But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered
them in her heart. Luke 2:19
Christmas is a wonderful time of year and advent is a tradition in our family. We look forward to extra time together playing games, consuming comfort food and learning more about Jesus.
The anticipation of the season captivates in excitement as we dig deeper into God's word and cultivate a heart of gratitude.
A few days ago as I unwrapped ornaments and hung Christmas wreaths my mind was pulled back in time and I began to ponder memories of my daughters, younger and living in a time of firsts.
When, my youngest was four she was a delightful, sassy, dark haired, beauty who loved life and stood firm in what she believed was right.
I marveled at her ability to know her mind with such confidence. But sometimes this season of learning created unique challenges.
One particular "challenge" manifested the week following Christmas.
She had received multiple gifts from family and friends and her room was overflowing with toys. After the Christmas story was read and presents opened, the day was spent wrapped in pajamas, and cozy feet warmed by fuzzy socks. New movies were the entertainment as popcorn filled our belly and mindfulness protected the moments. We were showered in blessings.
The Sunday after Christmas, we went to church as usual.
And it was a surprise when my daughter's Sunday School teacher pulled me aside to ask why we didn't let anyone know we couldn't purchase gifts for the girls at Christmas (insert confused look).
She was concerned and wanted to quietly show love and understanding. While I appreciated her willingness to reach out, I was a bit perplexed at her comments.
Shocked I replied and reassured the teacher, my daughter had ACTUALLY received multiple gifts. She smirked, we chatted for a few minutes and I picked up the baton with a determined stance to find out why my lovely daughter would say, she didn't receive gifts at Christmas.
On the way home from church I started our usual conversation, asking general questions regarding class. My daughter began to recount the evening in detail especially the part where the teacher asked everyone about Christmas day.
She said, with frustration "I told them I didn't get anything". I then asked her why she would say such a thing. She responded by saying, "I did not get a horse to ride so I did not get anything". While this comment held a tiny truth it wasn't an honest assessment.
At this point I was dumbfounded and unsure of how to respond. I realized because she had not received exactly what she expected she skipped over gratefulness and decided she wasn't blessed with anything worth boasting about.
I knew this life lesson wouldn't be resolved in a single conversation or correction. It was a heart issue that needed time and growth. I gently spoke truth from God's word and moved on. In time she would learn. But for now my daughter was living life through the filter of "four year old mentality".
Enjoying the memory with a chuckle the Holy Spirit took a moment in time to search my heart. He picked up a few things and uprooted a reminder.
I must admit there have been times when I picked up the "four year old mentality".
With cloudy eyes I decide what life needs to look like instead of surrendering to God's plan. And because life does not turn out exactly as my mental map I allow satan to plant seeds of disappointment and ungratefulness.
While my daughter was four and did not know better, I do.
I have a choice.
We have a choice.
"Finding myself focusing on what I don't have instead of the unbelievable blessings, failure becomes the open door, mentally and spiritually."
God cannot cultivate a heart of gratefulness in a garden full of selfish entitled rocks. I must fix my thoughts on Him.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
"Growing in Christ requires surrender. When we fully trust him we throw off the "four year old mentality" and pick up the sincere milk of the word. Our life becomes an offering not a lock box."
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Don't allow your mind to be trapped in ungratefulness this season. Christmas is a perfect time to unwrap the wisdom of God. Ask Him what brings Him delight. Repent and walk in renewal.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
"Releasing human understanding opens the door to renewed focus and points us in the direction of His heart."
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17
Just as my daughter grew in the knowledge of
gratefulness through cultivating a heart of truth, so can we.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7
Dear God empower us with your Grace to live surrendered to your delight as we intentionally purpose to uproot selfishness and cultivate a heart of gratitude. Some trust in horses but we determine, to intentionally trust in the name of the Lord.
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