It is that time of the year again when Christmas is in our thoughts. Let us be mindful and grateful for all our blessings. Everything in life is temporary. So, if things are going fine, enjoy them because they wonít last forever. And if things are going bad, donít worry, they canít last forever either.

Life is how we make it. However, before we ever receive the wonderful treasures of a happy life, we must first give. We must first give of ourselves the best we could in whatever we do and in service to others. It is only what we give that can be multiplied back into our own lives. That is the law of the harvest, the law of the ten-fold return. If we give nothing, even if it is multiplied, we receive nothing.

The woman in the following narrative (inspired by the writings of Robley Martz), lived life for the joy and love of it. She created value for all that she did and in joy she could see the beauty and feel her purpose of existence.

Joy is a gift we give to life that comes back to us the moment we give it. Give it often and give it profusely. Feel joy, be joy and give joy. Then find even more joy in the positive difference it makes.

As the story goes, there was once a woman, who after years of work had grown a beautiful flower garden. She worked a couple hours every day; pruning, cleaning, feeding and weeding. People would come from many miles away to see the beautiful flowers. The colors were vibrant, the flowers were so big, you needed two hands to hold them. Each day nurtured and cared for. Her love showed in her garden.

After many years, the effects of time took their toll on the lady and she was forced to abandon her garden and rely on her daughter for care. Her daughter didn't mind. She loved her mother and felt it a great opportunity to spend time and really get to know her mother....sort of friend to friend, instead of mother to daughter. 

They talked about many things. They shared their experiences. And the daughter learned that there was much to this great lady that she hadn't known.

One day as they sat on the patio chatting, the daughter noticed the long neglected garden and felt saddened. They spoke of the garden and the daughter remarked how she used to laugh at how her mother crawled around in that garden every day, talking to the flowers, babying them like children. 

Nothing is just coincidence; every tree in lifeís garden bears significance.-unknown

The mother smiled with a tear in her eye. She told her daughter that observations are often misleading. "You see, my dear, that garden is like a life. Let me explain. Each day I would get down on my knees and thank God for each of those flowers. I thanked God for their beauty, their aroma and the peacefulness of that garden. And I took the opportunity while down there to clean out those plants. 

I got rid of the bugs, the dead pedals and leaves. I pulled the weeds so that the bushes would grow healthy and robust. I saw that garden as life. Each bush was an effort, each flower was the blessing brought forth from that effort. And it was all because God gave me the opportunity to try. And, as you can see, like life, when the garden is not tended, the bushes become wild, lanky and heavily barbed. They tangle among themselves. Flowers become fewer and smaller, less aromatic. Until it becomes so tangled and overgrown that it no longer resembles the beautiful garden it had once been. 

A beautiful life does not just happen, it is built daily by prayer, humility, sacrifice and hard work.

When you saw me crawling, I was praying. When you saw me talking to the flowers, I was talking to God. We each have a garden. How we tend that garden will determine the beauty that it wields. But the thing to remember is this: tending the garden cannot happen until we come to our knees and get closer to the flowers. We need to take the opportunity to talk to God, give Him thanks and clean out the dead weeds and pedals through repentance.  

Sadly however, we have forgotten what Thanksgiving is about. A day reserved for offering our thanks and gratitude to God, has become a day to eat, drink, sleep and get ready to hit the Black Friday sales at midnight. It has become just another day, differing only by the fact that we have a great big meal.  

When was the last time you got to your knees to tend your garden? Let us approach Christmas and New Year with an attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude for the many blessings God has given us.

By Tim Pedrosa

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought but what we built; not what we got but what we shared; not our competence but our character; and not our success, but our significance. Live a life that matters. Live a life of love.-Unknown