Christmas with family was blessed, fun, peaceful, heartwarming and humbling.
I had dreaded the logistics of working into the evening on Christmas Eve, going to an 11 p.m. worship service then getting up fairly early Christmas Day to head to McKinney for an overnight visit with my husband's family. After the Friday return to Norman was a Saturday trip to Stillwater, and, likely, a swing by Greenwood, Ark., before returning home again to Norman on Sunday. (I really didn't even give much thought to what looked like a small chance of snow.)
If it were up to me to make all that take place smoothly, I'm pretty sure it would not happen. But by the grace of God and with amazing support from my husband, the moments unfolded calmly and gracefully.
Gifts of presence included talking and listening; patience; smiles and laughter; and advice only when asked.
My new iPhone with a better camera and extra memory let me take pictures with abandon -- and many of them captured fun moments with siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews and "grands."
Gift-giving and receiving often stress me out, and the preparation certainly did this year as well. But the new and appreciated conclusion this year was satisfaction with gifts given, instead of the usual
Meanwhile, I was humbled to receive way too much. All I could do was say thank you. (I also made a mental pledge to start getting rid of some of my accumulated possessions, and I have made early efforts toward that.)
One of my gifts was the trip to Greenwood. It was as if God put it on my heart to carry some of the Stillwater festivities to those unable to attend.
A thought that comes to mind is that a person cannot outgive a God. I was trying to be less selfish, but it seems even my smallest efforts toward others returned blessings to me. That was not my intent. But how can I not be grateful?
Throughout the Christmas festivities, starting with the choir cantata on Dec. 14 and continuing with the Christmas Eve worship service and several of my daily devotionals, a prominent Scripture was John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." It's not a traditional Scripture associated with Christmas, but it really gets to the heart of the reason for the season.
How does one respond to such a gift? Share it. But how? I continue to pray to know how and to do it.