"Just think about what you want to say…and then say it!”
The quote above is one of the earliest in my memory from my dad. He used to tell my brother, sister, and me this all the time while we were growing up in North East Birmingham. If there is anything etched in my memory from my childhood, it would have to be the sights and sounds we encountered while hanging out with my dad in his downstairs office on Friday evenings. We could stay up late (10:00pm was late) because there was no school the next day. Plus, the thought of mom’s blueberry pancakes and sizzling bacon being the fragrance in the house we would wake up to the following morning only made the evening a gleeful anticipation of what Saturday would bring.
Those Friday nights were rich! I can see their value more now than I ever could have hoped to then. More often than not we would be ambushed by a small microphone being shoved in our face while dad asked us what we thought about a variety of subjects. Of course, as six and seven-year-old kids, we would fumble and fidget while trying to produce a response to his inquiry. Knowing that our words were being “chronicled forever” on dad’s fancy new cassette recorder didn’t help the process. But I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. Dad taught us to verbalize what we felt about certain things. When we were older, we didn’t shy away from a microphone being put in front of us. I remember the feeling – which I cannot put in words – of knowing that my dad actually cared about what we thought. He wanted to hear what we had to say and this would be the reality even up to his final days here. I will always cherish my dad asking me questions – not because he didn’t have an answer – but simply because he wanted to know my answer. I absolutely love that about him. Whether we know it or not, there are those in our lives who care about what we think about things. What "things?" EVERYTHING!
Recently, my daughter and son-in-law encouraged me to start blogging. They even went to the trouble to set up my blog on blogspot.com. Trust me, I do not draw the masses! Only a few people read it but it is a way I can journal my thoughts and also archive or chronicle them so that they will be there for my daughter and my grandchildren (when they exist) for years to come. A journal is one of the best means for leaving our loved ones something of ourselves. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is our heart; that part of us that is inspired and seeks to inspire. Journaling not only gives something to family and friends but is a catalyst for our own mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.
We all know that the journey of growth is an arduous, life-long task, and different for every person. Most of the time, we don’t even have control over exactly what is needed to cultivate our lives. Still, when we take the time to share our experience, wisdom, advice, and even our opinions then we can perpetually create teachable moments. All these gifts only act to maximize the preservation of what we hope to teach and pass along to those who are closest to us. So say it loud! Keep a journal of sorts, whether it’s an audio journal (don’t have to use cassettes like my dad did in the 70’s…they actually have digital Mp3 recorders now), blog, or diary. Make a habit of putting into words what you are praying about or scripting through the things you are learning. Be honest about what troubles you. By placing these experiences into a journal, you are not only passing them on but giving them time to really become a part of your thought process. Give your words a chance to soak in and journal through the times you are angry, hurt, happy, and confused. Your time in reflection and writing will go a long way to inspire, encourage, and affirm others for years to come.