Something You Can Choose

I went to my calculator, and it figures to be over a thousand dollars –the total amount of money my dad had paid my kids when they got A’s.

$20 for straight A’s, and they had to be perfectly straight, or $1 for every A. My daughter graduated summa cum laude a few years ago, and I think that dangling carrot of financial reward played its part in the dangling cord on her neck.

How will you choose to respond?  -christyfitzwater.com

A few days after my dad died, we laughed at my little nieces when they expressed great concern about what would happen to that A money. We made mom raise her right hand and promise that was one tradition she would have to keep going.

Phew, did they look relieved.

I informed the girls that mom had always been in the background on the phone, begging my dad to give one of the kids $20 when they got really close to straight A’s.

Oh, come on, Roger. An 89% is surely close enough to get $20, she would say.

Nope. All A’s or no $20, he would say.

So I told those little girls that grandma might be a soft touch.

When I got back to Montana after the funeral, there was a $20 check on the counter in my dad’s forceful handwriting –the reward for my son’s good grades. I cried and turned it over. Couldn’t bear to look at it.

The next day I took the check to the bank to cash it, and I sat there for a long time –check in one hand and drive-up tube in the other. How it hurt to put my dad’s handwriting into that tube and let it go away forever. I almost couldn’t do it. My heart twisted at what would not come from dad in the future.

But I stopped those thoughts.

Placing the check in the tube and hitting “send”, I chose thankfulness. How thankful I am to have had a dad who invested in my own success and then turned his attention to the success of my kids. I’m so thankful to have had a dad who cared and who was outrageously proud to see his family do well in everything.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV)

Every day we hold each life situation in our hands, and we choose grief or thankfulness. 

Grief is easiest. We moan, If only… and mourn all the things that may not come.

Thankfulness raises its voice above the pain, Because God is good I have…

Thankfulness feels better.


  1. Karen Cook says:

    What another beautiful story, which you are so good at expressing in your own words. Your Dad knew just what to do that would make those grandkids of his happy and to work hard for those A’s. Like a lot of the gramps in our family and so many others ~ they just KNOW what makes those grandchildren tick!

    1. Karen Cook says:

      Another beautiful story Christy! Your Dad, like the gramps in our family and so many others, just knows what make those grandchildren tick! Nothing like getting “paid” for their hard efforts!

  2. This was just what I needed – I’ve been struggling with discontentment for several months. I can choose not to think that way! I have so much to be thankful for but I have been focusing on what I DON”T LIKE. The If only’s and What if’s are killer thoughts…I am going to ask God to help me be positive about everything as I feel too weak to do this without His help..

    1. It is really hard work to change the path our thoughts are taking. Once you see the rewards of living a thankful life, though, you’ll enjoy going that direction more and more. I’m praying God will transform that discontentment into overwhelming gratitude.

      1. Thanks so much!

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