Remember the Journey Part II: The Rest of the Story

A precious memory from the beginning of our journey.

A precious memory from the beginning of our journey.

Part II –Let God’s Timing be Perfect for You!
It’s true confessions time. Every journey has its tough moments. In Remember the Journey, Part I, you read of my hesitation to take pictures; my anxiety that my boy was not going to make it, and my irrational fear that I did not want my last pictures of him to be while he was sick and in the hospital. You also read how thankful I was to have pictures of that journey. Here is the “rest of the story.”

Christina bought me a disposable camera. She pushed it into my hands and told me to take pictures. I was not happy about that at the time. I remember putting it on the little shelf in the hospital room and almost resenting its presence. I vaguely remember pulling it out a few times and taking a picture, but I had no memory of how often or what occasions. Throughout the first few weeks of Andrew’s fight with cancer I lived in a state of exhaustion, anxiety and worry. Our life did not feel photo-worthy!

After about 2 months passed, once Andrew was in short-term remission, I began to relax and took a few pictures as I normally had – with the intention to scrapbook and keep track of our family milestones. Eventually my husband bought me a nice Canon digital camera and I took lots and lots of pictures. Christina and another scrapbooking buddy, Darlene, encouraged me to scrapbook Andrew’s fight with leukemia. Now here’s my confession.
They made me mad!
Not an “I-hate-you-mad” but more of a “why-are-you-pushing-me-mad.” Darlene bought me scrapbooking stickers of Band-Aids, stethoscopes and medicine bottles (cute ones– unlike real life) and Christina bought me a nice big book with extra pages. I stared at them in disbelief. How do you scrapbook an illness that kills? Are you kidding me? I scrapbook celebratory moments! Not sickness!

I even had that conversation with my friends. They would just smile and say, “someday you’ll be able to scrapbook it.” I had a big Rubbermaid tub I used to collect all the beautiful cards, prayers and posters that people sent us during Andrew’s illness. Those scrapbook supplies went in that tub, buried deep under the pile where I felt they belonged.

After a year of treatment passed I began to resume my scrapbooking tendencies and kept the family album fairly up-to-date. But even now if you look on our bookshelf of scrapbooks, you will find a gap in the dates. There is no book for 2004 or the beginning of 2005 – the scariest time of Andrew’s illness. How do you scrapbook a disaster?

The other night, during a thunderstorm, I thought God gave me the idea to blog about how important it is to chronicle the journey. I lay in bed thinking of all the pictures I wished I had taken. The moments when extended family visited, my three kids cuddling on the hospital bed, the times when Andrew and daddy were so close, and the wonderful hospital people that helped us.

Oh how I wished I had listened to Christina and taken pictures. I got up in the middle of the night and wrote Remember the Journey.

But it didn’t read the way it reads now. I wrote that “I wished I had taken” all those pictures. Suddenly my soul was craving the memories of family and loved ones who supported us; I wanted to remember how cute Andrew was at times, even at his sickest. I wanted to have a tangible record that declared, “Look what we made it through!” I had the middle and end of the journey pictures (although I think I’m learning we’re not actually done yet), but not the beginning. I finished up the article advising caregivers to chronicle their journey, went back to bed and slept. The next morning it suddenly hit me that I developed the pictures from that disposable camera at some point, but I hadn’t been ready to deal with them. They had joined the scrapbooking supplies in that big tub of cards. I don’t ever remember looking at them.

My husband and I dug the container out of our shed and I pawed through it, thinking I might find a picture to go with my article. I found the packet of pictures and as I drew them out of the envelope I gasped. There was a picture of the girls on the bed with Andrew on the first night they got to come see him. Oh! There was a picture of Marianne pushing the wheelchair through the dark halls. Another one of daddy walking along, holding a masked Andrew’s hand. Tears ran down my cheeks as I realized that in my tiredness and anxiety I had listened to my friend without even realizing it. God blessed me with pictures of moments that had stuck in my mind, but now Andrew and the girls could remember too. There’s a picture of Stacy reading, and the hospital staff working with Andrew. Picture after picture that I thought I had missed. I thought I had 4 grainy pictures taken with a webcam from the first 3 weeks of Andrew’s illness…turns out we have a whole roll.

In 2004, I didn’t think I wanted those pictures. I wasn’t ready to deal with them. Now I’ve been writing about things. Now I see the joy and beauty that God has brought to our family. Now I sense how this illness has made us more understanding, compassionate and patient. Now I can feel more trust and peace in letting God rule my life, whether I like what’s happening or not. Now, finally, God presented a surprise. He waited for me to be ready to cherish those pictures. I joyfully rewrote my article to read how thankful I feel for having those pictures.

But I realized that the article was not done: I had to share the joy of waiting on God’s timing! I need to rejoice that God heard my desires from last night, clear back in 2004!
God’s timing. Whether my loved ones are going through a tough time or a wonderful time, God’s design is exactly what it needs to be. Whether I’m sick, or healthy, tired or energized, God’s plan is ideal. Whether we play or work, laugh or cry, live or die, God’s will is flawless.

God has been teaching me for years – baby step by baby step. This latest step just involves pictures I couldn’t look at, thrown in a box I didn’t want to deal with, but revealed to me when I was ready to celebrate God’s amazing plans.
God’s timing is perfect for me.

Psalm 40:5 “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.”