Remember and Celebrate

August 30, 2015

An Open Letter to my Family on Why I Write

I’ll be focusing on Memoir Writing in the coming year as I Remember and Celebrate.  Here’s why:

Psalm 78:6

An Open Letter to My Family on Why I Write

Psalm 78:1-8 a Loose Paraphrase
(Scripture in Bold Italic)

Listen to me, hear what I am saying. I am going to tell you stories and will share things I have heard and know, things that my ancestors told me. I do not want to hide them from you –

Not that I would hide them from you intentionally.  And yet neglecting to share the stories of what God has done in my life isn’t much better than hiding them.  The motivation is different – the result, the same: You won’t know unless we tell you. Don’t fret – your Dad and I have no deep dark secrets to reveal. I do, however, want to share things I have heard and known—things my ancestors told me and things I’ve learned during my own years of walking by faith.

I have an intense desire to tell you, my children and the children you are having (who will have more children), the “glorious things God has done.” 

Much of my life has been “glorious” and the very existence of you and the people you have brought into our lives as grandparents is the most beautiful thing about you. I can’t wait to tell you the “glorious thing” God has done in my life, teaching me, changing me, counseling me throughout events and people he has brought into my life.

You’ll see in the pages ahead testimony of the “glorious things God has done” in my life, but I’ll be honest. Not everything feels glorious. I have had much loss in my life and none of it felt good then or feels good now. There are times I doubted God’s goodness toward me, yet even now, while I remember these dark times – and I get a bit teary as I write this – I still believe God is good and he is present. Everything is for his glory; our job is cooperating with him, even in suffering.  More than anything else I do in the remaining years I have, I want to spend this part of my life making sure you know of God’s work in my life through the years, especially in the years since my brother Gordon died and my world turned upside down.

He told my “fathers
1st Generation: Harold L Longenecker and Esther Ella Hertzler

to teach their children
2nd Generation: Carol Jean, Gordon Eugene, Ronald Verle and Brenda Jane

so the next generation would know them
3rd Generation: Gregory Scott, Gerald Lee and Todd Eugene

and they would rise up and tell them to their children
4th Generation: Jacob Thomas, Cole Michael, Nathan James, Mason Carlos, Ella Grace, Emily Joy, Elliot James, Charles Alexander, Brooke Marie

And the reason they are to do this? – So they would set their hope in God and not forget his works. They would keep his commandments.

When God commanded this, their fathers before them had been a “stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”  As you already know, our family has been the opposite of stubborn and rebellious. To the contrary, on both sides, I come from a long line of faithful, godly people.

My Grandfather, Samuel Longenecker, became a prison chaplain at age 65 with the steadfast support of his wife, Annie. This was after a life of ministry within the church while being a salesman, a painter and a farmer. My maternal grandfather, Owen Hertzler, a faithful, godly Mennonite farmer, and his wife, Alta, supported my parents when they left the Mennonite Church and moved 1000 miles away to south Alabama as home missionaries.  My Dad, Harold Longenecker, was a pastor and involved in church-related ministries all his life, with my Mother, Esther, whose primary role in ministry was to create a home and support my dad in his ministry. Galen and I have been involved in various leadership ministries. My greatest longing is that you know and follow God and continue to lead and leave a legacy of faith.

When I look at the above scenario, I see myself in that lineage and realize it’s my turn to place my name in the top spot, Generation #1, so my story extends to my great-grandchildren.

I will not always be here to do the telling, so I write.

Psalm 78:6
Subscribe to this blog and get a note in your email of future posts.  I’d love to have you here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Joining with Lisha Epperson and Give Me Grace Community
and @ A Small Wonder

11 Comments

11 responses to “An Open Letter to my Family on Why I Write”

  1. Wow, Carol,
    your line about how not to tell would be to hide…and I can sense and feel your heart of love wanting to share your deep faith with succeeding generations and I love that…I got your lovely note with your artwork…SO Special…Thank you so much! I pray you and your family would be blessed as you write…I know I was blessed just reading your words…Thank you :-)

  2. This would be such a helpful exercise. I especially like the Psalm 78 passage. Thanks for linking with #SmallWonder.

  3. Ann Kroeker says:

    Using that Psalm to inspire you to this work is great–I’ve often read that psalm and thought, “Yes, I should be telling the stories,” but do I tell them methodically and intentionally? I don’t think so, because your words got me:

    “Not that I would hide them from you intentionally. And yet neglecting to share the stories of what God has done in my life isn’t much better than hiding them. The motivation is different – the result, the same: You won’t know unless we tell you.”

    Wow, such a great point. They won’t know unless I tell them.

    I’m also stirred when I read that last section where you see yourself in the lineage and realize it’s time to place your name in the top spot, Generation #1. We can look back at earlier generations to fill the spots, but at some point the list kind of shifts up to where we take that top spot and it becomes our turn.

    Thank you for the inspiration.

  4. Linda Stoll says:

    Wow, Carol. This is stunning in the most sacred sense of the word. This is the legacy-leaving we are called to do. I love the purposefulness of your endeavour.

    Your family will most certainly arise and call you blessed, friend.

  5. I loved this and treasured reading it. So glad you’re writing this down for your family.

  6. Ann Robertson says:

    Hi Carol, I don’t know if you remember me from CM or not, but I remember you well.
    This is awesome. What a wonderful legacy to leave.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Hugs,
    Ann (Dallas

  7. Galen Hiestand says:

    History repeats itself. That’s why the telling of our stories for the next generations matters. When the stories are no longer told, the sacred history and wisdom is lost, often forever. A note to the family: grandma Hiestand (my mother) was the same age as your grandma (Carol) when she “saved” three generations of her family’s stories in Pitch Pipes and Pitchforks. Parents, you do well to read those stories to your children.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    We share the same heartbeat. I was just reading Psalm 105 that admonishes us to share God’s deeds. Our first priority must be to share them with our own children and grandchildren.

    • carol says:

      yes, Elizabeth, that verse in Psalm 105 is another one. I am a bit surprised by the intensity I feel about his – even though I have always believed it. I have set aside a time each week to focus on this. I have enjoyed following your “venture” as my great nephew would call it. thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply