It was 3 years ago yesterday (June 21) that marked one of the events during our infamous “summer of 2013”. Some days, it seems like it was decades ago and others like it was just last month.
One of those events began on Father’s Day morning with a phone call that my Grandma had undergone emergency surgery over night and was in ICU with a unknown estimate of recovery. After a couple days of waiting, praying, phone calls with family and discussions with my husband I purchased a plane ticket to go and see her. The truth was, we didn’t know the outcome; and if we could only buy one plane ticket, I would rather hug my Grandma one last time than wait and attend her funeral. I flew out the next day and had the chance to spend some time with her before washing her feet in a painful transition from life on this earth. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done, to bear witness to. It was an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and at the same time wouldn’t trade one moment for anything in the world. She passed away, and I flew home the next morning.
That summer both of our children had pneumonia, my son had it twice and it took my daughter nearly three weeks to recover. I lost my Great Grandmother, Grandmother and Grandma within five weeks. Our water heater quit. Discovered my husband would need cataract surgery. Then for our berry farm, the pump in our irrigation well went out and we received a diagnosis of blight that nearly took one third of our new blueberry field. We just kept getting hit with challenge after challenge, and I couldn’t seem to grieve because it was all I could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other, do the next important thing. Just. Keep. Going.
Looking back, some of that summer was such a blur that I don’t remember portions. I do remember sharing some of what was going on with people at church and close friends, asking for prayer. One night a friend brought us dinner, it was a memorable act of love that blessed our family with a night of reprieve. We were blessed in huge acts of love and giving. I knew others were covering us in prayer, and those prayers meant the world. It was acts of love that kept me and my family afloat for those three challenging months.
But one of the most interesting things I’ve often looked back on and pondered was my personal prayers to God. You see, I got to a place where I felt like I couldn’t even pray. I could only repeat three words, because it’s all that would come out. “Thank you, Jesus.”
“Thank you, Jesus.” “Thank you, Jesus.” Over and over again. I think this part of the season lasted at least a month, it was all I could do.
It was in that thankfulness that I was able to trust God and His ways, and in a strange way see how my faith had grown. It was in this season I trudged through a study on the names of God, learning more about His character. I was thankful that to know I was not alone, and that my Creator would never leave me in the hard stuff. It was thankfulness that gave me a sense of peace and joy amongst the sadness and mourning. A James 1:2 joy and thankfulness; “Consider it all pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.” My favorite book in the bible is James, and I was thankful for the season to put into practice what I had first read on a creek bank in North Carolina when I was 17 years old. A thankfulness that the promise we receive in the trials is perseverance, and that it would be a part of my completeness.
At one point towards the end of summer, I called my paster after news of Gabe needing cataract surgery, wondering what I had done wrong to be going through all of this. I had reached the point to which I thought I could take no more. But, it was there and in the thankfulness that I continued to receive a peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
School began the end of August and I remember pressing forward, bound and determined for the “summer of 2013” to be OVER. That “fall of 2013” became precious to me, because it’s where I had pressed in to Him in a new way and received the first inklings of what I believe He is asking of me. It became a powerful season of spiritual growth! The hard labors of summer gave way to birth.
In a funny way, that season gave birth to more questions than answers. Questions that are still unanswered, 3 years later. But I’m willing to wait on Him, walking by faith. It was in the thankfulness where I learned, and in the thankfulness and God’s time that it will all be revealed. It’s in the thankfulness that He will guide and use each of us. In the thankfulness that we can give Him all the glory.