The Art of Gift Giving

Have you ever received a perfect gift?  One that was uniquely thought of for just you?  That made you feel like you were known?  Seen?  That someone took the time to think about you?

It has nothing to do with money.  It has everything to do with the thought and consideration that went into the gift.

I recently received a gift like that.  The person put a lot of planning and thought into the gift and how the gift was delivered.  She made a “book” with the cover of one of my favourite authors, to house the gift that incorporated reading and dance.  I loved it.   I appreciated her thoughtfulness.  I felt seen and known.  It was a priceless gift at a turbulent time.

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I love gifts.  In church speak, it’s one of my love languages.  A long time ago, I  worked in a high end pewter gift store in Ottawa and Toronto.  We had a gifts for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations.  I learned a lot about gift giving and gift givers.  

In today’s fast paced world, the art of gift giving is becoming extinct.  We don’t have time to slow down and stop and think about gifts anymore.  For some of us, gift giving is not something we are especially good at.  Things can be complicated.  I get that.  But even if we are more of a gift card person or money person, we can still make the time to buy a gift card from a store the person likes or to buy things they love.  We can take the time to get or make a nice card, add some candy or chocolate to adorn it if that’s what the person likes.  Gift giving is about the other person not us.  The art of gift giving makes the person receiving the gift feel special.  

The bonus?  The gift giver gets the pleasure of seeing the gift enjoyed, which is a special experience all on it’s own.

The art of gift giving mirrors the one who gives us good gifts.  

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.  Matt 7:11 NLT

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.  James 1:17

The ultimate Gift Giver gives us good gifts because He is good and as James says, He never changes.  His goodness remains.  Even in the hard times.  I saw that first hand recently.  In difficult circumstances, God laid out some good gifts to help us through.  Gifts that were uniquely garnered to me (and my family).  He didn’t change the circumstances but He did let me know He saw me, He knows me, and He loves me.  He did it through those gifts.  Even though I doubted Him.  Even though I was mad at Him.  But He is good and He never changes.  Our doubts, our anger, our questions do not affect His character.  Or His love for us.  He offers us grace upon grace. 

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.    John 1:16 NLT

As the Ultimate Gift Giver, God gave us the most perfect gift of all that none of us deserved.  His Son.  Jesus was the ultimate gift to a world that rejected him and still does. But He was given for all of us.  Freely.  Graciously and with deep love.  He is the perfect gift.  All we have to do is receive Him and then enjoy Him as we get to know Him.

As an added note, I realize that sometimes we give good gifts that are not well received for whatever reason.  God certainly understands that.  I want to remind you that the onus of that lies with the person receiving the gift.  As the gift giver, you’ve done all you can.  But don’t let that stop you from continuing to give good gifts to others.  You may never know the blessings that come from them in this lifetime but God does.  And one day you will too.  Keep giving good gifts.

Parenting, Gifts and Free Choice: How It’s All Connected

“Parents are always giving things that are not taken.” Reached by Ally Condie

The quote is ironically, from a young adult novel. I don’t think until you become a parent, a mentor or some kind of authority figure in a young person’s life, that you realize how true this statement is. I think for most of us, we want to spare our children from pain, poor choices, unsafe situations, or a myriad of other things. So we offer wisdom (we hope), we offer advice. We tell stories about our own experiences. Sometimes we offer physical help whether it be a helping hand or a place to stay.  Money.  Most parents would give their lives for their children literally.

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Figuratively, that’s what we do, don’t we? We sacrifice our time, our talents, our money, anything and everything to build into our children, the hope of tomorrow. Many times, much to our chagrin and sadness, the offered gift is ignored, rejected or despised. We’ve all been there.

It can start early. The toddler not wanting the helping hand as they learn to walk. The preschooler saying, “No! I do.” The high schooler, rolling their eyes at you again. Looking at you like you are the weirdest person they know. It hurts. Because our own experience and those of others, has taught us how cruel life can be. How unfair. How listening to a wise piece of advice or letting someone come alongside to help you, can dramatically change a life. But we can’t make our kids understand or accept the gift.

Free choice. It drives me crazy.

Do you think it drives God crazy?

I imagine Him hitting his head against some golden wall in heaven, because it’s less painful than watching us trying to do it ourselves and messing it up. Again. I think the words “I told you so” would feel good to utter, just once, to some Old Testament Israelite…or me.

These are just my own imaginings. I don’t think He’s really like that. I might have at some point but He’s proving me wrong on that score. He is the God of Heaven and Earth and He is good. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:1 NASB) He’s not vindictive. He doesn’t give us what we deserve.  Instead He loves us.  Oh there are consequences for our actions.  Like any good parent, God doesn’t remove them.  But He doesn’t leave us alone in them.  He’s there, we just have to acknowledge Him.

I do think He grieves like any parent when the gifts He offers are ignored, rejected and despised. Again these are just my own thoughts. Especially His Son. A priceless gift who is rejected daily, both by those who profess to believe and follow Him and those who don’t. We reject Him when we disobey Him. When we try to manipulate circumstances and worship our own agendas. When we think our sin is too big for Him to handle. When we put someone else or something else on His rightful throne.

Our Heavenly Father is always giving us things that are we don’t take. Like a sunny day after months of cold. A smile on a bad day. The little things that brighten our daily lives are all gifts from above. But so often we ignore them or reject them. They pass us by in our busyness. When our minds are full of ourselves, our circumstances and our problems.

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God gets this parenting thing. He created it. He is our Heavenly Father.  He loves us as His own.  As parents and moreover as His children, God offers us His love, His power and His wisdom. That’s just a start of His many gifts, freely given to us.

Are we ready to take them?

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.  (James 1:16-18 The Message)