Saturday, March 6, 2010

Connecting the Dots...

Yes, it is my 100th post to my blog! I can hardly believe it! This seems like a milestone, a momentous occasion. I have had a sort of block as to how to celebrate. I couldn't just let it pass without doing something special. I have a wonderful guest post for you, and at the end, a giveaway!

A few weeks ago I attended Creative Memories' Regional Saturday event. It was an inspiring day for me! One of the highlights was a speech given in the afternoon by a colleauge, Creative Memories Unit Leader Mindy Black. She has given me permission to share it here. I hope you will be as blessed as I was! It really affirmed for me why I do what I do, and why I love it so much.

The Dot Connector
by Mindy Black
{Speech given at Creative Memories Regional Saturday, February 2010}

I’m delighted to be here with you all. I am here today on a mission. You see, I am a dot connector and I know there is someone out there today, maybe many of you, who need me to help you connect your dots.

I have had the joy of being a professional dot connector with Creative Memories for the past twelve years. During that time, I have learned a very important fact. As a math teacher I always taught students that the shortest distance between two points is a line. I have come to realize that the shortest distance between two people is a photograph. Photographs draw us together. Stories flow. Strangers become friends and families are bonded together.

Today I would like to share a few such stories with you. These stories have evoked a deep passion within me for what I do. Through Creative Memories, I have been able to connect my own personal dots, my family’s dots, and the dots of many dear friends I have met throughout the years. It is my hope that I can help you understand the incredible significance of what you do as a consultant and/or as an album maker.

Have you ever met someone special who truly impacted your life? Sally was that woman for me. When I was in college I was involved with a Christian group on campus. Scott and Sally Koefed were the young couple who led our group. They opened their home to us regularly and we spent many a Friday night laughing and playing games together into the wee hours there.

Sally was someone I deeply admired. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. Her intense love for Scott and their precious children was evident to all. I would watch her interact with each of them and would be amazed by her wisdom and wit. Sally always had a clever line to add to the conversation and I can still see her throwing her head back in laughter. Sally found great joy in raising her family and giving college students a home away from home. But what impressed me most about Sally was her genuine love for our Lord which simply radiated from her.

Two years ago I received news that Sally had been diagnosed with cancer at age 56. She was given two years to live. Scott and Sally actively kept us updated through her Care Page. Once again I was blessed through Scott and Sally at a time I needed to minister to them. Our loss was heaven’s gain when Sally went home to be with the Lord in October less than a year after her diagnosis.

When I heard the news I was overwhelmed with emotions. I wanted to be there with Scott and the kids. I had an intense need to be there. But “there” was Michigan and I was in North Carolina. There was no way for me to make that happen. I knew I could send flowers but that seemed empty to me. I couldn’t send my heart in flowers.

As I lay awake that night I kept asking God, “What can I do?” The thought of making an album kept coming to my mind. But how could I do that? I had only seen them a couple of times over the past twenty years. I didn’t have photos. Now was not the time to ask Scott for pictures. Then it came to me. There were pictures on the care pages.

The next day I set to work. I poured over the pages Scott and Sally had written. I wanted to give Scott and the kids something to hold in their hands. I wanted them to be able to read Sally’s words of love and encouragement over and over and hear her speaking to them. Carefully I lifted her words from the pages and wove them together with verses and songs that had encouraged them. The internet photos were not great quality but they were something. When I finished the paper album, I slipped it into the envelope and placed it in the mail, praying that it would bless those I loved during their difficult time.

I was shocked to receive a phone call from Scott within a couple of days. I can’t tell you how much that album met to him. He was so appreciative and talked about what a special and unexpected gift it was. He couldn’t wait to share it with his kids. Then he told me their youngest daughter was sick with the flu that day. My heart skipped a beat as I knew that when Joanna curled up with that album, her mother’s love would be reaching out to her once again when she needed her mother most. Yes, important dots were connected for all of us.

As Sally’s family meant the world to her, my husband and four children mean the world to me. Creating albums of love for my family enables me to connect our dots. My albums give me a place to proclaim my love to my family and to let my children know that I delight in them. Individual talents and triumphs are celebrated there with words of praise and encouragement which can read over and over. Within those pages I capture magical moments of trips taken so we can savor them again and again. There I record the very handprint of God as He guides our family.

One of my favorite albums holds the amazing adventure our family took through nine months of unemployment. We shouldn’t have survived one month yet God faithfully walked us through nine. The stories I could tell you! That album is one of our priceless treasures as it records the incredible miracles God worked on our behalf that I don’t ever want us to forget.

But it is not enough just to connect my dots and the dots of those I love. There are countless numbers of people around us who have their own stories to tell and dots that need connecting.

One of my customers was having trouble with her teenage son. It didn’t matter what she said. There was constant friction between the two of them. So she set about to make a baby album for him. In the album she reminded him of special times they had spent together and wrote of her love for him. When she completed the album she handed it to him. He placed the album under his arm and disappeared into his room without a word. An hour later he came out and threw his arms around her. You see, what he couldn’t hear went straight to his heart when he saw it in photos and print. Their dots were connected.

I’ve seen a grown man and woman with tears in their eyes after receiving an album on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Too often people enter the later years of life and wonder if their existence even mattered. When faced with an album filled with photos, stories, and letters of love from their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, that couple realized that they had indeed touched many lives and that they were very much loved. What a gift they were given!

Some albums won’t have their greatest impact until years later. I’ve helped adoptive parents create an album of love for a child they had yet to meet. There they shared the longing of their hearts for a child who they already loved but did not know. As the years pass and the child wonders about her “real parents”, she will rest secure in the love of the parents who longed for her before they had ever known her.

Yes, I am a dot connector and I love what I do! But so are you. If you are simply creating albums of love for your family, you are a crucial dot connector. If you are a consultant, you are both a family and a professional dot connector. Do you have any idea how huge this is?! Do you understand the significance of what you do when you come along side of others and help them create albums of love for their families and friends?

This isn’t just about selling stuff or creating hobbies. This is about impacting lives. I can’t do this all by myself. We consultants can’t do this by ourselves. We need customers to share the mission and we need more consultants to join us. You are here today for a reason. It is time for you to connect some dots. May you have joy in the journey. May it begin today.

Thank you for reading, and for sharing my journey in blogging with me! Are you a dot connector for your family or others? If not, or if you need assistance, I would love to help you. And, to commemorate my 100th post, I promised a giveaway! Leave a comment, tell me how you connect dots (or not), and you will be entered... the prize is a goody bag of Creative Memories products worth at least $25! All my followers will automatically be entered, as well as commenters. The drawing will close at midnight EST on Friday, March 12th.

{I'm participating in Tuesdays Unwrapped with Emily at Chatting at the Sky because ordinary, regular days have a way of slipping into sweet memories we want to keep.}


Anonymous said...

~ Blessings ~ to you Terri for thinking to ask for permission to post the speech read by Mindy. Brought tears to my eyes. Wow ~ this is what scrapbooking is all about. Not how many stickers we put on a page or if we use the latest and greatest product, but to capture those memories. What an amazing tribute to what gifts we have all been given from our Heavenly Father.

Sometimes we know what our special gifts are. Sometimes we don’t know what our special gifts are. The timing of this posting was perfect for something I working through in my life. God’s timing is always perfect.

Now I need to get myself together and try to put some makeup on and get ready for Church.

{{HUGS}} to you for posting this..

leeesenkiz said...

While mine is a simple story, my recent "connect the dots" moment was when I gave my mom a scrapbook to honor her for her 60th birthday this past December. I have learned so much from my mother, although it took me many years to realize it and even longer to acknowledge her for it. I don't think we truly see all the sacrifices our mothers made for us until we become mothers ourselves, and feel the fierce love towards our children, the same way our mothers still love us as adults.

Scrapbooking has taught me to try to see all of the little moments each day. They go by so fast and often unnoticed until we reflect on them when they are gone. I hope through documenting each tiny, fleeing moment, my children realize someday how loved they are.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my feelings !

Connie said...

So glad you were able to share this powerful message with us, Terri...makes me want to work on albums and tell EVERYONE I know how important it is to love our families through album-making! Thank you for being such a terrific example to us and for honoring the Lord through your life and communication.

Melanie said...

Beautiful, beautiful post Terri! Thanks so much for sharing it! And CONGRATS on your 100th post!!! How exciting! You have inspired me to start connecting more dots! And I love those little "speaking" cards you just blogged about...I'm thinking Mother's Day for my mom & MIL! I will talk to you!

Southern Gal said...

My family loves that I keep up with everyday things on my blog. It's a legacy for them. I would love to scrapbook, but I love sewing more right now! In season...

Trisha said...

What an encouraging story! Thank you so much for sharing.

I love to connect the dots. I do it through blogging, capturing everyday moments on camera, heartfelt discussions with my children each day, writing little notes to others, and recording God's blessings in my Multitude of Mercies journal.

Amy said...

What a wonderful post. This past summer I took over 2000 pictures that I plan to scrapbook & I hope it is a dot connecter for many. Thanks for sharing this post. And congrats on your 100th post.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing and caring.May God continue to richly bless your ministry. Thanks for reminding me that God calls us to share and spread the Good News in some of the oddest places. Everyday unknowing we minister to others.

Anonymous said...

I love your posting! I'm so proud to be my family's dot connector! I hope you don't mind but I've shared your post via the share link and email with some of my friends and family. I hope this inspires them to become a dot connector too!


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