My Favorite Gift

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This year for Christmas, I received a priceless gift that wasn’t purchased or packaged or even intended for me. But it was mine nonetheless.
It started as predicted: a tornado of squeals and paper, tossed bags and utter excitement. It was particularly wonderful with Ricky’s sister and her family with us. 3 extra children in the house made it even more joyfully chaotic.
Then came the dreaded words no mother wants to hear: “Mommy, my tummy hurts.” My 9-year-old son, Camden, was hit like a ton of bricks with some kind of stomach bug that kept him near a toilet and trash bucket. “I don’t want to be sick on Christmas!” Me neither, little buddy. Me neither.
Throughout the ordeal, I could hear him praying between heaves, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.” I was waiting to hear him say, “Why don’t I feel better yet? I’ve been praying!! But I still feel so bad.” However, despite the never-ending bouts of anguish, his faith didn’t waiver. Rather, it grew.
When he was finally able to rest, he said, “Mom, I’ve been praying.”
“I know, baby.”
“You know what I prayed? God, bless this house and this family. Bless me too! Will You please use all Your powers to heal me?! I know that You can do ANYTHING. There is nothing that you can’t do. So, Jesus, please heal me!”
I welled up with tears hearing his absolute assurance in the power and love of God to heal.
Although I was overjoyed at the sight of his body recovering the next morning, the greater gift was seeing the spirit of my son maturing on his own. My faith grew too.

A Grateful Christmas

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In my 35 years of living on this planet, I’ve never witnessed such an upheaval relating to all things Christmas. It seems like the last straw was Black Friday getting bumped up to Thursday.
So, of course, we do what we Americans do best: swing to one side of the pendulum and point fingers (and tweets, and blogs) to those on the other side.

And you know what?  I’ll bet you’ll still have quite a few ungrateful children going through their advent calendar knowing the truth about Santa.  Those shredding open present after present on December 25th aren’t the only ones who fall prey here.  Why? Because the heart of gratefulness isn’t created in a day. Likewise, it isn’t lost in a day. Or even a season.

Being grateful is an attitude that requires cultivation and lots of it. And while this is a great thought for a parent in teaching their children, this message is targeted at adults. We ought to know better than to fight over a coveted, mark-down television. But shouldn’t we also know better than to think that throwing out all traditions of our culture fixes everything? Our behavior is simply the fruit of our heart.

So let us begin there. Let us dig deep into the soil of our souls and pull the weeds of discontent. Let us plant the seeds of thankfulness and allow them to be nourished by “every good and perfect gift.” And let us be generous with all that grows.