Surprised by Joy!

Lately, I have been moved to tears by every little sentimental thing. I haven’t even been watching Hallmark movies.  This morning I read about the “Layaway Angels” who paid off people’s lay away accounts, it touched my heart.  It reminded me of my childhood Christmas when we were “surprised by joy”!

That particular winter, my dad had the worst of luck.  His hours were cut at his job, our car collapsed needing major repairs and to top it off my father chopped his finger off at work.

Christmas was drawing near and there wasn’t a single present under the tree. Even though we were young we knew the harsh reality: this Christmas there would be no gifts.  It was hard to not to want a doll when we knew God was already providing a miracle: a roof over our head and bread on the table.  In spite of our situation, we did what kids do best, we wished for the impossible.  In the previous years, we always got at least one little thing.  Christmas Eve arrived and reality set in NO gifts, not even one. Now that I am a parent, I can’t imagine how heart wrenching this was for my parents to not be able to give us a little something.

We had our little celebration and went to bed early, usually we stayed up until midnight and then opened up our gifts, but not this year. Shortly, after going down we hear the doorbell ring.  It was Santa! No joke!  Mexican Santa, was standing at our door bearing gifts for ME and my brothers!  He was tall, thin and with a tan but hey there was no judgement coming from us. My uncle had dressed up like Santa and brought each of us a little something. We didn’t care what it was, how big or how small it was, we were just excited to be holding a gift.  This is one of the many ways the Lord has provided for me in my 36 years of life! I am loved!

Do you have a “Surprised by Joy” Christmas Story whether you were the giver or on the receiving end?

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9 Responses to “Surprised by Joy!”

  1. Carolyn Wilson
    December 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    On the receiving end this year! God has graciously restored relationships in my life this year! I know He did it, because I wasn’t involved at all! And since I’m a control freak, that’s saying alot! Thank you, Lord, for your provision through out the year!

  2. December 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Oh Carolyn, the gift of restored relationships is absolutely, positively priceless! I am so glad you were on the receiving end this year!!! This totally made my night, to read how the Lord is blessing others!!!

  3. Andra
    December 26, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    I have a childhood story too…forever changed my life.
    I come from a family of 4. Mom, Dad, Me and my brother.
    Around 1988 (can’t remember the exact year) we had a needy family living with us…a 2 sisters, and their 6 kids. We took them in, because they needed a place to live and it was Winter and my sweet Mother just couldn’t stand them being homeless. We wanted to see them get back on their feet and help them achieve independence with jobs and housing etc. My brother and I were old enough at the time to realize what this would mean for us at Christmas time…little to no gifts, since we had 6 extra kids to get gifts for! As Christmas neared, there were no gifts (like there usually are) under the tree. We wondered if Santa would come to our house this year, with all the extra kids around. I recall having quite the temper tantrum (in my heart) over the thought of not getting all the things on my list. God was working. I’m not sure when the change happened in my heart, but that Christmas I realized that is was really not all about what I wanted for Christmas…but about Jesus, the ultimate gift. I began to realize that my heart was selfish and that it needed to change. There were 6 kids in my home who had very little, and they didn’t even know Jesus. I remember my parents reading the Christmas story with them on Christmas eve. I also recall Santa finding his way to our home—that Christmas morning our tree was full of at least 1-2 gifts for everyone. I think other folks from my church must have chipped in and bought things for the kids. I also remember not even wanting to open my own gifts that year—as I watched 6 little kids enjoy opening theirs. It was perhaps this first time, i’d ever found joy in giving. I’m so glad I was able to learn this at a young age. Funny thing is, I still have to be reminded of this lesson from time to time. Its not about me. I’m blessed with what I have. I need nothing more than Jesus Christ…the ultimate gift. Oh- and giving feels sooooo good.

    • December 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

      Andra, it brought tears to my eyes to read your story. So awesome of your family to do this and so sweet of the Lord to bring ALL of you presents that Christmas. Thanks so much for sharing. I love hearing from my readers esp. when it awesome stuff like this! Yes, giving does feel so good!

    • December 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

      Andra, such a sweet true story! What a wonderful way the Lord was able to teach you. And, what a great bit of truth from your past to share with your little ones!

  4. December 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Two years ago, we stepped out into faith. We thought “We will trust in the Lord, we know He will provide.” We were accustomed to living with no-frills, so we thought this would be “easy.” Our faith was certainly challenged, but the Lord proved Himself over and over again!

    A week before Christmas, we had zero dollars in the bank. Someone gave my husband a brethren handshake with two 20 dollar bills. I figured out that I could put $10 in the gas tank, $18 toward food, and $12 for Christmas gifts (for our 4 children).

    After spending 2 hours in the store trying to balance it all out, counting my $12 over and over again, it happened.

    Today, I found a facebook status from a day where God really blessed us, a week before Christmas.

    ***”I’m crying in awe at the blessings we’ve received from God! For the THIRD time in 6 weeks, someone paid my bill at a store. Today, a couple took the items I had, told my girls to pick out a piece of jewelry, and paid for them!!! THEN, the wife said “And, we want to sow into your ministry for the kingdom of God!” I didn’t know what to do so I stood there and cried! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!***

    From that store, I went to the grocery store, now I had $30 I could put toward food till the 1st of the year. While there, I found an additional $10 in the van, making it $40 (that paid the $10 in gas off!).

    After shopping, I strapped the children in the van, put the groceries away, and as I turned to put up the cart, a woman wearing a brown coat stood near. She handed me – 2 twenty dollar bills and said “This is a little gift from God.”

    Every time I think of that day, I cry, remembering the blessings we received from the Lord. We gave those same 2 twenty dollar bills to another full time worker, praying that the Lord would multiply it for them. *Pay it forward!*

  5. December 26, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    Michelle, wow! That is so awesome how He provided for you and your family and continously put people in your path that day. I esp. love the lady who handed you $2 and specifically said “This is a little gift from God”. He is cool like that! Thanks so much for sharing His provision!

  6. December 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Such a sweet story! So glad you shared it at Shine On Fridays. It’s wonderful how God provides and uses other people to bring us joy, isn’t it?!

    • December 29, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

      Amy,
      Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I am always amazed by the people who God uses to bless me/us.

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