• Dana L. Butler

My Unexpected Day 1: In Which My Grandma Is with Jesus Now


Happy October 1st, friends! This month I’ll be participating in 31 Days, on which you can find information here if you’d like.

Little did I know when I committed to the challenge that October 1st would happen to be the day of my sweet Grandma’s funeral. So today and tomorrow I’ll be bringing you words written from the passenger seat of our car as Stan and I and our littles took a spontaneous road trip from Kansas City to North Carolina. I’ll get back to writing in real time later on this week as life settles down a little bit more.

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I write to get a little ahead tonight, laptop perched precariously, Stan in the driver’s seat as we do about 78 mph down a dark highway somewhere in Illinois. It’s Monday, going on 10pm.

The kids are quieting down, drifting toward sleep, and my Josh Garrels album plays over the minivan speakers. His music has never failed to be balm to my heart, and tonight is no exception.

When I committed to write 31 straight days of authenticity in this limbo season, I knew my Grandma Kiser would soon see the face of Jesus. I could not have predicted, though, the exact timing of her passing.

Neither could I have foreseen my husband calling me from work this morning with surprise news of beaucoup extra PTO and bereavement hours, or his spontaneous let’s drive out there for the funeral, babe. Let’s just go.

The tears finally came then — huge, heaving sobs, as Stan and I made plans to be present with my family to celebrate my grandma’s life and all the ways it was woven into ours. I’d had no idea how much my heart needed to be there.

So tonight as we wind our way toward a hotel north of Evansville, IN, I marvel at the goodness of Jesus, manifested to me today through the tenderness of my husband and a phenomenal employer who allows him to just up and get outa town for a week when his wife’s grandmother passes away.

Tomorrow morning we’ll be up before the sun to tackle our long day of driving — 10-ish hours, not counting stops — all the way to my hometown of Greensboro, NC.

Interesting business, this road trippin’ with a 4-year-old who hasn’t been on a long car trip since he was 2, and a 1-year-old who’s never been in a car longer than 45 minutes straight in her life.

So far, so good, I’d say — all things considered. The kids pick up on Stan’s and my love for road trips and our anticipation of getting our arms around family, and the contagious excitement goes a long way toward keeping the littles content while we ride on down the road.

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In Octobers past, I’ve watched friends and blogging acquaintances write their own 31 days, and while part of me has always longed to take the challenge, another part of my heart has known the timing wasn’t quite right for me.

Till now.

As September’s end drew nearer, I found myself unable to escape the nudge, the longing, the knowing that this is the year. I asked Stan for his thoughts on it. His response: Will it be life-giving for you?

Yes. I know without a doubt it will be.

Will it be easy? No, I’m certain it won’t be on many days.

But when life throws one set after another of painful circumstances your way and they pile on top of each other till your heart threatens to shut down and numb out under their weight? I’m learning that intentionally continuing to make art keeps my heart pumpin’. Keeps me awake inside. Keeps my soul engaged.

Writing is my art. One of them, anyway. So… write I will. And I will stay awake. Engaged. Fully alive through the grief and the limbo.

I will confess, though, that I don’t have my 31 days planned out. Don’t have an outline to present to you. And maybe after our spontaneous week-long trip east, I’ll get my head around where we’re going together here over the next month.

Or maybe I won’t.

But I can promise you this: My goal this month is deepened authenticity with you as I write. That my words to you here would be an absolutely honest reflection of my heart.

And letting my roots run deeper still into the soil of Christ’s love, even while the soil of my own soul is overturned time and again? It’s my way of stayin’ alive through the loss and limbo of this season, even when I wonder if it all might be more than I can bear.

I am so looking forward to inviting you into my journey at a new level this month, friends. And so thankful you’re riding beside me down this road.

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My family would so appreciate your prayers this week, my friends. So much love to you all.


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