my own story of finding peace and joy in the hustle and bustle…

**this article appeared in a local church’s newsletter this December. It’s my own real-life story of finding peace and joy in the midst of the hustle and bustle. From my family to yours… may your Christmas be peaceful and may 2014 be a year of joy and gratitude. Merry Christmas!

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, and in a land not so far away there lived a young mom of three. Her days were full doing laundry and dishes, grocery shopping and meals, homeschool worksheets and read-alouds. Seasons came and seasons left. The children grew and grew and the mom loved them more and more. Though she loved those days with her three, she often felt empty and alone.

Late one December night, after the three were sleeping soundly, and before the dad returned from his late shift, the mom found all the gifts she had hidden away from peeking eyes. In the glow of the twinkly Christmas tree, she gathered scissors, tape, and three different kinds of wrapping paper…one for each of her three, of course. For hours, she sat on the floor and wrapped each of the gifts she had chosen for her three. Surrounded by a growing pile of pretty packages, the mom felt more empty… more alone.

“I wonder if this Christmas will satisfy?” she pondered as she wrapped.

Three hours of wrapping that dark December night covered the base of her family’s Christmas tree. The lower branches with their homemade ornaments were hidden behind the enormous pile of books, puzzles, and toys wrapped and waiting to be discovered on Christmas morning.

Later, in the midst of scraps of paper strewn about, the sweet daughter asked the mom, “Merry Christmas, Mommy! You don’t look happy. Did you have a good Christmas?”

Through a fake smile, the mom answered, “I did, Honey.”

Looking up, the mom saw another set of eyes watching her. Wounded eyes, that knew her better than anyone else, looked right through the lie she just told their daughter.

The years flew by and Christmases came and went. The mom, no longer quite as young, has never forgotten that Christmas Past. You see, over the years, she underwent major heart surgery from the One who loves her most. Her God uncovered the eyes of her heart and taught her to see that gifts are so much more than pretty packages surrounding a twinkly tree. He showed her that He is the ultimate gift giver and that His gifts don’t just come on December 25. Instead, His gifts are ever-changing, never ending, and lovingly made for her own heart.

It was then, when her heart was changed, that the mom saw gifts 365 days a year. She began to count the gifts… 1. three children who love, 2. the deep magenta of the sunrise, 3. a man who always comes home…. and in the counting of these gifts, the mom found what she had been missing. She found gratitude.

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