Grace for the Giver

There is something special about January and it isn’t just because it’s the new year. In January, Matt and I get to celebrate the births of 7 of our friends and family, including our own sweet Luke. On top of that are two anniversaries (including my parent’s anniversary – 36 years on the 20th!!),one late birthday present, and three baby gifts that I need to get in the mail. It is a very full month of celebrations and presents.

I have to be honest, my gift budget has been one of the areas that I have been the most concerned about in not using credit cards. It just takes a lot of creativity and planning to stay on budget. For those 7 birthdays I have a budget of $50…. yea, that’s how I feel too. It has felt impossible.

In December, I started looking ahead to the birthdays in January. The only way I could see a way through was to ask the Lord for His grace to help me. I have prayed and prayed about creative ways to give gifts, that the Lord would lead me to the right gift at a fantastic price, and that He would help my budget go further than I could even imagine.

So at my crazy black Friday Christmas shopping adventure, I also bought for Luke’s birthday. I got some wonderful gifts for him at incredibly low prices. All in all, I only spent about $30 on Luke’s birthday. But that money came out of kid’s birthday money and so is not a part of my $50 gift budget. . I bought my niece’s birthday gift at the same time for an incredible price, and got to send that home with Brad and Jess when they left, so no shipping charges (yea!). But that still left me with 5 presents.

I just want to tell you that I have seen God help me this month in the most amazing ways! He has reminded me of presents that I had hidden away from sales last year and helped me find amazing deals. But more than anything, having a limited budget has really made me put thought into the gifts that I am giving, rather than just spending more. A big, nice gift is wonderful, but many times the most meaningful gifts are the ones that say, “I know you. I know who you are and what you love, and I really thought about you in buying this gift.” Even if it doesn’t cost much, that kind of gift is such a blessing. It is the thing that everytime you use it or see it you will feel the love of your friend or family member.

My friends and family actually read this blog, so I can’t tell you exactly what I have bought for them (that would just steal the fun). But I can tell you that I have had so much joy in the giving. I haven’t had the stress that I expected to accompany my limited budget. It definitely takes a little more time and energy to give a thoughtful gift, but I also find myself giving more out of my heart as I give less out of my wallet.

So, the blessing is that I am on track to make my budget. I still have two more gifts to get, but I already know what I am going to give and still have money left to buy them. I am actually so amazed and thankful for the grace that God has given me in this process. It is amazing, but when you ask for grace and wisdom, He gives it.

Acts 20:35 quotes Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” But as I have experienced so far this month, it is not only more blessed to give, but it is also more fun to give when you are giving by the Holy Spirit. No matter what your budget, I challenge you to include the Holy Spirit in your gift giving this year. Then just do what He tells you. Don’t apologize for the cost, or the smallness, or the largeness of your gift. Give from your heart and ask God for the grace to cover the process.

So February is already coming and it is another big birthday month, but instead of dread, I feel excitement. God has shown me His grace so wonderfully this month, and His grace will be there next month. And when the budget is not enough, I will trust Him for provision.

As the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” When I feel the weakest is when I really turn to the Lord and seek Him and welcome His grace. God loves it when I surrender my independence and rely on Him and He just shows up and reveals His power in the middle of weakness. So for me gift-giving is a weakness, but it has really been because I have been trying to do it in independence (which always lands me over budget). As I have faced this impossible mountain, I surrendered my independence and I found His grace and His strength to move the impossible. So really, in my giving this month, I have been given the best gift of all: a greater surrender to my heavenly Father and seeing His amazing grace once again. Isn’t that just like God’s goodness?

God bless,