I vividly remember a Christmas we attended when my kids were small. All the children had a pile of gifts to unwrap. It was one of the younger boy’s turn to pick a gift to open. He was so excited talking about how he knew this specific gift had to be the toy he wanted. The gift box was the exact size of the toy he had hoped for. He shook it, held it, and the weight was perfect. It was the only thing he really wanted. But to his surprise it was NOT the toy! He was so upset that he didn’t enjoy the cool toy he did get. His parents had to remind him to say thank you and think about his ungrateful attitude. I have found that many people have a hard time with ungratefulness and bitterness when they receive gifts they do not like. I am not just talking about a Christmas or birthday gift, but the gifts that God has given us. The gifts I am thinking of are a loss of a child or loved one, a broken relationship, bad health or money issues. These are thing people have a hard time receiving, understanding or even wanting. But God tells us, “Give thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks to God ALL THE TIME!

He didn’t say give me thanks when you are happy, when things are going great, but he said give me thanks when things are really, really horrible! If we give him thanks in all circumstances we are showing we are living according to his will. He always gives us what is best for us. But, I have found we struggle because we are fixed on ourselves or the gift. I will never forget the night of my son Tyler’s accident four and a half years ago. The accident happened about a mile from our house. It was early morning when everyone had left the accident scene and my husband and I decided to walk home to clear our heads.

We were talking and I so clearly remember thanking God for giving us 15 years with Tyler. Thanking him for our friends and family that were all placed precisely where they needed to be for the accident to go the way it did.

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I can remember feeling calm and at peace. As if we were being blessed for thanking God for the good that came from a very horrible situation.

So I would ask you this. When you are faced with a difficult gift, do you respond by how you feel about that gift or how you want to honor the giver? Do you get bitter or are you grateful no matter the gift? If you honor the giver with open arms and give thanks you will be blessed no matter how difficult the gift is . . . that is faith.

Keep in mind that it also depends on how you perceive the gift. Do you look at a dirty old wooden soda box as trash? Or do you look at it as a base for a beautiful bouquet of flowers we received at Tyler’s funereal. The box was had picked and cleaned by Tyler which makes it a treasured gift with lots of memories. I perceive that as a beautiful gift.

Just like my son Tyler’s accident; I could have perceived that gift with anger, hate and been mad at God. But, I chose to look at it in a way that God must have a greater plan to impact hundreds of thousands of people who I will never know in a very powerful way.

My perception wavers during the hard days, but I still thank God for giving me such a kind, positive, blue-eyed boy for 15 amazing years. I am very blessed to have had that time unlike some parents who have lost a child at birth that will never be able to experience the thing I did. So when you are struggling with the gifts you were given. I would take a minute and ask yourself, how do I perceive my gift? It is an attitude of gratefulness or bitterness? Am I thanking God all the time or only when it benefits me? Just remember blessings come in mysterious ways.

Missy Hillmer

My name is Missy Hillmer. I’m married, live in a small town named Palmer, NE and have 3 children. Jake is our oldest who is 19 years old and Gracie is 11 who lives here with us. Tyler which was 15 years on August 20, 2013 is now in Heaven. He was killed in a car accident just 3 short days after his 15th birthday. I am very honest, very real sometimes to the point of not being fun, I guess that’s because I’m a black and white kind of girl. I like to look at the positive in every situation. I really believe there are two ways to look at things. Look for the bad or the good. The “bad” does me no justice and can spiral out of control in a heartbeat. The “good” however gives me hope and it connects with my belief that God is with me through everything. I believe my faith has gotten me through life and especially since my son’s accident. I pray a lot more, watch for the signs that God gives me, listen to my inner gut feeling, as my husband calls it and really focus on living a simple life. Family means everything to me, I love to laugh and think it’s the best medicine for any problem. Music soothes my sole and being outside in the sun brings me great joy! I have learned that many times you cannot control the storm in your life but, you can learn to dance in the rain. I really mean it when I say DANCE in the RAIN! The summer before Tyler’s accident, Tyler, Gracie & I danced in the rain. This memory I will never forget! Since Tyler’s accident I am passionate about telling my story with the hope that it will help or inspire at least one person.