While You Were Away is a story of a mother whose family became fractured first by the intractable pain of family discord, alcoholism and fear, and secondly by the abduction of her four children by their own father. One Friday morning Mary Jane had seen them off for school located just four short blocks from home. By evening the reality of what was happening began to sink in. Eight and a half years followed, years when Mary Jane endured the unknown. No one could find the children and they, in turn, were too terrified to call home. She did not know what they had been told about their mother, and they in turn did not know anything but what they had been told by their father.
This is also a story of grief, of enduring the unspeakable, and of a remarkable faith and trust in God whose unfathomable grace sustained her. The ache and longing in her heart seldom ceased; nevertheless it was in her loneliness where the Lord offered her His intimacy, and she rested in His faithfulness. Mary Jane learned to trust Him in the dark of her abandonment and found nourishment in the reading of the Psalms which she prayed over and over in those days, months and years; she cried them silently in her spirit and sang them many times in her praise.