Months back, a letter came home from school talking about The Giving Tree that our local grocery store was doing. Basically, they wanted us to fill out information on our kids (i.e. ages, clothing sizes, favorite colors, needs, wants) and they would fill out paper ornaments with the names of those items to place on a tree located in their stores. People would then come in, pick off an ornament and buy presents accordingly, bringing them back to be packed up and delivered to the families who needed them.
Now, I have filled out these things before, but never had a response, and honestly, I had mixed feelings about doing it. I thought maybe it was a drawing or something, but as I prayed about what to do, I felt God leading me to fill out the paper (and I have learned never to question God's leading, no matter how odd it may seem at the time), so I filled out the slip of paper, sent it back to school with my eldest and forgot about it...Until the other day.
A few days ago, I got a call saying our stuff was ready for pick-up. At first, I was totally confused until she explained that it was The Giving Tree gifts, and then I understood. My heart was immediately melted and thankful to God for answering my recent prayers about being able to have something for the kiddos under the tree (It was looking kinda bleak in that regard, though we did have a few small things.). I mean, I had just been asking God for that extra blessing that very morning, and He provided it! I was overwhelmed with gratitude and I think I said, "Thank you!" like a million times. :)
Anyway, long story short, there was a little mix-up and they ended up bringing the presents to us instead of us going to them. They had warned me on the phone that it was a lot, but I really had no idea what that meant. Imagine my surprise when she came to my door bearing not 1 box, not 2 boxes, but 3 HUGE boxes (one of which contained paper products) PLUS 3 large bags of goodies! It took up half our living room (literally)! I was speechless and so grateful that she left me with addresses to the grocery store and the church that provided this blessing for us (We will be writing those thank yous soon!).
Here are some pictures to show you just the gift portion (we stayed up until nearly midnight wrapping them all AND had to prop up the tree with a crate so they would all fit):
Wild, right? Just blows my mind!
Now, let me tell you the most amazing part of everything.
This year, my kids knew Mommy and Daddy were tight on cash. They knew Christmas would be bleak present-wise. Hubby and I have been wondering about how we're going to purchase things like toilet paper and paper towels at times - Yes, it's been that interesting! - let alone presents. We were able to get presents for those on our list last weekend thanks to a gift card from my hubby's aunt and a check from my Granny (the gift card and the check are yearly things) for just those reasons. We even bought some much needed paper products, but knew they would only go so far. I knew in the back of my mind that God would provide like He always did, but I never dreamed of how that would happen.
My boys (ages 10 and 8), bless their hearts, knowing all this, though they had wants of their own, wanted to get gifts for others first. They had Store Night with NBB (our version of AWANA) last night, and all they could talk about (and this was way before they even knew about what was coming) was using their hard earned points on gifts for others. Made me so stinkin' proud of them! They weren't even considering themselves. They even took to saying things like, "I get to play Santa!" Too cute. :)
They've even been asking when we can go give our goodie bags out to our neighbors (something we decided years ago that, no matter the budget, we would do somehow even if that meant we did without a few things which was the case this year) because they loved giving them out and doing nice things for our neighbors! Yes, I feel like one blessed Mommy, that's for sure!
Anyway, my daughter is only 2, so when she saw the presents (she was home with a nasty cold with me when they were dropped off) she was beyond excited. It was so neat seeing her little eyes light-up and it's hard to keep her out of the goodies!
I hid all the presents in the bedroom before hubby and the boys got home, and hubby and I got them out after the boys went to bed. This morning, when the boys saw them, they were overwhelmed. They thought Dad had gotten a Christmas bonus and went nuts shopping. LOL :) I told them, "No, they aren't from us." They asked who they were from and I told them, "I honestly don't know." I told them about The Giving Tree and they thought that was the coolest thing ever and can't wait to write thank you notes to the store and church.
Backtrack a little bit, when my hubby and I looked through all the items, he couldn't stop saying, "Wow!" and I kept saying, "I know!" When I looked through and saw that the kids had gotten everything from toys on their wish list (toys I know I didn't even put on the list) to underwear and sock that they need (also not on the list), snow pants that my middle kid just that morning had told me needed to be replaced due to rips in the lining, plus paper products that we needed so desperately (again, something they told me when they dropped it off that the church just felt lead to add)...Well, I knew then that God touched the hearts of those who bought those presents. They could not have picked more perfect gifts if they tried!
After we got it all gift wrapped, my husband and I talked about how amazing God is and His timing. We also talked about how next year we really want to be on the giving end of this blessing. We're praying that God will make it so.
I know Christmas is not about getting. In fact, we always work very hard to make it as much about giving as we reasonably can. This is the first year that the boys have really been on board about this without prompting and maybe even more eager to give than we are. I think that lack of selfishness is the reason God answered our prayers in this way this year. I don't expect this to happen every year, in fact we probably won't sign up to be part of The Giving Tree next year unless it's to get presents for others, but I know that this year, this event made an impact (we had something similar happen a few years ago, too, but this year it hit home with them more than last time).
This year my boys learned that nothing is impossible with God. They have learned that God takes care of His Own, that He not only gives us our needs but sometimes our wants, and He uses sources we'd never expect! They learned that you cannot out-give God. They learned that God answers prayer. They learned that they want to make miracles like this happen for others; they want to be answers to prayer, too.
To all of you out there that participate in things like this, who buy presents for others you probably don't even know: Thank you. You will never know what a blessing you are! It may not seem like much, but you are answering someone's prayers. You are being used of God. Thank you for letting Him use you.
A special thank you to The Dose of Reality for sharing this story.
Your email asking to share it along with your touching post about it blessed my heart beyond words. You gals are the best!
May the Lord bless you richly for your kindness!
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