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When the snow finally comes to Iowa, it is a cold day in early February, and it blows in and covers the ground and coats stalks and branches and clotheslines and fences with its icy loveliness.

It is a week since Grandpa last breathed, and in that time I have flown from the midwest to the northeast and back again. I have hugged and cried and hugged and wept and said goodbye to a shell of dust.

And as the snow makes everything white and new and beautiful, I remember my grandfather and I know that he has been made new and beautiful in the presence of his Savior. Eighty years he lived without Jesus, and then, in a moment of merciful clarity from the disease that ravaged his brain, he saw his need and he asked God to save him. And the God who takes dust in the air and turns it to snowflakes is the same God who takes the dust of our humanity and turns it into beauty.

I will remember my grandfather making ice cream in his garage, and I will remember the way his gruff kisses felt on my cheek, and I will remember how patiently he taught hopeless me to drive his riding lawnmower, and I will remember these things and cry because that man is gone from my life on this earth.

But I will rejoice even in my tears, because a God of mercy allowed my grandfather a few moments to know Him, and because I know I will see my grandpa again and he will be whole and beautiful as only God can make a man.

The trees lift barren branches to heaven in an offering of silent praise, and God covers them with white and I know this: He is a God who makes beauty from ashes and dust.

And so I give thanks.