What matters?

Published 3:35 am Wednesday, September 4, 2019

It’s funny how our senses work together with our memories. I don’t know if most people do this, but a smell can take me to another place and another time very quickly. Gardenias always make me think of Bible school, because our little country church had a row of them planted down the side of the sanctuary near the sidewalk.

As all the children lined up to march in carrying the Christian flag, the American flag, and the Bible, we vied for the honor of holding one of those items. Once we filed inside the church, we had morning assembly before going to our classes. Those were especially happy times of giggling, making crafts, singing, eating, and learning. Memories of those early years at Bible school always flood back when the sweet fragrance of gardenia blossoms fill the air.

I’m making a pot of chili for an event at church, and this smell reminds me of many happy times with my son, Ryan. When my children visit I always try to make their favorite food from childhood, and although their palates have probably all changed, I think they appreciate the reminder of those wonderful days when all of us were together as much as I do.

My children are all avid readers, probably because that was a daily part of their lives growing up. After baths, my clean little brood would all snuggle together in Melinda’s canopy bed, and I would read them story after story. As they got older the stories would lengthen into books. We read all of Louisa May Alcott that we could find. The adventures of Jo, Amy, Marmie, and the rest filled many an evening, and we all looked forward to their next adventure or heartbreak.

We read many series including the Boxcar Children, Anne of Green Gables, and Little House on the Prairie. I began to wonder if we had spent a little too much time on the Little House series when I was at a school function, probably a PTA meeting, and my eldest, Melinda, called out across a crowded room.

“Hey Ma! Come here there is someone I want you to meet!”

“Ma” was the mother’s name from the books we were currently reading, so I guess she thought that was a good name for me! But these moments spent reading together instilled in my children a love of reading, and gave us many opportunities to talk about whatever was on our hearts. All the books we read were wholesome, and helped little minds think healthy thoughts.

I was so diligent then, because I knew the things I allowed in our home would help to shape the thoughts of my little people, and this would follow them into adulthood. I believe that today it is much harder to keep not only little minds, but also, our own minds from being influenced negatively by our changing society. Some change is good for sure, but God’s word helps me to remember what really matters.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at lilsisjan@yahoo.com.