The Gift of Presence



I just love those surprise boxes that are fashioned around a theme and filled with all sorts of lovely things, don't you? 

Although I’ve never actually bought one {or received one}, my eight-year-old niece Devon snared one of those goodie boxes when we were in St. Augustine over Thanksgiving.

While my sister and I browsed around a sweet boutique called Declaration & Co., I looked up to see Devon at the counter being handed a big box. 

I wondered what my sister was buying her, but instead my sister waved me over and said, “Look what she just won!” 



For finding two mouse ornaments hidden around the store, Devon was gifted a box with a label that declared, “Cute Things Inside.” 

Filled with chocolates, leggings, wrap, ribbons, cards, and a hairband, Devon couldn’t have been more excited. 

I’ll admit I had a hard time not wanting to steal it from her. 

As I looked through it longingly, she warned me that she wanted to keep EVERYTHING that was inside.



Maybe she gets her love of tiny surprises from her auntie. 

When I went to Italy this summer, I think I was more excited to see what was inside the swag bags waiting on our pillows at the hotel to welcome us to the art and faith retreat than I was about some of our excursions. 

{And those swag bags filled with journals and vintage postcards and everything we'd need to make a keepsake necklace didn't disappoint, by the way!}

But maybe even better than the gift of presents is the gift of presence. 



I’m finding that no matter how long I know him, I still can’t measure the innumerable ways God chooses to be present with us. 

When I sense a shift in my circumstances and a confirmation of my tentative faith-risks, I see the vision he {still} has for my life.

That peculiar plan, purposed just for me, eclipses my fears, infuses me with courage and beckons me forward.

It may take months, it may take years, but as he authors my story and while I wait for God to move, I'm moving ever closer to him. 

Because for reasons unfathomable to us, as we celebrate God coming to earth as a man to be present with us, he waits for our presence.

{Yours and mine.}
You will make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. - Ps. 16:11 NIV
For you who are waiting for something, don't give up hope; keep holding on. 
For you who are afraid to take a chance to start the new year with something new, take the risk and step out.
For you who are looking for a miracle, know that with God nothing is impossible; lean into him. 
For you who are uncertain and doubtful that God could still have a purpose for you, he will not let you go; know that you are so very loved and so cherished by him. 
{I'm holding on to these truths and pray that you will too.}

Our last shopping stop in St. Augustine was at a vintage store where I deliberated long over a chippy painted table. 

My sister and niece both told me I’d love it {and got tired of waiting for me} so I finally believed them and loaded it in the car. 

Settled in my dining room and flanked by my favorite pink velvet chairs, I'm looking forward to the gift of sharing coffee and a scone at this table with those in my life whose presence I'm celebrating.



What presents are you unwrapping this holiday season? Or whose presence are you gloriously grateful for in your life?

I'm celebrating all of you, my lovely readers! Happy holidays and I am so grateful for every one of you! xoxo



I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me and my blogging friends there by clicking on the image!




Comments

  1. Delightful story and reminder! Thanks for the day-brightener!

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    1. Hi Laura,
      Thank you so much for visiting! Happy holidays to you!

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  2. Love your post! Your message is awesome. I especially liked this truth you pointed out to hold on to: For you who are afraid to take a chance to start the new year with something new, take the risk and step out. I also loved all of your photos! I would have wanted to steal that box of goodies too :). Have a blessed Christmas!

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    1. Hi Judy,
      Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm so glad you can relate to my slightly jealous feelings about the goodie box! :) But it was fun watching my niece enjoy it!

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  3. sigh ... I just love it here, dear friend. every visit's like getting one of those surprise packages ... I just can't wait to see what you're offering up.

    and I'm never disappointed. never.

    and always blessed.

    hugs!

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    1. Linda,
      I'm so grateful for your visits here and so thankful for your encouraging words every week! I hope that 2016 brings you a new year full of surprises especially tailored for you by our loving heavenly father! xoxo

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  4. Cutest girl, box of goodies, table and little cardboard church EVER! You are my muse Valerie! So inspiring! ♥ You did well in restraining yourself from taking her prize!! Too funny! Lovely thoughts on His presence-- definitely the best gift of all. And most of all thank you for the blessing to those of us who are still waiting, afraid looking or uncertain. I'm immensely grateful for your sweet presence in my life. Thanking God for you and celebrating your friendship this Christmas!! xoxo

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    1. Isn't she the sweetest girl with her puppy purse that her favorite auntie bought her?!! And that little vintage church was a true treasure I found at a shop -- I love it! I'm so grateful for you, Heather and our beautiful friendship! xoxo

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  5. Returning the visit! I love what you said, "HE WAITS FOR US." My post was, "WE AWAIT YOU LION OF JUDAH!!!" I love how Holy Spirit speaks to His kids what to write. And, somehow it all comes together!

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    1. Hi Susan,
      It does come together beautifully, doesn't it? Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  6. I'm so grateful for you, too, Valerie! xo You have often blessed me with your posts. My heart jumped with excitement for your niece. There were sure nice things in there. I love surprises, too. :) When I saw the table you purchased, I thought how great it would be to sit there with you. But I guess I'll just have to imagine myself there. :) This line is especially comforting to me - "It may take months, it may take years, but as he authors my story and while I wait for God to move, I'm moving ever closer to him." Let's together remember His time and way is best and with Him all things are possible! I hope you have a Christmas filled with love, joy, peace, and hope! Hugs!

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    1. Trudy,
      You are such a delight and I'm so glad to have met you on this blogging journey! Yes, together we know that with God all things are possible -- what hope that brings! And I would just love to someday welcome you to my white, chippy table! :) xo

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  7. Oh, I love the chippy white table and pink chairs!! It would be lovely to sit across from you and sip tea and eat scones :) Hope you have a Merry Christmas, and feel His presence this holiday season.

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    1. Alecia, Isn't the table cute? I guess my sister and niece were right -- I do love it after all! I would love to welcome you to my table someday -- I know you'll eventually get to Orlando, right?! Merry Christmas to you!

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  8. Valerie-I love the table and the pictures of your niece too! :) What a cutie :) I love that verse and have been parked there in it for a while now- trying to get that Joy it talks about- Such a gift being with Him- everything seems ok after being with Him-though nothing circumstantially has changed. I love the idea that he authors our story too- Thanks for blessing me!! Praying for you to blessed with Joy and lots of laughter this Christmas! :) So thankful of you! sending much love xox

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    1. Susie,
      I love that verse too and I love it when God confirms something through multiple mentions! :) Thank you for your sweet comments about my niece too! I'm so happy to have met you too on this journey of blogging and I can only imagine what joy you'll have with not only your adorable little one but with your older ones home for the holidays! xoxo

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  9. Thank you,Valerie. Devon is so cute in that little hat and then at the bottom in our totally stylish look. The box of cute things is a great idea and I agree, you were very grown up not to steal it, nt even a ribbon.
    I enjoy your posts and you have made such progress with your photography. Enjpy your holiday week. Marilyn

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    1. Marilyn,
      So thrilled to see your comment and welcome you to the blog family!! :) Thank you for your kudos on my restraint not to grab something from Devon's box! I'm ever working on better photos, with humble aspirations to follow in your fabulous photo footsteps! xoxo

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  10. I would have felt the same way about wanting that box - ha! I LOVE the table and pink chairs!! We need to see each other's houses decorated for the holidays before we have to take everything down! I love my small tree and holiday decor (what little I have up makes a big difference). I'll be so sad to take it down. And what a precious little girl Devon is. Deidre's children are so incredibly blessed to have you in their lives. What a gift you are to each other. -Shawna

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    1. Shawna,
      So that's what my desire for a farm table morphed into!! I realized I didn't have the room for a real farm table after all! And yes, we must carry our steaming mugs of coffee/tea to each other's homes to view our holiday decor! xo

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  11. I love cute little surprises too! :) and your table will be a place where you enjoy lots of people's presence, I can tell.

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      There's just something about sweet surprises, isn't there, that draw us in?! Merry Christmas to you as you enjoy those sweet girls of yours! xo

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  12. I just love this Valerie and I so agree. God is waiting for you and I think so many people are so afraid of change that they forget something better is on the other side. God is trying to give you your blessing. Just beautiful read as always :).

    Kia / KTS
    www.houseofkts.com

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    1. Kia,
      I'm so grateful for your gift of visiting here! Happy new year, friend!

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