Alive with Color

Candy blogs: Last night I dug out a book I hadn’t looked at in a while. Inside was an envelope with my random mixture of abbreviations and old shorthand phrases. A couple of years ago we were traveling and I had heard a song on the radio that completely drew me in at the time. I scratched down the information on this envelope so I would remember to blog about it. Ha! That was a couple of years ago. One of my top five strengths from “Living Your Strengths” is Connectedness. Among other things, this means I believe things happen for a reason. And I believe I found this note last night at just the right time.

The song that drew me in was In Color by Jamey Johnson (love this You Tube video!). It’s about a man who is looking through old family photographs with his grandfather. The grandfather tells the story of his life to his grandson through the pictures. For those of you who know me, it’s no surpise that this song touched me so deeply. I have always been our unofficial family historian and have shared this passion with many to encourage an intentional legacy.

I said, Grandpa what’s this picture here
It’s all black and white and ain’t real clear
Is that you there, he said, yeah I was eleven
Times were tough back in thirty-five
That’s me and Uncle Joe just tryin’ to survive
A cotton farm in the Great Depression
And if it looks like we were scared to death
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other …
You should have seen it in color

What will my grandchildren see in our family photographs?

with my Grandpa Ken Bertholf…age 10

When I was 11, I was just “tryin’ to survive and scared to death”, too. Our rag-a-muffin family lived in poverty and us kids endured the physical abuse of our mother by my first stepfather, who was a violent alcohlic. He had a loud, deep voice that sent chills down my spine when he became angry. We learned to keep our heads down and not talk too much. My life often seemed black and white with no color. But in frequent intervals, my grandparents always gave me the stability, hope and unconditional love that my wounded, fearful little heart needed. I’m sure it broke their heart to think of their grandchildren living such a life … and they didn’t know the half of it. But through it all they pointed me to Jesus Christ. Jesus became the one unchanging, immoveable force in my life. Their faith in God and their encouragement in my life gave me the strength to rise above my rag-a-muffin beginnings. I am no longer a victim. I am a strong, confident, contributing woman and citizen of the Kingdom of God. This is a story worth telling my grandchildren.

This one here was taken overseas
In the middle of hell in nineteen forty-three
In the winter time you can almost see my breath
That was my tail gunner ole’ Johnny McGee
He was a high school teacher from New Orleans
And he had my back right through the day we left
And if it looks like we were scared to death
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other
You should have seen it in color

1988 age 30 – What big HAIR you have!

When I was 30 I went through a burn out. I call it a burn out because I don’t know what else to call it. What I remember is that one Sunday morning I was responsible for some kind of children’s program at church and just before it was to begin, I shut down. I believe someone on the team didn’t come through with a crucial piece of the program and I couldn’t seem to make one more decision about what should be done about it.

I began to cry a deep, weary cry in front of my team. I told them I was done. My body and my mind couldn’t go on. They called on Scott to take me home. The next morning I went to my boss and asked for two weeks off. Some friends offered our family a free week in their condo in Vale. I spent the next week in my beloved northern Idaho with my beloved grandparents. I didn’t expain much to them about why I was there. They didn’t push me. They let me spend time in the familiar woods and trails and pond and streams. I used this time to try to find out why this happened. I spent a lot of time in the Bible, God’s word and I journaled a lot. They “had my back through the day I left”.

My burn out happened because I had been going full throttle as a doer. My husband and I both worked full time and had two small children. I also kept myself very busy in the church. I said yes to everything because I was good at a lot of things and because I thought that’s what good Christians should do. But I lacked spiritual power because I did everything in my own strength. That is such a cliche’, isn’tit? But it’s true. I didn’t have an intimate relationship with Jesus … I just DID things for Him and craved His approval. I found out that one can’t go on like that forever. My body and mind shut down so I could rest, take inventory, ponder, plan, gain perspective and learn to wait for God’s leading in how best to serve Him. This is a story worth telling my grandchildren.

This one is my favorite one
This is me and grandma in the summer sun
All dressed up the day we said our vows
You can’t tell it here but it was hot that June
That rose was red and her eyes were blue
And just look at that smile I was so proud

That’s the story of my life
Right there in black and white

Our Wedding Day Nov. 1977

This is a simple one. I loved my wedding. In our wedding pictures you can’t tell, but there was a raging snow storm in the mountains near our city. It kept many from attending and delayed and frazzled those who did make the trip. It was a cold, dreary, winter day in November but it was alive with color in my heart. It was the day I’d dreamed of. Even though we lost one of the flower girl baskets and the special ordered thank you notes haven’t appeared to this day and I regret not having silverware for the cake as I watched my best friend’s sophisticated mother eat cake from a napkin with her hands and I wish I hadn’t let my hair stylist talk me out of washing my hair because he thought it would stay better, I felt beautiful and I became a wife that day. “I was so proud” to become Candy Troutman. That’s story worth telling my grandchildren.

A picture’s worth a thousand words
But you can’t see what those shades of gray keep covered
You should have seen it in color

People say that a picture is worth a thousand words … but there is always so much more to the story than what can be seen in a photograph. It’s important to TELL your stories and pictures can often get us started telling. Our stories represent our life … they are the celebration of moments that make our lives alive with color! We’re here for a few short years and then we’re gone. Leaving a lasting legacy takes intentional effort. Pictures with their stories attached in some way are one way to leave a legacy.

What will your life say to your grandchildren? How will they know?

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4 responses

  1. peaceforthejourney | Reply

    Just a couple of nights ago, we were watching videos from 2004; Jadon and Amelia were thrilled with the showing, tracing back to their earlier days as toddlers! A while into it, my 9 year old daughter began to cry… “I don’t want to grow up, Mommy.” I understood her tears; I was shedding a few of my own. Still and yet, pictures and videos and remembrances from yesterday are good occasions to tell our stories.

    Not all of mine have beauty attached to them. Some of pictures weep aloud with tragedy and sorrow, but all of them are part of the woman I am today. I suppose I’m glad when someone takes the time to stop and look and listen to them. We need to do more of that, don’t you think? I’ve done that today, with your pictures, and I feel as if I know you better.

    Anyway, I’m rambling here, but I really do love hearing more of your story, although some of it makes me sad for the sorrow you’ve known. God is using it all, sister; thank you for allowing him to do so.

    peace`elaine

    1. Elaine ~ I love your touching story with Jadon & Amelia. Pictures are like that; they help us remember and celebrate important moments and seasons in our lives. And you’re so right about the “variety” of pictures that reflect our lives. The drab and the painful and the brilliant all combine into a life. I should probably share more of my story in this blog. You’re a love.

  2. Candy, that was profound and beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes. What a gift you have! Thank you!

    1. Hello Shirley ~ You know as much of my story as anyone does. I’m so grateful for having you on this journey with me. Hugs to you!

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