A couple of months ago I started writing down our family’s story. I wanted to reconnect with those things that I remember and not let them disappear into the ether as I get older. I’m not attempting to write a book or anything like that, just get those little nuggets of information, those stories that I remember, out of my head and recorded somewhere.
I’m reminded of the story in 1 Samuel 7 of Samuel setting up a stone and naming it Rock of Help as a reminder to all the people of a specific time God helped them. He wanted them to be reminded, every time they passed that place.
1 Samuel 7:10-12 The Message (MSG)
10-12 While Samuel was offering the sacrifice, the Philistines came within range to fight Israel. Just then God thundered, a huge thunderclap exploding among the Philistines. They panicked—mass confusion!—and ran helter-skelter from Israel. Israel poured out of Mizpah and gave chase, killing Philistines right and left, to a point just beyond Beth Car. Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.”
I think of some of the things I am writing down as my “Ebenezer Stones”.
Does your family have “stories“? Are there things you want to remember about how God moved in your life or the lives of those you love? Or are there things you wish you’d asked certain relatives before they passed away? Do you wonder what unanswered questions will be left behind when you are gone? I can say “yes” to all of those things and so I decided to start writing things down.
I discovered the website 750words.com. It’s based off the “morning pages” idea for creative people. It is said that 3 pages longhand is roughly 750 words and so the site was born. No one can read your stuff, unless you choose to share and you can search through everything you’ve ever written in order to go back to reread things if you need to . Plus, you earn stickers as you write. There are many ways to write, either electronically or otherwise and I say
if you want to write, use whatever system works for you!
But somehow, that extra incentive of the stickers is working for me and I am currently on a streak of 40 days!
I was using it mainly as a journal at first but then I decided to start to write the story of our family in whatever ways I could remember it.
That took me to another website which gives a suggested list of questions. I call it Leaving a Legacy. I’ll share the first 10 questions here but to be fair to the authors of the original list you’ll have to go over there to find the rest. You might think there is not a lot that you remember, but you might surprise yourself. There are days when I read the question and think “I don’t know. What on earth I have got to say about this?” or “I’m no good at remembering this stuff, what do I know?”, but that process of considering the question and beginning to write, has often brought memories back that were long forgotten and I am enjoying old stories all over again.
- What is your full name? Explain why your parents gave you that name.
- When and where were you born? Describe your home, your neighbourhood, and the town you grew up in.
- What memories do you have of your father (his name, birth date, birthplace, parents, etc.)?
- What memories do you have of your mother (her name, birth date, birthplace, parents, etc.)?
- What kind of work did your parents do?
- Have any of your family members died? If so, explain what they died from and what you remember of their death; the circumstances of their death.
- What kind of hardships or tragedies did your family experience while you were growing up?
- Are there any obvious or unusual genetic traits that run in your family line?
- What are the names of your brothers and sisters? Describe traits and memories that stand out in your mind about each of your siblings.
- What are some of your family traditions that you remember?
Follow the link here for the rest of the questions.
One final note if you are using an electronic system for writing these things down and you want family members to be able to access them after you are gone, make sure at least someone knows your login details. However, you might never share what you write with anyone and that’s ok too. But if you do choose to share any of the stories that you write down, we’d love to hear about them.
Maybe I’ll share some of my stories in upcoming posts or over on my blog, wait and see.
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