I have four amazing kids who I love very much. Each of them came to me in a different way and they each have their own miraculous birth story. They are each a part of our family because of an answer to some very specific prayers. I could share with you my tear stained journal pages that are filled with prayers about my desire to be a mom and the arrival of each of my kids. These stories/trials play a big role in my story because it has shaped me into the person that I am today. I have always told my children their birth stories and the truth that God has a plan and purpose for each of their lives. Their stories are important and make them who they are today. As each of my children were born, I created a birth story scrapbook so that they would know the details of how they were brought into this world and how they became part of our family.
These stories of my children’s lives are vitally important. They make them who they are today and give them a sense of identity. A study published in 2010 at Emory University found that the more children knew about their family history, the higher their self-esteem and the better able they were to deal with the effects of stress. The researchers concluded that “family stories provide a sense of identity through time, and help children understand who they are in the world.” This is a beautiful picture of why I do what I do. I am passionate about preserving family stories, bringing them to life and sharing them together.
My eldest son, Caleb, is 16 years old. He has not shown much interest in his birth story and hasn’t wanted to talk about the sacrifices that his beautiful, young birthmother made to give him life. As a child, we talked about his birthmother occasionally, looked at her pictures and we even visited with her a few times. As he has gotten older, it hasn’t been something that he wants to explore or even really think about.
I am, however, elated today because for the first time ever…. he asked me about his birthmother. I have been pondering this all day. I am so happy that he is showing interest and he wants to talk about his story. What better way to do that than through photos? So, here are a few thoughts that I have had as I am preparing for us to sit down together on Saturday to look through photos and talk about his story.
My first thought is…. I am really glad that I have all of his photos and memories in one place. That is a big relief. All his photos are preserved and organized in his Forever Account. It will be very easy to just log in and look through the photos of the last 16 years and recall special memories together.
My next thought is about the fact that all the photos we will be looking at are going to be on the computer. Sure, he is used to looking at photos on a computer. But, I know how my younger kids are when we pull out our printed family scrapbooks. The stories and memories seem to come alive. They get wrapped up in the memories and the moments that they are reliving page by page. There is something almost magical that happens while lying on the floor and having little hands all over each page of the book.
Caleb was born in year 2000. So, the first two years of his life are recorded in printed photos. And the rest of his life is recorded in digital photos. These digital photos all live on my computer, in my Forever account. I realized that in general, kids in this generation don’t typically have printed photos to touch and feel. They usually just see their photos on a computer or worse yet on mom’s phone. This makes me want to stop in my tracks and print, print, print so these stories can be brought to life and celebrated. I need to celebrate the stories of Caleb’s life on Saturday! And I need to do that through printed memories not just through the computer screen. Clearly, I won’t have a new printed book ready on Saturday. But, I am encouraged to get that book completed soon. And it doesn’t need to be fancy or perfect. Just a simple book to tell many of his stories so he will be able to reap the benefits of remembering his memories and knowing he is loved.
And the last thing that I thought about was the fact that I do this for a living. How could I have missed the fact that I should have a printed book for each of my kids that tells their story? I make family books, and I made a birth story book, and I do vacation books. But other than that, my kids don’t have their own book about their own story. This digital age that we live in has a lot of benefits, but I am thinking it is important to get back to printing and having a book to ponder, treasure and appreciate the blessings in our lives.
I am prayerful that Saturday will be a time of reflection for my son Caleb. I pray that he would be encouraged and strengthened by the love that our family shares. I am hopeful that there will be some healing in his heart. And I hope that he will be reminded that God has a beautiful plan and purpose for his life. And that his story is just beginning.