Cultivating Thankfulness: Living Thankful

by Rochell Goff

Often times I don’t think about the word “thankful” enough. But my life is filled with wonder and adventure and so many, many things to be thankful for. As I reflect on Thanksgivingthat time of year when we all tend to pause a littler bit more to think about our own thankfulnessI think about my grandfather.

When Bruce Goff was alive he always did our Thanksgiving Day prayer. We would gather in my grandparents’ kitchenfull of the smells of Thanksgivingand grandpa would always have us stop and pray. He would pray for the day, the family, the food, the people who made the food (aka my grandmother) and he would always say, “Help us to remember to be thankful for the gifts YOU (God) have given us.” We would all say amen and get started with the line so we could shuffle to the various tables my grandma had set up all over the house. I think about that prayer, and the emotion in my grandfather’s voice. He was not an emotional man, but as he got older his voice would always catch as he would give thanks to his Heavenly Father for ALL our many gifts. I would to like take a moment to think about a month and a half in 2013 as I look back on that month and how much my family has so very much to be thankful for. 

The summer of 2013 was fast, furious, and full of family events, many of which were difficult and confusing. In those moments of confusion throughout the summer, I made a decision to be thankful. Colossians 3:15 says “and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful”. I know without a doubt that I was letting the peace of Christ rule in my heart as I was working to be there for my family. 

In May of 2013, my second nephew Knox was born, a gift we were all thankful for. He was cute, healthy, and brought more joy to our little clan. In July a couple of things happened. First, my eldest nephew Xavier got bit in the face by their family dog (Totally not the dogs fault, Xavier just happened to step off the couch and onto the sleeping dog and the dog reacted). The dog bite ended up getting infected and he had to be put in the hospital. Second, at the same time, my brother, Xavier and Knox’s dad, was in the hospital having his colon removed. Needless to say it was a trying time for everyone involved, especially for my sister-in-law who was juggling a newborn, a husband in the hospital, and a 4-year-old with a dog bite to the face. As a family we rallied around her so that not one of the boys in her life was alone at any given time. When she needed to be with her husband, I would run over and be with Xavier in children’s hospital, then we would trade places. As this hospital hot potato was occurring, my mom and dad, and my sister-in-law’s mom were home with Knox so he wasn’t exposed to hospital germs. In all the chaos I remember choosing to be thankful. I was thankful that the hospitals we were going between were really close together, that there was so much family to go around that everyone was covered, or that I had a job that would allow me to miss so much work to be with my family.  Xavier walked away with a strange device in his face to get all the infection out, and my brother eventually left the hospital with a plan to help him live a life free from Ulcerative Colitis. Our whole family was thankful to be together. 

The next month my father received a kidney transplant. Jonathan, the kidney donor, was a deacon at my parents’ church where my Dad is also a deacon. They sang together in a quartet. They co-taught a Sunday school class. These two men spent a lot of time together.  They were, and still are, really great friends. This man freely and without my family’s knowledge got the necessary pre-work to determine that he and my father are a perfect match for organ donation. In these moments, I stood amazed and thankful at the Lords handiwork in my Dad’s life. It was an intense morning of praying and waiting. Both families waited in anticipation to hear news about the transferring of a kidney from Jonathan into my dad. The surgery on both my dad and Jonathan went really well and by late afternoon we were able to see the men resting. Random fact: when doing a kidney transplant, the patient who receives the kidney gains a third kidney because its less invasive than taking out the non working kidneys. It was a time of thankfulness and celebration. We celebrate every year by having a kidney reunion party on the anniversary of the historic event in our family. 

Psalm 34:1 tells us “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” I know that I share the story about my dad’s kidney transplant anytime I can. The story of how God used a great family to change mine. The Lord has continually provided for my family, and He is continually faithful to me. These are the events that come to mind as I think about all the things I am thankful for on Thanksgivingthe Lord’s power and provision.

What has the Lord done in your life and in your family that you should remember? I want to leave you with the encouragement to remember and to stop and praise Him for both His present and past faithfulness.