Good Gifts

Angel Adahlyn

We all probably have a favorite gift we have given and received. Those are the good gifts.

We also have a least favorite gift we have given and received. Those are the bad gifts….or are they?

Sometimes those make the best stories…later. Sometimes MUCH later.

I remember the year I got a lacy slip from my grandmother and a sweater set from my aunt. My two brothers and five male cousins all received toys and games. I was the only granddaughter and niece so they wanted to give me girly presents. I wanted toys like the boys.

I cried when I opened my gifts.

I smile about this now since I am the grandmother, trying to pick the “good” gift for each child and grandchild. I understand why my grandmother and aunt chose those gifts.

I have never wanted to get an appliance or cooking utensil as a gift. I have two daughters who love just such gifts. Each of us is unique, aren’t we? What we see as a good gift varies from person to person. Sometimes we hit it just right, sometimes we don’t.

Our heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts.

Matthew 7:9-11

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Do we know how to give good gifts to our children?

As a loving parent I DO NOT give my child (or grandchild) everything they ask for. Some of the things children ask for are not safe, practical, or appropriate.

A good gift is a gift that blesses someone.

The amazing thing about a good gift is that it may not be something we would never think to ask for. We don’t recognize the gift as good – even perfect  – until we have received it.

We will never recognize a gift as “good” if we are comparing our gift to someone else’s gift. I would have thought very differently about my sweater set if I have not been fixated on my brothers’ toys.

How do we respond to our Heavenly Father’s gifts to us?

Am I thankful for the gifts God has blessed me with, or do I only see with longing what others have?

God’s greatest gift – His GOOD GIFT – is Jesus. We celebrate this magnificent gift at Christmas. Jesus is the perfect gift because our Father, who created us, knows exactly what we need and desire. He knows even when we do not.

God demonstrated His great love for us by giving His Son, Jesus.

May our gifts to our children and grandchildren reflect that love.

 

 

 

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Let Our Hearts Prepare Him Room

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I have spent a significant amount of time this month preparing rooms. I usually wait until December 1st to start decorating, partly because I need to prepare the rooms to decorate. I love having family here over Thanksgiving, so there is a lot to clean up.

I don’t want to decorate dust bunnies.

What I enjoy most about decorating for Christmas are the memories. We have many “tacky” yet priceless ornaments that our children have made. Some have pictures on them which are especially fun for the grandchildren to see. “My mom looked like that?”

Preparing the rooms causes a flood of memories to sweep over me.

Where is the food?

The idea of “room” denotes two thoughts for me.

  1. room – a physical space defined by walls
  2. room – a space, place

One of my favorite Christmas Carols – Joy to the World – has a line that says – 

    Let every heart prepare Him room…

As this line repeated itself over and over in my mind I began to think of the meaning of those words.

How do I prepare room in my heart?

I thought about how I prepare the rooms in my home.

  • clean out the dirt and mess
  • put out clean sheets and towels
  • fill the room with pleasant smells
  • decorate the room so guests feel welcome – like a favorite book or toy

This parallels what I must do in my heart to prepare my life to receive Jesus.

  • clean out the sin by asking forgiveness and repenting  – I John 1:9
  • put on the robe of righteousness that Jesus gives – Isaiah 61:10
  • worship, show love – these are a sweet fragrance to God – Ephesians 5:2 AMP
  • fill my heart with God’s Word, write His words on my heart – Proverbs 3:3

Once my heart is prepared, Jesus will live in me through His Spirit. I must be intentional about preparing to receive Jesus  – just as I am intentional about decorating rooms in my house for Christmas. An artist friend, Sheila Atchley, posted yesterday that “We can only give to others what we first OWN for ourselves.”  YES!  Only that which is in our hearts. Are our hearts prepared for Jesus?

Isaiah 9: 6-7 says –

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
    will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from                                                                                           the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.

Let our hearts prepare Him room.

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Silent Night – Beautiful, Broken World

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Our daughter Abigail shared this post from 2013 yesterday on the anniversary of what our family refers to as “the accident”. If you already saw her re-post, just ignore this one. It is a sweet, timely reminder of God’s faithfulness.
Silent Night
By Abigail Woody Hardy
It was December 5th, 1992.  As I rushed with my parents into the emergency room entrance late that night, a gurney sped past us.  Like a snapshot, I can remember, the sight of a leg, knee up in the air covered with a white sheet and below the knee, unnaturally, something large and black was bisecting the bloody leg.  Is that really what I saw?  I was too unsure to ask my parents.  I could tell they were more scared than they were willing to admit to me.
I sat in the waiting room of the ER.  I felt lost and unsteady as my parents went back to talk with the doctors.  Words like “accident” “coma” “racing” “head-on” were punctuating the air of the waiting room as people from our small church slowly filled it. 
Things like this do not happen to us.  Not to kids coming back from a church youth group trip.  Surely not, God. 
The van, driven by our church’s youth group leader and my Dad’s closest friend, had been hit head-on by a man in a Corvette.  He had been racing 120 mph down the curving road, some pieces of his car left hanging high in the trees. 
My oldest sister Hannah had been in the back of the van with four other junior high students from our church youth group, and two adult leaders in the front.  Kirsten, the energetic college student from WCU who helped with the youth group, died instantly.  Hannah was in a coma.  Mr. Brown, the driver, was the victim we had seen as we rushed into the ER with the brake pedal stuck through his lower leg and a broken pelvis and ribs.  He had been pinned in the car and had prayed with the kids and kept them calm until the emergency services arrived and were able to cut him out.  Another student had a serious head injury and the other three had escaped with broken bones or scrapes and bruises.
My sister had been airlifted to Memorial Mission in Asheville soon after my parents and I had arrived at the local ER.  When I got to visit her in the hospital the next day, I remember the sight of my mother, holding her hand, singing hymns and Christmas carols to her unresponsive body. 
On the third day, as my mother sang Silent Night to her daughter, she heard my sister’s voice join with hers.  Hannah had woken up.
This is the meaning of Christmas, lived out by the people I lived with. 
Mr. Brown, speaking peace to panicked kids as his own pain loomed like a giant wave above him. 
Kirsten, losing her life in the middle of obedience to Christ’s call on her to minister to kids.
My mom, singing Silent Night over my sister in total faith that God is our healer and restorer.
My sister, given back life through no merit or effort of her own, and, oh, so thankful for that gift.
And, yes, the tears fall when I sing Silent Night at Christmas.  Because this is a beautiful, broken world that our Almighty God was born to save.

Father God, we have joy and we have pain in this life.  I thank you for redeeming our pain and making our joy complete.