“Mom, I need to get a fifteen dollar gift for the party on Wednesday. Oh and I need a twenty dollar gift for the party on Saturday and I have to make some cookies for the party at school for Spanish class on Thursday. The cookies have to be international and they can’t be store bought.  And we are supposed to wear a tacky Christmas sweater to one of the parties and I don’t have one.”

She rattles off the list and I feel the weight on my shoulders get heavy. Put my hands over my cheeks and close my eyes, take a deep breathe.

And when I open up my eyes, my mother-in-law stands there frozen in front of the fireplace with a rag and spray bottle in her hands. She extends grace to me, cleans the spots of the carpet, unloads the dishwasher, and sets the table for the staff party.

She is thinking about the cookies.  Then begins to offer recipes that she knows would work. Texts her brother for a recipe, scours recipes on-line. 

This morning before she leaves to fly back home, before she takes a shower or finishes packing her bag, she stands over the Kitchen Aid and a counter spread out with measuring cups to make those cookies.

I’m not used to people doing things for me.

As a latch-key kid of a single, working alcoholic mother, I learned early how to take care of myself.  I got myself up in the morning, made my own breakfast, put myself through college, bought my first, second and third car,  moved myself across the country to find my first real job.

When I married H he opened doors for me, had dinner waiting when I got off work, asked me if I needed anything before I went bed, thought about needs I didn’t even know I had.  It felt weird.  Someone thinking about me this way – kindness without expectation – a foreign experience I had to settle into.

And I still struggle with this after twenty one years of marriage.

Because when you grow up thinking that you are the only one you can count on, that the only way to find love is to achieve and perform well, unconditional love from someone makes you feel guilty. Like you should be doing something to earn it.

And every time someone proves that they love you with unselfish generosity, the protective bricks and mortar around your heart begin to crumble.  Because that way of loving is an extension of Christ’s love.  A glimpse of the holy that makes the body go limp, the heart beat joy, the mind let go and receive.

Unearned, abandoned, just because you are you, wild love.  Do you know this?

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

 Joining Emily for Tuesdays Unwrapped, Bonnie at Unwrapping Jesus, and Michelle for Thought Provoking Thursday.  Unwrapping the gifts we often overlook in the common of the every day.  Because sometimes baking cookies is more than just flour dusted countertops and dirty dishes to do.