Notes from Jan

The Gift Exchange

January 11, 2016


One day last week Lily and I headed into Nordstrom for lunch and a look at some of the after-Christmas sales. A weighed-down man waddled ahead of us, assorted packages plastered like bulky barnacles to his chest and arms.  Stuff to be returned here and there by a man looking none too pleased with his assignment. It brought to mind the words on some party napkins someone gave Heather.  They show a woman dressed for Christmas in red with white fur trim, smiling and saying, “His thoughtful gift had exchange written all over it.”

Good for a smile, a snicker and wiping away a few crumbs.  No laugh today, as the sight of  one beleaguered man left me feeling slammed by a look into our culture of consumption and our saturation in stuff.

In our growing obsession with more, something’s off kilter with our gift giving and receiving, especially at Christmas. We re-turn, re-wrap and re-gift without re-morse. What have we exchanged for thoughtfulness?  Simplicity? Gratitude? Relationships? Generosity?  What have we exchanged for the time of our life?  

When it comes to gifts, what does perfect look like?  What is enough?

That’s part of what continues to nag at me about the Christmas story. The setting’s simple. The GIFT could not be more perfect. The shepherds race to a relationship they’re pretty sure they need.  “You have a Saviour!”  Mary and Joseph come across as grateful with little.  The Wise Men are generous. And God who had first dibs on the very best,  still kept us!   The only exchange God made was heaven for a stable and worse…all for us.

How to re-spond?  



For the time of your Life and mine.




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  • Reply Dale Lefever January 11, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    You always make me think, so thanks, I think! Hyphenating words is an interesting approach. For example, “I have de-cided to follow Jesus…..” The word “cide” means to kill, which is why we have words like sui-cide, homo-cide, pesti-cide, etc. It means not only to choose something, but to put all other options to death. I guess that is why each day we need to put the flesh to death and choose our life in Christ. Why is this such a hard de-cision at times?

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Marty Lefever January 12, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    So, I de-cided to re-spond even though I read and re-read these entries day after day, AND I also read them to my Ann Arbor prayer net on Mondays. They now ask if I have ONE to share!! I do, and I do it with great joy! So, there are 10 books that will be sold to a group of 70’s women in Ann Arbor! How fun is that!The question is, WHEN will that happen?
    So, this week we pause again and remember as countless friends and family gathered one year ago in Wenham to remember and celebrate the life of our friend, and your wonderful husband, Jud. We will not forget those precious moments together in the Gordon Chapel. So this week, we pause again to reflect on this good man who lived and loved and led well. We are so grateful for him AND for YOU, dear Jan, who continues to challenge us in the everyday things of life to see Jesus fresh and anew in our midst, most often bringing a smile or a total belly laugh but sometimes, a tear. So grateful to God for the ways He continues to use you in my life. Keep on keeping on by God’s grace, goodness and faithfulness. So glad you are enjoying these weeks in a warmer climate with your West Coast dear ones. It just got cold here WITH snow!! Oh yes, and GO PATS!!!
    Love you, Jan . . .

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