The greatest gift.

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The greatest gift to be a mum,
(though often set with thorns.)
The gift of bringing tiny life
That later earth adorns.
Just like the acorn, watch them grow,
We know not what they’ll be
But all our love we freely pour
And later set them free.
We have to trust they’ll stay in touch,
They’ll take the time to love.
To care for us when we grow old
And tell us with a hug.

A true Christmas tale.

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It’s a long story how we came to be in the old farmhouse in Ireland realizing our dream. We, little nobodies, had helped stage a Christian camp for youngsters. They’d come, some eager, some confused. and some rebellious. We loved them, pulled our hair out at their antics and prayed (oh how we prayed!) Now it was over. They’d returned, tiny flames of love kindling in their hearts, to their domains, leaving a great joy of satisfaction in their wake.
There was just one problem. It was almost Christmas and while we had food aplenty and a roof over our heads, we had no money left, zilch, nothing, and there were children there, mine included. We explained there’d be no presents that year, no tree or decorations. They were such troopers, not a single complaint.
We made our own décor, holly and fir branches from the forest. Silvery yogurt tops, kept from the camp, were cut into snow flakes and suspended from fallen branches dabbed white with left over emulsion. It looked wonderful!
Christmas Eve was still special. We read old Christmas stories by candle light, and I sang my guys to sleep with childhood carols.
I came down to see the two teenage boys who’d helped with the renovations were gone.
“They went to look for a tree.” My eldest whispered. Due to a lot of boggy ground fallen trees were common in the surrounding forest.
Our Texan builder/handyman was heading out too. It was he who first dreamt up the project. His tiny 5ft 6 frame harboring a personality that somehow gave the impression of a 6 footer.
I joined my daughter and the other teenage girl who’d stayed to help clear up the aftermath of the camp etc. We’d almost done when the boys dragged in an enormous tree. I restrained myself from checking for axe marks (their hearts were surely right and the forest was common ground I reasoned.)
They set it up in a bucket which the girls artfully draped and we went about gleaning all the décor we could find, painted fir cones, odd bits of tinsel yogurt top snowflakes. It looked beautiful even without lights.

I was just drifting off to sleep when I was roughly wakened.
“Come on mum. We need you to help wrap.”
Our Texan angel had been to see a friend who owned a small toy factory. He’d been hoping there might be a few “old line” bits and pieces for the kids. But the Irish heart never gives by half and the little van was crammed with toys, enough for several presents for each child and lots left over to pass on to others, there were even fairy lights for the tree.
Imagine the wonder next morning when the children were awoken by Christmas angels (my daughter and friend had raided the prop box) and brought down to the old living room. There they saw a huge tree blazing with lights and an immense pile of presents.
They didn’t think it was Santa. They knew who to thank, and their happy praises sounded all day long. The presents were special because they knew Jesus had sent them and that made His birthday “magic”.
We adults of course didn’t get presents, or did we? The gifts of joy, love, peace and intense gratitude filled our hearts in a way presents never could. Jesus’ love for these precious children and the hearts that had given so freely of time, goods and sleep were more than enough!

So I’m not the only one!

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(The photo is from bing images as we can’t take photos of our special sailors)

My eleven year old grandson was a little anxious at the idea of accompanying me to my volunteer sailing. He loves kayaking and water in general but wasn’t sure how he’d be around disabled folks. (He was staying with me while his parents were away.)

“I don’t know how to act, I just feel so bad for them,” he explained.

“Don’t “act”, just be yourself, they are experts at that,” I explained. “Show them respect by treating them as you would anyone else.”

He was trying extra hard to be helpful as we helped ready the boats. A normally friendly guy, he seemed a little reticent around all us busy retired folks (it being a week day the younger volunteers  were working). Then the “special” sailors began to arrive. He’d been helping fish out the weed with a long branch (it’s been a problem this year) and one of the teenage sailors seemed to think this a great task and joined him.  They seemed to quietly enjoy each other’s company sharing the task, so our smart leader decided to try him on a kata-canoe together with several other sailors and a carer.

I was drafted to the safety boat from which I noticed a lot of noise coming from the canoe, my grandson’s voice yelling above the commotion. Concerned that he might be making a nuisance of himself (he can get a bit much sometimes lol!) we drew alongside and I asked the carer  if he was getting too rambunctious, but he replied, no he was doing great at getting the others to join in.

After the session ended he came bounding up.

“I’ve never had so much fun and I just made five new friends! I see what you mean Gran , I really like these guys!” he yelled at me.

That was it for the rest of the day. He went out twice more on the canoes not only pulling his wait paddling hard in the hot sun, but getting the kids/families to join in. He was so appreciated that a family, that came for the first time that day, tried to give him a tip! Lol! (We explained that he had had as much fun as their kids and no way did they need to tip him!) but I heard them talking to each other saying they’d never expected it to be so much fun and that they’d definitely be bringing the kids again.

Home exhausted, but happy, he asked eagerly “can I come again next week?”

“You were right about them Gran,” he added, “they were more fun than my regular friends. They don’t try to act cool, they are just themselves and it’s so much fun being with them.”

The bonding surprised me and I was real proud of him. He’d seen right past their varied disabilities to recognise their true value.