Tag Archive | gifts

The Gift of Serving…

While caring for elderly parents, life gets put on somewhat of a hold for the caregivers. With their parent’s passing, a caregiver may feel a sense of release from the demanding requirements of caregiving as life returns to a more normal pace. Yet, all of this mixed in with feelings of venturing into life without that parent’s sustaining presence can be a rough and challenging road. 

Mother was an anchor for me. Caring for her opened a volume of opportunities that affirmed my faith in God. Though there were some really tough moments, especially toward the end, with every situation, I gained a closer understanding of what it meant to serve God. For through the years He taught me that in serving my mom, I was serving Him. To be honest, I failed more times than I care to admit. So let’s just say, over time I grew in awareness of what God was expecting from me as I cared for Mother. And that’s important. 

Our first Thanksgiving without Mother and now with Christmas approaching presents a void to be dealt with. Everywhere I look I am reminded of her. I stand on my front porch and crowning the nearby hill stands the house that she lived and died in. The place where I said my final goodbye. And all throughout my house and yard, are physical reminders of her loving care. Her life and the impact she had on mine, is now a store of memories. But I’m learning it is those very reflections that will fill the void . 

As I sort through all the abundance of memories, I have so much to be grateful for. For something beautiful happened in those final days that will continue to be my focus and sustain me. 

I have watched as my children and grandchildren spent time with their grandmother and great grandmother. I listened as my children taught their children about what honoring Granma looked like and meant. The impressions they made took their source from what God had to say about honoring our mother and our father. 

They learned that it wasn’t always convenient or easy to care for a parent. They were taught that sacrifices had to be made to their choices of how to use their time and in making their schedules. And all along they were bolstered by the earlier memories of Grandmother’s spunky and loving ways in caring for them. I could not be more grateful that my children and grandchildren were able to form a perspective of caring that was shaped by what they learned as family pulled together to take care of Granma. 

And as we gather for the holidays, those memories are a sustaining source of thankfulness and joy. His promise that one day we will be reunited because we have accepted God’s gift of Jesus, replenishes me daily. 

Because God has overcome this world, we are the recipients of gifts more valuable than anything we could possibly find under our Christmas tree. And for me, this particular lessons on showing my love through serving those I love is a gift I pray I will continue to unwrap. 

A Most Unusual Birthday

Author’s Note: A few years ago, A Most Unusual Birthday, was published in a collection of Christmas stories by Essence Publishing. With a few minor changes, I am posting it here. I hope you will enjoy this slant on celebrating Christ’s birthday.

By Janet Lane

Bobby trembled with excitement! Today was his birthday! For days, he had anticipated the celebration his family would make of his special day.  He especially looked forward to the birthday tradition he and his three older sisters had of having their own way all day. 

If Bobby wanted to have his sisters wait on him hand and foot, or get them to do his chores, he could get away with it on this one day only. Bobby knew he had to be reasonable when he made a demand, though–his sister’s birthdays would roll around in a few months, and if he made them do anything that would warrant a payback, he would definitely suffer when his sisters next celebrated their birthdays!

Bobby had been planning what he would get his sisters to do for him. Cleaning his room was at the top of the list, as that was a chore he wasn’t particularly fond of. As a matter of fact, Bobby had several chores in mind that he was most willing to turn over to his sisters for a day.

However, this birthday was proving to be very different from any he’d ever celebrated with his family before. For instance, his mother started preparing for it earlier than usual–a whole month in advance. Bobby watched, with confusion and curiosity, as she busily decorated almost every room in their house. She strategically placed “Happy Birthday” banners throughout the house. She even put a banner on their front porch and added lights!

Bobby’s dad was behaving just as strangely as his mom. Where he found them, Bobby didn’t know, but his dad had bought several CDs all about birthdays, and was playing them in his house, in his truck, in Mom’s car–anywhere there was a CD player. In the evenings after supper, the family gathered around the DVD player to watch videos all about–you guessed it–birthday celebrations.

Well, the day of his birthday finally arrived. Bobby comforted himself with the thought that all the strange happenings leading up to his birthday would soon make sense. He sniffed the air for the familiar aroma of the breakfast pancakes Mom always fixed on the morning of her children’s birthdays. He strained for the sound of his family’s footsteps and muffled giggles, as they ascended the stairs to wake him. Though he was wide awake, he customarily feigned sleepiness, to encourage the efforts of his family to awaken him with their boisterous rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. Mom, predictably, would capture these moments on her phone’s camera to preserve every moment of the celebration.

Arriving in the kitchen, Bobby would expect to find on his plate a tall stock of pancakes decorated with a single, lighted candle. He would make a wish, blow out the candle, and open just one of his birthday gifts. Later, there would be a festive birthday party where he would open the rest of his presents. 

Usually, his grandparents joined them around the table to enjoy a dinner of Bobby’s favorite foods and a delightfully decorated birthday cake. And Bobby knew that Mom would not fail to hang the birthday flag in his honor from the front porch, so that all who passed their house would know someone within was celebrating a birthday.

Bobby forced himself to lay quiet and still, with his eyes closed, waiting for the familiar birthday sounds to begin. But nothing happened! Curiosity drove him out of his bed, in search of an explanation. After all, the preparations for his birthday had been very unusual, and Bobby figured his family had planned an unusual celebration for his special day, as well.

But Bobby was not at all prepared for what he saw when he turned the corner and entered the doorway of the living room. There his mom, dad, and his three sisters were surrounded by opened presents. They were still in their pajamas. Mom, of course, was videoing the whole thing.

Bobby, unable to contain himself another moment, rushed to the middle of the room. With bitter tears, he pleaded, “What is going on here? I don’t understand! Why are you opening presents? It’s my birthday! Where are mygifts?”

As Bobby lay sobbing in a crumpled heap on the floor, his family gathered around him and began singing, “Happy Birthday.” Bobby placed his hands over his ears, trying to shut out the painful insensitivity of his family’s singing. Then amid all this confusion, he heard his youngest sister, Rachel, say, “Wake up, Bobby, wake up! It’s your birthday, Silly! Wake up!”

Next, he thought he heard his oldest sister, Dorie, suggest, “Let’s sing the birthday song again, only louder. Maybe that will wake him up.”

Kathy, his middle sister, responded to Dorie’s suggestion by pouncing on her little brother, as he lay crumpled in a heap on his bed. Dorie and Rachel joined forces with Kathy, and Mom–of course–didn’t miss getting a moment of this family fund on video!

As Dad gathered his sleepy son into his arms, Bobby realized he had been dreaming–no, he’d had a nightmare! Then Bobby heard the welcomed and familiar words of his father. “Bobby, wake up son. It’s your birthday! Mom has your pancake breakfast waiting for you, and everyone is ready for you to blow out your candle!”

Bobby rubbed his tearful, sleepy eyes as he gave each member of his family an enthusiastic and grateful bear hug. What a tremendous relief! He had not been left out of his own birthday celebrations after all!

May this story serve as a gentle reminder to remain sensitive to our Savior,

whose birthday we honor, and not be guilty of leaving Christ out of his own

birthday celebration.