Full frame

Every year around major holidays, I scour the ads for DSLR cameras. I am by no means a professional photographer, but I do get pretty upset when I’m trying to take pictures without a flash and they turn out blurry. So this mother’s day, my very kind husband cut my searching off and got me a Canon Rebel. I love it. But I’m noticing something.

I take a lot of pictures to get the shot I want.

The shot that doesn’t show the spit up stains on the baby’s collar. The one that lightens the imperfections in my skin. The one that zooms in on the subject and crops out the total surrounding mess. In fact, I’ve realized something.

With a camera and lens, I can make just about anything look pretty good.

But only in a picture.


Yesterday, my cousin lost her husband to cancer. I type that, and part of me wants to delete this entire post because I will never have the words to do justice to her sadness.

Because it makes me ask the hard question. The one I always want to ask when things like this happen.

I know I shouldn’t. I know I ought to trust. Have faith. Call the church prayer line. Get down on my two knees.


But my mouth is too full of questions. I keep tripping on the word why. And I wish there was a way to crop the sadness and hurt and emptiness out of this picture.


My cousin is a photographer. A real one. She takes amazing pictures, and I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m borrowing this one here.Scott and Anna

This picture left me aching for hours when I saw it last night. It is my cousin’s husband and her daughter.

It is perfect. Not for what it doesn’t contain, but for what it does. She didn’t retouch the photo, or add color where there wasn’t any. She simply made it black and white. And in so doing, what I saw most was the wideness of love from a daddy to a little girl.

I saw the full frame, and my heart wanted to explode with everything it contained.


Tonight, we all went for a walk courtesy of the barge, which is my new name for the stroller. (For the record, I think it only took us 32 minutes to get out of the house. We probably deserve some sort of medal.) The waning summer sun flirted with the trees in Wild River State Park, and I was wide awake for the first time in a few days.  My husband explained monarch facts to my mom and I while my daughter giggled with delight as she threw leaves in the trail, and the twins slept like tiny pink caterpillars snuggled into their blanket cocoons.

I found myself wishing I had a camera, because I wanted the moment. But then I realized that had I had one, I would have cut myself out of the picture, because I would no longer be IN the moment. I would become a bystander, calculating angles and light. Getting it all just right, but missing what I wanted most.

The actual experience. The ferocious enjoyment of life lived wide.

Full frame.

Life containing happiness and sorrow. Of joyful welcomes, and hard goodbyes. Life that has the gumption to ask why, and yet, be still and know the reasons to trust.


For Courtney, McCartney, Anna, and Scott


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