary, who was pregnant with her second child at the time, had just finished preparing French toast when Bethany asked her to “play restaurant.”
“Okay,” Mary said. “I’ll be the waitress and I’ll take your order and you have to order French toast.”
The little girl nodded. When her “waitress” asked if she wanted coffee, Bethany giggled, “Just pretend coffee.”
Then Mary asked, “So, how was your day? Did you have to work?”
“No, I got to stay home with my kids” Bethany said and then added in a matter-of-fact voice, “And I’m pregnant.”
As my friend shared this story with me, I thought about the value of remembering. Mary has preserved this special memory because she wrote it down.
The word “remember” is mentioned 227 times in the New American Standard Bible. Remembering must be important to God!
Here are 10 ideas that can help us capture everyday moments and remember what shapes our lives and legacy:
1. Jot down special memories in a journal. The key to making this work is to keep it simple. But be sure to include the interesting details, like the actual words of a conversation.
2. Encourage the children to interview relatives about their everyday lives. Our sons interviewed some relatives for a high school history project. The written record of what they said becomes more and more meaningful with the passing of each year. Of the family members who were interviewed, only my mother is alive today.
3. Record life’s milestones. Once upon a time I thought I’d never forget when our children took their first steps, said their first words, went on their first dates. Now, those memories are long forgotten.
4. Scan favorite artwork. Our sons are now married and one of our daughters-in-law scans the kids’ artwork and keeps a few prized pieces in an art folder for posterity.
5. Ask the children to write and draw about the family, a summer vacation, or major event in their lives. Then date and frame their creation. By the way, this makes a great gift for grandparents.
6. Take a picture at the same place, on the same date, every year. Jim and I tried to always take a picture of our kids on the first day of school as they got into the car. Besides the traditional pictures on birthdays and holidays, you could plant a tree and take a picture of your child by that tree every Arbor Day.
7. Write a letter to your child on his/her birthday and put a copy of it in a special notebook. Capture what has happened during the past year, how your child has grown both physically and spiritually. In today’s technological world, it’s easy to include pictures in the birthday letters.
8. Once a year, interview your children about their dreams and goals for the future. Record what they say on an audio or video recorder. You may want to review the kids’ earlier comments about the future whenever a new recording is made.
9. Include family history on the back of family heirlooms. My oldest sister had one of my grandmother’s old quilts cut into pieces for all our siblings. She framed each piece in a shadowbox. Today this is a prized possession. On the back of the shadowbox is a piece of paper telling why the quilted piece is so meaningful.
10. Pause to remember the moments. When I was a child, a sister used to tell me to close my eyes if I wanted to remember a brilliant sunrise or majestic mountains. I don’t know if this ever really helped with long-term recall, but it has helped me slow down and ponder what God is doing in my life.
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