It’s that time of year when people ask—How was your summer? I find I have multiple ways to describe this past season. 

It was the worst of times.

Partway through, I remember thinking how hard this summer was. After years of watching God provide incredible work and extraordinary workers at our little start-up, it was painful to watch it unravel. The work we started had to be shelved—perhaps never to be used in all the ways we had hoped. The losses were not only financial but social. I no longer had appointments with the contractors (friends) I was used to working with. They had to find work elsewhere. I was lonely.

And yet—

It was the best of times.

Losing a good thing is sad, but not necessarily tragic. In the truer story, endings are a prelude to what’s coming next.

The loss of the work I had planned to do liberated me for hours writing. I was able to complete over half of the manuscript for a book. I also had the unexpected opportunity to help write an application guide for some of my favorite Bible studies. And, I invested hours exploring possible directions God might be leading in this life-pivot to a new season.

I Got a Souvenir 

As a child, when we traveled as a family, I loved collecting souvenirs. Perhaps this reveals how much I love to shop, but also I was intrigued when I could find unusual reminders to hold onto. 

This summer didn’t include a road trip or time in shops looking for mementos. Instead—it ended with God answering prayer in a way I couldn’t have imagined. 

Some visiting guests asked if they could help me with a need I might have around the house or yard. I was blown away by their kindness. The main thing I needed was something I considered far too big and complicated to tackle. A tree near the back of my house was rotting. It needed to come down. 

Just a week or so before I stood looking at that tree, asking God how He wanted to provide a way to deal with it. Turns out my house guests were extremely skilled at tree removal. A borrowed chain saw and a few hours the next morning left me with a stump and firewood to chop up. We hauled the branches to the street for the city to pick up. 

For years that tree provided marvelous shade to half of my back porch every afternoon. It had stunningly beautiful spring buds. I miss losing it. And the stump and roots? It will take serious work ahead of me to get rid of those. 

You may not think a stump to remove is a great souvenir, but I do. It’s a reminder to me that endings are normal. Even what is useful and beautiful runs its course. Good things are not ultimate things. 

The season has passed. Now I can’t help but wonder what God has dreamed up to fill the empty places. 


  1. Wendy Riley

    Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry to hear about all your disappointments but love your perspective in everything. I hope you get the comfort of many cozy fires this fall or winter from that tree.

  2. Esther Wilkison

    Thanks, Wendy. I’m sure there will be cozy fires and many other good things. God has more in mind for us than we can ask or imagine.


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