First, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you who has written me an email or commented or sent me a message on Facebook of encouragement. I feel abundantly blessed to have such wonderful friends and do not deserve you--but am tickled to have such wonderful messages. It is a great encouragement to me in the midst of this season of life. I feel so very grateful to the Lord for all the ways He has worked, by His abundant mercy and grace and patience in my own life. Since I felt alone through most of my "mothering" years, I felt that the Lord wanted me to not leave others alone in this great and demanding call of motherhood, so my writing is a love and thanksgiving letter to Him and just a tiny bit of what I feel He wants me to do with my life in this season. I love you precious moms so much and know that you are changing the course of history by devoting your lives to discipling your children and showing them God's reality and love. No matter how weary you become, know this, your labor is not in vain and it indeed matters.
I am sorry I am not at a point to be able to answer email and comments, but I pray for you and ask God to show you His love every day.
How fun it is to write this series as a part of the blog hop for The Heart of the Matter--you will love this ten day blog hop with great ideas and writers! So here is my third article on how to show love to your children!
Throughout scripture, we are told to "Remind them, tell them, talk to them, and then again, remind them. Paul and Peter say it, Moses wrote about it as God dictated, Joshua said it, to constantly tell and remind and encourage all of the things that are important.
We are people who forget. One day we can be so very thankful for the miracles that God has wrought and then the next crisis we are in, we tend to forget that God sees us and that he is good and panic takes over.
"Why do the wicked prosper? Why don't you answer my prayers? Where are you?"
Our children will someday be in the world, (mine already are), where the voices will be crying out, "You just can't expect youth in your generation to be moral." or "You deserve, ....." Or "Your parents have archaic values," or "Everyone else is doing it."
Yet, when children have a strong sense of self and family and that they belong to something bigger and greater than themselves, they develop a self-image that they are not alone. They understand, (because we have told them a million zillion times,) that all of us are a part of a history that our family will make together. We say, I wonder how the Lord is going to use the Clarkson's in the world to bring His light to bear in this world? You must always be there for each other, you must always be loyal--we are here as a group who belong to each other. Remember that.
I think building strong ties of loyalty between and among siblings is so very important and creates positive peer love and pressure and in the end all of the kids watch out and pray for each other.
We see in the lives of the Israelites that even though God blessed them and gave them freedom from the Egyptians and sent them out rich and opened the Red Sea and sent quail and manna every day and a fire to guide them at night, still they forgot.
And so besides repeating the messages that I wanted to be deep in their souls, I created Memory Boxes for each child.
So, early in our children's lives, when they were old enough to be able to understand the meaning of their own history, I had them create their own history and memory box. We bought lidded cardboard boxes at an office store. They painted whatever they wanted to mark their box and we named them after each child, for instance, "The Wonderful History of Sarah," or whatever means a lot to your child.
Into this box goes all of the wonderful things that I want to help them remember who they are and what they stand for and how special their lives have been. Into the box goes:
Birthday and Christmas cards from all the family who love them--any special message they have received. These get their own large zip lock bag. This is all those cards that say, "you are my special grandaughter," or "Mommy and Daddy think you are our princess.
Also into this bag goes all of the I love you notes or I appreciate you that I have hidden in on their pillows or bathroom mirrors every year.
All awards and prizes go into this box--awana certificates, piano recital awards, group pictures of anything (dramas participated in, sports, summer programs, history group,--anything they have participated in and have won.)
There is a special big bag of all of their birthday celebrations with the family--pictures of them being celebrated--more on that another day!)
Birth certificates, baby foot prints, baby pictures, and any memorabilia that is important to them. Also, as they replace pictures and such from their rooms as they grow older, I put those in this box. Over the years, this box has become very full and heavy.
Samples of their writing or poems they have written or pictures they drew when they were little that were very special also go into a zip lock bag.
I took the time to write a little booklet of each of their stories when they were babies. Each story contains a history of how we prayed to God to give us a baby and that they were an answer to prayer. We also detail the hours of the day of their birth, how many people were excited that they arrived and how we chose their name. In this little book is a bit about how God has uniquely given them their own personality, their own color of hair, talents, likes and dislikes, with an ending page about "We can't wait to see how God is going to use you in the world."
We also took one family group picture every year and this goes into a picture book all its own.
Every year for the first years of their lives, I would collect 15 to 20 pictures that we had taken of them over the years. In their stocking at Christmas, they would get their own picture book--pictures of them with siblings, mom and dad hugging them, funny pictures, memory pictures, all placed in mind with the idea that we wanted them to feel that they came from a family who loved them, who celebrated their lives, and who were one for all and all for one. I would include sibling and family pictures where they were being loved or pals or celebrating life together because I wanted them to have a strong sense of family and how much we were all a part of each other. (Thus the picture of the girls being pals at a favorite beach will be in both of their minds.)
We stored these memory boxes in their closets. They were to be very special and not taken down often. On sick days or down days or snowy days, I would take down the box and let them put it on their bed. Each child loved having a box of memories about themselves--what love had gone into their souls, what the family stood for, how they were prayed into the world. It seemed to give them a deep sense of self worth and a history that was stored in their souls.
Of course there are some seasons when I could not do this just because life was so demanding--there are seasons when all al mom can do is just exist. But, all of the momentos that I would pick up over the years had a place to go--I would just throw it into their memory box. I have been amazed at how much, reminding them of their history and who they are and how much they are loved when they see the memories, has called each of them to a strong sense of "Clarkson-ness" They have roots, love, heritage and they are a people chosen and beloved and celebrated by God's love and our love. They will always have a place to belong and a place where they are safe and will be loved. And their memory boxes are a small way we have documented that love and history.