The Ebb and Flow of Life

It’s been four years since I wrote these words:

When the police came knocking on our door at 2:30am one bitter cold December night to tell us our son James had been killed in a highway accident, I thought it was the worst news a mother could ever hear. But early one morning three weeks ago, I got a call that was just as bad. Our daughter Irene called to ask me if I could come, because her husband had died that morning.

Years ago I read the book, Hind’s Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard. The author believed that each one of us is given a life companion which will either turn us to God or away from Him. This companion could be Fear, Pain, Anger… any number of possibilities. The companion is not of our choosing, but our response is our choice.

Hannah Hurnard may or may not be right, but when my daughter and I were talking that morning, I couldn’t help feeling it had been confirmed yet again. Loss. It’s a recurring theme in my life, and one I never seem to get past before it happens yet again. It wouldn’t be so hard, or so my thoughts and emotions go, if these men had been old when they died. But all of them were between the ages of 25 and 43.

The month of August has passed with a sense of surrealism, and it’s only the absence of an amazing young man in our lives that drives home the truth each day that Sean is gone from us. So does the plot in the Manola Cemetery, five miles from home, where Sean is buried beside our son James. “My two big sons”, I thought, the day we buried him. “My two big brothers”, said our youngest son, Nathaniel, who had just turned 14.

Sean Gutridge -- Apr. 4, 1970 - Aug. 9, 2013I feel as if I’ve been in hiding, or gone AWOL, in the past three weeks. My blog has been neglected… my Facebook profile shows the one track our life has been on. The temptation has been to feel as I’ve accomplished nothing. But often the EBB of life, when creativity and productivity appears to be at an all-time low, is just as productive as the FLOW, when all is rosy and good. These have been weeks of slow healing, as our daughter has been staying with us. We helped her through the difficult task of packing and cleaning and locking the doors for the last time on the apartment where she and Sean lived. It’s time for a new chapter in her life and in ours, without Sean.

And it’s time for me to turn aside from the beckoning of self-pity and weakness and turn to the future — a time when everything that has happened has led up to THIS moment in time. God never makes a mistake, and His timing is always perfect, no matter how wrong and painful it may seem to me at the time. I don’t know WHY this happened, or why so many key men in my life have died young. But I do know this… There is a reason for this, just as there is a reason for everything He does. And it’s all for good… to strengthen us and bring glory to His name.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

© Willena Flewelling

What’s in a Name

On this day 65 years ago, my parents were married. James Michael Cummins and Willena Mae Livingston… the best mom and dad a little girl could have had.

And now, a little story that tells something about my parents… [Read more…]

Remembering My Son

This beautiful hymn, written by Keith Green, was one of my son James’s favourites. In reading Keith Green’s bio online, I was surprised to find how close he was in age to our son, when he was taken in a plane crash, along with two of his little children. Keith was 28. Our James was 25. [Read more…]

Rabbit Trails and Time Capsules

Basic RGBRabbit Trails

I don’t know how I do it. I’m checking emails, and two hours later I wake up to find myself lost on some website, having no clue how I got there, or why I’m even there. [Read more…]

“I Like Big James Best”

Big James

Big James

Little James in this story turns 12 years old today. Big James was our oldest son, who was taken  from us about 7 months earlier. The following conversation took place in my living room on a summer evening in 2010… [Read more…]

Even the Smallest Details

raster. cherry heart

Today is June 5… a day my mind tends to drift down Memory Lane. I’d like to share a something that happened on a day that might otherwise have been filled with pain and sorrow. What God did for me that day was like a link between the two most important men in my life… a bridge between the past and the future. It was wonderful evidence to me that my loving heavenly Father cares about even the smallest details of my life. [Read more…]

Let’s Peek Through a Window

window_wood_darkI think we live in the best of times, enjoying the best of the present AND the past. The wonderful technology available to us today gives us a window into what was happening at any given point in the past.

Let’s take a peek through one of those windows now, shall we? [Read more…]

May 1, 1882

What does the First of May mean to you? Does it conjure up images of ribbons and maypoles?

To some, today is known as International Workers’ Day. To others it is Labor Day. Perhaps it makes you think of the Bee Gees song, The First of May.

For me, the First of May will always be remembered as my paternal grandmother’s birthday. [Read more…]

The Day My Life Changed Forever

December 29, 1982 began like any other winter morning in northern Alberta. But when they laid a tiny bundle in my arms early that afternoon, I knew my life would never be the same again. Six more children were born to us through the years. But there is something special about the firstborn child. As I gazed into her wonderful blue eyes and nuzzled her fuzzy blonde head, I prayed that Ian and I would be all she needed in a mother and father. [Read more…]


nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-180And the Madness begins again! November Madness. NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.

It’s Year 12 for our family, with a possibility of four of us participating. This time Nathaniel opted out, so I am the only one in our home who’s doing it.

NaNoWriMo. The best way for me to describe the fun, the excitement, the atmosphere of NaNoWriMo is to share something I wrote after our Kick-Off Party six years ago… [Read more…]