Granny Has Gone Home

I thank God for the Lighthouse.

I owe my life to Him.

For Jesus is the Lighthouse

And from the rocks of sin

He has shone His light around me

That I might truly see.

If it wasn’t for the Lighthouse,

Where would this ship be?


Thelma Jean Givens Matney. It’s such a southern name. It fit Granny prefectly. Granny was what they would have called a strong southern woman. She did things fiercely.

If you were her friend, she would do just about anything for you. If you crossed her, you might see the opposite. If you were her family, she loved you with everything she had. If you stepped out of line, she’d tell you exactly how the Lord felt about it and add her own feelings to boot.

That’s where she was the most fierce. She loved Jesus more than anything in this world. She has spent countless hours in the Word. You might could argue with her theology, but I don’t think anyone could argue with how much she loved the Lord.

She could never get upset at somebody or say something negative without saying, “Bless her little heart,” at the end. I remember one particular story between her and her coworker.

Granny was a cook at a little restaurant for many years. She took pride in making excellent food. I’ve never had better biscuits than Granny’s. She also made sure everything was fresh for the customers, but one day her coworker accused her of giving yesterday’s sweet tea to someone.

Granny was so insulted that she went and boiled water and whipped up a fresh batch of tea. She took the tea to her friend and said, “Here’s some fresh tea, Caroline!” And when the lady took it, it splashed on herself accidentally. “And you’re scalded!” Granny declared in triumph.

I had Granny tell me that story countless times. It was always hilarious to see how indignant she was over fresh tea. But then she’d always end by saying, “Now baby, we shouldn’t talk that away about Caroline, bless her heart. She was just trying to make sure I was doing right. But it was fresh tea! And she was scalded!”

All said in a deeply Tennessee accent. Stephanie never could understand most of what Granny or Papaw would say. She would just smile at them while I translated quietly in the background. They thought she was so pretty–probably because she spent so much time smiling at them while trying to decipher their words.

We used to have such a hysterical time trying to get Granny to say words. She would say, “Happy Newnyear!” She never learned to say it right. But she was a great sport. She’d say things over and over for us so we could all laugh together.

Her love for Jesus was paramount, but her love for her family was a close second. “Ain’t nobody gonna hurt my babies.” She prayed long and hard for all her family to get in the church and stay there.

I remember sitting with her and talking about her fears about some of the family that weren’t in church. “They ain’t got a lick’o sense,” she’d say, shaking her head. “Let’s pray for them.” And she’d grab my hand and start praying.

Granny was one of the loudest pray-ers I’ve ever known. And when she started crying out to God for her family, her weeping and wailing could be heard for a great distance. I’m sure those prayers touched the heart of God as she begged for Him to rescue her babies from the flames of hell.

She wanted to be in heaven, but she never wanted to die. “Shawn honey, if they put me in a box in the ground, I’d just DIE!” She told me once. While I was trying not to laugh hysterically, I tried explaining that she’d already be dead. “Oh! Don’t talk like that! I’d be so…” And then she’d employ one of her pronunciations of “claustrophobic.”

I always laughed when I was with Granny. I couldn’t help it. There were so many happy, funny things about her. Like the fact that she couldn’t eat one bite of white bread without getting terrible hiccups. I’m the same way. “You get that from me. Hic!” she’d say proudly, patting my cheek as we hiccupped together. She loved white bread.

Granny and Papaw were singers and preachers. They traveled a lot when their family was young, taking the Word of God wherever they could. Later, they kept on singing. Even after they chose to separate (Granny lived only a block down the road), they kept singing together. Those are my favorite memories. Papaw has been gone now seven years.

Granny could only belt. I never heard her sing softly. She sang powerful songs about God that needed a powerful voice, and she’d sing wherever she was called on. You could see she felt the words and believed the message of the songs. Many people found the Lord because of her voice.

One of my favorite songs that Granny and Pawpaw sang was “The Sun’s Comin’ Up.” When I woke this morning, I went to the window and looked out at the sunrise awhile and started singing that song. Mom had said last night that Granny was low. I walked to the kitchen where I’d left my phone overnight and saw the message.

I’m sad I cannot be with my family in the States while they lay Granny’s body to rest, but I am so happy she no longer has to suffer with cancer or worry with all the troubles of this life. And I’m grateful for her love and example to me.

And the sun’s comin’ up–in the morning!

Every tear will be gone from our eyes.

This old world is gonna give way to Glory.

And like an eagle, I’ll take to the sky.

This is a photo my brother took recently. Even with her eyesight failing, Granny loved to be in the Word.