The {Gift} Of Giving

God sent his Son as the ultimate,

unbeatable gift of all time.

When He was crucified on that cross we were given the jackpot for all creation (John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him wouldn’t perish, but would have eternal life.) We now have the blessing and honor to pour out gifts and good deeds to others, as God has done for us. Take a moment to let this verse sink to the depth of your heart-

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

I recently had the pleasure of watching our 3 year olds delight in picking out a special gift for their cousin, who turned 4 this past month. As we went from store to store picking up groceries and running errands we had needed, their focus was always thinking of another. The gift was picked with thought on what their cousin may like or need. I noticed the more they thought about giving, the more happy they became. The girls were not worried about what they could get, they were excited with the anticipation of giving and sharing in the festivities.

As far back as creation goes, God has delighted in pouring out blessings and gifts. The important thing to note here is God blesses us whether we deserve it or not. He also promises to bless is abundantly more when we choose to have an open hand to others.

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Luke 6:38

Oh how important it is to give a gift to others! Gifts come in many packages-

  • Friendship
  • Prayer
  • Pearls of Wisdom
  • Grace
  • A kind word
  • Sending a card
  • Flowers to someone who needs cheering
  • Coffee shared
  • Hospitality
  • Bringing a meal to a busy family
  • A material blessing/gift just because
  • An appreciation note or thank you gift*

The last one gave me food for thought as it came to mind, how many people bless the lives of my children and my family (myself included) and do I show my appreciation enough? I certainly feel thankful and appreciative. However, have I voiced those feelings in the right direction or physically showed it?

I will always remember my friends story- Her husband was working long hours and had no time to go out and buy flowers for a special occasion, as unconventional as it may seem he gave cash to his wife and asked her to pick out a nice bouquet of flowers for herself. In the flower shop she picked out a dozen roses, instead of going home, cutting the stems and placing them in water to be admired, she turned around and gave them away- to her sister who she felt would be even more blessed by them. The gift that kept giving. A selfless action that left a heartwarming memory for everyone involved.

A gift comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it is as simple as a compliment or as costly as a pretty ornament in thought of a friend or mother. There is a time and place for either, so long as we are thinking of others. God calls us to be good stewards and wise with our money, one factor to remember also is that He calls us to give above our budgeting and tithing. It’s easy to become tunnel-visioned to the point that it hinders the Holy Spirit’s prompting to bless another when you feel called to do so. The apostle Paul was greatly blessed by others who sent gifts from afar to help him during his ministry and while imprisoned, he then credited it to their account encouraging them in their giving.

Philippians 4:15-17

And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you send a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.

-Amber


 

Benevolent

How do I want to be treated? How am I treated? I have been mulling these questions over for the past few days.

To be honest, I receive much more grace than I deserve; I am loved, cherished and always forgiven. Of course there are altercations with my kids that I have been mistreated or undeservingly judged (fairness is an illusion). However, when I analyze my own actions and heart  -I don’t line up with the gracious, benevolent mother I want to be. I have been asking myself how I would react- or at least feel- if I were constantly told I am not doing it right, half listened to, and maybe sternly told to go away for awhile because I’ve had enough antics for one day (I am wincing at my own words that are so often spoken to my own children in frustration)

Then I think of how adored and loved I am by God! When I picture Jesus surrounded by the little children, the words depicted in the Bible, it gives a clear picture of what he thinks of those youngsters and all those who belong to Him. They are not unimportant or told to go away. The very opposite happened in fact and we are told to be more like those children. God does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). I want to be a benevolent mom, even when my kids’ behaviour doesn’t warrant it.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

I have read this verse many, many times, yet I have never seen it in the light that it should be applied to our children. How did I miss that? Of course it should! I practice forgiving strangers with road rage, others who may have unwittingly (or wittingly) hurt me and when reading Ephesians 4:32 I didn’t automatically think of my children. When attitudes abound and fights break loose sometimes what is needed is kindness and grace to turn around that behaviour versus stern discipline training.

With everything there needs to be a balance, and I think that is the hardest to figure out. When to be benevolent and when to stand firm and use grit. Bravely exercising justice rather than grace. Neither overreacting or under-reacting. I am in a quandary figuring that one out but, I have to start somewhere. So I have recently developed a 3-tier system,

1.) Minor Infractions- Practice grace, possibly letting them figure it out amongst themselves or with an explanation of why that may hurt someone or be unkind.

2.) Medium Infractions- Something kind said about the person or thing in question, along with an appropriate chore associated with the wrong-doing. (This may take awhile to resume whatever they happened to be doing, depending on the length of time it takes to come up something kind and sincere to say)

3.) Large Infractions- something that is harming their character and serious enough will require discipline from both parents and may take a day or so to figure out an appropriate and lengthy discipline technique to correct, taking time to think and pray on it is always the best option rather than hastily saying ‘you are grounded for 2 weeks and will have no friends or cousins over!’ Sometimes immediate discipline for larger infractions backfire because I can’t hold up my end of the punishment due to events outside my control.

The key I have found is being aware of the situation, which is easier said than done while being a busy mom to 5 young children. I have to be intentional and present while raising my kids by viewing the training up of a child as an all-important-high-paying-executive-job with benefits and bonuses. Don’t we all work diligently and harder knowing there will be a big pay-out at the end? I know I do! So I need to start putting that mindset into practice and keep looking ahead, treating my kids as the people they are (God’s child) Looking them straight in the eye and valuing who they are and what they have to say.

Happy week my friends,

Amber

I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)

 

 

Not our Fight

“God does not allow hardships and adversity in our lives just to test our strength and faith, he also allows it to test the generosity, kindness and compassion of others” -author unknown

There is strength in contentment, knowing God is mercy, grace, love and redeemer. Throughout the old testament we see Gods wrath against those who have mocked Him, and his own people who have turned away from Him. Time and again, the Israelites lost their way and worshipped idols.

You saw the great disaster I brought on to Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins…

Jeremiah 44:1-6

God used other nations to plunder them, until they were in such despair they cried unto Him once more. In the same breathe, he redeemed them when they turned back to Him.

The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well… Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land…

Jeremiah 50:33-34

Not only will God rescue us from our own makings, he will vigorously defend us. We should have a healthy fear of our God, our heavenly Father. The same God who redeemed them, was the same God who sent other kingdoms to destroy them. A first response to this could be one of unbelief, thinking how harsh God would be to his chosen people; however, God is sovereign and had their best interests at heart, wanting them to return to him where they could find rest.

Our Heavenly Father will always love us and make a way for his children to come back to Him. Sometimes the road is a hard one. How grateful I am for our Redeemer- Jesus. As we stand our ground and put on the full armor of God, we can rest and have peace that the fight is not ours; we have a safe-haven under his wings. We can learn something in every moment of our lives, it is up to us whether we will see it for what it is- an opportunity to know and serve God wholeheartedly, trusting in his goodness. We are not in this alone, He goes before us- and vigorously defends us. Even though we are undeserving, he sent his Son. How uplifting is that!

As a mother, how many times do we feel lonely in the raising of our children, the burden weighing on us heavily? As we seek to mold great character into the lives of these young ones, berating ourselves when we seem to fall short; their behaviour not mirroring what we want to see in them. While the devil is trying to plant seeds of doubt- God is working diligently and vigorously on their (and our) behalf, planting seeds in the inner workings of their hearts. We can rest easy knowing God is doing the heavy lifting, and leave the fight to him as he goes before us; following His lead and walking in truth. Don’t give those lies a foothold to grow. You are after all a child of God!

Whatever the day may bring, God is before you, behind you and beside you- holding fast to your hand. If you see another needing strength or help getting up, perhaps you are that vessel God wants to use to accomplish His work.

Amber

The Lord is my strength and defense; he has become my salvation.

Psalm 118:14

 

 

Favorite Five

Welcome,

With the warm breeze and the birds singing their lovely melody- I thought this to be a perfect time to share my favorite five with you. You know, those things that make everyday life just a little bit better…

 

1. Sunshine.

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There is something very uplifting starting the day with the rays shining through your windows; a promise of a clean slate and endless possibilities; soaking up the Vitamin D to be sure.

 

2. {COFFEE}

Made in my Latissimo Nespresso machine, the perfect cup every time!

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There is nothing better than sipping a hot cup of coffee on the patio, or sharing a cup with the hubby or friends.

 

3. Paul Mitchell’s Finishing spray-

I use it everyday, especially having such long, thick locks. A spritz is all you need to ensure bangs and loose ends stay were they ought, and not hanging in the eyes.

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Even better, a can lasts me 6 months with having to use so little, which more than makes up for the cost.

 

4. Gap ’69 Jeans.

My favorite go-to store is Gap (preferably the outlet, I can’t/won’t pay full price!) They have their classic line, which I most often gravitate towards. I like having clothing that can stand the test of time and not be unfashionable after 6 months because of a short lived fad.

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5.  A Book. An everyday part of my life (and a favorite of mine) are books. My Bible, a devotional book or a novel are just a few of my many reading avenues that make up my day. I start my morning off with my Bible, reading the scriptures and usually a devotion to go along with it, and for pleasure I love wrapping myself up in a good fiction story, I am partial to historical fiction. Although I may be living under a rock (or hiding) until the novel is finished 🙂

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That sums up 5 of my favorite daily things, I would love to hear yours! Feel free to comment, I love reading them.

Cheers to a Happy Canada Day and long weekend, eh!

Amber

Seasons {of life}

Different seasons in our lives reap different blessings (and different work!) … so why is it I find I am constantly trying to attain what others can, and are doing in their different season of life?

From the moment I married, from the moment I had our first child- all the way to our 5th, I am still doing the same thing! I’m constantly in a battle with my thoughts- I am not doing enough, or where I should be. When we first married and had our firstborn for example, the people I knew that had children the same age as ours were 10 years+ my senior and married even longer. Yet that did not penetrate into my rationalizing of where we should be. I was striving to be where they were in a few meager months that had taken them a decade to build. I eventually figured it out after awhile, although I have found it creeping up again as we are in the 10+ years of marriage/children stage of life. This time though, it looks very different.

I find myself reading blogs and Pinterest posts on how to stay ahead of the game and keep the house neat and tidy with a rotating schedule and de-cluttering systems. Even I, have written on these subjects! They. never. work. for. long. … in our house anyway during this season of our lives. I keep feeling like I have utterly failed as a mother and homemaker when comparing my state of home and children to another. Oh, I know better. When I look at the big picture that is, sometimes however- I can get so darned tunnel visioned! Seasons. Its all about the seasons. I am opening my eyes to the truth that even if others have children the exact same age or a tad older/younger, less or more- we can be in two very different seasons of life. There are too many varying factors to have any one family be in the same season as another. Once in awhile we meet in the middle at the same time just to have a factor change course, and yet again- different seasons. Our three year old twins are very dependent upon me compared to our first two children, then there is our third child who is smack dab in the middle, along with a husband who works very long hours with no holidays.

I somehow have been wrapped up in the mantra that the kids are all old enough- I should have a spotless house and weekly meal plan running smoothly. Please, I know your silently balking at me- I am balking at the lunacy of it as well. It sounded so realistic in my thoughts until I tried (and tried again) putting those ideas into practice, along with failing (and feeling) miserable in the process.

I suppose no one ever tried to shovel snow in the heat of an August summer day, or harvest their garden mid February- that would be absurd! However here I was trying to attain something that was not in season.

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At the beginning of this post I mentioned the different blessings we reap in the seasons of our lives. There are always more blessings than drudgery. The trick is focusing my thoughts on the blessings and tuning in to where I am in the here and now. I am trying that, today. Verbalizing my many blessings helps. Looking at my life and family around me with a fresh and new perspective also is key. I may have scuffed walls, dirty floors and painted toe nails on the dog- but one thing is certain, I receive many hugs and kisses and cuddles throughout the day. I have snuggles with my children periodically morning through night, where we curl up in the rocking chair and just sit, or read a story. The first person my children want at their side when they get hurt or have a problem is me, their mom (unless dad walks through the door!) I am blessed to have a husband who supports a wife and children so I, their mother can raise them and school them. … I just need to keep following down the path we are on and enjoy the messy season of life we are in. Anyone who would like to judge me can either come over and change what they don’t like or we can come their way to play and mess their house up instead 🙂

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I hope you have found some encouragement in my thoughts and challenges I have shared here today in my post. I know everyone else’s life can look a little more rose-y than our own at times and hope my experiences may resonate with you in some small way. Wishing you many blessings to your weekend!

Amber

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-9