I was in the 8th grade the first time I remember taking photos with my very own camera. My class went to Disneyland for our end-of-the-year trip and I came packin’ my Kodak Star, loaded with 110 film and a tooled leather shoulder bag full of AAA batteries. I remember the care of choosing how to sparse out the 24 precious exposures that would represent the entire trip, and then waiting two long weeks to finally pick them up from the drugstore to see what I took!
These days the camera on my iPhone serves as the ever-ready chronicler of everything from special moments with family and friends to pics of sticky notes to myself in case I lose the sticky note. =)
Something happened today that I wasn’t sure I was ready to write about, but after spending time in quiet reflection, I realized there is literally nothing else I could manage to find that would be as true and honest for Day 4. So, I’m going to give it a go.
There have been four major moves in the life of our little family, and with each move, it seems, there have been a number of stray rolls of film that for whatever reason got squirrelled away in drawers and shoeboxes, with the intention of getting developed “when we get settled.” By the time we packed up our things for our last move, I determined to find said random rolls of film and put them all in one place, so “when we got settled” I would finally get them developed. So I did, and all totaled, my final count of undeveloped film rolls now safely stored in a plastic tote, which finally found a home in my new bedroom closet was…..30! (Please don’t judge…)
Then life took the sharpest of turns with the major car accident of our daughter, followed a year later with the loss of our son, and learning a new way to breathe and take the next step seemed to consume every drop of everything. I hadn’t forgotten about the film, in fact I thought about it often, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to dive into memories when the present was still so hard to maneuver.
A few months ago, I came across that plastic tote in the same corner shelf in my closet that it’s occupied for so long now, and instead of feeling conflicted, I couldn’t bring it out fast enough and I began to research the best way to have so many rolls developed without taking out a small loan! I knew by now it was highly unlikely that most, if not all of the film was undamaged, but I was determined to try. So, I chose a company that offers a “Grandma’s Closet” service for people who have several rolls of mystery film of dubious condition, I boxed up all 30 little cannisters and sent them off to the amazing people at Memphis Film Lab.
This morning I got the following message:
Your film is done! You’ll get the link to your scans from WeTransfer today.
There were some rough rolls in this batch, but there were also some pretty good ones.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Hope you do find some treasures in here.
I don’t think I took a breath for at least half a minute. My heart was pounding so hard I could almost hear it and I was blinking back tears even as I carefully downloaded the file where I knew with absolute certainty there would be photos never seen before of our family…
As my husband and I settled down to begin opening the files, I didn’t know how my heart would possibly be able to take it, but then something so sweet and unexpected happened….
We had the most incredibly beautiful and sacred family reunion. =)
Birthdays…vacations…family gatherings…boy scouts….award ceremonies….swim club….holidays….camps….church….plays….lots of silliness and so, so, so much love!
It will take time to process this sudden retrospective of our family spanning approximately 15 years (and out of order, which was a trip!) but one thing that needs no processing whatsoever is the clarity I have in seeing how God has been with us since the beginning. Every photograph, every vacation and birthday, every potluck and sporting event, every Christmas play and band concert…every ordinary and extraordinary moment of our lives, we were being held and guided by the faithful hand of God.
I have come to understand that God prepared our hearts for what we never could have done without Him, and that work still continues today.
It can be so crazy hard to wrap our heads around why we sometimes suffer so much as followers of Jesus. I honestly don’t know where we got the idea that we would somehow be sheltered from the same hardships as everyone else. It’s one of the reasons I’ve come to so appreciate this season of reflection that leads up to Easter. In a few weeks, we will be witness to the power of suffering as Jesus lays down all rights and trusts the faithfulness of God to do the impossible. And it changes everything!
So….it’s been a big day, and I’m not sure this will mean anything to anyone but me and my family, but I offer it with a humble and hopeful heart that you somehow see a little clearer how much God cares about all the things we care about – even glimpses of precious memories from old rolls of film – and faithfully holds all of it – and all of US together in his loving, God-sized hands.