As you saw from our last entry, our summer began with mourning the loss of our friend, Carlin. He was an amazing young man and we were deeply saddened when we said goodbye. Many people asked us how we were able to provide support to his family when we had said goodbye to our Abby less than 6 months earlier. The answer to that is a resounding, "By the grace of God!" I remember driving to the same hospital where Abby had most of her treatment to visit Carlin. I would just say, "Lord, I don't know why you are asking me to support this family right now or how I am going to be able to do this without falling apart. You are going to have to give me the strength and the words". I want to tell you that it was an amazing experience. I felt such a sense of peace. My tears, which often flow quite easily, amazingly waited until I was at home in the quiet of my room. During this time I was so encouraged by the words from 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. It says, "All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ." We were so blessed that we had the privilege of being the arms of Jesus to Carlin and his family. Praise God for His goodness!
I still keep in touch with Ling, Sammy and Ling's cousin, Linda. In fact, Josiah invited them to his choir camp performance of Donkey Tales at our church and Ling and Linda came. We were thrilled to share more about Jesus with them through the wonderful performance that the children produced. Josiah was especially honored to play the part of Jesus in the musical. He had a small speaking part and thoroughly enjoyed his acting debut.
The day after the performance, we all boarded a plane to Atlanta. C. R. had business there and we all had the privilege of joining him for almost 2 weeks. C. R.'s dad Charles also joined us. We visited museums, other area attractions as well as family and friends. We especially enjoyed Zoo Atlanta where we made a point to see the giant pandas. As you may remember, pandas are very popular in our house because of Abby's stuffed Panda. Josiah, Daniel and Elizabeth still alternate sleeping with Abby's Panda so seeing the real pandas was very special.
After our Atlanta trip we stayed busy with swim classes, camp and other summer activities. The rest of July flew by and since we follow a year-round school schedule for homeschooling we were gearing up for school before we knew it. A few days before we were to start homeschooling, we decided to have a fun water day in the backyard. We set up some sprinklers as well as a water play table and got out a few water balloons. As we were getting ready to start, Josiah pointed out an unusual, bright, yellow butterfly that started fluttering around us and then left. I said to the kids that maybe Abby asked Jesus to send a butterfly along to let us know that she would have loved playing in the water with us. Suddenly, the butterfly returned and literally circled Josiah, then Daniel, then Elizabeth several times. They were, of course, delighted by this and started calling hello to Abby. It was fun to see this butterfly as well as another one like it hanging around while the kids played in the water.
Daniel adjusted to Kindergarten wonderfully and Josiah got back into the school routine after a few days. Both boys started their weekly homeschooling enrichment program last Monday. Daniel had no concerns about spending the day away from home and declared that he was going to like lunch time the best of his whole day. We're obviously hoping he finds other activities of interest as well! I am really looking forward to the time I'll be able to spend alone with Elizabeth on Mondays.
We celebrated birthdays with all three children this summer. Josiah turned 10 in June, Daniel turned 5 last week and Elizabeth turned 3 in June. It is encouraging for us to see how God continues reveal Himself and to provide comfort for each of them as they need it. They still mention missing Abby often and sometimes they are pretty sad. We hug each other a lot and ask Jesus often to give Abby hugs for us.
Finally, C.R. and I had the special blessing of a long weekend away in Coronado, California. Our wonderful family took care of the kids and we spent our days talking, resting, enjoying fabulous, live theater and appreciating the beautiful weather. It was a wonderful gift from God.
We would like to ask you to pray for a few things for us. First, we are asking God to show us how He wants us to use our experiences with Abby for His glory. We don't know exactly what that would involve, but we have a few thoughts. Please pray that He will open doors and show us how He wants to use our whole family for His purposes.
Second, please remember us in the fall when we would have celebrated Abby's 8th birthday. We anticipate that this October 23rd might be particularly difficult for all of us.
Finally, continue to pray for Carlin's family as they mourn their loss. Pray for God's comfort for them. Also, please pray for a young lady named Kellie that we met through A Hand of Hope. She will be going to Tucson sometime this fall for a Bone Marrow transplant at UMC. You can get more details from her website at http://teamkellie.org/diary.htm.
Thank you faithful prayer warriors and may God bless you.