Local Author Shares Her Inspirational Story About How “Hope Remains”
by James Coulter
The loss of a loved one is difficult to bear. Even harder is the untimely passing of a young child. Most people would be grieved if their youngest child passed away. They would be especially irate if someone they knew was responsible for their passing.
Although Summer Gordon and her husband, Reppard, are heartbroken by their youngest son’s untimely death, they eventually discovered the brightest light shining through the silver lining of the darkest clouds. They also learned to forgive the person who unintentionally cut their son’s life short, and through that forgiveness, formed a strong friendship.
In her their book, “Hope Remains: Seeing the Goodness of God in the Shadow of Suffering”, Summer and Reppard share their inspiring story of loss, grief, and forgiveness, all of which inevitably serve to better highlight the eternal love of God.
The Winter Haven native shared her story through a book signing hosted at Grove Roots on Friday evening. Local musician, Hunter Smith, provided live musical entertainment to accompany the event.
Originally from Winter Haven, Summer lives in North Port with her family. Nearly four years ago, her youngest son, Sawyer, was riding on his bike in their front yard. He rode into a busy road in front of their house, where he was struck by a passing vehicle.
Even more bitterly ironic, the man driving the vehicle was a member of their church. He was driving along when he glanced down at his phone. He did not see as the young boy passed in front of the car. Young Sawyer was transported via Bayflite to the hospital. A few hours later, he succumbed to his injuries and went home to be with the Lord.
Though forever saddened by the untimely loss of their youngest child, as with Job from the Bible, Summer and Reppard learned to trust God amidst the pain, strengthening their relationship with Him and even form a budding friendship with the young man who accidentally killed their son. Through their book, they not only share their story but also use it to divulge divine truths about God’s love.
“Our book shares a little bit about the tragedy and forgiveness and our relationship with him and also about the goodness of God through suffering,” Summer said. “Our hope was that someone will be able to read through this story and cling to this truth that God is good even when life is not.”
Originally, The Gordons shared their story on a local Christian radio station, The Joy FM, which produced a video that went viral through YouTube and social media. However, they felt pressed to share their story further by publishing a book.
“This is nothing I ever aspired to do,” Summer said. “It was a clear call that we heard the Lord tell us. I remember washing dishes at our sink. I felt in my spirit the Lord say “tell your story,” and I told him “we already have”…I had already done that part, but God was like, ‘No, you need to write a book.'”
“Hope Remains” often shifts perspective through the story, sharing the experiences of Summer, her husband, and even Casey, the man who had been driving the car that hit their son. More than simply a memoir, the book intertwines their story with everlasting Biblical wisdom to weave a parable of life and love eternal.
“It is part memoir and part Christian apologetics,” Summer said. “So it is not all memoir. We didn’t want it to be just us telling our story. We genuinely tell our story through our chapters, and then bring life application and charge to the reader.”’
Originally, the story was going to be written by a close, personal friends. However, Summer soon realized that the best people to tell their story were themselves. She and her husband wrote the story with contributions from a writer friends, had it professionally edited and proofread by a retired editor from Tyndale House, picked up by a notable Christian literary agent, and received an offer from a traditionally publishing house but ultimately decided to self-published on Amazon and Ingram Spark.
Upon publishing their book a month and a half ago, their book became listed as the a number one new release on Amazon. It has also been endorsed by two New York Times best-selling authors and a Christian music recording artist, Jonny Diaz, a Polk County native. The book has also received rave customer reviews.
“I’m never one to be at a loss for words, for this book, I seem to have a hard time figuring out how to express every feeling I’ve felt (ALL of them!),” one customer wrote on Amazon. “I’m also not the most avid reader, it’s something I aspire to be, but I could not put this book down and read it cover to cover in only a couple of nights.”
Summer was more than excited to return to her hometown of Winter Haven, which she considered to be a “homecoming” for her. Many local friends took the opportunity to visit with her and receive a copy of her book.
Joanne Scharff was middle school friends with Summer. Even after they went to different colleges and moved to different places, the two remained good friends. “I was in her wedding, and she was in my wedding,” Scharff said. “We have stayed connected, even though we have moved to different places.”
Scarff was motivated by “Hope Remains.” She considered it a well-written story with an inspirational message told from various perspectives, and she would highly recommend it to anyone.
“It is one of those books in the end where your heart is filled with hope, and it is one of those books, where at the end of reading it, you know that no matter what, there is still hope in everything,” she said.
Summer hopes that other people will be inspired by her story, especially if they recently experienced a loss in their life: “We basically want people to know not to lose hope when life gets hard, because every single one of us are going to go through trials. And we just want them to continue living because God has a purpose for their life and he won’t waste their pain.”
For more information about the book, “Hope Remains: Seeing the Goodness of God in the Shadow of Suffering”, visit the Amazon page at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SFR8YFN/