Do you find yourself saying, “remember the time when….” If you do, grab your phone and record the person telling the story. Or grab a laptop and type in the words told. Or go old school and write notes on a piece of paper and enrich the story at a later date. When you do, you are doing family history at it’s best level. The story level.
I’m partial to stories perhaps because I’ve been a storyteller and writer for a long time. Perhaps it’s my energetic, people person personality as well. Who knows, but I love stories, and especially family history stories.
You see this amazing photo of me. There’s a story behind that and it goes something like this.
My husband and I were visiting Texas with our family. We had just taken family photos at a local park. The trip was wrapping up and I mentioned how on this trip no one had gone to the emergency room or the doctor’s office.
Now, I’m not one who likes pain so I often avoid risky activities. I don’t like most roller coasters any more, and especially ones with straight drops or large circles where you go upside down. I don’t like heights, so staying on the 84 floor of a hotel in Taiwan was nerve wracking for me. Let’s just say, I tend to avoid things that I know has the potential to cause pain, but not always.
Quatro and Cinco playing on a fun looking teeter-totter. I think I’ll try.
On this day, I decided to relax and have fun. Even though I had the thought that I couldn’t believe a teeter-totter (see-saw) was still allowed on playgrounds, I decided to play on one. Even though I noticed that my two youngest were fairly high off the ground when they were on the see-saw, I decided to play on one. My husband wanted to have a go with me as well. I initiated a game of “who can keep the other one in the air?” I stayed down rather than pushing back up. It was fun, until someone got hurt. That someone was me.
You see, hubby decided that on the way down, he would put his feet up on the see-saw bar. When he went down, he jolted the teeter-totter. I wasn’t prepared for that jolt and I went flying off. The whole time, I thought, “Don’t hit the pole. Don’t hit the pole.” I didn’t think “brace yourself“. I just knew that if I hit the metal pole with my head I would probably go to the ER (that I had just mentioned no one had gone to).
In the end, I landed face first in the mulch. My neck hurt. My back hurt, and I was covered in dirt. My mother-in-law with some medical training rushed in. It was quickly determined that I needed to go home and get cleaned up. My mother-in-law did an AWESOME job of cleaning me up and getting me the things I needed for my aches and pains. My hubby corralled the kids to take them back to the house and then came to hold my hand through the pain.
Yep… it looked a whole lot worse in person.
The next day was Sunday and we went to church. I could have stayed home, but I didn’t. Instead, I went and endured the chuckles at my expense. My husband was teased that he didn’t treat me well. My in-laws were also teased about the same topics. Many people asked if it was a bike accident. Sadly, no. It was stupidity!
During the church service, I shared how I looked terrible but I had spiritually felt terrible nearly 20 years ago. I shared how I found my way to the Savior. There was a story about how a woman who felt like a crumpled, torn, 20-dollar bill and notworth anything. However, she soon learned that the Lord doesn’t care if you’re a marked up $20 dollar bill that has lost its crispness. He still sees that you’re worth the full value of the $20. On that Sunday, I explained that through my walk with Christ, I have learned that He can iron me out, repair my tears, and heal even the scars on my face. I am worth the full value of the $20, with Him as the backing for the printed paper.
The following week, my husband shared my adventure in a spiritual message. He shared about the process of repentance and how when we commit sin, many scars are left behind. Some scars, like the ones on my face, are obvious and can heal quickly with proper help. Some scars are hidden (like the scars of sore muscles) and can also be healed quickly with proper attention. Other scars (like the bruises on my legs) are often unseen and take longer to heal. However, through the Savior, all aches, pains, and scars can be healed through proper repentance.
Why do I share this story? Why is it family history?
Funny stories can tell you a lot about a person. You now know that I don’t like pain and try to avoid it. However, sometimes I am stupid and pay the Stupid Tax for it. You know that my mother-in-law has medical training and can guess she has a good bed-side manner. You can also see how these experiences can be used to teach further lessons. In this case, my husband and I both used the lessons to teach other lessons in faith-based settings. I’m sure these stories can be used in other settings.
Some family history stories are fun and should be recorded. The stories should be shared. I’m sharing this story through blogging. I will eventually record this in our annual family journal. Perhaps someday a family member will use this story in a scrapbook, audio, or visual presentation. With the story recorded, the story can be used. How it is used, is up to the person’s creativity. In my book, Reimagine Family History, I cover the importance of recording personal and family stories and how to use the stories once their recorded.
Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.