Today is a gift

You may have heard the saying, "yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, today is a gift; that is why they call it the present".

How true.

Gifts. This season is all about gifts. Have you bought them? What should you buy? Did you wrap them? When will we open them? How will I pay for them? Did I write a thank you for them yet? Will they make it on time if I send them now? The heart of the matter is that today is our gift. Our children are our gifts. Our health is a gift. Love is a gift. Freedom is a gift.

There's no time like now to get perspective. We were all heartbroken to hear of the horrendous act of one man on Friday, December 14. The tears still haven't stopped falling and we are halfway across the country from the center of the sorrow. It's human nature that it takes a tragedy to regain perspective, but if it's the only positive thing that can come from such evil, it's up to us to seize that moment and put it to work in our lives.

The second I heard of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings I hugged my baby girl so tight and just rocked and rocked and rocked with her, crying for the moms and dads who will never again feel their babies' warmth in their arms. They were robbed of their gifts that day. It is unimaginable. If you've lost someone too soon, you know of this pain. If you're a parent who's lost a child, you must have been just sick for those parents as well. It's something that just goes against everything we ever dream of for our families... and I pray the loved ones affected can somehow come back from the horror. I know, however, it will be a lifetime of pain.

I cried for the loss of innocence. The children who survived have now been through more horror than most of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. I cried for the loss of security. We feel so helpless. How can we protect our children? I cried for the family of the gunman. How awful that must be too. I cried for it all. It's the only thing I could do at the time.

Now I'm trying my hardest to make something positive out of this pain I feel. So many of us are looking for a way to turn evil into a blessing.

Last week I was going to write a blog about traditions for the holiday and how I was excited to start new traditions with our kiddos. But you know what? I didn't get organized enough to make some of them happen and that's okay. The whole point of the perspective is to cherish the moments with our families and especially our precious children.

I have looked at them differently every day since the shooting. I look at my husband differently, I look at my messy house differently. I pray differently and I am forever changed I think. I've always known my children were gifts from God. I did need a kick in the pants however, to make sure that just soaking in the moments with them trumped whatever holiday pressure I was putting on myself to manufacture "even better" holiday moments. Nothing else matters. My
children are alive and safe. As someone said this week, we aren't promised tomorrow. Today is our gift.

It's my prayer that the precious ones taken from this Earth too soon can continue to work as angels. They already have inspired the 26 Acts of Kindness movement which is amazing. I pray that continues, because maybe it will make a difference. I pray that I can keep this perspective and continually remind myself that I shouldn't sweat the small stuff. I pray parents who are frazzled, tired, broken or bitter will take a moment and give their kids a hug instead of an earfull. I pray that this kind of tragedy will never happen again and that our hearts don't become complacent.

As we open our gifts next week, I hope they bring us joy and happy memories. Don't get me wrong, that tradition is really special. But, I hope we take a moment as well to look around and find the true gifts in our life.

They aren't wrapped.

I appreciate you being a blessing in my life. I appreciate you keeping up with my two little gifts and for offering support in so many ways. I will never meet most of you, but you are also a gift to me. Happy Holidays and blessings to you in the new year.

About the Author...
Sarah Stokes
When Sarah's not at work, she enjoys soaking up every minute with her children, visiting friends and family, taking scenic drives, reading and gardening.
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