Last week was one of the most intense weeks of my short life. On Sunday evening, my grandmother, who had fought cancer for a short period of time, passed away at 78. Andrea, my wife, was (note the past tense) pregnant at the time, which made decisions about me going to the funeral difficult, but she solved those on Tuesday morning around 12:45am when her water broke. After about 28 hours of labor, she gave birth to Lena Irene at 5am Wednesday morning. She was 7lbs, 6oz, and continues to be content… as long as you’re holding her. With Andrea’s mom here and Andrea’s permission, I left for Ohio at 3am Thursday morning, arriving at the funeral home at 10:30am for an 11am funeral service, at which I emotionally shared some thoughts about my grandmother – it was harder than I had expected. The time with family, though sad, was very nice. My sisters, brother-in-law, and I were able to go to grandma’s house and spend some time remembering grandma’s life, surrounded by walls that held so many memories. We also spent time together as an extended family, complete with a football game, Apples to Apples, and a Bob Evans breakfast on Friday morning before I hit the road to return to my newly expanded family. Friday and Saturday involved lots of sleep.

As people continue to offer congratulations and condolences simultaneously, I can’t help but think about how intricately tied life and death are, though apparently opposites. My life, other people’s lives, and history itself has a way of plodding along, not respecting the contradictions of each day. Yet my belief in a sovereign God helps me know that such events in close proximity are not accidently but divinely ordained. I’ve thought about how the life, death, and resurrection life of Christ allow believers to die to self, live to Christ, and have the hope of eternal life. I’ve thought about how my grandmother, because of her faith in the saving power of the death and resurrection of Christ, is more alive now than she ever was. How she had to die in the land of the dying so she could live in the land of everlasting life. And I’ve thought about how for Lena, though young and just days old, physical death is a threat and spiritual death is a reality. That all who live to old age and die were once a tiny son or daughter, dependent on family for life. I’m sure there’s more to this life/death dichotomy, but these are the thoughts that have come to my mind over the past days. I thank God that things happened when and how they did, and I believe that “it is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart” (Proverbs 7:2).

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In contrast to these deep thoughts, I have to share three things that have cracked me up lately, while resisting talking about how laughter and sorrow are intricately tied…

  • I received a phone call yesterday from a pet grooming business, reminding me of my appointment to have my two yorkies groomed. I informed them that I did not have any dogs, but the fact that she used the word “yorkies” made me smile for a while.
  • A week or so ago, Andrea and I were having a political conversation at the dinner table. Elaine informed us that Joe Biden was in the church nursery and had cried for his mommy.
  • We have begun reading the Bible and praying together as a family. We all take turns. Yesterday, Elaine’s reading of her upside down, pink New Testament went like this: “And Jesus was walking around by himself. ‘A egg!’ he shouted.”
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