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Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

This is a re-post from about four years ago … but the memories shared here are remembered every spring.

I lost it, and I don’t know where …

I lost it, and I don’t know why …

I lost it, and I’ll never get it back …

It was my creation, my gift, and there is no way to ever fully re-create it 😦

Now, if you know me, you might think I am talking about my losing my marbles … and … you are probably right. But the loss I am talking about is my original post called “Love = Pussy Willows.”

I wrote it, as a gift for my parents, who DID both read the original… before it got lost in cyberspace. But, I wanted to keep it … for me, for my kids. So that when my mom and dad are no longer on this earth, we could be reminded of the legacy of thoughtful, kind and even romantic love, that they shared for each other, and left for us to duplicate in our own lives.

And so, here I go, trying to re-create that which I’ve already created, and is now gone. I feel a bit like I am one of the scientists who created/cloned Dolly the sheep. I am consulting my sieve-like brain cells for what I can recall (not much hope there). I am mixing memories, words and thoughts with the hopes of a carbon copy result. I even consulted others who also read my post, for what stood out to them. The problem is, that as a writer/creator I cannot duplicate my creation perfectly – I may have all of my childhood memories, phrases I remember writing and the help of others, but I can not go back in time.

I cannot duplicate the humidity or temperature of weather on the day I wrote it. I cannot duplicate the food I ate, the exercise I did or didn’t do, or my hormonal levels of that day. I cannot perfectly replicate the motivation I had for writing it.

So, all that said … just like Dolly the sheep, I might have all the exact pieces to clone my post … but, me, as the creator, will never, ever feel it is possible to look on the clone as anything but a cheap imitation of the real thing.

But, all that said, her I go … again.

My parents will celebrate their 40th anniversary on July 24 of this summer. I am so proud of them … (I’ve been married about half that, and I know that each day provides a new opportunity to re-choose my hubby … and he to re-choose me … and lets get real, there are many days we would like to return the other for a refund).

Mom and Dad are a fairly average married couple. They have loved, fought, struggled, and survived each other.

I was blessed to know romantic, but true, deep love and affection through them … and pussy willows.

My memories of pussy willows are so vivid, so clear, and they go as far back as when I was four or five … but they happened for many years!

In the spring my dad would be driving down a country road, usually taking out weekly trash to the ‘Dump’, or driving to my grandmothers house. And, all of a sudden he would pull over to the side of the road and get our out of the car.

Then he would be in the ditch, unaware of the presence of water, or spiders or snakes (yuck!). And he would reach out for what he was after … pussy willows.

Now this was the spring time ritual for my dad, And, as an adult, I have to say he has the eye for the perfectly developed (not too soon, not too late) pussy willows. I always seem to find them as they are just opening, or once they have gone to seed!

But the ritual didn’t end with a bouquet in his thorn punctured hands, and soggy wet feet. No, mom had her part to play as well.

When dad arrived home, with his freshly cut bouquet, he would beckon mom to the door.

And, every year her response was the same, “Oh Denny, pussy willows.” and then that ever-embarrassing (for any child who has hoped and prayed that the stork truly was responsible for the reproduction of humans) hug and kiss … and gaze into each others eyes (I can hear the adolescent within me say “blech”).

Then mom would scurry to the ‘special’ golden-yellow vase, where last years bouquet of pussy willows (cob webs and all), would still be. She would discard the old, and arrange the new bouquet to perfection. Then, the special golden-yellow vase would be set out on display.

The whole experience of the the pussy willows sticks in my head because of how they were GIVEN, and how they were RECEIVED, by each of my parents. If my mom had pestered my dad to go get her a new bouquet … the receiving wouldn’t have been as a gift, but a duty. And if my mom stuck the bouquet in just any old vase, and discarded them after a ‘respectable’ amount of time … the giving wouldn’t have been received in the manner they were given.

I love this way that my parents, unaware, taught me about giving and receiving. And I hope they can receive this post in the spirit it was intended … that of a gift to show my love.

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20140528-072035-26435100.jpgRecently, one of my daughters was having a conversation with a friend who has autism.

Apparently she had asked him, “do you know what girls like?”

To which he replied, “diamonds, all girls want is diamonds.”

Not a bad generalization, for one whose diagnosis would tell us that this is not a cognitive strength.

It is a generalization that many men make, that many people make. The generalization that what people really want is something expensive, shiny, flashy. But, is that what people really want? need?

To look at life perspective, I often look at the end of life.

With a hubby whose life work is that of pastoring, I hear of deathbed experiences on a regular basis. I hear of what is desired most, what is appreciated most, what is sobbed for the most. Never has hubby come home and shared that someone died dreaming of diamonds, of fancy sports cars or expensive homes.

What they speak of is relationships.

Times spent with loved ones. Memories of vacations and dinners around the table. Memories of working on gardens and homework. Memories of Sunday drives, and a God who didn’t only mean something on the Sabbath.

What do we want to give to those who we love?

What memories do we want most to leave?

Diamonds? or days together?

“We don’t need more things.
We need more meaning.
God. is. here.
The meaning unfolds in the ordinary.
Wow. Thank you. Yes.”
Ann Voskamp

 

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Gifts are a part of many celebrations at this time of year.images

Retailers are counting on us to spend, spend, spend towards their financial success (and our financial decline, which will eventually put them into decline as well … but, I digress). The signs are everywhere;
SAVE,
SALE,
LAST CHANCE,
DON’T MISS OUT!

The gifts we give are … well … expected.

And that expectation of receiving a gift from someone can devalue that gift.

Let me explain …

When we are dating, a gift, at any time, from that special someone, can melt our hearts! Even if it is not an exciting gift, we are able to receive it with such thanks, such delight, such surprise … because we were not expecting it. After years, and years, and years (speaking personally) in a marriage can mean that expectations are attached with gift giving. The giver might give expecting a certain response, and the receiver might receive expecting something that is not hidden under the outer wrappings.

Recently, my hubby received a gift. He has been coaching a group of boys on a football team, HE has been the GIVER all season … that was his role in the relationship with the boys. But at the recent year end banquet, the boys had a gift for him (as well as a number of individual gifts). This gift was and is so very meaningful to hubby, and he will cherish and keep it always. The gift came from an expected giver … it was unexpected, and it was delighted in by the receiver.

At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child. We sing:

“Come, thou long expected Jesus …”

Long expected …

I wonder if one of the reasons He was not well-received was that expectations had been built up to the point where the gift could not be received with the delight that the Giver had given?

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I have a secret shame … but, I guess it will soon no longer be secret …

It all started about eight and a half years ago, when we had company over for dinner in our new house. We had experienced quite an exciting process in the purchasing of this current house, and selling of our previous place (in the order … sigh), and we truly felt that God had provided this little piece of heaven on earth for us.

20130611-171131.jpgFrom the moment that the couple arrived, until they left hours later, the wife of the couple was constantly making comments about how big the house is, how excessive the house is, how extravagant the house is. By the time they left, later that evening, my joy of our new home had been popped like a helium balloon.

big

excessive

extravagant

For the thrift shopping, Scottish heritage bearing, tightwad in me those descriptors of our home were enough to make me feel shamed.

As I look back now, my desire to move, to downsize, started with that evening. I could not bear to imagine people thinking that I, that we, wanted to live in excess.

This story came to mind the other day when I was planning a party at our home, and I pulled one of the people invited aside and asked him to please not judge me on our over-sized house. Each word I communicated to him, I did so with the similarity of a dog with it’s tail between it’s legs after being caught ripping up the baseboards (not that that has ever happened with our beast). What I was really communicating to him was not humility, but shame.

But now, as hubby and I are looking at ending this season in this house I am remembering that, although I have referred to it as an albatross, although I have referred to it as the original Money Pit, although I have referred to this house as owning us (and let me tell you, it does), I am remembering how, originally, we looked at it as a blessing, from the hand of God …

It is what we have done with that gift … allowing it to own us, allowing it to dictate how we spend our time … our money, allowing the words of one person to cast a shifting shadow on the gift that God delighted in presenting to us.

May we learn from this secret shame … may we overlook the shadow to see the light of God in the blessings … all of the blessings … that He has given.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17

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Often I have written about my desire to not just survive, but thrive (Survive-or-Thrive) in this life. Most recently I shared of that feeling of being  Worn, not just a physical fatigue, but exhaustion that goes to the bones, to the soul.

Recently, as I was reading a post from another (Holly Gerth) I found myself reminded of what I already knew … that all that keeps us busy, is not all for us to be busy in doing.

Isaiah 55:2-3 reminds us … reminds me :

“Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me,
and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; 
listen, that you may live.”

God has created each of us with gifts, with talents, with passions … with appetites. There are many ways to utilize what God has given. There are many ways to fill our time, our schedules, our days using them, but not every use of them satisfies. Like cotton candy, caramel apples and kettle corn that are eaten at the fair and fill us to the brim, there are many things in our lives that we participate in that only fill our days, but do not nourish us for living.

What God has created and ordained us for requires a different diet.

Holly Gerth, writing on the blog, incourage.me, gives us a good bit of wisdom in her post, Find-What-Feeds-Your-Heart

photo by Dinner Series

“I walk through the door bone weary, head throbbing, searching for the nearest flat surface so I can sink into silence. I feel depleted, drained, tired in a way that makes my heart echo with emptiness.
Another day I walk through the door worn out but not worn down, ready for a nap but also ready to get up and go for it again, smiling even through the physical fatigue that tugs at every part of my body. My energy tank is empty but my heart is full.
One task depleted me–like a sugar crash after too much junk food.
The other filled me up–like a satisfying meal that makes you lean back in your chair and sigh with new strength.
Here’s the catch: both looked like great opportunities on the outside.
But one was not for me.
And the next time it came around, I turned down another helping. That’s hard for us as women {at least it is for me}. Saying “no” to what looks enticing and sweet even though we know it will ultimately not nourish us can be difficult to do. And yet discovering what truly feeds our hearts is essential.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work” {John 4:34}.
What God truly has for us to do on this earth will fill us up deep inside. Oh, yes, we will get tired sometimes along the way. We will have struggles and face obstacles. But what He has for us is not meant to leave us continually empty.
Be careful if you’re working hard “for God” and your heart feels hungry all the time.
Stop and ask Him, “Is this really, truly what You have for me? Have I taken in or taken on something You never intended?”
How do we even know what’s God’s will is?”

To continue reading this encouraging post, by Holly Gerth, click on Find-What-Feeds-Your-Heart.

 

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7ee97921ff712da3685331b1bc56d6a1One day a verse was read and the words ‘freewill offering’ stood out to me like neon lights in the black of a night.

What is a freewill offering?

According to my research, it is what it says; a gift of money, time or resources that is given without being forced, without the receiver even knowing that it would be given.

So, if you stay late after work to help a customer, a student, a patient … you have given a freewill offering.

If you put cash in your ‘offering’ envelope, above and beyond your normal ‘tithe’ … you have given a freewill offering.

If you make your dinner, and double the recipe, and take it to the house of a neighbor … you have given a freewill offering.

But, the concept of there being a freewill offering also indicates that we are expected to give, without choice (free will), a certain amount first.

That means we are expected to give of our time, our money, our resources.

Expected giving …

That means that some part of our whole (our whole bank account, our whole waking hours, our whole life) is not, nor has ever been our own.

It is expected that we give to our governments (“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” Matthew 22:21), and for those of us who are followers of Christ, we give to His work, in both (not one or the other) our time and our physical resources.

And after all that ‘expected’ giving, then we give from our own free will.

To do so as a group would mean that, like the Israelites whose “hearts were stirred” to give to the tabernacle (Exodus 35), we might need to be told to stop giving.

They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.” Exodus 36:3-7

Imagine if we lived in such a way that our freewill giving exceeded the needs!

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If you are reading this, then yes, you have survived the chaos that can be associated with Christmas Day.

For me, Boxing Day means two things; one is that I am ready to take down the tree, and clean up the house, and the other is that I start to think about next year.

Over the next few days, my posts will be related to my thinking about next year. Each day I will share Ten Goals that I have for myself, my children, my marriage and my relationship with God.

Today, I am starting with my ten goals for 2013, related to my three children.

Wheaton+Family-38-2-1602627366-O

God has blessed hubby and I with three healthy, productive, God-fearing/loving children. There was a time when we wondered if we would even have children with our own DNA. There was a time when we understood contentment with one, believing that our chances of carrying another to term would never be. There were dark and sorrow-filled times, times when we cried out to God, times when we grew to understood that today we only see a part (1 Corinthians 13:12) …

As parents we have taken those experiences, that pain, of the past and promised to not forget the gifts that these children are to us. Oh, we fail – daily we fail as parents, but our hearts desire is to not take them for granted, not forget our responsibility to be active in their lives, and to daily hand them back to their Creator.

My goals, as their mom, for 2013 are:

  1. Be intentional in spending at least one time per month with each child – they are individuals, and I need to know them individual
  2. Pray with each more often – so easy when they were young, but it is still such a beautiful thing to lay our burdens at His feet together
  3. Be more involved in assisting them with school work (even unsolicited … mostly unsolicited) – I often am so desiring that I give them independence in their school responsibilities that I forget that they still need help, and I am able to help them!
  4. Tell each child, every day, that I love them – I cannot just think it, for their benefit I need to give wings to my thoughts
  5. Do not end the day, or go apart angry – this applies to so many relationships (every relationship). There is wisdom in “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26)
  6. Laugh with them – Oh how sad to spend a day living under the same roof and not sharing a laugh together … what sweet memories laughter provides!
  7. Tell them why I love them – not just ‘I love you’ but ‘I love how you ….’, ‘I love that you ….’
  8. Tell them that I am proud of them – I do believe that success breeds success, and if I let them know of the successes I see in their lives, I believe that it will magnify their ability to do even greater things
  9. Praise their father, in their presence – although hubby and I do not parent exactly the same, we are one, united front when it comes to our kids, and our kids need to know that we love each other, and that we respect each other … and thinking it is not enough … I need to give words to my thoughts.
  10. Give them wings – I cannot hold them too tightly, I need to hold them with enough flexibility that they can come and go. God’s example to us is to give us the choice to come to Him … there is no better parenting example! And there can be no greater gift than having my child choose to share their life with me.

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