Random thoughts from Fall Break about life, death and family

Random thoughts from a Fall Break spent in Owensboro, Louisville and Nashville, on playgrounds and roller rinks, at farms and funeral homes, with kids and babies and cats …

  • We somehow managed to hit two restaurants with free dessert during the week. My conclusion: more restaurants should offer free dessert. Kids are happy because ice cream, parents are happy because they don’t have to pay for it, and the restaurant is happy because the family spent money on dinner. Win-win-win.
  • Open Table is one of the greatest inventions of our time. You can make a reservation – and cancel if you need to – without talking to ANYONE.
  • A baby’s laughter is the purest and best sound you will ever hear. Unless the baby and all of your other children are asleep. Then the quiet is the best sound ever.
  • Like spy fiction? Need a good series? Try Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. Fantastic books, and you might even learn a few things.
  • If you want people to talk to you and smile at you, just carry a baby around. They will make all sorts of unsolicited comments. The baby is cute, for instance, or she’s so big or so smart. They might even say as they walk past you, “How do I get one of those?” and you might reply with a grin, “You have to make them!”
  • Or, a wise old woman might hypothetically happen upon you in the soup aisle at the grocery store when your beautiful, perfect baby is crying uncontrollably. She stops and says, “Let me try something” and holds her hands out and you just hand her your baby because, well, it seemed like the thing to do. She holds the baby up and rubs her butt and … nothing happens. “That’s worked on every other baby I’ve ever tried,” she says, before giving her back and moving on. You’re left shaking your head, your other kids are wondering what just happened and you have to explain to your wife that you handed your baby to a complete stranger. Hypothetically, that is.
  • We were surrounded by unexpected death this Fall Break. In about a week’s time, the following people in our little corner of the world unexpectedly stepped into eternity:- Our friend, a 36-year old wife and mother of six, went to bed one night and didn’t wake up.

    – The 57-year old doctor who delivered all four of our biological kids and helped us through miscarriages and health challenges died of a heart attack.
    – A 26-year old wife and mom who had been battling cancer since my wife and I taught her in middle school 15 years ago finally slipped away.
    – Our trash didn’t get picked up on its normal day during Fall Break. Then we found out one of the workers, a 20-something dad, was hit and killed by another truck as he worked his route in the pre-dawn hours.

    This is loss. This is death that is sudden and violent and shocking. This is a bad dream that somehow doesn’t end. This is heart-rending. To leave kids without a mom? To head to work like any other day and not come home? To leave hundreds of patients without the reassuring presence they desperately need at such a vulnerable time in their lives? The holes left behind are huge and empty and unfillable.

    And yet, in the grief, there is a peace that truly passes understanding. There is unexpected grace. Most of all, there is a longing for the day when all things will be made new, when our world is redeemed, when death is defeated and Jesus reigns.

    We are reminded that nothing in this life is guaranteed. Nothing can give you security. When it’s all stripped away, the only thing that’s left is Christ. Put your hope and trust in him – nothing else matters.

    Events like this can bring about conversations with your children about eternity and salvation and life and death; they are disturbing illustrations of truth that bring them one step closer to the kingdom. Don’t waste what our friends gave you in their deaths, kids. Don’t wait. Turn now.

  • For the past couple of years, we have gone to the beach for Fall Break. This year we stayed home and treated the kids to fun activities around town we don’t normally get to do. We were together and happy, and even the days that featured a little too much togetherness were the perfect antidote to death. These ordinary days as a family – every moment, every laugh, every meal – meant so much more against a backdrop of darkness, and we were grateful for each of them.