My Grandma Bev

Grandma & I at my graduation from college, May 9, 2009

When I think of my Grandma Bev, I initially think of shopping trips, making my first apple pie, laying out by the pool and watching the Mariners on TV. She had a joy for life and a love of fun that fascinated me. But that wasn’t all there was to her.

I’m currently pregnant with her 10th great-grandchild. With her passing, comes the realization that my children will not have the opportunity to create their own individual memories of her. They can see pictures, watch videos, hear stories but personally they won’t know her.

So I’ve been thinking about the things that made her who she was, and how I can pass on an experience of her to them.

Grandma Bev had joy in beauty.

Looking at a picture of my grandma, you can see how beautiful she is. Even at 70-years-old she looked much younger than her age and prided herself on always appearing to her best. This also extended to her home. I remember when she and Grandpa were building their house, all the work she put into finding just the right rug, cabinet and sofa. She wanted to make sure that people felt welcomed in and that the house was full of entertainment and joy.

This pleasure in beauty didn’t stop with her appearance or her home. She loved to bring out the beauty in others. One of our favorite things to do together was to go shopping. No matter how I was currently feeling about myself, she had a way of highlighting things that I hadn’t noticed to make me feel more confident. It was a form of therapy to go out with her because I always came back with a better perspective concerning myself…and of course, some new clothes.

I want to pass this trait on to my children. I want them to know that there is value in putting your best foot forward. That there is pleasure in having a welcoming home where people can come to enjoy themselves. But most of all, I want my children to experience the transformation that can happen when someone is looking for the beautiful in them, and to practice that habit in their own lives.

Grandma Bev was a woman of faith.

She was an embodiment of the verse in Romans 1 that says,

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

She lived out her faith at all times. Regardless of the place or the people she was with, she held her ground when it came to her beliefs. In her first battle with cancer, 10 years ago, she never allowed the doctor’s words to sway her belief that God would heal her…and He did. She never let anyone question the fact that her healing was solely a miracle from God. She was bold in her faith, praying for people, telling them about Jesus and proclaiming His promises to all. I want to boldly live out my faith and proclaim my belief in God and His works like she did.

Grandma Bev didn’t hold grudges.

She had this amazing ability to move on from a conflict once it was resolved. Regardless of the situation, she was always willing to forgive and move forward. She never showed any reluctance to trust again or bitterness over past hurts.

When I would discuss with her a situation I was dealing with, she would always encourage me to forgive and let it go. In Colossians 3:13 we are called to “bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” To “forgive as the Lord forgave you.” My Grandma encouraged me to do this as well, without preaching, instead showing it in her actions.

I still don’t fully understand how she was able to do this, but I want to model this for my children as she modeled it for me. I want them to see what freedom and peace can result from letting go of our right to be angry or hurt.

Grandma Bev loved her family.

Her greatest joy came in doing things for us. Holidays, birthdays, special events were all occasions she looked forward to celebrating with us. Christmas meant a mass of presents under the tree that she handpicked and laboriously wrapped for each of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I always knew that she could be relied on in a time of need, whether it was financial, physical or emotional. She was always ready to talk, pray, or listen to me. As a child I spent hours pouring out my small problems and experiences to her and not once did I question her interest in what was important to me. She loved us, and she lived us.

Her passing is leaving a gaping hole in our family. Encouragingly, I already have seen her influence working in us. On Easter, although she was unable to cook or host a holiday event, we all came together, as a family, to celebrate. Instead of her doing the grocery shopping, cooking and decorating, her children and grandchildren stepped in to fill her shoes. As much as we would have loved to have her there in the midst of us, her spirit was very much there. I want my children to understand that it’s important to value our family through celebration, support and interest in each other, just like she did.

Although my children are going to miss out on the opportunity to know her personally, her influence doesn’t need to end with her life. I can show them pictures, tell them stories or sing “Soldier, Soldier Will You Marry Me” to them but knowledge needs to include experience.

So my job now is to help them experience who she was by modeling her characteristics in my own life. The search for beauty, the conviction of faith, the act of forgiveness and the value of family are all things Grandma taught me through her life.

I feel lucky to have a Grandma like her, I want to pass her on to the next generation.

**This was the message I shared at my grandma’s memorial service on Monday, April 12th at Champion Center in Tacoma, WA.

My Fish & Loaves

Last night as I was putting the kids to bed I read them the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Jn 6:1-13).

My mind wandered as I recited the familiar event.

It had been a long, sad, difficult day. After days and weeks of waiting and wondering my Grandma Bev had passed away that morning. On the one hand there was relief that her pain and suffering were over. On the other, the loss to our family is monumental.

That night I sat there, draped with small bodies, relating the problem Jesus and His disciples were faced with: too many people and not enough food. The familiar story continued with the introduction of the little boy and his picnic lunch.

How often, from Sunday school on, had I heard this miracle preached? Too many times to count. But in the aftermath of a great, personal loss a new perspective hit me: how did the boy feel about being asked to give up what he had?

That food was his and he certainly had no way of knowing Jesus would be able to feed so many with it. The purpose behind the sacrifice was obscured from his view, he could only trust Jesus.

The Holy Spirit whispered to me as I finished the story for the kids.

“You’ve been asked to give up something you would have rather kept. You don’t know for what purpose, but there is more to come.”

I don’t know yet what benefit to myself and others can result from this hole inside me. I do know that I can trust my Father in heaven to see that it is a sacrifice.

The little boy had a need that was going to be met by his sacrificed lunch. He could have kept it and satisfied his own needs, but in giving it away he became part of a bigger story.

Yesterday Jesus asked me to freely give Him my fish and loaves. Now I’m sitting back waiting to see what He does next.

Saying Goodbye


For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently in Washington state, staying with family as we await the passing of my grandma.

Throughout this process of saying goodbye, God has provided some sweet moments:

When one of her 10 great-grandchildren would enter the room a transformation would take place in my grandma. Her eyes would light up, she was somehow able to hold a conversation…it was a moment of pure joy! This has been a difficult situation to go through with my 5- & 3-year-olds. But that moment made me so happy that they’re here with me.

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A few days ago my grandma’s first husband came to visit her. Witnessing the love and despair wash over the face of my grandpa, although they’ve been divorced for decades, was heart-wrenching to see; a moment that seemed too intimate to be viewed by others.

While talking about it later, my grandma’s current husband broke down. Tears pooled in my grandpa’s eyes as he said, “Wasn’t that beautiful? Why can’t life be like that without including this type of situation?”

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It’s amazing to see the peace and comfort conveyed from a husband to a wife through a simple kiss on the forehead or a caress of the hand. Even when she’s unresponsive, my grandma is aware of my grandpa’s presence and is calmed by it.

Thank you Lord for being gentle with us. For giving us moments of pleasure in the midst of grief and sorrow.

**This post is linked at Chatting @ the Sky as part of Tuesdays Unwrapped.
**There are other ideas of Gentleness being discussed at the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley.

Too Deep for Words

Friday my Grandma made the choice that she was done fighting.

My family have all spent the last few days in her hospital room; crying, laughing, sharing, comforting. I have spent the last few days mourning someone who’s still here…but lost to me. I was able to talk to her Saturday night on the phone, to tell her I love her and I’m glad she’s no longer in pain.

Now I sit and wait for a call to tell me the waiting is over. The doctors had said it would be a couple of days…those have come and gone. She’s always defied their predictions. She’s planning on going home today or tomorrow with hospice. But all plans are ultimately in His hands.

I have so much I’ve wanted to write, so much I’m thinking and feeling, but right now it’s still too deep.

Thank you for your prayers and support during this time. They are greatly appreciated and needed.

A picture from last May when my Grandma met Ezra for the first time.

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;” ~Romans 8:26