Scott and I had a really good plan for Christmas gifts this year – simple, easy… No sweat kind of gifts for EVERYONE we love! Yes, the kind of one-stop shopping that happens at the teller window of the bank, the gift card counter at favorite restaurants and the bulk card counter at the Hallmark store. Apparently, God had something else in mind.
Have you ever noticed when you get off doing your own thing, God will often allow you to get pretty far down that road before you realize He is telling you to turn back. I wonder if that looks a bit like me calling after our barking dog chasing squirrels in the backyard? Hmmm. I need to spend some time on that I think.
So, on Monday, last week as I prayed for our kids I began to see pictures – I don’t know how else to explain it, but I just could see these pictures. First for Taylor, who has been after me to paint her a bird since I resurrected my art skills last year. I explained to her back then that painting for me lately has been less about human delight and more about the pictures I see when I pray. I told her I’d ask God about her bird and paint it when He showed it to me. Well, it just happened to be last Monday, December 20, 2011. IMAGINE.
I hauled out the paint box, my portable easel, the brushes and my canvases and started the work of creating the visions in my head. For Taylor, I saw the Bird and got the Scripture from Corinthians “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” I no kidding painted until about 11:30 pm and managed to finish Taylor’s picture and half of the picture I received for Travis that night.
Travis’ picture happens to be a favorite… 🙂 His is the hand of Christ upon the cross with a fresh wound where the nail held his wrist to the board. The wound and blood in the picture are evident, and the blood has pooled in the palm of the hand to spell Travis’ name. The message is “Your name is written in the palm of His hand.”
Then beautiful Megan and Psalm 45:11 which says, “The King is enthralled with your beauty.” I painted a mirror with a golden ornamental frame – the kind you would find in a royal palace. I love the way it turned out.
Taylor’s fella’, Daniel, is the worship pastor at the small Baptist church they attend in Keller. For him I saw a set of musical notes with Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace and goodwill to all men. In the top of the notes I saw – Worship in Spirit and truth. The painting reflected to me that Worship is who Daniel is, not just what he does. It was such a beautiful statement.
Brittany’s beau, Michael, also got an interesting picture – at first I thought it was a telescope – but when I drew it out – it looked, well… WEIRD. I didn’t like it so I put it away. Then on Christmas Eve morning I asked Scott – “Do we have a pair of binoculars?”
He brought out Justin’s old set of binoculars, and I used them to “model” the picture that was taking shape in my mind. The Scripture that came with it was “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) What God shared with me as I was painting was that He wanted Michael – the excellent photographer that took our family pics in September – to stop seeing so much with his natural eyes, and instead see through his “God Goggles” from God’s perspective what is happening in his life and the world around him. I explained, sometimes when we are using our natural eyes to see – we strain hard to see things off in the distance, but I had the sense God wanted to make it easier for Michael to see. He who has eyes to see let him see…
Then, on Christmas Eve after all the festivities at my In-Loves house (Scott’s parents) I returned home to finish Brittany’s painting – I had known hers would be about her unique value and the Scripture in my head all week rang with Isaiah 43 and how precious and loved she is. My Brittany has bought me several pearl pieces of jewelry for gifts. They are my birthstone, but she just thinks I deserve them. I had intended on painting her a diamond, but found myself reluctant to paint that picture in the end. As we picked up and put things away when we arrived home on Friday night I began to see a huge pearl in a muscle shell sitting in the sand with the tide coming in around it. A pearl of great price. My Brittany’s picture was all about how sometimes an irritation can be covered by the grace of God in such a way that it becomes something of great value and beauty in our lives. She has had a rough 18 months and is still working her way out of it… She came home from an exhausting evening at James Avery in Southlake, (And I DO MEAN EXHAUSTING), on Thursday and put her head on my shoulder and cried. She said, “I’m just so tired.” She sat there for a few minutes hugging onto me tight… on the thresh hold of coming down with a cold and scheduled to work all day on Friday as well. The message of her painting was a beautiful way to tell her how special and wonderful she is and how God will redeem the hardships in her life in a meaningful way.
The painting plan included a special letter of blessing for each child. But, with all the craziness in my Christmas gift ideas changing by the minutes I ran short on time and pen to get them all done. 🙂 But, my hubs totally came through – He wrote out a prayer of blessings from Numbers 6 for each of our kids. He even signed the ones to my girls, “Love, Dad.” Which took each of them by surprise, and brought a sweet moment of recognition to each of their hearts about the place they hold in his life. He cannot replace their dad, but each of them consider him to be more of a father to them than their own dad. I’m still going to write that letter.
The last item on the Christmas list this year was a “heart gift.” A heart gift is a picture of what I would give you for Christmas if money were no object… And, so my husband, my girls and Scott’s two children as well as our girls’ boyfriends got pictures of lavish gifts in gift card holders with a note that said, “These are the presents in my heart for you.” The response was delightful. Everyone received them well, Megan was heard to exclaim: “A Mac Book Air!” And she lit up like our Christmas tree.
Brittany was also excited, but a little bit confused by the whole shift from what she knew we were planning. I told her I knew the change was probably a little disappointing since she may have been looking forward to the money. Taylor exclaimed, much like Megan, “OOOOHHH… A Mac Book Air!”
Michael got very excited after he realized what the heart gift was all about. He said, “It wouldn’t work well in all settings.” You know a homeless guy who is cold might not quite understand if you gave him a picture of a blanket. But, all in all, they thought it very cool. I think Michael appreciated it because he has a particular problem with the commercial aspects of Christmas. So, the things reflected in our Christmas this year seemed particularly meaningful to him this year.
I’ve still got three letters to write, because on Friday morning God politely interrupted the remainder of my plans to give the kids the money gift with their paintings with another idea. Photo albums full of pictures from our family pic photo shoot, and then I discovered the sweet plaques for the wall that spoke about the season of life each of our kids are finding themselves in. So I printed out what felt like a bizillion pictures while sending Scott on a number of trips to Staples for needed ink as I bled through the cartidges like the were a broken water pipe.
On Christmas Day we spent the afternoon with my girls, my parents and my brother’s family and in-loves. We had delicious food, played with the babies – exchanged delightful gifts and returned home exhausted. Brittany and Michael left a half hour or so after we arrived back home, but before they left – she leaned down and hugged me really tight. “This was a really good Christmas, Momma.” Or something like that… 🙂
Oh, and Scott and I deviated from our norm as well… We don’t normally exchange gifts. I usually get him small items he needs, and accept that my hubs doesn’t typically plan for buying gifts on any occasion. We went shopping for each other together – on a date of sorts Thursday night. I got the beautiful coat I’d been eyeing at Lane Bryant complete with scarf and gloves. I will be sad when the weather gets too warm to wear it out later this week. I love it. He, on the other hand, got a bowling ball called, “The Black Widow Nasty” which is supposed to have a wicked hook to it. He actually got to try it out after they drilled it up on Thursday and bowled seven strikes in a row… 🙂 LOVE IT! He bowls regularly in a league on Monday nights and a number of years ago when he bowled a mixed league with my mom he bowled a near perfect game with the front ten strikes and a 284.I also got him a remote control helicopter… which hit my tree a few times in the living room on Christmas day.
It was sweet to enjoy these gifts with my man this year. We saw two movies over the weekend and are enjoying Taco Soup in a mostly clean house – after the “Aftermath” of our Christmas weekend. As we approach New Year’s Eve this week I look back on this year and find myself thinking how blessed we truly are and what a wonderful year we’ve shared along the way. No small part of that for me is all of you hear at Deep Breath. Blessings to all in 2011.