Unexpected Gifts as Holidays Approach



As the holidays approached, I wondered how I would meet them. Yet another specialty medication wasn’t panning out in the way we had hoped, and I found myself in a full-blown Rheumatoid Arthritis flare, longing for any kind of relief from the pain. I called my Rheumatologist to report on my condition and his instructions were, “Lay low and be patient. We have to wait three months before your insurance will accept another change.” Reluctantly, I agreed to restart my prednisone, the only pain relief available for the moment, even though I knew it came with its own set of poor reactions. Unexpected gifts?


God, where are you? And why are none of my usual coping methods acceptable any longer?




I used to be really good at “walking it off” when my mind filled with darkness, and the satisfaction of a job well done could lift my eyes away from my problems, giving me a jolt of hope that maybe my problems weren’t so all-consuming after all.


But now? There was no walking or chore or service that my body would allow. Caring for my basic needs took every available ounce of strength.


The low point came when I looked at the calendar and realized that Thanksgiving was only a few weeks away. We love when our adult children and their families gather at our home, as we cook and eat our way through a day of feasting and fun. But this year something had to give. There was no hope that I could prepare for that kind of gathering. But God had unexpected gifts as the holidays approached.




So we all agreed to meet at our favorite restaurant and eat our Thanksgiving Dinner gathered around a public table, squeezed into booths and tables shoved together. The laughter flowed, the kids were too loud, and Grandpa’s “Dad-Jokes” made us all roll our eyes. We welcomed the unexpected gifts of love and fun.


No one was disappointed.


Except for me. I still had not allowed my heart to find the change that God offered me. I did not even think of looking for unexpected gifts.




As Thanksgiving wound down, my daughters-in-law and daughter approached me with a suggestion, and I tried to be gracious. “Let us prepare everything for you when we gather at home this Christmas. It’ll be our gift to you.” Maybe it was an unexpected gift, but I wasn’t ready for it.


I wish I could say I smiled and laughed and received their unexpected gifts with joy. Instead, I cried. At least I was honest when I asked them to pray for me. “This is such a hard thing for me to surrender.”




It took the words of a dear friend to shake my heart out of its dry-as-a-desert-place. “You had better receive their gift to you. After all, they’re giving the kindness you taught them through-out their years of growing up.” The same kindness I had taught them was now showing up as an unexpected gift from God during this holiday season.


Did I follow her advice or sit in the corner and sulk, because I couldn’t make all the cookies, and decorate all the rooms, and craft all the gifts the way I was used to? Well, I had moments of contemplating that, but thankfully I heard a more precious Word from my Lord that caused me to change my perspective. His unexpected gifts were blessings to me.


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17




Even if our movements change and our tasks shift, the GIVING of our FATHER is always a constant. He has more to give us than just another way of coping. He is to be depended upon and will bless our days – painful or whole – with GIFTS of His choosing, always with GOOD in mind. Sometimes they are unexpected gifts of love and kindness.


Unexpected Gifts as the Holidays Approach

by Bettie Gilbert | Read by Bettie


  1. Gayl

    Bettie, your words are always full of hope and love for our Savior. I’m so glad your friend helped you be willing to accept the gift that your daughters so lovingly wanted to give. It is hard to give up things we love to do, but God is faithful to provide. As you said, “Even if our movements change and our tasks shift, the GIVING of our FATHER is always a constant.” Amen to that.
    May God bless and continue to give you grace and bring you joy! Hugs! xo

  2. BettieG

    Thank you Gayl for your encouraging words! Yes, I treasure the words of friends who speak truth into our lives. I think they are another of those gifts that our Father is faithful to provide for us! May we keep learning to let go of our old ways to Him, and find more of His grace and joy! Hugs! xo

  3. Melissa Henderson

    Your messages are beautiful Bettie. I am learning to cope with doing less these days. My body doesn’t work like it used to work. I am thankful for family and friends who help. Most of all, I am thankful for God and His love. 🙂

    • BettieG

      Oh Melissa, I am so thankful that He is showing you His good gifts even here. But I am sorry for the struggles that you must carry too. What a blessing that we can share encouragement with each other!

  4. Joy Lenton

    Bettie, it’s a hard surrender, isn’t it? It feels like yet another sacrifice which chronic illness demands of us. Yet because you were enabled to agree to having help from your family, you were blessed with the gift of receiving, and they were equally blessed in the gift of giving.. I believe that you have grown in the art of resting in that grace, just as much as you have in surrendering your health and its numerous complications and concerns into God’s hands. May you enjoy this forthcoming Thanksgiving with an increased ability to release where necessary, and to receive. I’m always so blessed by your words and the wisdom they impart. Thank you! Blessings and hugs. xo

    • BettieG

      Dear Joy,
      Isn’t it a mystery that what He asks us to surrender is the very place where He wants to meet us with more of His help? It’s still a continual learning process for me, as just when I think I have learned to let go, He shows me another place where I’ve been tight-fisted-holding-on. Oh what a blessing to be able to pray for each other in all of these places. I am always so encouraged by your dear words as well, my friend. Blessings and hugs to you!


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More Posts from Bettie

Bettie Gilbert

Bettie Gilbert

Board Member and Prayer Coordinator

You can find Bettie blogging from her home in a small town in southeast Wisconsin - at bettiegraseasons.com, walking forward with Jesus, in the middle of her own pain and weaknesses from multiple chronic illnesses. The beauty of nature is a joy that calls to Bettie, as do her family and nine young grandchildren. She and her husband have been married for over 40 years and take great joy in their weekend coffee breaks together. 



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