Thursday, December 13, 2012

Unexpected Blessings


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!


This post was submitted to:
Thank Crunchie It's Caturday! on A Cat-Like Curiosity


Thankful Thursday on There's Just One Mommy
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32 comments:

  1. Oh, Julie! I'm typing through tears here-- sobbing into my hands. This was just the most moving thing I have read in a long time.

    I can't tell you how glad I am that your Giving Tree angels came through for your family this year.

    The way you and your boys used what you had to give to others, just touched my heart.

    I can't thank you enough for writing this and sharing it with us. I feel blessed to have read it. --Lisa

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    1. You aren't the only one who cried! It took quite awhile to type out this post due to tears. God is so good and the way people showered blessings on us...Just unbelievable! Now I'm really glad I shared it because it touched your life, too. :)

      Hopefully next year I'll have a post that tells about how we got to be a part of something like this for someone else. That is my hope and prayer!

      Thank you for stopping by and for commenting, Lisa.

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  2. Julie-- I didn't know you had another blog (just saw your link pop up on Twitter). And what a special, touching story. I count you as a friend (even if we're virtual friends), and I am so glad that your Christmas will be bright this season! Your family is in my prayers.

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    1. I feel the same way about you, Jo! :) I consider you one of my blogger buddies.

      I think most people don't know I have 2 blogs, though I have links to the other on each blog. This one is more my personal blog, the other is more recipes and info. It works best for me to keep them separate. :)

      Thanks for the prayers, Jo. We (my family has heard about the woman who is engaged to the man in the Navy :) ) are praying for you, too. I can only imagine how hard the holidays are with a loved one overseas.

      Take care, and thanks for coming over and commenting!

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  3. This is absolutely amazing! That people can give so much to others is just the true spirit of Christmas.

    Thanks so much for linking this inspiring tale up today :)

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

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    1. You're welcome! :) I agree; they demonstrated some serious Christmas spirit for sure. :)

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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  4. {Melinda} I LOVE this! I am so, so happy for your family. I LOVE it when God does above what we ask and imagine. I think He just delights in blowing our expectations right out of the water. Julie, I hope He just keeps right on surprising you through the Christmas season and in 2013!

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    1. Thank you so much, Melinda! :) We have recieved some other unexpected blessings besides this, too (i.e. some unexpected small refunds, I won a giveaway just today), and I feel just beyond blessed right now! God is so good! :) My boys were even able to make and get gifts for other family members free of charge to them that they were having trouble getting gifts for which made their day. :) I'm telling you, it's a miracle Christmas for us, and I'm overwhelmed by God's goodness.

      Thank you for stopping by and for your sweet words!

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  5. How wonderful!! We don't have kids yet so instead of buying each other things myself, husband, best friend and my parents all adopt 2 kids off of the giving tree for Christmas ! We write up fictious stories about the families we adopt and read them Christmas morning instead of opening presents. I am so happy your family was blessed this year!!!!

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    1. That's so awesome! Thanks for sharing! Now you know a true story to tell. :) On behalf of the families you are a blessing to, may I say, "Thank you!" You will never know how much you've done has touched lives. You are a modern-day miracle worker. :)

      Have a great day, and thank you for stopping by!

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  6. I found this through Dose of Reality. Like them I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face. I love when God whispers in people's lives. When we think He hasn't heard or doesn't hear and He does. Merry Christmas to you all..

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    1. Thank you so much! I know exactly how you feel. I'm glad you stopped by and shared this. It reminds me all over again just how good God is. :)

      Merry Christmas!

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  7. Julie- I'm so happy you shared this! God is so good. What amazing parents you are- I love the giving hearts your children exemplify which is a true testiment to your parenting!!!! So glad you were blessed this Christmas since I know you and your family are blessings to others!!!

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    1. Thank you! I honestly am a bit overwhelmed by all the sweet comments. I am so glad that our lives can touch others this way! :) Makes me feel beyond blessed.

      You're a sweetie, Vanessa. Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a touching comment.

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  8. What a wonderful story that demonstrates the beauty of giving. May your family's holiday be merry and bright.

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    1. Thank you! I hope that next year, we get to be on the giving end to make this story happen for someone else! It is such a blessing to be able to give! :)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Merry Christmas! :)

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  9. Wow!! This is so wonderful - I'm so glad you were blessed this season!! :)

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    1. Thank you so much! It feels surreal, even with the presents piled under the tree. God is good! :)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  10. I found you through The Dose of Reality and am so touched to read your story. What an absolute testament to the power of prayers and what a wonderful Christmas miracle. I am so happy to hear that your family's Christmas will be that of joy instead of worry. Crying happy, warm and fuzzy tears for you.

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    1. Thank you! This comment makes me so glad I shared! :) That's exactly why I shared it; to share God's goodness.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing such a sweet comment!

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  11. Came over from The Dose of Reality. This is a truly touching story.
    God always answers the prayers of those most in need and deserving.
    Although I am not Christian, I love what you all do for each other during Christmas. I think it's beautiful. I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and for your sweet comment. I appreciate it! :)

      Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, too, Xae!

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  12. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL STORY!!!! Oh how I love it when God blesses those who are not only in need...but faithful. We sponsor families and also do the giving tree at our church, so this hits close to home as I now feel a new sense of purpose. ENJOY your BLESSINGS!!!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and for leaving such a sweet comment. I'm so glad I could give you a face to go with the name, as it were. Now you really know that what you do has an impact. Never underestimate the power of letting God use you. It will change your life...and someone else's, too! :) Thank you for giving to others. You are a blessing!

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  13. This is so amazing! I'm so glad you will have a Merry Christmas! Trusting in God is so hard to do sometimes, but you have just showed us that it is an important thing to do!

    Merry Christmas, Julie!

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    1. Thank you, Ginny! It is hard to trust Him sometimes, but I never regret when I do, even when it doesn't fit my logic at the time. :)

      Merry Christmas to you, too, Ginny!

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  14. This is so beautiful. Sometime in our future I hope we can give to an entire family that way. We tend to scatter our giving where and when we can, but this is so very beautiful. I'm so happy that you and yours will have an extra special and extremely blessed Christmas. ((hugs))

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    1. Thank you so much! I feel the same way you do; we'd love to shower a family with blessings like this! Maybe some day soon we can. :)

      Merry Christmas, and thank you for your kind words!

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  15. That's awesome! I know what that feels like too. In 2008 my husband lost his job, and we applied for a similar program through a Mothering mag message board. The folks at the Numb3rs TV show chose our family and we opened the door on Christmas Day to find giant boxes of way more than we expressed a need for too. It was amazing. And humbling.

    P.S. I have fibro too.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean about the humbling part. Leaves you in awe that people can give so much...and you feel so unworthy of it and blessed beyond words!

      I'm sorry to hear that you have Fibro. I will keep you in my prayers!

      Have a Merry Christmas, and thank you for stopping by!

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  16. This is just such a great Christmas story. It's everything Christmas is meant to be about, giving, the joy of giving and the unexpected surprise of receiving and answered prayers. Thanks for sharing your story and showing the world how wonderful it can be!

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    1. I'm glad I got to share this blessing with you all, too. It blessed my heart to do so, and blesses it even more to hear that it touched lives beyond that of my own. :)

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)

      Merry Christmas!

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