Sweet Bitterness

I’ve struggled and struggled to figure out how to write this post—for days. Not unlike how I struggled and struggled to find words to speak about my grandpa at his funeral on Wednesday. What can I really say? How do you find a few short sentences to sum up the emotions you feel with an 80-year life and person you were so bound to.

My grandpa passed away late on Friday the 15th, and looking through the last week, I could talk about so many horrible things. I could talk about the bitter night that he died. The angry feelings I had toward God that I couldn’t get there in time to see him before he died. I could talk about the sleepless nights of this week, that I know my whole family felt. I could talk about the images that I wish I could forget from the viewing at the funeral home on Tuesday. I could talk about the burden of the funeral slideshow that I was in charge of putting together this week. I could talk about the exhaustion and the grief in the eyes of my family members, and mostly my grandma. The sadness of the burial. There are also those many moments where it just hits, and the realization knocks the wind out of you when you’re not ready for it.

Up until Wednesday, I probably would have written a blog about all of that, but something changed my mind. The funeral started Wednesday afternoon, and the family lined up in another room to walk into the sanctuary during the opening hymn, a congregational hymn:

Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done,

and great our rejoicing thru Jesus the Son; but purer, and higher, and greater will be

our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice!

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice! O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,

and give him the glory, great things he hath done!

As we walked into the sanctuary full of saints singing these words, I felt weird about it—like this wasn’t quite right. This isn’t a funeral song. But as they kept singing, I suddenly felt my grandpa closer than I had the whole week, like he could have been standing right next to me singing the words with his booming vibrato, “and give him the glory, great things he hath done.” I’ve been wallowing in my misery for so many days, but did I ever think about the fact that maybe this death is the greatest work God has done in his life?

Grandpa never lived a day that wasn’t worshipful. Even in his sadness, even in the death of his family members, or his own sickness, it was clear that he lived for something much greater than earth’s sickness, diseases, and death. Can you imagine a faith so sincere that truly stifles the sting and victory of death? Satan won no part of his life; grandpa lived for ONE thing ONE person, and then kept his life full of things he loved–things that lasted–family. the church. music. sports.

I miss my grandpa so much. But I think he was just rewarded for his work here. He is more alive now than he has ever been, and he is free of pain, and he is free to sing, and is truly singing with the angels.

When I look back on this week the way that my grandpa would have if he was here, there was really no bitter part. Our family was all together, closer than we have ever been. Our time was rich with conversation, singing, laughter at times, games, good food, true fellowship, stories, memories, pictures, the final basketball game…he would have loved every moment.

I put the slideshow of grandpa to the song “More to This Life” by Steven Curtis Chapman, which anyone can watch here. I don’t know if it’s the nostalgia of Steven Curtis Chapman’s old music, or maybe the fact that he recently went through the death of his daughter, but his most recent album has been a great comfort to me, especially as he repeats the phrase, “sing hallelujah, it’s a brand new day,” and you hear the choir in the background. It’s so good to hear that song because Heaven feels a little bit closer.

Amen. We will sing with grandpa again. We can pray that Heaven comes a little bit closer and a little bit faster for all of us.

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Summer is Here

Change is definitely all around us. Kevin and I embarked last week on a journey through Wisconsin first, and then to Nebraska.

Wisconsin seems like Babyland right now to us, as Kevin’s sister just had a beautiful baby girl two weeks ago, and Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law had a baby girl a couple months ago. This isn’t to mention the other four nieces and nephews between these two couples. We stayed for just about 24 hours so we could meet the new baby and see all the family, and then we took off for Lincoln.

My brother Tanner married the stunning Lauren Novak (now Huckabee, wow!) one week ago at a small ceremony held outside. The day was beautiful, and though rain threatened us all throughout the day, it held out so that plans did not have to be changed. It does wonders to a sister’s heart to see her older brother so incredibly happy. It was such an honor to be at their reception and see just how many lives they’ve been a part of and have influenced for the better. They are a much loved and treasured couple.

My other brother, Tyler, also had big news last weekend as he was offered a job with Relevant Magazine in Orlando, Florida, and has just decided to accept, so he will be moving there in just about two weeks. My family will be so sad to see him go, but we are so excited to see him accepting a job that will really let him use his strengths and gifts in the ways we all love to see him work. Relevant has gained an incredible new employee to be sure.

Me and Kevin’s news is that we are about to sign a July 1 lease on an apartment. We hunted for apartments on Wednesday from 9-5:30 (wow) and finally decided on one in Edgewater / Andersonville, which is roughly six miles north of downtown. We are so excited about this place. The neighborhood is very safe, has lots of character, and is virtually close to everything, even the beach, which is my favorite part. So maybe on the next blog you will get to see pictures of our new, humble abode :).

I’m still working childcare and the desk, though a new job is pending, taking much longer to finalize the yes or no than I had anticipated, but we know it’s God’s perfect timing. Meanwhile, Kevin seems to be working enough hours for both of us between his two jobs at Starbucks and the desk. Finances in the city are hard, but we are learning to adapt. If Chicago living is good, then summer Chicago living is off the charts. If any of you are contemplating visiting, the summer is definitely the time to do it.

We are still learning to trust God’s faithfulness and provision while also doing our best to steward what we have. The first year of marriage is definitely one of drastic change and lots of learning. We are both still figuring out our roles of husband and wife, and sometimes we feel like we do more wrong than right, but we thank God for His grace, and that He has taught us how to extend it to each other. I love Kevin more every day, and he is the greatest blessing in my life.

Hopefully I will have mostly good news to report in the next blog, hopefully a JOB. Meanwhile we still appreciate your prayers, and thank you for your care and concern for us and our lives.

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Ending Undergrad

In exactly one week from right now, Kevin and I will have successfully crossed the stage of Moody Church and shaken Dr. Nyquist’s hand, and then –that’s it, but yet, everything changes. Take now for instance, I’m sitting at the front desk of the guy’s dormitory, where I work part time, and a very large bear just walked out of the elevator and out the door (a cleverly disguised student in a mascot costume). The days of sights like that, are coming to a close.

After the next month or so, Kevin and I will leave Moody, the place we met, the place we fell in love, the place we first lived together, the place I finally found friends, the place that’s frustrated me out of my mind, and the place I’ll be heart-broken to leave.

Kevin’s already feeling the separation from Moody as he has began his new job at Starbucks this week, and the people aren’t quite as kind as Christians. We’ve been surrounded by Bible students and Bible professors the last four years, and it’s definitely a slap in the face when you realize that you’re leaving the “nicest” place we’ll ever live in, not to mention the most grace-extending place we’ll ever live in, and are walking into, in our minds, dystopia.

And yet, we know it’s time. We are completely ready to move on to the next thing.

All the advice and all the preparation we’ve been provided with the last month, especially, has been overwhelming. It’s obvious to us that we are running under a tunnel of arms with many cheering for us, many excited for our journey, and many anticipating the struggles and victories that lay ahead. On Monday we move out of the apartment that will most likely be the nicest place we’ll ever live, confirmed by one of our professors who told us as much a couple days ago.

Pray for us. Pray for Kevin, who is trying to juggle two jobs demanding a lot of time and energy from him. Pray for me as I’m still in the job search and going through interviews. Pray for our “new Chicago home” search starting next week. And please pray for our desire and plans to go overseas, and the wisdom and discernment to know when to start the process.

God go with us; we are so excited for what’s coming next.

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