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Old 12-26-2008, 06:41 AM   #681
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Reisterstown, Maryland
Posts: 28,347

Old Shoes Have a Purpose

A chilly Bolivia, air hovered through our tiny, dark bedroom as my six-year old brother and I, only a year older, slipped out of bed. We grabbed our coats and put on our shoes. Without heat in our old home, wearing coats inside was as normal as the Spanish we spoke.

But this morning was different; it was Christmas. We dashed off to the small living room where we had left our old pair of shoes the night before. No Christmas tree, no decorations or frills in our home. But, following tradition, Baby Jesus promised to leave one present atop the shoes. Some years, we’d find nothing but new underwear, other years we’d find new socks. The gift itself wasn’t our focus, but the fact the one, solitary item was brand new made us squeal with joy.

And then one Christmas, one special Christmas, I lifted the package lying on my shoes. As always, it was wrapped in newspaper. I tore through it, held my breath, and there it was—a doll with large brown eyes peeking at me. I grabbed it from the box, clutched it against my chest and inhaled the aroma. Even though it smelled of plastic, it sent a wave of delight through me.

Those days flicker memories of the simple life, uncomplicated and easy. It was a life lacking in material possessions, but one rich with appreciation for small things.

Events turned the pages of each year. As I grew up in America, life changed. Prosperity visited our marriage, we hurried to indulge our children and we began accumulating stuff. Life became easier, but far more complicated. Gifts cost more and their purchase rang urgent. Eventually, our wants turned to nagging needs. Sadly, what we cherished as children now painted a sorrowful scene. And the peace each Christmas season had previously brought subtly ushered tension instead.

But, as weather changes and seasons offer variety, this writer believes we can also change by taking a step back to the simpler life, easier routine and lighter burdens.

Let’s ask our children to list the things they already have before jotting their wants for Santa. Cross off your list a few social gatherings and replace them with quiet moments, long enough to savor the calmness that screams to be heard, to relish in the sound of quiet that was forgotten in a blaring world. And, most importantly, long enough to hear God whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

What a revelation! We know He’s God, but do we know He’s God over the shaky economy, the uncertainty of the world and the future of our jobs? And it’s in that moment of quiet reflection that His truth lights our life brighter than any star in the silent night.

In that silence, I dared to toss the glitter aside and placed my shoes out. And not surprisingly, I found the one gift, meaningful and vital to life: gratitude.

I clutched it tight; reveling in a new appreciation of what surrounds me. Even in blindness, I can see the world with more passion and gusto. Knowing who is God, gratitude lifted my veil of gloom as it shone emphasis on what I can do, what I have, on the treasures that enrich my life, and on the potential that is yet to be explored. Most of all, the spirit of gratitude sparked soothing contentment, trickled in joy, and rekindled the beauty of hope.

My wish for you is that you take a look at the simpler season—Jesus did—a manger housed his birth, but His life determined our destiny. This Christmas, leave out your shoes. The gift you find might determine a more profound outlook, yet simpler and uncomplicated.

~ Janet Perez Eckles ~
jeckles at

Janet Perez Eckles is a conference speaker, free lance writer, contributor to ten books including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and Guidepost books. She authored the inspirational book, TRIALS OF TODAY, TREASURES FOR TOMORROW—Overcoming Adversities in life. Janet imparts nuggets of inspiration at:
Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
America will only be the land of the free so long as it is the home of the Brave
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