My sweet grandmother, Marion Blythe, went to be with Jesus tonight. She has been frail and weak for years, with her health diminishing, and her body failing her. Even when you know someone is ready and anxious to transform into the beautiful, new, and revitalized body that they will receive when they leave this broken world behind, it is still hard to accept the loss of people we love.
When I was growing up, her constant religious reminders about every word that we spoke, every action that we took, and every behavior that we acted out on, actually got on my nerves. If I ever said “shut up”, she was quick to correct me to say “please be quiet” instead – not what you wanted to say when your brother or sister were bugging you. She constantly reminded us to keep a soft tone, a sweet disposition, and to always know that God was watching.
We have always poked fun at her cooking skills, which were not one of her spiritual gifts. She never wasted a morsel and put every bit to good use in some way, which often times got very creative. Even when she forced us to eat cold oatmeal and certain foods which we could not identify, we still knew her intentions were good, and her heart was in the right place. Just be thankful for what God gives you, appreciate it, and consume it.
Grandmother once added an extra verse to our family blessing, which as a child, I thought was the longest blessing in the history of the world and that the time to eat would never arrive. But now, it is a tradition that I do with my own children before each meal.
The blessing goes like this, “Come Lord Jesus, our guests to be, and bless these gifts bestowed by thee”, and she added “and bless our loved ones everywhere, and keep them in your loving care”. Amen. Funny how we learn to appreciate things that seemed so insignifcant at the time, but now hold a special place in our heart.
She had bible verses cut out and pasted everywhere in the house, from the toilet paper roll to the fridge. Pictures of Jesus filled her home. She was gifted in music and had tons of music stacked high all around the house, which now is a treasure that was passed down to me a few years ago, but she played hymns and praise music on the organ and the piano until her eyes and memory began failing her.
She started a day care, focused on Christ, and ran it for 25 years. She taught Sunday School, music, choir, played the church piano, volunteered, provided homes for countless foster children, and shared the gospel wherever she went. Despite all the things that happened in her life, good, bad and indifferent, she never lost sight of the fact that our focus in life is to be on the eyes of Jesus.
But what I will always remember the most, is the legacy of faith that she left behind. My grandmother’s heart, and the love of Jesus that she shared with countless hundreds of children and adults throughout her lifetime, is one that will last forever in the minds of those who knew her.
She and my grandfather, who passed away several years ago, gave birth to ten children. Those ten children provided her 22 grandchildren, and 21 great grandchildren. The ages of my cousins range from 3 years of age, to over 50 yrs old.
She and my grandfather not only left a large family, they left a legacy of faith. All of her children, the spouses of her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren who are old enough to make spiritual decisions, believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus has been the stronghold in our family for as long as I can remember. Generations and generations of people will be impacted because of her faith and the Godly beliefs that will be passed down for years to come.
So as you pray over the coming days, I covet your prayers for my family. For those who grieve her loss, and for the children who have a hard time understanding death. But a smile comes to my face when I think of her singing those praise songs, in her alto voice, to the most High God as she has always done, but this time, she is standing in His presence. Smiling. Restored. Perfect. Pain free. Rejoicing. Beautiful.
Thank you Jesus for your gift of salvation and eternal life, I cant imagine facing the death of a loved one without knowing that they have been given wings to fly with You.
(My grandmother holding the most recently born grandchild, Savannah, right after her birth about three years ago.)
2 Corinthians 5:8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
Luke 23:43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”