Remembering

Until recently I had a small, round china jar that had belonged to my grandmother sitting on my vanity. Complete with lid, it was just the right size for housing stray buttons and bobby pins. Not exactly a family heirloom, I loved it anyway because it made me think of Grandma.

And when it was accidentally broken, try as I might, I couldn’t hold back a few tears.

I knew it was silly, but being the sentimental person I was, it was inevitable. Years ago when I took the Briggs-Meyers personality test it told me I was “the keeper of family traditions.” No surprise there. It also should have said “keeper of things that other people usually throw away.”

Not in the hoarding kind of way, but I do tend to keep things that hold meaning for me.

Christmas ornaments that my children made in elementary school.

Sweet misspelled notes from my past students saying “You are my best techer”. (No chance of getting a big head over that one.)

Thirty-year old birthday cards from my grandparents – just seeing their scrolling signatures brings a smile to my face.

My first diary complete with lock and key lest anyone try to pry into my nine-year old self’s private business.

Loose pictures, scrapbooks, pictures albums, framed pictures. (A lot of them bearing less than flattering hair styles. Note to Self- you do not look good in a perm.)

Why do I keep all of these things? Because all of them have the ability to whisk me back to a time and  place where I felt loved. That is an amazing thing and one of life’s greatest treasures.

I am so thankful that God created me with the capacity to remember. Not everything that has happened in my life has been good. There have been plenty of tragedies and trials.

But I have the power to choose.

And the things that I choose to remember most are the gifts of love that God has showered in my life. For I know that every good and perfect gift is from the Father.

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

The Place In Between

During a recent conversation with my youngest daughter, I was surprised to find that she had never stepped inside a Hardee’s fast food restaurant. The most shocking part of the revelation was that I was the reason. She reminded me that years ago I had vowed never again to eat at Hardee’s and out of loyalty to me she had never eaten there either. Lest you think I have some undying vendetta against Hardees let me elaborate.

I can only barely remember what happened. When she brought it up, it was a minute or two before a vague memory slowly surfaced. Honestly, I had long forgotten ever making that declaration of war, but she had remembered the shenanigans between me and a less-than-polite teenager manning the drive through window. And my reaction had stuck with her. The truth be told, I am pretty sure I have eaten there a time or two since then.

It’s slightly disturbing to me what I choose to remember about people and situations. (Of course if I’m being honest, what I really mean is it’s slightly disturbing to me that I have no control over what people ultimately remember about me.) What I say and do in my home, my classroom, my community matters because I am representing myself as an ambassador for Christ.

So what does an authentic ambassador of Christ look like? In a word – Love.  Looking to 1 Corinthians 13 I can find a very accurate description of who I want to be. A true ambassador is patient, polite and kind. Promoting peace, she doesn’t keep score or have to have her own way. She always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres believing with her whole heart that love triumphs.

I know that every day I fall short of that description. I can only pray that the ones who know me won’t remember me on my very worst day or even on my very best, but somewhere in between. It’s that place in between that my most authentic self lives. And ultimately it is the place where I have the most influence for Jesus. The place in between – where every day the messiness of life has an opportunity to be washed with healing and forgiveness. Where rude drive through employees are forgiven and forgotten and people get to eat at Hardee’s again. Where Jesus assures us that He is with us – on our best day and on our worst day and every day in between.