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What Are You Giving?

"Please, Mommy. One more story." Bright brown eyes pleaded with me as my six year old pushed another Christmas book into my hand.

I bit back the automatic "no" that begged for release. After a typical day of teaching, mothering, and managing the activities of a noisy, busy household, I wanted to curl up on the couch with my newest biography. I hungered for silence and stillness--food for my creative mind.

"Just one more." My four year old added her big blue eyes to the drama.

My mind shouted that I'd given all day. I'd already sacrificed enough. From the piles of laundry I'd folded to the never-ending task of breaking up squabbles and training my children's character. I had even planned a treasure hunt for our special Advent activity and cooked red and green food for every meal--including green scrambled eggs.

My body ached and my eyes smarted from exhaustion. It would be so easy to say no, to tuck my littlest ones into their beds and have an hour of quietness before the older kids arrived home from art class and basketball practice.

I longed to glance away, to ignore the upturned faces waiting for my decision. But my heart compelled me to look at each of them, into their eyes and to see the desire glowing there--the desire to spend just a few more precious minutes with their busy mom.

I took a deep breath and settled myself back against the bed. They smiled and snuggled against me.

"Would you sing it, Mommy?" my six year old asked.

Only then did I realize which book he'd slipped into my hands. I stifled another weary sigh. "Isn't there another book we could read?"

"No. I like this one."

I stared at it for a moment, then opened it. "Okay, sweetie." I whispered a prayer and began singing. "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. . ."

By the last page, with the twelve drummers drumming and eleven pipers piping, we were laughing at our bumbling efforts. And when I gazed at the delight upon their faces, I knew I'd given my true loves a gift that night. . .

The gift of me and my time.

Amidst the craziness of writing and every day life, especially during the Christmas season, it's easy to forget to give the gifts that really matter the most.

What are you giving the true loves of your life?

49 comments:

  1. I read somewhere that children spell love like this:
    T-I-M-E

    There is nothing better than ourselves to give others. You sound like a wonderful Mom :)

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  2. Jody, you are a blessing! The gift that keeps on giving really is my time and attention. Tabitha spelled love masterfully- I'm going to have to borrow that!

    I've taken a brief hiatus from writing this month to focus on family. This has been a busy writing year for me and I want them to know I appreciate the sacrifices they have made for me to pursue my dream.

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  3. Eeek. I'm good at hugs and kisses, not so much with sit-down time. Thank you for the reminder!

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  4. I could picture that. How beautiful. I'm trying to give my loved ones time as well. It helps to have my rough draft finished. I'm looking forward to a short break. :)

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  5. giving more time when they are young seems to decrease the amount of time (and angst) we have to spend when they are teenagers....

    thinking you made a very wise investment of your time and energy

    enjoy every moment this Christmas season

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  6. Oh, the guilt is piling on me today!

    My youngest LOVES LOVES bedtime stories, and I like them too but...

    She likes to count. EVERYTHING. So when we read, she has to count everything on the book. Are there birds on the page? Yep, she counts every single one. If there's more than one of anything, she's counting them. Makes for one VERY tired momma (even though I know it IS cute) and one very long bedtime ritual.

    I limit counting now, because we BOTH need our sleep, but there are still too many nights that I beg out of story time, and shame on me for that!

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  7. It's amazing how rushed we are this time of year (or every time of year in some cases), but our kiddos crave our time, don't they? I'm hoping to give my little loved ones and my grown-up loved ones more time over the next two weeks.

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  8. What a lovely scene! Made me smile remembering my time with my girlies now all grown up (almost all grown up (-; )Enjoy your time with your children.

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  9. And I bet you found a gift in there somewhere, too. :)

    Merry Christmas, Jody! May you and yours be blessed.

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  10. I think the greatest gift we can give is kindness. Smile at a stranger. Hold open the door for someone. Hold that elevator door as you hear someone running toward it. Say 'thanks'. Or, when in the drive thru at Starbucks, buy the person in line behind you their coffee . . . not just at this time of year, but all the time.

    As crazy as things are in this life, as chaotic as things get, the simple gift of kindness - free, no tax, no cost, no nothing - is sometimes the best gift of all.

    S

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  11. Great post, Jody! I needed the reminder!

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  12. I like "eyes smarted from exhaustion." We put on a skit with that song the other night. My kids cracked me up dancing to the lyrics. It opened up an opportunity for me to share what they represent.

    Jody, the pull is great. I love that God is a constant guide.

    Beautiful post.
    ~ Wendy

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  13. Beautiful words and thoughts, Jody. My exhaustion has been at its peak for several weeks now, but whenever I ignore myself for a few minutes to snuggle with my son, it's always worth it. And like my husband says, I only have a few more years before my son won't want to snuggle with his mommy.

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  14. I admire you, Jody. And the Lord gave you a great big kiss for saying NO to your desire to say "No," didn't He? He's sweet like that.

    I love it that one of your girls has cocoa eyes; the other azure.

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  15. We were sure to plan our holiday season so that much of the chores and running around part of it were finished early in the season. It was worth the effort as now, this beautiful week, our days together are leisurely, our togetherness genuine. So like you, that special gift of time is ours this week.

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  16. The time spent with our loved ones even when we are too pooped to prop our heads up is well worth it.

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  17. You are so right, it's what we all want from those we love. Don't really want to sing the absolute worst Christmas song ever written, but love those moments. My kids are too old for us to read together, but I try to read the books they're reading and then listen, really listen, when they tell me what they liked about it.

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  18. Jody, somebody said it above but it needs repeating. "You're a great Mom!"

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  19. Just wanted to say this post is an excellent example of "show, don't tell." So glad you listened to your heart and your little ones. These moments go by so fast, Jody.
    Karen

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  20. Oh, I love this. Yes, I do.

    Today, I posted on Apple Pie about making a special set of cookies for my family -- for the exact same reasons.

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  21. I am giving my family smiles and a lot of cookies...

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  22. You're so right! I'm giving my time this year. It's making all the difference.

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  23. Great post and a reminder that your time and attention is one of the best gifts you can give your children.

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  24. Thanks for the reminder Jodi. Time is the main thing we are giving. Traveling thousands of miles to visit relatives. It is so great to connect with family in person.

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  25. I read a story about a mom battling a terminal illness. This woman and her husband decided to take their kids to a large theme park for one last hurrah.

    Later, after the mom had passed away, the dad asked one of his children what his favorite time spent with mom was, fully expecting a theme park type answer.

    To his amazement, the boy answered, "When mommy and I ate a bowl of Cheerios together."

    Your kids will long remember your story times together. Enjoy them, Jody, because story time will evaporate before you know it. (Luckily, then grandchildren come along...)

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  26. Yes, this is true. Mostly my children just want me, my time and my attention. You think I should walk around with a big bow Christmas morning? ;)

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  27. That's so beautiful, Jody. Those opportunities are going to be fewer and farther between as your kids grow older and less cuddly.

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  28. I am a serial peeker. I shake, I grope, I even very minutely cut a whole in a present's wrappings to see what was inside.

    This year I'm not.

    And boy is it just waiting for me to! The bag isn't thick enough and I can see *gasp* LETTERS through it. If I just press on it, I could see the entire thing. But I, er, won't, yanno.

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  29. You are so right, Jody, and I could offer up very similar stories of my own. We need to see Jesus in our midst. You saw Him in the eyes of your children. Someday, you'll be asked if you recognized Him there, and indeed, you can say that you did. We can't always respond perfectly, but occasionally, we do get it right! :)

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  30. This was beautiful. Blessing to you and your children this Christmas.

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  31. So sweet, and so true. Your children are blessed.

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  32. Time for my family is what's limiting my time in blogland. It is such a precious gift!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Jody!

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  33. Whenever my 20-month-old asks for one more "gook", we end up reading a few.

    Like everyone else, I wish we had more time. Time for us, and time for them, whoever "them" may be.
    :)

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  34. I'm giving my true love a baby ... I think he appreciates that ;)

    Good thoughts though ... I hope I never lose sight of the giving aspect of Christmas and the special moments to cherish.

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  35. What a sweet story. I'm so glad you agreed to read one more. I could feel the love and happiness coming through my computer screen. :)
    Karen’s Blog

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  36. That is such a sweet story! I wish my children didn't have to coax me into sharing my time with them sometimes. It's so easy to get focused on things that don't really matter and forget the things that matter most.

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  37. We're human. Sometimes we need reminders or a little coaxing. Sometimes we have to seize opportunity. Just this evening, I was singing this song to my two youngest, while we played dodge ball indoors since we couldn't make it to my oldest's basketball game. I might not have done it, but it felt like a great way to have fun after a long day. I'm glad we did (even if I had to get help with the 11th and 12th days).

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  38. My kids learned quickly that there's always just enough energy for one more book, especially if it's one of Mom's favorites. What a blessing. We'll sleep in our old age...

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  39. Hi Jody -

    Little ones don't stay little for very long. Enjoy them while you can.

    When you're old and ask them to stop by for a few minutes, they'll be there for you.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  40. One thing I'm giving is a card telling them truly, in writing, hoe much I love them all. I feel like I never can say it quite enough ;-)

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  41. Time. Food.

    I got an unexpected royalty check in the mail, so I could also give some money to two of my favorite charities -- New York Horse Rescue and the National Marine Life Center (the latter needs to raise about $200,000 by mid-January for their new building for sea rescues like turtles, dolphins, whales, etc.)

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  42. Awww... What a wonderful story. Makes me anxious for my baby to born so I can read to her.

    And it sounds like you got a special gift in return. The love and adoration of your children.

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  43. Thanks so much for your blog, Jody! Merry, Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

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  44. I'm so glad you gave your children one more story. I remember when my kids wanted the "find Goldbug" book and I didn't think I could stant it one more time. But I did and now they remember it with love. Have a Merry Christmas.

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  45. It's ironic I should read this post today. Just last night my husband expressed the need to have more time (quality time) with me right now. With all the holiday hubbub and kids and church programs...my sweet hubby has been feeling left out and a little lonely. I plan to spoil him a little during the remainder of the holiday break! :)

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  46. There is no greater gift than time given with a loving heart and full attention. I love this story.

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  47. That truly is the best gift you could give those little ones. I often feel the 'no' urge as well.

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  48. There is nothing better than ourselves to give others. You sound like a wonderful Mom

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