Hi everyone. It’s me.
Let’s just start with this: I’ve missed you!
It’s been awhile since this blog has received some tlc from me hasn’t it?
My blog may have been on pause, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned…
my life certainly has no pause button.
But i guess that’s what keeps us going. 🙂
okay, no more blabbing from me…
enjoy the post!
There is a peace that passes understanding down in my heart.
We’ve all heard these words sung, but have we ever truly experienced the depths of them deep within our soul?
No God, No Peace. Know God. Know Peace.
No matter how complicated the situation, peace can really be as simple as that.
My Grandma passed away a month ago today. And while I miss her dearly, this post is not meant for grief and “I’m sorry for your loss”. This post, in it’s simplest form, can be summed up as this:
Praise God for His never-ending faithfulness.
If you take nothing else from this post… If you neglect to remember my Grandma’s name being Sharon – or the fact that Alzheimer’s robbed her of her vibrant life full of Speedo flip-flops, golfing, and double (sometimes triple) scoops of ice-cream – or even that she lived a good, humble, & fruitful life…. I pray you take this away….
God is good, true, and faithful in every circumstance, in every second, and in every way imaginable and He is worthy of ALL praise, glory, and honor.
It is because of His goodness, that I have an indescribable peace over losing my Grandma. For you to understand the reason and extent of this, I’m going to have to backtrack to the start of my Grandma’s journey with a terrible, degenerative disease — Alzheimer’s.
It started very subtly… not being able to remember where she put the pies for Thanksgiving. Not too much to be worried about, I mean, I can hardly remember to put my shoes on in the morning. But over the course of about 4 years, Alzheimer’s began stripping my Grandma of more than just her memory. The Grandma whom I remember kicking her feet up, cracking a joke, and enjoying physical activity started to drift away. And a frustrated, confused, and less present Grandma took her place. I always considered my Grandma Sharon the more “active” of the two I was blessed with. But no matter how “young” a person is, Alzheimer’s disease is merciless. It takes away some of the things we think we’ll never lose. Thankfully, amongst a lot of losses…. my Grandma never forgot who her family was. That speaks so much to who my Grandma was. She loved her family and was our biggest supporter. I know even to her last few moments of life where she was not able to communicate, she still knew who we were. And I treasure that.
But throughout 4 or so long, emotional, & tough years, God was present, faithful, and provided many blessings.
That is why I have this peace. And that is the story I want to share.
One thing I love about where I grew up is that with just a few exceptions, my whole family lives there. I grew up around both sets of Grandparents, and now that I’m older I realize what a gift that was. Especially when it comes to these last 4 years with Grandma Sharon. I was able to see her and love her through it all.
When my Grandma was diagnosed, my Grandpa Bill was in the condition to care for her and so she was able to stay in a comfortable and recognizable place – the little blue house on the corner of 6th & Lincoln.
Shockingly, my Grandpa Bill passed away unexpectedly in the summer of 2010, just about a month after he was able to attend my oldest sister Lacey’s wedding with my Grandma.
My Grandpa had his heart attack in my Grandparent’s home.
However, my Grandma was out of town and did not have to go through the trauma of finding her husband.
The door to my Grandparent’s house was locked when my mom went to check on my Grandpa. My mom and the neighbors both didn’t have their keys to my Grandparent’s house. So they too did not have to go through the trauma of finding my Grandpa Bill.
Up the street from my house is a nursing home. After my Grandpa’s death, my Grandma returned home from being looked after by family in another state. Through much prayer and guidance and because both of my parents did not have the proper means to care for her 24/7, my Grandma began her stay in the Alzheimer’s unit of the nursing home. She was surrounded by family, close community, and excellent care.
In December of 2010, my Grandma was placed in the hospital… with Pneumonia. Not good news, not great chances of recovery. But after 22 days of my Grandma laying in a bed uncommunicative, my family walked into a hospital room where my Grandma was sitting up in a chair, with eyes open, asking something to the tune of “Where have you all been?”.
After a complete turnaround in the hospital, my Grandma was transported back into the nursing home just up the street from us. But thankfully, she was moved out of the Alzheimer’s wing. She was still dealing with the disease, but was no longer surrounded by it. What a world of difference that made.
For the next 3 years or so, my family was able to visit my Grandma on a daily basis. She took part in many activities and even was in attendance at my other sister Haley’s wedding. At the nursing home, we were able to not only love on my Grandma, but the many people that worked and resided there. Connections and friendships were made that are now dear to our hearts.
In the fall of 2012, I began college at Kansas State University. Although I was extremely excited for this new chapter of my life, my mind couldn’t help but stay back at home with family. On the weekends and breaks that I was home, I was able to make visits to see Grandma. Although different than my visits to the little blue house as a little girl, during these visits I began to form a new routine and bond with my Grandma that may never had happened given other circumstances. I experienced returning the gift of love and care to my Grandma that she herself had given me as a child.
After my first year of college, I spent the summer of 2013 away at a camp for 8 weeks. Again, I was beyond thrilled for the opportunity, but my heart hurt leaving home knowing the possibility that I may never see my Grandma Sharon again.
8 weeks later, I returned home to my Grandma’s side.
I began my second year at K-State, and visits home were never complete without a visit to Grandma Sharon’s room. It wasn’t her “home” per say. We knew that. She knew that. But through Grandma’s stay at the nursing home, home became more than the little blue house on the corner of 6th and Lincoln. Home meant wherever the love of family was surrounding her. Oh yes, Grandma was indeed right at home.
God granted me many evenings with my Grandma. Evenings spent putting on her lip balm and hand lotion (Sorry it wasn’t always Jergens, Grandma), singing her songs, reading her Scripture, watching TV, thrusting babies on her lap, taking strolls in her wheelchair (walks when we were lucky), and sitting outside. And oh yeah, occasionally we’d talk. …But only when she wanted to. 😉 And at the end of every visit, after the good days or after the bad, after the few words spoken or after the many minutes spent in silence, after the laughs or after the tears, after the snowy days stuck inside or after the warm days spent outside, after full family visits or after visits alone… At the end of every visit, I would kiss my Grandma’s smooth face, breathe out a “Hug Te Amo”, and walk out of her room with the understanding that it may have just been my last. Every single moment spent with Grandma was intentional and cherished, and every single goodbye was God allowing me to let go a little at a time.
God had been preparing our hearts for Saturday the 29th for a really long time. Saturday the 29th, my parents received a call that my Grandma was in critical care. I was in Manhattan at the movie theater with a friend. After the movies, I found multiple calls and texts. Coming from a family where they will get a hold of you (even if that means Facebook messaging your friends), I was confused, but not too worried. I returned the texts and calls and my family let me know that “this may be the beginning of the end” for Grandma Sharon. I was out of the movie theater by this point and away from the mob of pop-corn stuffed people. I was now in the quiet of my car in the company of one of my best friends as I received the update. Although taken aback by the news, I was calm. (And to anyone who knows me and my emotional tendencies – this was just as much a surprise to me as it may be to you)
After many calls and texts later, I was informed that Grandma could pass in a short amount of time, like a day, all the way up to a month. It wasn’t necessary that I come home immediately. I was torn and confused and miles away from home, but my heart was contented. And for this, I felt guilty. I felt guilty that I was at peace. I have no doubt that Satan was trying to get inside my head. His lies went something like this: “How selfish of you Darbey. How dare you have peace as your Grandma is dying. She’s dying Darbey, and you’re still here in Manhattan.” I listened to these lies. But thankfully, my God is greater. And His truth went something like this: “Darbey. I have given you MY peace. This guilt you feel for not being with your Grandma is you NOT accepting this peace I’ve promised I’d provide you. Who are you to deny that gift? You’ve prayed for this, and now here I am providing. Allow me to fill you with the peace I have to offer. I have overcome death. You’re Grandma is dying. But she’s dying an earthly death, but she’s headed for a spiritual eternal LIFE.” And so my answer went something like this: “Get lost, Satan. Too many times you have tried to fill my family and I with lies, with guilt, with hurt. You will not strip me of the peace my God promised me. I will not allow you that satisfaction.”
For the next day, although my mind was constantly in two different places… peace ran through my entire body. I couldn’t explain it to others, because I couldn’t truly understand it myself. I didn’t know whether I should go home or stay put. If I did go home and she didn’t pass during my stay, having to return to Manhattan after the weekend would have been impossible. But through much prayer, much listening to God, and much shunning the lies of the enemy… I realized I had already parted with my Grandma. I had already lost my Grandma Sharon once ….to the disease. I had become accustomed to this “new” Grandma that I would eventually have to one day part with again. But God allowed me, through visit after visit, to slowly say my final goodbyes to her physical being. Grandma was leaving us and we knew it. But the fact of the matter was, she was already in my heart to stay. My true Grandma, the one who held me as a little girl… I knew where she was. I didn’t need to see her physically slipping away in a bed. She was already in my heart – closer to me than if I were right beside her at that moment. God kept my heart at peace and the wheels to my Chevy in park. He answered my struggling, anxious prayers with, “Darbey, if you needed to be home, I would have told you so. I would have led you home.”
…And I’m not one to argue with God.
The next day, Sunday, my phone lit up with “Momma” calling. I had not talked to my mom on the phone yet… just by text. So I knew what this call meant. I answered, and through tears, my mom told me Grandma had passed. I cried. I had been calm. I had been contented. But in this moment, I allowed myself to cry.
I did not cry because I was angry. I did not cry out of regret. I didn’t even cry because the pain was too much for me to take.
I cried… for two reasons.
I cried because the journey – the long, extensive, hard, cherished, memorable journey…. was complete.
My Grandma’s pain was gone. And she was happy.
Secondly, I cried because God’s hand of faithfulness and peace has the power to comfort you in a way in which you have no other choice but to weep.
Crying doesn’t mean weakness. Tears are beautiful.
Crying brings the inside, out.
I had held my breath for 4 years. And not because my Grandma had been a burden. Actually, these last 4 years were the opposite… Grandma’s journey, although hard and sad at times, held a million blessings. Hidden blessings. Disguised blessings. But no doubt, blessings. But for those of you who are caring for a loved one or have, you know what I mean. Every day you are holding your breath. You are waiting for a phone call. You are waiting for the phone call. You are worrying, am I doing enough? You are taking advantage of every possible moment, for fear that one day you may regret something. You are holding your breath in hopes that they, the person you love so dearly, will have just one more. As I sat on the curb outside on the phone with my mom, I was finally letting this breath out. Not that I needed it, and not that I deserved it… but as I cried, it felt as though God was saying “You remained faithful through this storm. You took care of your Grandma, and you need not have any regrets. I am taking this worry, this weight, off your shoulders. She is mine again.” I was able to let out the breath I had been holding in for so long. And as I let out that big breath, I knew that Grandma was doing the same. And that made me happy.
So as I sat on that curb and cried. God’s work that He had been doing within me was truly taking root and gratefulness was pouring out of me.
My heart was in fact, The Overflowing Heart.
My physical tears weren’t counteracting the peace I had inside. Rather, they were affirming that peace. This peace came from knowing that my Grandma’s life, just like all of our lives, was perfectly timed. Her life needed no less time, no more time. And it’s in that truth that I find my rest as the days pass since her passing. As I sit and reflect, I can’t help but see all of the many blessings God has provided my family and I. Blessings that are marked by his faithfulness and presence. To any of you whose loved ones are struggling with Alzheimer’s, I get it. To any of you dealing with the pain of losing someone you love, please know that I get it. Whether you are losing that person to a disease or a physical death, I understand. I will tell you this: Don’t listen to the lies of the devil. He will try and tell you (sometimes through other people) that you aren’t doing the right thing, that the care you have set up for your loved one isn’t good enough, that you should be here and not there, that you should feel guilty, selfish, regretful… I will tell you this: Let the voice of Lord be the only sound that falls upon your ears, let your heart fully trust in Him, and let your actions be guided completely by His hand and you will be set. And while I could go on and give you all of the advice I have within me… a list of do’s and don’t’s… a compilation of everything I’ve learned throughout this journey… I won’t. Because experiences are meant to be experienced firsthand. A journey, if walked by another person, isn’t fully effective to one’s own life. A story listened to, but never experienced, can never truly be appreciated. A peace heard of, but never actually felt deep down inside oneself, will never be understood.
I won’t tell you, “No one should ever have to go through this”. Because that would be a lie.
Rainbows never come from sunny days. It’s after the storm that one can clearly see the beauty and greatness of the Almighty and His promises.
How are we able to prove our faith if the storms never come to test it?
How is He able to comfort us, if we never need to be comforted?
How are we able to experience the peace that passes understanding, if we never find ourselves on the ground begging for it?
It’s not that I wish for heartache to find you, but I so desperately want you to know the peace that can only come from the Lord. And sometimes it takes feeling heartache, before we’re able to feel peace. And sometimes it takes a full blown monsoon for us humans to realize the depths of the Father’s ability to love, comfort, and provide. Sometimes it takes a journey spanned out over 4 years before you’re able to stop, look back, and breathe out that long breath you’ve been holding in for too long. There are many of you who know the breath I have described all too well. It’s been my absolute privilege to know some of you and to now consider you family. And it’s at this time I want to THANK YOU for the support, encouragement, and understanding you have provided my family and I. You are the final blessing I’d like to mention. You were the ones that “got it”. You were the ones who were there. …on the good days and the bad. You were the ones who asked for updates. You were the ones who listened. You were the ones we considered family when we lacked it. You were the ones who we hugged so close on the days of my Grandma’s visitation and funeral. As you walked by my Grandma’s casket and made your way past my mom and dad, my brothers, and my sisters… I cried. As you passed by, I was thanking and praising God for each and every one of you. You were not blood. You didn’t have to love us or support us. You didn’t have to take part in our lives. You didn’t have to act like family. But you did. That is what makes you family. Your friendships and hearts of understanding have blessed my family. And I find it a tremendous blessing that I can now return that gift to others.
I can truly say “I get it.”
So to you reading this…
I pray for your heart. Whoever you are.
I pray that your anchor is holding within the veil and that your heart is trusting and depending upon Jesus in everything. Right now, this peace I write about may be a peace that you have trouble understanding.
But I tell you….
Cast every care, every worry, every moment, every sickness, every sadness, every circumstance, every pain… cast e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g upon H.I.M and I promise you…
that you will have peace.
And you will feel it.
So direct. so real. so undeniably the Spirit of the Living God.
And not only that…
But you will know with every ounce of your being that
God is good, true, and faithful in every circumstance, in every second, and in every way imaginable and He is worthy of ALL praise, glory, and honor.
This was my story of peace that passes understanding.
May you have one to tell as well.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 6,7
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.