Monday, December 19, 2011

Fraidy Cat Gifts in a Fraidy Cat World

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Oh, this fraidy cat world is a hurtin' kinda world. Facebook status updates tell the tales. The media reminds us that holiday depression is rampant. The holiday season makes us that much more aware of what we know the other 48 or so weeks of the year. Life is hard. It feels harder this week, that's for sure.

God's word is clear. In this life, we will have trouble. This time of year, we all feel that trouble, whether as a momentary inconvenience or a life altering change, much more acutely. We glitz life up with lights, packages wrapped in pretty paper, and inflatable yard ornaments. The effort manages to balance the harshness of life with the illusion of a carefree holiday full of magic and wonder. At least for a while.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
What makes the season festive with a kind of glow that will not fade when the decorations come down? Son #1 and I have wished we could be one of the Kmart Secret Santa's this week and plop down the $$ to pay off someone's layaway. I'm deeply humbled that I have helped raise a man with a heart like that. I wish we could, but in truth, those acts of kindness will fade in time. Money does buy happiness, but then it has to be bought again and again.

As I thought about our Secret Santa desire today, I realized that the things which mean the most to me are free and easy to share. They are worth the investment because they last for a lifetime if applied correctly. They will not be outgrown, broken, or forgotten when the newer, fancier versions come out. If I tell you what they are, will you pass them on?

Tonight, I give you laughter. Laughter is a gift that grows exponentially once given. When I make you laugh, my gift increases the chance that you will, in turn, share the gift of laughter with others. If you make me laugh, I remember that gift and laugh again each time I revisit the memory.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
The principle is so simple Einstein or Newton or somebody should have made it a scientific law. They didn't, so I had to. Fraidy Cat's Exponential Law of Laughter. Apply it freely because it's free. It grows every time you wrap it up and pass it on to others.

I give you the gift of grace. My fellas will tell you that if we are ever annoyed in traffic, I will almost always say, “Give the driver grace. Perhaps it is a senior too frail to be driving but too far from family and without any other choice. Perhaps it is a sick mom distracted by sicker children. Perhaps it is a traveler or someone new in town who is unfamiliar with traffic patterns or street names.”

I've said it so often that I am now the punch line of many traffic jokes. In this hurry-scurry world, we all need grace. Unless we give it, we will never receive it because there will be none left in this every-man-for-himself world we live in today. Make the world a gentler kinder place. You will find that you make your way back home a more peaceful person because you did. I promise. It works every time.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I am proud of my boys. Rarely do you see young men rush to hold a door for moms with young children in strollers or seniors whose steps have faltered. Even Son #2 is growing more and more accomplished at these simple acts of kindness now that I have made it our lifestyle.

Give the gift of an open door this week and teach your children, boys and girls whether young or old, to honor those around them by extending just such a gesture. You'll be amazed at the reactions you get, I promise. As a society, we do so little to care for each other that folks are shocked when someone does. They are shocked, and then they smile. Another exponential interaction takes place. It's true.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I hope my blog has served as a gift of encouragement these last 7 months. During our daily prayers, Son #2 and I pray for the ability to be an encourager within our homes and when we are out and about in the world. The world is such a discouraging place these days. Every single one of us needs to know someone notices us enough to encourage us. Don't wait to receive it. Look for people and places to offer it. You'd be amazed how much the world changes when you are looking for ways to offer an encouraging hand or word.

Laughter, grace, and encouragement: those commodities are as valuable and rare today as were the gold, frankincense, and myrrh carried by the wise men in search of the newborn king. Oh, how I wish them for you tonight. May you be both the giver and receiver in this fraidy cat world.

Courtesy B. Creasy
Love you long and strong fraidy cat. I'm so glad you came. Christmas just would not be the same without you. Jesus gave the gift that continues to give more than 2,000 years after he came to give it. May the gifts of grace, laughter, and encouragement you offer in this season last far longer than the trinkets waiting under your tree today. None of the 'things' under your tree will last into eternity. The lives you touch will be the only things you take into eternity to with you. Remember that truth as you give grace, laughter, and encouragement in the days ahead. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11a (English Standard Version)
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up....


  1. Merry Christmas to you as well. Sorry you weren't here last year for our white Christmas!