The Power of Remembering Through Traditions

by Jessica Smartt April 8, 2019
“And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Exodus 12:26-27a (NIV)
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I forget stuff like it is my job to forget stuff. I forget where I put things (glasses and car keys come to mind). I forget to call people back, and I forget appointments.

The only way I am not a train wreck of a person, truthfully, is because I have put in place systems to help me remember. You have systems, too, I bet — keys in a spot, notes jotted down, reminders on your calendar. Without ways to remember, things would slip through the cracks.

But how do we remember The Big Things? Do we have a “system” in place to remember God’s love? Do we have routine ways to invest quality time with each other? To serve others regularly?

I have rediscovered that there is such a system, and it is called “traditions.”

Traditions are a passion of mine because they saved our family a few years ago. One moment I was scooping out blueberry oatmeal, the next I was sitting in an PICU room with my very young son who had had a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Though I was grateful he was going to be OK, I was not sure I was going to be OK. I found myself struggling with a lot of regret. Were my husband and I doing this parenting thing right? Were we spending time on what mattered? Were we passing down our faith to our kids and taking time to show them love?

We needed a system to remember.

We needed traditions.

It’s not my idea, by the way; it’s God’s. If you read the books of Exodus and Leviticus, you’ll see these books are jam-packed with ceremonies and rituals and feasts — God essentially telling His people, “Remember me. Remember how I saved you.”

Moses told the Israelites in Exodus 12:26-27a, “And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’"

Of course, traditions today are different from the unusual ones we read in the Old Testament, like rubbing sheep’s blood on doorframes during Passover. But the principle remains the same: We repeat meaningful things, and we remember God.

Since that scary day in the PICU, we’ve put quite a few traditions in place to honor our faith, our values, each other. Here are a few:

We sing hymns in the morning and read a devotional.

We feast on a “Sunday snack dinner” and read a chapter from the New Testament.

We have a “family day” once a year to celebrate our family.

These traditions are anchors in our days, our weeks, our years. They break the monotony of life and remind us: This is what you believe. This is who you are. This is what you love.

God knew we would forget, and He gave us traditions. How are we using this good gift?

Dear Lord, You are so good to us. Often we forget how good You are. Draw us back to You, Lord, and give us the grace to remember You in our days, our weeks and our years until we are with You forever in heaven. We love You, Father. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Joshua 4:21-22, “He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.”’” (NIV)


Could your family (or someone you know) benefit from a few tips to get creative in spending time together? With more than 200 ideas on celebrating everything from faith to vacation to birthdays to food, you’ll enjoy Jessica Smartt’s new release, Memory-Making Mom: Building Traditions That Breathe Life Into Your Home. It’s practical, no-guilt encouragement for parents who want to maximize their time (and budget) with their families.

How’d you like to win a copy of Memory-Making Mom by Jessica Smartt? To celebrate this new book, Jessica’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and notify each one in the comments section below by Monday, April 15.}


Jessica blogs at “Smartter” Each Day with practical faith and motherhood tips. You can also follow her on Instagram.


Ask your kids about a favorite thing they’ve ever done as a family. Together, come up with one tradition you’ll begin to celebrate this summer.

What are some new traditions you could begin this season, with your family, friends or neighbors? We’d love to see you share your thoughts with us!

© 2019 by Jessica Smartt. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks W Publishing Group for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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