I chose to focus on collecting stories this month for a myriad of reasons. Its hard to quantify in some ways- I've had more than a few people in the last few weeks and months ask me when I am going to write a book. (Me? Are you kidding?) I just don't think it's the right time yet for me to embark on such a lovely but arduous journey. But it has gotten me to thinking about why stories are so important, why memories matter. Why are we drawn to the little snippets of tall tales told about Great Uncle William at every thanksgiving meal? Why do we cherish the small scrap of a recipe card that Grandma scribbled her famous cake recipe? Why do my kids stare and laugh for hours at old scrapbooks from their earlier years?

And if we don't cherish these pieces of history, what is wrong with our perspective?

I only say that, because there was a time when I could have cared less about any of these things. It's hard to imagine for someone who is both a writer and scrapbooker, I know, but I cringe to think about some of the keepsakes I have thrown out in a fit of pique. I did it almost as if to erase the memory that the 'thing' represented, but yet, the memory still remains, cringe-worthy, embarrassing, woeful. And worse still *laughter* my family still remembers too, and makes sure to tell the story anyways, irregardless of "proof".

And then, there's the dozens of people I've heard from who say, I don't have time for that. I don't have time to scrapbook. I don't have time to journal. I don't have time for this. I don't have time for that. Or…I don't know how to get these memories down. I am embarrassed by my scrapbooks. I am embarrassed about what people will think.  I am embarrassed by my handwriting.  Or, I don't like to be crafty. Glitter scares me. ( Trust me, it's totally okay, and glitter scares me too!)

The fact of the matter is, the stories of our lives are important.

They are a legacy reaching back in our collective histories, that reach forward to our children and beyond. Choices my great, great, great Grandfather made affect me today. Choices that I made yesterday affect my children's future, sometimes for good, and sometimes for ill.  The stories of our lives are a treasure trove (and okay, a laughing well sometimes) for our families and friends. They can learn from our mistakes, and perhaps not make the same ones, and we can learn from theirs. We can be inspired by their triumphs, and encouraged in our own life journeys.

But. If we choose to stay silent, we are doing ourselves and our familes a great disservice.

We lose the lessons, the joys, the losses, the laughs and jokes, the stories told round the tables at family gatherings, and in a way, we lose a piece of ourselves, never to be found again. We lose our story, who we are, why we do what we do, why we make the choices we do.

In the spirtitual sense, as Kathy noted, when we don't tell what God has been doing in our lives, we often forget our "His"story too. We forget the blessings and how thankful we are. We forget the footsteps in the sand where our Savior has carried us.

Where would the collective Christian walk be without the length, depth, and breadth of the emotional "ramblings" of David's Psalms? What if David had chosen not to write? Chosen not to praise? Chosen not to sing and play instruments?

There's a thought.

 Art. Music. Poetry. Scribbled thoughts. Oral tales. Quilts. Blogs. Collected praises. And on and on….

The stories of our lives aren't words on a page. Though they can be. They certainly aren't perfect. Maybe they are just a bit messy around the edges. Maybe the canvas has a huge gash down the center. Maybe the notes are off key.

But still, we should try. We should still give praise and 'count the days'. We should remember.

What's more, it's a command.

233 times, the Bible says remember. Remember what happened to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Remember what God did back there. Remember what God promised you, Israel. God will remember the covenant He has with us. Remember what God said He would do. Remember what the Apostles said.

Over and over.

God is still speaking today. The Spirit is still moving. I have a feeling we should still be telling the stories of those aged prophets, and we should remember what He has done in our own lives.

So that's where this blog is headed over the next few weeks…
different ways,
different approaches,
making the time to stop.
And remember.

Psalm 90:12: Teach us to number our days aright,
       that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Ann and her guest blogger, Leslie, have a simple, beautiful suggestion for collecting stories around the year, a way of gathering gratitude. I plan to highlight a related post at the end of each "collecting stories" post to show many different ways of telling the stories of our lives.

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The effort to remember…

2 thoughts on “The effort to remember…

  • October 10, 2008 at 4:43 am
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    It’s so interesting to read this now because my brother and I were talking last night. He’s a history major, and he loves history…we share that interest. But, he was saying that when people are asked to tell what history means to them, they just seem to think of the words boring and old. Yet, when you ask them about the past, they have a totally different perspective because people relate the past to their own family stories and memories. What you say here is so true. We all seem to want to belong and have a place where we fit, and our own families are where we first seek this. So, I agree with you so much. It is so important to have these things…to remember. It gives us a connection and a sense of belonging. And when we within the body of Christ retell the great stories of God’s love toward his people and his great acts, we feel that sense of belonging to His family. Great post!!!

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  • October 10, 2008 at 10:49 am
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    Found you today via Higher Calling blogs and wanted to stop in and say hi.
    I love this post. I am a very sentimental person although I’m not very good at documenting those memories outside of my head. Problem is, when my head is no longer needed (hee hee), the memories will be no longer available to anyone else. I know this, but I still struggle with this.
    It’s not that I’m scared to do it, but it’s more of a lack of effort. That’s not even it. It’s a lack of a sense of necessity. I just don’t THINK about doing it. When I do, those photo albums get put together, complete with captions, the scanned photos get sorted and stored. I just don’t remember that it needs to exist outside my head! That’s frustrating!

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