Five Minute Friday: Gift

I got my pastoral license in the mail last weekend. Staring at the official seal, and my name under the words “License to Preach,” I felt overwhelmed and unprepared. As I thought about Lisa-Jo’s prompt for today’s Five Minute Friday, the verse about children being a gift from the Lord cycled on repeat through my mind.

Can I be honest and admit that sometimes I forget my kids are a gift? When “mom, mom, mom” rings in my ears, my car is carpeted in goldfish crackers one day after I vacuum it, and “please just let me have one moment’s peace!” The constant need terrifies me, because I am human and I lose patience and fall short.

And now, I am a licensed minister, with an appointment in my church to oversee the spiritual formation of other people’s children and to build community. That’s a lot more need. This place I’m in is one I’ve worked towards for decades, and it truly is a gift! God dropped it in my lap and it’s the perfect type of gift: one you’re not asking for, but that so accurately meets your needs. Yet even here, I can forget for a moment what a precious thing I’ve been given.

That’s what came out of my mind today…

GO

There’s something about motherhood that triggers so many spiritual lessons in me. I think God gave me four children because He knew how much I had to learn, and that this was the only way of getting through to me.

When I first have a hint that I may be pregnant, that little question in my brain feels like a present. Sitting there, wrapped up tight, possibilities untold. The anticipation of new life is exciting; whether it’s the physical new life of an addition to our family, or the spiritual new life of roads less traveled and paths unexplored. Then the reality of the situation falls on your shoulders. Aches and pains associated with growth, uncomfortableness and strange cravings abound…and let’s not even touch those mood swings.

It all seems to be too much to handle, too overwhelming, never-ending. And it’s all out of your control! You begin to wonder how much of a gift this really is. And then the moment of delivery occurs. All is right with the world, and you can only stare in wonder at the amazingly perfect thing that God has brought forth. Those first few hours, days, weeks are spend basking in the glory that God would entrust something so special and fragile to your care.

Over time, the idea of your gift fades as the newness wears off and things get tough. You struggle and fail. Things seem out of your control. Pain happens, and it hurts more than you could ever have conceived. Guilt that you’ve destroyed God’s perfect creation, and shame that you would have ever tried to steward it in the first place.

But God reminds: I have chosen you. This is where I have you. Keep moving forward, and follow my lead.

Whether it’s with our children, our marriages, our ministries, our careers…whatever He has conceived and birthed in your life…it’s a gift. Sometimes it just takes some reminding.

STOP

Just in case there’s any question or confusion…no, I’m not pregnant and I have no plans to be pregnant again. I wanted to make that very clear, because I know sometimes my five-minute rambles can leave people wondering if there’s a hidden meaning.

Happy Friday!

What does “gift” mean to you?

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Homemade Gift Ideas

Ok, people. I presented a challenge earlier this week: Help me to come up with some cheap, but thoughtful, Christmas gifts for family and friends.

And you delivered!

Edible gifts, pampering gifts, relational gifts and more were thrown at me faster than I could jot them down. Thank goodness they’re all in the comments section for me to go back and check out. There was an overabundance of craftiness among you all. I’m impressed!

So, I thought I’d compile the ideas in one central location and make it easy for those of you who are also looking for homemade, non-cheesy, gifts to give away for Christmas this year.

Crafty ideas:

Handmade picture frames, scarves/hats, or ornaments. Or use your hobby/talent/gifting to bless others in some way, if you’re a photographer/artist/musician/knitter/crocheter/sewer (um…a person who sews, not a stinky underground area). My friend Melissa is doing a series called Gifted, 12 Days of Handmade. Check it out for some great handmade gifts and decorations!

Foodie ideas:

Cookies in a box, recipe book with the background stories or origins of the recipes, caramels, fudge, jam, jars of homemade cocoa mix, homemade vanilla extract, or homemade lavender sugar.

Pampering Gifts:

Sea salt scrubs, $5 candle from Bath & Body Works, lip balms, or a lotion bar

Relational Gifts:

$5 Starbucks gift card/coffee date, date/movie night package (popcorn, movie rental gift card, candy), CD of songs that remind you of the person, gifts of service (wrap presents, clean house, babysit, etc)

Charitable Gifts:

Compassion International, Charity Water, World Vision

Aren’t these fantastic ideas?!

What I loved more than the ideas, were the comments about gift giving…

  • A gift that cares is more precious then any other kind. – Craig
  • I’d rather someone get me nothing than a gift that says “I did this because I’m obligated and don’t really care if you like this or not.” – Jason
  • I’m moving more and more toward striving to invest TIME into friendships rather than spend lots of money on gifts that don’t really mean anything anyway…It’s a good time to examine my own heart and see who I’m really looking to please – people or God. – Erin
  • The whole gift giving thing is difficult, but I think it’s important to work through the difficulties – to learn about ourselves and those we share life with and to focus on giving. – Levi
  • A gift should be an extravagance. We give at Christmas because we were given Jesus who is more than we deserve. This gift of grace is extravagant!…I need to be a giver. I need to remember to be generous. I don’t think this always needs to be material things but once a year at Christmas its good to put my money where my love is… – Jess

I think my favorite suggestion of them all was praying over the person and asking God to give you a specific verse or prayer for them. This struck a chord with where my heart is at this year. More than any other year previous to this, I want it to be about Jesus.

This suggestion of intentionally seeking out God for the person — this is the Body. How better to bless someone then to lift them up in prayer and encourage them with God’s word? This could result in a handwritten card filled with what you heard from God for them, or it could be a verse jotted down on the gift tag to one of the above gifts.

::

While I was at it, I thought I’d do a little searching around the Net to see if I could find my own ideas to add…

And now it is 11:38 PM on Thursday night, I’m completely overwhelmed by the vast amount of presents that can be put into jars, made from kitchen ingredients and wrapped in cute ribbon…and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

I don’t have the time, space or inclination to post all of them, but I did find three ladies who were planning their Christmas handmade gifts in July! Now I feel really behind…

Cindy @ Skip to My Lou has seven (7!) pages of homemade sewing gift ideas, and she even has a printable holiday planner. Very helpful!

Kelly @ According to Kelly had me scrolling down and down and down, wanting to make each item that I saw! I especially loved the Subway Signs that were featured…way towards the bottom. I thought that would be a great way to hang scriptures around your home or to encourage friends and family.

Rachel @ A Southern Fairytale has the foodie items! Mmmm!

::

I guess you all know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

What’d I miss? Do you have any more suggestions for myself or other readers?

As Christmas is now only 15 (!!) days away, do you have any fun holiday plans for this weekend?

Do you think you’ll try out any of these ideas? Too many questions? :)

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