Gifts – Not Just Pretty Packages

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin


Gift – the word conjures up images of brightly wrapped boxes under a pine tree in December – or small, white boxes adorned with a colorful bow and containing a beautiful gemstone.

christmas tree with packagesBut, gifts don’t always come in pretty packages or contain expensive jewelry. In fact, if you’re Fred Flintstone, a gift is a bowling ball or vacuum cleaner! Seriously, though, gifts are people, even things, that brighten our lives. Gifts are treasures, large or small, that sparkle in our hearts, within our eyes, and on our faces.

Friendship is a gift. Whether down the street or across the country, those people in our lives whom we call friends bring us joy, encourage us, and uplift us.

Parents and GayleLove is a gift. Spouses, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren … all are a source of love, and they, too, bring us joy, give us encouragement, and uplift our spirits.

Health is a gift, noticed especially when we lack it.

Music is a gift. Some people have it, others don’t … but we all can enjoy it because the plethora of genres speak to various hearts and souls.

Writing is a gift … nearly ditto as with music.

One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:7: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” It’s a gentle reminder of Who bestows my gifts of friendship, love, health, writing, and music (what I enjoy listening to, not my actual singing or playing – God didn’t grant me THAT gift!). God has blessed me with numerous friends, a loving family, good health (despite the Ding Dong and Oreo binges!), work, including my writing career, and loyal, delightful pets.

Cody_dog parkThis month I celebrate several gifts. On June 10th, my cocker spaniel Cody turns 16 years of age. Greg and I adopted Cody when he was nearly 10 years old – he came to our local Humane Society as a cast-off stud dog. Older canines are adopted less often even if they are small purebreds. One look into those mournful Spaniel eyes and I knew, though he may not live but a few years, we were meant to give him a home. It’s been six years, and they’ve been great years! Cody is one of my life’s best gifts!

My parents are another. They celebrate 54 years of marriage on June 17th. I’m an only child and I love and respect my parents immensely. Because of them, I appreciate nature, and I’m a writer.

Gayle_Lea_Casey_Leah_booksigningJune 6 – 8 is the Wyoming Writers, Inc., conference. This will be my seventh year attending writers’ conferences. Although I began writing at a young age, thanks to college and conferences, as well as experience, practice, and rejection, I am published in newspapers, magazines, and books. Writing is both a wonderful gift and a great challenge, but I LOVE doing it!

Because of writing, my friendship circle has expanded – that, too, is a great gift!

Good, perfect, simple gifts – from a colorful sunrise to the paw on my lap, from a loving hug to the writing paycheck … though they may not come in beautifully-wrapped packages, each one is a blessing I genuinely appreciate!

As the Shaker song, Simple Gifts, says:

‘Tis the gift to be simple
‘Tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight …

View this lovely song sung by the men’s ensemble Cantus on YouTube:


Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, to articles in Creation Illustrated and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as the Casper Journal, Douglas Budget, and River Press newspapers. Learn more at

SageBigAdventureFront-small      SageLearnsShareFront-small       Walking_FrontCover_small       Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final


19 thoughts on “Gifts – Not Just Pretty Packages

  1. Beautiful Gayle and know that you are also the gift to your friends. Only the best to you now and in the future, may your gifts multiply. Doris


  2. Lovely post Gayle. We all have gifts, we don’t all use our gifts. I think we each have several gifts, but they are for the blessing of others and in so doing we are blessed ourselves, as you have been. Cher’ley


    1. Yes, Cher’ley, some people are gifted in several ways, and it is up to each of us to treasure and improve our gifts; you are so right — many people don’t either understand or appreciate the gifts they are given, which is sad. I’m thankful for those around me — family, friends — and my relationship with God which all help hone my gifts. Thank you for your comments!


  3. Wonderful posts. I’ve had to make an effort with all of the messes around me to take notice of the blessings and gifts in my life and this has helped me get through some rough patches. I know you’ve been having challenges in your life as well. I hope everything is getting better. Thanks for the post.


  4. Cherley stole my line. Lol. I was going to say lovely post. Truly it was. Got me thinking about the gifts I’ve received from God through the years. Some have been taken back by him — like my mom — but they were wonderful to have while they were in my life. And in the case of my mom, who had ALS, God called her home so she could talk and walk and run once more — and even eat solid foods, not what she called her Ensure milkshakes.


    1. Hi, Mike — thank you for your comments. Yes, sometimes the most beautiful gifts aren’t ours to keep, not forever anyway, so they are even more precious to us. Your attitude and outlook on spot-on, though, Mike — your mother is now once again whole and happy, and that’s a promise to look forward to, a very precious gift itself! We all need to remember the wonderful gifts we’re given; I believe that helps during the tough times.


  5. Gayle, yes! The older I get, the more I understand what a true gift is – not material things but joy in friendship and seeing others open a gift, like the joy in seeing grandchildren opening gifts on Christmas morning or birthdays. The older I get, I don’t want “stuff” from friends and family, but rather their company, their conversations. Good post, Gayle.


  6. Your beautiful words say it all, Gayle. God has given us gifts that we often overlook. Such a pity. I’m sure you have cherished each and every day with your lovely dog Cody. What a gift you are to him, as well as he to you. It would be a pity if he had been euthanized just because he was too old to adopt. I spend about fifteen minutes every morning thinking about all the good things God has given me. Since my singing ability is gone right now I was pretty upset at first, but once I gave it over to Him I can handle it. When I walk every morning I see the gifts of bright flowers and blue skies. I see different shaped houses in different colors. Friends, my church, playing the guitar, reading – there are too many gifts for us to mention. Thank you for this lovely post. It’s a great reminder of what we have!


    1. Linda, I am humbled and touched by your words and your own experiences. You have many gifts to share yet — God’s not done with you yet! (or me, it seems, since more and more doors of opportunity have come my way the past week or so!!) When we give the Lord reign and simply bask in His goodness and grace, He displays His splendor and love in a myriad of ways. Have you read “1000 Gifts”? I haven’t, but I hear it’s an amazing book, and it’s on my list!


  7. Thanks for this, Gayle. You are so right about the gifts we all have–our talents, skills, loves, relationships. And even though, as some have commented, those gifts can be taken away, we are grateful for having had them. Blessing to you!


    1. Thank you, Stephanie — you are so right! I thought I’d lose my Cody dog before his 16th birthday, even during the last week or two, but he’s rebounded and seems to be perky once again. Loss is part of this life, sadly, and one reason I look forward to the next life in which I believe no more sorrow or pain, only light, peace, and beauty. Thank you for stopping by to comment!


  8. Lovely post ,Gayle. Gifts do come in all sorts and qualities. Right now whilst on holiday I’m finding it very hard to get gifts for the ‘little ‘ people of my family. 🙂


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