One night I was working in my new craft room, stamping and scrapping away the stress of a busy weekend when I heard grunting and groaning behind me. Zach was pulling a kitchen chair, a stack of notebook paper, and his box of crayons into my room and proceeded to set up on the other side of my already crowded scrap table. He didn't ask if he could join me, and I hadn't invited him. His thought process was he had a project and I would help him.
He got right down to business, creating a comic book very similar to the Captain Underpants book he had recently been reading. He was proud of his creation and was focused and working hard. He worked in silence, despite my attempts at conversation, so I turned Project Runway back on and got back to my work.
A couple minutes later when he was done with the outline of his Captain Diaper character and had started to color it in he asked me, in a very serious voice, "Mom, why do you scrapbook?"
I had one of those moments. You know the kind where if you were in a cartoon, the clouds would part, the sun would come out and you'd hear a heavenly chorus singing. My son wanted to talk to me about scrapbooking! It was nothing short of a miracle!
"Because I absolutely love it!' I replied. "I want to remember and document all the good things in our family."
"Do you want to remember me and Caleb as cute little babies?"
"Do you want to remember Daddy?"
"That too, " I said as tears filled my eyes.
"You want to remember marrying Jim?"
"You just want to remember everything!" Zach concluded in amazement.
Then the conversation shifted as he asked me to help him color his picture in.
I thought about our conversation later. Do I want to remember everything? There has been so much pain not only in our immediate family, but extended family as well. We've watched my brother battle cancer, and beat it. We lost my aunt to it. Dave and I struggled with infertility. Caleb's diagnosis with SMA certainly took us off guard, and my pregnancy with Zach was touch and go to the point it's a miracle he was even born. I've watched loved ones get divorced, struggle with depression, have challenges with their children, just to name a few things . . . . Then, the fateful night when I got the knock on the door which ended with me at a grave side, a widow at 34 years old and comforting two little boys crying for daddy.
The reality is, no matter how hard I try, I'll always remember the bad stuff. I can't erase away the memories. The pain has played a tremendous part of shaping my life to what it looks like now. I will never forget, but it doesn't mean I have to focus on those memories. In fact, the perspective of those memories make me grateful to see smiling faces and little boys living life. The pain life here on Earth has to offer makes me look forward to Heaven.
I started scrapbooking as a teenager because I loved doing arts and crafts. I was drawn into the spell of pretty patterened paper, brightly colored stickers and really cool tools. It started as a hobby and still is a hobby. I'm addicted! I love everything about it - the smell of the paper, the creative process, the shopping for supplies! Everything about this hobby appeals to me - but that's not why I continue to do it.
I keep scarpbooking for therapy. It gives my mind a break from the bustle of kids, the housework and never ending to-do list. I don't think about doctor's appointments, cub scouts or sports schedules. I do it because I want to remember. I want to remember the smiles, the joy. I want my children to look back on a life well lived. I want them to know that they are loved. I want to continue to document Dave's legacy, which is still unfolding even though it's been almost four years since he died. I want to tell the story of God's grace and goodness in our lives as Jim and I blend our families. I want my kids to know that Mom kept going when the going got rough.
Now I know that you don't have to scrapbook to communicate these truths. But this is how God wired me - He gave me the love of creating photo albums and he uses that gift in my life. Dave's gift was music. He would play the guitar and his music was his means of expression and act of worship. Jim enjoys being out in nature, appreciating God's creation. Spending time hunting,hiking or even just walking though the woods is Jim's way of seeing God's goodness. Everyone has something in them as a way of expression and remembering. I don't think it matters HOW you remember, but that you DO remember. That you remember the good and the bad, and in everything give thanks to God.