A few days ago, I ran across a Facebook memory of mine talking about gifts the God had given me that year. It still makes me smile thinking about them.
I stopped to think about what gifts God had given me this year, if any, in the middle of such a tough year for so many. Of course there were gifts. There are always gifts, even when we don’t recognize them right away.
The gift of rest. This spring there was no hustling and bustling from work to sports to church. There were no sports, and work was a daily trot over to the dining room/office to flip the laptop open. Church was in person, then online, then in person/online. What a gift the past year has been. Working from home afforded me the privilege of getting both kids to two different schools and back for their full day/half day/remote learning day/in person day schedule that seemed to be different every week. Were there moments of frustration? Lots of barking dogs in my Zoom calls? Yes, and yes. To be employed is a gift in itself, but to be employed, in a flexible, environment is another gift entirely.
The gift of home. This is the third Christmas at the same address. That hasn’t happened since 2011. I love my home, still. I love the view of the horse farm in the back. The flowers in the front garden that stayed beautiful all year. The fire pit and porch swing, and the blue walls that made me dub this house “the giant blueberry” before we put an offer on it.
The gift of growth. This year I started a new podcast and it actually has a few episodes! My goal is monthly. So far, so good. I still smile at the children’s radio host from New Zealand who asked permission to broadcast my stories to her listening audience, and the church who asked if they could make a story into a puppet show one Sunday morning. Little blessings keep me going like you wouldn’t believe.
The gift of health. No one broke a bone (ahem, *not* me) as in years past. No one slipped off a step on the front porch and twisted an ankle (also *not* me) as in years past. Are we chubbier than we’d like? Yes. But will we reach our goals eventually? Also yes. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us each to wake up for the past 365 days.
The gift of intentional friendship. Because we didn’t get the luxury of going to meet with friends on a regular basis, when we did intentionally meet, it was sweeter. From lunch with a friend, to the Farmer’s Market, to window shopping and cheesecake, and a Christmas town square event, the time was savored.
The gift of motherhood. This year I threw a surprise 15th party for my girl, complete with smores and fire pits, and a neighborhood scavenger hunt, and a second surprise party for my son at the virtual reality arcade. Almost every Saturday morning we’d walk around the Farmer’s Market bringing home everything from local dairy milk, to eggplants, brownies from the elderly couple, to New York bagels from the bagel guy, and lemonade from the lemonade guy. I was my son’s first date after he got his own debit card and offered to treat us to lunch, and I waited in anticipation at the DMV with my daughter while we awaited the results of her driver’s permit test.
The gift of marriage. My husband’s job is essential. He works hard to make some of the things the rest of the country is hoarding, and due to demand, he’s always at work. He trudges in, day after day, even though he’d rather be watching tv on the couch. I’m thankful for him and his daily sacrifice. At the end of last year, he replaced my original (lost) wedding ring. I’d been wearing a real-gold-fake-diamond ring for years, and he designed a replacement that is perfectly me. Classic, girly, yet vintage all at the same time. He knows me well. Life with him, the kids and the life we made, has been my greatest adventure.
The gift of connection. For Mother’s Day, the hubs sent me and the female child to the Gulf Coast for the weekend. He knows “ocean” is my love language. That man, I tell you. We also went to Branson as a family later in the year, tried to drown while canoeing, made some super fun memories, and explored Memphis with friends over Thanksgiving to celebrate their anniversary.
The gift of peace. This year we paid off a bill. I hate debt. It drives me crazy. But this year we bought some car parts and paid some debts and just starting 2021 without that monthly draft is so freeing.
The gift of life. Earlier this year on our way home from a tournament, my daughter and I were hit head on by a man who was under the influence and driving the wrong way down the road. Our car was totaled but we walked away without a scratch. The Lord provided a new-to-us car that I love, that I have managed to keep mostly clean, but more than that he let us walk away from a head-on collision unscathed.
I do have friends for whom the past year has been tough. And don’t get me wrong, the year has come with challenges. But it also came with so many gifts that I’m incredibly grateful for. Did I get as far along in my writing journey as I planned? No. But life isn’t always about the destination. Sometimes it’s just the joy in the journey. I have no idea what’s ahead for 2021, but I trust that God (from whom every good and perfect gift comes) does.
He is a good father, and the best gift-giver of all. I wish you a wonderful new year full of incredible gifts only God could provide.
Cheering for you,