When to Dust I Shall Return

My grandmother passed away on December 4, 2012, just a few short months ago.
I can still envision her frail, thin, skeleton-like frame lying motionless in her hospice bed, 
her wide eyes and the tears in them as she recognizes me.
I can hear the sound of my voice, leaning in close to her ear, whispering that I love her, 
singing "I Just Called to Say 'I Love You'" and "Amazing Grace", 
and reassuring her that Jesus sees her and knows she's ready to go be with Him.

In her room were the last of her things: 
her glasses, a few photos of family and friends,
a cardigan or two, a cross above her head.
I can contain in a shoebox all the earthy wealth
that I, her eldest grandchild, was left. 

Was I left a huge sum of money? 
Rooms full of antiques? 
A car? 
A house?
None of these.
It's because she held onto her possessions with an open fist.
If you needed it, she gave it to you.
If she saw someone else in need, she gave what they needed to them.

She was a child of the depression,
and I believe she gave out more money to people than she actually ever kept.
She lived in apartments most of her life,
and the last apartment she lived in prior to her going into the nursing home
contained a twin bed, recliner, bookcase, two end tables, and a few lamps.
Yet she was the richest person I know.
Her wealth was incalculable. 
She lived charitably, though poor, and died bankrupt, a queen.

She was the epitome of storing up treasures in heaven.
You see, she knew that the things on this earth were not hers. 
She'd learned that things could be ripped away in an instant.
I rarely heard her say the word "mine".

Heirlooms break. 
Paint fades. Floors wear out. Trends go out of style. 
Fabrics fray. Time errodes. Appliances quit. Dust and dirt corrode. Warranties expire. 
She knew this. I know this.

However, with every click over to my favorite blogs, 
I become painfully aware that when I see possessions on display, 
I grow discontent with my own things.
And, like a voyeur, with one click of the "Pin It" button on Pinterest, 
I am enticed to electronically hoard others' ideas and gatherings of belongings.
With each swish of a turned page of a paper or online magazine,
 I am tempted to worship the latest paint colors, the newest flooring, the plushest furnishings.
I get excited from a SALE sign prompting me to buy from want rather than need,
because I am immediately made aware of my lack.

I remember my grandmother,
and that no matter how badly
I wished to travel with her
when she left her earthy shell,
she had to go alone,
without me,
without her possessions. 

What she did leave was a heritage of trusting God to provide for her day by day.
She pinched her pennies only to shower them on others.
She was others-focused and heaven-minded.

She had a lovely, simple life.
Her riches were her family and friends and Jesus' grace.
She wasn't scared to die.
She knew where she was headed.

Life tempts me to get more... grab more.. covet more...
and earthly trinkets tempt me to hoard or display them, store or showcase them.
I tend to let my possessions define me
and distract me from my relationships with others.

But what happens when I,
frail, thin, almost-naked, and skeleton-like,
 return to to dust?
What will I leave behind?
And what then can be said of those things
that, at present, I think belong to me?


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Luke 12:32-34 (The Message)

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know the way God works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.
“Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.


  1. Through leaking eyes I read to the end. May we all learn lessons from our Ma, Gram, Mimi, and learn to live more for others.

    1. I learn from you, too, Mom, every day. You love to serve and help others and you offer grace and hope. How beautiful you are!

  2. beautiful testimony to who your Grandmother was...may your memories of her fill your heart with joy

    1. Thank you, Cheryl!
      She was one awesome lady!
      Maybe you'll get to meet her, too :)

  3. Sorry about your loss, P. Talk soon.
    Thank you for you. Not posting on blogger or fb this week but I always have my page up and your name popping up on my blogroll is not something that goes unnoticed. :) I could not help myself.
    You know where my heart is on this...none of it belongs to us except extravagant Grace and incomparable mercy. I am rich.
    Remember my saying...the one I once mentioned that I have the habit of whispering every night when my head hits the pillow? I HAVE IT ALL.
    That is not to say that I don't enjoy the material things that God blesses me with as well, as I know you do, but I don't consider any material thing a treasure. My treasure is incorruptible.
    Love you, and may you and all your bunnies have a very BLESSED EASTER.

    1. Marcia!
      I HAVE IT ALL, too!
      Have a blessed Easter in your home, also!
      Love, P.

  4. Leslie, how blessed you were to have had such a wise grandmother. Your words touched my heart and reminds me we are serving Him when we serve and give to others. Beautiful post as always!

  5. What a touching tribute to your Grandmother! She sounds wonderful! Think of the joy she shares today, and the wonderful sights her eyes behold! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. I am so happy she is now in a place with no pain and lots of joy!

  6. That was a lovely, poignant post, Leslie. Very meaningful, too. Your Grandma was a true servant of the Lord and now is with Him in eternal paradise. Who could ask for anything more?

    I know what you mean about material "traps." I fall into them, too. But I also try very hard to serve others and keep Him as the center.

    Hope your Easter is most blessed. Susan

  7. I know God inspired you to write this because I needed to read it. I know those feelings you describe all too well and am amazed by your ability to nail them on the head so poiniantly. Thank you!

  8. Hello Leslie, I found you from The Shop Around the Corner and sooo glad I did! I struggle with stuff daily! I try to say to myself when I feel the pangs to attain things, is it a want or a need. Your Grandma was such an exceptional God loving woman! Thank you for sharing this personal and inspiring story of what it TRULY means to Live Life Fully!<3

  9. I can't find the words to thank you for the gift of this post, only that I know God gave you the words. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  10. Man. Somebody read my mail. I had to get off Fb and Twitter due to COVETOUSNESS. I will never allow myself on Pinterest because my heart has a bent toward COVETOUSNESS. None of this stuff can be taken with us...

    Oh, how much your precious grandmother taught you. I was my paternal grandmother's oldest grandchild, too. With your loss-- I'm so sorry-- I'm remembering a beloved lady, too. God help us teach young women what these godly ladies taught us: "Better it is to give."

  11. What poignant words and wisdom you have passed on to your readers from your precious grandmother. I am a hospice nurse so see the dying every day. And what continues to impress me (as you have just pointed out) is that whether wealthy (world's standards) or poor, we all exit this world the same, taking nothing with us. And how terrific that your grandma "got" that while she was living. Thank you for your thoughts.

  12. A lovely post, exactly what I needed to read today after recently thinking about these things, too. What wonderful memories and inspiration your grandmother has left you.

  13. THIS is what I want my grands to say about me. I often wonder how they will remember me. I want to point them to Jesus and help them know the things you wrote about. Thank you for reminding me to treasure only Jesus. Love God. Love people. That's all I have to do.

  14. Bless you and your family.
    Your Grandma was at peace with her life and now she is living on the streets that are paved in gold. Heaven has a beautiful address for her.

    What a perfect way to express just what she had and was.
    So sorry for your loss.

  15. Thank-you- this was beautiful and my husband and I cried all the way thru reading it.

  16. Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I cried all of the way thru the reading but it renews in us to remember that the reason that we are put here on this earth is for others. I needed this today - it has been a sad day but better now after reading this.

  17. Sounds like your Grandmother and mine had much in common, content hearts focused on the Lord Jesus and on others. Precious ladies like these teach us so much, don't they? I'm including the link to an old post of mine about my little sweet Grandma. Hugs friend, life has been so very busy! Soone we need to set a phone date and catch up! http://followingthefather.blogspot.com/2009/07/missing-grandma.html

  18. This was just so beautiful. How lucky you are to have an angel in heaven watching over you,

  19. Thank you for sharing your Grandmother with us. This was beautiful. I especially like the scripture you closed with. I find that the Message has allowed me to think of some scriptures in a whole new light. What a great focus these verses are for all of us.

  20. So beautifully written. So honestly true! Thanks for sharing.


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