“Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the love of God and family and to create memories that will last forever. Jesus is God’s perfect, indescribable gift. The amazing thing is that not only are we able to receive this gift, but we are able to share it with others on Christmas and every other day of the year.” ~ Joel Osteen

Memories that last forever are the ones where something significant happened. When I was growing up, many Christmases were the same; get up early, run into the other room, look for presents under the tree (on the years we had one) and rip into the presents! I also remember a bowl of nuts – not normal ones – but some that were weird looking. I recognized the peanuts, walnuts, and some weird shaped triangular ones that I always used the metal nutcracker we had to open them up. If you follow my blogs you know that I am a slow learner, so I ate them every year and thought, “Yuck, why are these out?” Still there they were, every year. In fact they may have been the same nuts over and over! Then at night Mom would get drunk and what had started as an amazing day usually ended with yelling and tears.

My incredible wife Noell and I decided to make new memories. One of the things we started doing that has since caught on is giving gifts. Not just presents, but gifts. These gifts are given more infrequently than most other gifts, but are free and unlimited! And they can literally change someone’s day and make a memory that will last forever.

You don’t have to be strong to do this; just a little brave. And you have to take off the mask you usually wear, which is something many first learn how to do in The Journey Training. 

Just sit down with someone you love, hold their hand and look them in the eyes, and tell them the gifts you see in them. For example, I would do this: I hold my wife’s hand, look her in the eyes, and tell her, “The gifts I see in you are an INCREDIBLE wife, one that knows when I hurt and won’t show it, one that gently nudges me to put the phone away and pay attention to the kids. You are the mother of my kids that I prayed for all my life. Your love for others is one that is unparalleled.” Then I hug her and tell her I love her.

Then I’ll move on to my kids; I do this individually with each of them in the same way. I would share with them how proud I am of their leadership (Connor), how their optimism and smile helps motivate me daily (Casey), how they amaze me with their musical talent (Chase), how their heart for giving and to help others makes me want to do more for others (Cameron), how I love watching them take care of others around them, and that I can’t last a single day without a hug from her (Savy), and how she has the gift of tenacity and pushes through until she gets what she wants (Sydney), and how it inspires me. I do this one by one; looking each of them in the eye and making sure each of them know how much I love them.

Sure, they can open a toy that they may forget about later, but they won’t forget when time stood still, and I as the man of the house I showed them my love, and at the same time I showed them how to love others.

Try it this Christmas. I know you (and they) won’t be disappointed. You’ll give a gift that will never grow old, be forgotten, or be something they didn’t want!

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what The Journey Training is all about, this pretty much sums it up. We just show God’s love in a new and different way.

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