We know so many of you are waiting for an update on how our first month in Uganda has gone. Thank you for waiting patiently, sending messages, and praying for us continually.
We have much to share about our first month in Africa. It has been an amazing transition and experience for us. However, there will be more about all of that coming soon. Promise!!!
While there have been so many great experiences during this first month, there have been some difficult trials, too. The biggest trial I would like to share with you now. These words have been mulling around in my mind for just over a week now, and I must share them. If nothing else, I hope to bring myself some peace.
Three and a half weeks into our move on a new continent, I received an early morning phone call from my mom – which means middle of the night in the states. (Never a good sign.) She gave me the news I prayed would never come, yet inevitably knew I would one day receive…. My rock, my encourager, my prayer warrior, my daughter’s namesake had passed away in her sleep. Grandma Lou touched my life in a way that has shaped the woman I am today. I feared this day would come while I was so far away, yet I knew it was a possibility. I even prayed against it happening.
Before I left the states Grandma told me she was afraid she would never see me again. With tears in my eyes, I promised her we would see each other again and shared all of the ways technology would keep us connected. I never dreamed less than 4 weeks later, her fear would become a reality. This has haunted me. I know in my head that situations like this are beyond my control. Yet, my heart is aching. I think it will ache for a while. Not because I regret moving to Uganda. No. I think my heart aches because of the impact she had on my life – because I love her deeply.
As I mourned her loss those first few days, Malachi struggled to understand why I was so sad. He finally looked at me and said, “Mommy, Grandma is with Jesus. Why are you sad?!” He doesn’t know it, but that little boy has slowly brought healing to my heart. I may not see Grandma on this earth again, but I WILL SEE HER AGAIN! We will be together in eternity, and that is definitely something to celebrate. I am always going to miss her, but there is joy to be found. There is a legacy that is living on.
I’d like to share what I wrote for her funeral. I know this adds some length to this post, and there are probably some grammatical inconsistencies. However, for those of us who were blessed to be in her family, it is our reminder to allow her legacy to live on.
When a person shapes who you are; speaks truth onto your life, loves you so well, prays without ceasing, patiently teaches you new skills, cheers you on in every new endeavor, and makes you feel like a rare and precious jewel, it’s difficult to know where to begin when describing them. Yet, I think I may have done just that.
Grandma Lou herself was a rare and precious jewel. She knew how to make each of us feel unique and special. She loved us so well. At first, with pride, she told everyone she knew – and everyone she met – about her children. And then we came along: her grandchildren.
From dance recitals to football games –
From band concerts to half-time shows –
From basketball games to softball games –
From classroom parties to graduations –
From trips to Michigan to West Virginia to Ohio to Indiana to South
She supported, cheered, comforted, reassured, and believed in us.
No one was off limits when it came to bragging. It didn’t even matter if we did something dumb – Grandma would brag that we were creative! She’d brag to anyone too! Her hair-dresser, quilting friends, church friends, and even gas station attendants couldn’t leaver her presence without knowing something special about her grandchildren.
I used to be embarrassed that strangers had to hear so much about us. One time, she held a nurse hostage until she knew every one of our names and something special about each of us.
I think it was about that time I realized Grandma’s over-sharing wasn’t embarrassing, but special. How she loved us! She took pride in us.
Darby – your fiery, independent spirit led you to being the ONLY grandchild ever spanked! Yet, Grandma always knew that same independence made you strong and brave. She believed you’d excel at anything you tried.
Ruth – Grandma always bragged about your ability to learn new things and excel academically. She told people her granddaughter was a genius and could be an astronaut one day.
Thomas – Grandma read your football stats and memorized them….or enhanced them even more… did you ever score 10 touchdowns AND have 10 sacs or interceptions in one game?! She may have told people that! She loved cheering for you and told everyone her grandson was going to the NFL.
Troy – Grandma thought you were humble and quiet. But she knew you were astonishingly smart, and knew you will truly make a difference in this world one day.
Maggie - Grandma loved watching you try new things and discover new interests and passions. I once heard her tell someone all about your booming egg business and how driven you were at such a young age.
I could seriously go on much longer, but I think you can see it too. Grandma loved us so well. From always having our favorite snacks and goodies on hand, to letting us win card games, she cared deeply for us. Those things I mentioned about each of you are indeed special. However, what makes them even more special is the fact that as different as we each are - as unique as our gifts are – we had the unwavering love of an amazing woman. That is special and unique and can NEVER be taken away from us.
Will we miss the extravagant love of our dear Grandma Lou? Of course. We miss her so much already. But I have hope. I have confidence. I know I will be with her again one day in heaven. John 14 reminds us if we believe in God, if we believe in Jesus, we don’t need to be troubled or worried. We will be with Grandma one day. There are many rooms in our Father’s house, and you better believe Grandma has diligently prayed for each one of us to truly believe also. She is already preparing those rooms for us. She’s quilting blankets with gold thread. She’s crocheting slippers with silver yarn. And, she is joyfully and expectantly waiting for us to join her in her Father’s Kingdom.
May you find peace and comfort in this… but more importantly, I pray you find hope and truth in this. We owe it to the woman who loved us so well, who taught us so much, whose legacy lives on through us.
Live it well, my loves. You know she’s watching and cheering you on.
And now to you dear friends and family, what kind of legacy are you living? Is it one that will leave your family with confidence and hope? I pray it is so. Live it well, my loves, I am cheering you on.
*To read more about my grandma, feel free to read her obituary here.