Last night I was reminded of the first Christmas Peter and I had after we were married.  We got so excited about the gifts we had bought for one another that we opened them early.  Not a day or so early.  Like two or three weeks early.  I think Peter even made a little scavenger hunt for me to find my gift.  And if I remember correctly, we budgeted $20 to spend on each other.  Such a sweet memory.

Of course I– like so many of you– are up to my ears in gifts.  I have all of the teacher gifts lined up on the counter, waiting for gift tags to be put on them.  The kids are begging me every night to wrap up their gifts for family and friends (I have to work myself up to the patience level.  I’m not there yet.) The guest room bed is piled in all sorts of goodness (I even have a small pile of things I bought for myself.   I wonder, should I wrap them?  It’s a whisk and a measuring cup, so don’t worry that I’m going overboard.).

One of the words I’ve been mulling over this past year has, in fact, been Gifts.

After Annie died, I would have horrible thoughts go through my head.  I would begin to think that maybe I was going to fail her horribly as a Mama, so God had taken her from me.  I would beat myself up thinking of all the ways I was robbing my kids’ childhood by working through this grief in front of them.  Was I being punished?  Was there some sin that caused her death?  Over and over thoughts would tumble through my brain, leaving me worn down and exhausted.

About 18 months ago, Peter and I attended a Respite Retreat and one night after he fell asleep, I woke up and started writing in a flurry.  Because it  hit me:

God gives good gifts to His children.

And, I wondered, could Annie’s death ever be redeemed enough so that I would be able to see it as a gift?  Would I open up my heart and my hands to allow Christ to not only heal my hurt, but also to use it?

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.  
Matthew 7:11 
When I bought Ann Voskamp’s book a few months later, I devoured it.  It spoke to something deep, deep inside me. Slowly I began to put words to my suspicion– Yes! It’s true!  Not only does He give gifts, but they are good gifts. 
But. (There always seems to be a but, doesn’t there?)
God may hand me the gift, but it’s my job to open that gift.  I could be sitting in a virtual room of unopened, wrapped gifts, whining my face off about my sad life.  And wouldn’t that be a shame?  When I think about my kids pulling that kind of act on Christmas morning . . . well, that would be ridiculous.  
The other night, Peter was putting William and Kate to bed while I wrestled Eliza into her jammies.  She wiggled free and took off to the bedrooms with only her diaper on, sticking her belly out as far as it would go.  When she got to the kids’ bedroom doors, they exploded with laughter.  Oh, she thought she was hot stuff and they thought she was hilarious.  
A gift.  Joy and laughter in our house again.  There have been days when I wondered if it would happen again.
Two years ago, I wrote of the line “The Weary World Rejoices” and how weary of it all I felt.  But this year, I’m reminded of the next line in the song, “But yonder breaks a new and glorious dawn”.  While we feel the weight of sorrow and misery in our lives, what a promise we have that just in just a little while . . . if we can just hang on for a little bit longer . . . it will. be. glorious.
He is writing a story of my life– of all of our lives– and along the way?  He gives good, good gifts.