Christmas Timing

Trading a Surprise for Hope
I’ve written previously (here, here, and here) about our dear friend Elizabeth, her sweet young son John, and the struggles they face as they reestablish themselves in a distant state.

As Christmas approached, Rich and I discussed our gifts to them. We decided to send a few small items for Elizabeth and a gift card that she could use to select something that John would enjoy–hopefully with enough left over to acquire something to make their new apartment more comfortable.

Our rationale was that seven-year-old boys can be quite mercurial about their greatest desire at Christmas: if we sent money, she could choose a gift that would fulfill a last-minute wish of his heart. We also would spend less of our budget on shipping, leaving more money for stuff, if we took this route.

I packed Elizabeth’s gifts and the card and sent them off via Fedex.

Later that day, it came upon me: “Tell her!”

I thought back to my own days as a single mom and consulted with Rich. “Let’s tell her the money is coming,” I said to him. “That way she can plan her budget knowing she’ll have this extra cash before Christmas.” Rich agreed, so I sent her a text message to advise her of the gift card and its value. She responded in minutes: “Thanx!”

Later that day I received a longer message from her. “Your msg came at the exact moment my manager was telling me that she could only give me 19 hours of work next week.”

I’m glad I listened to that still, small voice. It transformed our modest gift, intended only to provide a few trinkets for Christmas, into hope for another week.

Give me understanding and I
will obey Your instructions;
I will put them into practice
with all my heart.
Make me walk along the path
of Your commands,
for that is where my
happiness is found.
Psalm 119:34-35 (NLT)