My grandma, Shirley Judge, was moved to a hospice facility last night. As she was being transported in the ambulance, she told my cousin Rachel, "I want to go to heaven as fast as I can." This is no surprise, as heaven, eternal life with Jesus, has long been the desire of her heart.
|Grandma and Rachel|
She is ready to go to her real home.
Ready to see Jesus, and all the loved ones who are there waiting.
|My mom and Grandma|
As the family gathered around her last night, pictures started to fill facebook. I was drawn again and again to Grandma's beautiful smile, and to the peace and hope I saw reflected there.
|Grandma and Lauren|
|Grandma and Hanna|
There are no perfect poses; this isn't the kind of photographic moment that is planned for ahead of time. But there is love to be captured. So much love.
|Grandma's Daughters: Maureen, Sharon, and Dianne|
Love visible in hands quietly held.
Sisters sitting together.
Multiple generations sharing strength.
|Four Generations: Lori, Dianne, Danielle, and Grandma|
|Tyler, Janelle, Eli, Jaylin, and Grandma|
My mom called me last night from Grandma's room. The family was singing together, as they did in April when my beloved Uncle Bill went home to heaven. My Aunt Sharon referred to it as "singing her into the gates." I loved that.
|Sharon and Grandma|
At one point they asked if I had a song, and I offered up How Great Thou Art. It is a song Grandma and I had sung together and discussed many times, as it is a favorite for both of us. As I heard the voices rising out of the speaker on my phone, Thomas and I joined in the singing, and I felt peace pour over me again. And for just a few seconds, everyone got quiet, and I could hear Grandma's sweet voice singing.
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"
In that moment, my heart filled with joy.
|This is Grandma singing. My mom is holding the hymnal and pink phone.|
I'm on the other end of that phone.
There were more songs. Songs of faith. And hope. And joy. Thomas leaned over to me and whispered, "I wish my dad could hear this." I knew exactly what he meant. I wish I could have invited everyone I know into that sacred place last night to hear our voices raised together in praise. It is something I will hold in my heart forever. The only way I can describe it is, it was a beautiful choir of love, and I am so thankful to have been a part of it.
Even as we know it will not be long before we say our final good-byes to a woman who has given us so much, we have peace that could only come from God. Peace that she will be in heaven eternally, without pain or sorrow, and peace that one day we will join her there, because of the sacrifice of Jesus and the forgiveness of a loving God.
|A picture for Great-Grandma|
This family is her legacy. Begun many years ago with my grandpa in Canada, it has moved and grown and changed; we've had many additions, and we have lost some people far too soon. But still our family stands strong.
Each of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren know and love the Lord. She has prayed for, taught, advised, loved, planned for, and given of herself to each one of us. And more than that, she has shown us exactly how to live this life by her example. We would not be the people we are today without her influence. She has allowed God to use each day of her life as a blessing.
|Grandma and Rachel|
|Grandma and her son, David|
More family is coming in to spend time with her today. I'm sure there will be more singing and telling of stories. More laughter and more tears. I don't know that any of us get to pick how we leave this world, but I know if I had a choice, this is exactly the way I would like to go - surrounded by family, love, and the praises of God. It is a beautiful fulfillment of a life lived for God.
|Four Generations: Maureen, Katarina, Grandma, and Tracie (our last day in AZ)|
Grandma really has lived her life well, all 90 years of it. She is ready to move into the next chapter of life. Her body is tired, but her spirit is strong. She is looking forward to heaven, and excited to see Jesus.
There is no fear and no regrets. Only hope and the expectation for amazing things to come. And peace. So much peace.
I love you, Grandma. I have been so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for being exactly who you are, and for all the love you have given me.
Shirley Judge left this life to go to her true home in Heaven on the morning of September 9, 2014. She passed quickly and quietly into the arms of Jesus. Her eternal life is just beginning, and I know it is going to be amazing.