This past camping trip has been a much-needed breath of fresh air. It has given me so much insight into some of the things I’ve been struggling with lately. I realized that establishing family traditions and building memories together is so important for our family. It is often hard for our family to have set traditions since my husband’s work schedule is unpredictable and doesn’t guarantee holidays off.
A while back, I read the book Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent and Barbara Hughes. They expressed the importance of establishing family traditions. In it they wrote, “Spiritual memories build the solidarity of the family because experiences of blessings and deliverance enhance our sense of togetherness and of mutual investment in each other’s lives- and thus of our eagerness to give support to each other through thick and thin” (p. 46). When I read this, the words “togetherness” and “support” really stood out to me. The experiences that God grants us are meant to bring us together and encourage us to support one another through life. The Hughes continue by writing, “Memory and tradition naturally overlap. Tradition enhances remembering. But despite the overlap, they are not the same. Memory recalls God’s goodness, whereas tradition celebrates the goodness of God. Just as God’s Word demanded memory as indispensable for spiritual health, it also commended tradition as essential to spiritual well-being.” (p. 47-48). God has a desire for us to remember all that He has done for us. Everything we do should always draw our attention and focus back to Him.
For our family, camping will be a tradition that brings us together and to work alongside one another. It allows us to put aside our busyness and rest in His peace. We get to relinquish our stress and worries and embrace His creation all around us. And on top of all that it brings so much joy and laughter to our family.
One of our favourite things to do while camping is play Bocce ball. It has become a family tradition that brings us together and builds memories. We eagerly await playing this game, as over the years we have added ridiculous ways to toss the ball. Our boys love to join in the game and this year I purchased them a children’s set from Dollarama of all places. Whenever, family or friends are around to visit, we introduce them to our version of Bocce ball. We have captured so many great memories on camera of the laughter and fun we’ve had.
Now, our boys just aren’t the biggest fans of lake water. They love the swimming pool, but as soon as we get anywhere near the lake, they turn and run in the opposite direction. Even just to dip their toes in is a painful task to watch. It could be +30 outside and they will refuse to wade in to cool off. Although, swimming is not their thing, (we are hoping it is just a phase), they love playing endlessly in the sand. As a family, we love making race tracks and construction sites on the beach for the boys to rummage their trucks through. They love when we get right into making hills and tunnels for them to go up and over and down and around and through. These traditions are simple yet they are so valuable to the unity of our family.
In addition to these, I wanted to establish a tradition that we could take part in wherever we go as a family. The Hughes spoke of keeping memories alive through stones of remembrance. This idea came from the story of Gilgal, the place of remembrance, where the stones became a source of continual remembrance for Israel and how God provided and delivered them from their enemies. In Joshua 4:6-7, Joshua speaks to the Israelites, “be a sign to you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD…So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
As a child, I loved collecting precious stones. A neighbour on my street used to collect very rare and precious stones and I remember her sharing some of them with me. I stored them safely in a small box and they stayed with me for many years.
During this past camping trip, my boys and I started looking for beautiful stones at our campsite. At first, they would just grab handfuls of stones and place them in their little cup, but then I began showing them to look for just the ones that caught their eye. They had so much fun searching for their own precious stones that I decided we would collect one precious stone from each trip and write down something memorable about it.
I purchased a shadow box from Amazon.ca to store our stones of remembrance. I love that it has a hinge on the front so we can easily open the casing and add our remembrance stones to it. The Hughes share that, “Families with a store of spiritual memories will be better equipped for tough times. […] And, of course, spiritual memories build the solidarity of the family because experiences of blessing and deliverance enhance our sense of togetherness and of mutual investment in each other’s lives” (p. 47). There will always be tough times ahead yet these stones of remembrance will be a continual reminder of God’s goodness. They draw us closer together and plant roots for our family. There is nothing God wants more than for us to build up the family unit, especially in a world where the family structure is being attacked on all sides by Satan. When the family unit thrives, God receives all the glory and all glory belongs to Him. I pray your family will grow in togetherness and unity. May your marriage and family be a light to this world.
SHARE: I would love to know what traditions your family has established? Let’s inspire each other to build strong families that stand the test of time.