I've not been shy about posting my reasons for being tired of the whole gift-giving part of Christmas. With that said, I would like to amend that just a little. I have noticed that the gifts I give and receive that mean the most are the ones that are usually simple, homemade, and have some portion of the giver in them, whether it is their talent for doing crafts or a special knack for making a card personal. I treasure those gestures that seem to bind love to them.
This Christmas I want to focus on the greatest gifts I've ever received. They didn't come from a store, they were never listed in a catalog, and they can't be bought. They have all been free gifts from a Father to a daughter, with love.
Life. From the beating of my heart and the breaths I take, to the workings of my mind and the feelings of my spirit, it's a wonderful gift to be alive.
Love. The total, unconditional, all-encompassing kind. The type of love that says "I'll love you no matter how stupid you act or what mistakes you make. I'll love you yesterday, today, tomorrow and always, no matter what."
Redemption. Who can put a price on the gift of forgiveness? I could live my whole life trying to make amends for every sin I've committed, every hurt I've caused, every mistake I've made and it still wouldn't bring me any closer to God. But He was willing to send His Son to die for me and make it possible for me to be clean again. Not just dusted off and sent away with a band-aid, but a complete washing that leaves me feeling shiny and new again.
Healing. I've been broken so many times that it seems like the pieces shouldn't even fit together any more. God didn't intend for me to be broken, but He knew it would happen so He made a way for me to be fixed. Somehow Christ takes all the pieces and puts me back together and creates a working masterpiece. God doesn't make junk, He makes perfection. And He made me, perfectly.
Hope. I would have no reason to get up each morning without the hope that comes from knowing that God lives, that Jesus Christ lived and died for me, and that someday I'll live with them again. They give me purpose in life and the will to keep going.
Family. At the end of the day it's nice to know I have a family at home. I have a husband and daughter who love me and put up with me. I'm often ashamed that they see the worst side of me, but so grateful that they find a way to look past it and love me anyways.
Peace. Not from having a silent house, or not having obligations weighing me down, but the wonderful "everything is going to work out" feeling that only Christ can give.
Joy. This one seems to be a rarer gift with me. Whether it's because it's not given as often or that I'm just not good at receiving it can be debated. But when it's there, it's the best feeling in the world! It makes me want to sing out loud and dance from room to room, trying to find a way to show outwardly just how good I feel inside.
Church Family. I went to a baptism tonight and the dear sister mentioned that the first time she came into our building she had a sweet feeling of love and of coming home. That's exactly how I've felt in our congregation. I have never experienced such love and acceptance as I have here among my church family. God sent me to this particular place at this time in my life because He knew that the people around me would help to heal me. He works in mysterious ways, and often those ways are the people around us.
I still have a lot to learn, especially when it comes to loving others, but I know that I have the ultimate role model. I am so thankful that God loved me enough to keep reaching out to me, even when I had my back turned to Him and thought I wasn't worth loving. I know that I have been exceptionally blessed to be given such wonderful gifts in my life.
I don't look forward to Christmas because of the presents and the stuff, or even the family and food. What I enjoy most is the reminder of the gifts I continue to receive from my Heavenly Father and the special spirit of love that comes from celebrating His greatest gift of all- our Savior.