Lift Up Your Head and Be of Good Cheer

It’s been a quiet week here on the blog, but not at all quiet in real life.  While our days have been full and mostly happy, the past month has also been filled with a lot of loss for our family.

First of all, my Grandpa passed away and Edith and I made the trip to Iowa for his funeral. I’ve only been to Iowa a handful of times. I don’t remember the trip we took when I was a kid very well, but the three times I’ve been as an adult I was struck by the beauty of the gently rolling hills, the picturesque old barns and lush fields.  I painted my interpretation of the scenery we passed through in my Moleskine journal using Windsor Newton watercolor  and micron pens + my favorite uni-ball white gel pen.

While I was in Iowa, we received word that Jason’s dear Grandma was not doing well and had been admitted to the hospital. After a day or two to recover from my trip, I was able to spend a few hours with her there.   We visited and Grandma rested while I held her hand. (Jason’s parents, who were her primary caregivers, were on a much anticipated vacation at the time her health began to decline, so Jason’s incredible sister stepped in to arrange for Grandma’s around the clock care, both in the hospital and at home once she was transferred there.)

After a hectic Mother’s Day filled with church responsibilities, volunteering at our local assisted living center and grumpy kids (side note: I remember my mom asking for us kids to stop bickering as a Mother’s Day gift one year.  At the time I thought that sounded like a ridiculous gift.  It wasn’t even anything you could play with. But I totally understand where she was coming from now.), Jason felt a pressing need to drive down a day early to spend time with his Grandma. (She had been transferred back home at this point.)

I sent him on his way, and the kids and I ate popcorn for dinner and they went to bed early.  I checked in with Jason and he had been able to spend some time visiting with Grandma and his siblings as they all came and went, visiting Grandma.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, my husband’s sweet grandma passed away.  Her decline was so unexpected and so rapid that we almost missed our chance to spend time with her. I am certain now that Jason was prompted by a loving Heavenly Father to go down a day early.  Had he stuck with our original plan, he would have been too late.  Our grief and sadness at her loss are immeasurable, but at the same time, we are happy for her.  I am certain that her reunion with her beloved husband was something she had been longing for for a long time.

Grandma’s funeral was last weekend.  It was a day filled with laughter and tears, as we remembered and celebrated a beautiful woman and the incredible life she lived.  She was kind and creative, endlessly giving and devoted to her family.

Often, when life seems excessively difficult and my heart is heavy, I am reminded of this phrase:

Lift up your head and be of good cheer.

I love this direction from a kind and loving Savior.  He knows our pain, but he also knows His plan for us.  We can’t see the end from the beginning, so we experience grief and loss and heartbreak.  He comforts us in our grief and He offers hope for the weary heart.

While it’s been a rough few weeks for us, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.   I am amazed at the way our family has drawn together throughout this experience and how we were all strengthened to do things we would have previously thought impossible.  I am thankful for a husband who is devoted to his family and who is led by the Spirit.  And I am grateful for my eternal family, for the knowledge I have that we will see our loved ones again.