Tonight has me thinking about gifts. God has given me so many gifts in my life that I am overwhelmed with gratitude. No, I am not talking about talents, or wealth, or any other abundance that is visible to the outsider viewing my life from a distance. I’m talking about hidden-behind-the-back-wrapped-up-in-a-big-red-bow-surprise-kind-of gifts. From my job, to my friends, to my husband’s recent salvation, the Lord has blessed me mightily.

This week I am particularly thankful for my mother-in-law. There is no substitute for the peace of mind that arises from knowing one’s children are well cared for. Especially when a small one is ill, it is difficult to fulfill other responsibilities. All the heart wants to do is stay and care for that child. But life doesn’t always allow for such sentimentalities. So, God made Grammys. And we have a good one.

Yes, we are very blessed. Our family has suffered some financial losses in the past year. At times, we were uncertain what the future had in store for us. In many ways, we still are unsure of the path that lies ahead. Many times I have been tempted to give in to fear through this journey. Yet, surprisingly, an overwhelming sense of assurance has pervaded. Through these losses, much has been found. We have been forced to look at our lives, to determine what matters most to us. I am so thankful for this time to evaluate and reflect. One lovely blessing of these trials has been that I now have back the man that I married. My marriage is stronger than ever, and my husband and I have grown ever closer. Our children have been blessed through this process as well. God has refined our family. Now our focus is on Him, and on one another. He put a big shiny bow on that one. I never could have foreseen the ways He would grow us through these challenges.

I read something recently that warmed my heart. In Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline he says: “Freedom from anxiety is characterized by three inner attitudes. If what we have we receive as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom from anxiety. “

When I find myself feeling anxious (which, if you know me, you understand that this is a demure statement of my usual physical state), all that I have to do is realize that the current situation is a gift from God, and it changes everything. I then begin to ask myself: what are you teaching me in this, Father? What joys will come at the end of this? And I begin to see with the eyes of a student, sitting at the feet of the Great Teacher.

Oh, what a gracious gift. What an amazing gift.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. (James 1:17)

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