CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | November 2023 EDITION
Giving and Receiving
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Published December 2022
By Helena Smrcek



Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

I was driving my dear friend and mentor to an event, when the phone rang, and my neighbour’s voice fill the car through the speakerphone. She had money ready for our daughter who fed her dogs while she and her husband were out of town. I explained why paying her wasn’t necessary, our daughter loved her dogs and had fun doing it. My neighbour insisted.

After I hung up, my friend said: “Just say thank you.” I glanced at him. “With grace,” he added. “You need to allow her to express her gratitude.“ His response made me think. I considered myself a giver. But was I equally good at the receiving end?

Christmas time is one of my favorite holidays. I love shopping, wrapping, and expecting the excitement. In short, I love blessing others. But am I a good receiver of gifts? Through my life I have been given presents, advice and help countless times. Had I always received it with grace and thankful heart?

Two years ago, during a family health crisis, I was astonished as several of our friends rallied around us and gifted us with countless hours of help. Without their gift of time, we would not have made it through. Not only did we deal with three consecutive surgeries, stress, pandemic, but we also sold our house and now had to move the entire farm.

Not knowing how to adequately thank them really bothered me. It seemed that words were not enough. I wondered if I should pay them. That seemed wrong, even offensive. I prayed and tried to solve my dilemma when it finally dawned on me. I was struggling with my pride. And then I thought of my dear friend. Receive the gift. “Say thank you. With grace.”

It was simple, yet very difficult for me. My personality type doesn’t leave much room for relying on others. I do get things done, by myself, and if one way doesn’t work out, my creative mind usually comes up with an acceptable alternative. Or at least it did, until we were faced with an unsolvable puzzle, and the only solution was to accept help. That gift of encouragement, friendship and countless hours of work will for ever stay with us.

As I gather the gifts to place under the tree this Christmas, my heart is filled with gratitude. I am thankful for another beautiful year, and the promise of a new one. All of us had faced unprecedented challenges during the past three years, but the grace of God never left us. No one enjoys the pandemic fallout. Inflation, rising interest rates and soaring prices at the gas pumps are a struggle for most of us, yet we still need to remember to be thankful for what we have, achieved, and had been blessed with.

During this Christmas season, I want to purposefully seek out moments of gratitude. If the pandemic taught me nothing else, it did teach me to take every day as a gift, with humility, gratitude, and purpose. I ask God daily about what to focus on next, as my life seems to be constantly filled with a jungle of responsibilities, but as someone said long before me, I do not want to miss out on the best, just because I am too busy with the good.

I invite you to pray with me for direction and guidance for 2023. During the upcoming Christmas season, carve out some time for quiet reflection. Perhaps even grab a notebook and write down what God impresses on your spirit.

Remember, He placed us here with purpose. This piece of history is ours to create, and even though we may feel too small to fight the giants of world economics, military conflicts and policies that do not support our world view, we are still mighty, for we are children of the Most High God.

Focus on what is in your power to change. Look around your home, your circle of friends and acquaintances. Who is struggling with health issues, who needs encouragement and support? Who could use a gift card to a grocery store, who’s parents are sick, who is lonely or lives with a broken heart?

Christmas is a beautiful season, as our part of the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Even if many do not follow Him, they still decorate their trees and participate in gift giving. Let us be a light to them. Humility and kindness, help during difficult times, or a simple word of encouragement opens a door.

And if someone feels the need to thank us, let’s set aside our pride and pass the glory onto our Heavenly Father, as He is the giver of not only all good things, but our life. To Him be the glory, for in His gift of Jesus Christ we have received life eternal.

Let’s live this next year with focus on the good, every single day. Let’s try to find those around us who need our help. But also fix our eyes on eternity, as that is our promise, destiny and home, and I for one say: “Thank you.” With gratefulness and humility. We can give, because we had received.

About the author...
Helena Smrcek
, a journalist, author, and screenplay writer, believes in the power of a well-told story. Her readers can expect a captivating page-turner, filled with thrilling suspense, and heartwarming romance.

She started in publishing as a high school student, freelancing for her local newspaper. Her journalism carrier took off in 1999. Within three years Helena accumulated over 100 by-lines and interviewed Ann Graham Lotz, Carol Lewis, Cec Murphey, Kelita and others. Her stories, many of them covers, have been published in Canada, USA, Bermuda, New Zealand, and Australia. In 2002 she accepted a position at Listen Up TV, a current affairs program.

Helena became a founding member of Write!Canada, and The Word Guild, a Canadian national association of writers and editors. She is a graduate of Jerry Jenkin’s Craftsman Class, Act One, Donald Maass’ Fire in Fiction, Writer’s Police Academy, and several mentoring programs.

She regularly attends writers’ conferences and is a past or current member of such organizations as Word Weavers, American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Toast Masters International, Boni, The Writer’s Guild, and others. Helena loves to participate in NaNoWriMo and hosts a writers’ group.

As an entrepreneur, she is familiar with marketing, branding, and social media. She has volunteered with YMCA, mentoring new Canadians pursuing their business dreams, and was an active member of her local Chamber of Commerce.

When not at her keyboard, Helena loves listening to audio books. Working on her hobby farm, and traveling. She lives in the Waterloo Region, Ontario, with her husband, two adult children, two dogs, several cats, and her favourite goat, Rosie.