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When you donít have anything to give, give what you have.

Walking out of my husband’s hospital room, I was more despondent than ever. Struggling to balance the infant carrier that held our three-month old baby and all the paraphernalia that goes with a new infant, I paused to shift everything into one hand so that I could grab my five year old son Ryan’s hand with the other. He was quiet. He had learned to be quiet so he could be around his dad, who had been ill for the past three years. Ryan had seen more suffering than many people see in a lifetime. But the past month with his dad in the hospital had been the worst.

As we walked past the nurses’ station, we caught sight of the brightly colored Christmas decorations. It was only a few days until Christmas, but it certainly didn’t seem like it. Memories of carefree holiday fun rolled through my mind. With my husband seriously ill, how could I help him or our four children experience Christmas? With no insurance, Steve’s medical bills and prescriptions left us with overwhelming financial problems. How could we celebrate when everything seemed hopeless?

The solution popped into my mind. Give gifts to a family in need.

Of course! Every year we bought presents for a family who didn’t have money for gifts. That tradition always put us in the Christmas spirit. That’s what we’d do this year too! We didn’t have any money, but I knew we could find things at home to give away. My excitement started to grow.

I remembered my girlfriend telling me about a young family living nearby who wouldn’t have anything for Christmas. That’s who we would surprise. When I told my two older kids, they were as excited as I was. We searched through the house for anything that would make a good gift.

I found a full bottle of perfume and a bracelet for the mom. Eric, my oldest son, found a car and a game for the boy. My daughter Chrissy came out of her room with stuffed animals, a doll, and a glittery purse for the girl. Ryan had some clothes that were like new and just the right size for the boy. Fortunately we had wrapping paper left over from the previous Christmas.

Our house was filled with giggles as we wrapped the packages together. The kids made cards to attach to each gift that said, “From: Guess who?” Eric found a big box for the gifts. Someone had brought to us a basket filled with fruit and nuts, so we added some of those to the box.

As I placed the baby into the car, the kids worked as a team to load the box of presents into the trunk. When we arrived at the apartment, we checked carefully to make sure no one was watching. The kids grabbed the box and quickly placed it in front of the door. Chrissy rang the doorbell; then they all ran as fast as their legs could carry them back into the get away car where I waited. As we sped away, we could see the door of the apartment starting to open.

We did it! No one had seen us. There was more laughter and joy in that car than there had been in a long time. The kids were breathlessly reporting how they almost got caught and wishing they could see the children’s faces when they opened the gifts.

Receiving from God

I reminded the kids that God wants us to give to those who have needs. It was our Christmas gift to God. We felt good to be able to share with someone else who was having a hard time.

Our smiles were still glowing when we arrived home. I stopped to check the mailbox and found six envelopes inside. Each one was addressed to an individual member of our family. I discovered a $100 gift certificate for clothes in mine. The kids found the same gift in their envelopes.

I was completely speechless. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband. We had tried to give something to God, but He gave us more in return!

We found that we can’t out give God.


Eva Juliuson writes from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The Surprise Gifts

by Eva Juliuson
  
From the December 2005 Signs