Tag Archive | presents

Home for the Holy Days

ImageThree of our now-grown children were home for the Thanksgiving holiday.   This morning, they have all returned to their respective homes to resume their separate lives.   That is, of course, how it should be.   That is what we raised them to do.   However, as each one departed, a piece of my heart walked out the door, and I was overcome by a wave of longing that only that particular child can fill.  Over the weekend, the house had been filled with their presence.   We did not plan any special entertainment.  We did what we do every Thanksgiving:  invite a variety of guests for Thursday’s holiday dinner and spend the rest of the weekend decorating the house for Christmas.   However, the atmosphere of our home was enriched immeasurably by the unique contribution each family member makes to the lovely palette of our household.  It happens every time.   The only thing that prevented the weekend from being completely perfect was the absence of the three older children (not to mention the grandchildren!).

As I contemplated this feeling of simultaneous fullness and emptiness  that always accompanies the comings and goings of our children, I remembered the years we lived in Norway when they were small.  We would fly home to the Midwest to descend on our families for an annual visit of a few weeks (it probably seemed like a few months to my mother, who did all the laundry and cooking for us during those visits!).  There were always tears on both sides as we all waved good-bye to one another when we boarded the plane back to Norway.  At that time, although I always felt extremely sad at the moment of departure,  I only understood those moments from the perspective of a grown daughter with a life and family of her own.  After all, I had my own life in another country.

As a parent of grown children who have ventured out to map their own lives, I am delighted that they have their own passions and dreams.   I would not want it to be otherwise.   However, nothing replaces their presence in our home.  Each one’s unique personality touches me at a profound level that is simply inexplicable.   Each one brings me joy — not for what that child does or does not do, but just for who that child IS.   Each one’s presence adds a dimension to our family that no one else could contribute.

THAT is, no doubt, how our Daddy God feels about each one of us.   He doesn’t care what I do for Him.  He has positioned me in this world to lead a life He Himself calls me to lead.  However, He longs for, delights in, and revels in the gift of my presence.   He can’t ever get enough of me!   His heart aches when I neglect to acknowledge Him or forget to discuss something with Him.  He bursts with pride when I walk out the door and move in confidence in areas He raised me to conquer.   His love is unchanging, and I am ALWAYS welcome on His knee.

Somehow, I think I just got a glimpse of holiness over the Thanksgiving holy day.   God gave me a little insight into His very own heart as a Father.   How grateful I am that He gave me the gift of motherhood on this earth; He has helped me understand His love for us.

“What’s the point?,” you might ask.  Just as I missed the children who couldn’t come home, our Father longs for those who have yet to come home to Him.   Whom could we invite to His table next?  Ask Him!  (See Luke 15.)

Giving and Getting — Uh,…I mean Giving and Receiving

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For years I have made a serious effort to “walk my talk” in the area of giving and receiving.   Acts 20:35 is very familiar to us, where Paul quotes Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”   I also have taken very seriously the warning in Luke 12:48b:  “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”  These verses have governed the rationale for my behavior in so many areas for my entire life.  As a young teenager, I was acutely aware that God had blessed me, and that I had done nothing to deserve His favor or blessings.   I knew I had been given much, and that I had a proportionally great responsibility to be a good steward of what God had given me.  Although, like most people, I love receiving presents, I have always felt that I should try my very best to remain on the giving end of relationships.

As I examine this issue, I must concede that I don’t have as much difficulty receiving material gifts as I do receiving gifts of service — particularly if someone is offering to do something that I view as my personal responsibility.   Somehow, I have ended up regarding the legitimate process of receiving acts of kind service as “getting” something.   For me, “getting” smacks of entitlement or laziness, so it feels uncomfortable to me — or even unappealing.

However, God WANTS us to receive from one another; if that were not so, why would He emphasize the importance of GIVING?  By definition, in order for giving to take place, there must be a recipient.  If I insist on always being on the giving end of a situation, then I am in danger of controlling the relationship and hindering others from giving (which they also are commanded by God to do!).  Giving and getting are NOT opposites, as getting implies some procurative effort on our part.  On the other hand, giving and receiving are opposites and create a lovely relational balance when exercised in a reciprocal manner in a relationship (even though it IS more blessed to give than to receive!).

The attention-getter for me with this issue of receiving was proposed to me by one of my young adult children who asked me:  “Mom, if we always want to give and are reluctant to receive, how can we ever expect to understand and receive the fullness of what Jesus died to give us?”  THAT thought hit me like a brick.  Indeed, the Lover of my soul died to give ME forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, and a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.   He even said, “It’s the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32).  I think I need to brush up on my receiving skills!  Father, enlarge my capacity to receive the fullness of Yourself and all You desire to give me!