Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



wendy’s throwback post

I really struggled with how much I should share in this post. So I will just share a little … My childhood ended abruptly in 1978, when my family was involved in a serious car accident. I was 7 years old.

Our family at that time consisted of my dad, mom, and little sister. My sister and I were close in age so everyone would ask if we were twins (my mom would often dress us alike), but I remember loving that. In fact, the day of the accident, we had brand new red and white gingham jumpers on that my aunt Betty had sewn for our trip.

That day, both my mother and my sister were killed. My dad and I had very serious injuries so we were still in the hospital when they had the funeral. Coming home I was filled with sorrow, worry, and fear. My dad was an amazing and strong example to me. I got to know him in a way that I hadn’t before. I watched him hold on to his faith and because of him I learned to cope by using prayer and talking to God. I knew that he was there listening and comforting me whenever I was scared or was missing my mom and sister — which was all of the time for a lot of years.

I don’t have many memories of the next several years. One of the things that made those years so difficult was that my mother hadn’t kept a journal or scrapbooks. They (the most important people in my life) were just gone. I feel that I missed out on truly knowing my mother as a woman. If she had just recorded those memories on paper and in photos I would’ve been able to continue to know and understand who she was and how she felt about being a wife and a mother. It’s still hard to think about what that 7-year-old girl lost that day, but I KNOW for certain that I will see them again.

My dad re-married and I gained a new mom, along with a little brother and sister. Life went on. The happy news in all of this is that I also gained so much because of this experience. It made me strong, faith-filled, grateful, and HAPPY; yes, I’m a super happy person most of the time. I have a deep belief in the importance of memory keeping, and I am trying to pass it on to my family and friends.

On two separate occasions I’ve had the privilege of being there for very dear friends as they battled cancer. In each instance, I was able to spend time with them and help them gather those memories while they were in hospice. The first time I wasn’t a scrapbooker and Project Life® wasn’t a thing yet. But because of my past I knew I had to help my sweet girlfriend get those memories down on paper for her two young sons. She had nothing written down and the week I spent with her was filled with laughter and tears, but it was sacred.

More recently, just a couple of weeks ago, I lost another friend to cancer. She was a strong and beautiful human being, but she had so much anxiety over the fact that she didn’t know where her photos were and felt an urgency to get them organized as quickly as possible. I was able to take stacks of supplies to her (thank you, Becky) and encouraged her to write as much down about each and every photo that she could. These memories and her words are now priceless to those who loved her.

I know that our trials do indeed make us stronger and more capable of helping others. I know that taking photos and recording the stories that go with them is more important than most may realize. And I know that this life is hard at times, but it’s beautiful. Documenting our experiences will touch those who come after us.


36 Responses

  1. So much love to you, Wendy! Thank you so much for sharing.. Documenting our stories will touch those who come after us, no doubt.

  2. Michele says:

    Love your post Wendy! Thank you so much for sharing just a tad bit of rawness from you. Sending love and hugs your way!

  3. Paul Brazelton says:

    I’m so grateful for you and sharing a part of you that is difficult to share. Between you and Toni I have been comforted and blessed. I’m grateful to be reminded that putting together life stories for those that have passed if we can is of great importance. Once again thanks to “Team Becky” for making a difference in lives that are already challenged.


  4. Pam Sanders says:

    You are truly a blessing! That’s an amazing perspective. What a wonderful reunion you will have some day with your mom and sister! Hugs to you!

  5. Denise says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal experience! I need to remember to write down what it feels like to be a wife and mother. Thanks for making me think and reminding me how blessed I am. You are a blessing.

  6. Whitney says:

    Wow. Wendy is such an example of grace. You’d never know from her bubbly, happy-go-lucky personality that she had to deal with so much at such a young age. I lost my father suddenly when I was 17, and I was just thinking over the weekend (again) just how much I missed out on knowing about him when he was younger. Some day, we will catch up on so much! But until then, what I will take away from this, is to continue recording our family memories, as well as my own personal memories for my daughter.

    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Dayna Gershick says:

    OMG Wendy so much love and respect for you for sharing your story and being there for your friends to be able to preserve and share theirs for their family. you are an inspiration and a wonderful reminder of why we scrapbook. Love and blessings to you and your family.

  8. Denise says:

    It sounds like you are your father are truly amazing. Thank you for your sharing

  9. Jessica says:

    Thank you for this post! How inspiring and I’m so glad you were able to take the positive out of your situation and made the choice to help others through your growth and strength. I lost my dad at age 7, and it has affected each of my family members in different ways. 3 years ago I was able to complete a memory book about my dad. The good the bad and the ugly. He was an amazing man and did so much good for those around him but he battled depression and alcoholism. He took his life at the young age of 34… making this memory book was a healing process for me and for others who shared their memories about him. I know the book will help many others learn about my dad and even help them in their own struggles. Anyways, you’re amazing! Keep up your hard work and continue letting your light shine!

  10. Dana says:

    Thank You for sharing something so personal! You have overcome so much. Your dear friends, how you helped them . Amazing. Very inspiring & now I have more motivation to get my memories documented!

  11. Sandra Cosway says:

    So very sorry for your loss, Wendy-and if there ever was a case for documenting your life’s!! memories, your story is it!

  12. Valerie says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve raised two grandchildren since the end of 2002 when they were 5 and 10. In July of 2007 they lost their mother, my oldest daughter. They were 10 and 15. Your story resonates with me. I know how devastating it was for them to lose their mother, and there wasn’t a father in their lives. Mothers Day and her August birthday are still very difficult for them and they’re now 19 and 24. You’ve turned out to be such an incredible person, and your experiences of loss at such a young age has helped in some ways to make you who you are today. And, you’re amazing.

  13. Barbara says:

    First and foremost, I am so sorry for your loss. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It is such an important reminder of why our memory keeping is so very important. You are an inspiration!

  14. Sandy says:

    I was blessed reading your story. Thanks for putting yourself out there for others to learn from your experiences. Big hugs.

  15. What a gift you are! Thank you for sharing your story.

  16. Lisamarie H says:

    Thank you for sharing your gift of story, faith and hope. You reminded me once again of what is precious.

  17. Audrey says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. We all needed to be reminded that preserving our photos and memories is not just a joy, but a responsibility also to those around us.

  18. Kris says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. A reminder why memory keeping is so important. Hugs to you.

  19. Monica says:

    WOW! Beautifully written!

  20. Lynnsey says:

    Wendy, this story is very inspiring, thank you so much sharing it. You have helped me today. You and your Dad are very strong, simply amazing.

  21. Toni Sullivan says:

    Wendy, your post just confirmed to me why my “order error” led me to you & helped us connect so naturally right from the beginning. I needed to share & you became an angel to me in a dark time (that continues but sparks of light like you continue to carry me). Sharing a glimpse of your life reminds me that we are all connected through sunshine & sorrow, & it is our duty to support each other always. Our faith is our constant in a world of constant change. THANK YOU for “listening” to your promptings to reach out to others. I, personally, am very grateful to you for sharing your gifts & your story, dear friend! ❤️

  22. Jen says:

    This post made me tear up. You’ve been through so much. Thank you for sharing your story and perspective. You are an example to even those of us who don’t know you.

    • wendy howe says:

      I’m so happy to share why I feel it’s so important to keep a record of our lives. Thank you.

  23. Jaimee says:

    Wow Wendy… what a tragic history. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing it. I live in a house full of boys and since I had my second son almost two years ago now, I have dug deeper in my PL albums and written many passages and letters to my sons in the albums. They roll their eyes at my hobby often, but someday they will be glad I wrote so much down. Thanks again for sharing your story.