Gratefulness is more than thank you. It is more than a hug or a note in the mail. Gratefulness is more than seeing the gifts in everything.
Last month our fifth child celebrated her 15th birthday. We celebrate big when 16 rolls around.
And so, I was a little surprised when she approached me with a birthday plan and ideas. She asked me if I had any extra jobs for her to earn some spending money. For her birthday.
Of course, we always have extra jobs that need finished around here. I gladly made a list for her to complete, happy for her and happy for me. Extra housework completed. Her gain and mine.
After days of working on this list, she approached me again asking me if I would take her to the grocery store. The next time I was in town, she went with me. At the checkout, she went to her own register with her basket, and I never did see what was in her bag, bought with her own money. Earned.
The next day I returned home from piano lessons to a kitchen full of baked goodness. Cookies in all shapes and form, muffins and decorative bags and tissue paper were popping out from everywhere.
“Mom, I want to visit the ICU waiting room for my birthday. Not to visit the patients, but to give the families in the waiting room food to hold them over while they wait. The long wait all families that experience the ICU go through.”
We have never had to endure the ICU in our life. Thankfully. Gratefully. But our dear daughter had the families that go through trials on her heart and she wanted to bless them for her own birthday. And all of the chores, earning money and baking was for them. For her birthday. No return.
The day arrived. She was fifteen. I came downstairs that morning to a big box filled to the brim with overflowing bags of bakes goods, decorated with hand-stamped tags with verses and notes of encouragement from the Word.
The drive there was silent. This is not normal for my girl. She is my heart stamp. I read her. She reads me. So in the unspoken, I knew. She was nervous. I was wondering how this would go. How it would be received.
Part of raising daughters is allowing God to grow the gifts He has given them.
We take the elevator in the hospital to the 2nd floor, joking about not touching the buttons in fear of germs. We exit to the face of an ICU family member. Exactly what my sweet girl needed to propel her into the waiting room.
But the Family Waiting Room was empty, and I was afraid she would lose her resolve to give.
I helped her find the ICU Director and allowed this gracious woman to discover the heart that hid quietly behind the good works. I stepped back behind my daughter to wait for her exchange with the ICU Unit Director.
When she was asked WHY she was doing this for the ICU families, it was her response that held a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, burning with conviction.
The timidity was gone and she sweetly and boldly shared, “I know God would want me to do this. He gave me this idea and for my birthday I wanted to give rather than receive. The family’s that wait here need hope in something other than waiting.”
And so, the gifts this daughter was born with, that I see in her everyday, and I watch and wait to see them bloom, were given without expecting a return.
All in the Name of Jesus. Giving And Grateful.
Ten days after this gift from the heart, my brother almost died, and we sat in the ICU unit waiting room for two weeks. And this daughter slept in the chairs with me all through the night, and we smiled at one another through sleepy eyes and whispered words about how God is so big to know that this is where we would be.
And the gratefulness my daughter felt for those that rallied around us? That gratefulness began with her gifts.
Gifts from the heart.
All year around. Gratefulness in the giving.