You missed one last gift to open

What follows is something I wrote in the early days of my blog, revised for 2016. Each of us has this unopened gift in our hands. What will you do with it?
IMG_1093There’s a scene I love from one of the cheesy, tissue required, made-for-TV Christmas movies: a girl receives a beautifully wrapped gift. Instead of immediately tearing into it, she says something to this effect:

Don’t you just love a wrapped present? Before you open it, it could be anything, even a million dollars.

Sneaking downstairs with my sister on Christmas mornings, I loved the sight of the twinkling Christmas tree lights and the overflowing pile of wrapped presents underneath. I remember excitedly wondering what the gifts might contain for me and anticipating the surprises ahead with the gifts I was giving to the rest of my family.

My sister and I always wrote out wish lists for Christmas, but we also knew there was no guarantee we’d get what was on our lists. One particular Christmas, my wish list included a perfume I’d fallen in love with. Mom pulled me aside a few weeks before Christmas to tell me that she had looked at it, hoping to give it to me, but that this brand cost a bit more than she & Dad planned to spend. Imagine my surprise when the last, smallest present I opened on Christmas Day was a tiny bottle of that very perfume! That was a gift that contained something bigger than I could imagine.

IMG_1097So why am I discussing Christmas presents a week late? One reason is that this new year is like one last present for each of us to unwrap. On New Year’s Day, you’re holding a beautifully wrapped gift. It could hold anything. The coming year could be the unexpected present you’ve longed for. There is more promise and hope right now than at any other time of year.

Does this year seem to hold difficulty and trial? This may be a year of holding tight to God and his promises in scripture. Does 2016 have big excitement on the horizon? Trust God to use you even amid distractions – good or otherwise.

So now is the time to dream big. As this year unfolds, what could happen? I hope you can take time this weekend to stop and reflect on your hopes and dreams for 2016. What can you put on your wish list for the new year?

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The Perfect Gift – an Advent series

After an October that should have completely overwhelmed me, I’m amazed to say that this year, the first in three years, I ended the #write31days challenge more excited about writing and blogging than before I began. I can only guess at why, but it definitely seems like God is at work in my heart and, perhaps, my words.

Earlier this week, I talked with my husband about starting another more relaxed series, perhaps looking toward Advent. It’s a little early for me; I typically prefer to keep the Christmas and all its trimmings on hold until after Thanksgiving dinner. I’m realizing, though, that this year will be very different. Due to the continuing upheaval in the state of our house (see Four lessons from a flood and the follow-up, Counting blessings and revealing messes), it seems silly to even think about Christmas decorations – there’s just no room in this mess! Combine that with other circumstances which mean we will most likely not spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with family, and I’m realizing that Christmas needs to happen in my heart this year or it may not seem to happen at all.

And then this gem of a song and You Tube video appears in my inbox. JJ Heller is one of my favorites (and her smile is contagious!). The song was just released today and you can buy it on iTunes. I immediately knew this song would be my theme for this Advent season.

Have we forgotten, we need some sorting out? Clear our minds; we will find what the story is all about…

Do we remember the wonders of His love? Will our voices join with the chorus up above?
Do we remember how on that silent night there was a baby who came to recall us back to life?

Instead of focusing on the gifts to be bought or exchanged, the decorations with which to deck the halls, the tinsel and lights and Hallmark movies, I want to highlight the Savior, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law. Would you join me here every week from now until Christmas for another reminder of the wonders of His love? Together, let’s explore this Perfect Gift, given for you, given for me.

He was the Perfect Gift. He came to bring us peace. Holy Child, our King.

The Perfect Gift - an Advent series

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I’m linking up with Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday:

Avoiding a Case of the Mondays

First Monday of the new year! Hurray! Hoping to avoid getting a case of the Mondays this year…


…I’m linking up with Ann Voskamp and the 1000 gifts community.

The building momentum has been so interesting to watch:

An autumn conversation with a beloved sister. How can we live lives of gratitude. A mention of a book.

Secret journals begun.

A dinner table tradition of a dad pulling out a blessings book and each child and parent calling out an addition to their blessings.

A Christmas present spreads the call to count our gifts.

Familial conversations continue the reminders of all that God has given us.

A teary-eyed husband shares his own new journal and first entry to his wife.

One word for 2013.

A gentle reminder from a friend.

So, to start off my list, I can’t help but think of the holiday we just shared:

A special present

It’s Sander’s Fudge!

I’m so grateful that we could spend Christmas with Mom, my sister and her family, and my brother and his girlfriend.

We enjoyed a special gift of Sander’s Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge, hand-delivered from Michigan.

I keep reminding myself how lovely it was to spend a week in the warmer climate of Florida.

How lovely the Christmas lights looked when covered with a (thankfully light) layer of snow.

Surprises from Tom to welcome me home.

I keep thinking back on how delightful it is to share Christmas with a child (or in my case, three). Their enjoyment of every present, the older ones’ excitement to have their gifts opened by others, and the joy of experiencing the simple delights of the season anew.

The littlest one, not yet three, clapped in wonder when they made it snow (in Florida!) at a Christmas light show. And this precious moment, captured after placing Baby Jesus before Mary and Joseph on Christmas Day…

Worship the Christ Child

…may we, with awe, worship Christ throughout this year and look for the gifts that God gives us everyday.


   

Embracing the Gifts

Rainy days in Mrs. Robert’s 4th grade meant the chance to play Heads Up Seven Up. My eyes tightly shut and head down on my desk, I’d wait and listen. If footsteps came close, I might be picked; I had to be ready and I did NOT want to make a mistake. Sometimes, though, in the quiet room, the darkness behind my eyes would make me sleepy and I would drift off.

I’m learning that I need to watch just as intently for (more…)

  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

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