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Are you a joyful Giver?

Jennifer Yardley Barney shares this true story of the Christmas when she learned ‘tis better to give than to receive’.

I knew I was not supposed to be quite so excited. I was too old for that. At age eleven, the oldest and my mom’s “grown up” girl, I had to keep my cool. I was in middle school after all. But every chance I got, when I was alone, I checked each present under the tree. I read every tag and felt every package, guessing at the contents within. I had examined each gift so often that I could tell which present went to which person without even looking at the tags.

It had been a tough year for my family. Whenever my mom looked over at the tree and scattered presents, she would sigh and warn us, “There won’t be as much for Christmas this year. Try not to be disappointed.”

Christmas had traditionally been a time for my parents to spoil us. In years past, the presents would pile up and spill out from under the tree, taking over the living room. I had heard the phrase “giving is better than receiving,” but thought that whoever had said that must have been out of their mind. Getting presents was the whole point! It was the reason I couldn’t get to sleep on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas morning, we eagerly waited in the hallway until Dad told us everything was ready. We rushed into the living room and let the wrapping paper fly. We made weak attempts to wait and watch while other family members opened their presents, but as the time passed we lost our self-control.

“Here’s another one for you,” said Mom as she handed me a package. I looked at it, confused. Having spent so much time examining the presents before Christmas, I recognized this one. But it had not been mine. It was my mom’s. A new label had been put on it, with my name written in my mother’s handwriting.

“Mom, I can’t….”

I was stopped by my mother’s eager, joyful look—a look I could not really understand. “Let’s see what it is, honey. Hurry and open it.”

It was a blow dryer. Though this may seem but a simple gift, to me it was so much more. Being an eleven-year-old girl, I was stunned. In my world, where receiving outweighed giving by light years, my mom’s act of selflessness was incomprehensible. It was a huge act. Tears filled my eyes and I thought in disbelief about how much my mom must love me to give up her Christmas so I could have a few more presents.

I have always remembered that Christmas fondly. It had such an impact on me. As an adult with children in my life whom I adore, I can now understand my mom’s actions. I see how she was not “giving up her Christmas” as I had thought, but was finding an even greater joy in her Christmas because giving truly is better than receiving. My mom’s simple act meant the world to me. (From and “Chicken Soup for the Soul” [2013].)

Christmas is the ultimate expression of giving. No, not the many presents placed lovingly under the tree, but the Father giving His only Son so that we might have salvation, full and free (John 3:16). Mahalo, Lord, for your gift!


This Sunday, November 28, we will begin our Christmas series, “The Songs of Christmas”. Did you know Luke includes five songs in his account of the Christmas story? We are familiar with the joyous song of the Angels, but there are four more. We start with Elizabeth’s beautiful song of Blessing and Joy, the “Beatitude” (1:39-45). Please join us at 10:35am in the building (and stay after to help decorate the building for Christmas) or online for the Live broadcast on either Facebook (Honolulu AG) or our YouTube channel (Honolulu Assembly of God).

Coming Up: Our 10th annual Christmas Lunch and Treasure Trade for Ladies and girls will take place on Saturday, December 4, at 11:30am. Please bring your donations of new or gently used items to the church this Sunday. This is an outreach so please invite your friends and family to enjoy it with you. Our 2nd Drive-Through Prayer in the parking lot outreach will happen that same afternoon at 1pm. Don’t miss it!

Aloha and Aloha ke Akua!


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