Life is a funny thing. Nothing is guaranteed and nothing is completely safe. We can try and predict all we want but we cannot fully anticipate life’s twists and turns. Life is beautiful this way. Everything can fall apart only to be revealed as stained glass once broken and restored. Memories they too can be tricky. Just like our emotions they can become fuzzy, blurred, vague, unclear and distorted. I’ve heard it said before a picture says a thousand words. Memories are in many ways like a photograph. When we invision a moment in our thoughts sometimes those memories aren’t as beautiful or as horrible as we imagine. It’s when we actually look at a memory captured on film we can see the truth revealed. Our faces and our eyes they don’t lie. Happiness, love and joy or even hurt, sadness and anger speak for us. In those photographs our unsaid words are captured.
I know for my family, we’ve had many more happy memories than sad. The problem is sometimes those sad, hurtful memories can feel overwhelming and deafening. They can drown and block out our happy memories. I guess that’s why I love pictures. It’s why I take so many to my family’s dismay sometimes. I simply love being able to hold on to a moment. To be able to capture it and look back, reminiscing, remembering how I felt in that very moment in time. Memories so close, so vivid I could reach out and touch them. That’s the beauty of a photograph, of a memory etched not only in ink but in our hearts as well. Taking a look back over our photographs, and blog posts I think I’ve been pretty honest here about our family’s struggles and near misses these last two years. It’s not been easy, but it has been so worth it. Frankly all the pictures we’ve taken year after year have been part of our recovery process and the creating of our own stained glass panel. Piece by piece Johnny, the boys and I have been put back together again and in ways beyond our imagination. Perfect, not a chance but inseparable, close and tight-knit, absolutely! Our family has come so far in just a year I can’t begin to explain it. We came pretty close to losing it all. Life couldn’t have dealt us a harder punch than it did a year ago. But you know what? We’re still standing, hand in hand, side by side together. Johnny, Joshua, Micah and me, I guess you could say we’re a pretty tough bunch. We don’t give up easy on anything but especially not on each other.
Studying our photographs and memories I can see our family has really grown. We’ve rediscovered who we are as our own little unit. We've also found what keeps us connected, bonded and healthy is the time we spend together, away from the constraints of routine and expectations. Sure those things have their place, but so does one on one family time, sharing moments away from those things which distract us from our core. Bonding through goofy, silly and unrestrained laughter is the best kind of glue. Now you may ask what defines this glue I speak of. Well many things do. For us it’s Joshua’s weekly hockey games, browsing comic book stores, making trips to the country house, day trips, all- night fishing excursions and of course there’s our Disney time. You could say as a family we’ve made a conscious decision, a choice to take part in each other’s lives more often, making time for each other over everything else. We understand the value of time and how important it is to laugh, play and dream together. While some may scoff at our choices, and others may question them, we’ve learned none of that matter’s, family does.
Life Lesson #71 ~ these memories we make link us to our past, our present and our future. So be slow with your anger, wise with your words and quick with love and forgiveness. How we reminisce and carry these moments with us leave very important impressions across our hearts. All these memories we're busy creating can inspire artistry, motivate greatness and kindle warmth inside us. Or they can drag us down, impairing our vision, turning us cold, sabotaging and destroying our chances for hope and happiness. What we tend to forget being human and all is while being there for the moment isn’t as important as being there in the moment. That’s why I love Luke 2:19, as it says this, “Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them.” We have to be there in the moment for the memory to stick. We can be there for a moment but in order to remember and treasure the memories we make together we have to be there, living inside the moment.
So that’s exactly what we've been doing, living in every moment. When Johnny and I decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary last spring at Disney World we were excited. We wanted the opportunity to play together at one of our most favorite places in the world. After a bit of planning, and reminiscing our plans changed and we decided to bring the kids with us too. After all Disney is where it all started for us some 10 years ago. Laughter, smiles and happiness all came together for our little family as we faced the reality of me dying young. In spite of the uncertainty, we found hope. During our 2006 visit we experienced laughter, happiness and developed a stronger, deeper fire encouraging us to fight the beast at the door. So when Johnny and I made the decision to bring our teenage children in 2016 on our anniversary trip it just seemed natural. All our pictures, the memories they all pointed to family. And that’s exactly what led us to our recent trip just last week, family. And yes, family will continue to lead us on our next trip and the next. All these memories we’ve made, our family time and the photographs we’re taking are little moments of joy captured forever. Each picture is a future reminder of our unshakable connection during whatever prospective hard times may be ahead of us. I’ve always said, “Family is everything” and this has never been truer than right now.
Each memory for us is a dot connecting us to the next one. Watching Joshua meet Jack Skellington, his favorite childhood character come to life, seeing his face light up entering Halloween town even at almost 20 years old was priceless. Seeing Micah smile in spite of his tough exterior as Chewbacca pulled him in for a hug or listening to Johnny and the boys howl with laughter spooked by the Scare Zones at Universal is incomparable. Looking at all the pictures in front of me, realizing how far we’ve come in 20 years I know without a doubt why my favorite quote is by Michael J, Fox, “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” I truly love my family. I’m blessed beyond measure and thankful for each and every memory we’ve made together. I pray we have many more ahead of us. After all, "This is my family. I found it, all on my own. It's little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good."~Lilo and Stitch