As we ring in the New Year, the to-do list seems to get bigger and life has a way of pushing out Christmas quick, becoming even more hectic once we pass Jan. 1. This year is proving to be no different for me; however, in the hustle and bustle of every day life I love how God finds a way to whisper His words of wisdom to me. He takes those crazy, insane moments and He trades them for His nuggets of wisdom. If I take the time to stop and listen, I am always amazed at what He tells me… it always seems to be just what I need, when I need it. A couple of weeks ago I recalled two of those special moments that really stood out to me and reminded me of several lessons I’ve learned throughout the years…the joy of trading moments!
The first lesson was in 2002; it was the first Christmas for our second daughter Emma, who was 9 months old. I had decided to start a tradition of taking a photo with each of the girls surrounded by all the gifts they received at Christmas. It was meant to be a remembrance of what they received; however, when I printed the photos, I was shocked at what I saw. Here was this little baby literally surrounded by piles of toys. Although they were well-meaning gifts from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, it still looked pretty ridiculous! I realized something needed to change. Over the years I had heard the idea of giving three gifts because Jesus received three gifts. Scott and I decided to try it, and we loved it. Every Christmas morning, tucked around the Christmas tree are three gifts for each of our girls, lovingly given from Santa. I can honestly say, they do not create large lists and I have to work hard to pull enough ideas out of them to give to other family members. It’s special to see their hearts not greedy, but instead appreciative for what they receive.
And, I will never forget the first Christmas Samantha found out about Santa…I was so afraid the “magic” of Christmas would be gone for her, but it was just the opposite. On Christmas morning there was a different sparkle in her eye. She had an appreciation for us as her parents, knowing those three gifts, and all the gifts from the past, came from us. But even more than that, she still had the true meaning of Christmas in her heart…to give without expecting anything in return, which provides a joy far greater than any fictional character or story could ever bring. As our girls have gotten older, I have really seen their love for giving far outweigh their desire for receiving. They get creative and really think about what would be special and I’m so grateful we traded an abundance of expensive gifts for three simple gifts…the joy of trading abundance for less!
I was reminded of my second lesson while strolling through a craft show a few weeks back. It was about three years ago and at the time Emma was 8 years old and our oldest daughter, Samantha, was just turning 12 years old. Keep in mind, our girls love craft shows and they had created a little tradition amongst themselves at Christmas time to exchange gifts with each other. Typically those gifts are simple handmade items either made themselves or from craft shows. That particular year Emma had found a handmade notepad holder at the craft show and she decided it would be the perfect Christmas gift for Samantha. She was so proud of her purchase and could not wait to give it to Samantha.
I have to admit, when she showed it to me, my first thought was, “Oh geez!” Thankfully, I was able to contain my thoughts and simply agreed with her. Are you wondering why would I have such a negative thought? Well, the notepad was made from plastic canvas where you take yarn and weave it through the holes to create a design. The design was of a bird; several years before that Samantha was really into birds, but not so much anymore. Regardless of the design, the style of that craft simply looked so old-fashioned, really something I would have given to my grandmother when I was a child, not to my pre-teen sister! Samantha had just entered 6th grade, her first year at the middle school, and for the first time was caring about what people thought of her. Certainly she would not use this notepad holder, and I really didn’t want to see Emma disappointed when Samantha opened her gift.
On Christmas morning, as gifts were being passed out, the time came for Emma to give Samantha her gift. I wish you could have seen their reactions. As Samantha opened the package, Emma was beaming, and Samantha’s heart just leapt out of her chest, her eyes were filled with joy, and her words were so tender, “Oh Emma, it’s beautiful. Thank you! I will put it in my locker at school.” Samantha had a genuine love and appreciation for what Emma so carefully chose for her. I never did ask if Samantha really loved the actual gift; I didn’t need to because her reaction proved she loved the gift, and the gift-giver, as she sweetly hung up that notepad in her locker for the rest of the school year. Now it rests in Samantha’s keep sake box, forever reminding her of her sister’s love and reminding me what the true meaning of Christmas is really about: unconditional love first given from our Heavenly Father through His son Jesus! How humbling it is for my girls to teach and remind me of the most important lessons in life –that what He asks us to give each other is that too…God traded places with me: my weaknesses for His strength!
As I look back over these lessons, I realize again that all I am asked to do is follow the example Jesus has given me: to give and receive love, to rely on His wisdom and follow God with all my heart, mind and soul. I am thankful for trading the abundance of gifts for the simplicity of three, for trading the expensive elaborate gifts, for those simple handmade, heartfelt gifts created out of unconditional love, but, above all, I am forever grateful for the greatest gift ever given—eternal life through God’s son Jesus. Thank you Jesus for trading places with me and paying the price for my sin on the cross so I wouldn’t have to- what a gift you have given to all those who believe in you!
CedarCreek MOMentum exists to connect mothers in all seasons by encouraging and supporting them, while guiding their hearts toward Christ.
Subscribe to our blog and never miss another post!