Hidden Gifts

#inspiration, mementos, bookmark, dreamsHave you ever tucked away mementos for safe-keeping and then forgotten about them? I have. Recently I opened a drawer to place something else inside and knew it was time to sort through the over-stuffed contents.

Everything was removed as I considered whether to keep or discard the items. A large stack of cards from a milestone birthday took up half the drawer. I enjoyed reading them before they went to recycling. Assorted family photos brought back many happy memories. Those went back in the drawer.

Photo ID cards for my husband and me from Expo 86 in Vancouver showed that time hasn’t been standing still. In my mind, I look the same, but the mirror tells a different story!

Most of the items were familiar but one caught me by surprise. I don’t remember it and have no idea who gave it to me. Since it was with items more than ten years old, I’m assuming this bookmark has been tucked away quite some time.

The words You Are a Lover of Words . . . One Day, You Will Write a Book” are printed at the top. A lovely sentiment is below. Today you know me as a writer, but what you may not know, is I only started writing five years ago. Three years ago, my first book was released.

Someone saw a gift in me many years before I had the confidence to believe in myself. Now, reading this bookmark brings tears to my eyes. I was meant to be a writer. Pretending it wasn’t possible didn’t stop the process, only delayed it. The voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough was lying.

I’m telling you this because I believe many of you have also let this critical voice stop you from going after your dreams. Don’t believe the lies. Tell it to STOP and then go and do what you were born to do.

I’m living my dream. What’s yours?

How Do We Teach Compassion?

inspiration, Operation Christmas ChildMy husband and I took three of our grandchildren on a special shopping trip. It was explained to them that we would be picking out items to put in shoe-boxes for Operation Christmas Child. After dinner we would go to our church and join with others to pack the boxes.

The question of, “Do we get one too?” was something we expected to hear from six-year-olds. This is where the teaching began. My husband sat patiently and explained that these packages would be going to children in who lived in poverty and didn’t have all of the things we had.

Later we arrived at the church and placed our items in the assigned places. There were spots for school supplies, toys, clothing, personal hygiene items and more.

At the starting time each of the girls took a box and we guided them through the lines to choose what to add to theirs. Then we went to a finishing table where the boxes were labeled for boy or girl and the appropriate age group. As we waited in line for the label I bent down and told my granddaughter that this box would be the only gift a little girl received and she had been the one to fill it. She beamed and couldn’t wait to pick up another empty box to fill.

We had only expected them to fill one box each. Instead they continued putting together gifts for children who needed them. The seeds of compassion had been sown.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

The Spirit of Giving

family, love, memoriesAt Christmas the emphasis is often placed on gifts. The malls are crowded as people search for the perfect gift to give to loved ones. Budgets are often ignored and spending runs rampant.

This puts an incredible amount of stress on people. I remember being worried that I couldn’t find or afford the latest toy that my children wanted. While this seemed important at the time, neither my son nor daughter can remember gifts received when they were children.

What they do remember is time spent together as a family. Their Christmas vacation was spent playing board games and doing jigsaw puzzles. We did simple things, but we did them together. It was the love and laughter of family that was most important to them. This is something that money can’t buy.

Love is the reason we have Christmas. God loved the world so much that he sent his only son. Christmas is the celebration of the greatest gift ever given. This was given freely, sacrificially and generously to all of us. All God asks in return is that we love him and share that love with others.

I pray this Christmas that I may have a heart like His and my giving will follow his example and be pure and selfless.

In this spirit, I have a gift for you. I would like to give you a copy of my book, Inspirations From the Everyday. Let me know you’d like this and I’ll be happy to send you a code to download an ebook from iBooks. This is my Christmas gift to you.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

Gifts

gifts photoChristmas is the season of giving. The gift doesn’t have to be extravagant to be appreciated. It is the spirit in which it is given that is the most important thing.

A couple of days before Christmas someone was telling me that he had cut his budget for gifts in half this year. This person was upset that the gifts he received last year didn’t cost as much as gifts he had given. For this reason, he would not spend as much on his friends this year. Somewhere in all of this the spirit of giving had been lost.

There was a time when I felt the same way. I couldn’t wait to see what people had purchased for me. I still appreciate receiving gifts, but my focus is no longer only on myself. Now, the true pleasure for me is picking out something special for someone and seeing their excitement when they receive the gift.

Sometimes the value of a gift cannot be measured in dollars. Acts of service may cost me nothing but my time, yet may be priceless to someone else. When I cheerfully give my time or attention to another, I am honoring not only them, but God. My life has been blessed by God so that I may pass some of these blessings along to others. This is a gift that is not just for Christmas, but can be shared on a daily basis throughout the year.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV