Big ideas, little books.

Last weekend our family was invited to a birthday party for my friend.  It was Pi(e) Day so we all brought a pie to share and she brought in barbecue from our delicious local barbecue joint.  It was totally low-key and lots of fun and a great way to celebrate with a good friend.

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Juice’s homemade birthday card – his idea and his design!

My kids know this friend from church where she serves in the Primary, our children’s ministry.  They love her because she’s great and because they always hear me talk about what a blessing she is in her service, so they made her some pretty sweet birthday cards.  When you’re old (like we are), birthdays become less about gifts and more about friends, but I still wanted to give her a little something to let her know how much I do appreciate her friendship.  I like to write (obvs), and I love a really good pen and notecards or a notebook, so I thought maybe I’d give her something like that.

I found a small notebook that was the perfect purse size (Juice helped me pick out just the right one for this friend), and then I grabbed one of my favorite pens from the secret stash that no one in my house knows about (because hands off my pens!).   We tied it up with a little string and attached my own birthday note to it and headed out to the party.

We had a wonderful evening, but the best part was the next day when I got a text from my friend.  She said:


“I have to tell you: ever since I can remember and still to this day, my Mom carries a tiny notebook (like the one you gave me) in her purse with a blue bic pen.  When she thinks of things, needs a reminder, wants to write something to remember, or whatever, it’s right to that notebook.  When one gets full, she writes the important things (passwords, bill due dates, phone numbers, emergency info) in the new one and puts the old one in a drawer.  My siblings don’t know it, but I’m fighting for those notebooks and her calendars someday!  So thanks for evoking some very sentimental and heartfelt feelings for me!”


So first, I loved receiving this text and feeling like a small thing that I did for my friend ended up being very meaningful for her.  That made me feel good.  Score!

Second, I love how much she cherishes these notes kept by her mother.  Don’t we all love these little insights we get into people by examining what they choose to record?  Not to mention the life-changing experiences we get to read about, or the moments their faith was tried and shaken or strengthened.

These things, whether recorded in a small notebook or on a blog or in a formal journal (or even on Facebook!), can become great memories or inspirations to those we choose to share them with.  The experiences we record can inspire our future selves, remind us of lessons we’ve learned, or become ideas we use to teach others.

My mom was looking for a misplaced copy of her grandfather’s life story the other day.  As she was going through her box of family history notes and photos and journals, she came upon an old journal she had kept at a particularly hard time in her life.  She called me the next morning to tell me about the evening she had spent reliving those difficult days and the relief she felt that they were behind her.  There was also a sense of pride there, the affirmation that “I can do hard things.”  There were notes on conversations with her husband, who has passed away, and memories of ways she helped and was helped by her children.  She’s still talking about how wonderful it was to read those words again.

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A page from my missionary journal – eating ice cream in -25C weather with my beloved companion, Tatyana Sergeeva, in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia. December 1998.

I’ve been a sporadic journaler myself.  I journaled a lot on my mission.  I had a blog when my first kid was little, but after we moved closer to family, and then added Kid Two and Kid Three, the time I had to devote to the blog became more sparse and my posts became intermittent at best.  Scrapbooking became too time consuming, but eventually I found a new great system that has helped me record our family memories.  (More on that later.)  My people love to look at our family photo albums and the old blog.  They love to hear stories about “when you were little” and about when I was little, and about their grandparents and great-grandparents.

I hope that the stories and photos I record for my family will inspire them someday, and that telling the stories of our family members will help them develop a sense of their history and heritage, and that these memories will both ground them and encourage them to pursue their dreams.