Growing up I did not always see my grandparents on my Dad’s side during the holidays. Grandmother and Papa Hill always made sure packages were wrapped and mailed to us in time to be under the tree for Christmas Eve. Most years we got our Christmas pajamas from them.
Yet, there was this one Christmas where my grandmother decided she would send me a night-gown instead of pajamas. After going out for a Christmas Eve services, dinner and visiting with friends, my brother and I rushed home anticipating opening that first gift on Christmas Eve. Of course, Dad had to draw out the anticipation by acting like he could not find the packages and then magically making them appear.
As soon as these packages landed in our laps the paper was off in the blink of an eye and the box lids flew opened. Instead of pulling out the fuzzy footie pajamas like I had always gotten, I began to pull out this night-gown. As I began to pull the gown out of the box the more material would come out. As the night-gown began to unfold and unfold, the entire room become quiet. I know the looks on the faces of my family had to be inquisitive. If you have every seen the movie, Christmas Story, I am sure my family’s faces looked about how the faces looked when the bunny rabbit pj’s were opened and the leg lamp came out of the box.
In my package that had been wrapped and shipped with love and care came out a nightgown with the size in the tag that said; “one size fits all.” As I began to unfold and unfold this nightgown, we realized that the entire family could get into this gown. (You see, I am a petite size gal. When God was giving out height, I overslept and missed getting in that line that day.) The more the gown unfolded the more everyone was scrambling for words. Suddenly out of my dad’s mouth came; “well, Peanut, looks like you have a new tent for camping.” At that moment the entire family was laughing until we were crying. Today, all I have to say is “one size fits all” and laughter will burst out in my family. I had received a gift that I was not going to be able to use.
After opening Santa and eating Christmas breakfast the next morning, Dad kept with tradition and called Papa and Grandmother Hill to wish them a Merry Christmas. My brother and I would also get on the phone to tell our grandparents thank-you for their love, thoughtfulness and the presents. This is one year I had to show gratitude for my gift while all the while my brother was in the background making a fort with the kitchen chairs and this ” one size fits all gown.”
I share this story because it is becoming the gift giving season. People work hard and shop hard to find that perfect gift to give their loved ones. These gifts are given or should be given out of the abundance of love from the heart. The gifts also show that the person cares enough to think about the receiver.
Yesterday, in my post, Extravagant Giving I shared how we need to be extravagant in our giving by giving others God’s grace. I also shared how God gave to us extravagantly so that we can have eternal life. We give to others out of the abundance of our hearts.
There are times when someone has received a gift and I have heard comments being made to the giver like the following:
“What were you thinking? I don’t need this!”
“I can’t believe you spent (insert $ amount) on this.”
“I don’t like the color.”
“This is NOT what I wanted!”
I am sure in my lifetime of forty-nine years I have made an off comment like these at some point and time. However, as I have gotten older and hopefully a little more mature I have come to realize these comments are not needed and should be said. Just as the giver has given out of the abundance of their hearts, we should receive out of the abundance of our hearts. When we are negative about a gift that has been given we are stealing the joy of the giver even if they are not present when the comment is made. Instead, we should be grateful that the person took time out of their schedule to do something for us. We also should be thankful that they took time out to think of us.
The gift is a material thing but it is also language of “I love you” and “I was thinking of you today.” Thus, our response should be that of gratitude. In other words, be an extravagant receiver. Now, what you do with the gift after the person leaves is up to you. Hold on to the gift in case you should some time need it. If the opportunity presents itself where someone else can actually use the gift, give it to them. The gift is now yours and up to you to do what you want with the gift.
As I said earlier, God gave to us extravagantly because he loves us so much and wants us with him for eternity. God gave us his Son and it is up to us to accept his Son into our hearts. We need to be an extravagant receiver of God’s gift. It is up to us as individuals of what to do with his gift. It is my hopes that we share his gift with others. We pass it on to someone else who needs Jesus in their lives.
Not only did God give us his Son but he gives us a gift everyday. As the old cliché says, every day is a present and it is up to us as to what we do with it”. It is up to us to make the most of every day God wakes us up. Each day God has blessings for us. It is up to us to be aware of his presence at all times to receive these blessings. When we receive these blessings it is important to acknowledge them and say thank you just as I acknowledged to my grandparents that I received their gift and said thank you.
This year as you receive Christmas cards and gifts be sure to be an extravagant receiver. Tell the giver thank you. Remember, the person took time out to think of you. They are giving out of the abundance of their heart. May our response to the gifts we receive and especially to the gift God gave us be the following:
“Thank you for thinking of me.”
“You are such a generous giver.”
“ I didn’t realized I needed this blessing today but YOU did.”
I love the reminder we are given in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 about having a grateful heart;
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will
for you in Jesus Christ.
It is when we are an extravagant receiver that we will see the giver in a whole new perspective. We begin to see and experience joy in all things and we will become more open to see beyond the material gift and see the abundance of love the person has in their heart. May our receiving be a blessing to others this year as their giving is a blessing to us.
Until next time, give thanks for ALL things!
- Extravagant Giving (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
- The Christmas Present Pile-Up: How Much Do You Buy? (motherhoodismagic.com)
- The gift of giving (fechaplaincy.wordpress.com)
Life can be difficult at times. Many times we are all faced with unknowns. There are some days when we wish we could look into a crystal ball and get our answers.
But, God did not create us to know everything and especially know our future. He places the unknowns into our lives so that we will learn to trust him more. It is through the unknowns where we learn to see the smallest of blessings.
Growing up in a Methodist minister’s home, my family faced an unknown every four to five years. The unknown was would we still be at the same church next year or would we move. Then, if we were going to move, there were days of the unknown of location of the new assignment my dad would receive.
All of us face unknowns at some point in our lives. Fellow blog writer, Linda Kruschke posted the other day about how she was facing unknowns with health related issues. She shares how she was reluctant about even writing because of the frustrations she was facing of not getting answers. Yet, she knew that she had to look up, keep on sharing her faith through her writing and just hold on tight to God’s hand.
After reading Linda’s blog, I read comments that were posted sending her well wishes, lifting her up in prayers and simply encouraging her. I also left a comment telling her that I would be praying that she received answers soon and reminding her that God is there walking with her. I also shared with her one of the things that got me through my valley of unknowns. It was Psalm 121,. “I lift my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” A scripture of reassurance that God is always walking with me.
Along with Psalm 121 being the scripture that reminds me that God is there in the valley’s of life, I began counting blessings. Each evening, I would write down at least five blessings that happened during the day. Some of the blessings were just thanksgiving that God woke me up that morning, acknowledging that God had provided me a home, food, and a loving family. As each day passed, despite how bad I felt physically, my blessings list became longer.
Even in the storms of life, God continues to bless us. It is in the valley’s where we experience God’s greatness all the more. Yet, we get so caught up in the circumstances of the unknown that we miss out on the blessings that God has planned for us.
Linda, wrote a follow-up post on Psalm 121. In that post, she added the Casting Crowns song, “Praise You In the Storm.” I smiled as clicked play on the Casting Crowns video. For, it was that song that I played repeatedly day after day as I walked through that valley of the unknown. To Linda, I thank God for nudging her to post the song. For it was a wonderful reminder to me that God is there all the time. I know that there are more unknowns yet to come to me. And, as these unknowns happen, I will count my blessings and praise God in the storms.
Are you facing an unknown? Whatever your unknown may be, know that you have a loving God who is walking right beside you. I encourage you to pay close attention because he has placed blessings along the way. As the old hymn tells each one of us; ”count your many blessings and see what God has done.”
- Going Through the Valley (positivemornings.wordpress.com)
- Caught in a Storm (time2standladies.wordpress.com)
- Standing the Storm Even When the Grass Looks Greener On the Other Side (virtuouswoman73.wordpress.com)
- “You’re Exactly Where You’re Suppose To Be” (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
- Guest of Honor (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)