This time of year is known as the season of giving. We budget, plan, shop, order, wrap and worry about giving the perfect gift. Every year there is at least one gift I am really excited about giving. Every year I think, “I’ve nailed it” on that particular, special gift. I love that feeling. I love making the presentation, watching the opening and the expressions. There is nothing better than giving a perfect gift.
However, there are some folks who are just really hard to shop for. You know what I mean? They are the folks that seem to have it all. What do you do then? The following devotion gives the perfect answer. I love that it showed up in my inbox this morning, just in time . . .
If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving–large or small–it will be used to measure what is given back to you (Luke 6:38, NLT).
Friend to Friend
The world would like us to believe that the success of Christmas depends upon how much we spend, how many presents we give, or how many presents we receive. Christmas is about giving, but price tags do not determine the success of our giving. Giving is not dependent on the condition of our checkbook. Giving is dependent on the condition of our heart. I am so glad! Like you, we have to plan carefully what we buy and how much we spend on each gift. As a result, we have discovered some creative ways to give gifts from the heart, meaningful gifts that cost very little.
A homemade gift
In 1 Corinthians 4:12 Paul teaches that we should “work hard with our own hands.” This principle can easily be applied to Christmas gifts. Giving a homemade gift represents time, thought, and is a part of you. When our children were small, one of our favorite Christmas traditions was to create and deliver a homemade hot chocolate mix in decorated mason jars to our neighbors. We placed the jars just to the left of each neighbor’s front door, rang their doorbell and ran like crazy! I am not certain who had the most fun … our neighbors or us. But every year, we were amazed by how much the neighbors enjoyed our homemade gift.
A possession gift
In Matthew 6:40 Jesus spoke about giving away the shirt and coat on our backs. Giving something we already own can be a wonderful Christmas gift if it is something of special value to us. In other words, it is not the idea of getting rid of junk, but of sharing our treasure. Do not ask the question, “What can I buy for Sally?” Ask the question, “What do I have that would mean a lot to Sally?” My husband is a pastor. During a message, Dan mentioned that he collects old Bibles. The next Christmas, one of our church members gave him a family Bible that had been passed down through several generations of family members. It was and still is one of Dan’s most precious possessions.
A gift of time
Time is a valuable gift, a precious commodity. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV). When we give someone 30 minutes of our time, we are giving them 30 minutes of our life. While Dan was in seminary, we rarely had a spare minute or extra dollar between school, jobs and babies. A close friend who knew our schedule gave us a precious gift of time. “I have no money but wanted to give you a gift for Christmas,” he said, handing us a card. Inside was a coupon for free childcare one afternoon each week for the spring semester. That was over twenty-five years ago, and I still remember that wonderful gift of time.
A gift of prayer
The greatest gift we can give someone is the commitment to pray for them consistently. James writes, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16, NLT). Following our traditional Christmas Eve service, an elderly lady approached Dan and said, “I don’t have anything to give you, Pastor. But I want you to know that I will pray for you, Mary, and the kids every morning this year at 6:00 a.m.” And she did! What a priceless gift! Every time she saw us, this sweet lady asked what we needed and how she should pray. Only Heaven knows all that God accomplished in our lives through the prayers of this godly woman.
A gift of encouragement
As the writer of Proverbs says, encouragement is a powerful gift. “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (Proverbs 12:25, NIV). We assume the people in our lives know how much they mean to us. They rarely do. This Christmas, write a letter to someone you love and appreciate, telling them how important they are to you. Be specific. A written note or letter requires time, careful thought and allows that person to read your words of encouragement again and again. One of my most prized possessions is a blue wooden box our son built and gave me one year for Christmas. In that box, I store notes, letters and cards of affirmation so on my “blue” days, I can pull out a dose of encouragement. One year, I wrote a letter of encouragement to my husband and to each child. The letters were placed in decorated envelopes, tied to branches of the Christmas tree and opened first on Christmas morning.
We have a dear friend that is one of those hard to buy for people. He has anything he could ever need or want. We always want to give him a special gift. He loves sweets and desserts so I always know that he appreciates something sweet and decadent. This year I wanted to do something even more special than the coconut cake I typically choose to bake. This is always a little fun for me as I do not bake often. I don’t think my own boys really appreciate the gift, so I love baking for someone who does.
My choice of a cake this year was a bit more ambitious than I intended. That is what happens when you don’t read the entire recipe to the very end. I didn’t focus on the number of steps and the process of this particular cake. The entire cake took me 2 days to prepare, bake and decorate! I confess it is not as beautiful as the magazine photo, but I hope it will taste as good!
I made Southern Living’s Red Velvet Cheesecake White Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. (Click to see the recipe). I’m here to say that it has more cream cheese and sugar than should be legally allowed to use! I am not sure if the time and effort of this endeavor will be appreciated, but I know it is a gift of love. I am excited about presenting such a gift.
Enjoy Your Day!