Overcoming … with Gratitude

Recently, Eli, who is my youngest,
posted a photo on Facebook and
taught me a lesson about
overcoming (fill in the blank)
with gratitude.


In the photo, he was wearing a plaid flannel shirt.
A shirt that once belonged to his dad …
a mighty man who died 20 years ago.

Eli posted:
I came across (my dad’s) old shirt and had to try it on.
I was surprised to see that I still barely fit into it.
So many years have passed and
I still felt like a toddler trying on my dad’s clothes.
He was such a big man and part of me hoped
I would fill it out after all this time.

But then it dawned on me
that I was meant to be my own man
and make my own path.

As I put the shirt away to find again another day,
I thought about how lucky I was
to be in such a wonderful place in my life
with so many loving supportive people around me.

I miss you Dad and
I am so thankful to be from your bloodline
but I am so joyful that my life played out the way it has.

He closed with,
“I’ll see you on the other side some day.”

(Eli “helping” his dad, Jay, (Hot & Hunky) with a plumbing project. – 1996)



 And just like that,
I was in a puddle.

Grief is like that.

It comes when it comes and
there is no predicting when it will
turn your life inside out
and upside down.

Grief can knock you down,
but it doesn’t have to knock you out.

I had quite a moment after seeing that Facebook post.

I’m sad that Jay didn’t get to see what wonderful men
his sons have grown up to be.

I’m sad that Jake and Eli had to endure
the death of a hero.

I’m sad that life is hard
and death takes its toll.

If I’m not careful,
dwelling on all that I don’t have,
will steal the joy
for what I do have.

So, I had a good cry,
I curled up and hugged my knees,
rocking until I fell asleep.

A nap is so restorative!

But then,
I got up,
blew my nose and
washed my face.

I looked in the mirror and
decided to
overcome grief with gratitude.

I’m grateful for every minute we had with Jay
and that his imprint is etched on my boys.

I’m grateful for Jay’s wisdom and hard work.
He left us debt free,
in a house that was safe and sturdy.

I’m grateful for the many men and women
who stepped into our lives over the years,
to close the gap in Jay’s absence.

I’m grateful for what good men
my sons have grown to be.

They know how to work hard,
solve problems,
and ask for help.
They speak well of others,
go out of their way to help strangers,
and respect women.
They can parallel park big vehicles,
back up a truck with a trailer attached,
and shoot guns with accuracy.
They both spin a good yarn and
laugh heartily at the slightest excuse.
They both love well.

When grief comes uninvited,
knocking you down,
intent on taking you out,
let it … for a time.

But when the flood of tears slow
and a glimmer of daylight peeps into your soul,
get up,
blow your nose,
wash your face,
and be deliberately thankful.

Living full and
choosing thankfulness
is how you can honor the dead
as you move on with your life.


  1. Karolyn Van Noord on January 13, 2017 at 6:21 am

    Thank you for this thought. We have a precious granddaughter whose health is very fragile. We know God has given her to us and He has plan for her life. There are many days that I grieve and move on. I struggle to think of life without her and then remember to thank Him for what we have this day. I will keep your devotional for future.

    • Robyn Dykstra on January 14, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      So sorry Karolyn. That has to be so hard.

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