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

Rooted Final 500 x 500

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.


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.


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.


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

Grandma Dana 2

This entry was posted in 31 Days 2014, Attending to His Presence, Family Moments, Grief and Loss, Learning Authenticity, Uncategorized, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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

  1. Joanne Viola says:

    Dana, so sorry for your loss. She has the sweetest face! Praying right now for God to comfort you all & to be with you this week. I’m so glad you’re doing the 31 days. You are so right when you wrote that intentionally making art keeps your heart pumping. It’s life giving some days. May you find Him in deeper ways as you search your own heart to share authentically. I am looking forward to going on this journey with you :)
    Joanne Viola recently posted…31 Days Of Going In CirclesMy Profile

  2. Jolene says:

    “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.”

    Oh, wow Dana! I needed to hear these words this morning. I needed to be reminded of the importance of continuing to make art even in the crazy and the sad seasons. I am going to carry this truth with me today. I am praying for you and your family.
    Jolene recently posted…31 days of resting in scriptural promises Day One Romans 8:28My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh yes… the importance of keeping our artist-hearts alive in the crazy and sad… I had no idea until very recently how huge it was. How a piece of me dies inside when I forget to be intentional about this. Much love to you as you carry this with you. As you keep making art. <3

  3. Barbie says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss Dana, I will be praying for your family. Thank you for continuing to make art, even when it’s difficult.
    Barbie recently posted…Day 1: When You’re Called To MoveMy Profile

  4. Oh Dana, My heart breaks for you and your family. What a sweet woman…I can just tell by your photo. I traveled that same road with my Granny this year…and you are now just down the road (about an hour) from me in NC. Wish you had time for a trip to our farm on your way home, I’d love to meet another blog sister. Can’t wait to see how God moves in you and through you this month. I’m a first timer doing this and have no outline or plan, either…just a strong pull that I’m supposed to be doing it. And if God’s calling us, He’ll equip us. Love and Hugs to you and your family, Meredith
    Meredith Bernard recently posted…When Life’s So Full It’s EmptyMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Meredith, thank you so much. Oh, such torture that you’re so close! If we weren’t traveling with such little ones, I’d consider coming your way for a few hours! So excited that you’re in this with me, and honestly I love hearing that you too are embarking on this 31 day journey with no plan or outline. May you continue to feel His leadership as you walk through this month. Are you going to Allume, by chance?

  5. I love the way you love God. Praying for you during this time. xo
    NJ @ A Cookie Before Dinner recently posted…October Smart Goals & What I Learned In SeptemberMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      NJ, your receiving of my heart is a perpetual blessing. Thankful too for your prayers. SO thankful. I love you, friend.

  6. Becky Daye says:

    Holding you close in prayer, dear friend, and rejoicing with God’s goodness, that you are able to be where you are. I can’t help wondering if this trip would have been possible if you had been in Colorado? Who knows, but I do know that God is so good and I’m praying that He will abundantly bless you.
    Prayers for all of your family.
    Becky Daye recently posted…31 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor~ Day 1My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Becky, I replied to your comment here already and daggum it – it disappeared. :( I was trying to say thank you so much for being here, for your prayers, and YES – Stan and I had that conversation the other day – we probably wouldn’t have been able to be with my family this week had we been in CO. I am so thankful. He works all things for our good. ALL things. Oh, how He knows and sees and loves…

  7. Dana, I’m so sorry for your loss!! Praying for all to go well on your trip and for a sweet time of reunion and remembrance with your family. Much love!
    Holly Barrett recently posted…Day 1: They may believeMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Holly, thanks so much, my friend. I appreciate your prayers more than I can say. Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!!

  8. Your precious Grandma, friend. What a darling. Will certainly be praying for you all and looking forward to whatever you feel drawn to share from your heart this month. I love you and am grateful this is your time. Yes to making art. It does help the roots go down, doesn’t it?
    Ashley Larkin recently posted…Following my own advice: Laying down “31 Days of Doing What I Say” before it beginsMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Oooooh, my friend. Your companionship here is a gift beyond words. Really – it undoes me. And YES, it does help the roots extend deeper. More, Jesus. For both of us. I am so excited about what He has for you in this season, by the way. And I WILL respond to your email one of these days – so busy around here. But I LOVE you. Dearly. OH! Sidenote: DENVER. MAY. YES. AAAHHH!

  9. Brie says:

    What a beautiful post, and how lovely is your writing! I had to comment that I really enjoyed your words & appreciated your definition of authenticity: “an absolutely honest reflection of my heart.” My sympathies for you and your loved ones this week, but what a blessing to get able to gather together with them in this time. Blessings to you&yours

    • danalynnb says:

      Brie, I am so glad you’re here. I am still growing in excavating those “absolutely honest reflections of my heart” — praying for significant growth in that this month, actually. Thank you so much for your expression of sympathy – it means more than I can say. Bless you too, friend.

  10. Alia Joy says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m so glad you were able to be there for her funeral and that you’re able to write through it. I know it always helps me to get it out on paper. I think I’d sing if I had any musical ability at all. I saw Josh Garrels in concert last summer and he’s one of my absolute favorites. The man isn’t just an artist, he’s a poet and a prophet too. That’s not easy to do and I think that’s why it speaks so good. Excited to see where this leads.
    Alia Joy recently posted…31 Days of Open Letters: The PrequelMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Alia, oh my friend, seeing your face in my space (unintentional poetry – or a rap maybe – eh?) is a rich blessing. I’m thankful for the gift of writing to help me process this season too. Whoever it was that said “I write to find out what I think” – boy did they ever hit my nail on the head for me.

      SO cool that you saw Josh G. in concert – I haven’t but I would so love to someday. His lyrics move me and awaken my deep places – for real. Yup – a poet and a prophet.

      Thank you for being with me on this journey — I’m excited and terrified and grateful — what a package. :) Much love to you, sister.

  11. Ah, Dana, you inspire me once again with courage and perseverance. Powerful words about art. Reminds me again to seek art moments in my own life in the midst of chronic ailments. I get discouraged when I can’t keep to my writing goals.
    Travel mercies on your journey. Blessings on the family’s reunion as you remember the beloved. In the grand scheme of a life these moments will remain as treasures in your heart. Looking forward to your 31 days.

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh, I’m so encouraged by your words. YES to keeping our eyes open for opportunities to make art despite all that life throws at us – the things that easily set us back. Grace and peace to you, friend. So glad you’re here.

  12. Barbara says:

    I am so sorry about the loss of your grandmother. I pray for a safe journey to North Carolina and back to Kansas City. Blessings to all your family. Looking forward to the next 31 days. Blessings, Barbara

  13. Pingback: Day 4: From Circling Around | Days & Thoughts

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