A Summer to Remember, Part II

After my husband and I traveled through Switzerland and France in June, we returned home to Chicagoland, and I flew to Memphis the following day to pick up my children. I was so anxious to see them after a 9-day separation!

Once in Memphis, I had a virus, I’m sure from international travel, and was too sick to drive the children the 9 hours home. My children and I ended up staying in Memphis with my mom and step-dad for another week.

During the week in Memphis, God was so near. Every night when I would wake up sick, I would go out and sit on the sofa and read from my Bible study. It would be on exactly what I needed, like God being Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals thee. Verses that I would be pondering during the day would show up in the study.

I enjoyed spending time with my mom and step-dad, sitting together at dinner time, watching the news together, listening to a sermon together. My step-dad, who had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure in early June, was so peaceful. Though he was older, he had always been in wonderful health, always doing projects, strong in body and mind, driving, and so there was rarely a thought about him not being with us, even though we knew he couldn’t live forever. I specifically noticed this trip, though, my step-father was so full of peace and contentment. I had the thought, “He is ready to die.”

When I had 1st taken the kids to Memphis two weeks’ prior, I had the thought that this might be the last time we would see Poppy. I had never really felt it or thought it like this. I went to a Bible study with my mom one night (yes, sick, but able to get out), and we were broken into groups. When her group had to share, they designated her to talk, and I sat there looking at my mom, thinking how nice it was to do things together and how so many moms and daughters have that opportunity. I thought about how nice it would be to live in the same city and enjoy that kind of blessing. In all my years living in different cities, I’d never given consideration to that, but suddenly, it didn’t seem like a strange idea, but was rather a new and welcome one.

While I was there, my mom had recently finished cleaning her attic (with my sister and me over Spring Break), and she was shipping a lot of her furniture out to Montana to my sister. The movers came, and after they left, I sat in her now spacious den, empty of so much furniture, and I wondered if there was a reason her home was now so clean.

All these things, all these thoughts, so small individually, but collectively, such preparation. It was such a sweet time with them both.

By the time I was able to drive, my husband was traveling to St. Louis for a book convention. He recently authored a fiction book, and he was taking part in some events there. He suggested I drive to St. Louis, spend the night there, and we’d all drive home to Chicago the next day.

We ended up having a wonderful time in St. Louis. Here my children are re-united with their dad after a full month of separation:


We then went to the arch:


From there we went to dinner, then my husband and son went to a Cardinals’ game:

The following morning, we took the children to the City Museum, a unique museum with all kinds of tunnels and places to explore:


Those are my children above, crawling through the outdoor tunnels at the museum.

We drove home that afternoon, only to have to turn around the following day and drive to Wisconsin to the lake to meet my in-laws. They were retiring and had 4 days left at a cabin, after which we could no longer use it. So now having traveled to Europe, Memphis, St. Louis, and finally home, we spent the night and drove to Wisconsin.

A picnic with smores:

Canoeing:

Tubing:

Boating:

We had a wonderful trip to Honey Rock, where I was able to rest and get through most of the rest of my strange virus. From there, we finally headed home, so thankful to be home for the rest of the summer, so thankful to get back to routine, so excited to unpack!

3 days later, after unpacking and getting organized, having re-entered normal life, I received a call from my mom. She said, “Tom is dead.” She told me the paramedics were there, she had just come home and found my step-dad on the floor by the bed. I tried to grasp what she was saying; it all seemed such a blur! No matter what you might expect, you are never ready for this.

I began packing and making my plans and flew back out that night, down to Memphis, to spend the night with my mom, her first night alone. It was so surreal. My husband, kids, and his mom drove down 2 days later, and my husband delivered the message at the funeral. Life can change in an instant, but somehow in the midst of it, we all saw God’s hand, felt His presence, sensed His goodness and timing and ways. It’s not that it wasn’t or isn’t painful, but there is such a difference when you are confident with hope that you will see the one you love again and that he is in the presence of his Savior. Thank you, Lord!

I remember saying, after hearing the news, “Lord, we give thanks, we rejoice, and we praise You.” And I remember a few moments later thinking it all through and saying, “Praise You, Lord, for that virus!” Had I not gotten sick, I would not have spent a week with my step-father just a week before he died. My kids spent two weeks with him. We enjoyed those moments, those conversations, like watching a little bird (who had made her nest in their front door wreath) and her babies.

Yes, thank you, Lord, for the virus. Thank you for your good and perfect ways. It was a small glimspe of how something that seems bad was so full of reason and purpose. If I could only always trust God in moments like that and remember His promise that all things do, in fact, work together for good to those who love Him.

I have one more post about the summer I’ll save for tomorrow, but I wanted to collect these memories in one place to remember what great things God has done. To God be the glory!

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