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A Family Update, Six Months Later

It’s hard for me to believe it, but today is exactly six months since Nick went to heaven. In some ways it feels like more than that, but in so many more it feels like less. Six months ago we were a family of five and looking forward to soon being a family of six through a fast-approaching wedding. Today we are a family of four, though with an unofficial “extra” we love very much and gladly consider a daughter, even if she never quite got to the point of taking on the family name.

Speaking of which, this Saturday, May 8, was to be their wedding day. How strange it is to think that this week we should be heading down to Louisville for a great celebration. We should be trying on suits and dresses, setting up a venue, welcoming friends and family, writing speeches, crying tears of joy. We should be preparing to have Nick and Ryn move back with us where they planned to spend the summer while carrying out ministry internships at our church—Nick in pastoral work and Ryn in missions. But those were all our should’s, not God’s. God’s will, which we still don’t understand, was to take Nick to himself and to leave us bereft. I know God’s will is always good, but sometimes it’s hard to see the goodness, even after six months.

I still visit Nick’s grave each Sunday after church. It seems fitting that on the day we worship and remember Christ’s death and resurrection, I also visit the place where Nick lies while awaiting his own resurrection (and where, at some point, I will lie as I await mine). Sometimes I also visit through the week, and that is becoming more common as the weather improves. I expect that on warm summer days I may just take my laptop, sit on the grass, and do some writing there. Just this week the cemetery finally laid sod over his grave, which improved it considerably. The tree that stands beside it is beginning to leaf. We will soon plant some flowers to add a bit of beauty, a bit of color, a bit of life. Though it’s a spot I’ve come to hate and love in nearly equal measure, it’s a spot I’m drawn to often.

In happier news, Abby is finally back from Louisville after completing her first year of studies at Boyce College. She flew to Buffalo and took a taxi across the border—the most seamless and cost-effective way of getting from the US to Canada in the age of COVID, and the one that does not involve an expensive stay at a quarantine hotel. She will serve out her 14-day quarantine here at home, then get back to work at the nearby grocery store where she has worked since she was 15 (as did her brother). Michaela continues on with high school via online classes, the only option in Ontario just now. Today is her 15th birthday so I suppose we’ll soon take her up to the store so she can carry on the tradition.

Aileen has been busy with various projects, including transforming Nick’s room into a beautiful guest room that we call “Ryn’s room,” in the hope that she will soon be allowed to cross the border and spend some time with us. It is Aileen’s birthday today as well—if you know that Michaela was born on Aileen’s 30th birthday, you can do the math from there. It was a very odd and very difficult thing for her to clear out Nick’s room—to essentially erase the major proof of his existence in our home. We took his theological works to the church to be dispersed among the pastors and seminarians there. His historical books were boxed up and will mostly be given away. His clothes were bagged up and donated, his various personal effects disbursed to friends and family members. What remains pretty much fits in a single suitcase that sits on a shelf in our basement. There is something very sobering about that, isn’t there? Jesus was certainly right when he said, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And it’s a good thing, too.

Knowing Enjoying GodAs for me, I continue to plug away on the blog and a couple of book projects that won’t see the light of day for at least another 18 months. However, I do have a book that is due to be released this fall, and one that is meant to be the first in a series. Knowing and Enjoying God is the first in a “Words from the Wise” series that will combine original “SquareQuotes” with short devotionals. It is now in the pre-order phase with a special bonus for those who are among the first few hundred to pre-order it. You can learn more at wordsfromthewisebooks.com. I’ve also been chipping away at some home improvement projects, though with all the stores around here closed because of COVID, it’s pretty difficult. I ordered a few simple baseboards from Home Depot and it took 3 days for them to prepare my order for pickup. If I run out of nails, it’s another 2 or 3 days to get them. It’s hard to make progress like that.

We remain under stay-at-home orders in Ontario, though hope is on the horizon as infection rates fall and vaccine rates improve—the main criteria the government has held up for resuming something like normalcy. So hopefully things can soon finally begin to return to the way they were. In the meantime we are supposed to leave home only to exercise or carry out essential tasks like grocery shopping, though this not enforced in any significant way. And while we are rather accustomed to this by now, I can’t deny we are growing weary of it. Still, we acknowledge it as an affliction that is no more than light and momentary.

Anyway, thank you for reading this far. Thank you especially to all who have prayed for my family through these strange and difficult days. We have experienced the Lord’s kindness through your kindness, and are so very grateful.