Family Genealogy – Passing on Our Faith
Scripture: Psalm 145:4
Throughout history, the family table has been the center of relational life where family stories were served alongside heaping bowls of mashed potatoes. The tradition of oral storytelling of family tales is becoming obsolete. What family heirlooms of truth do you want to pass on to the next generation before they fade into forgotten history?
Here are some engaging and fun ways to preserve your family genealogy as you tell your story of faith.
- Family Bible: A family Bible is a treasured keepsake handed down through generations, with each successive generation recording information about the family’s history inside. Typically, this information consists of births, deaths, baptisms, confirmations and marriages. Other items, such as letters, newspaper clippings, and photographs might also be placed inside a family Bible. In past years, they were used as sources for genealogical research. It’s never too late to start a new family tradition.
- Bible Journaling: Bible journaling is a hybrid diary where you keep both notes on your study of the Bible and a record of things that happen in your everyday life. Over time, as you analyze and study the Bible, you can apply what you’ve learned to your life experiences, which may make it easier to overcome difficult situations. What a treasure to pass on to the next generation. Secure a local craft vendor to teach a skill class on Bible journaling.
- Scrapbooks: Scrapbooking is a method of preserving, presenting, and arranging personal and family history in the form of a book, box, or card. Typical memorabilia include photographs, printed media, and artwork. Scrapbook albums are often decorated and frequently contain extensive journal entries or written descriptions. Scrapbooks are a trendy, visual way to share your family history. Secure a local scrapbook vendor to teach a skill class or present a tutorial on digital scrapbooking.
- Family Cookbooks: Heritage cookbooks are a perfect way to share knowledge of family history with those who may not be drawn to genealogy. Stories presented in an accessible way can benefit your family, nourishing both heart and body. Provide art and craft supplies for participants to create a recipe book or card box with treasured family recipes and stories.
- Genealogy Jewelry: The work of genealogy goes far beyond dates and names. When you dive into your ancestry you learn more about yourself. Turn your collection of an ancestor’s old photographs into wearable pieces of art by transforming old costume jewelry into one-of-a-kind heirlooms.
Memories in Smells
Do certain smells stir memories for you? I can still smell the dirt road leading to my grandmother’s house. Every season brought its own fragrance. A crispness mingled with the smell of a distant fire in winter, calling me to warm my frozen toes by the fire. Spring brought the smell of honeysuckle. The fragrance of gardenia permeated the summer air. The aroma of harvest beckoned us to eat scuppernong (species of grapes native to the Southern United States) straight from the vine. What a delight to smell fruit cocktail cake baking in my grandmother’s kitchen and hearing those sacred words: “Come to the table, supper is ready.” Those words were so much more than a call to eat. They were a call to slow down from the demands of life, gather with loved ones, and enjoy a meal around the family table.
Throughout history, the table has been the center of relational life. It is a place to go and be yourself. A place to learn about family history as stories are passed along. The table reminds us of the joy we find in connection and relationships. It is about hunger, both physical and spiritual, and the connection between the two.
Time Chester writes in Meals with Jesus, “When Jesus came to seek and save the lost, He came to eat and drink with sinners. Jesus’ mission strategy was a long meal.” Jesus understood the connection between food and human hearts. Food has the ability to connect us with people and cultures and to connect us with our story. When we gather around a table, we certainly enjoy the food, but what we really savor are the people around the table, the stories told, the laughter shared. These are ingredients in a recipe for a rich, full life—a relational life lived in community.
Scripture teaches us to push the pause button on life, remember the past, and celebrate God’s goodness. God instructed the Israelites to celebrate Passover to remember the struggles they had been through and tell those stories of God’s faithfulness to the next generations.
The story of my heritage was shared over a plate of homemade biscuits. My sisters and I have families of our own, but there is no bond stronger than the bond we share as sisters. We survived childhood together in the home of a widow by leaning on each other and our faith in God. We gather as much as life allows, and we eat biscuits to remember. My eldest sister carries on the family tradition of biscuit making, tenderly hand-forming each biscuit with the same skill and love as our mother. With each bite, we tell stories. Stories we have told a thousand times still make us laugh until we cry. After we have gone through the funny stories, we tell the ones that leave the deepest ridges. As laughter fades to silence, a holy hush falls over the dinner table. We remember the years God walked with us through the valley of the shadow of death named childhood.
As we scraped the bottom of the valley, we learned all things are possible with God. On the journey, we learned God works all things for good. This foundation of faith has taught us to wink at the trials of life. We know if we survived childhood, we could survive anything.
The first biscuit takes us back to the stories that formed our faith. By the last bite, we remember nothing but wholesome goodness, and God’s faithfulness. It is a story worth sharing with the next generation. “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
11 Creative Ways to Share Your Family History, Published by Prudence – June 15, 2018, online article found at http://artoffamilyhistory.com/family-history-inspiration/share-you-family-history/
Devotional excerpts from Gather – Guide for Women in Mission and Ministry by Major Susie Erickson. Produced by The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory.
Devotional excerpts from Barefoot Cinderellas – Set the Captives Free by Susie Erickson, Copyright 2020 by The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory.