Christmas has not always been a happy time for me.
As a single mother this holiday usually just meant “FINANCIAL STRESS”.
There have been years that I completely lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas.
I was so buried in my own self pity, that I was unable to even feel any JOY at all.
There were several times that I literally had no idea how I was going to provide a Christmas for my children. In order to purchase gifts for them, I would have to use the money I had set aside for bills to buy them any gifts.
This was a hard decision for me to make because I knew that if I didn’t pay the bills, it was going to take me several months to catch back up.
But, for me, the sacrifice was worth the excitement of my children waking up to special gifts on Christmas morning.
It always seemed that when I was at my lowest point, and had no hope of pulling a Christmas off for the kids, We would hear a knock at our door and open it to find our porch clear full of gifts.
The kindness of the people in my small community would once again remind me what this season is REALLY about.
It is not about the gifts we GET, but the Gifts we GIVE
Their kindness taught me that: The best way to give to others is not with presents – but with your presence.
The simple fact that they were aware of my plight, despite the fact that I guarded that secret with my life, made all the difference to me at that time.
Being aware, and then following up that awareness with action is truly your gift to others!
This year, I can finally pay back that kindness.
I am finally in a position to GIVE to a needy family this year.
It has been so much fun shopping and planning this night out.
Tonight my kids and I are going with some special friends who have been our “CO-CONSPIRATORS” to deliver Christmas to a special family.
I am so excited for my kids to see what it feels like to share gifts with others tonight.
This whole thing has got me thinking about the gifts that we share with each other every day, not just during the Holidays.
And it occurred to me that the more we give to others the happier we become.
It can be as simple as a smile,
a helping hand,
a listening ear
or a prayer.
These little things can change a person’s entire life.
During those years I lived as a single mom, I have come to KNOW on a very deep level that there is always good even in what seems like the worst situation.
That knowledge might not necessarily change the way you feel in the moment, but it will eventually be understood.
You can find comfort in the fact that one day, that difficult moment will be the reason you are where you are.
I thank the Lord each and every day for my trials because they gave me the ability to truly appreciate Jeff and the blessing he is to our family.
They have given me the ability to SEE just how blessed we are to be where we are in life right now.
I am a much wiser woman today because of my trials from yesterday.
Here are a few of the little bits of wisdom I have picked up along the way that I want to share with you tonight.
#1: Ten years ago I believed that a messy house meant that I was a failure.
But now, I just understand that it simply means that I choose to enjoy my family and live my life.
Besides…The mess will always be there tomorrow.
#2: I want to tell each of you to stop being so hard on yourself;
BECAUSE…you are right where you’re supposed to be!
Allow yourself to continue to grow at our own pace.
Give yourself a break- Life is not a race or a competition.
#3: Don’t listen to what other people say.
People judge to make themselves feel better.
#4: Think before you speak and you’ll find that you choose your words wisely.
#5: If the most important thing to you is money or material objects, then you’re missing out on so much of what is important in life.
#6: Love is more than an emotion.
It’s a choice that requires work.
When you choose to love you are making the choice to put others before yourself.
This isn’t always easy but it always worth it.
#7: Failure shouldn’t stop you from trying.
Giving up should never be an option.
A simple readjustment of your plan or your attitude can make the difference.
#8: Never listen to what others say about your dreams.
Your dreams and aspirations are yours alone and given to you as a gift.
#9: Don’t allow fear to make your decisions.
Pushing through that fear can offer you a life changing experience.
#10: Things don’t always happen the way that we expect them to, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not what we need.
#11: Never expect more than what you have, and you’ll find happiness with it.
If you are always looking for more you’ll never enjoy anything.
#12: The past doesn’t define you; it is however the reason you are who you are.
Embrace yourself, forgive yourself and be thankful you are stronger and wiser because of it all.
BONUS LESSON: Go out of your way daily to show your family that you love them.
It takes work to show your love and life is too short.
These are my gifts to you tonight on this Special night when we celebrate the greatest birth in all of humanity.
The birth of our Savior.
Tonight, be a light for all who you may see.
God Bless, and Merry Christmas!