Thursday, March 22, 2012

Unexpected Things

When I last posted, I was just beginning a 13 day much anticipated, much planned trip to Italy, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Halfway through, we were meeting up with our daughter, Hannah, who would be able to join us for the second half due to a week break in her study abroad schedule. I am now near the end of it. It has been amazing. I’ve seen things I’ve only read about it. 
And, I’ve cried. 
The day before we left, my 85 year old mother, who’s lived by herself for 8 years since my dad died, came down with the flu. Lou immediately started her on medicine, but that Sunday night before our plane left Monday at noon, we asked ourselves, “Do we go?” My sister-in-law had just arrived to stay at our house to care for our children and my mom - to be me for the week. We contacted our travel agent about refund policies, prayed for my mom and for wisdom and then decided to make the final decision the following morning. We’d see how Mom was doing. 
She was feeling better! And, to us, seemed quite a bit better. So, at her insistence and with her blessing and knowing she would be well cared for, we left. 
When we arrived in Rome, and were connected again via wifi, my sister-in-law let us know that on Tuesday morning, Mom took a turn for the worse. She was now in ICU.
I cried. 
Being 6 hours ahead of Bolivar, we had to be a bit strategic about “talking” to my family via skype and text-free to get updates and discuss future plans. My sister had already arrived and my brother was coming in on Wednesday. What should I do? To say I was torn is an understatement, and doesn’t adequately describe my Gordian knot of emotions. How could I stay on a European vacation while my mother and my family back home dealt with such a crisis? And what about Hannah? We were days from seeing her. We were her plans for her travel week. She also needed family at such a critical time. 
Mom’s prognosis was poor, but she had family near and was still threatening to kill me if I came home. We decided we would meet up with Hannah and then I would risk the wrath of my mom and go home. Lou and Hannah would continue the trip and would be together to grieve if my mom died. 
I was to fly out of Salzburg on Monday. Then, the blessed, unexpected happened. Defying all odds, Mom began to improve. By Sunday night, she was being moved to a private room. I cried again.
Now what to do? She’s better. My brother had gone home. My sister-in-law was offering to stay another week since Mom was still in the hospital. I cried again. We’d already bought a plane ticket. Hannah used the words, “she’s better!” and “sunk cost” and encouraged me to stay. Lou wanted me to stay. My sister-in-law wanted me to stay. Mom had not known I had planned to come home and therefore had not anticipated my arrival nor planned my murder, so that was not an issue. Still torn, but trying to listen to the voices of those that love me, I decided to stay. 
More tears.
I don’t want you to think that all I’ve done on this trip is cry. I’ve had much balm for my soul. I’ve been walking the streets of  Rome, Florence, Salzburg, and Munich with two people I love. I’ve seen beauty and art that lifts your soul in all the right ways. Can I tell you that I truly have enjoyed this time? I plan to write a bit about those highlights - the unexpected ways the things I’ve encountered in Europe have affected me.
As I’ve written facebook messages to my close friends about all this, I’ve signed them “Trusting in a Sovereign God.” That’s about all you can do at times like this. You’re hanging on for dear life. Praying. Asking Him to help you think about it. To know what to do when you get information you weren’t expecting. You want to honor Him and the ones you love. You pray you do.
It’s Thursday, and we leave early Sunday morning, arriving back in Springfield on Sunday night. I’m thanking Him for the gift this trip has been. I’m praying for continued improvement in my mom’s health. And I’m trusting in a Sovereign God.


  1. Your mom probably knew you'd try to come home so she worked up some courage and love and got better for you!! God knew you needed the good news so you would stay...thank you, Lord!

  2. Hi Mrs. Harris!
    This is Sydney, Eric & Teresa Andersen's daughter. Maybe I'm a major creep for following your blog, but I love everything that you have to say! You are so encouraging and filled with so much joy and hope that can only come from the Holy Spirit. Your blog is truly refreshing. Hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Europe, and I'll be praying for your mom as well :)


  3. Yikes! What a stressful time for you!
    I'm glad your mum is slowly doing better, and I hope she recovers. :)