Four years ago on this day, Keith was diagnosed with Wegener's Granulomatosis, a rare and life-threatening autoimmune disease. Sitting in the quiet house this morning, I decided to open my file of e-mails and pictures saved from the months surrounding his diagnosis. Wow...there is so much to be said for the impact of the year 2011 on our family, but also for all that has happened in the time since.
As I type these words, Keith is on his way home from Montana with our 2 oldest boys, hauling a load of bulls. It's almost hard to believe - and so easy to forget - that he's a guy with a suppressed immune system and a lengthy list of permanent side effects - a guy with on ongoing supply of blood test kits being shipped across the country each year in his name. The same guy that I refer to as "Ranch Boss." He doctors livestock, builds fences, and stacks a load of hay faster than the hired young men.
Looking back, I never would have imagined that my healthy 36 year old husband - dad of 3 boys, business owner, basketball coach, rancher, church board member, friend to many - would be signing releases for aggressive medical treatments and writing me instructions on how to handle family, business, and ranch decisions in the event he died.
More important than the shocking reality of his disease, though, is what the past four years have taught us. We can't work hard enough to make this disease go away, we can't write a check to heal Keith, we can't be better people in order to cure him...we have to rely on God, and we can give thanks to God, because this situation is out of our control. And when you realize that something on the scale of life and death is out of your hands, you come to understand that this is the case in all parts of your life.
None of us can work hard enough, be nice enough, do anything enough to save ourselves from the trials of this world. And the peace that comes along with that is life-changing.
Four years. 48 months, 208 weeks, and 1,461 days of a changed perspective on life...of something we are unexpectedly thankful for. It's been that many daily decisions to choose trust, joy, and hope, because really, that's the only good choice. Not simply four years, but four great years.
"Gratitude protects our hearts in the midst of suffering." Kara Tippetts