Monday, September 27, 2021

Summer of Faith

We just got home from a week's vacation in Chincoteague. Now summer is officially over, and we will begin fall routines.

When I flip through the photos from summer, I see joy. Life was busy and full. We had new experiences and tackled new challenges. We hosted guests that expanded our world view, interacted with youth who were passionate to serve Christ, and watched my older children learn new skills. Numerous people invited us to join them with events, trips, and activities. (I've been asked, what can I do for the widow at my church. My answer? Invite her to do things with you.) Here is a glimpse of our family's summer.

In August, friends invited us to join them for a work project in Maine. We helped remodel the VS house, including painting the entire outside. Our children loved spending the week with their friends, we accomplished a lot of work, and we were given a taste of Somalian culture because of the large Somalian immigrant population in that city. 

We took a few hours off to visit the Maine coast. The water was cold but the children still got in. The highlight was seeing a whale.

At the beginning of September, we spent a week at campmeeting. We enjoyed inspiring messages, hours of volleyball, and campfires. The fellowship was even more precious since campmeeting had been canceled last year.

Last week my brother and his family invited us to spend the week at Chincoteague with them. 

We tried our hand at crabbing.

Enjoyed the miles of bike trails.

And, of course, loved the beach. The water was warm, there were no crowds, and cousins make everything more fun.

I couldn't help but think of the contrast between this trip to Chincoteague from our first visit, three years ago. That was the first trip I had planned and executed alone. Even though Ed was with us, his cognitive ability had declined to the point that I felt like the sole adult. I remember feeling constantly on guard and responsible. 

This time I was so much more relaxed. My sister-in-law and I took a long walk one morning at sunrise while the men were making breakfast. One afternoon I rode my bike to a little used bookstore and lost all sense of time while perusing the shelves.

So our summer has been good. But when I think of the last few months, I remember my fragility. Underneath the rich joy of a full and busy life, many times I felt hollow. 

When Ed died in the spring of 2019, I told a friend that I couldn't mourn. I had spent two years, grieving the loss of Ed one inch at a time, and by his death, I couldn't wish his soul to stay in his broken body one more day. Caregiving had been brutal. Even though life wasn't normal without Ed, in many ways it wasn't as painful as life with a broken Ed. 

But grief met me in a deeper way this summer. Or maybe just in a different way. The permanence of losing Ed gapes wider and more intensely. There is nothing easy about single parenting - even with lots of help from family and friends. We again felt the claws of cancer when my dad was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago. Other friends face pain, and I'm reminded of how broken this world has been since the fall.

God continued to meet me through the blessing of friends, messages from His Word, and songs of worship. And I've enjoyed several books from those who have walked through grief. (This includes affiliate links.)

I've Seen the End of You by W. Lee Warren is the personal story of a neurosurgeon who fought to hold onto his faith as he watched his patients die with GBM (Ed's brain cancer.) The book doesn't hide any of the hard facts of GBM and I wouldn't recommend a brain cancer patient reading it, but I found it life-giving to hear Dr. Warren so honestly ask the hard questions I've asked. (Note: I don't agree with all of Dr. Warren's personal choices.)

Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn is a combined effort of two friends. Kara wrote only a small portion of the book since she was in hospice at the end of a battle with cancer. Her friend Jill wrote about facing death with a friend and what she learned through it. Ed and I had read Kara's other book The Hardest Peace which also depicts the struggle, but ultimately victory of faith in death.

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop is a study in lament. Digging into the Lament Psalms and the book of Lamentations, the author uses his own experience of losing a daughter to show how lament can draw us closer to God. Lament is vastly different than the world's way of coping with grief. I copied so much out of this book and highly recommend it for anyone grieving or attempting to help others who grieve.

I hope my faith has grown stronger this summer. I suppose only time will tell because I know that new challenges lie ahead and I'll need the continued presence of God. 

I'd love to hear how your faith has been challenged and strengthened this summer.


  1. Keeping you all in prayer. I am on a journey of cancer with my husband, Some days it seems unreal he is well at the moment, but we know time is short, the non-hogkins lymphoma will rear it's head again, we don't know how long we have, I feel I am grieving for the time we should have had, dreading the end, yet trying to live every moment. I cannot complain I have had 40 years with him, it's never enough though.
    God bless you. Sue

    1. Sue,
      I'm so sorry. I can so relate to the feeling of wanting to live every moment with your husband.

  2. I enjoyed this post. It made me smile at God's blessing on your family. Doris High (I met you at the ladies fellowship at campmeeting.)

    1. Doris,
      I loved meeting you and hearing from your life lessons!

  3. I've been reading your blog for a few years now. I think I first found it through the CLE magazine. I have prayed for and thought of your family often.
    I have had cancer and take ongoing medications. In addition, we lost our oldest child in April in a tragic car accident. He was 22, about to graduate college and be married. We have 8 other children. The grief is so big and raw, and I can identify with your hollow feeling, even in the midst of joyful times. Thank you for the book suggestions. I have the Deep Mercy one, but haven't begun it yet. Blessings and prayers

  4. It's interesting you mentioned the book "I've Seen the End of You," because I just skim-read it for the third time yesterday. I like how the thought comes through in that book that even if our prayers aren't answered in the way we think they should be, God still has a plan for our lives, and a reason for bringing us through it. Let's keep our eyes on the Lord, taking one step at a time!

  5. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. I hope that it was found early! But wow, grief is not linear, more like a ball of yarn. This week I listened to a good sermon on suffering by Tim Keller, this stuck with me, in the end when all sad things come untrue!!!!

  6. Thank you for sharing. I often think of you and your children. Recently I had heard of a Bible study, "Quieting a Noisy Soul", and thought it sounded really good. Then I found the tape set at the thrift store for $.50! I'd like to get the study guide that goes with it too. Here's a link for it.

  7. You're a great book reviewer/suggester! I just finished reading "I've Seen the End of You" from your recommendation here.


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