I was in Mexico in late November and enjoyed seeing the festive decorations. While in a large store I turned to head up another aisle and saw a display that took my breath away. The poinsettias for sale were three feet tall! How I wished I could bring one home with me.
I remembered that this showy plant is native to Mexico but that was the extent of my knowledge. I decided to do some research and found that, in its natural habitat, the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that can grow ten to fifteen feet tall. And I thought the ones I saw were large!
How did they become associated with Christmas, I wondered? I turned to Wikipedia for my answer.
Legend tells of a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. She was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from beside the road and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds, resulting in the flower we know as a poinsettia.
There were some other interesting facts, but it was the legend that captured my mind. I can relate to a gift of weeds being transformed into blossoms. No gift is too small for God to use. I learned this first hand when I gave my life to Jesus. He will take whatever we give Him and turn it into something unexpected and beautiful. That is why I honour Jesus, not only at Christmas but every day.
“And you’ve become a new person. The new person is continually renewed in knowledge to be like its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10 GWT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)
Sometimes we happen to find the perfect gift for a loved one. That was the case with a birthday present for our nine-year-old granddaughter.
Part of her gift was a pillow. This was not your everyday pillow but a special one, with one side in a satin fabric and the other covered with sequins. I knew it would be a hit because what little girl doesn’t like sequins?
It got even better, though as these adornments were purple on one side and silver on the other. The colour changed depending on the direction you ran your hand over the surface. We watched her write and draw as she customized this special gift.
I understood why she liked the pillow because I enjoyed playing with it, too. There was no right or wrong way to make the designs. It could be predominantly purple, mostly silver or a blend of the two colours. I could draw straight lines or make random patterns.
If there was something I didn’t like I could erase it with a simple swipe of the hand. Starting over was not a failure but an opportunity to make something new.
I can create this feeling in other areas of my life. The pattern of my life is unique to me. There is no need to be the same as everyone else. If something isn’t working out for me I can embrace the opportunity to start again.
Somehow, playing with this pillow was freeing. I may just have to get one of my own!
Recently I was given a gift of appreciation from three women I’d been encouraging and affirming over a period of months.
As they hugged me and thanked me for loving them through some tough times, I was deeply touched. To hear my small involvement in their lives had made a difference was a gift of monumental proportions for me.
Over the years I’ve heard the saying, “Giving is receiving.” The fulfillment I felt was the perfect example of this. I used to think that to make a difference I must do something big, something noteworthy. In actual fact, sometimes all I need to do is to show up. Everyone’s time is valuable and giving it to others shows we care.
The women I mentioned didn’t need to do anything else to show their appreciation. I was surprised when they also handed me a gift bag. It contained a lovely journal and a pen with the inscription Make Your Dreams Happen. On the front of the journal were the words, The Journey is the Destination. Both sentiments were inspiring.
Although the relationship was about me supporting them, these women had taken the time to find out what was important to me. They knew I was a writer and had thoughtfully chosen a gift to show they cared about my dreams and goals. They even included chocolate!
The blank pages of a new journal remind me of the blank pages of a new year. As the calendar turns to a fresh year, there are new adventures to fill up its pages. Each day is a gift and it is up to me to use it wisely. I chose to put the pen in God’s hands and let him write my story.
“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” – Vern McLellan
I opened a small box and admired the lovely brooch inside. Many eyes were on me as I was asked if I knew why this design was chosen for me.
Our family has a Scottish heritage and the gift had come from Scotland but I figured there was more to it than that. Focusing on the design in the stone I struggled to see what images were there. My family laughed as I came up with some interesting interpretations.
After a few minutes my son-in-law took pity on me and asked how many thistles surrounded the stone. That was the clue I needed. There were eight, one for each of my grandchildren.
The stone itself was a Heathergem, made from the stems of the heather plant. Basically, the heather is picked, dried, died and then mixed together and compressed. Eighty tons of pressure is required to press the block of stems together. It was incredible to think this lovely stone was once the stems of a plant.
The first lesson I learned from this gift was that sometimes I look so hard to find a complicated solution that I overlook the answer that is right in front of me.
Lesson two was that pressure is not always a negative thing. It is not pleasant to go through times of intense pressure but this stone was evidence that the results can produce something of strength and beauty that would not otherwise be possible.
I need to remember that God can take any situation and produce something good from it. I only need to give it to him and allow him to do his work.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)