I was reading a book by John Ortberg called “Who is This Man”” for a class I’m taking, the premise of the book being all the ways that Jesus has impacted our world. For a man who lived a very simple life over 2,000 years ago, His impact on our world is staggering. One of the things mentioned was how “powerful regimes have often tried to establish their importance by dating the calendar around their existence…..The idea of Jesus trying to impose a calendar on anyone was laughable….From complete obscurity, Jesus came to public attention for the blink of an eye…Yet today, every time we glance at a calendar or date a check, we are reminded that chronologically at least, this incredibly brief life has become somehow the dividing line of history.” (p.13).
I would recommend the entire book – I loved it – but this point got me thinking. History has been divided – BC & AD – at the arrival of Christ. We do that in our own lives as well, don’t we? Mark time around significant events?
I have a digital photo frame in our living room, and even though I know which pictures are all on there, sometimes I will stop, and just watch what scrolls through. There’s a whole variety of things, from baby pictures to wedding pictures to recent family pictures, and everything in between. But I find myself mentally dating them – before the divorce, after the divorce. Before the wedding, after the wedding. Before anorexia, after anorexia.
So many milestones have marked our little family over the past few years, and they have changed us.
This is a before picture – this picture was taken just a few short weeks before I packed up the kids and moved out.
This one was taken just a couple of months later – same group of people, yet everything had changed. Before and after.
And then came the day that our family picture grew – from this:
Another major change.
These days, though, I find myself tracking most days by before Katie got sick, and after.
This picture was taken in August 2015 – we’d taken advantage of a sale that our talented friend Mark Orenstein of deJourdans Photographics was having and had family pictures done in Waterton. It was a great day, and we ended up with stunning pictures of our little family.
This was before. Still the same people as in the previous before/after – older, hopefully a little wiser, but the same people. Still our little family.
These are some of the after – same people, same little family. But yet so different. Having a child who is sick changes you, changes your family. Some of the best advice I’ve received on this journey came from the mother of a friend, whose daughter had struggled on this same journey. She reminded me that I have 3 kids, and while it was going to be hard, to watch out for the boys as we journeyed through Katie’s illness.
It’s been 3 years since we first began to be concerned for Katie’s health. 3 years – wow, seems like a lifetime. Maybe that’s why the pictures – looking at the before and the after – are so poignant, because I can’t really remember the before very well.
That last picture was just in September – Katie’s 19th birthday. She’s in college now – first year nursing – and I couldn’t be prouder. John is in grade 12, driving his own car, dating and looking to the future. Nathan is in grade 11, and is making plans already for a career in accounting.
It’s been quite the journey, these last few years. Some of it’s been hard – really, really hard. Some of it’s been good – really, really good. But through it all, there is one constant – God has been faithful through all of it. As I’m typing, I’m realizing that I’m rambling, and none of this really seems to make sense, and I don’t really know where I’m going. But maybe that’s where – through all of it, God has been there.
I remember very clearly a couple of years ago, the night before Katie was hospitalized the first time, being at Church at 6 because the Centre had a booth there, and one of the songs was “Cornerstone”. As I cried through the lyrics “When Darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil”, Pastor Ian walked up beside me, put his hand on my shoulder and said “These words are for you, Monica. These are your truth.”
And they have been.