Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Finding God in June

Is June always this busy?

I think so. Community picnics, picking peas and strawberries, a week of Bible School - these events are found in every June.

This month we are also catching up on things that were not done earlier in the year such as achievement test and dental appointments. Friends and family have been inviting us for Sunday dinners and evening cookouts. We feel so much support.

Does it sound odd to say that we are having a good month? Maybe. We have our bad moments, but when I talk to moms with teens, I find that they deal with attitudes too. But we are having many good times. I don't know the proper way to work through grief and suspect that there aren't any rules. I'm at the point now that I can crack open the box, peek in, stir some memories around, then put it on the shelf for another day. I don't think I'm in denial or squelching my pain. I get panicky when I think of living without Ed for several decades. But I choose to only deal with grief for a little while then go enjoy these lovely June days.

 Here is a glimpse of our month.

My brothers continue to work on our AC project. Two different days we had to leave our house to avoid the fumes while they sprayed foam insulation in the attic. It was sorta fun to hang out for hours at the park, library, and mall play area with no hurry to get home. I realized how often I'm in a rush to get things done and rarely do I just sit on a park bench in the middle of the day.

A girlie tea party.

The children loved an evening with friends at the huge slide.

My dear friend Holly from Guatemala spent a week in Pennsylvania. We spent a whole day talking, only rousing ourselves from conversation long enough to feed our children. On another day I helped serve a tea party in honor of her mother's 70th birthday. It was held on the big front porch of her grandparent's farm house on one of the many perfect June days we have had this month. I felt like I had fallen into the pages of Southern Living magazine. 

On yet another evening, Holly and I with a few friends caught up on our current lives and relived memories of camping along the creek. I laughed harder those hours than I have in a very long time. Old friends are golden. 

My youngest brother took my boys and some of their cousins on a Saturday bike hike. I'm so grateful for all the ways uncles have invested in my boys' lives this month.

While their brothers were away, the girls wanted to do something special so they made cake pops. I thought it would be a Pinterest fail, but they had fun and the results tasted great even if they didn't quite match the photos.   

Long-time readers will remember the dutch oven gathering that Ed held each year. We decided to continue the tradition. We had maybe the best gathering yet, except that Ed wasn't present. I'll do a whole post on it next week.

I had my heart set on visiting Ed's sister Jean in North Carolina on Father's Day weekend since her husband Jason died eight years ago on this weekend. We drove down Sunday, enjoying an evening with fish tacos and games. 

On Monday morning we decided to drive to the beach. We had numerous delays including a bridge detour. We finally arrived at the state park where we planned to take a ferry to an island. When we pulled into the park and saw "ferry closed for the season" we nearly had tears from our travel-weary children. We found another beach and the boys hit the waves in minutes. 

By the time we loaded up our sun-burnt children hours later, we were ready to get home. But Jean had ordered 100 pounds of blueberries from a local blueberry farm and I thought we should take the time to get them first. 

We arrived at the farm down a long sandy lane just before closing time. We were met by the owner who told us that someone had already picked up our berries. Apparently Mennonites are the only ones who order 100 pounds of blueberries so when a Mennonite man asked for 100 pounds of berries, he was given Jean's berries. The pickers were just pulling in with a trailer load of berries so we offered to wait. We were able to watch them sort and box the sun-warmed berries and the owner loaded our boxes extra full for our trouble. 

I was a little worried about traversing the lane again. The deep sand made traction nearly impossible and the trucks had worn deep ruts. My van isn't good in snow and we soon found sand is just as bad. Our boys climbed out and threw sticks and beach towels into the ruts, but we were stuck. I figured we'd have to trudge back up the lane and beg help from the blueberry farm but on the same lane was several houses. In the house closest to where we were stuck lived friends of Jean. They kindly pulled us out of our predicament. I think God looks after widows.

How we regret that we have no photos of that experience. We know that anyone hearing of our adventure will figure that we were two females with no driving smarts. We have no proof of the horrible condition of that lane because my phone charger had broken earlier in the day and the only phone with us that still had power didn't have a camera. Jean's friends said that on the worse days the blueberry farm keeps a truck out in the lane just to pull out vehicles.

By now our snack stash had been mostly depleted. Jean suggested stopping to eat but her oldest son had put a huge casserole in the oven at home when he got home from work so I wanted to just keep driving. We opened a box of blueberries and nearly consumed five pounds by the time we pulled into the driveway hours later. The children still ate a huge pile of food before scrubbing off the layers of sand and falling into bed. 

I only wish we could have told the tale of our day to Jason and Ed. How they would have laughed at our escapades. I didn't even mention our failed attempt at dumpster diving. I'm so grateful for a fun adventurous sister-in-law who can keep laughing whatever happens.

The rest of our trip was low key. We hung out at Jean's just enjoying time together. We helped bake for their farmer's market. It was fun to get a peek at their daily activities.

I made over 25 pie crusts - probably more than I usually make in a year. 

On the night of the 18th we lit sparklers. I told the children that it had been one month since Ed had died. I asked our five-year-old if she thought there were sparklers in heaven. She didn't hesitate to inform me that there wasn't any darkness in heaven because Jesus is the light. 

Back in Pennsylvania, we had only been home for a few hours when the toilet overflowed. It wasn't a photographic moment. I thought I had it mopped up, but the next morning I found that it had leaked into the basement onto the stacks of boxes awaiting return to the attic. 

If any of you wonder if your prayers are being answered, here is proof. I was only mildly annoyed and not the stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed person that I would have expected to be when cleaning up a putrid mess after hours of driving.

I'm slowly working through the list of things that need transferred into my name. I'm almost enjoying the challenge though I wish it was not necessary. Nearly always I find that it is more complicated than I expected. One day I visited the bank and thought I had every possible paper signed. But taking Ed's name off one account dominoed into several other issues. I was at the bank two more times that week. Yesterday I did the titles and registration on vehicles. I'm amazed that I can walk into an office with a death certificate and explain what I need without tears. I remember totally breaking down one day when I was on the phone with the auto insurance secretary a few weeks before Ed's death. 

Either I've grown callous.

Or you are praying. 

I choose to believe that latter. God is powerful enough to help widows with stuck vehicles, clogged toilets, teenage attitudes, and endless paperwork. And He is gracious to give kind friends, helpful family, fun-loving children, and an overdose of beautiful weather.
I waited patiently for the Lord...He brought me...out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock...he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God; many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3


  1. Gina, you are doing so well. I am not sure I would have coped with the toilet situation at all. It is wonderful that you have such a supportive community around you. I always like to read about how you are managing halfway around the world. God is faithful.

  2. Losing someone precious certainly puts things into perspective. You and your children need normal in your lives. Smile and laugh a lot, enjoy the moment. There will be quiet times to reflect. I continue to pray for you as many do. Blessings to you all xx

  3. I'm so thankful the Lord is giving you lots of good times in the midst of the bad. Praying you will continue to feel His help and presence.

  4. Praise God! Such a wonderful report- I truly believe that God is carrying you and the children. It's such a blessing to have so much support from family and friends. And your brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus are praying lots for you all! Linn

  5. Precious sister, how good to hear this wonderful report. All of us who have read here for the last two years fear what you have gone through. Yet, we are seeing our kind and gracious God comfort and provide joyful strength for each moment. Your testimony only encourages me to "fly to the Rock that is higher than I."
    Praise His dear Name!
    Praying on............

  6. You are an amazing inspiration! God bless!

  7. I'm so glad to hear you have had a good June, Gina. While I don't comment often, I do read and I've been praying for you and your precious children.

  8. GIna, you inspire me to be a better person. To think more about the widows and children, especially in our church. How wonderful that you have such a strong support system.
    Prayers...yes. And lots of them from a lot of us.

  9. Oh, Gina! You have such a gift with words, and once again, I've been laughing at your southern escapades, and think you should share a bit more of the dumpster diving experience! :-) And I'm delighted that you did the dutch oven cookoff! I know Ed would be so proud of you and love that you're celebrating this fun event with friends! I always look forward to this post each year...and Randy does, too! :-) And Holly was home?!? I am so thrilled you ladies were able to catch up and savor time and memories together once again in person!!! Tears are streaming as you share of how God is carrying you through the tedious task of removing Ed's name from the necessary items...I'm certain, my dear Gina, you have not grown callous. I believe, too, this is evidence of the prayers of God's people, and His abundant grace...which has no limit! Much love to all of you, and continuing to pray....~Eunice & Randy

  10. You and your family are in my prayers. You are a wonderful Mother and you inspire me with your courage! That slide looks amazing. My kids would love that!!! Just started reading your blog and I love reading about your family.

  11. I believe that Jason and Ed, along with a "cloud of witnesses," are seeing your adventures and, with the perfect udnerstanding that we will only have in heaven, enjoying them.

  12. Thank you for the lovely update and pictures. You are an inspiration!!

  13. Your children are so blessed to have you as their Mom. They will remember your strength and love as they grow older. God bless you all!

  14. I still remember helping my mom 4 years ago when my dad passed. All the little details were getting so frustrating that we wanted to quit. Mom decided dad had bought a lot of stuff from the local store that she didn't use like nose spray and antacids, etc... and it was all bought mostly the month before. So we decided to take it back since dad had REALLY stocked up. Mom didn't have a receipt for all of it but when the guy at the customer service counter said I don't think I can take it back with out a receipt I said, "can you give my mom store credit?". He looked unsure then mom piped up and said - "I'm a widow, my husband just passed and I'm all alone now". This from my timid mom who never rocked the boat! Well he gave us cash back for it all (all unopened and in good shape) On the way out mom giggled and said, " your dad would be so proud of me for speaking up". It's moments like that. We can remember the good. I took a plane home a few days later with promises to return soon and on the plane I wrote down every single good thing my dad had taught me or said or done. I still add to it and those memories comfort me. Take care. You and your family (including extended family and friends) will keep his memory alive for his children. Prayers are being sent!

  15. Thanks for this very informative update. You are a very good writer. What a blessing you have with family & friends to walk this journey with you. I enjoyed seeing the "little tea party" I have a grown daughter who likes to have "tea parties"
    You continue to be an inspiration to me. !!! Keep writing

  16. Reading your post, brimming over with life in the midst of grief, I was reminded of King David...who prayed, wept and fasted until his child passed away; then rose, washed, dressed, asked for food, and went to console his wife and go on. Thank you for letting us know how you and your family are doing.

  17. I had to laugh at your adventures! I can picture doing the same things myself! LOL I think God sends special angels in all forms to protect widows and children.... and anyone else who asks for His help!

    One of my favorite verses is:

    For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalms 91:11.... <3

  18. Beautiful photos and beautiful writing--you're really spoiling your readers :) And my goodness no it's not at all strange or callous to have good times! [I will whisper that there can be some satisfaction in having good times when certain morbid people around you appear to be watching extra close for things to pity..]

  19. What a beautiful post, it's so wonderful Gina to see you and the children having fun and making new fun memories after such sad times.Yes we all are praying for you and how wonderful for all of us to know those prayers are giving you the support you need. Blessings to you ~ Linda

  20. Dear Gina,

    What a post, it made me smile and tear up. You and your children are amazing. Well done on all the driving with everyone and such beautiful memories with Ed's sister and all the children. Praying for you all.
    blessings to you all
    shelley p
    from over the pond

  21. Hello Gina, you probaly don't remember me, but I use to visit your blog many years ago! i am still blogging myself, and once in awhile I would think about you and your family. Your post of love and Christ and family always blessed my heart! I remember one of the children had a bad accident with her eyes. and I remember praying for her! I am so sorry of the loss of your Husband! You are an amazing strong woman that wholy trust the Lord and His provisions. Blessings, Roxy

  22. I have been wondering how you and the children were doing. Also praying for you all as well. So thankful life has been busy for you and that you have family and friends helping you all in areas like they're doing. You're such a great example to see how you're coping with all of the changes in your life. I have enjoyed your blog for many many years as well as some of your recipes mainly the canning ones. So thankful that God is helping you and your family!!! We'll get to meet each other one day in Heaven and I sure hope I will know who you are. Would be great meeting you in person. :-) Keep focusing on Him and keeping us updated. :-) Thank you for sharing to!!!

  23. So glad to hear how God is caring for you. Thanks for sharing and not worrying that you're not grieving enough, or what people will think if grief hits harder and you're not ok. God bless you in all the details! Sarah

  24. We are praying, Gina. And our God is so faithful. I praise Him that you are able to keep going and lift Him up. He is able to do far above what we imagine. God will continue to hold you close and give you the strength for each moment...

  25. Dear Gina,
    You haven't heard much from me in a long time, but I have thought of and prayed for you in spite of my silence. Since I haven't said it anywhere else, I will say it here: I am so so sorry for your loss. With my joy in my own engagement, I thought of you--both to mourn with you your own loss and to realize that I don't KNOW what the future of my marriage will be. Every moment is precious. And you have shown me that even the hardest moments can be embraced and fully lived with the help of God and His family. This post is beautiful because it shows you doing exactly that. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement you are to so many. As you continue to deal with grief and change, as well as growth, love, family, and decisions, may God continue to give you the strength and wisdom that is so evident in your life.

  26. Beautiful to see the good times you can have with friends and family!
    It is the prayers that are holding you up--and the God to whom they are directed. I have been reading Andrew Murray's book "With Christ in the School of Prayer" and realizing more the power of the praying saints.
    And the Bible is overflowing with references to His special place and heart for widows.
    Praying for you and your family,

  27. It is wonderful to hear about all of your adventures, you did have me laughing about the truck getting stuck, I think the toilet episode would have had me crying in defeat.There are no rules with grief, and when you think on the future, Matthew 6:34 comes to mind. Keeping you all close in prayer. Sue

  28. “She didn't hesitate to inform me that there wasn't any darkness in heaven because Jesus is the light.”

    I just really loved this!

  29. God bless you, Gina, as you carry on with courage, faith, and love.

  30. Gina, it's so lovely to hear how well you are doing by God's grace. You are an encouragement to others! It's wonderful to see how you are blessing your children and friends with your fully involved presence and your honesty about grief. May God continue to uphold and strengthen you.

  31. What adventures you are all having.
    Praying for you and your family God bless you
    and love to you all.

  32. Gina, I have read your many posts, with tears in my eyes. Being totally amazed at your stamina and your faith with our Lord. He is so good and mighty. Prayers your way for you and your beautiful family!

  33. So glad that you wrote . . . And assured us you are ok, I was beginning to worry about you . . . I am praying for you and yours, dear Girl!!!

  34. Thank you for sharing your journey in God's faithfulness, Gina. I am encouraged being reminded that circumstances big or small do not limit or change God.
    May God continue blessing you and your kids.

  35. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family even as you continue to bless others with your own testimony!!


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