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 generations 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 In Life
Malachi 3:16 tells 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 favourite childhood memories. They shared a number of things but two were specifically mentioned by each of the six children. Firstly, they all said that they loved my reading to them. I am so glad that this was a favourite memory, because sometimes I would be hoarse with reading. Whenever the little ones would get scratchy, I would immediately gather them around me 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 favourite 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 favourite 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 opened the way to talk about the things of the Lord. And I am sure the Lord was writing in His “Book of Remembrance.”
Do you notice something else? The favourite 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 that makes the best memories – it is the atmosphere of your home. Evangeline said that one of her favourite memories was coming inside and feeling the warmth, the aroma of the evening meal filling the home and the anticipation of everyone sharing their news of the day.
Pearl shared that another of here 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 cut some apples and arrange them in a special way on the plate with a few raisins, pieces of cheese or whatever I had on hand (sometimes I would arrange them into the shape of a face) and then I would give each one their plate. 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 when young people get together, that they always have to 'go out to a movie' to enjoy themselves? Have they lost the art and the joy of sitting around, discussing and 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, “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.” Exodus 12:14. 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 youngest, we often had colour 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 coloured with red cochineal, beetroot, tomatoes and anything else I could create to be red! Dessert could be red plums and red jelly. Of course, it wasn't such a healthy meal, but it was fun to have on the odd occasion. Because it was a special night, I would wrap and place on every plate a little gift for each of them.
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, sign 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 a 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, 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. We read about it in 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 life wafers made with money. And Moses said, this is the thing which the Lord commands, Fill an owner (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 colour so much over the years that it is a wonderful memory for them to know their colour 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.
Another mother buys a large scrapbook each year and divides it into 12 groups, one for each month. Each month she fills the pages with pictures, newspaper articles, things of interest that happened during that month, pictures of their home and the children doing different things. At the end of the year, she gives it to her parents for a Christmas gift. It is a special gift for them, but also a memory of their lives which can be kept for generations.
When my seventh grandchild was born, my son-in-law, purchased a trunk for keep-sakes 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 to 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.” 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.
Psalm 102:18 says, “This shall be written for the generation to come.” 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 memories 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. Recently, I wrote a legacy for our children which I will give to them at the appropriate time. Now, 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. When Pearl gave birth to Meadow, I gave her a special gift. I put together an album of pictures and poems that I wrote about each stage of her life. It is a memory of her life, not only for her, but for her children and children's children.
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.
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 and then four children under four years. But if I had realised 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.
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 established “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.” Esther 9:20-28. The Purim holiday 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.
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 a heap”) to allow the Israelites to pass through into the promised land. God commanded Joshua to make a monument of twelve stones. You can read about it in Joshua, chapters 3 and 4. Joshua 4:7 says, “These stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever.”
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. We planted a willow tree as this is her parent's favourite tree.
The Ways and the Words of the Lord
As we seek to make precious memories of 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 of God's principles and His living Word.
“I will remember the words of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.” Deuteronomy 32:7; 1 Chronicles 16:2; Psalm 77:11; 103:2; 105:5; 143:5.