Monday, March 15, 2010

What's your story?

    The power of stories is amazing.  Jesus told stories to teach the people about God’s love and His will for their lives.  Ancient people told stories to pass on their history.  Good teachers use stories to teach their students about the world around them.  Stories teach us, they connect us to our past, they touch us and they can change us if we let them.  Stories are powerful. 
    My children, like most children, love to hear stories.  They love the stories we read in books from the library and the ones on our own bookshelves but most of all, they love the stories Tim and I tell them.  Not a week goes by that we do not hear, “tell us a story from when you were little.”  They have heard all the stories we can remember, by now.  They have asked their grandparents for stories of their childhood as well, and they have heard all those stories by now, as well.  Yet they never get tired of hearing them.  They like the story about when I watched Frosty the Snowman in the middle of summer.   They love the story about the day a little girl I went to school with jumped off a swing on the playground and broke her tailbone.  They especially love the story of the time their daddy accidentally shot someone in the bottom with a B-B gun.   Though it is sometimes hard to remember interesting stories, it is really very special for Tim and me to share our memories with our children. 
    One day, when posed the question for about the millionth time, I turned the tables on the kids.  “Why don’t you tell me a story from when you were little?”  I asked them.  They smiled and pointed out that I knew every story from when they were little, after all being their mother, I have been a part of nearly every story of their lives.  “By now, you know all my stories too,” I reminded them.  It took a little coaxing but eventually they started sharing.  They told me stories they thought were funny like the time when my five year old was just a baby and he spilled his sister’s chocolate banana smoothie all over the counter in front of his high chair and then proceeded to suck the smoothie off the counter and when my eight year old son was a toddler and he climbed out of his high chair and ran off to play in the middle of dinner with the seat belt still fastened around his waist (though, obviously, no longer fastened to the high chair).  They told me about their scariest moment in life, when a few years after his high chair escape, my older son darted quickly into an elevator at the mall only to have the doors close immediately and take him to the second level all by himself.  That event traumatized my oldest daughter (and me) as much as it did her brother.  Then they told me about their very favorite story from when they were little.  The time my good friend and I planned a surprise weekend trip for the two of us and all our children.  I heard about how exciting it was that day when they thought we were just going to the park with their friends and then they peeked in the back of the mini van and saw a big duffel bag.  They got to talk to each other through walkie-talkies on the ride to Orlando where we stayed in a two-bedroom condo.  They got to go swimming together, to go the grocery store together to buy special treats like chocolate pop-tarts and m&m’s, and then to spend the night together, only to wake up to eat their pop-tarts and go swimming together again.  The smiles on their faces as they talked about that memorable weekend were priceless.
    Sharing my stories with my children is always a special time but having them share their stories was even more meaningful.  Though I did know all the events they talked about, it was great to hear them from their perspective and to find out how much the memories mean to them.  It was a chance to find out what matters to them, what makes them laugh, what scares them, and what memories they hold most dear.  Stories have a way of uniting people and there is no one I’d rather unite with than the people who I hold most dear.   I thank God for the stories I have already experienced with my wonderful family, and the many more we are sure to experience together in the future.  I pray that your life and your family have just as many wonderful stories as mine.

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