Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Bother To Journal? part 6

Leaving a family legacy

During some lean times several years ago, I wanted to give a special gift to each of my children at Christmas. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but I decided to put together a family cookbook with favorite family recipes. Along with each one, I included some journaling - family trivia like where the recipe came from, who liked it best or stories about when the recipe was served.

Using clip art and some word art from my computer, I printed two to three recipes per page, inserted them into page protectors and  categorized them into recycled three ring binders. There was Aunt Alice’s Jewish Apple Cake, the Father’s Day chicken marinade from a friend in northern NY and  my favorite chocolate-peanut butter owl cookies from Halloweens past, among others.

When we cleaned out my mother’s house to sell it several years ago, I claimed the family photos and her recipe books. What treasures! I found hand written recipes, many of which will find their way into the cookbook in future years with little anecdotes about my parents. Using the scanner, I can include them in her own handwriting, perhaps with a family photo to go along with it – a kind of recipe scrapbook sharing family food and traditions.

When my children were born, I started a baby journal for each of them.  My favorites were the spiral bound ones with pockets for each age group where I could file news clippings, samples of artwork, journalings of important events in their lives – spiritual as well as family events, medical shot records and photos of my kids from each age. I wasn’t very good at organizing the info in these, but when the children grew up, I had a nice fat packet of memorabilia to send with them.

My daughter and sister-in-law both create great scrapbooks for their families. They chronicle everything from important events to physical growth, blending photos, journaling and embellishments on each page to make them aesthetically pleasing. I look forward to receiving these photo journals each Christmas.

Scrapbooking has become so easy these days with all sorts of digital programs, both free and elite which allow you to upload photos,  make pages online and have then printed into coffee table type books for a modest fee.

Why do we create these scrapbooks, cookbooks and baby journals? I think it’s because we are wired that way. LOL! The older we get, the more important it becomes for us to leave our mark on the next generation. To be remembered. To help our children know their heritage.

In Deuteronomy, God instructed Moses to  teach the Israelites about Him from the time they were small. He knew how easy it was for them to forget the pain and suffering of slavery in Egypt. He understood they would soon forget the 40 year wilderness trek when they settled into their new homes in Canaan. The idolatrous ways of the local inhabitants would infiltrate Israel’s traditions and their worship, distilling it.  Eventually the influences of the world around them would lead them away from their dedication to God.

So God used visual things like the furniture of the Tabernacle and food items in the feasts like Passover to remind them of their heritage. Mothers repeated the family stories of their ancestors – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -  to their children, beginning when they were tiny infants to help them remember.

God inspired men to write “journals” if you will, of their history and interaction with Him to be read on each Sabbath or holiday to remind the people of their special relationship with Him. These ancient writings became our Bible of today.

We may have more fancy technology to help us pass our stories and heritage on to our children, but one thing hasn’t changed. We are still charged with the responsibility to be sure our children remember who God is and what He has done for us. Through writing down our family stories, by writing down our testimonies, by sharing our day to day faith in journals and diaries, we can help our children know who God is and His plan for their lives.

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