My Grandmother’s Secret

For the past few weeks, my heart’s been all over the place.

Thomas, our youngest child, is getting married on May 19th. He’s 25. I love Brittany, his bride-to-be. He’s ready to get married. They both are.

But I was afraid of how I’d feel at their wedding.

Afraid of all the love bumping around in my heart. 

Love and letting go were tightly intertwined. 

How could I handle both emotions at the same time?

How do you love and let go?  

A few days ago, I picked up my dress for the wedding and stopped by Mother’s house to show it to her. She ran her hands lightly over the pastel chiffon.

Stepping into the dress, I slipped it over my shoulders. The dress magnified what I was feeling.

The flurry of time.

Seasons changing.

“This brings back the memories, doesn’t it?” Mother said. “Your prom dresses. Your wedding dress.”

I wasn’t a teenager. Or a bride. I was a mother-of-the groom. And I had to prepare my heart for the wedding. But how? 

Mother zipped my dress. “This reminds me of my mother tying the sash of my nurse uniform,” she said.

“It was just an apron, but we called it a nurse’s uniform. When I was six, I got pneumonia and had to go to the hospital to take shots of penicillin. Goge (my grandmother) worked and couldn’t stay with me. I wasn’t really a patient, but the nurses watched me all day long until my mother returned.”

(Mother and Goge, my grandmother, 1940.)

So sad. Goge had to leave my mother for nurses to watch while she worked.

Mother’s daddy died when she was two.

Love can be a scary thing. Like life. You can’t control it.

“Didn’t you hate spending the day at the hospital?”

“Oh, no. I loved it. It was a tiny hospital. It had been someone’s home, and the doctor was our good friend. I got to sit on a white, metal stool in the lab and talk to the nurses. Actually, it felt like going to a birthday party.”

This was a good memory for Mother. God was with her at the hospital.

More than that.

Years before Goge went to heaven, she discovered the secret of letting go. 

She let go through the power of love.

Maybe that’s the only way we can do it. 

A tingly feeling came over me–as if my grandmother had a message for me. 

That’s when the miracle happens, Julie. Don’t be afraid of your love for Thomas. Use it to help you let go. God will give him everything he needs. And He’ll take care of your mama-heart too. 

At last, the Thomas-shaped place in my mama-heart stood up and cheered.

I didn’t have to separate my feelings.

The two worked together as a team, love and letting go.

I’d let go just like Goge did–through the power of love. 

When we let go with love, something miraculous happens. God shows up. (click to tweet)

Are you letting go of someone or something right now? If so, I pray this post helps.

P.S. Remember what my word for the year is? 🙂 LOVE.

With so much love,








  1. What a wonderful story this morning. Letting go of my grandson who will be graduating next week from high school and now starts his own journey into life. Love and prayers go with him as he journey’s on and gone are the days of reading, cooking, and just plain fun with this kid. I hope I have instilled some good things into him and may he learn to let go and love as I am.

    • Sandy, I have a feeling you’ve instilled some GREAT things into him. I’m saying a prayer for him right now…may the Lord go with him and cover him with grace and protection.

      Thank you, my friend. It means so much to know my post meant something special to you!


  2. Julie Gilleand says:

    Hi Julie,

    I’m so happy for your son and his bride-to-be on their upcoming wedding and marriage. And happy for you too though I know this is hard for you too. It really IS an odd feeling, isn’t it, to feel happy and sad at the same time? Life is full of the letting go of things, isn’t it? We let go of grade school to move onto middle and high school. We let go of the security of our parents’ home to move onto our own adult lives. We let go of our single life to begin a new shared life with our spouse. And other kinds of letting go — losing people we love, in one way or another. Watching our kids move out into their own lives. Two of our sons have moved out and onward with their lives. I know that happy and sad feeling all mixed together. I was so happy for our oldest son Tim when he got married to his Marcy that after the ceremony when I was giving him a hug, I was so full of emotion that I couldn’t say one word to him or I’d burst into tears and make a scene! I was afraid he’d think I had nothing to say to him on his big day when really my heart was so full of emotions. Fifteen years later, He and Marcy and their four children moved away, so there was another letting go. Thankfully not so far that I don’t get to see them once in awhile, including this weekend for Mother’s Day. My youngest does live too far away for me to see him very often and that’s hard. But thank goodness for Facebook, right?! And still I have my middle son at home which is a comfort for the time I have him. God’s grace.

    Oh — when you talked about your mother having had to hang out at the little hospital all day when her mother was working, it reminded me of when my two youngest were little and at the time I was a single mom. I was so blessed to work for a church that allowed me to bring the boys with me if ever they had a day off school or during summer break or even if they were sick. I didn’t bring them if they had fevers but if it was just a cold, I brought them with. I’d pack lunches, toys and things for them to do. I’d staple pages and pages of scrap paper together so they could write stories and draw pictures on them. I’l never forget one day we were having a meeting in the church office with the door closed. During the meeting my son David held a sign up to the window of the office door, written large and in crayon — “I’M HUNGRY!” LoL. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud during that meeting. So yes it made for some fun memories.

    Well blessings to you Julie and on your sweet family. Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mom 🙂


    • marci says:

      Thanks for sharing all of this Leafy. And lessons you learned along the way. And your son thinking to write a sign “I’m Hungry!” and put it up to the window. Thanks for that bit of laughter today. God Bless, – Marci’a

      • Julie Gilleand says:

        It made me smile and chuckle to remember that, Marci’a, lol. I sure miss my little boys and the way things used to be. Glad for the memories.

        • Me too…so thankful for memories, Leafy. Such a gift. We don’t realize it as we’re living them, of course, but looking back, they sparkle.

      • Agree, Marci’a. I loved her thoughts too! And the I’m Hungry sign. 🙂 The things we mamas do….

    • Hey Leafy~~

      I can always “see” your comments in my mind, sort of like life unfolding. I’m so grateful for the church that took care of your precious sons while you worked.

      As I read your thoughts on letting go, I sat here going, “Um-hmm, she’s right.” Life’s all about letting go, isn’t it? Over and over and over.

      I’m LOVING your owl pictures. There’s something special going on. I can tell…..

      Love you, Leafy~~

  3. Mary Wilkins says:

    Thank you, Julie. This is wonderful. I have been very aware of my own changing of roles in the cycle of life lately. I’ll be thinking of you on May 19, which is my own grandmother’s birthday.

    • Thank you so much, Mary. It always, always makes me so happy to know my writing touches readers’ hearts. And my grandmother’s birthday was May 16~~~~

      Much love,

  4. Patricia Martin says:

    Congrats to Thomas and Brittany! I hope God blesses them and is with them throughout their entire marriage and may May 19 be a beautiful day! Thank you, Julie, for these inspiring words today! I need to let go in a relationship right now, two relationships actually, and your words gave me hope. How is Katie and Rilynn? ((:xoxox
    P.s. Thomas and Brittany are getting married one day before Pippa Middleton, but I am much more excited about their wedding!(:

    • Hey Patricia!

      Your gift arrived yesterday! I called Thomas and told him there’s a wedding surprise here. We’ll see him this weekend and give it to him.

      Saying a prayer right now, that God will give you the courage to do what’s in your heart…. and I’m grateful He prompted me to write about letting go.

      Katie and Rilynn ad really good! Katie turned 33 on April 30th. They both went to a shower for Brittany this weekend. Well, I went too. So much fun! I got to sit by Rilynn.

      I can feel your joy about the wedding. Means so much~~~~~

  5. Janie says:

    I understand what you’re feeling. I have 3 sons, 2 are married. Their weddings were so emotional for me, a feeling of love and loss even tho’ their wives are wonderful young women. It was a happy and hard time. I so enjoy your blog, look forward to it every time.

    • Thank you, Janie~~

      It always, always feels good finding out my words touch hearts. That’s why I write–hoping to connect with people, hoping to form a little community here.

      And I’m so glad you can relate. Thank you!!!

      Much love,

  6. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Passionate and compassionate words, Julie. Your timing reflects God’s heart for me right this minute (as in this day!).

    I always knew it would be hard for me to let go of our daughters. With homeschooling, we were together 24/7 for all their formative, adolescent, teenage, early adulthood years. They were not only flesh-of-my-flesh, but held a stronghold in my heart, not a healthy relationship. Outside of them and me – together – I knew nothing, nor did I think I wanted it.

    This past year walloped me with more emotional roller coasters than I dreamed possible. Positive – our grandson was born! Negative – our Christian, missions-oriented daughter moved in with her boyfriend. Positive – I’ve spent lots of time with our grandson! Negative – a break occurred in the relationship between our youngest and me. Positive – that same daughter asked me to help her build her dance ministry! Negative – the powers-that-be squashed her ministry and her joy. Positive – I was gifted a brand-new laptop and found writing possibilities! Negative – the same daughter, again, came home with a ring on her finger, to a young man we didn’t know well at all. Positives, negatives, up, down, thrown around in the rolling car of life…car of lives, our daughters and mine.

    Yesterday, I met with a Christian counselor/therapist for the first time. He mentioned a word I’d heard many times but never looked into – codependency. Over the past 15 hours, I’ve spent much of them on the Internet, researching, reading, coming to terms with this description of myself. Wow…

    Then, remember that daughter above? Yeah, she came home last evening with a load of guilt which she placed on my shoulders and it melted into my heart and lodged. Many of those 15 hours involved tears and agonized prayers.

    And then…”Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). In this morning’s light, I found the courage to “let go.” I can’t keep going like this. I need to let her live her life, even as she quits her job with thousands of dollars in doctor bills. Even as she decides not to go back to college. Even as she tells me she’s moving to her grandmother’s house soon.

    Even as my heart is breaking – for her rapidly deteriorating health with unknown answers, for our broken relationship, for the little girl who’s crying inside her but is pushed down by anxiety and pain.

    I have to let go. I struggled with it for both of her sisters, but this time, I understand a little about me…my needs, my wants, my flaws…and I realize I may not be the one to make her happy, nor take her pain. I am the heroine in the novel I started (with the request from Julie!), the woman whose antagonist is the very love she has for “all her girls,” the love that says, “I only want them to be happy…but I only want it to come through me.”

    And this is where we both will find our strength. In the purest form of “letting go love.”

    Thank you, Julie.

    • Cathy, Cathy, Cathy, I can’t tell you how proud I am of you. What you’re doing is tough–digging to the very core of your heart, but you’ll come out on the other side.

      I’m thrilled about you starting the novel!!

      It took me such a long time (and I’m still learning) to discover we really can’t let go without the power of Love. (God’s power. God’s love.)

      Stay on this journey, Cathy. There’s no other way for us mamas except to let go. With Love.


  7. Julie, this is beautiful. My youngest girl has a young guy. And I love him so much. I feel her breaking away slowly, slowly … in a good way. And he’s so good to include me on everything … texts me, asks for permission for everything, just a precious young man. He even invites me to take pictures of him and her. Isn’t that the sweetest? I think the Lord knew I’d need extra help in letting go … 🙂 And I’m going to wish you a happy Mother’s Day right now … I love you, sweet friend. xoxo

    • Shelli, he sounds like the Real Deal. He’s not controlling or possessive or trying to shut you out.

      Praying for you…as you let go with Love.

      I’m so glad God sees from beginning to end.

      Happy Mother’s Day to an amazing mother. And thanks for sharing this piece of your life with us.

  8. Elaine Sharrard says:

    You will have wonderful years ahead of you. Memories of a beautiful wedding, then later will come the grandchildren. What a wonderful life you will experience. Our daughter married in December right in the end of December what a time with wedding plans. Then her brother and his girlfriend decided the following August to get married. In a years time the empty nest was really empty but then we were blessed with two more members with a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law. It was really a full house. In a few years came the grandchildren all about the same age. Now in twilight of our years we are watching our children seeing marriage in the future of their children. We are truly blessed and love it. We live right in the middle of our kids families 90 minutes south and 90 minutes north here in Florida. We downsized houses 3 years ago and when we all get together the nest is full and very lively. What a great time we have, talk, talk, talk. Enjoy the time, take Kodak moments, the grandchildren love showing them to their loves. Congratulations and God bless you and yours

    • Elaine, my heart is so full from reading your words. Yes, yes, yes….I can see your precious family in my mind.

      You used the word Twilight, which snagged my heart. I’ve been feeling the same way, how the days race by. And the Kodak moments…oh, yes, you’re so right.

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me (with us). This helps.


  9. Soul Sister – there’s nothing like being the mother of the groom. LOTS less pressure than being the mother of the bride, but still tons of fun at the wedding.

    What you are grappling with is normal. A mama is always a mama. A man is always her mama’s little boy. But he’s grown. Getting married. He’ll have a wife to share his life with and God to bless their union. And he’ll have fantastic parents to turn to for a friendly ear or advice. He knows you are always there, and he knows he can come to you when he wants to. When you let go, it is never really letting go…it’s just putting slack in the line.

    • Smiling, B.J. You’re so good with beautiful, succinct phrases.

      “Never letting go…just putting slack in the line.” Wow. That’s good.

      I love you. Thank you, my friend. Hugging you from my little office in the trees.

      Let’s talk after the wedding. I’m sure I’ll need it. 🙂

  10. marci says:

    What a wonderful share, and something many of us can relate too. Knowing how much was going on in your life, I felt there would be lessons you would share with us, and so glad you didl
    Just yesterday one of the devotionals I read about this subject, as the author realized she could “hold 2 thoughts at the same time’.. be both happy and a little sad about the same thing. And here you are – writing about the same message. Loving and letting go at the same time. No one said it was easy. It brought back memories for me, of a time with my daughter. I had to learn to let go, even as I loved her so much.
    What an emotional time you must be going through, as your son marries. And how close is that time now! They are always our children though. There sure is a lot in this May for you and your family. The wedding, your birhday, Mother’s day… And as your son marries, – the empty nest. That took me a little while to get use to in my life, but as funny as it sounds, for me it took me a while to realize- ‘Hey, she doesn’t live her any more! Maybe that was a good thing too. So gradual. I would think, “Yes, she is at the Univ. but this is her home.. Yes, she is now at… but this is her home… ‘
    God Bless you and have a Happy Mother’s day, You and your mom, also!

    Can hardly wait for your next blog! After the wedding!

    Love, M-


    • Marci’a, you always say just the right thing. Your words always, always touch my heart.

      Thank you.

      Yeah, I know–I’ll have to blog about the wedding. With pics. Lots of pics.

      You and I are connected across the miles, my friend. So grateful God brought us together!

  11. So much letting go Julie… love what you said:
    Love can be a scary thing. Like life. You can’t control it.
    So true…we cant control love or life…letting go is our only option…love you friend ox

  12. Shelley Elaine says:

    Ohhhh Julie!!! How absolutely BEAUTIFUL! My only daughter is in her first year of being a teenager and
    recently, I have been almost grieving the loss of her childhood as she transforms into the amazing young lady God created her to be. You said it perfectly, Julie…loving and letting go. Focus on love.❤️ Thank you Julie…remembering you and your family in prayer as you celebrate.

    • Shelley, I’m telling you the truth. It was a powerful thing when I put the two together and stopped trying to separate them.

      Focus on Love. I believe it’s the only way.

      Saying a prayer right now for your daughter. She’s blessed with a mighty fine Mama! And Happy Early Mother’s Day!

  13. Marjorie Hill says:

    Always appreciate your blog, Julie. Especially enjoyed this one. Hope you doing well!

    • Hey Marji, so good to hear your voice. I’m never sure how to spell Margi. Marjie? Margie? Margie looks right, but there’s a J in your name. Help!!

      Means so much to know we’re still connected. Thanks for reading and encouraging me.

      Hope you have a beautiful Mother’s Day, my friend.

  14. What a blessing you are to the Boy of Christ! I enjoyed this soooo much! Thanks for bringing back precious memories to me when I was in the same place you were in that day. Thanks for sharing that precious nugget about your Mama who is so dear to me! I love being in small group with you. Bless you as you complete your book! Amen and Amen!

  15. JANE ENSMINGER says:

    Just yesterday, as I was contemplating the scripture about being able to move mountains, I read from another writer, that sometimes the mountains are of our own making. And we have to let go of the mountain for God to let it be moved. This reminds me that even in love, we can create mountains (or make mountains out of mole hills.) Thanks be to God for His power of love,

  16. Anna Haney says:

    Loving and letting go is so hard. ‘
    This time of year, for me, anyway, is full of graduations. The students I taught as kindergarteners are graduating high school in two weeks. Others have already graduated college or are entering their senior semesters. In my job, students are leaving this community college to either head to work or to a four year school to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. I have also seen former faculty of mine retire this year, and colleagues here are leaving for new jobs.
    I see my mom grow weaker. My mother in law’s health is declining also. There are times when I want to turn back time. I want to take my mom on a trip, go walking through Dollywood or the mall with her.
    I also have finally (at least I think) come to terms with the fact that I am not going to have children of my own. The chemo I had last year damaged my ovaries and any slight chance of conception. And there are days when that fact really rips at me.
    Regardless, I have to love enough to let all this go. Not just love my mom, mother in law, and students enough to let them go, but to love Him enough to trust that He will give me and them the strength and guidance necessary to make it through the next part of the journey.
    Love you, Anna’

    • Do you realize how powerful your comment is, Anna? To love enough to let go.

      And the people/situations you’re letting go of are heavy duty. I lean so much from you. Your faith has soared over the past year.

      Honored to be your friend and I’m praying for your mama, especially this weekend.


  17. Kim says:

    Yes Julie. I am currently having to love and let go. My college age son (19) has just decided he is going to stay at school over the summer and work instead of coming home. I was not prepared for this to happen so soon. Thank you for the reminder that God’s got this mother’s heart in the process.

    • Hey Kim,

      I’m feeling it for you. Stretching of our heartstrings is a tad painful, isn’t it?

      I believe He stays especially close to a mother’s heart as we’re faithful to let go~~~~~~

      So much love, my friend,

  18. Aw. So much to learn from Grandma.
    Best wishes to your son’s wedding.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all lovely moms here.

  19. That’s true! But learn we have. And I think that’s the important part.

  20. Hope the wedding went well!

    • Julie says:

      I did, Lux. Writing a blog post about it now. 🙂

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