When I was growing up, I had a few favorite possessions. I loved my baseball cards, my action
figures, and believe it or not, my photo albums.
I think I ended up with maybe two or three albums by the time I graduated high school. In
hindsight, it seems almost comical how few photos I took in order to capture those first two
decades of my life.
But you must remember that those were the days of film cameras. Back then, you felt like you had to choose your moments very carefully. After all, each photo costs you real money—not just when you bought the film to begin with, but also when you went to the store to get your film developed. And if you didn’t have your camera with you, you’d miss some moments altogether.
My picture-taking picked up dramatically in college and my young married life. But still, it was the early 2000s, so my wife and I only had one place to put our printed photos: in a photo album. Or, in our case, MANY photo albums.
As I assembled our photo albums during those years, I always found it satisfying to look back on what I’d experienced and where I’d been… and to remember the people that I spent time with along the way. It made me feel the same way I had felt as a kid: thankful.
Fast-forward to 2005, when we joined the rest of the world and got our very first digital camera. I think, at first, it felt like a novelty or a fad. I mean, what were we supposed to do with all these digital images? My wife and I still went to the store to have our photos printed for many years. We continued to fill more and more albums with a visual record of the memories we made together.
The real change, though, came when we had children—which happened to coincide with drastic improvements in the capabilities of cameras on our phones. Our 2005-era digital camera went into a drawer, and I got to work documenting our growing family and taking more photos than I ever had before. (In those years, I probably took more photos in a day than in 18 years of childhood!)
This was incredibly exciting for me, because technology had made it possible to capture
limitless moments in real time. Every time I imported images from our phones to our computer, I was able to look back and see how our daughters had grown and changed so quickly. Once
again, I felt thankful.
My wife and I stopped making physical photo albums sometime in the early 2010s. But I kept
importing and organizing our photos on a digital drive—usually a few months at a time. Each
time I did this, it was an opportunity to look back and see what had recently happened in our lives, with enough distance that I could really begin to appreciate it.
I even went through our albums of old photos from before 2005 and scanned them so that our family’s “digital record” could be complete.
Eventually I figured out how to put a slide show of our favorite pictures as a screen saver on our TV. This was my favorite part, and still is. Images pop up at random from camping trips, Disney trips, baby photo shoots, and more—not to mention images of our relatives and friends. There’s a significant percentage of Lighthouse pictures in there as well, since we’ve been happily serving as Family Partners and Family Partner Leads ever since 2013!
Let’s be honest. I realize that these photos represent the “highlight reel” of our life together. The smiles don’t necessarily show the real struggles that were going on for us, and for the people around us, at any given time. And there were ALWAYS struggles. There were always stresses. There were always disappointments, frustrations, and unresolved questions.
But those photos remind me of the very best things in life—at least in the moments we’ve been lucky enough to capture. They represent joyful moments in time. They remind me of all the reasons I need to be thankful.
I’m thankful for the things we’ve done and experienced together.
I’m thankful for the memories we’ve made.
But most importantly, when I look back at the photos of my life, I’m thankful for the people I’ve
met along the way.
During this season of gratitude—amid the joys and struggles that are always part of
life—I hope we can all find moments to look back, reflect, and be thankful.
MEET MIKE TIEMANN:
Mike is an editor and writer. He is also a travel agent and travel enthusiast. Last but not least, he is a longtime volunteer with Lighthouse Family Retreat.