Tag Archives: remembrance

traditions: heirlooms and memories

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Psalm 77.11-12

Nearly two weeks ago, I hauled out all of my Christmas décor, put up the tree, covered my make-shift mantle with garland and hung snowflake ornaments and ribbon from my kitchen75351646729d66272732505bda8a5151 cabinets. I  stumbled on a box of my Mom’s old ornaments (from before she met Dad) and as I sat on the floor of my living room, I marveled at the intricate details and imperfections of each one. I wondered what Mom had experienced when she received those or what trial she faced as she made each one (yes, there are some homemade ornaments in there).

Now, I know that last statement probably made it sound as if she’s no longer here, but rest assured, she’s alive and well. I just spent time with her this last weekend and it was while I was at home, I decided to haul out the boxes of ornaments from Christmases past.

You see, my parents purchased some new trees (the tall, skinny kind) and new ornaments to put on them two years ago, after the youngest graduated college and moved out. Something new for this new phase of their lives: almost-empty-nesters.

Now, back to those ornaments…

Each year, from the time my parents were married and with the birth of each of their children, they added ornaments to that collection.

There’s the first Christmas together ornament which graced their first tree in December of 1983.

There’s the five year anniversary one from 1988. I showed that one to Dad and he told me of how he picked it out to surprise Mom. I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised when he stated he should probably look for another since they just celebrated their 30th this last November. He usually needs to be reminded by one of us kids and, because of that, you can see why I was surprised. I encouraged him to go for it.

While I was combing through those old, Rubbermaid totes that hadn’t been opened in years, I found the ornament from my first Christmas (along with those of my younger siblings) and every Christmas after – with the exception of a few – until I left for college in 2003. With my folks’ permission, I packed those 15-16 ornaments up to take back with me.

There are so many memories connected with those ornaments and being the sentimental type, well, I decided to continue that family tradition and will be looking for something to add to the collection in the years to come.

I immediately unpacked that box with care when I got back to my apartment in the city and remembered…

1985 – my first Christmas – I may not remember it, but I was definitely there.

1991 – fuzzy rabbits resting on poinsettias – Don’t ask me why, but I was going through a Disney’s Bambi phase at the time and had a thing for Thumper and all of his little friends.

1996 – a giant Hallmark, heart-shaped locket with a family inside – I learned the importance of family and was beginning to discover the importance of relationships in my life. Those two years (1996-1998) were some of the most trying and remembering how God held our family together through that period gave me the strength to get through some of the trials I’ve faced this year.

2001 – a crystal heart – breakable and delicate and highly valued, much like the people God has placed in my life.

…those memories are few compared to the number of ornaments hanging on my tree.

There is a significant importance in remembering and remembering well and it is that connection that I’m making with Jesus.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen of let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4.9

There are many instances in the Bible where God commands that his people remember.

Remember

I remember plenty when it comes to my own life and these family heirlooms and Christmas ornaments only serve as miniature memorials; parts of my life story that I can choose to share with those who enter my home during the holiday season.

Like the Israelites, we tend to respond in similar ways. Life is going great one moment and the next, it seems to be in shambles. You’re not sure if you can tackle this next obstacle.

It’s at that moment that God answers, “Look back and remember.”

Remember what, you may be asking.

Remember what he did the last time you faced something similar.

Remember where he’s brought you from.

Remember every little thing he’s done in your life.

Remember his role in creating the person you are becoming; the person you will become.

Remember that he was there and that you are never alone.

There is a significant importance in remembering and remembering well.

How about you?  Did your family do the ornament thing each year? Or do you have other traditions that help you remember? If not, I’ve found incredible use in keeping a journal – I have since I was ten – and it’s amazing to look back, recognize the person you were then and see God’s work in your life. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself of all the things God has done for you, all the heartaches you’ve been through and the deliverance he brought. Then, when you face another trial, look back and remember what he did and trust that he will do it again.

Week 42: Remember

“Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.” Psalm 25:6 (NIV)

I sometimes struggle to see how God’s Word applies to me and my life. You see, I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever. For a walk down “the” aisle. For a cradle and arms full of soft cooing. For hearts of loved ones to fully turn to Jesus or even to return to Him. (Some days: for my life to start, even though it already has.) For manna to rain from heaven.

The funny thing about waiting is it can be all-consuming. It inhales my attention, chews my focus and swallows my thoughts, leaving me in a place of uncertainty and doubt. I forget God’s power to fulfill my hopes for a husband, children and prayers answered.

Last night, I met with my Bible study girls. We’re a small group and we intend to keep it that way. Being small gives us the opportunity to be real with each other rather than hide behind our insecurities and intimidations. Being small gives us the freedom to really pray for each other and be involved in each other’s lives.

We’ve been walking through Beth Moore’s So Long Insecurity. That book has evoked more emotions than I care to review (happiness, agreement, disagreement, anger, self-loathing…even the whole you’re-wrong attitude). I’ve wanted to keep reading it. I’ve wanted to slam the cover shut, hopefully ripping it off, and toss it back on the shelf to collect dust. But these women won’t let that happen. We’re digging it through it, one painful thorn at a time, whether we want to face it or not.

And I’ve discovered: I’m. A. Mess.

But – that’s okay.

We’ve just completed the second chapter and that section alone removed the dust and cob webs from some pretty dark areas of my life; rooms I haven’t visited in years or even returned to after the fact. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid of not measuring up. I’m afraid of not being good enough; or even enough, for that matter. I don’t feel adequate or equipped for what God has in store for my part in His will. I don’t feel that I will ever measure up relationally/socially to the point that I’ll be ready to have the true desires of my heart finally met.

One of my girls pointed out a thought/stated a compliment that I hadn’t even thought of last night – perhaps God has kept me single all this time so that He can prepare the heart, mind and character of the man I will one day meet and marry so that he can stand by me in regards to my past, my family, and all the other junk this world throws our way.

I’m still struggling to find words.

I tend to forget…

…forget what God can do. Its then, when I can’t see how He’s going to bring these things to pass, I have to rely on His faithfulness in the past.

Remembering God’s faithfulness in other’s lives in Scripture, reminds us of His faithfulness in our own.

When the waters rise, you’ve waited long for rescue and you feel God’s forgotten, remember… Genesis 8:1*: But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

When dust and debris threaten to replace passions, dreams and callings and you feel God’s forgotten, remember… Genesis 9:15: I will remember my covenant between me and you.

When the pitter-patter of little feet is silent and you feel God’s forgotten, remember… Genesis 30:22: Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.

When fear, worry, doubt and anxiety enslave and you feel God’s forgotten, remember… Exodus 2:23a, 24a, 25b: During that long period…The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out…God heard their groaning and he remembered… and was concerned about them.

When you can’t sleep and restlessness sets in, remember… Psalm 63:6-7: On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

When guilt consumes and you fear God will never forget your sins, remember… Isaiah 43:25: I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

When all hope is lost, remember… Luke 24:6a-7: He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you…’The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

When your marriage comes back from the brink of despair, remember… Deuteronomy 8:2: Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness.

When dreams come true and you’re thriving in your calling, remember… 1 Chronicles 16:12a, 15: Remember the wonders he has done… He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations…

Recalling these accounts in Scripture helps me remember His goodness in my own life. When I can’t see how He is moving on my behalf, I choose to remember that He promises to be just as present and faithful to me and you today as He was for others in the past.

When joy surrounds. When sorrow clobbers. When all’s right in our world. When the bottom drops out. When insecurities roar. When we feel loved and cherished. When we feel abandoned and alone, let’s remember… They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. (Psalm 78:35)

Remember times God has been faithful to you. Recount those out loud today.

Focus on the everyday miracles that remind us of God’s faithfulness like waking up and breathing.

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou for ever will be
Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me. ~Thomas Chisolm