You’re looking at the worst family photo of all time.
Obviously, the picture quality is really poor. My oldest daughter is missing a chunk of her head. Willow has red zombie eyes. And, I look like I haven’t slept or combed my hair in a week. I suppose that’s because there’s some truth in there. Sleep and self care were low on the priority list at the time of this picture.
Would you believe this was our first photo as a family of 5? Willow was a month old! We could have at least dressed up or taken it sooner, right?
Despite all the flaws mentioned above, the real reason this photo isn’t winning any trophies is because of what it represents. It’s something I’m really quite ashamed of. This photo captures the day I put my trust in something other than God.
The photo was taken 3 years ago at my parent’s house. We were there to drop off our oldest two kids as my husband and I needed to pour all of our attention into Willow. Just 14 hours before this photo was taken we had learned that Willow’s little heart was close to giving up. Her lungs were full of fluid, her body was tired of fighting. She needed surgery. Quick.
We knew the day was coming, we just never imagined it coming so quickly, so suddenly. There was no time to think. We just threw some stuff together, hopped in the van, plugged the address of The Mayo Clinic into my husband’s phone and headed that direction. I sent out a quick prayer request on Facebook somewhere along the way.
Halfway to our destination, we stopped at my mom and dad’s place. The visit felt strange. The kids were excited to see Grandma and Grandpa. While they knew their sister was going to have open surgery, they didn’t seem anxious like the rest of us.
The visit was quick as I wanted to get to the hospital as soon as possible. At that point in time Willow’s heart was so dysfunctional she slept between 22 and 23 hours a day. Her body was so exhausted. That’s why I was shocked that she seemed so awake and so alert at my parent’s house. It really made me uneasy.
You have to understand, my head was in a fog at the time. As I mentioned earlier, sleep wasn’t a high priority. I spent most of my time, including the overnight hours, trying to feed Willow. If I wasn’t feeding I was pumping. In the week and a half leading up to Willow’s surgery I actually set an alarm to go off every hour on the hour during the night. The alarm would sound and I would pick up Willow and spend the next 5 minutes trying to wake her. Sometimes I would blow on her. Sometimes I would tickle her. When times got really tough, I would take a cold washcloth to her belly. Would you believe, she was so weak, so exhausted, she would never open her eyes? If I was lucky, she would find the strength to latch on my breast and start feeding. It would last 2-3 minutes, if that. I’d then lay her down and attempt to get some sleep myself as I knew the alarm would sound again soon.
Now you understand why I was so surprised by her open eyes that day. I started thinking it was a sign. Not a good one, either. My head was in such a crazy place, I actually thought God was giving us one good moment as a full family. One last moment.
That’s when I had the idea to take a picture.
At some point earlier in time, I had realized that we hadn’t taken a photo of us as a family of 5, yet. This seemed like the perfect time. Willow was awake, alert and alive! I wanted to capture the moment, but more importantly, I wanted insurance.
You read that right.
I thought that if I didn’t take a picture of us that day, I’d end up regretting it. I thought Willow wouldn’t survive heart surgery, she’d die, and we’d be without a family photo. Because that’s how life works, right?
It feels so icky writing that. But, it’s how I felt at the time. I was so out of control, so helpless, I was looking anywhere and everywhere for help. If only I would have kept my eyes put. If only I would have kept my eyes on Jesus.
Believe me, I was praying. I knew dozens of others were praying for us, as well. But obviously I did not give my worries fully to Him. I put a lot of my trust in a picture. A lousy, low quality, make me want a shower and a long nap, picture.
I hate that pic.
Thankfully, Praise God, He doesn’t ever abandon his people. Even when they somewhat abandon Him.
God was there with us the day of Willow’s surgery and He’s here with us today, Willow’s heartaversary! It’s been 3 years! Praise God, her heart is beating strong.
My heart is working better, too. Since Willow’s surgery, I’ve been given lots of other opportunities to put my trust in God. He’s great like that, giving us second chances, third chances, or even fifty.
We even got a few more tries at a family photo.
I can’t say my hair or under eye circles got any better, though. Thank God for sunglasses!