With so much going on and being pulled in so many directions, it is VERY easy to lose focus. I admit that the last few days, particularly the last 24 hours have been hard. I'm doing everything in my power and praying for God to fill every crevice of my heart to help me get back the balance of my emotions. Though I'm a basket case at the moment, my heart is still full of joy. The welcoming of a much anticipated birth helped put things quickly back on track. Having prayed for this little family almost daily for months and for God to use me as I will be spending a few days a week with her while her mommy continues her church ministry, just soothed my heart to have a reminder of how amazing God is.
Later this morning, Baxter started his crazy barking and insanity when the postal worker knocked on the door to let us know she had left some packages. In one of those packages was a little device that I had ordered that I didn't know existed. I'm not so up-to-date with technology. This little thing called Picture Keeper has just brought me such joy that I think I might could shout. Our laptop that we used for several years, most specifically the first 3 of Bradlee's life, crashed well over a year ago. We didn't have the financial resources to have someone try and recover the pictures. At that time, we didn't have the people connections to ask someone to do it for us. I've kept the laptop, which is so broken physically that it is literally held together with duct tape and shipping tape, in a Rubbermaid tote just hoping that someday we could do something with the pictures on it. Though I had printed many of them, there were others that I had not been able to do yet. Not to mention not having the files themselves (especially organized in folders) was heartbreaking.
Enter Picture Keeper. I wasn't even sure it would work on our outdated operating system. I purchased it anyway knowing that I could use it on our current computers if nothing else. I plugged it in, had to do some file searching and maneuvering (auto run and auto play weren't working) and then all of a sudden..........it tells me "Backing up 9,867 Pictures!". You should see how overwhelmed with joy that made me! It automatically scans your entire computer drives for any picture related files. You don't go searching for them yourself! That was the selling point for me based on the condition of the computer. I just HOPED it would be able to do it and to see that message pop up was greater than winning the lottery.
As I've sat here the last hour or so, I've been reminded of such amazing things. Besides the gratitude of the recovery, I'm just floored with thankfulness. As these images flash through in order, I'm getting glimpses of how much my kids have grown and changed. Of course watching Bradlee from the days of me being pregnant and on bed rest, his birth, and growing and changing through the months and years has been priceless. It's the OTHERS that have shocked me. Adriana went from a little girl to a young woman right before my eyes. I didn't realize how remarkable the changes were. Peyton went from a little boy that could be Bradlee's current twin to the handsome young man he is. It's just been priceless to watch that at hyper-speed.
However, as much as that has made me thankful., something else happened to my heart. Seeing our lives, which I took pictures of VERY often (almost daily at points), flash by that quickly moved me in a way I wasn't prepared for. Those years were years of struggle emotionally as I battled deep depression. At times, I don't remember the joyful times of those years. They were years of struggle in so many ways. We moved away from all of our family and friends and had zero connections here. Seeing these pictures reminded me of the journey we've been on and HOW AMAZING it has been. I've watched friendships form from these images. What started out as strangers are now some of our closest relationships. I've seen the kids blossom right before my eyes in their confidence and watched their personalities develop.
The most remarkable thing is the reminder of the life we've been blessed with and how it developed along the way. What I have been able to look back and see is that while I was in my darkest times, God still made sure that we made family memories of a lifetime. Even in my sadness, I somehow still managed to make sure that the kids were a top priority. Hundreds of pictures of ordinary days now soothe my heart to know that we were still a family and those days were treasured. I've had the visual reminder of the extraordinary days and the days when we were blessed to take trips or take part in other activities. So many things I've forgotten, but yet they were there. Beautiful smiles and laughter. They REALLY did happen.
God gave me a visual reminder that the guilt I carry for so much of that time is of my OWN doing and NOT of Him. You would be hard pressed to see a more involved family life than the pictures show. We truly did have joy in our home and our kids are blessed with fantastic memories, I just lost track of it. I'm so thankful to not only have these pictures to preserve and back up, but just for the healing that has instantly started by seeing what REALITY was of those years. Especially as a stay at home mom, it's easy to get lost in the ordinary days and overwhelmed with balancing everyone's needs. These pictures remind me that though I am far from perfect and things were VERY difficult at times, God still was in control and our home WAS a happy one. It's time I stop beating myself up over so many of my own failures and focus on the things that truly matter. Who would have thought that so much could come from a tiny little device that looks like a thumb drive and is smaller than a stick of gum?? I'm so thankful that not only did God answer my prayers for recovery of my pictures, but He also restored a large piece of a broken heart.
I thought my little device would be enough to back up ALL of our pictures, but it didn't even cover the "crashed" computer. That in itself shows me how full our lives have been. I'm incredibly grateful for the 5,455 pictures that I've recovered. I will repack this "broken" laptop today, look at seeing when I can purchase another Picture Keeper, and can't wait until I can watch the next portion of the "show".