Deep Down Memory Lane…

This past week-end, I was in Chicago, just chilling out after a busy last week. Friday evening, I was invited to have dinner with other members of the family back in Beverly Hills, where Janet and I grew up as kids. Sure, I have been there numerous times throughout the years since our family moved to the northwest suburbs when I was eighteen, but it was still great to visit the “old neighborhood.” It even sounds a little strange to phrase it that way, but that is exactly what happened.

We ate dinner at a restaurant three blocks from where I grew up – and had a nice visit there. Eventually, the conversation turned to stories from my childhood and where my friends lived, etc. Tales of yesteryear… by the way, every time I am with our grandsons, I try to pass on stories from the old days. And Friday evening was no exception…

After we talked about local places, we decided to have dessert at Janson’s – a local drive-in Chicago dog sort of place that has always had the best milkshakes you can imagine. It opened in 1960 and I remember the day they started the business. On hot summer evenings, Dad would go over and pick up milkshakes for the four of us (this was before our youngest brother, Ken, was old enough to even enjoy the treat) and we would sit out on the screened in porch while we listened to the sounds of the city on Western Avenue, a short block from our backyard.

Never did I ever consider that some day I would be sitting at Janson’s in my sixties – telling stories to our daughter, her husband and our grandsons, as well as our oldest nephew and his family! We ordered our shakes, several hot dogs and even a beef tamale – something Janson’s was famous for back in the day. We weren’t disappointed – it’s still wonderful; and difficult to believe that it happened. As is usually the case, these types of events typically draw me back in time. I find myself reliving my life and wondering what I would do different if I had things to do over again.

I am sure that I would spend more time with family and focus on the more important stuff. Not that I feel guilty, but I could have packed more living into the years that I have lived. I don’t ever lack the ability to come up with great stories about the past, but I still think that I could lived life a little differently than I did – perhaps reversing some of the poor decisions that I have made…

On the way to Janson’s, we drove past our old house and the place where Janet grew up, as well as the church that we were married in and the homes of both of our grandparents. As our daughter Kristin put it, we were “deep down memory lane.” And even though I thought Kristin had heard almost every story of mine, she was mesmerized by the new memories I was creating right there in Beverly. It was great to see the neighborhood “come alive” for her and be more than just blocks of homes providing shelter for their occupants.

Of course, God knew all along that I would live the life I have led. He knew that someday I would be recounting stories to future generations and that I would have the desire to pass along history so that the past doesn’t die. Maybe that is one of the reasons that I write these posts – to, in my own way, preserve the past and create a picture in the minds of our readers of events that have shaped my past and who I am today. By the way, each of us has these kinds of stories to share!

The verse for this evening comes from the psalmist who authored Psalm 139. He tells us, speaking to God, in verses 15-16, “When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…” And what wonderful days, for the most part, they have been. Gladly, they aren’t over yet!

But the older I get, the more I can see how my past has shaped who I am today. I can’t help but see the hand of God shaping my life long before I had such an intimate relationship with Him – and for that I am grateful. My encouragement this evening is that God has wonderful plans for your life as well. There may have been times when your life wasn’t everything that you wanted it to be, but hang in there and see what miracles God does for you. My prayer is that you will have the perseverance to pursue God’s plan for you as your unique story continues to unfold. And as you get older, perhaps you will see the hand of God at work in your life as well – I know that I have! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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