Today marks a day I have been looking forward to for a long time. This is the first entry for my newly launched online journal for The Anchor. I’ve been talking about and dreaming about this for so long and now the day is finally here. I chose to launch my journal today because it marks the ten-year anniversary of one of the most surreal, heartbreaking and reflective periods of my life.
Ten years ago, on April 26th, my oldest daughter, Karina Jean, passed away after a five-year battle with leukemia. After the most devastating storm of my life, I began to face the aftermath: navigating my broken heart and the heavy grief that lingered. Here I am ten years later in what remains a sacred time for me. I usually celebrate Karina’s life with a forget-me-not tea with my family and closest friends but sadly, it won’t be happening this year. I had planned on the 10th anniversary of her passing being an extra special remembrance but given our circumstances, this year is very different. Despite our current social limitations, what I can do is share with you a little more about my journey and the impact it has had on my life. I feel compelled to begin now more than ever to share some encouraging words and stories to inspire and help you to live anchored in today’s stormy world.
Annika, Erik, & Karina on our boat
My husband, Ron, and I have raised our three children (Karina, Annika, and Erik) in Gig Harbor, Washington, a beautiful coastal town in the Pacific Northwest. Our favorite family memories involve boating adventures around the Puget Sound and up the coast into Canada. Our favorite destination was Princess Louisa Inlet in British Columbia where we would drop anchor near our family’s favorite Young Life Camp, Malibu.
Being anchored is a familiar analogy for me. Our faith in Jesus Christ acted as our anchor and proved strong for my daughter, myself and my family and it still holds for us today. Karina was anchored in her faith from the onset when that biggest of storms hit. In 2005, on the last day of eighth grade, she was diagnosed with AML leukemia. She made it clear where her hope rested on that very first night in the hospital when she confidently said to me: “It’s alright, everything will be okay. If the worst happens, I’ll be with Grammie Jean [my mom who had passed away] and with Jesus.” That was her outlook throughout her entire journey with cancer: He was with her.
Karina battled leukemia three times. During her first relapse in 2006, our only hope was to do a stem cell transplant. Thankfully her younger sister and best friend, Annika, was the perfect stem cell match. Our family moved to Seattle for 100 days to be near the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital. As the days counted down, we were so excited to learn that the treatment had worked! Given her disease and the outcomes of many others with the same diagnosis, it was truly a miracle.
Our Sweet Karina
Karina had three perfect years with no complications or symptoms. Our family enjoyed making memories together without worry that the cancer would return, believing we were out of the woods thanks to the transplant. Then, one January day, we picked Karina up from her dorm at Seattle Pacific University to have her doctor check out some suspicious symptoms. We were caught completely off guard to learn that the cancer was back, and worse than ever. After three months of intense treatment, Karina passed away on April 26, 2010.
It was the words of our dear friend, a retired oncology doctor, who came to be with us daily in the last two weeks of our stay in the ICU that gave me pause, and later encouraged me. He cornered me in the corridor a few days before Karina died and asked me,
“Katie, is Jesus enough?”
At first, those were fighting words. I had been praying for Jesus to heal my daughter for years; of course that’s who I was trusting. But as his words settled in and I allowed myself to think through the worst-case scenario, I was able to say YES, Jesus IS enough. He had shown Himself to be everything to me and more. He had loved me and our family in amazing, specific ways through people and circumstances. He had been the anchor to hold my daughter and me when the fiercest waves threatened to drown our family.
In the years following Karina’s death, I began to have such a passion and desire to share how real Jesus is. I wanted to gather women of all ages together to step away from the storms of life and be encouraged, restored and filled with hope. I invited some friends into my living room and we began to dream and pray about what that could look like. We decided to name this gathering ‘The Anchor.” An anchor secures a ship to something firm and steady, when seas are calm or storms are raging. Hebrews 6:19 sums up our vision best;
We have this hope [Jesus] as an
anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Secure means for certain; there are too many things we try to anchor ourselves to that don’t have the certainty to hold, but Jesus does for today and forever.
The Anchor began eight years ago in my home town, Gig Harbor, and is now in ten Pacific Northwest cities and growing. Our mission is to gather women of all ages together to be encouraged and anchored in faith and friendship. I am dreaming big for The Anchor and my passion is to share the hope we have in Jesus to communities everywhere. Now more than ever with the uncertainties of this world, we can be confident that Jesus, our Anchor holds.
With love and light,
Sharing Strength & Hope
Now that our blog has officially launched (wow!) we’ll be sharing more content with you each week. Check your inbox on Tuesday mornings for content that will inspire you and grow your hope in Jesus, such as:
Articles from founder and director Katie Robertson
Posts featuring the Anchor Truths (with free phone backgrounds and art prints!)
Guest articles from women anchored in their faith
Content to uplift you, encourage you, and help you anchor yourself in the hope of Jesus
We can’t wait to make the vision of The Anchor Blog a reality!