One warm July evening, Jon gave me a photo album that said, "Our Adventure Book" (like in the movie Up, which is one of our favorites). He said, "I was thinking we could fill this together" before getting down on one knee and asking me to marry him. A perfect proposal (much better than someone's suggestions that he dress like a chicken to incorporate our love for Chick-fil-A!).
We asked my sister to take some engagement pictures. I put them in an iPhoto book along with a lot of pictures of when we were dating and ordered it. I titled it: Our Adventure Book Chapter One. When it came, I was converted.
I quickly made the switch from paper scrapbooking (which I had been doing for years) to online design. I love that I can work on my book any time without having to drag out my supplies. And honestly, I don't have enough patience for neat, tidy paper scrapbooking (my crooked layouts alone will convince you that I'm not always a perfectionist!).
I now make an adventure book for us each year, and here's why:
1. A jar of manna:
Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” (Ex. 16:32)
I once read something by Elisabeth Elliot in which she compared her prayer journals to a jar of manna--a reminder of God's faithfulness and provision. The photographs and text in our yearly books remind us of God's work in our lives each year. Our last year's book shows His provision through our pregnancy, move, and job search. I love seeing it all in picture form.
2. A legacy for us and for our children: I love looking through old photo albums from my childhoood. We need to know our story. It roots us and gives us a sense of place.
In Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas quotes Jerry Jenkins to say,
‘Tell your [marital] story. Tell it to your kids, your friends, your brothers and sisters, but especially to each other. The more your story is implanted in your brain, the more it serves as a hedge against the myriad forces that seek to destroy your marriage. Make your story so familiar that it becomes part of the fabric of your being. It should become a legend that is shared through the generations as you grow a family tree that defies all odds and boasts marriage after marriage of stability, strength, and longevity.”
Our story is important, and it is easy to forget. I no longer journal daily, but I do use our books to record the significant aspects of our story each year. I try to include even the details--names, places, and the funny things we talked about for weeks afterward.
3. To answer questions: As I get older and the years fly by faster, it's easy to wonder things like, "What year did we go to Disney World?" or "When was my hair last cut?" A photo book answers these questions. I also include lots of text to expand on this. Maybe when Liam asks me questions in the future, I will know some of the answers. I also try to include a page of recap--our favorite songs, movies, books, restaurants, etc. These words alone can inspire memories.
4. To get pictures off my computer: I take a lot of pictures. I'm not a photographer or photo editor, but I love pictures. So I use a photo book to cull my favorites. Though I occasionally go back to my iPhoto library to look through pictures, generally most of my looking happens as we flip through the albums I've ordered. The books also act as further insurance for our photos.
5. To get rid of clutter: When I scrapbooked, I kept everything--maps, ticket stubs, brochures, and receipts. Now I either scan/photograph those things or am content with simply the pictures of the event to help me remember (you can also order photo books with pockets for these if you so desire). I also use these books to get rid of mental clutter. Getting it all down gives me such a sense of freedom and accomplishment.
6. To remember to live intentionally: I don't want days just to flow into weeks and months and years. I want to pause to savor and enjoy. A photo book forces me to look at what I loved (and remembered) in the past year.
An additional reason would have to be that I simply love creating these albums. I've already started on our 2014 one and a baby book for Liam. Tomorrow I will go into the how, sharing the places I've ordered from and tips and tricks I've learned along the way (plus lots of pictures from our albums!).