After I repeated the expression, you told me it brought you to tears.
“All of God’s grace in one tiny face.”
We’d talked on the phone for an hour that afternoon, me swatting bees on the deck of our rental house in Indiana, you back home in Illinois, in your comfortable recliner and looking at birds out the window.
Beforehand, I had texted the latest photo of your new great-granddaughter. And during our conversation, I told you that when I saw the framed quote in the store earlier, “All of God’s grace in one tiny face,” the words summed her up perfectly to me. The sentiment brought tears of emotion to your eyes too.
The next day was a phone call of a completely different sort. You’d had a suspected stroke and went by ambulance to the hospital.
I drove four hours, crying to God to please let you live.
He heard mine and all of our prayers, and we spent a week with you – the first part in the ICU and next in a regular room. You looked small and scared, and you were confused, anxious, and, often, out of your mind, which made us out of ours.
We soon realized the very best place for you to go was home. It was all you wanted, to be comfortable and somewhere familiar, but it was our turn to be scared.
You’d taken care of us over the years, but how would we care for you?
You and Dad gave the four of us the gift of each other, though. We and our wonderful spouses, somehow, figured it out together.
In the days and weeks that followed, I sometimes thought of that sweet phrase when I looked at you in the hospice bed, set up in your living room.
“All of God’s grace in one face.”
So child-like and dependent now.
The same face that, in 1943, God created into existence as a newborn infant. The same one that grew and lived through many joyful experiences throughout the decades, but soldiered through many painful ones, also. The face that journeyed through life first as a baby, then a child, a teenager, a young wife and a young mom, a mom of teens . . . then the face of a grieving widow, raising four alone. The face that later became a grandma, and lastly, a great-grandmother.
You didn’t miss a day of praying for your family, and for that, and for everything you did over the years – every big thing – and every single small thing, too, we’re eternally grateful.
We understand your sacrifices, probably now more than ever. There will never be enough words to thank you.
Every time, this past month, when you sighed and moaned, restless and in pain, you’d cry out, “Lord, help me!” and I have no doubt He did.
He helped by giving reprieves of laughter, like when you woke up and said you couldn’t understand why you felt the way you did and that you must’ve just been on a three day bender. Or when you tried putting your glasses on and they were comically crooked on your face, and you said, “Did I get in there?”
There were sure plenty of tears, though, and the Lord heard you and He heard us when our prayers eventually went from “Oh God, please heal our mom,” to “Oh God, please, please take our mom.”
There was so much suffering to be had in those weeks, we couldn’t bear to see it for one more hour.
But . . . just like you, Mom, just like all of us, when we call on God, He’s there.
Each and every one of our unique faces are so very dear to Him.
When we look in the mirror, we need to remember: God gives us mounds of grace for our tiny minds, our tiny efforts, our great big fears . . . our tiny faith.
But He can move mountains – literal mountains – with the smallest seed of belief.
We often get stuck in the small, minor details, forgetting what it’s all really about and why we’re even here, but God never forgets.
And He changes lives, completely and for eternity, for those who love, trust, and surrender their lives to Him.
Mom, you loved videos of babies and animals and birds . . . and pictures of Alaska and beautiful landscapes. I think it’s because your heart craved innocence and goodness, peace and purity, kindness and beauty.
Now you get to see and feel those things and more, forever, right in front of your own eyes, far away from this fallen world.
And you get to be reunited with Dad and Jared and the other souls you missed while you were here.
You, Susan Mary, our determined, protective, loyal, precious mom and grandma, get to be in heaven, face to face with our Lord and Savior, and we are so, so glad.
We’ll never forget your face.
And we’ll see you soon.
John 11:25 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”
Isaiah 66 : 12 – 13 (NIV)
For this is what the Lord says:
“I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.
As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”