Now before you start feeling guilty for not scrapbooking, know this: no one has to scrapbook. There are no rules that say being a good mom = scrapbooking. I don't even encourage many people to start scrapbooking because I am pretty sure it is the number one guilt-inducing hobby. As moms, we have enough guilt about real issues that we don't need to suffer through feeling guilty for silly things like an unfinished scrapbook.
Now that I have cleared the air...
I scrapbook because:
1. It fills me up. Some people love to decorate their home. Some people love to run. Some people love to ski. Some people like to curl up with a classic and read. Some people like to host huge parties and entertain their friends, family, and neighbors. Me? I like to scrapbook. It gives the creative part of my being a place to breathe. When I create, I relax. When I have quiet, I relax. And relaxing for a busy homeschooling mama to five is a good thing. If it didn't fill me up—and instead made me feel guilty for all the "catching up" I had to do—I wouldn't do it. If getting a chance to do something I love also calms me down, and that in turn helps make me a better wife and a better mother, then I am all for it.
2. It is a benefit to my family. I am in a chapter of my life where I don't have a lot of "me time." That's okay. Scripture talks about giving our lives to serve the people he has placed in front of us, not make sure we have enough time to watch our favorite television shows or get our nails done. But because I don't have a lot of leisure time, I want the time I do have to be filled doing something that also benefits others. My children love to look through our family albums and remember the stories and the moments that make us who we are. They love to remember as much as I do. I can picture myself in years to come, surrounded by grown children, laughing and remembering all the crazy things we did and said.
3. It makes me thankful. I struggled with deep depression for many years. Although I saw some improvements after getting married and moving overseas, the greatest changes happened once I started scrapbooking. At first I thought it was strange but then I realized how much it actually made sense. Scrapbooking (and the photography that goes with it) makes me slow down and notice my life. I am able to stop and soak in the little moments that make my life so big. A face covered in chocolate chip cookies, a big sister reading to a little brother, a determined look on a two year old's face as she tries to get dressed herself, a flower newly opened up and dripping with dew—I now notice all of these things and strive to capture them. And because I do this, I am aware of the many amazing blessings that God has given me. Even when dealing with medical issues, even when wondering where grocery money is going to come from, even when marriage hits one of its lower points, even when friends and family turn their back—even in all these times I have known I am blessed. I am loved. I have been created to enjoy these good things and to spill that blessing and love onto others. Scrapbooking opened my eyes to the world around me and made me thankful. And gratitude heals hearts.
4. It shapes my children's memories. Most of us don't remember much from our childhood. Most of our memories are bits and pieces we have from our own flawed mind and then the stories and photos our parents have preserved for us. I was surprised one day when I realized that many of my "memories" were directly connected to a photograph. What I began to understand was that the photos themselves are the memories. If I hadn't seen the photo, I probably would not have any recollection of the days/events. I want my kids to remember. I want them to always know that their childhood was filled with love, smiles, adventure, and lots of laughter. I want to preserve their childhood so that one day they can look back and see the little pieces of them that God was putting together as His plan for their life unfolded.
5. It gives me a way to express my love to my family in a way that can be preserved. I used to journal. All through high school and college and even into marriage I journaled on a regular basis. It is fun and interesting to now look back on those journals and to see all that has happened in time since. My history is important and I am glad I have those thoughts and feelings preserved (even if I did go on for about four full journals about my love for a particular guy who didn't return my love!) Then one day I had kids and my time and energy for journaling disappeared. But scrapbooking has given me another outlet—another way of expressing thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams for myself and the people I love most. I want my kids to be able to look back and see the things I wrote to them/about them when they were little. I want them to read about the good times and the hard times (yes, I scrapbook about hard stuff, too!) In scrapbooking, I give them a little bit more of me and my deep, deep love for them.
My motive in sharing all of this is not to convince you of your need to scrapbook. This is something that works for me. It is something that I can bless myself and my family with. Maybe there is something that does the same for you. Maybe there is something that calms your spirit and points your eyes and heart back to the Lord. If you have something like this in your life, embrace it. Anything that makes us see the magnificence of the Lord and His blessings in our life is worth pursuing. For me, it is scrapbooking and photography. For someone else, it is hiking. For another, it is getting out pretty tea cups and making their family feel loved over a cup of hot tea and fresh bread out of the oven. For yet another, it is carefully tending to a garden and growing vegetables that will feed and nourish bodies and souls.
Scrapbooking is my happy place. My thankful place. What is yours?