Written and Remembered
About the Guest
Jesus spoke in parables, and a great way to teach children is through stories as well. Barbara Rainey joins her husband Dennis to talk about her new resource, "Written and Remembered," a book consisting of four true stories designed to teach children of all ages the beauty of gratitude. The Rainey's daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue, a mother of five boys herself, joins the couple by phone to tell of the fun her kids had reading the stories and doing the challenges at the end of each chapter.
Barbara Rainey talks about her book consisting of true stories designed to teach children the beauty of gratitude.
Written and Remembered
Bob: If you’re going to cultivate a heart of gratitude at your house—a heart of thankfulness—you’re going to have to be purposeful. Here’s Ashley Rainey Escue.
Ashley: Let’s face it. I’m not that thankful. My children are not that thankful. We’re just selfish, ungrateful people a lot of the times. So, just knowing that we tried to cultivate a heart of thankfulness in their lives—and there’s a way to teach that—I think, someday when they’re older, they’ll look back and they’ll go, “You know, what was really important in our family was to have a heart of gratitude, and thanks, and kindness.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today forWednesday, October 30th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Ashley’s mom, Barbara Rainey, has some very specific ideas for you on how you can promote a culture of gratitude in your home. We’ll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I want you to tell our listeners how you spent your summer vacation. Just tell them what you spent six days doing on your summer vacation—you and your wife.
Dennis: Are you talking about when Barbara and I got away and—
Bob: You got away—went to Michigan for a week; right?
Dennis: We did, and we read a book—a six-hundred-page book aloud to each other.
Bob: A novel.
Barbara: A novel.
Dennis: That’s right.
Bob: Barbara is back on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Barbara: Thank you, Bob.
Bob: You love stories; don’t you?
Barbara: Yes, I love reading books—really good books, inspiring books.
Bob: Why do stories captivate you?
Barbara: I think when you read a story, particularly a story about someone’s life, I think it’s inspiring. I think you, the reader, but me, in particular—I think I want to live more of whatever it is that I’m getting out of the book.
Bob: I remember, back in the first year we were on the air with FamilyLife Today, we did an interview with an author who was talking about how morality is passed from one generation to another. He mentioned that story is one of the great ways. He said history, and story, and example are part of how we transmit what is moral to the next generation. There is power in telling stories that illustrate important truth.
Barbara: I couldn’t agree more because I think, as parents, sometimes, what we think we need to do is teach it—but the most important way they can see it, or learn it, or decide they want to own it—that’s the real goal—is that our kids want to own those character qualities, those virtues, that morality—is by catching it from somebody else’s life.
Bob: We’ve been spending some time, this week, updating our listeners on the projects that you’ve been involved with. Over the last year, you have helped to create—I don’t know how many it’s been—eight, nine, ten different resources for families—a lot of them tied to holidays; right?
Barbara: Yes. A lot of them are tied to holidays because that’s such a natural, easy time for families to gather together. We tend to think, “What can I do to make this meaningful?” So, I’ve started with the holidays because I think that’s the easiest way for families to naturally connect and engage with one another.
Dennis: And last year, she started with Adorenaments®.
Bob: Right. I was going to say, “Last year, at Christmas, you developed seven ornaments, that hang on Christmas trees—that were seven different names of Jesus from Isaiah, Chapter 9, and from Luke, Chapter 2. You called them His “Christmas names”; right?
Bob: And this year, you have a new line of seven more ornaments coming out; right?
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: And these are the “royal names”?
Barbara: These are His royal names.
Bob: And you’ve done these in the shape of a crown.
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: We’ll talk more about that later. At Easter time, you had a couple of resources that you had developed. One was a Lenten mystery that you had that families could go through together.
There was the Behold the Lambwreath that you could use during Holy Week to investigate the “I AM” statements of Jesus; right?
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: And then, you started gearing up for Thanksgiving. One of the resources that you’ve developed for families to use this year at Thanksgiving is something that’s called Written and Remembered. Explain what that is.
Barbara: Well, Written and Remembered is a small book. In the small book are four stories. As we were talking, a few minutes ago, the importance of stories—one of my strong desires is to help pass on to the next generation the stories of some incredibly godly people.
The very first story in the Written and Remembered book is Joni Eareckson Tada. I am amazed how many young people, college-age students and younger, don’t know who she is. That is just tragic to me because this is a woman who has demonstrated faith, and gratitude, and courage probably like few others.
Barbara: For her story not to be known is just wrong. So, I’ve included her story. It’s the first one. Then, there are three other stories in this book. It’s designed to be read, one story a week, during the month of November; or you can read them day after day for four days in a week; or you don’t even have to use it in November. If you decide your kids are griping and they need kind of an attitude correction on being thankful, pull it out in January; and read it in January. It doesn’t matter.
Bob: But this is more than just a story book.
Barbara: Yes, it is.
Bob: Explain—once you’ve read the story, explain how it all works together.
Barbara: Once you’ve read the story, then the idea is to do an experiment together, as a family, to try to make that quality of gratitude real in your life. For instance, the experiment that follows reading Joni’s story is for everyone to find a chair to sit in—preferably, a chair that has arms.
Everyone sits in that chair—put your arms on the arms of the chair—and not move at all and to pretend that you are paralyzed like Joni is—and to see how long you can sit in that chair without scratching your nose, or crossing your legs, or getting up to go to the bathroom, or going into the kitchen because you’re hungry. And to think about what it would be like not to be able to move, and to think about how wonderful it is that you can, and then to think about how grateful you should be that you have all of your abilities.
Then, knowing her story—knowing how grateful she is—how she praises God, in the midst of her handicap—it’s awe-inspiring. It’s worshipful. So, in this story, designed—and the other three like it—are designed to read the story, to learn about someone—to learn about this hero of faith—and then to do an experiment, as a family, that will help cement that quality of gratitude.
Dennis: And the other three stories are great stories, as well. In fact, there are a couple in here that I’d never heard.
One—Bob—that you know something about: It’s the story of John and Donna Bishop.
Bob: Oh, yes. It’s a great story—one that we’ve featured, here on FamilyLife Today. It’s a powerful love story—a husband and a wife—and a wife who showed that when she said, “In sickness and in health,” she meant it; right?
Bob: There are envelopes or cards in here, as well?
Bob: Explain about that.
Barbara: The product comes with a book with the four stories, but it also comes with a stack of 30 postcards. The postcards are to be used—for instance, after you read the story of John and Donna Bishop, or after you’ve read the story about Joni Eareckson Tada—you write on there what you’re thankful for. Then, you display them for the day, or for the week, or for the whole month of November.
They are specifically designed as postcards because one of the experiments is, after I think it is story number three or four, is to make a list, as a family, of everybody who serves you—
and then to actually write postcards—because these are designed so that you can put a stamp on them—and they can go in the mail. You would write a postcard and say, “Thank you,” to a grandmother, to the postman—
Barbara: —to schoolteachers, to the babysitter. The list really could be almost limitless if you really engaged in this, as a family. You could come up with a list of perhaps 50 people, and you might not have enough postcards.
Bob: You have tested this resource with some families, just to see how it works. We thought, maybe, we’d get one of those families on the line—
Barbara: I think it’d be a great idea.
Bob: —and find out how this happened at their home. So let’s see if we can get a caller on the line, who has used the Written and Remembered resource—not during Thanksgiving season—used it during another time of the yea—but just find out how it went with her family.
Caller, are you on the line with us?
Ashley: I’m here.
Bob: Yes. Can you identify yourself, please?
Ashley: [Laughter] Which name do you want me to give you? [Laughter]
Bob: Use the one that’s on your driver’s license. How about that?
Ashley: Okay. Ashley Rainey Escue.
Bob: Oh, my goodness! I thought I recognized this voice. [Laughter]
Ashley: Hello, my friend, Bob!
Bob: Our listeners may have recognized your voice from our FamilyLife This Week radio program that you help co-host; right?
Ashley: I think that’s right!
Bob: I didn’t realize we were going to be talking to you. We’re talking about this Writtenand Rememberedresource that Barbara Rainey, here at FamilyLife, has created. Are you familiar with her?
Ashley: I know her! [Laughter]
Bob: So, tell everybody about your family. How many children do you have?
Ashley: Well, we now have five sons, age ranges from 6 to 14; and we do foster care. Right now, we currently have one baby that is also a boy He is two months old. So, we have had—
Bob: You sound like you’re burping the baby right now.
Ashley: I am burping him. [Laughter] Would you like for me to stop that so that there’s not the constant beating in the background.
Bob: No. That’s fine. You go ahead and keep burping him. That’s fine.
Dennis: Yes. We’ll just let any noises that occur be that.
Ashley: Okay, I was going to say—because I’ve already had one child come up to me and want me to tie a balloon, and somebody else came with a school question—so, it might not be the last interruption of our time.
Bob: This is real family life right here.
Ashley: It is real family life—that’s for sure!
Bob: When your mom called and said: “Hey, I’m going to send up this new resource. It’s called Written and Remembered. It has some stories in it. It has some note cards.” Was this something you thought, “I’m excited to try it,” or did you roll your eyes and go: “Here’s something else Mom’s sending me. I have to do it, I guess.”
Ashley: I think there’s probably a little bit of both, actually; because to be quite honest, none of us need one more thing—especially, not when you’ve got six kids. But the flip side is that I know that whatever I’m going to be trying to do, even if I only get half of it done, is better than zero.
So part of me is, “Ohhh!”; and then part of me is like: “Okay, awesome! I might actually have a chance to instill some really neat principles, or values, or insight in my children’s lives,” which is what I want to do, all the time. So, really, mostly, I’m just really grateful because it’s what I want to give my kids, all the time, anyway.
Bob: Did you do this at a meal time or what time of day did you do it?
Ashley: I actually decided to do it with just my homeschool kids this time, over the lunch hour. I thought, “Well, I’ll just do a couple,” but they actually had so much fun that they would be like: “Mom, is there another story? Can we do the next one? What’s the next one? Is there an experiment for that one?” They actually pestered me to death, and we did all of them. It was a wonderful learning experience, and we continue to discuss what we learned.
In fact, we’ve been done doing them for probably several weeks now; and we had a discussion today about it again. It’s been an ongoing learning experience for my kids, which has been really cool.
Bob: Now, I remember when our kids were about the age of your kids. We would try to do some spiritually-oriented exercise or read some devotional something or other.
Ashley: It didn’t go so well for you; really?
Bob: I just remember there being a lot of fidgeting going on. Was that the case with your boys?
Ashley: Not so bad for this. I feel like the story was pretty short. I picked my first story because I didn’t think I was going to do them all. I looked at it, and the very first one I chose was something about “Stranded in Outer Space” or something. I thought, “Okay. They’re boys, and they think that sounds really cool.”
Bob: Outer space is cool.
Ashley: Yes, right. I just started reading it to them. About halfway through the story, I said: “Now, you guys know this is a true story; right? This really happened.” They all looked at me. They were like: “Really? Wow!” I was like: “Okay, awesome! Let’s keep reading.” They were pretty into it. I tried to choose something that I thought they would enjoy and be excited about, and they were. They loved it.
Bob: And what’s the experiment that you do after you’re stranded in outer space? [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, the story is—
Bob: I don’t want to hear from you. I want to hear from her, okay?
Dennis: Oh, okay.
Bob: You just be quiet; alright? [Laughter]
Ashley: Yes, but Dad really likes to tell; right?
Dennis: I do like to tell.
Ashley: I know. I get that from you.
Dennis: I had not heard this story, and your mom wrote about it. I thought, “This is a cool story.” So, I understand why the boys got hooked.
Ashley: Okay. Well, it’s the story of Apollo 13. I know that there’s a movie out, but my children are too young to see that movie. There are things in it that aren’t appropriate for my kids. So, they’d never heard the story. They didn’t know. But the experiment is—you’re supposed to do it for a whole day—but I try to do things that I feel like I can actually manage with six children. So, we actually just did this experiment for one meal.
What you’re supposed to do is you’re supposed to not use anything in your kitchen for lunch, and you have to eat lunch. You can’t use silverware, plates, microwaves, stoves, ovens—
Barbara: Cups, glasses.
Ashley: —utensils of any kind. You’re supposed to come up with how you can eat, using things from around your house, not in your kitchen.
Bob: Yes, I think I’d only go one meal on that, too. [Laughter]
Ashley: I thought, you know, “I’m not doing this for a whole day—no way!”
Bob: I’m with you. I’d high-five you on that one if you were here.
Ashley: Thank you—high-five. “Okay, I can do one meal, but I absolutely cannot—
and I was really kind of bummed out when I read that because I was really looking forward to my light-toasted sandwich—that I like to make after everyone’s fed. I like to just sit and enjoy a warm meal. So, I was like, “Okay.”
Bob: So what did you have for lunch that day?
Ashley: Oh, I had a cold sandwich. We ate our lunch—are you ready? They got Frisbees®. The kids went outside and made a little small campfire. They rigged all these sticks together. They took some leftover pizza out there, and positioned the pizza on top of the fire to toast the bread to—warm their pizza—the leftover pizza.
Then, another kid got a toothbrush and took the lid off the yogurt; right? We had some yogurt. It had one of those foil lids. They took a rubber band, and they fashioned a spoon out of the foil to spoon the yogurt into their mouth. They ate the yogurt that way with a toothbrush—
Bob: There we go.
Ashley: —and a rubber band. Isn’t that awesome? I was like, “You are really doing good.” Then, they got—at first, they wanted to eat their food on the Legos®. Let me just say that—to begin with—and I had to go ahead and give the squash down on that because food inside your Legos—it’s never coming out.
Bob: Yes, right.
Ashley: But they did find a Lego container. We actually drank our water out of the Lego container. I said: “That’s fine. We can put water in it.” That was—I was really pretty impressed with my children, actually. I was like, “Y’all go find something;” and that’s what they came up with.
The other one that we did is—I can’t remember. Mom, can tell you who the guy is from the Communist—
Barbara: Cornel Portra [Uncertain of spelling].
Ashley: Thank you. Cornel—I could remember that part—but we had to make ID cards and present them at meals and anytime we went anywhere—similar to how they had to do in Communist countries. We did that one day. We used lunch sacks, and we had to present our cards. Of course, we did this one, starting at lunch, for the rest of the day. I was like, “Okay, I can do this.”
Well, the kids were like, “Well, what happens if we don’t present our card at school?” I said, “Well, I might give your knuckles a rap with a ruler or something.” They were just mortified that I might inflict punishment upon them.
They were like: “What? You would really do that?” I said: “Maybe. That’s what happened to Cornel. He got in real trouble if he didn’t have his card.” They were just appalled that I might do that. So, they all had their cards when they came to school.
Then, as soon as the big kids got home, they were like: “You have to fill out your card. Then, we need to see them before you go up to your room.” They’re carding each other, and they’re carding me. Every time I go anywhere, they’re like: “Mom, can we see your card? Do you have it on you? Where’s your card?”
We get ready to eat dinner. My eight-year-old can’t find his card. He’s in tears because I had said, “If you don’t have your card, you’re not eating.” He is sobbing. My kids are like, “Well, Mom, can we get our dinner and share some of our dinner with Andrew?” Everyone is looking for his card, all over the whole house, and we can’t find it. Everybody is really stressed out. Anyway, I did feed my child. I did not make him skip his dinner.
Bob: Yes, that’s about the time when I would say: “Game over. Just pony up here, son.”
Ashley: Yes, exactly. I’m like: “Okay, look, it’s not worth it. They probably didn’t make the little kids keep up with their cards.
It’s fine. Come to dinner. It’s not a big deal.” But the next morning, he’s like, “I found it! Here it is. I can eat breakfast.” [Laughter] It was really a good experience for the boys. They have enjoyed talking about it. I think it just makes the story real and gives them some real tangible way to experience it and to understand what some of these people went through.
Of course, when you’re done, you’re supposed to do the cards. We did some of the cards. On our Apollo 13 day, I thought it was really cool. I asked the boys what they were thankful for. My six-year-old actually said, “I’m thankful for Frisbees, for firewood, and for toothbrushes.” I thought, “That’s really cool that he’s thankful that we had resources to still have our lunch.” Of course, I was thankful that we didn’t have to do that all the other days. [Laughter]
That’s what I’m thankful for, and he’s thankful that we were able to still pull off our lunch that day. It was really neat to then go through and talk about what we are thankful for. On our carding day, I said, “Are you all really thankful for freedom?” They said, “Absolutely.”
Bob: Ashley, as a mom with a lot of kids, what’s the best part of something like this for you?
Ashley: I think the best part about it is, really, just knowing that, even though they may not remember the specifics of it, they’re going to remember that we tried to teach them—that there was some intentionality around our discussions—and that we tried to cultivate a heart of thankfulness in their lives.
Let’s face it, I’m not that thankful. My children are not that thankful. We’re just selfish, ungrateful people a lot of the times. I think, someday, when they’re older, they’ll look back and they’ll go, “You know, that was really important in our family—was to have a heart of gratitude, and thanks, and kindness.”
I think just knowing that there’s a way to teach that—that can possibly reach them in a way that just telling them verbally won’t accomplish—I think that that’s really valuable.
Bob: And your mom made it easy for you; didn’t she?
Ashley: I mean, bless her! Yes, it’s wonderful! I mean, really, it’s so easy. It’s just not hard. Again, I only set out to do like one or two; and we did all four of them. There are lots of resources that FamilyLife puts out that just help moms and dads reach their children and do it in a real effective way. Most of the time, if it’s for children, it’s fairly simple.
Dennis: I’m near exhaustion just listening to you tell these stories about how you persevered and taught all those sessions with the boys. I think you’re the greatest, and just love you, and appreciate you.
Ashley: Well, thanks for helping me do it; and thanks, Mom, for making them. It really was fun. It’s good for my heart, too. That’s a shout-out to all the parents who are going to do it. Get ready because you’re going to learn something, too.
Dennis: Great word.
Ashley: Bye, Mom. Bye, Dad. Love you guys.
Barbara: Bye, Sweetie.
Bob: Well, that’s a pretty good endorsement; don’t you think?
Barbara: That’s a great endorsement. [Laughter] Absolutely—couldn’t have designed it better.
Dennis: No. And she really captured the essence of it. It gives a mom / a dad, who are busy, something very simple that’s bite-sized that can be achieved. And you can do as little or as much as you want. You can call a time-out and say, “We’re done with this.”
Barbara: Yes. And I love what she said. She said something is better than nothing. That’s kind of my mantra in doing this—is I know that moms and dads may not read all four stories—fine. Don’t read four; read one—but one is better than nothing.
Bob: Do something. Be intentional.
Barbara: I think it’s so easy to go: “Oh, it’s too hard. I’m just not going to do anything.” Then, that’s not good—to do nothing. I’m really okay with moms and dads only doing part of it because you’re at least trying.
Bob: Again, if folks want to go to FamilyLifeToday.com, they can get an opportunity to look at what it is you’ve created—and find out more about it—because one of the things that I really like about the resources you’ve designed is that they’re beautiful.
Folks really ought to take an opportunity to see what these resources look like: the Written and Remembered resource we’ve talked about today—but we’ve also talked, this week, about the Untie Your Storyresource and the Gathered Round metal wreath—all of which you can see when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “Ever Thine Home”™. Or if you have questions and you want to talk to somebody about what Barbara has been working on, call 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, I wanted to take just a minute and share an email that came in recently—a listener who wrote to us and said:
I need to let you know how much I appreciate your program. Months ago, one of your broadcasts talked about building hedges around your marriage, recognizing potential dangerous situations, and keeping away from those situations.
At the time of the broadcast, I thought some of the ideas you were talking about were a little over the top; like, “Don’t ride in an elevator alone with someone of the opposite sex that you’re not married to.” However, there was a situation that arose this summer, and that broadcast came right back to me. I found myself being sought out by, and also attracted to, a divorced man.
I quickly realized the danger that posed to my marriage. I shared with my husband the situation; and through the experience, our marriage was strengthened.
Thank you for the truth that you teach every day. I love the program. I was honored to be able to send a donation today in support of your ministry.
I wanted to pass that along just because that’s the kind of feedback that we’re getting from folks, all the time, here at FamilyLife Today. God is using this radio program to touch people’s lives and to affect legacies—to keep marriages pointed in the right direction—and to help parents know how to point their kids in that same direction.
We couldn’t do it without folks, like you. We want to say, “Thanks,” to those of you who help support this ministry, financially. This week, if you’re able to make a donation to support FamilyLife Today, we’d like to send you a copy of the audio book, Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, written by Barbara Rainey. Our team has put together a very nice audio version of this book. It’s dramatized; and it’s great for family listening, especially with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up soon.
When you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make an online donation, we will send you a copy of the audio book for Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember. Or you can request the Thanksgiving audio book when you call to make a donation at 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Or you can request the audio book when you mail a donation to FamilyLife Today at P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we are going to talk with a woman who has realized that her neighborhood is her mission field. She’s going to share with us how she has decided to open her home and make it the neighborhood café. We’ll introduce you to Amy Lively tomorrow. Hope you can join us for our conversation with her.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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