Remember When

My daughter has a great memory. She will remember directions to places that we have been only once, and events that occurred years ago. It makes me feel better to think that one reason she can remember things so well is because she hasn’t been on this Earth very long, but I also realize that this is just a gift that God has given her. Because she has such a great memory, she often likes to say “Mom, remember when…..”, immediately followed by the story of some adventure or the recollection of some experience.

In listening to my daughter recount the tales of days gone by, I’ve come to appreciate how important it is to remember. The Psalms are replete with reminders of God had done in the past as encouragement to face the future. There may be pain in some memories, but there is also a testament to God’s provision and faithfulness. If we are diligent, these recollections will help us endure our hard times and be more thankful for the good.

Here are four types of memories that are worth sharing, and “remembering when….”

1. Times of Blessings

When we are going through difficult seasons, it can be hard to recognize the good things that we have. However, we all have times in our lives that we can look back upon and remember how God has blessed us. Whether this was the gift of a child being born, the purchase of a home, or the assurance that we had found the vocation to which God had called us – it is important to remember those moments where we clearly experienced God’s kindness in our lives. It will help us appreciate the deep love that our Father has for us and the joy that He has given in our lives. Even if the road we are on is hard, we can rejoice at all the blessings that we have received along the way.

2. Times of Provision

If you have walked with God for any length of time, you have assuredly gone through a season where you weren’t sure how you were going to make it through. Whether you were running short on time or running short on cash, we can all look back and see how God has worked to give us exactly what we needed.  Sometimes His provision may have looked much different than we anticipated, but we can see His hand nonetheless. When we are walking a path of uncertainty it is helpful to remember those times where God has provided. Because our faithful God has not only provided in our past, He will provide for our future as well.

3. Times of Answered Prayers

Growing up my dad kept a prayer chart. On one side he would record his request, on the opposite side he would record when it was answered. It was a great visual reminder that my dad’s prayers had not fallen on deaf ears. God had heard them, and He had responded. When my dad prepared to bring a new petition to God, he had confidence that this too would be heard and that in His good timing, God would provide a response. Sometimes it can seem that we pray the same prayer over and over again, and God is slow to move. But God is never slow – and God responds. Remembering time of answered prayers can help us have confidence in this truth.

4. Times with God’s Family

God did not intend His children to pursue Him alone; that is why He established the Church. Being a part of God’s family is one of the greatest blessings that a Christian can experience. Our brothers and sisters in Christ should be an encouragement to us and should spur us on to greater Christ-likeness. While it can be mind-boggling to think that anyone is lonely despite all our forms of communication, the truth is that they are. We have likely all been through seasons where it seemed like no one understood and that we are walking the path alone. Remembering sweet times with God’s children can help us realize that this is not the case. We have brothers and sisters around the world who are also pursuing godliness and are faced with their own obstacles and difficulties. As we remember the sweet times we have experience with God’s children, it can not only deepen our affection for the Church, it can prompt us to provide that same encouragement and helpfulness to someone else that is hurting.

These are just four times that are worth remembering. There are assuredly many more. The important thing to realize is that if we are God’s children we can look back in our lives and testify to His faithfulness, His kindness, His grace and His love. And these are memories worth recalling, and sharing.

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Don’t Serve Solo

Before I became a mom, a friend gave me some advice. “When you’re serving, making sure to bring along your kids.” At the time, it seemed like odd instruction. After all, I would have assumed that, at least when they were young, where I went, my kids would go. Therefore, if I was doing ministry, they would be alongside me, even if there wasn’t much for them to do.

It didn’t take long for me to realize how prescient my friend’s recommendation was. As experienced mothers can tell you, bringing your kids on any activity adds a level of complexity that is hard to appreciate when you aren’t a parent. Signing up to bring meals was no longer about just preparing the dish. It also meant I needed to consider nap schedules, how I would balance kids and food during delivery, and how it would impinge on my children’s planned consumption of dinner. A “quick drop off” was no longer in the realm of possibility. If they were going, the service became an excursion. Many times I was tempted to leave them at home with their dad, until I remembered my friend’s wise words. Because while bringing kids along can make serving more daunting, there are far too many benefits that I don’t want to forgo.

Learning By Doing

One of the most important benefits that my family has incurred is that my children are learning to serve. When we go deliver a meal, they help me take the food to the house. When we set up our house for a fellowship, they pick up their toys and get their hearts prepared to share. I could talk to them until I am blue in the face about the importance of serving others, but when they are serving alongside me, they learn what it means in practical terms. It is not unusual for them to make suggestions about what they could do to bless others. Because they have worked alongside with us from the beginning, their hearts are prone towards service.

Growing Compassion

Not only have my children learned to serve through serving, but they have developed hearts that are concerned about others. Because they know that there are people in need, and that we are working towards responding to that need, they are front-row witnesses to the struggles that others go through. This awareness combined with being a part of serving those we love has caused them to have deeper compassion and empathy than they otherwise might. Oftentimes, they will remind us to pray for hurting friends, or will proactively ask to draw a picture for someone that they know is in need of encouragement. They see hurt, and they see we work to alleviate it, and as result, their hearts are sensitive to those in pain. My hope is that even when we are not around this disposition towards compassion will be evident in their lives.

Family Matters

People will often talk about the importance of teaching your children values, however, as one friend likes to say “more is caught than taught.”  Your kids may listen to what you say, but they will pay attention to what you do. Involving our kids in service has shown them that serving is important to our family. They realize that their mom and dad care about meeting people’s needs and helping people who need a hand. They’ve learned that even when we can’t do everything, we can do something, and for “Team Winter” doing something to help others is one of the ways that we demonstrate Christ’s love. When our kids serve others, even if it is as simple as graciously letting someone play with their toys, we celebrate and commend it. We want our kids to be more concerned with others than they are with themselves, and when we demonstrate that same priority, they know it truly is important.

The Blessing of Family

Most of us know the statistics about children who are raised going to church but quickly leave it when they become adults. Because our children are involved in serving others, and because they are witness to when others serve us, they have developed an appreciation for our church family at a very young age. Often times when we are on our way to drop off a meal or visit someone in the hospital, we will talk about why we are doing it and what a privilege it is to be a part of a church where we help one another. We also talk about the ways that we have been the recipient of others’ service and generosity. I’m confident that this alone is not assurance that my kids will have an appreciation for the family of God, but I’m hopeful that it will contribute to one. My children know that we don’t consider only those who are biologically-related to us as family; our church is our family and it is theirs as well.

Blessed to Be A Blessing

When my children come with me to serve others, more often than not it doesn’t go the way I planned. Recently, we went to bring a friend a meal, and after I asked my daughter to carry in one of the side dishes, it fell in their driveway. She was reticent to pick it up and carry it in the rest of the way but I encouraged her to do so. Because what I want my children to know is that sometimes serving others is messy and sometimes it is inconvenient, but we do it because God has called us to serve. And even when things don’t go the way we anticipated, it is still a blessing to be a part of what He told us to do.

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