Unexpected Gifts

The wry humor within me really toyed with the idea of titling this, “Hello, it’s Me.” But I think Adele has suffered through enough flat references to her beautiful ballad.And aside from stating the obvious that I’ve been missing for a while, it doesn’t really reflect my topic today. So, thank you Mrs. Held, the best Freshman Comp professor – ever.

I never dreamed that I would totally miss any attempt at holiday posting. In fact, I wrongly assumed it would be the easiest to write – so much activity, so much spiritual inspiration, so many good recipes.  The “so much” was correct, and so much more. Where did the time go? One moment I was planning the Thanksgiving menu and almost overnight it was New Year’s Eve. Oh, that time moved so swiftly when I was a child! But here we are, well in to a new year. While it is a time for new beginnings there is much from the previous year that carries forward with us. And that brings us to the unexpected gifts.

Without doubt, one for 2015’s greatest gifts was the birth of our first grandson. His first Christmas was anticipated by all with great delight and we were not disappointed. Late in November as it grew time for his mother to return to work, I received one of many unexpected gifts. God placed it on my heart to keep the baby the first week while mom transitioned back into the workplace. One these less worry for mom while learning the ropes of her new job and establishing a new routine at home. Temporary. It was just for a week, maybe two at the most.   20160107_142845

While I am always on call as backup for child care and frequently called for service, I’ve never considered the possibility of keeping the grands full-time. In fact, I couldn’t see it working in “my schedule” at all. But one or two weeks, even during the busy Christmas season, I was certain I could make it work. After all, it wasn’t really my idea – God surely placed it there. And every time I looked into those BIG blue eyes, I was certain it was the right decision. So certain that it resulted in my next unexpected gift. By the time Christmas Day arrived, I simply couldn’t imagine turning him over to anyone else – at least not yet. Maybe when he was six months old?

Again, God squarely placed that desire in my heart to continue to keep him. Now my “hand over date” is officially open-ended. As long as God says, “keep him.” Until God brings us the right sitter. Whenever it is, this is a gift I never expected. I never expected that a task so intense, so demanding, so exhausting, would be SO wonderful. Kind of like parenting – only better. (They do go home at night!)

Perhaps this is the most mundane and unremarkable post, ever. My point is, I never expected this to happen nor really desired it. I LOVE being a grandmother. I love the freedom of it. So this new aspect is truly an unexpected gift. But equally important, this gift brought with it inexplicable joy. And God knew that I could use a dose of joy at this particular time. For several months I have struggled with some health issues that seem particularly intent on stealing my joy. I continue to battle the physical issues daily, but the smiling face that greets me each morning puts that struggle into its proper place, the hands of God.

What is attempting to steal your joy? Financial woes, employment issues, health concerns, anxiety and uncertainty, private thoughts, a wayward loved one, grief. All of these can steal our joy. Look for the unexpected gift. The one you NEVER thought would come; the one you would never even perceive as a gift.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

John 15:11

It is no accident that Jesus spoke these words just after he shared the extravagant promise of John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The thief desires to steal our joy; Jesus came that we might have it in abundance.

Be expectant. The gift of joy may find you in the most unexpected situations.

In His Grace,



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