Joyfully Thankful


Shhhhh, look!” my grandmother, Oma, said as we reached the end of the long driveway. She pointed with one of her manicured fingernails at the deer standing in the headlights. “He’s so still, that’s incredible!”

There in the back seat of the car, all of us tried to contain our laughter. I remember clamping a hand over my mouth, waiting for Oma to realize that the deer wasn’t real, but an archery target from the former owner of our new house. I don’t know if one of us said something, or if it suddenly dawned on Oma that no deer would stand that still for so long.  Whatever happened, we had a good long laugh about it afterward—and it has been brought up many times since.

Little memories like that can keep you going.  I can’t count how many times I have cried in laughter with my Oma, for she always found something to make her smile and laugh.

Memories like those can make you remember the good things about a person—the special moments when everything was simple and joyful. That is what I am hanging onto during this time.

Some of you may know my grandmother recently passed on, and I know she is having a wonderful time in Heaven right now. I don’t write this for sympathy, or to pay her tribute, for her life was tribute enough. What a legacy of love she left behind!

Instead, I write this to encourage you to hug your loved ones and spend time with them. Make some memories! The kinds of memories that always bring a smile to your face.

You see, I am thankful for the way Oma lived her life. She gave of herself constantly with a simplicity that goes far beyond the ‘give me’ attitude of this world. In the wave of ‘Chip and Joanna’ open-concept kitchens, it amazes me how she was able to cook so many meals for our rather large family in a tiny galley kitchen. But there is more love in that kitchen than any other I’ve ever walked in.

Oma was the kind of woman who knew that spending time with her loved ones was of the utmost importance. I’m so thankful to be her granddaughter and to be part of the legacy she left behind. How many families can say they get along? How about when close to fifty people get together? And no one argues, but instead enjoys spending treasured moments together?

Not many, and that’s because of her. She had an open-door kind of heart—a welcome place for anyone. She loved deeply and when she hugged you, you felt her joyful warmth.

So I am thankful for treasured memories like this. Thankful to be a part of something greater than myself. And most of all, thankful to have a grandmother who exemplified Christ in all she did.

My encouragement to you today is to love those in your life. Be thankful for them, no matter the past. As we prepare to gather around the table for Thanksgiving, my prayer is that you would take a moment to be thankful for each person sitting there. There might even be a few empty seats this year—my family will be missing one very important lady—but still be thankful.

For we serve an amazing God and He is the joy and peace we feel during this time.

Lord, I thank you for Oma and the joy you gave her, which in turn, she offered freely to everyone else.

Be thankful today and carry the Lord’s joy to all His creation.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13