As we finish up the first week of the new school year, I have to say things are off to a good start. Sure, we’re all a little more tired, as we adjust to early wakeup calls, longer days, sports practices, and homework. But I always welcome the opportunity to start fresh in the fall, to return to routines, and reset those rhythms that have fallen behind, during the leisurely days of summer.
But before I get too immersed in my autumn schedule—and all the coziness the season brings—I want to take just a few moments to capture what summer meant to me—what I learned, discovered, and grew to appreciate.
Five things I learned this summer:
1. The Lord gives … and takes away.
The beginning of summer was marked by a suffering I’ve never known before. I lost my seventh child to miscarriage, a little girl that we named Eva Elizabeth. She came into my life as quite a surprise, but her quick departure was a shock. At times, I wondered why? At times, I thought of how cruel this world is; how unfair. But my faith kept me going, because there was no where else to turn but to Jesus who triumphs over death and invites me to rise up with Him. And while the waves of grief come and go, I trust that Eva is safe in our Lord’s arms. And while I wish she was in mine, as I feel an emptiness like I have never felt before, His embrace is the best place to be … what I desire more than anything for myself and my entire family. Eva gets to pave our way to Heaven, and I take great solace in that truth.
2. I don’t have to walk this road alone.
I told very few people that I was expecting. I was overwhelmed, not feeling well, and oh yeah, we were in the process of moving, too. We were going to tell our children, right after my 12-week appointment, but that was when I found out Eva went to be with Jesus. Instead of happy news, we had to tell them the saddest news ever. And that was so hard.
A week later, I had a D&C, and at that point, it occurred to me that I was going through something devastating, and I needed support; I needed prayers.
So, I reached out.
And it was hard, and my pride made me feel like I was bothering people. But of course, I wasn’t. And the outpouring of love, care, and kindness was beautiful and humbling. Friends brought meals. They sent texts. They prayed. And their love, presence, and faith helped my healing process.
Yes, people care, and they want to help. And when we reach out and entrust them with the hard stuff, we honor them. We are meant to walk this road together. We don’t have to go through anything alone.
3. God sends us reminders of His love when we need them most.
After my miscarriage, I was emotionally exhausted. The last three months were a complete rollercoaster finding out I was expecting, pondering God’s plan in this little one’s life (and in our family), going through first trimester symptoms, only to find out that all of it was not meant to be. I was left feeling pretty desolate.
I longed to be swept up into God’s arms and to hide in the refuge of His love. But instead, I couldn’t feel His tenderness and comfort at all.
Then, one day on vacation, while we were hiking, God gave me a reminder of His loving presence in my life. A heart cut right into the rocky landscape.
Yes, God even fills the desolate, cracked, and rocky landscape with signs of His love!
I wondered how long the heart shape had been there? How many people had stopped in wonder to take a photo of it? Or did God carve it there just for me?
Regardless of this heart’s history, it reminded me that my faith is more than a feeling. It is stronger than my emotions. It keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. It requires me to reach out to others for prayer and support. And it teaches me to look beyond my limited expectations to see that God works in more ways than I will ever know.
(This isn’t the first time God has sent me a heart in nature.)
4. Maintaining normalcy during transitions is essential.
Moving is a big deal. Living in a home that is in disarray is unsettling. Seeing your favorite things get packed into boxes is emotional.
This summer, my family and I lived and breathed moving. And it was mentally, emotionally, and physically draining.
But in the midst of all the decluttering, organizing, and packing, we found it important to maintain a few normal routines and familiar rituals. This helped us through our major transition. It kept us united, and it encouraged us to support one another, especially when moving felt ridiculously stressful.
5. Life is better together.
This summer was like no other I have ever experienced. We endured a lot as a family—saying goodbye to Eva Elizabeth, before we could even meet her; saying goodbye to our house and neighborhood; moving to a new house; feeling unsettled for weeks and months on end; and hanging onto hope for what’s next. As hard as the summer was, we have good memories, too: our road trip to Lake Ozark, MO; spending 4th of July with neighbors; going to two movies two weekend in a row; venturing off to camp for the first time; and swimming a lot! Through it all, I am so grateful that we were together. We are family, and God has given us one another for reasons—big and small. What a gift!
What have you learned this summer? Please share your life lessons in the comments.
Joining this post to Emily P. Freeman’s seasonal “What I Learned” linkup.