Not in the Grave

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My earliest Easter memory is of sitting in a gym…or outside on a football field of some sort…with my Grandma Jo and my mom at the crack of dawn for the town’s Sunrise Easter Service.

I was too young to remember the location of the service, but I know we went for a few years, just the three of us. Or at least I only remember it being the three of us.

I vividly remember all the flowers and the scent of spring wafting through the gathered believers. I also remember sitting next to my grandma, her soft hand holding mine sometimes, and her wavery grandma voice loudly singing “Christ the Lord has risen today…Alleluia!¬†”

Her favorite flower was the yellow tulip and each year for the past nine years, Cortney and I have added a yellow tulip to the Easter garden in the front of our own church for the Easter service.

No longer do I get up at dawn and to attend a musical extravaganza of praise and rejoicing, but I do dress my boys in matching sweater vests and close my eyes and feel my grandma’s soft hand on mine while I sing “Because He lives” and with each “Alleluia” I hear her voice echoing through the church.

After the sunrise service, my mom and I would meet my dad and brothers and go to our church for the regular service, and then head to my grandma’s house for an Easter egg hunt with all my cousins. She always had those large, pastel-colored marshmallowy eggs, malted eggs, Reeses eggs, gum eggs, and lots and lots of jelly beans. While we hunted she would still be singing.

I also can remember my mom’s singing on Easter. Like her mother, she loves the holiday.

Easter is the most joyous day on the Christian calendar, and it is the day I remember my grandma and her love of spring, flowers, and her savior. I also think of how much like my grandmother my mom is. She sings with her grandchildren and spoils them with treats and toys for Easter as well (Cort’s mom does the Easter egg hunt for our kids which I am so grateful for. She is making memories our kids will remember forever).

In thirteen years since her death, I have never been to my Grandma Jo’s grave.

I don’t believe she is there.

Like her savior, she arose.

And on days like today, I feel that presence in the songs, the bright sunshine, and the smiles on my boys’ faces.

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Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord.

Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly the seal the dead, Jesus my Lord.

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior,
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord.

Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
he rose a victor from the dark domain,
and he lives forever with his saints to reign.

He arose! He arose! Hallelujah, Christ arose!

“Up From The Grave”, my favorite Easter hymn.


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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I can remember being at my aunt’s house and running around her big farm house with my cousin searching for eggs and hollerin out each time we found some treasure.
    And the time my uncle thought it would be a great idea to hide our baskets in the oven – but neglected to tell my aunt who came down in the early morning hours to make the hot cross buns …… and turned the oven on to preheat. LOL
    But then it was off to church, passing new lambs and new calfs out in the field; blooms in the garden and buds on the trees: everything rising up to meet the sun. everything made new.

  2. Just beautiful, Katie. Thanks for making your holiday so real to me.

  3. I remember my grandmother singing in church too. It is one of my favorite memories. And like you, I don’t visit the cemetery. I feel her more around my house and watching over me and my kids than I ever would where she’s buried.

  4. What a sweet picture of you and your boys. And that is a beautiful way to think about your grandmother. The Lent and Easter season definitely get me thinking about life and death. So much sadness leading up to Easter with the story of the passion, but then a wonderful time to reflect and celebrate rebirth.

  5. I love the tulips so much. And this season! It’s my favorite. This is beautiful. Easter is so amazing and wonderful and I have many good memories from my childhood as well… Thank you for sharing this! Cute pic of you and your sweet guys!

  6. Special days have such a way of bringing back memories, don’t they?
    Such a beautiful photo of you and your boys, Katie.

  7. I absolutely adore the idea of book club day. CAn you share how you format it and what it looks like in your class? I would love to try something similar next year.

  8. Such a warm Easter tradition. Easter is my most favorite holiday, always was. It’s the new life, the spring air, the promise of life that comes after the cold winter. Love that you can still feel your Grandma Jo’s soft hand, hear her singing “Alleluia.” Beautiful memory.