Using Family Photos to Write Your Family Stories

Photo/KarenJordan

Whenever we put together our own stories and either tell them or write them for posterity, we are preserving the most central element of our own identity and value system. Who are we, apart from the people and the events about which we tell our own stories? (Donald Davis, Telling Your Arkansas Stories)

Have you ever discovered an old family picture and wished that you knew the story behind it?

The following questions might help you discover an important family story that you can share with the next generation!

People. Can you identify the people within the shot? If not, do you know anyone who can? Can you write a description of that person? Who else might have been around when the shot was taken?

Places. Do you know where the picture as taken? Can you describe the place or the area at that time? Do you know anything about the history of the area? What do you know about that area now?

Photo/Karen JordanTime. When was the shot taken? What time period? What was going on in the world at that time? What changes have taken place since that time?

Events. Do you know what event was taking place when the photo was taken? Can you tell what season of the year it was taken? What events might have been happening around that time?

Story. Does the picture remind you of a story? What came to mind as you thought about the people, places, or event that might have been taking place when the photo was taken?

Questions. You might think of even more questions that you need to ask yourself about the photo that would help you capture an important family story.

Brainstorm. Take a moment and write down your thoughts about your picture. You could even include the picture when you preserve your story—in a scrapbook, on your computer, on a blog, in a notebook … the possibilities are endless!

Legacy Stories. Don’t miss your opportunity to preserve your family history by composing a written legacy of your family stories, as you identify the details and stories represented by your family photos.

Did either of these photos remind you of a person, place, or event from your own family history?

The Loss of Words

Fountain pen over Script1 John: 1-5. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I have to confess, I’m fascinated by words. How we use them. How we use them against each other. Pro-life. Pro-abortion. Pro-choice. Each of these words casts the same issue in a totally different light.

I also have great wonder about how God chose to communicate with us, which I believe happens in two ways–through the written word and through creation. Whether or not you believe that is a whole other discussion.

When I write a book, I choose words carefully. I imagine God being the same way. Not wasting anything. The words, phrases, paragraphs, and chapters of the Bible have multiple layers of meaning. Enough layers to satisfy a reader for longer than one human lifetime.

This Christmas, I find myself pondering 1John and how Jesus Christ was referred to as the Word. I think of how words bring enlightenment. Then I think about how the use of our words is changing.

As an author, I’ve been concerned about the loss of words, even though there seems to be more words than ever before. Texts. FB posts. Blog posts. The number of books that are now available through publishing (in all formats) is greater than at any time in history.

But are they meaningful words? Do they have the same impact as the Bible passage above?

We don’t write anymore. Not in the form of handwritten notes, anyway. And what we do write is abbreviated with little context. I wonder what our children will show their grandchildren. Once e-mail accounts are deleted, those messages are lost. Do you print out e-mails, texts, etc., and archive them?

I know I don’t.

So I wonder, a lot, about the meaning and context of our words and what will be lost in this technological age. Handwritten love letters. Diaries. Journals. I doubt even this blog post will survive me.

Often, we don’t think about the impact of a loved one, a job, or an event until it is gone. I’m amazed how people strive to communicate even when they can’t physically speak. Sign language. Speaking with the use of computers.

What if you couldn’t speak anymore? What if there never had been the Bible? How do you think God would have communicated with creation about Himself?

Glenn Beck is a polarizing character. I totally get that. I’m not a fan of everything he says but this is a powerful message to ponder. It’s a written monologue delivered on large postcards because, for a period of time, Glenn couldn’t speak and it caused him to think of what he had spoken in the past. If you want to avoid his political message, you can stop viewing the video after about 3 minutes.

But consider the loss of words and what you can do to maintain an actual pen-to-paper history. Remember this Christmas the impact of how God chose to communicate with us–with words.

John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Every day, I think about losing our written words. Do you?

Have a Merry Christmas.