Painting on the wall

We knew it was going to be a different kind of Christmas when my mom announced that this year we couldn't afford anything. We hadn't purchased a tree or any gifts to go under it. Paint and a white door would have to do. Mom told us that we couldn't even pay our bills let alone try to do what most Americans deem the norm for Christmas.

We lived in a single wide trailer out in the middle of nowhere. The walls were terribly thin and cold air flowed into our small house quicker than the fireplace could heat it.  My younger sister, older brother, my mom, her husband and me, lived in this shell of a home.  We had two tiny bedrooms and little hope. We were surviving and at that time, Jesus' birth seemed of little consolation to this seventh grade girl.

Mom sat my sister and I down with lots of different colored paint and a fresh canvas on the white interior side of the front door. Mom painted the Christmas tree. With every stroke of the paint brush, the door was quickly turning into a beautiful piece of art.

She was desperate to make Christmas special even in the midst of our poverty. My sister and I anxiously waited for the tree to dry so we could start to paint ornaments onto the bare tree. Red, Blue and yellow balls never looked so beautiful.

We had a Christmas tree now.

Some may frown upon our version of a tree, but it was beautiful. I went to bed that night, cold from the temperature but my heart was warm from my moms love.

I slept good that night. The next morning I woke up and went out to find my mom had painted a few presents under the tree. I was giddy with excitement because she stayed up to paint a gift under our tree. Over the next couple of weeks the painted tree was the focal point in our home. We had fun creating beauty out of sadness. My mom took pride in showing her kids a Christmas with or without money.

Christmas morning came and we eagerly awoke knowing that presents we would not find. Instead, wrapped and perched at the top of the couch were three "real" gifts.

"Mom, I thought we weren't going to have gifts," I said with excitement.

With tears flowing down her cheeks my mom replied, "I had some extra food stamps so this is the best I could do."

 She made us sit like any other Christmas and watched us one by one open our presents.
My brother went first. He opened a huge jar of peperoncini's.
My sister Brandi was next. She opened her favorite thing, Maraschino cherries.
It was my turn. I remember feeling excited because my mom had picked out the perfect gifts.  She purchased the best she could offer with the little resources she had. I ripped the paper away and inside was a jar of Italian mix Giardiniera. It was a delicious pickled vegetable mix with a kick of spice.

I loved it!

Every year as I watch my own kids open their gifts, I can't help but think how even in the poverty I faced as a child,  God still had his best to offer me.

Sometimes we think that God isn't offering us what He is capable of providing for His children. The reality is God has already given the perfect gift. The painted gifts under our tree provided me with a reminder for life that God alone provides all our needs. My moms best was painted on the door and wrapped into three small gifts.

Often we get so caught up in our circumstances that we forget about the gift. If we all received exactly what we deserved we would receive death. Instead God has given his free gift of eternal life. 

Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

We can't buy it!

When we surrender our will to the will of God's, he gives us our life back to use for His purposes.

New gifts, toys, and things that we have never used before require an owners manual. You must read it and read it again when you forget in order to operate the thing properly.

We are no different. Once you have given your life over to Jesus don't expect to know how to operate in the fullness He has for you without consulting the owners manual. The bible. He created you and knows how you operate and you are a unique model.

It is always easy to slip back and except the familiar, the road usually traveled. The person who is willing to consult the owners manual, is the person that will have life to the fullest.

My mom offered us the best she could without trying to pretend she had anything else. That is exactly what God wants from you.

Offer Him your best! How ever little you may feel your best is, He will use it for purposes bigger than what we could have dreamt possible. He will paint a beautiful canvas, and on that canvas He will surprise you with new gifts each day. 

Lamentations 3:23 declares, "Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning."

Today I encourage you to offer God your best so that He in turn can use your life for His best. 

Lord, I am thankful for your constant gift of salvation in my life. Thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. Help me Lord to see you in ALLsituations. Open my eyes to the things around me. You are the perfect gift! Thank you for sending your son. -Amen

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