UNWRAPPING THE GIFT

Unwrapping the gift

I TURNED FIFTY THIS YEAR

Every year on my birthday, I receive a letter from my pastor with a commitment to pray for me. This is a long-standing tradition at my church. On the standard birthday form letter this year there was a hand-written note that read, “I know your life has been turned upside down.” I immediately realized that my life had been turned right side up. It would not seem that way to you. I am living a paradox.
Before June 2014, everything in my world seemed right and good. My career as an obstetrician/gynecologist was at its peak. I have been happily married to my high school sweetheart for over thirty years. My children are grown, getting along well and succeeding in their chosen paths. I have a great sister and parents and lots of friends. I was in the best physical shape of my life, literally able to pedal my road bicycle to the top of a mountain. Life was good. I was strong, happy, healthy and independent.

THE GIFT OF TIME

Rather suddenly, my life was turned right side up by a rare, life-altering disease that took away my strength, my career, my independence, my appearance and literally changed all of my relationships. Ironically, illness and adversity have a way of giving gifts, too. I have been given the gift of one thing I never had before: the gift of time. I have time to think, time to read and study, time to pray, time to spend with people I truly care about. I have also been given time to write.

I have wanted to write since I was in grade school. In fact, when I was young, I co-wrote a book called, Mr. Mouse and Mojay. My fifth grade collaborator and I even went to the public library (because that’s what you did back then) and mailed copies to a couple of publishers. We never heard back from them. I don’t even know where the book is now, but it was cleverly illustrated and dedicated to my grandfather. Neither do I recall the details, but I think Mojay was a possum-like creature that rescued his forest friends. Maybe Wendy remembers.

THE DESIRE OF MY HEART

Writing has long been a desire of my heart, but there was never time. We are promised that God will give us the desires of our heart, if we delight in Him (Psalm 37:4). He knows I have a heart for encouraging others, speaking, teaching and writing. I have often thought I could write but I never had a story, until now. I am confident God really loves me and looks at my heart rather than my feeble efforts and shortcomings. He has chosen this path for me because He knows what is best for me. I trust Him. Others have repeatedly assured me that God has a plan for me. I know that. I know it deep down where it matters. In a strange way I cannot explain, it feels like divine love. He is providing for me. He is revealing Himself to me in new ways. He is giving me the desires of my heart. My disease takes so much away but it also gives. I’m not sure I would have chosen it, but I’m not sure I would trade it either.

WHAT GIFT HAS ADVERSITY GIVEN YOU?

I am terrible at wrapping gifts; uneven edges and crooked tape. It is as bad as my handwriting. Truly, I am embarrassed to take a gift I wrapped to a shower. But once the paper is off, the wrapping paper is trash anyway. It’s the gift inside that matters. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. You may not like the way it is wrapped, but be careful not to miss the gift inside. Let’s exercise a little sacrifice of praise, a little rejoicing in suffering. (Hebrews 13:15, James 1:2)

Psalm 20:3-5, “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of God.” NIV
Leave a comment below to share the gift you have received from adversity. I’ll start…

47 thoughts on “UNWRAPPING THE GIFT

    1. Do not be discouraged. God’s promises to us are just as real in the pit as they are in the palace. God appears to us in the most unlikely places of our lives. If we patiently wait upon him and hold fast to our trust and confidence in His Word, he will come through for us every time. Do the work God has called you to do, whether in the pit or the prison (Joseph resided in both for a season). Who knows but your attitude, your willingness to serve in these places, may be the very thing that gets you into the palace of the king!!! It worked for Joseph; it will work for you!!

    2. I have been given the gift of knowledge that when tragedy strikes us, God not only sees us through, but prospers us! Blessings beyond measure….

    3. You are so right!! Regardless of our situation, because God is in control and we belong to Him, He does give us the desire of our heart. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.” I have had the privilege of taking care of my beloved husband for over 30 years. God has walked us through many journeys with a greater knowledge of the unconditional love and compassion and provisions of our Lord. Our new journey is Lewy Body Dementia. I have met many people on-line as caregivers or patients of LBD. The suffering is great and my heart breaks for so many because they have not “Hope”. I started a blog hoping to reach those living with LBD that don’t know or have lost sight of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Hope and Jerry and I choose to seek his blessing in every day. Currently, though he is not able to read much anymore, we are reading the Bible through day by day. And we are both learning and a great blessing has been to hear him say…”I didn’t know that”. God has given us the gift of love from and for Him, each other, and time to see God and his work more clearly. Thanks for sharing your life Vickie, you have been a blessing, and still are to countless people, including me.

  1. Singleparenthood gave me the gift of empathy, compassion, and trusting that all good comes from bad when God is in control.

  2. My divorce has given me confidence. It’s not the path I ever imagined, but I survived and am supporting myself and my daughter! I still hate the times she is gone and miss her terribly, but I survive that, too.

    Thanks for making me think about this:). I’m so happy you’re getting time to slow down and do something you forgot you loved to do!!!

    1. Let me rephrase that…I’m glad that you have found something that you enjoy doing to help you through a difficult time. I know you will help others through your words

  3. Having a baby daughter in Heaven has given me the gift of empathy and ability to help others faced with similar situations. It has also given the gift of appreciation for the children God has given me to raise here on Earth. God Bless you! I am thrilled you are writing this blog. It is obvious you have a gift!

  4. The last year has been terribly wrapped. Your word this morning is such a blessing. The gift God has within that dreadful wrapping is priceless. The wrapping has consumed me, but it’s time to discard it and enjoy the gift.

    1. MG has taught me to truly value the things that are really important (family & friends) and with God’s help let go of the rest. It’s not always easy to “let go” especially when I really want to join in and participate in the family get-togethers. I have leaned that not everyone can be play in very game and it’s important to be selective. Right now I’m a Spector which is awesome, it beats staying home alone. When you stop to think about it, Tail Gating before and cheering during the game is a lot of fun. Even if I am never part of the team again I’m forever grateful just to be a Spector!

  5. I love what you said about the wrapping and the gift inside 🙂 It made me think how even though gifts can be wrapped a million different ways with a million different paper or bows and come in all shapes and sizes…they are all share the same definition “gift”. It’s not until you open them and get rid of the packaging where the definition of “gift” changes to the true identity of the item. If we want the definition of our situation to change, we have to tear through the generic mess and throw it away to uncover TRUTH… I would put my marriage in that category. Much adversity through everything from addiction to emotional infidelity but each time God gets us through a valley, we receive the gift not only of restoration but blessings beyond what we originally lost. Every. Time.
    Thank you so much for this post today! It is SO what I needed to be reminded of today and pray about!!! Your positivity is like the gaze from the top of the mountain, so much perspective.

  6. Oh so beautifully written. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Mark your calendar for FEB. 21. ARWB is hosting three blogger workshops across the state and one of them is at Petit Jean lodge. This is a prime opportunity for you to meet other bloggers, to work on your craft, to spend time in reflection. It’s casual and comfortable. I want you to meet my friend Stephanie Buckley, owner of The Women Bloggers, whose husband is the park superintendent at PJ. You two would love one another. I’m praying for you in this new opportunity and for your health. Our SS class, of which your dad is a member, is also praying. You know how much I love them, Kari and you and the profound influence you have had on my family. You can email me with any questions.

  7. I love what you said about the wrapping and the gift inside 🙂 It made me think how even though gifts can be wrapped a million different ways with a million different paper or bows and come in all shapes and sizes…they are all share the same definition “gift”. It’s not until you open them and get rid of the packaging where the definition of “gift” changes to the true identity of the item. If we want the definition of our situation to change, we have to tear through the generic mess and throw it away to uncover TRUTH… I would put my marriage in that category. Much adversity through everything from addiction to emotional infidelity but each time God gets us through a valley, we receive the gift not only of restoration but blessings beyond what we originally lost. Every. Time.
    Thank you so much for this post today! It is SO what I needed to be reminded of today and pray about!!! Your positivity is like the gaze from the top of the mountain, so much perspective.

  8. BTW. I linked your post to the ARWB Sunday Link Up. I’ll be glad to show you how to do that. Think about doing the January Instagram Photo Challenge as well.

  9. My headache era and now the severe abdominal pain have given me the gift of patience, awareness with myself and understanding for others. I have grown spiritually through all my down time and know that God is my physician.

  10. Nice to meet you! Beautiful blog. My aunt has MG and I understand what you are going through. My adversity? Having had PCOS and multiple miscarriages has allowed me to appreciate my children as the gifts they are.

  11. Welcome to AR Women Bloggers! I am a therapist so watch people every day doing exactly what you are doing with what turns their lives upside down. My own lightbulbs have been plentiful. I have learned a lot from both my own mistakes and that which has been given. I will look forward to reading more of your journey.

  12. This is such a beautiful post- I love reading your perspective on what God is teaching you through these trials. I’m looking forward to reading more!

  13. Vickie, You so inspire and encourage me and I know lots of others, as well. Your testimony to the grace and goodness of our Lord and Savior will definitely help so many along our journeys. My gift came back in 2006-2008 and I am still unwrapping it each day. After almost 30 years of owning and operating a successful business we found ourselves facing adverse circumstances and sold off some of the stores and eventually ended up loosing the last remaining store along with our home and most of our earthly possessions we had accumulated. At the time, it felt overwhelming and devastating, but as time went on, I came to realize that it was a beautiful gift that God had blessed me with. Our previous home was very large and we had over an acre of property to mow and keep up. With my husband’s declining health and our insufficient finances, I could have been forced to try to do all that work at the house alone. As it turned out, we were able to purchase a much smaller home with a smaller yard and I was able to do all the upkeep on my own. yes, it is still difficult financially, but God has blessed me in so many other areas of my life and I have to remind myself daily of how blessed I am and how thankful I am for those blessings. I have definitely come to realize that this was truly a gift from God and that He knew exactly what lay ahead for me and was preparing me for those circumstances. I have certainly come to a point of more fully trusting Him for my needs and seeing Him continue to meet those needs. God is good all of the time!!!!!

  14. Serving with my brother Marines during some every difficult days taught me the appreciation of life and to trust in God in all circumstances. Without knowing it at the time, He has directed my path and for that I am grateful.

  15. God is good. One time someone told me that “necessity is the mother of invention.” I know that any creative surges I’ve had in my life were the result of need.

  16. My gift would be a better understanding in healthcare as a provider. My mom had a brain tumor that was successfully removed. She was a patient at UAMS. The people did not know me so I couldn’t just pick up a phone and get answers. At the time, I found this to be extremely frustrating. What it taught me was how family feels that have no medical background and the quiet battle they go through. It gave me the courage to stop and help people understand what’s going on. I don’t care what their education is. What matters is that you take time to help those in need. Trust me, if they don’t want to know you will know that as well. I was forced to “walk a mile” in shoes that didn’t fit. I find that those shoes are always in my closet should I forget who I am.

  17. Thankfulness. I have learned that every day is a gift. It is up to us what we do with our gift. And I love how you are using your gift Vickie! You are truly allowing God to use you as His vessel!
    No, I don’t remember exactly how our story went so many years ago. But, I knew you had a talent for writing even in the fifth grade! I’m glad that you have gotten back to writing! You are doing a beautiful job – speaking from your heart!

  18. I always leave your presence feeling better and encouraged. I needed to read this today, thank you! As you know, losing Addison was a pivotal moment in my life and she herself was a gift. Learning to live without her gave me the gift of empathy and more compassion for others walking the road of grief after losing a baby. I think most of all, my loss taught me to never take a moment or a person in my life for granted. I can honestly say that I really did take so many things for granted in my life before I had her. My eyes were wide open after that. I cherished every single moment during my pregnancy with the girls and I still do, because I am fully aware of how fragile life is.
    -Leah

  19. Adversity is a great teacher…3 1/2 years of unemployment after being gainfully employed for over 27 years allowed the gift of a deepened relationship with Jesus and sitting at His feet learning about who He truly is and experiencing Him in a way I never knew was possible…all that time prepared me for the greatest loss of my life when my mother was taken from this life very unexpectedly this past summer and suddenly my whole world was once again uprooted or in your words turned right side up! I share your viewpoint that I would not choose the things God has used to grow me exponentially but I wouldn’t change it either. To God Be the Glory. No turning back! Great Blog Vicki and I love your insight and share in the excitement of How and where God is working in you and through you to Further His Kingdom!

  20. I do love your blog , sweet lady. You are a very talented writer. After reading your post, I have been reflecting on what gifts I’ve received from adversity. It’s really hard to admit that losing my precious son could bring any gifts. As you said, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen this path. I have realized the gift of comfort. God blessed me with many friends to comfort me. You are certainly one of them. I now realize how fragile life is and we can never take it for granted. I was comfortable in my everyday “sameness ” and then my whole world was changed in an instant. It has helped me realize what really matters and to let go of the things that don’t. I now know that God is good and faithful, but sometimes life just plain stinks. I hope that I can give the gift of comfort to others that travel this road. Thank you so much for starting this blog. It is also a gift and so are you.

  21. I have a life of adversities and a life of blessings in surviving the adversities. For many years I didn’t see God’s hands in my life and didn’t feel His love. But as they say ‘hindsight is 20/20″. I praise God for all of it – the years of sexual abuse – the years if drug and alcohol abuse. These times made me who I am – A CHILD OF GOD!!! I depend in Him for every breathe every moment in my life. I LOVE HIM MORE THAN THE LEAVES ON THE TREES. I never had my own children yet He has given me a beautiful godly daughter who adopted me when she turned 18. Then He has given me children from nations all over the world. GOD IS IN CONTROL and I PRAISE HIM FOR ALL!!!! I was blessed to work with you for 9 wonderful years. I learned so much from you. I cherish you and our friendship. I look back on those nights at 3am and other crazy times – scrubbing for an emergency c- section – we shared heart lifting and heart breaking times. We prayed through many days and events. I love you and I pray for you daily.

  22. Vickie, I am absolutely amazed by your faith and strength. You are a testimony to all of us of God’s faithfulness and grace. I am constantly praying for you and believing you will go into remission. Can’t wait to see all God will do in and through you. Your mom keeps me posted. In His love, Linda Moudy

  23. I am so excited about you writing this blog. You have a God given gift and I know He has a wonderful plan that he will continue to reveal as the days go by. It is such a blessing to see you using your gift to honor God. Going through adversity has made me so aware of God’s faithfulness. He is always there for us. What a wonderful thing it is to know Him and His love. Amazing!

  24. You are such blessing to me and so many others. God is using you to mentor to women in such an unimaginable way. This reminds me of how GOD closed the door to China and opened the door to ATU. As I read your blog and the responses I am overwhelmed with GOD’S FAITHFULNESS and HIS COMPASSION, new every morning. I can’t wait to see how GOD continues to bless.

  25. I struggle sometimes with how some things can be a gift. Nancy going through her chemo and radiation for a second time just doesn’t fit. But then I have people tell me what a testimony she is and I realize that we each touch lives in ways that we never know about. That is a gift. And, as you have said, she and I would probably not have chosen this path but it is out of our hands. Daily I wonder what is it that God has for us…for her. We do not know. I only hope and pray that He gets the glory and that I do not get in the way. We have been given the gift of letting go of our best laid plans and living in the moment because no one has a guarantee of our next heartbeat.

  26. I love this blog. You are definitely a good writer. I look forward to more. As I read all the feedback I looked back over my life. It has been nothing but adversity but I never considered it as that. I acknowledged my life as a challenge and I always looked to God to help me embrace each challenge and get through it. I was a single mother raising 2 kids right at the poverty line so no government help. I do not know what gifts my adversity has brought me to but I do know one thing. Every challenge presented before me has helped me grow as a person and put all my trust in God that he WILL bring me through everything life throws at me. God has a plan for me and we are not there yet but I know we are getting closer and I also know all this diversity/challenges is what has prepared me to accept God’s plan for me when He reveals it.

  27. O Dr Henderson, I can not to begin to tell you what your inspiring messages has meant to me!! Opened my eyes and my heart to a whole different perspective on my last 7 to 8 years on health struggles!! I am thankful for everyday that I wake up,,but there was a time when I had ‘my pity parties! Of why me. I too was at a wonderful point in my life ! Girls were grown, out on there own, doing well,waiting for the time for to be a nana, then I was struck with a cascade of medical ‘this never happens’ ,I still struggle with self doubt about some of my decisions .i am not very good a expressing my feeling or thought, tend to keep them to myself .but do want you to know each of your post has hit the nail on the head for me !! Can’t wait for the next one!! Thank you for sharing your life with us!!

  28. Vicki,your writing is so natural and real. It is like sitting down with an old friend. I follow you on Twitter and feel blessed to see something positive and uplifting on there. My badly wrapped gift has been arthritis in both knees.my vanity has taken a beating!having to be helped down the turtle rocks at Petit Jean during a field trip by two sweet fourth grade girls was humbling.but I am trusting God day by day,just as you are.

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