Monday, December 28, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

One year ago this morning, my wonderful husband John crashed his motorcycle into a guardrail and went flying in the air to hit his head on the frozen ground. He was wearing a helmet and much safety gear (he looked like Neil Armstrong) but he still suffered a traumatic brain injury and then a pulmonary embolism and then an infected leg that required surgery.

But you know what? John is doing wonderfully today. God chose to heal him. Recovery built our faith as a family even as we battled fear.

If you prayed for John or my family during that time, THANK YOU! I want to write something profound about the experience but I can't. I am just grateful. Today Noah and I are going to go to John's work and take him out to lunch. We aren't having a big party. But the most meaningful celebrations are those moments when John and I look back and then up, praising our God once again for being who He is and having mercy on who we are.

The Old Testament is full of stories in which altars are built after God showed Himself to be the one true God, full of miracles and mercy and majesty.

Today I build another altar in my heart. I give thanks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blessed are the Gift-Givers!

(This is a Joyvotion - a devotional I send out every Wednesday/Thursday. If you would like to receive them in your email box, just email me and I will add you.)

“…It is more blessed to give than receive.”
Acts 20:35

On my mother’s last Christmas, she gave each of her four children a quilt she’d made. It was a beautiful gesture. Mama was battling cancer and she was weak. She didn’t go shopping. Instead, she gave us beautiful masterpieces. Works of art that took time and love.

When I think of gift giving at Christmas, I try to remind myself that giving is an act of love, not obligation or even tradition. My mother didn’t shop that Christmas so long ago. Yet it was one of the most valuable gifts I’ve ever received. That kind of giving takes time and effort. I’m not as good at it as I want to be.

This week, my friend Lynne reminded me that gift giving can be a precious act – a simple gesture of love.

I meet with Lynne and Sue once a week at Sue’s house to pray for our kids who go to a neighborhood public school. Moms in Touch is an excellent organization and I have come to love praying with other moms.

This past Monday, Lynne gave Sue and I presents. When I saw the beautifully wrapped package, my first reaction was guilt.

“I didn’t get you anything.”

“That’s fine, Robbie.”

I could tell she meant it.

I opened up the gift and was taken aback.

It was a Hallmark ornament. A miniature Barbie case that opened up to make a dream house, just like the ones when I was young. And of course, a little moveable Barbie was included.

I looked at Lynne, curious.

She said, “Robbie, I know you want a house and a Barbie body. We don’t care if you ever get a house or a Barbie body, but I wanted to support your dreams.”

I started laughing, even as tears filled my eyes.

“What a thoughtful gift.” I hugged Lynne as I started to cry. “Thank you for thinking of me.”

A simple gesture of love. Silly and sweet. And perfect for me.

I could envision Lynne walking around a store, trying to decide how to give me something that I’d enjoy and something that told me she loved me.

My mother’s quilt is a priceless heirloom. Lynne’s gift will be a treasured memory that will make me smile every Christmas. Both gifts exemplify love and friendship.

As I look on my Christmas tree and spy Barbie hanging out in her dream house, I am reminded to take my focus off the To-Do shopping list and focus on what truly matters – my family and friends whom God has given me to love. This season of celebrating Christ’s birth and all the gifts He’s given us is the perfect opportunity to love those around us through giving.

Be it an elaborate masterpiece or a simple symbolic gesture of love.

May we all be grateful in receiving and blessed beyond measure in giving.