Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Gift List...

Don't panic. I'm not asking anyone to buy me anything, but I wouldn't be mad if someone felt an irresistible urge to send me something fabulous. Actually, this is going to be a list of some of the fantastic gifts that friends and family have sent to me for my birthday. More than a list, however, it is a record of the love that has been poured out on me and why each gift was perfect for me.

A white sweater: This is literally the only white thing in my wardrobe. I own no white shirts, socks, or even white undies. I am a woman of many colors, and now I have something white. It's about time that I step out of my comfort zone where clothing is concerned. And where a lot of other areas of life are concerned as well.

A small mirror: With a black leather case. To carry along in my purse. To look at myself, to ponder the image that I present to the world. To make the necessary corrections. And to serve as a reminder that I must always be aware of the effect my face, my spirit, and my physical presence has on other people. Even out in the world, I must be mindful of who I am, what I project, and what needs to be corrected.

Stationery and a journal: Anybody who knows me - and is reading this blog - knows that I love to write. A fine black journal and colorful notecards will be used thoughtfully and thankfully in the coming weeks and months. So many words, so little time.

Scented candles: To light the way. To lend fragrance to the air. To provide warmth and atmosphere. To warm my often chilled soul. To light my study in the morning when I pray and write and prepare for my day. And all day long, when I reenter that space, I am reminded that someone thought of me and bought me candles.

Music on CD: Instrumental, vocal, English, Spanish - it touches every part of me. I listen. I dance. I sing along. I close my eyes and dream of places far away and people nearby. It reminds me of trips I've taken and of trips yet to be taken. Someone burned CDs for me. Someone else bought one. People who love me listened to music that reminded them of me, and they sent it to me.

Brief aside here: The fact that anyone anywhere thinks of me, wonders how I'm doing, and then decides to send love, music, books, clothing, email, or anything at all to me - it's leaves me speechless. Every single time. "Thanks" just doesn't capture how deeply I am moved by the wonder of friendship and the thoughtfulness it elicits. But back to the list...

Several beautiful, warm, colorful scarves: I am a woman who builds outfits around accessories. I am a woman who spends most of the winter months (even the very mild ones here in Charlotte) with my neck wrapped in turtle neck sweaters and scarves. Just a few days before my birthday, I read a book about organization and was motivated to prune several things out of my wardrobe, to pass them along to others who might be blessed: included in that donation to Good Will were several scarves that hadn't been put to much use of late. I had no intention of buying more scarves, but those empty shelves and hangers in my closet were destined to be filled with the lovely choices made by loving friends. My neck thanks you all.

Two cross necklaces: My husband knows that the cross is the most important symbol in my life. He has made it his mission to add to my collection of cross necklaces every year. And just when I think that there aren't any more crosses in Charlotte, he finds two more. Still more accessories around which I will build several outfits in the days to come. They may not keep my neck warm, but my soul, well now that's another matter.

Chocolates: what do I need to say? It's chocolate!

Gift cards for Borders and Starbucks: Books and coffee? Is there a better combination for a perpetually curious and shivering geek like me?

A childcare coupon: My mother created a coupon that entitles me to childcare, is renewable upon request, and completely free. The perfect gift for any busybody like myself! I plan to take advantage of it pretty soon.

A mother-of-pearl photo frame: I'm not sure it is possible to capture an image that befits this beautiful frame. But the image that came to mind immediately when I opened it (at the surprise party on Saturday night) was one of the love of friends, the sound of laughter, and the wonder of long, rambling conversations. Like I said, it won't be easy to capture those joyous moments with a camera, but I'm sure going to try.

As I opened those gifts on my birthday, on Saturday evening at the surprise party, and even on Sunday when still more people inundated me with waves of love, my sense of unworthiness, of amazement, of sheer dumfoundedness was indescribable. It was too much to take in. I have struggled to put my feelings into words not only in my journal, but also in my heart.

Fast forward to this evening when my children brought in the mail. They carried a box sent from Amazon.com addressed to me. I thought, "I haven't ordered anything from Amazon." I opened it: a gift. I tore off the wrapping paper to discover a book entitled: second calling: finding passion and purpose for the rest of your life." Could there be a more perfect book for me???

I sent off an email of thanks to my dear friend, Virginia, a woman I met nearly a dozen years ago at a Bible study in Connecticut. She is one of my most faithful blog readers and supporters. Last Thursday, on my birthday, she ordered this book for me from Amazon.com. What she didn't know at the time, what she couldn't have known, was that today I would spend quite a bit of time writing in my journal about this very topic: what next? I will be teaching the journaling class in January - and I'm looking forward to it tremendously. Today I wrote and prayed: "But what else, Lord, what else would you have me to do? What will be my next passion play? Please give me a sense of direction, of purpose, and a plan for the rest of my life."

Last Thursday, Virginia was the answer to a prayer that hadn't even been uttered yet. There are few gifts that can compare to answered prayers. Especially when the answer is sent out before the prayer goes up. Thank again, Virginia.

So that settles it: This has been the best birthday of my life.
Soli Deo Gloria!

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