By Ellen Cole Landreth
“Memories – we go through life collecting them whether we will or not. Let us make them carefully of all good things, rejoicing in the wonderful truth that while we are laying up for ourselves the very sweetest and best of happy memories, we are at the same time giving them to others.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Your life is every bit as valuable and interesting as the life of author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Yours is a precious collection of forget-me-nots, personal memories that should be passed down to coming generations! To your family you are the connection, the bridge between your remarkable past and the present day. Unless you leave your personal information behind you will be forgotten within two generations. I know that as a fact because my grandmothers both died before I was born, and I have no personal knowledge of them. They did not leave behind any personal information and it is in this sharing of personal information that connections are created.
Unless we take the time to write our faith-stories, we leave our descendants without a bridge to what is most important in our lives – our Savior Jesus Christ. Oh, how I would love to know my grandmothers’ faith-stories. This is a great void in my life.
In the mid 1990’s, feeling this void of not knowing my grandmothers, I wanted to start writing my life-story. I wanted my descendants to remember Grandma Ellen, not be unknown like my grandmothers were. It was not happening! In 1998 I invited some neighbors to join me in this project. We used the book, How to Write the Stories of Your Life, by Frank Thomas. (I still highly recommend this book.) The key to success was working together with others. Accountability kept us moving forward. I used that book for many years, leading many other groups of would-be story writers.
At some point, I came to realize that as good as passing on our stories, even more valuable would be to include our faith-stories. In recalling the stories of our life, let us recall the hand of God throughout our life. Let this be your testimony of faith to pass on to coming generations. Ask yourself, “Would I have liked my ancestors to leave their faith-stories for me?” I would have loved it! How about you? Let me assure you, it will also impact those who come after you. Just think, you can help one of your descendants perhaps even come to faith in Jesus after reading how God led and guided your life. Don’t preach, just share your heart for God.
After writing my story for years, reading scores of other life-story writing books, and teaching many life-story writing classes, I came up with a simple idea to create a timeline of your life. It’s called PASS IT ON and will make creating this timeline simple. It becomes the outline of your life. As it begins taking shape, you will realize God’s blessings and guidance, observing His faithfulness throughout your life. You will gain a whole new perspective of how you lived your life and how God was ever-present with you.
This PASS IT ON project is simpler than writing the story of your life. It will help you create a year by year list of the events of your life. You will start with the year you were born and every year up until today. For each year you will recall life-events that took place, historical happenings that impacted your life, inventions perhaps, key events and recall how God made Himself evident to you. God’s working is often seen better looking in the rear-view mirror. Looking back over your life may help you gain a better perspective. It also provides therapeutic benefits. Some are able to let go of past mistakes and embrace the inevitable passage of time.
When all is said and done, we all long to know that our lives, struggles, and experiences meant something – that we made a difference to others – an eternal difference. This manual will help you jump-start your life-stories. I am available (in the Treasure Valley) to hold a seven-week class for you and your friends to help you gain confidence and get to writing. Email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also purchase the book at www.lulu.com and invite some friends to join you in passing on your faith-stories. I can also help you get your stories published to share with your family.
Leaving a recorded history of your life is an important gift to both you and your descendants. More than sharing your stories, sharing your faith-stories is a rare opportunity to pass along specific wisdom, life lessons and point future generations to Christ.