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Summer Update

July 31, 2012

I haven’t written in a while, but we are finally back in town after a very busy July. With so much to catch up on it’s hard to know where to start, but I’ll just try to give you a sample of a few different things. First, some dialogue with Boone upon arriving home in Charlotte a six hour road trip on Sunday.

Boone (enthusiastically): Ella and Hattie (next door neighbors) have pwobably been missing us.
Me: I bet they have.
Boone: Go ask them.
Me: What?
Boone: Go over and ask them if they’ve been missing us and come back and tell me.
Me: Uh no thanks, you can do that if you want to.
Boone: Okay (walks out the back door).Me: Pick out your pajamas (from the overstuffed bag we just hauled in).

Boone: I want this one (pulling out the shorts to a set for which there was no accompanying shirt).
Me (after rummaging through the bag unsuccessfully) I can’t find the matching one, let’s pick another one.
Boone (now distracted and off in another room): The matching one is pwobably at the way bottom.

And then Haven:
Haven: Next time you go to Mexico, get some walkie talkies that go all over the world.
Me: What for?
Haven: Cause then I could tell you my feelings.

The highlight of the summer will no doubt be my mission trip to Mexico with Vail a few weeks ago. We went with Sports Outreach to Ometepec to help local missionaries Katie and Ben Johnson with a number of projects there. For details on the trip, check out the blog at

For Vail and I this trip was absolutely amazing. It began as a desire to help her through this past year. She has had a tough year as you can imagine, and I wanted to do something that would help her take her eyes off of herself. A few months ago, when I asked our pastor Mark about a mission trip, he said to my amazement that our church was involved with one this summer that would be appropriate for children, even for a nine year old.

The trip was impactful from all perspectives: serving and caring for people, seeing what God is doing through the missionaries planted there, getting to hear the faith stories of our team members, all of whom were brought together specifically for this trip. One of the highlights for me was visiting a woman who had MS with our doctor and nurse and resident missionary. It really struck a chord with me because her symptoms were similar in some ways, to those Sydney experienced. We talked with the family and prayed for her and I was able to share how God was faithful to my family despite Sydney’s terrible and ultimately terminal illness.

Overall the kids are having a fantastic summer. I believe that much of grief work we have done with KinderMourn and through talking about Sydney and honoring her memory have really paid off. Even this past week at the beach we had a Celebrate Sydney Night where each member of the extended family (mostly the women) dressed in Sydney-like gear (ultra-wild, colorful and fabulous). Vail was proud to don her new yellow dress from Mexico. And then we each put a Sydney Question (a little too personal and invasive) in a bowl and passed it around and had everyone pick one out and answer one!

As I was organizing some “piles” around the house today, I ran across a few precious examples of grief work at KinderMourn. These are from Vail in the spring, but were too cute not to share. I especially love the description of Sydney’s funeral.

Finally, in addition to so many healing and happy times that are regenerating the story of our family, there is a continued measure of grief in missing Sydney in so many of the moving-on parts of our story.Sometimes it’s the joyful moment of laughter, such as in one of the above exchanges with Boone, which holds a trace of sorrow because there is no one to share it with. Sometimes its seeing them happy and swimming in the pool, so much more gracefully than Sydney observed last summer. Or, as it hit me recently when Boone graduated to a big bed, and I knew Sydney would be so proud.

Here is a verse from a Nanci Griffith song which struck me that past week.

I cannot find a place to put this love away
Or lose the thought of sunlight on your face
I thought I heard your voice say I love you today
But it was only the sound of my heart breaking

Talk to me while I’m listening now
While this love has a voice that we both can hear
Before you let it go, the greatest love I’ve ever known
Won’t you please… talk to me while I’m listening

– Talk to Me While I’m Listening

As sad as that is, I don’t experience it as sadness nearly as much anymore. I really have come to at least taste some of the richness of healthy grief. Yes, there is a sad part of it, but the sad part actually fades fairly quickly. And it fades into something very rich and healthy and beautiful and sweet. It is actually part of love, I think.

In The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers says, “… love is the most ruthless of all the passions, sparing neither itself, nor its object, nor the obstacles that stand in its way.” Great love is extremely painful. Both my love for Sydney and God’s love for me and us, which uses suffering.

The other thing I continue to learn is that grief is not something you “get over”. These grief experiences are not at all incongruent with moving on to life beyond Sydney. They are, in fact, part of the moving on and will be with us, to some degree, for the rest of our lives… alongside joy and hope and healing.

From → Stories

  1. Margie permalink

    As always, your posts bring smiles and tears to my eyes. Your words make me want to love more deeply and to remember that “the things on earth will grow stangely dim…in the light of His glory and grace.” Lots of love coming from Nashville to you guys.

  2. Kristin permalink

    Beautiful description of grief – its perspective changes everything and offers richness and depth that we might not otherwise experience. And, that’s one of my favorite songs! Continued prayers to you and your family. Thanks for sharing your family’s continued journey.

  3. Stephen Medlin permalink

    Dude, thanks for reminding me about how I need to be living. You don’t “get over it”, it becomes a part of you.

  4. Paula Long permalink

    I will never forget Sydney or you, and I continue to pray for you and your precious family. Wish so much I could do more. Your words are always a comfort and assurance of God’s presence.
    Paula Long

  5. Amy Wallace permalink

    Thank you for the glimpse into your summer. I miss spending my days with Haven and knowing how she is doing. Can’t wait for some smiles and hugs once school starts.

  6. Bert James permalink

    I always remember Sydney making, “being a Christian” cool and easier to comprehend. You share her gift. Respect and Love to you and your family

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