Monday, October 24, 2011

I Don't Have the Words

For the past month my father-in-law has been in the hospital. Less than a year ago he had brain surgery for a non-cancerous tumor that they were able to remove 90% of successfully. Inexplicably, it grew back with a vengeance.

About ten days ago he had another brain surgery to remove 90% of the new tumor. Since then he has undergone a series of surgical procedures because one thing keeps leading to another - a drain for fluid - a screen for a blood clot - a traecheotomy to prevent pneumonia, etc.

So far, by God's grace, he has rebounded exceptionally well after each one. And he's almost 81.

So it's hard to explain why the father of three boys, two of which have been on Ryan's baseball teams, passed away tonight after a long battle with Crohn's Disease which isn't normally fatal. He was about my age.

When Dan and I spoke with his wife about an hour after she said goodbye to her husband, I asked God for the right words to say. Words of comfort and hope. Words that would somehow strengthen or console her.

"I'm sorry" sounds so pitifully inadequate. But I am deeply sorry she has to experience such a tremendous loss and I said so.

"God loves you" doesn't sound much better to a grieving widow with three young sons, but I said that too. Then I added it probably didn't feel like that right now and that I do not know why God let this happen.

Because I don't. I don't know.

Sometimes you just don't have the words to say.

When I find myself in that place I am so grateful for God's Word. Especially verses like Romans 8:26...

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Summer's Sun in Fall's Playground

I've been experiencing something I've never experienced before in the month of October in my 40 plus years living in Chicago...a week of sunny and 75-82 degree weather. I guess I've never experienced it because it hasn't happened since the 1930's. So the name of the game has been play outside.

As much as humanly possible.

That objective was made easier by a 4 1/2 day weekend for my twins (thanks to parent-teacher conferences) and a three day weekend for my high schooler (thanks to Columbus Day) though she is quick to protest and call it Lief Ericson day. Not that he discovered America either, since there were people ALREADY HERE.

Anyway, on Friday I took the twins to a stellar Pumpkin Patch in South Barrington - Goebbert's on Higgins is THE PLACE to be. Because it was a weekday and not a holiday everything was cheaper. They bring in animals you wouldn't even see in the best city zoos and place them under three large tents - exotic birds, bears, tigers, alpacas, kangaroos, and on and on. $5 a head gets you into all three tents, the corn maze (it was harder than it looked) and access to a two tiered deck high enough to feed the giraffes face-to-face (they like carrots). We went with friends, ate apple cider donuts and basked in the harvest sunshine.

Saturday we sat outside for Ryan's homecoming football game. I'm not sure what business a bunch of 12 year olds have celebrating an alma mater tradition, but it's a great excuse to tailgate, legitimately TP your friend's houses and write your team name and jersey # all over your car.

We lost. Big. But it was still a GREAT afternoon.

Today I took my oldest (who was suffering in school while we played at the pumkin patch) to the Morton Arboretum. She's been begging for that excursion for the better part of the past three weeks. It's about 15 miles from where we live. We got to the exit next to the gardens in 20 minutes. And then it took an hour to get the extra 1/2 mile into the park. Apparently everyone and their brother shared our great idea.

Turns out it was totally worth it. My daughter's joy was only rivaled by the amazing color show God put on display. I will try to remember this two months from now when I'm shoveling my driveway and scraping my windows. We heard a couple of guys behind us talking about the new heavens and the new earth and we smiled at them and shared their wonder that the spectacular landscape around us was a mere glimpse of things to come.

Tomorrow we are headed up to Lake Geneva for the day to cap it all off. In the midst of a particularly busy season for us, I am truly grateful for this Indian Summer respite.