Editor’s Note: The Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religions (and for mothers who are not necessarily religious). Each Sunday, we post a spiritual essay, and we would love to gather a wide variety of perspectives and ideas. Our goal is to be respectful of all beliefs while simultaneously offering opportunities to share meaningful, spiritual thoughts with one another.
My family and I have visited many historical sites and have been particularly moved by memorials such as the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C., Ground Zero in New York City, and World War II cemeteries in Europe. The names printed and the statues in stone and on crosses give us a tangible connection to those who have sacrificed and died for our country. Memories and gratitude may fade if we have nothing to touch, see, and discuss.
I leave these places moved and determined to build memorials within my family. I want my children to remember their love for each other, their worth, our family memories, and their faith in God. What family traditions and memorials can I establish that would have lasting significance? Does it take monumental effort or just small things each day?
Joshua of the Old Testament showed us how small, ordinary things can carry powerful symbolic meaning to remind our families of what matters most. When he asked the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant to the Promised Land, they had to cross the River Jordan. The Children of Israel had waited and wandered for 40 years for this event, but the river stood in their way. Undaunted, the priests trusted in God and stepped out into the water, holding the ark over the current. The water parted, reminiscent of the Red Sea miracle, and the priests’ feet “stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan” (Joshua 3:17). The Children of Israel followed, crossing safely to the other side.
Joshua called twelve men, one representing each tribe, to choose a stone from where the priests’ feet stood firm, carry it to the other side of the river, and build an altar. He instructed, “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord: when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever” (Joshua 4: 6-7).
Stones. They aren’t much, but they were what Joshua had at the time. They were a permanent, natural reminder of a spiritual event. We tend to forget special impressions and tender moments unless we find a way to preserve and remember them. In my book, “Parenting With Spiritual Power” I wrote:
Memories of miracles and testimonies may fade unless there are reminders. These stones marked the spot and “they are there unto this day” (Joshua 4:9). I can envision Israelite families taking their children back to the spot and saying, “Here it was where we saw the waters part and the priests carry the ark on dry ground.” The children might have been touched again in their hearts. They could have pictured how one of these stones belonged to “them” and how they were connected to this miracle.
We can build “memorials” within families through simple acts and ordinary moments. Memorials can be tangible or intangible, but when done consistently, we teach our children their connection to family and God. Here are a few examples:
Creating and sharing scrapbooks, photo albums and family history journals
Engaging in family rituals and traditions, including consistent mealtimes
Attending worship services together regularly
Celebrating holidays and birthdays together
Holding weekly family meetings and activity nights
Preserving special clothing such as a christening gown, baptismal or blessing outfit, or baby booties
Sewing significant articles of clothing or pieces into a quilt
Planting a tree or some other natural memorial to remember a special event, perhaps for the loss of a child or a first birthday
Making and watching videos and other audio visuals of family events
Writing letters, cards and notes to family members
Sharing the everyday “I love yous” as well as tender feelings, such as:
God must love me so much because he gave you to me.
I love to look at nature and see all of God’s beautiful creations He gave us to enjoy.
That sunset was beautiful. Just like you.
I was certainly blessed today when…
I said a prayer for you today because…
I love you so much! You remind me of Grandma because…
So if you ever wonder why you are making one more family dinner when no one seems to appreciate it, or rocking an ill-tempered baby to sleep with a lullaby, or taking one more family photo when no one is cooperating, remember that you are putting one more stone in your family memorial. Our ordinary, common, everyday efforts—simple as stones—build lasting memories for our children.
QUESTION: How do you remember important impressions and experiences?
CHALLENGE: Celebrate each small act of service you do for your children, and share more frequently those tangible and intangible reminders you have preserved to keep memories alive.
Image by lkunl/FreeDigitalPhotos.