I rarely print pictures these days, I just snap a photo and then upload to the social media site of my choice and assume that family generations to come will flip through random pictures of my dinner and the dog in various positions.
That is if the devices we use now aren’t obsolete, just like my old Debbie Gibson tape the boys found one day. They held it up like it was an Egyptian artifact. “You mean it plays on both sides?”
Last March, though, we packed up and left my childhood home that I had lived in most of my life so that we could renovate a house in the country, which we are doing now. I was rifling through boxes of old pictures to keep safe at my mother-in-law's during the construction mess.
As I flipped through memories, I started to wonder. Is that what life becomes?
Does all the impact we hope to make on this earth one day condense into a series of non-chronological still frames, shoved into a guest room closet in a box mislabeled Halloween Decorations?
Dang. I hope not.
Then again, all this nostalgia forming a lump in my throat is a pretty good indication that the lives in these pictures meant a whole lot more. Pictured there were cherished people living out the stories God wrote for them - moment by moment.
As I continued flipping through, it overwhelmed me to think I got to watch these lives unfold in paper form. Some of which I wasn’t even here for.
My Uncle Terry, who died tragically in a car accident at 18-years-old, smiled at me from his school photo. I would have never even known what he looked like if Granny hadn’t precious pictures of him.
(Because unless you kept the negative, there was no way to just reprint a picture back in 1955).
Even before that, my Granny and her best friend, Virginia, stood back to back with matching pregnant bellies.
A young Grandpa Ashburn floated down Salt River in his little jon boat, drinking a beer.
My mom and her brother, Bob, proudly smiled in front of her first car, an MG convertible.
Then my story began with a pic of my dad holding me up in the delivery room. There were so many pictures of my childhood in the same house I was just about to move away from.
My brother and I posed on the staircase. Our old basset hound, Smokey, stuck his tongue out for the camera (we captured him at mid-yawn). Then there’s a rather creepy picture of my fifth birthday party where my mom hired a clown with balloons.
And then my own wedding photo surfaced — Shawn and me, 2003 B.C. (Before Children).
We stood in front of my childhood home, smiling with boxes as we moved into a new life, newlyweds with no idea of what was to come. That’s where our story began. The loving, the arguing, the raising of our children, and that beautiful part where we continually found God in every bit of it — the good, the bad and the ugly.
And of course, our light-up fish tank coffee table that housed an Oscar fish, brilliantly named Oscar, who patrolled the open side of the tank waiting for toes, fingers, or articles of clothing to jump at and bite.
Then Shawn held up his baby in the delivery room, and then the next baby, and a whole new story began as they went from babies to toddlers and the young men they are becoming. Now it continues as we tear down and build back up the walls of our new home. There is so much to come — God willing, of course.
And I’ve made a pact with myself to start printing more pictures out. Because Shawn and the boys have all these crazy plans that we are going to need to capture.
That's because I promised them I didn’t care what they did if we got some land and moved into the country. So now they are dreaming up one redneck jimmy rigged roller coaster, possibly a go-kart track, and they have already lined up a peacock who is scheduled to move in once we get settled.
That’s okay, though, because God is in it, friends — and I’m really grateful for that. Especially once that roller coaster gets to going.