In the Small and Ordinary

Boy and girl looking out window at the snow

When 9-year-old Malakai rushes into our living room and stands with both hands on his hips in front of the Christmas tree, I know what's going to howl in here next.

"Why don't we do big gifts?" The boy's a moaning wind.

How in the world does a mother turn a child's storm of discontent?

Small gifts

And who am I really kidding? The whole climate of the season can have gusts of unexpected envy. And I wonder why the garland up our stairs looks like a worn-out, green twist tie when compared to the ones in the glossy magazines.

I kneel beside my boy and pull him near.

"You know, no one can wrap up anything that compares to the glory of God," I whisper as he leans into me. It's funny how this happens: I'm preaching to myself, the child and I both in need of grace and truth.

"How did God choose to come to earth?" I ask.

"As a baby." Malakai says it quiet into his hand under his chin, says it like a muffled snow.

I nod. "Jesus came as a wee baby — and isn't He the greatest gift of all?"

Gratitude for the small — this is the seed that plants the giant miracle in the midst of it all.

A joy dare

"Tell you what. I'm 'joy daring' you. Make a list! Not of gifts you want, but of gifts we already have — a gratitude list for all God's gifts to us. A list counting all the ways our great God loves us in the small."

"Like the snowflakes on the windowsill." Malakai is taking the joy dare. "Like the little red holly berries."

And that's what he and I do every day. We dare each other to hunt for the glory of God in the small and ordinary, and each night we tell of the gifts we found. What could be a greater gift than joy?

Malakai, he laughs it happy to me one evening, "You know, Mom? I think we do big gifts around here: We're counting all God's gifts!"

And I hear the wind, how it blows in one miraculous flake upon flake, and there is this slowing down and waking up to the glory of God in the small — all these moments stacking up to one wondrous life.

—Ann Voskamp is the mother of six and author of the New York Times best-seller One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are.

This article appeared in the December 2012 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was titled "In the Small and Ordinary." If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2012 by Ann Voskamp. Used by permission.

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