Abiding Light: A Book Review

This is the type of book that I hope you’ll never have a need to read. If you do, however, I hope a copy makes its way into your hands.

Written by my mother’s cousin’s daughter, Heidi L. Paulec shares the personal account of losing her cousin Jamie to death by suicide, including fond memories of him when he was alive, what it was like to receive the news of his death, and how this event has affected her life since then.

The book is very much a family keepsake in that it not only shares Heidi’s thoughts and feelings regarding this loss, but she also shares her family’s memories of Jamie (up to four generations), their thoughts and feelings upon receiving the news of his death, and how they have found hope in God since this tragedy through their firm foundation of faith.

The book is compelling, easy to read, and deeply vulnerable as each family member shares about their own struggles in the face of loss. Nonetheless, hope is the underlying theme of this book. Even in the darkest moments after Jamie’s passing, Heidi and her family have been able to see how God was and has always been their abiding light, sustaining them in their profound grief.

One of the greatest gifts this book has to offer (in my personal opinion) is the knowledge of knowing that no one is alone in such a journey of loss. Others have walked down this road and are ready and willing to lend a listening ear and a lot of empathy and compassion to those who suddenly find themselves in a similar story. Heidi offers resources at the end of her book so that individuals can connect with others in their journey of grief. She can also be contacted at her own website, found here: https://heidipaulec.com/abiding-light/.

Heidi furthermore offers the gift of hope to her readers, as already mentioned. Although she felt steeped in the murky waters of confusion in the early days of her loss, she has been able to see how God was right beside her, sustaining her and providing healing every step of the way.

Not only is this a good resource for those who have experienced loss of a loved one to death by suicide, but it is also an excellent resource for friends or family who are walking alongside a loved one who has lost someone by this means. Heidi provides her own thoughts about how she was best comforted throughout this time, providing the reader ideas on how to show compassion to others.

If you or someone you know is experiencing such a loss, please consider purchasing this book. It may very well be instrumental in your own healing journey (or the journey of someone you may know). It can be found in Barnes and Noble and online at Amazon.

I pray that none of us will ever have to experience this sort of loss, but may we be ready to be part of the healing journey of anyone who may journey this painful path. May we point others in their darkest moments of life to the Light of the World, the one and only Abiding Light.

God prepares us for grief with gifts from his hand, his mind, his heart. He strengthens. He comforts. And he connects us with a resilience and love like no other.”

Heidi L. Paulec, Abiding Light

Tumbleweeds

I meant to take Liam on a walk with me a few days ago, but instead I found myself sweeping up the patio and then picking up twigs in our yard as he played nearby. A windstorm had blown a bunch of tumbleweeds into our neighborhood a few days before Christmas, and although I had broken down the ones in our yard and filled several garbage bags with them on Christmas Eve, there were still a lot of remaining pieces scattered between the rocks.

The activity seemed fitting for my current mindset and mood. I’m generally excited to usher in a new year and dream about the possibilities that the next twelve months might bring, but this year has been different for me. I’ve been muddling through my normal New Year activities with little enthusiasm this time. The year that the world anxiously awaited is one that has met me with sorrow as my heart continues to ache for friends who suffered incredible losses last year.

Picking up twigs that day was a vivid reminder that, although we’ve entered a new year with hope of better days to come, we must still deal with the physical and emotional debris created by the damage of last year’s storms. We must pick up the broken pieces of our lives if we are to begin the healing process and start to move forward. In light of the aftermath of last year’s storms, perhaps we need to set aside some of our expectations over what we thought this year should be.

Recently I’ve come to realize that a year doesn’t need a whole lot of pizzazz or big celebrations to make it a good one. This year does not need to make up for “lost” time to make it worthwhile either. If the brokenhearted are able to find comfort and move toward healing this year, then it will be a good one. And if those who suffered physical, financial, or personal loss last year are able to move toward recovery in this one, then it will be a good year. But most of all, if we are able to experience God’s perfect peace in the midst of another potentially turbulent year, then I believe that we will be able to say by December that, at least personally, it was a good one.

If anything, last year clearly showed us that we cannot control our circumstances, but I hope it also clearly reminded us that God is still in control, and He can still fill our days with hope, joy, and peace in the middle of any storm. We must remember these things as we journey through these next twelve months. We must choose to remember that Jesus came to give us abundant life, and that life is dependent solely on Him and not on what any given year may bring.

As I mourn the losses from last year (and events that have already taken place this year), I find comfort in knowing that spring will come to our hearts again someday. This long season of winter won’t last forever. We may not enter into it feeling as young or as carefree as we once were, and it may not come as soon as we want or even look like what we were expecting. Nonetheless, just as the birds will sing and the flowers will bloom again, our hearts will find spring anew and delight afresh in the simple pleasures of life and God’s faithfulness throughout every season.

In the meantime, I will continue to pick up the twigs between the rocks in our yards as I delight in the sweetness of hope.