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Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

What Can I Give Him?

“What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

I would do my part.

Yet what can I give Him?

Give my heart.”

–Christina Rossetti

In my former church we sang this poem/song every Christmas.  It asks a great question.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus and give each other gifts.  It is only reasonable to consider what we might give Jesus for His birthday.

nativity ornament

He has given us some solid clues.  I will describe four of them in this post and four more in my next post.

I think Jesus would be so grateful for these gifts (more…)

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Debbie, Josh, Michelle

I have received many wonderful Mother’s Day Gifts from my three children—and I have been grateful for each one.  But they have given me gifts they didn’t even know, and those have been the best of all.  I’m sure I could think of dozens, but here are 7 life-changing presents from my two daughters and my son.

1.  Gratitude

I never get over that God would entrust these little lives to me.  As Debbie and Michelle were born, and as Josh came as a 9-year-old, I have found myself overwhelmed that God gave me such gifts.   And as they have grown up, I have realized what transforming gifts they have been.  Thank You, Lord.

2.  Humility

I knew parenting would be challenging, but I had no idea how totally inadequate I was.  On the days of their births, and every day since, I have been over my head.  So humbling.  Gratefully I have had family, friends and books to help.   But most of all, God has been there every step of the way, giving wisdom, encouragement, strength, love and everything else I have needed.  The humility, of course, is still in process.

3.  Selflessness

I had children later in life, and I thought I had, for the most part, grown out of my adolescent self-focus.  But when I took Debbie, my lovely first child, home, I discovered I knew nothing about selflessness.  Any newborn takes more time, attention, care, patience—everything—than you can imagine.

But Debbie had 24-hour colic and rarely slept.  She required all of me.  For several months there was almost no opportunity for me to focus on myself.  Thank you, Debbie, for taking me giant leaps forward in learning to get over my self-centeredness.  Still growing, of course.

4.  Forgiveness

We all make many mistakes in our parenting.  I have made more than my share.  A few years ago my husband’s radio program was doing a surprise program on our family.  They asked  each of our children what they had learned from us.  Michelle said, “From my mom I learned to ask for forgiveness.”

You see, Michelle approaches life differently than I do, and too often I tried to squeeze her into the mold of my life.   So I often had to ask her for forgiveness.  Which she generously gave.  Thank you, Michelle, for forgiving and for teaching me to ask for that mercy.

5.  Perseverance

Rearing children is a long process.  Though supposedly we have completed our assignment in 18-22 years, those of us beyond that know we never really stop being mothers.  There are many normal days, frequent times of celebration and rejoicing, and always some difficult days.

Because Josh came to us from a difficult situation, he brought with him many challenges.  His challenges, of course, became ours.  We and he had many hard days and hard years as he grew out of that troubled boyhood into the man he has become.  Thank you, Josh, for helping me to learn to never give up, to be tenacious, to persevere.

6.  Prayer

I knew how to pray.  I had been a child of God, and serving in ministry, for many years when my first child was born.  Of course I knew how to pray.

But as each child revealed my inadequacy and my weaknesses, as their needs required more wisdom than I had, as life for all of us included pain and trial, I have learned to go to my Father.  To tell Him how I feel, to express what I think I—and my children—need, to pour out my heart, to beg and plead, to thank Him.  I find my prayers are best prayed with open hands—not holding on to my demands, but allowing God to take out and put in His best answers.  Thank you, Debbie, Michelle and Josh, for teaching me to really pray.

7.  Love

Of course we love our children.  As we carry them for 9 months, when they are first placed in our arms, or if they come to us some other way, we are amazed at the intensity of the love we feel for them.

But life tests that love.  Especially when they aren’t always lovable.  When they are whiny and crabby.  When nothing you do satisfies.  When they are disobedient, even defiant.  When they make increasingly bad choices.  And especially when they yell hateful words at us and reject us and what we stand for.

When those things happen—and they did—God reminded me that unconditional love , by definition, keeps loving no matter what they say or do, or even if they don’t love in return.  Thank you, my wonderful children, for being God’s instruments for me to learn to receive and live out His unconditional love.

Debbie, Michelle and Josh, thank you for being God’s good gifts to me.  And as each of you has entered into this wonderful parenting and journey, may God surprise you with the transforming gifts those children will be to you.  I love you.

What about you?  What gifts have others given you?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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In a church I used to attend, at Christmastime, we often sang  “What Can I Give Him?”

Christmas is, after all, a celebration of Jesus’ birthday.

Here are a few gifts I think Jesus will like:

Trusting

Jesus talked often of the power of faith—of believing who He is and what He is like.  He tells us to have faith.  He asks, “Where is your faith?”  He tells us that nothing is impossible to those with faith.

Author Brennan Manning, in his wonderful book Ruthless Trust, describes trust as faith in action.  When I put feet to my faith, my belief in Jesus, I entrust myself, my life, my needs, my fears, my hopes and dreams to Him.  He gladly receives that gift, and gives amazing gifts in return.

Obeying

In our relationships, we often look for proof of love from others in their actions.  “If you love me, you will….”

Jesus also looks for action that demonstrates that our love is true:  “If you love me, you will obey my teaching…” (John 14:23).  His teachings provide the how to’s for life and health and joy and meaning, and our obedience says “I love you.  I trust you.”  And it brings Him great joy, and amazing benefits to us.

Loving

The greatest commandments we are to obey?  Love God with your whole being, and love others as yourself.  When our greatest love belongs to Jesus, He is pleased.

But He desires that our love for Him leads to love for others:  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

How did He love us?  He laid down His life for us.  He wants us to die for people to show we love them?  Perhaps.  But the primary ways was lay down our lives in love is by giving time or help or money or encouragement….  Jesus really likes this gift, and we often receive more than we give.

Thanking

Scripture is pretty clear about this gift: “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Say thank You in everything?!?  That makes no sense.  How do you say thank You for tragedies?  Betrayals?  Losses?  Disappointments?  Even the smaller pains of life?

Because God is God and God is good.  Saying thank You is one more way we express trust in God—that He cares about us and will work even terrible things for our good.  Another gift that gives back.

And of course, the best gift, the one that makes all the others possible, finishes the song:

“What can I give him?  Give him my heart.”

What will you be giving Jesus this Christmas?

C2011 Judy Douglass

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So your kids didn’t appreciate the clothes you got them last year.  Or that movie with a good message.  Or even the fun—and expensive—family trip to Disney—everyone wanted to do something different.

Tired of trying to choose the best Christmas gifts for your children?

They probably have more things than they need, and won’t really appreciate your gift if it isn’t exactly what they want.

And wouldn’t we rather give them something lasting and meaningful?

When I was fairly new into parenting, I found myself making some wishes for my children.  If I could choose three things to give them that would help them have a great life, what would they be?

I did come up with three fairly comprehensive concepts to wish—and pray and hopefully give—for my kids.  So here they are:

Gift#1 A Relationship with God

Knowing God is foundational for life and the relationship that makes all others possible (1 John 5:20). A relationship with God offers forgiveness of sin, power for living, love, joy, peace, patience, wisdom, an eternal family, courage, comfort, perseverance…I could go on and on.

Gift #2 A Good Character

A good name is to be more desired than great riches, favor is better than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1).

Character influences reputation, which affects our relationships with people, our confidence level, and our ability to achieve.  Character helps determine the contributions we will make in life and will contribute to peace of mind and a clear conscience.

Good character qualities to seek to grow in our children include integrity, responsibility, humility, generosity, discernment, kindness, self-discipline…and a sense of humor.

Gift #3 A Useful Life

What is a useful life?  One that utilizes gifts, abilities, talents and opportunities for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

Why is this important?  God has created each of us for a purpose.    He has given us what we need to fulfill that purpose, and he expects us to use them, multiply them, be a good steward of them.  (Matthew 25:14-30).  So we need to help our children discover who he has made them to be and what he has designed them to do.

As our children grow into useful lives, they will sense their value, enjoy life and know they are contributing something significant.

 

My children are all grown now, with children of their own.  Though they continue to grow—and I continue to pray—there is plenty of evidence of wishes come true, of gifts received and lived out. I am grateful.

What gifts are you hoping to give your children?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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What do you want for your birthday?

My grandboy Aidan turns 4 in two weeks, and birthday gifts are an important topic.  By the age of 4 he actually has opinions.  Themes would be Star Wars, pirates, swords.   Preferably no clothes, though red pajamas in one of the above themes might be okay.

So do you ever wonder what God might like as a gift from you?  I think about such things, and I’ve come up with four gifts I believe would please my Father.

1.  My heart.

This is the most important one, and if I had only one gift to give, this would be it.  He says his greatest desire is that we would love him with our whole heart, mind, soul, strength—with our whole being  (Matt 22:37).  He desires to be first in our affections, king of our hearts.

And when I Iove like that, then I am ready to give him these additional gifts.

 2.  My will

Actually, this one is pretty hard for me, even still.  Growing up my greatest desire was always to have my own way.  And throughout my walk with God, we have had many conversations about His way or my way.  I sometimes lobby for my good ideas, but He has convinced me that His way is ALWAYS better than my way.  And it works best when I surrender willingly.

3.  My hands

This is a little funny—I don’t do hands.  That is, I don’t make things or draw things or build things.  I do words, not hands.

Then God reminds me of His conversation with Moses, when Moses said he couldn’t speak well and there was no way he could go tell Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go.

God’s response?  “What is that in your hand, Moses?”  It was his shepherd’s staff.  And that is what God used—to bring down plagues on the Egyptians, to part the Red Sea, to provide water for the people.

His response to me?  Give me your hands—the gifts I have given you—and I will amaze you with how I will use you.

4.  My feet

Seriously, He wants my feet?  Yes he does.  That is, He wants me to be willing to put my feet in motion, to go wherever He asks me to go.  That might be to a physical place.  Or an opportunity.  Someplace scary or uncomfortable.  Or a challenging relationship.

I never know where God might send me.  But I do know this—He has promised to go with me.

So don’t wait till next Christmas.  Wrap these gifts up right now and offer them to your Daddy.

© 2011 Judy Douglass

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