unexpected gifts‘Tis the season for buying and receiving the hottest gifts of the season. There’s FitTrack, “the world’s smartest medical scale,” for adults to Baby Shark Fingerlings and Hatching Toothless Baby Dragon for kids. And everything in between. But what about the hottest unexpected gifts of 2019?

Not many of us add the unexpected gifts to our gift lists. Nope, these are gifts that arrive often unwrapped and when we least expect them, as no online tracking can keep up with these unsure-of-arrival-date packages. Last Christmas I read about these gifts in my The Greatest Gift book by author Ann Voskamp. Ann writes:

“We are not spared of all trials, but we are
always spared of trials that have no gifts.”

Gifts That Arrive in Tough Times

Trials always come with gifts? Gifts arriving in our tough times? Seriously?! Come on. That sounds like coals in our stockings. Nope. This past February 15, I wrote Ann’s quote in my journal one week after losing my sweet three-year-old collie, Ayrabelle. UGH. But along with scrawling Ann’s comment about trials + gifts, I recorded a number of unexpected gifts I had already opened since Bellie passed:

  • outpouring of support worldwide   More than 11,000 Facebook folks from Scotland to Nova Scotia—complete strangers—read about Bellie’s injuries and sepsis infection. Many of us still stay in touch.
  • tears    There is something mysteriously cathartic in our times of crying and being a hot mess. My tears tenderly connected me to loved ones and gifted me with empathy.
  • peace In spite of my searing loss, I truly experienced the words of Jesus in John 14:27“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”
No Need to Wrap These Gifts

As Christmas approaches, I wonder what trials and gifts from trials intertwined throughout your life this year. The gifts ARE there. Sometimes we just need to slow down and look closer.

Maybe your unexpected gifts through rough patches this year were laughter and a sense of appreciating all the blessings you do still have. Or, maybe you received the gift of compassion or a fresh zeal for making life really count. And let’s not forget the unexpected gift of time. Struggles invite us to cherish the time we share with others and the time generously offered to us with each new sunrise.

In the final flurry to choose the hottest gifts of the Christmas season, I suggest we do not pass over our unexpected gifts. There’s no need to wrap them or stand in long lines at the post office. These gifts reside in our heart and remain ever-ready to accompany us into 202o.

The gifts ARE there. Sometimes we just need to slow down and look closer. Happy looking and Merry Christmas!

P.S. I invite you to read my story of remarkable Taylor and the unexpected gifts of Christmas she gave me and she didn’t even know it.