(A little Christmasing with Santa)
I was cooking and my girls were gathered near. Ellie, my 6th grader, was having a tough day. She said it was really hard listening to girls at school talk about their shopping trips to buy new dresses for the upcoming Christmas program. She wasn't asking for anything, just sighing at how hard it was being so different.
I asked her if she felt like she needed a new dress. She said she didn't know, but it was just hard hearing about their new dresses. She felt embarrassed saying that she was just wearing something she already had.
Her 7th grade sister piped in saying she knew exactly what Ellie was talking about. "You don't have to just sit there quietly," Anna said. "Want to know what I do? Instead of feeling jealous, I'm excited for them. I ask my friends to tell me all about their new dress. Then, I describe what I'm going to wear. Everyone is nice. They don't have to know I'm wearing something I already have."
My mother heart broke and swelled at the same time. I know I might sound petty here, but it hurts me when my kids want. Sometimes I see so clearly the wants and needs that I am unable to fill. More than physically buying her a new dress, I wanted her to feel as loved and cared for as she might feel if she were my only little girl.
I think every mother wishes she had more to give.
I wanted to wisk these sweet girls away for an evening of pampering with new clothes, new shoes, hair and a special dinner out. I ache when they ache, my heart rips when I feel their want.
It is so ironic to me that in the moment I am aching for the sacrifices my children have had to make, I am also really seeing the depth of character that these sacrifices develop. I'm amazed at the maturity and goodness I see in my kids.
As I've come to know God, I've come to see and accept His plan. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst. Blessed are those who mourn.
I believe wanting and struggling refines our souls. We talk so often about the gifts and blessings God gives us-- but as a wise man once sang, "Some of Gods greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."
I can always buy my girls a new dress, but you can't buy maturity, humility, courage, or contentment.
My Savior descended below all things so that He could overcome all things. He knows the value in struggle.
His promises are great! Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin, but behold I say unto you that King Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
My shadow by day and my pillar by night. My Lord, my Deliverer, my All.
Lose yourself and you shall find yourself.
As I walk humbly each day trying to be a disciple of Christ, I am learning who He is and how He works.
Christ isn't just someone who calms the storm or heals the blind. Christ is someone who is comfortable in the storm. He does not doubt. He uses adversity to teach us what we are capable of.
As I've prayed about what to GIVE my children for Christmas this year, I have felt Heaven help me shop. I get many small miracles, like sales and coupon codes that let me order the cutest, matching Christmas pajamas for only $5.63 each. What a sweet blessing. I've had friends sell me used ski equipment for next to nothing. One friend texted me Thanksgiving morning when she just happened to find the toy I wanted for Ben on a super sale.
But as I've thought about what to GIVE my kids, the Spirit has whispered to me to focus on what I DO with my kids.
Isn't it funny that our efforts to give more almost make it impossible to DO more? Another one of those odd paradoxes of life.
Christ's gifts are hardly ever traditional, typical, or expected. It's so interesting. Christ does not expect excessive planning and perfect time management. He says to the weary, hungry fisherman, cast your nets down again. And the fish swam in overflowing. He found his taxes in a fish's mouth. He asks us to give Him our five loaves and two fishes and He feeds the multitude FULL with baskets extra.
Come, follow me. Whosoever drinks of the water I shall give him shall never thirst.
Sometimes as I'm walking with Him, I forget who HE is. I toil. I am careful and troubled. I fear. I sink. I feel condemned for not planning ahead and bringing a sack lunch and I miss His bread.
Sometimes, I walk on water. Sometimes I trust Him and feel peace amidst the waves. His yoke is easy. I need His rest.
I didn't buy my girls new dresses for their Christmas concerts. I did spend some extra time with them planning their outfit and hair. I have some sleeves to modify on one dress to make it fit a little better. I will probably buy some new tights for them before the big night. I'll carve time into my crazy night before the show to curl hair and put on just a hint of makeup. My girls will feel loved and beautiful.
Kids don't need to equate money with love. Time is love and time is priceless.
His ways are not our ways.
Especially at Christmas.
Today I'm learning of Him more and my soul cries "How great Thou art, how great Thou art."