“Make a memory!” My mother has spoken those three words into my life since as long as I can remember, and if you’ve ever spent a decent amount of time with her, she has no doubt spoken those words to you as well. To this day, even my friends from college have coined the phrase from time to time. Whether for a birthday, life event, or just favorite moment of an ordinary day – I grew up with a mom constantly reminding me to not take a moment for granted. “Make a memory, Ashley!”

This past week I was sitting in my living room looking out the window while my kids were outside playing. I could hear the sounds of the dryer working in the laundry room and the dishwasher churning in the kitchen. These are some of my favorite sounds because they evoke memories from my childhood. In a matter of seconds I was transported back to my favorite stool by the kitchen table at the house I grew up in. The sounds, smells, stillness of the moment, all brought back instant memories – some that seem a lifetime ago, and others only a blink away. I called my mom that afternoon and told her about my nostalgic moment, and little to my surprise, those familiar words came over the phone, “You’re making a memory.”

I think often we feel as though big life events and momentous occasions are what we need to focus on memorializing in our children’s lives. As mothers, we want our children to have distinctive days, extraordinary family trips, special gifts, and landmark moments. We’d do anything possible to give them everything we can. These are unique occasions we remember, but I think we can fall into the trap to believing those are the things that will matter most. We spend our ordinary days striving to give our children more, rather than just giving our children a childhood. As a mother, I’m trying to remind myself that it’s the ministry of presence and leadership of example that will mean the most to my children 30 years from now.

As I write this, it’s the day before the baby of our family turns four. Four seems like such big deal this year. We’ve closed the chapter to the baby years in our home and have graduated fully to all things “kid.” While my children are still young, it’s not lost on me how quickly the time has passed. We have loved the little years thus far with our children, but we are also realizing more and more that we are entering a stage of life where they are watching our example for far more than just how “to do” things. They are starting to watch us to learn “how to be.”

As they grow and grapple with harder things in the future, my desire is to model an example that doesn’t hide the journey of growth, but instead to model a life fixed on Jesus – in both the good and difficult times. I want their “memory moments” to be ones that remind them that life is not about striving to be something beyond their current reality; it is not about perfection, rather it is all about living fully where we are, in the season we are given, and to live it as unto the Lord.

Our lives march on regardless of what we do. My husband and I are photographers. We witness and capture a lot of life events. Whether it be weddings, birthdays, celebrations or sorrows, we view many testimonies through the lenses of our cameras. It’s a constant archival of lives being lived out and stories being told. Over the past couple of years I’ve asked myself more and more to evaluate the story I’m telling with my life. What do people think of when they think of me? Who does my life point to? What is my legacy? As a mother, I think it can be easy for me to give answers that fill in the blanks nicely, but as a woman and child of God, I don’t want to rush past these questions or subconsciously put them on hold until my children are grown. Yes, our families are our ministries, but beyond that, we are also valuable assets to the kingdom of God by being available to all those around us. Our children are watching us. They are watching to see if we practice what we teach.

Are we too busy to add the important? Do our children have opportunities to see us take time for others? Are we passionately pursing the Lord, or are we desperately trying to just act like “good moms?” Apart from the Lord, there’s not a lot that’s “good” about me, but when I’m fully focused on Jesus, my current moment can “make a memory” that’s lasting.

It matters not if you are a stay-at-home mom or full-time working professional. It matters not if you are a public-schooling, private-schooling, homeschooling, urban living, rural loving, small family, or small army kind of mother. Your role in biblical womanhood is not defined by anything other than your full devotion to our Savior. When He has all of our devotion, we live lives that reflect the very best of who He created us to be – and in that kind of living, we showcase our Father’s workmanship to our children as they watch us grow. We make memories that are life-giving, and help our families live out their purpose in God’s plan.

So make a memory this week. Savor the moments, knowing they are precious. Give each one to the Lord and ask Him to help you live out His purpose through you this week. That’s when we are “making a memory” that makes our Creator smile.

Ashley Veneman

Ashley lives in Memphis, Tennessee and is the wife of Justin, her best friend, and mother of Cole and Norah, her two amazing little ones. She is a work-at-home mom trying to soak up all the little years as much as possible since she has yet to find a way to pause time. Ashley is a wedding photographer with her husband, and is so thankful for the ability to do a profession she loves, while at the same time making PB&J sandwiches, building Lego towers to the sky, and setting up the perfect princess tea party. She loves women’s ministry, a good one-on-one conversation, and being a part of a community of women running hard after the Lord.

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