Throughout the month of November, as people give thanks for what is important to them, family is nearly always mentioned. Family looks so different to each person–with various portraits of broken, complex pieces that are forever linked together because of bonds that cannot be broken.
I was fortunate to grow up with a close relationship with each of my four grandparents, and I had the privilege to be able to sit in the room with three of them as they passed on from this world into heaven. Grandma Baer, my last living grandparent, took her final breath on Thanksgiving Day last year with my mom and I sitting by her side. In all that we have encountered this year, I am repeatedly finding myself extra thankful that we were able to share that moment with her.
As my mom and I sat with Grandma, listening to some of her favorite music, and reading her old journals, memories flooded my mind of stories we had long forgotten. We laughed as we read her words and reminisced! Grandma had recorded some of the most “ordinary” events that occurred each day, and I didn’t realize how wonderful it was to read through those memories.
My grandma had given me a gratitude journal for Christmas my senior year of high school, and I was fairly faithful to keep that journal (until I had children…and then I became less disciplined to keep it up! Ha!). Grandma taught me that no matter what was going on around me, I could always find something for which to be grateful. While I knew that writing in my gratitude journal would be good for me at the time to look on the bright side, I never considered how much of a gift it might be for my children to read one day.
As we approach the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, I can be nothing but thankful for the legacy of gratitude she left for me. In doing so many seemingly “little” things like encouraging me to keep a journal, my grandma helped give me a foundation on which my faith was built. She prayed fervently for her family, and she was always our biggest cheerleader, even when she didn’t know much about what we were doing.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
- Colossians 2:6-7
Research has shown that children with at least five adults in their lives (other than their parents) tend to have a stronger faith as they become adults. For so many children, grandparents are some of those extremely important people. I continue to thank God for the relationship my own children have with their grandparents and the other adults in their lives who love them so well. Though my children never got to know my grandma in the way I did because of Alzheimers, they will be able to know some of her most important values–family, faith, and gratefulness–because of what she instilled in her own children and grandchild.
Who has helped lay a foundation for your own faith? Whose faith are you helping to lay the groundwork for? Take some time today to think about them, and choose to be grateful for those precious people!