Tonight I noticed that my previous post is dated September 15, 2011, and I thought, “Wow! Was it really that long ago that I did a blog post?” I guess I have some catching up to do! I was planning to write something today about getting organized for the new year, but then I decided to say something about Christmas before it gets too far behind us. I hope that those who are reading this have had an enjoyable time over the Christmas holidays. I sure did! I went to Victoria and visited my sister and brother-in-law and their two married daughters and their families. I have six great-nephews and three great-nieces, ranging in age from eleven down to two. Four of them are aged four and under, including a set of three-year-old twins! Needless to say, this delightful group can be rather noisy when we are all in one room having dinner together and opening our Christmas gifts! I really enjoyed my time with my family. One memory that stands out for me was something I observed while watching Honey and Jonah’s children open their gifts from their parents on Christmas Day. There was such a pure delight on Jonah’s face as he handed a child a gift and watched him open it. The child’s expression was equally precious. Then he handed out another gift while saying, “I have another gift for you,” and watched the child open that one. This scene is etched in my mind as a wonderful picture of Father-God’s loving heart. He loves to give His children gifts that we will use and enjoy, and He is thrilled to see us open them. Some of His gifts to us are material, such as the air we breathe, sunshine, and good food, as well as the many “things” that can make our lives easier. Some of His gifts are not material. Some of the non-material gifts have actually been placed within us and we don’t even realize they are there. In my favorite movie, “The Nativity Story,” the shepherd says to Mary, “Your gift is what you carry inside you.” Obviously he meant the Baby Jesus, but I see something else in that statement as well. We all carry something inside us and when that gift is expressed it can transform our individual lives as well as the lives of many others. Your gift may be to smile. I think that is one of my gifts. My parents used to tell me that when I was a baby I used to smile nearly all the time! Don’t under-estimate the value and power of your smile. The next person you smile at may be someone who is feeling despair and your smile may be exactly what they need at that moment, to let them know someone cares about them. This may change, perhaps even save, that person’s life! Your gift may be to listen. We all need a listening ear sometimes. We just need that one friend to whom we can pour out our hearts, who will assure us that everything will be all right. There are so many other gifts – teaching, encouraging, singing, creating art, baking, writing, the abilities to invent, build or repair things – the list could go on. We have all been given something that we can use by offering it to others. Sometimes our internal gifts stay undiscovered or get buried. We are impressed when talented singers such as Susan Boyle get “discovered.” The interesting thing is they first discovered for themselves what they had, and began to express it. Until we explore and begin to share what is within us, our gifts will not benefit others, but when we step out and let people have even a glimpse of what we have been given, amazing opportunities can open before us. I mentioned above that our gifts can get buried. What can cause this to happen? Sometimes we may bury our gifts in reaction to the unkind words or actions of others. For example, if a parent or teacher laughs at a child’s drawing the child may, from that time forward, believe that they have no talent in that area, when, in fact, the opposite may be true. How do we overcome these things? How do we move past the pain of dream-killing words? So much of what we live out comes from what we believe. The good news is that if we have believed something false, we can recognize the false idea for what it is, and choose to believe the truth instead and then act upon it. We do not have to be bound by the negative input of others. We can overcome it and move into expressing the gifts that we have been given. If you have something you like to do but have believed that you can’t succeed at it because someone has told you you aren’t talented in that area, I encourage you to think this through and challenge any false beliefs you may have developed. You may be pleasantly surprised to find yourself doing things you didn’t think you would ever be able to do! Another thing that can cause us to bury our gifts is busyness. Maybe you are working full-time or are raising children, or both. Maybe you feel you just don’t have time to pick up your guitar or write anymore. Of course, I don’t know your individual circumstances, but perhaps you can work things out that you could start rediscovering your gift for ten minutes a day. A little effort can develop into something more and you may soon be really glad you just made that decision to start. What gift are you carrying inside you? Are you using it? Is it undiscovered or buried? I hope you will unwrap it today!