This Is Not Goodbye

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.
— Psalm 116:15

I began to share my heart, my thoughts, my simple life happenings with my Grammy through long letters. My Grandad's health was quickly failing and my young mind began to grasp that time with them was becoming short. 

Despite the pain in her hands from arthritis, she wrote back faithfully. Her absolute trust in our Savior's plan was mirrored in each letter and she never allowed discouragement to have its way with her. She encouraged me to do the same.

"Hi Jenny, 
Just thinking today - especially as it's so sunny and beautiful. My thoughts are of you and just what you are doing. You've got a big beautiful life ahead of you - you and the Lord. ...God continues to be "My Rock." 

Her hugs were firm, her smiles bright, and her words powerful even though she grew weaker and her hearing and speech failed as time passed. She'd often pull you close and grip your hand saying, "God's got a great plan for you," and no matter how discouraged you were, you believed it.

She was one of my confidantes when I faced dark and discouraging times. Her experience firsthand of God's faithfulness was part of what kept me looking forward and hanging on when I couldn't see the road ahead.

"Jenn, so glad to hear from you. Your news was sad to hear; your heartache and anguish of your heart and whole being. You can know that I sit in my blue and white rocker and pray and think about you as I have your picture before me. You no doubt feel that your world fell apart and "what do I do now?" ...God knows it all and you'll understand later." 

Soon, she walked through grief of her own as my Grandad's memory quickly faded and she didn't know if he even remembered her. For the first time in their 67 years of marriage they were apart when he was moved to a place where they could better take care of him. Still, she praised God even in the pain.

"Ray is about the same. I have a hard time going to see him in a way. It isn't Ray. We lost him months ago. I cry a lot - inside, not outside. God had all of this planned for me. I praise Him." 

After that, even more often she would tell me the story of how they met and fell in love when she was in her early 20's and my Grandad was a Sergeant in the US Army. She loved to point out the fact that she put my Grandad off for awhile until he continued to "hang around" and eventually won her heart.

After the death of my Grandad in April of 2011 Grammy's health slowly deteriorated but her firm faith in the Lord grew even more steadfast and bright.

"Ray was so loving and faithful in all of our time together. It will just take time to sink all of this in. He and I made a promise to each other to die together. But he beat me to Heaven. What a glorious time for us to praise the Lord together!" 

She would push her walker around the neighborhood where she lived and share the gospel with whomever she met. She had always been deeply involved in ministry throughout the years, whether it was Sunday School classes for children or discipling young women. Though she was no longer able to do those things that she loved, she ministered where she was able to: her neighborhood, her friends, and the blue and white rocking chair where she spent many hours in prayer. 

She was my Sunday school teacher in early elementary school. She sent me a sweet note on really cute paper that had a clown on it. It meant so much to me that I still have it to this day. I will always remember her sweet smile. I loved the way she looked at me when she was talking. She made me feel like I was important to her and that she was really listening. I knew she loved the Lord very much and followed Him closely. - Bonnie

Ron and I spent quite a lot of time with them. I was able to spend times with Betty in Home Bible Study Leadership and Sunday School class. They taught a class Ron and I were in. I have especially fond memories of her beautiful backyard and was always blessed that she spent the majority of time admonishing younger women to be careful not to allow the toughest times or parts of our lives to get us down but to remain faithful and keep our eyes on the Lord and not circumstances. 
I was impressed that she was one of the only mother in law's that I knew who had only positive words of love towards all of her daughters in law and made a point to express it. She encouraged all of the younger women and daughters in law in our classes to take advantage of the wisdom and be forgiving in their own families. She shared openly about mistakes that she had made in the past and her own personal struggles and how she was able to cope and get through those times with the Lord's help. She often spoke of her quiet times with the Lord and would regularly ask about yours. I always knew she could be approachable. I think of her fondly and remember her from the time gone by as a soft spoken, straight talking woman. - Mylinda 

...So thankful for her love of the Lord. She was a dear leader to me during those years that I was teaching in the Mommy's group at First Baptist. - Heather

An amazing woman...was so helpful to many young wives in my day. - Brenda

Oh I loved Betty. She was a dear. A wonderful, godly woman and a mentor in my early years of marriage. She will remain forever in my heart. - Jill

I haven't lived in California for over 25 years but Betty will be forever remembered as one of the first godly women that impacted my life. - Debbie

Betty was one of the first people to welcome my family to the church in 1969. I always thought she was an example of one who "walked the walk." - Cindie

I have always loved Betty. She was my prayer counselor when I joined First Baptist Church in 1971. She was always so gracious and loving. - Dianne 

 

When I was little, Grammy was simply the one who had lots of awesome board games in her closet and the one who had the off-key piano in her bedroom. The one who hosted sleepovers for a bunch of crazy grandchildren. The one who let us walk her little dog, Kizzy, all the way around her block. The one who let us frost and decorate cookies and pass them out to the neighbors. The one who sent birthday cards every year for every birthday. The one who hosted amazing Easter egg hunts. The one who had us paint large rocks and put our name on them so she could arrange them in her backyard. The one who had secret stashes of candy that we pretended we never knew about. The one who let us watch Donut Man and the movie Beethoven every single time we were at her house.

But as I got older, I saw the woman that Grammy really was. She was not simply my Grandmother, she was a woman of God. She was on fire for His Name and walked with Him faithfully. I saw her as the kind of woman I wanted to be like. Her fearless sharing of the gospel and her endless love for others. The way she loved her family. A woman who touched countless people's lives for the Lord. A prayer warrior and a servant. A missionary in her own home and neighborhood. A woman who rejoiced in the hardest times. A woman who endlessly spoke the name of the Lord til the very last. 

I will always remember the last time I visited Grammy with my family. Though her eye sight was very poor she smiled at each of us. Though she couldn't hear she urged Bao, her caretaker, to play the guitar and for all of us to sing Nothing But The Blood. I'll never forget the joy, peace, and presence of the Holy Spirit as we spent the last time we would have with her here on earth. Though we knew death would take Grammy soon, there was not a spirit of fear or sorrow but rather rejoicing. Rejoicing that we know we have a Savior who would greet Grammy with open arms. Rejoicing that she would get to see Him after so many years of being his faithful servant. 

Death in its finality here on earth takes precious things for a time. But death is not cause for hopeless sorrow but rather sorrow that ends in rejoicing. Rejoicing because death is not the end. The end means an eternity with a Savior that we have only seen a shadow of here on earth. Death means the realization of all the things we didn't understand here on earth. Death means we get to see the face of the One whom our heart loves.

"I also learned that we grow closer to the Lord as time goes on. Wish we could just sit and talk together. Do we have to wait til we get to Heaven?"

Looks like we'll have to wait to just sit and talk til I see you again in Heaven, Grammy.

For now, 
Jennifer







Prayers for 21

Do we have Peter's love?