I said "see you later" a few weeks ago to the Grandparent I was closest with. "See you later" because she gave her life to Jesus and is with Him for eternity, where I will one day be as well. What a sweet and joyous reunion that will be.
My Grandma Judy & I when I was 4 years old.
We all gathered in Kennebunkport, Maine where my Grandma spent the last many years of her life. Her and her friend Sue owned a lovely bed and breakfast for years and retired it in 2005. My Grandma's Memorial was a beautiful time of celebrating her life and celebrating what God has done in the life of our family...the way God has continually pursued our family through the darkest of years and the brightest of years. It was a beautiful testimony of the restoration found in Jesus, of the mercy and grace he constantly pursues us with.
My Grandma's 16 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren (missing two in the picture)
The jewelry box and book of poems.
- She was that over the top, fabulous, eccentric, out of the box family member. She was not your typical Grandma by any stretch of the imagination and she had the coolest old lady wardrobe ever! I mean really, how many granddaughters inherit TONS of really great shoes when their Grandma passes away? She always wore eccentric accessories including lots and lots of hats! So in honor of her, us girls wore hair accessories to her funeral (some of the little girls did too, and it was quite adorable).
- She was probably one of the most gullible people I have ever met. You could tell my Grandmother just about anything and she would believe you! Once as a kid, I bit off the tops of candy corn and told her I lost some teeth. The "Tooth Fairy" magically visited me that night at Grandma's. Ha!
- I think her snack and drink choices have never changed in all my 27 years! She only drank diet Schwepps Gingerale and Diet Pepsi. I think both of those liquids had replaced the water content in her body. She loved anything lemon and had a major love for Starbucks coffee ice cream, Smart Pop white cheddar popcorn, strawberry sundaes with strawberry syrup (always said with her most adorable New England accent) fig newtons, and whoopie pies.
- My Grandma had a knack for falling asleep in mid-conversation, waking up 30 minutes later, and continuing right where she left off, completely oblivious to why we were all laughing hysterically. (Note: this is why we were never allowed to drive with Grandma in her younger years. Haha).
My Gram when she came in from the snow that day.
I realized as I was writing out this story, that now it is lasting forever. The joy, happiness, and childlike heart she had in the snow that day, is what she is experiencing right now, in the presence of Jesus. She met him last week. Jesus. The one who created her. The one who sustained her entire life. The one who loved and pursued her. She met him. She stood before him, before Jesus. The fulfillment of hope for her. The longing of hope for us.
My Grandma that showed me parts of her heart that were real, raw, and challenging. She has always believed in me and the calling God has placed on my life. Always told me that she knew I would continue to love and serve Jesus. Always told me she was incredibly proud of me. Always encouraged me to remember the Lord and how He has blessed me. These conversations were great encouragement for my soul.
People falsely claim that because they believe in God, they will be shielded from harm, and if it finds them it will not hurt too badly. Equally insidious is the false claim that if pain finds you it is evidence of a failure in your beliefs. That is a lie that I think we may sometimes tell ourselves so that we can feel like we are in control. This is not the message we were intended to hear.
Life is full of beautiful people, knowing Jesus, yet experiencing dire pain. No, our lives will not be absent of pain, but the way we process that pain is what will be different. The journey of those painful experiences is what differs.
Grandma & I at my wedding.
No, your faith or your beliefs cannot change your odds. It doesn’t hedge your bets, and it doesn’t build up a buffer zone that will keep life’s circumstances from finding you. BUT, it can shape your perspective on the narrative of your life. I Thessalonians 4:13, says, “We do not want you to be uninformed brothers about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope.”
Life is not supposed to be this way. We were not created to experience pain like this. We were not created to experience death. God did not create the world and life to be this way. Then sin entered through Adam and Eve and it all changed. Death, pain, and sadness is now interwoven throughout our lives. It is because of this, that Jesus came. He came to be a rescuer... to rescue us from this world that is not how he made it. He sent Jesus to die for our sin, to rescue us. And one day, he is returning, but not as a humble, gentle baby this time, like we celebrate on Christmas day. This time, Jesus is coming as a Warrior, coming to complete His rescue mission, coming to make everything right again. One day, the pain of losing Grandma will be made right.
And so.... we have HOPE.