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Writing a Real Family History

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I am a list maker. I keep track of life through pages and pages of notebooks and to-do lists and journals. Through the years these scraps of paper here and there have begun to tell the story of our family in the simplest of ways. I began to wonder if there was a way to make these simple notes beautiful instead of just scratches here and there. My daughter and I dug through lots of old catalogs and clipped and glued  into a blank journal. It was a pretty beginning that I added to with little doodles. So did she.

I didn’t think too much about it, an afternoon art project with my little one, complete, I moved on, but I left the book out on the counter in my kitchen and began writing my lists there along with any special happenings that day…cute things the kids said, things I wanted to remember (make doctor’s appointment…buy socks) and before I realized it, this little book became the place where prayers were pouring out too, or song lyrics stuck in our minds. Scripture from our devotions began to make an appearance and little hands drawing joined in to add shapes and swirls and squiggles all in between.

What began as a longing to have something pretty to look at all day has become the place where we are writing our story. Our family history is made up of small moments all intertwined with the big. What we ate for dinner, who I wrote a thank you note to, the knock knock joke that inspired one thousand giggles sits right beside my heart cry to reach a child’s heart in instruction, the loss of a first tooth, the memory verse I hope sticks in the minds of my children and changes what they know about the God who made them, my prayers for a friend struggling with a cancer diagnosis.

Life is happening here with a great hum all day long. And its in the details that I can find beauty. Our family history is in the small acts of love and sacrifice, the details no one thinks to document, but the ones that forge our character, and that slowly, overtime shine the story of a life well lived. Our family history is nestled inside the grander tale of what God is doing in the world today, the bits that are worthy to make it into the newspaper, and be remembered by society, but I don’t ever want to forget the grace that is right here in the seemingly mundane in these days too.

If you journaled what mattered most to your family today, what would you write? What is moving in the hearts of your home? What is baking? What is going to be set on the table? What jokes will you tell? What messes will you make? What prayers will you pray and where will you go? Write it down today? And let your family write along with you. The beauty that pours out on the page is your story together.



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  1. I LOVE this idea! I am a journal keeper – not necessarily of prayers, but when I listen to a speaker, or a sermon on Sunday or a Focus on the Family broadcast or late night girl’s bible study. These are the most precious of books, next to pictures of our family. I love the thought and idea of making them more beautiful!

  2. This is a great idea! I’m not a journal keeper and I do horrible at writing in baby books but I think this is something we could handle! Did you just cut out pictures that you liked from the catalogs and glue them in the journal? Is it random or each page is a different date?

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