Monday, February 28, 2011

The Shortest, Longest Month

I've finally figured out why February only has 28 days (or the occasional 29) one would survive north of I-80 if there wasn't the promise of Spring when we flip the calendar to March.

Although "spring" in March is kind of an oxymoron. In Chicago, it's usually "in like a lion, out like a lion." When Easter is early, which it usually is, we all gaze at sleeveless dresses and short sleeve dress shirts in the Sunday ads and then wear our parkas to church on Sunday. I remember a couple of years ago we had a snow storm on Good Friday and we built a huge snow bunny in the front yard.

I know February is going to drag on every year - I've lived here my whole life. I know it's going to feel like two or three months in one and so I shouldn't be surprised. But this year it seemed longer than others. I guess no matter how much you know what's coming you're still hoping for that reprieve. The calls come early and often from my sister in Denver to report temperatures in the 50's and 60's with a bright sun in a cloudless sky. You remember that movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? It's starting to feel like that. We actually broke the record in Chicago for the most snowfall in February...ever. Seriously. The old record was from the late 1800's.

I don't know how many times the sun was shining this month but it feels like I can count them while making the peace sign. Every color is white or gray or dull brown.

Last night there was a thundersnow shower. No, I'm not making it up. It's the second time this winter. This morning everything on our property; grass, driveway, sidewalk, stoop, was one giant sheet of ice. We didn't so much walk to the bus stop as glide there.

My husband is in Florida. It's 75 degrees. He had dinner on the waterfront outside. I'm happy for him. I really am. I'm thrilled he's getting a little break after driving his parents down there (which took three days) and visiting with his brother. And I totally get why his parents were chomping at the bit to go as well as why his brother moved there over twenty years ago.

Fortunately the sermon series at church this month has been "Staying the Course When You're Tired of the Battle" and it's all about perseverance. That's God's grace in action - providing a little warmth in the long, short month.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Yesterday was a day of good-byes. Both seemed too soon and both were bittersweet.

One was at a funeral for my sister-in-law's mom. We sat through the service and listened to the wonderful eulogy that captured the spirit of Mary with laughter and tears. Watching her family band around each other with love and support gave comfort even as it testified to the kind of woman she was. My heart hurts for her children and grandchildren who weren't ready to say good-bye. Life goes by so quickly.

The other farewell was for a beloved co-worker who is retiring and headed south to be near her daughter and grandaughters. She and her husband have made such an impact on so many lives at our church and they've done it all quietly, behind the scenes and with no wish but to see the Lord glorified through their efforts. I can't possibly bemoan their leaving knowing what a blessing they will be to their own family now.

At each event we celebrated the time we had together and at each event we mourned the time we'll have apart.

Days like that remind me how temporary this all is and how, for those who believe, an eternity together in the presence of the Lord is cause for rejoicing every day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day

In the last 24 hours 22" of snow fell outside ranking as the third worst snowstorm in Chicago's history. I remember the 2nd worst - it was 1979. I was 12 years old and the snow drifts on either side of our driveway seemed like mountains at the time. I don't think we even had a sled, but it was the time of bell bottom jeans and we coaxed the neighbor's huge German Shepherd into biting our jean bottoms and then got him to pull us along the snow. It was...awesome.

Apparently this one surpassed the storm of 1999 which I don't have any recollection of whatsoever. I may have blocked it out entirely. Caitlin would have just turned two, I was working full-time and I was four or five months pregnant with the twins.

The all time winner is still 1967 - the year of my birth, so that one isn't even a blip in the memory banks.

I'm confident we'll all remember this one.

It started somewhere between 2:00 and 2:30 pm yesterday and didn't stop until 9:00 am this morning. It came on fast, with almost whiteout conditions and did not let up all night. To make it even more memorable we got some thundersnow. Literally lightening and thunder in the midst of the snow. I've never seen anything like it in my life. O'Hare got over 20" and canceled hundreds of flights - no planes in the air last night at all. That hadn't happened since 9/11.

It's the first time the schools have been closed in 12 years. So we all slept in, had pancakes for breakfast and then bundled up to dig out. The neighbor kids were ringing the doorbell at 9:30 am ready to play. Ryan lasted outside for nearly two hours straight. Maggie quickly went inside for hot chocolate and a movie with some of the girls. Cait never made it past the garage door.

Because we had some advance notice I made the bold decision to finally break down and buy a snowblower. I figured I could spend the money on that or pay for our doctor's bills when both our backs go out and we collapse from the strain! Best investment we've made in quite some time. I got the last of it's kind (Toro Power Clear 180 - I highly recommend it) at Ace Hardware on Monday afternoon. I called Dan for permission first. I had wanted to surprise him but when I'm well into 3 digits on an expense it's always good to get agreement beforehand.

The snow plows didn't make it down our street until 11 am. One foolish neighbor made a sad attempt to get out onto the main road before then. His car is still stuck on the side of the road.

One of the photos above is of our neighbors house (ours is the split level in the background) because, honestly, it's more impressive footage of the damage. The other photo is one I've titled "The Hero Brigade" - it's Dan and two of our neighbors who, after clearing out their own driveways went on to an older couples' next door and then ended on the driveway of a widowed woman across the street.

A wonderful response to James 1:27.