Guest blogger, Judith Grazette, has a gift of writing. More importantly, she has THE GIFT of Jesus treasured in her own heart! So, get cozy, read these words, and let God encourage your heart during this season of good gifts.
As a child, I remember Christmas was always full of excitement. Growing up in the Caribbean, Christmas was not about Santa Claus (maybe because none of us had a chimney for him to come down), nor was it about enduring freezing temperatures or a wintry mix that involved shoveling snow. Instead, Christmastime was spent getting together with family and friends, eating, enjoying the pulsating sounds of Calypso or Parang music, and the smell of Rum Cake baking. There were Christmas plays at church, singing carols by candlelight, daily trips to the beach, and an early morning Christmas Eve trip to the Market for fresh local fruit and vegetables and maybe a piece of pork, that added to the festivities. Christmas Day would officially start with Midnight Mass or 5 a.m. Christmas services. No matter how few, there were always gifts. I loved everything about Christmas, every event, every tradition, every detail. To me, Christmas is the best time of the year.
Now living in Louisville, Kentucky, Christmas in the sun has been replaced by new experiences. I have come to love almost everything Louisville has to offer. (Cold and shoveling snow being the exceptions). We have started new family traditions as we celebrate Christmas away from our families by making our friends our “Family”. We celebrate Christmas in new ways while at the same time keeping our heritage alive. When it comes to gift-giving we think carefully of a person’s likes or dislikes, their favorite things, maybe what’s popular, but more about gifts that others consider to be blessings.
This process of deciding on a good gift came into sharp focus a few weeks ago as I became the mother of a teenager! No, I did not adopt a teenager (although that is a wonderful gift also) but my daughter entered her teenage years with great flourish and “increased hormones”. It really feels like only yesterday when her daddy and I brought our bundle of joy, a true gift from the Lord, home for the first time. We sat in our car in the driveway and looked at each other and said with our eyes “so what now?” I think both of us experienced some déjà vu when we entered this new phase of parenting a teenager and looked at each other and asked that same question. This time around, I think we added some eye rolling, sighing, and lots of prayer.
I am a planner, but I was stuck on what would be a good birthday gift for my 13-year-old. I reached out to my closest friends. They’d been down this road before. I received some great suggestions. But, my mind kept going back to something the Lord had impressed on my heart while doing a Bible Study on the book of James.
We wanted to give our daughter a special Gift. Not a “thing” – but a memory – something she would recall later in life. I knew it was not on her top ten birthday list, but it involved speaking blessings into her life and it would be perfectly orchestrated by the Lord. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
As we are in the Christmas season, although we will still have the tradition of gifts under the tree, I have come to realize that my best gift is to share the love of Jesus and how much His plans and purposes are real and active in those we love.
With that in mind this Christmas, I decided to write a few letters to my daughter – for some milestones in the future. In these letters I shared my faith in Jesus Christ and how I came to this part of my journey. I shared a little of my perspective about purpose with her, my prayers, and hopes for her future. Most of all, I shared her story to give her a clear understanding that God was not casual in his intentions toward her. She was born after a lot of loss, heartache, prayer, prophecy, and is the result of standing in faith.
So, I penned five letters and stored them in a safe place to give to her on some significant days as she grows up. But as I was putting away the last one, I felt like there was something I missed. It nagged me for a couple hours, and then I heard it—that still, calm voice in my ear and then on my heart.
Over the next few days, I set my mind on preparing for the holidays and “making my lists and checking them twice”. But every night as I tucked her in, the still calm voice would remind me again until I could no longer ignore it. So a few nights ago in the midst of my Christmas list making, cleaning, decorating, and constant snacking, I sat with my paper and wrote another letter that I will give her this Christmas.
Here is a short excerpt:
…..As parents our greatest desire is to give good gifts. And at this time of the year we know you look forward to being showered with lots of them. But sometimes, to help us grow into the children He wants us to be, our heavenly Father might allow us to struggle. He walks alongside and even carries us when we experience loss and pain; His strength and power are always present to assure us that we can depend on Him to make it to the other side of any trial.
Over the years we have weathered some storms, but I want you to know that though sometimes our prayers don’t get answered the way we want, or when situations look bad and you ask yourself “Does God love me?”, always remember He loves you with an EVERLASTING LOVE!! He will never leave or forsake you! This gift of hope and faith shapes the choices we make in the midst of the trial. I pray that in the midst of any adversity you will always look up and reach out to your loving Heavenly Father and never to give up on the love of Christ for you, his precious daughter…”
As women trying to be godly mothers, when adversity comes into our lives or the lives of our children or loved ones, whether in this Christmas season or another, it is our faith and belief in God alone that can make the difference. Even when the answer is not what you prayed for or even what you expected, we must put our trust completely in His will. We know that His knowledge far exceeds ours and He always has the best gifts for His children (Matthew 7:11).
So, my prayer for you this Christmas as you make new memories or enjoy old family traditions, is that you will find the time to renew your hope, faith and belief in God’s perfect gift of His Son. He came as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger that first Christmas and is our only way today to access the ultimate Gift of Eternal Life (John 3:16).