Monday, December 23, 2013

Receiving Gifts

Sam is in the schoolroom. He's found a quiet place. He's nestled in the beanbag chair not far from the fire. His head is tilted down. I can see, from the curve of his shoulders, from the way that he's still, that he's lost in something.

I stand in the doorway and watch. "What are you working on?" I ask after a moment.

Samuel looks up and turns toward me. His cheeks are flushed from the warmth. A smile moves slowly over his face.

"I'm sketching," he says. "Want to see?"

I sit down on the floor beside him. He's sketching a tiger. He's been learning about shading, and I can see that he's coming along well. But it's not the tiger that pulls my attention.

 It's the sketchbook.

Sam's birthday was yesterday. Logan knows how Samuel loves to draw, and he bought him a journal for sketching. It has an embossed cover and a rugged cord that slips around the outside. The pages are heavy and thick.  It's a beautiful book - in a cool, masculine sort of way. But there aren't a lot of pages. And it surprises me that Samuel would use it already. That he'd open to the first blank page and jump right in.

"It's a wonderful tiger," I say.

"Thanks," he says. "Do you think the eyes are okay?" He doesn't give me time to answer. "I love this gift. I really like this book."

"I do, too," I say. And I mean it. If the journal had been given to me, I would've kept it clean. I would've placed it on my desk. Or maybe I would have tucked it away in my drawer. I would have saved it for a special occasion. A special place. A glint in time that was more extraordinary than an ordinary, sit-by-the-fire day.

Or maybe I wouldn't have used it at all.

Samuel erases the eyes. Brushes the page clean. He leaves the tiger face empty and goes about working on the paws.

"I'm so glad Logan gave this to me," Sam says. "He always knows just what I'd enjoy."

I stretch my legs long and settle my back against the beanbag chair. After a moment, I shut my eyes. I can hear Sam's pencil whispering over the page. I think about Sam and his book.

Sam is truly enjoying this gift. It was given for that purpose. I know he'll use it cover to cover.

I think again about how I would've tucked it away. Like buried treasure.

Sam is different. He's letting himself be free. He's going to fill every page. Without reserve.

This challenges me. I begin to think about gifts...particularly gifts that God may want me to have. Like the gift of peace. I can accept it. Or I can let it remain untouched and live in a world of what ifs.The gift of  trust. I can unwrap it and let it flow into my life. Or I can fret and fear. I think about joy. I can take this gift, the deep joy that only Jesus can bring, and live it. I can let it wash over troubles and pain. Or I can let it be snuffed and squelched by life in a fallen world.

I want to accept the gifts that the Lord offers. I want to receive them with grace and joy. I want to live and breathe these good gifts to the fullest. I want to grasp every sweetness and the freedom it brings.

I sit and reflect and remember a quote by Erma Bombeck: "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

I can hope the same of God's grace gifts in my life. No shove-in-a-drawer, buried treasure living. I want to use His gifts. Cover to cover.

Like Sam fills his journal.

A moment goes by and then Sam wraps his warm hand around my wrist. "Mom," he says. "You awake? Hey, look, I've finished the eyes."

He hands me his book. The tiger is striking. Beautiful.

Almost as lovely as what I've learned from my son.


Note: I'll be breaking for Christmas and will return with a new post next Monday, December 30. May the blessings of the season be yours. Love, Shawnelle


  1. enjoy and use cover to cover the gifts God has given to us. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, BJ. I'm learning as I go....sending hugs to you and your family.