Wow--almost a week without a blog post. I think that's a record for me.
My father-in-law's funeral was Wednesday morning. After lunch with family and friends, we took to the road, making it almost to Little Rock Wednesday night. Thursday we finished the drive and arrived home in Chicagoland a little after midnight.
It has been a week for the record books. We got the news of my father-in-law's death Ash Wednesday at about 11:00 a.m. We were on the road for Texas by 4:30 that afternoon. The list of things that had to be cancelled or rescheduled or postponed was jaw-dropping. My son was playing in a chess tournament: the tournament director had to be notified that he could not continue. He had also been practicing in order to serve as pianist for our church school's elementary musical: another accompanist had to be found. My husband was preparing to lead a hymn festival to benefit Lutheran Child and Family Services: it was decided that his role was too essential for the hymn festival to proceed without him, so it was postponed. He was also scheduled to take his junior high choir to contest (with my son accompanying); the contest director had to be notified that they would not be attending after all.
The list goes on: piano students, choir practices, worship services, literature class, someone to check in on my mother, assorted details at my husband's office, not to mention packing. By the grace of God we got it all done.
In the meantime, our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ have been angels of mercy in the many ways they have offered assistance this week. Our senior pastor gave us cash for traveling money and his wife checked in on my mom in our absence. My husband's assistant cantor filled in not only for him, playing for services and directing choir practice, but also for me, stepping in as accompanist for a local junior high that I play for. Another pianist that I found to fill in for the community choir I play for--a woman I have never met--offered words of encouragement and promised her prayers on the phone. While we were gone, dear friends came to clean our mess of a house (which was even worse than usual because of several prior weeks of neglect and the huge rush in which we had to depart). They not only cleaned but also made sure there was fresh milk in the refrigerator, fresh flowers on the table, and welcome home treats on our pillows. We are not worthy of such treatment.
Finally, on our first day back, friends from church brought us supper, and we are told two more meals are coming our way. A blessing indeed, because upon our return we hit the ground running. I had rehearsals all day yesterday for yet another school music competition today.
Thank you to all who have prayed for our family during this trying week. We would appreciate the continued prayers, particularly for my mother-in-law as she mourns the loss of her husband while facing her own serious health issues; for my sister-in-law, who has taken a leave of absence from her job and will be caring for her mother for the foreseeable future; and for my husband, who along with his sister still has much to do moving forward to ensure the best interests and care of his mother.
In the next few days I'll share a bit about my father-in-law's funeral. He was not a "religious" man so did not have a church home. In the absence of a pastor, my husband officiated at his own father's funeral, something several people have observed to me that a man should not have to do. After all, it was his father who died. He should be the one getting comforted, not the one comforting others.
Agreed. But if you had been there . . . if you had been there, you would be thinking, like me, that there was no one else who could have risen to the occasion as he did, no one else who could have comforted those assembled as he, with the Word, managed to do.
More on that later.