52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The Last Two Weeks

Week 51, with the Dog

The photos for the last two weeks of the year are the obvious culprits.

Week 51

Week 51, with the Dog
Story contained in this post.

Week 52

Week 52, Christmas Jammies
Visual story contained in this post.

 

You’ve already seen them, so this post brings you nothing new visually. But stick with me just a moment.

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I’ve started working on a photo-slash-word book of this project for the boys. For myself. I didn’t know what to expect when I started out 52 weeks ago. I thought I’d take pictures of the boys and end up with some cute photos at the end. And I did. I scored some great shots over the year, ones that sit in frames atop the bookshelf in the living room and smile back at me from frames on the family photo wall. The visual aspect of watching them grow over the year is kind of awesome, and that reason alone makes the whole project worthwhile in my opinion.

What I didn’t expect to happen over the course of the project: The words that slowly came to accompany each photo. At first, I simply reiterated what the boys were doing in the photo or whined about how hard it was to get a good shot with low light and bad winter weather and so on. Not very interesting, not very to the point of the project.

Somewhere along the way, something more than words and descriptions began to accompany the photos. Instead of telling about the process of the photo-snapping, I began to tell stories. They weren’t necessarily the story that accompanied the photo of the week, but the stories belonged, they fit the project. The stories are as important as the photos; they always are.

The project of making this series into a book for the boys shifted gears from just a photo book to a book that allows more space for words, for the stories that nudged their way into this little project that evolved into something I didn’t quite expect. I’m most likely using a Blurb book, though I haven’t yet committed to a format or service just yet. I just know that I need to print out this year’s photos and stories for the two little boys that inspire me to be a better wife, mom, and person every day.

I have committed to continuing this series in 2014. I look forward to watching the boys grow visually throughout the next year under the scope of my lens — and writing and sharing the stories of that growth. I know it pushes me to grow right along with them each week, each step of the way.

 

 

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Nothing More

Nothing More

I’ve been fighting a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach since last week’s date night.

After a lovely dinner, my husband and I headed to a local bar to have a drink and sit for awhile in each other’s presence. Not long after the bartender waited on us, someone rushed in with news that slowly began to rock our small rural city to its core. I went to bed that night hoping that people had their stories wrong, that all was well with our little, mostly insulated world.

It wasn’t. In short, a 26-year-old mother working as a pizza delivery driver was kidnapped and murdered. Her children are three-years-old and two-and-a-half months old. I did not know this woman, and yet I cannot shake the feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I feel angry: What kind of monster does such a thing? I feel sad: Oh my God, her babies. I feel confused: What kind of God even allows something like this to happen? I feel shaken: I saw a car that I did not recognize on my Saturday early morning run and altered my route. I feel sick: Why, why, why, why, why.

I keep coming back to the line from Alternate Route’s new song, “Nothing More,” in this recent tragedy, in the ways people have been speaking to and about each other as of late, in my own feelings and interactions with the world at large.

“We are how we treat each other and nothing more.”

The song was written for Sandy Hook, but I am finding that it applies to all of the things.

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Nothing More

We don’t get to kill each other. We don’t get tell each other that we’re an abomination, against God’s plan for simply existing. We don’t get to deem people as less than because of the color of their skin, because of the size of their bank account, because of their disability, because of their sexual orientation, because of their age. We don’t get to throw hate out into the world and expect joy to grow forth from that seed we have sown.

You can live a pretty life on the outside with the two-point-five children, a dog, a spouse, a beautiful home, a nice car, and Pinterest worthy everything — but if you’re treating your fellow man as something expendable, something unworthy, then none of that matters. Not how often you go to church or how well-behaved your children may be or how esteemed your family is or what you think you have the right to say.

Having the compassion to love despite your right to do the opposite means so much more.

My heart feels heavy — for the senseless death of this young mother, for the way we treat each other, for the lives we waste by sowing seeds of hate — our own and the others we bring down with the weight of our words, our actions, our inaction. I don’t want to be held down by this weight, to be stuck and too scared to love out loud, to see you, to offer my heart, my compassion, my shoulder, my home. But it’s hard sometimes to live out loud, to act out of a place of love even when you know that the hatred is thick, the journey to peace is long, the weight so big and so heavy and so oddly shaped.

But for those who need it, who need someone to treat them like a human being, I’ll carry the weight. I hope you will too.