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Patricia Ector.

If the most telling test of a woman’s faith is her response to the “untimely” loss of those dearest to her, I may not have known a more faithful woman than Pat Ector.  She lost her husband suddenly around 10 years ago, and that grief was unmatched except for the tragic death of her only child one year later.

She spent her last years on earth as a widow in the truest sense, and in my life, one of God’s greatest examples of faith and fortitude after loss is that of Pat, a modern-day Job.  Her response, too, was worship in grief, and she bore so patiently and graciously the clumsy condolences of her friends, family, and church family.  Sometimes the greatest trial after tragedy is listening to what people have to say to you about it, and her response was always genuinely thank you, accepting the stumbling words — and sometimes, the stumbling theology, too.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

(Isaiah 43:2)

I’ll never forget her grace as she walked through the fire.

I’ll miss her singing voice.  For years, I served with her husband Robert on the praise team.  Not long after he left to join Heaven’s chorus, she joined our church’s praise team.  I count it an honor to have heard this faithful widow praising God after the death of her earthly bests.

I’ll miss her arm squeezes, her eyes glistening with tears as she called me “dear Tia” (never just Tia but always “dear” Tia), and her encouraging notes to me, even years after I moved away.  She was one of the first cheerleaders in my life to encourage me to write for God’s glory and the comfort of His people.

She wasn’t just “Pat” to me either.  For many years, she was “Sister Pat” in our correspondences … and then when I had my own children, she signed her name “Grandma Pat.”  And she was.

I’ll miss you, Pat.  I can’t imagine what your face looked like when you finally saw Jesus face to face.  I can’t imagine the reunion that happened between you and Robert and Michael.  I can’t wait to see you again soon one glorious day.  Until then, I’ll remember you, your love, your example.

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