When a picture is worth 1000 memories

I don’t know what it is about fall. Whether it’s the changing weather and the cooler days, or just the start of a new school year. Somehow, these days seem to be filled with memory making moments. Now that we all have cameras in our hands nearly 24/7, we snap photos almost every day anyway. My phone and camera are filled with pictures ready to be downloaded, uploaded, printed, and shared.

As a parent or grandparent, can you relate? These stored memories are too important to be deleted, lost or forgotten.

As a foster mom, I know that these photos are capturing important moments. First day of Kindergarten, first trip to the zoo, the first birthday party. They are also capturing every day happy, peaceful moments that might become a dream if they aren’t recorded permanently. Goofy faces. Laughter. Craft projects. Friends. There are family photos with children who might be a part of another family next year instead of our own.

These photos give stories to children whose histories are only written in files marked “confidential.” Without these photos, children in foster care make up their own stories of grand adventures in order to write themselves into a history that would otherwise not exist.

In our increasingly social world where we share everything on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, it is easy to believe that if something has value, it must be shared. “Facebook or it didn’t happen!” Occasionally, we also buy into the lie that unless it is shared, it does not have value. As foster parents, sometimes it is hard to not to share. Sometimes, we can’t even share our biological and adopted children’s photos because they pertain information or photos of our children in foster care. We know that the stories and identity of these precious littles need to be honored by keeping them confidential, not to mention all of the safety concerns involved. Yet, sometimes we feel like we are keeping one of the greatest delights and privileges of our lives a huge secret.

I can’t help but think of Mary’s reaction to all of God’s work when Jesus was born. Luke describes Mary and Joseph as “marveling” at what was said about Jesus, and Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.” Although she was holding the very Son of God in her arms, she wasn’t telling everyone everything that happened. God used the shepherds to spread the message about his redemptive work through Jesus’ birth, but Mary’s job was to guard these intimate moments of Jesus’ birth and early life in her heart like she would guard a treasure. Some of these moments were just for her. 

Intimate moments tend to decrease in value when they are shared. Soul revealing conversations with your best friend aren’t published on YouTube. Bedtime conversations with your children aren’t reduced to 140 character tweets. Love notes from your husband aren’t posted on Reddit. They are too sacred, precious and intimate to be shouted from the rooftops. Their value is far greater than the number of likes, hearts or laughs they receive and lasts much longer than the typical 24 hour attention span social media has.

As foster parents, God has entrusted us with his most beloved: vulnerable children and orphans. We have the opportunity to see God’s redemptive work first hand, just as Mary did. We are given the task of being the keeper of the treasured moments. Taking pictures and documenting stories of children in foster care is one of the most life giving things we can do for them. A picture documents existence for children who are largely invisible to those around them. So instead of uploading to Facebook, we spend countless hours sorting through printed pictures, scraps of paper and embellishments to produce scrapbooks rich with memories telling the stories of the moments held in our hearts. We print them from Walgreens and tack them up on our refrigerators and bulletin boards. We upload photos and quotes into Shutterfly, create a professional looking book, and print two, so that the joy shared between us will last, no matter where life takes us in the weeks and months to come.

We would love to be a part of the incredible work that we do, whether that is through becoming a foster parent or supporting those who do. Find out more information about becoming a foster parent or make a donation.