Yesterday evening, Andy staggered through the doorway with a big cardboard box full of gifts from his fellow school teachers. The girls gathered around and their eyes opened wide as they examined the cellophane wrapped bundles of chocolates, the tins of biscuits, the dishes filled with goodies, the cards… Tucked down one side of the box was a plain brown envelope.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“It’s a letter from the deputy principal,” answered Andy. “Read it.” And so I did. Warmth spread through me. My heart filled with joy. I smiled at Andy and he grinned back at me.

Andy has just completed his first year of teaching. Nearly three years ago, he was made redundant from his sales and marketing job of twenty years. At first it was a bit of a shock, but we soon accepted the situation. Was it all part of St Joseph’s plan to help Andy find more satisfying work after spending so many years in a job he didn’t really enjoy? We’re certain it was.

Andy went back to university, graduated with a Masters degree in teaching (primary), received his Dean’s medal, and was offered his first teaching position. Today is the last day of Andy’s 4th term of teaching. Six weeks of well-deserved holiday stretch before him.

But back to the letter…

It is a letter of appreciation, a letter written from the heart, a letter that was totally unexpected, a letter that resulted in so much joy.

I’ve been pondering the gift of joy. We all have this magnificent power to bring joy to others. It doesn’t necessarily cost anything to give this gift, just a little thought, a little time, a little effort, a little self-giving. We can change another person’s day or even life with a few kind words, a small deed, a sign of affection... It’s not difficult and the results can be amazing and far reaching. 

Why don’t we use our joy-giving power more often? Do we get too busy? Are we too embarrassed perhaps to say what’s in our hearts or to show our love? Are we so focused on ourselves that we fail to see others around us? Or don't we even realise we have been given this wonderful power?

I feel excited. I have this amazing power. I can fill someone’s heart with a wonderful warm feeling. I can fill it with joy. I can fill it with love.

Or do I fill it with Love? And when I use my joy-giving power does Love turn around and take up residence in my heart too?

How will I bring joy to others? How will God use me? I have a lot to ponder...

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  1. How wonderful. Congratulations to your husband and to you all as a family.

    May God bless you this Christmas and always.

  2. My Bible study group was talking about how God works through our lives and actions and that story seems like such a great example. Particularly since you shared it on here so the joy even went a little further!

    Thanks for the reminder -- if I don't pay attention, I get pessimistic and forget how much tiny little things can have a big impact.

  3. Hi Sue

    I think we get caught up in the busyness of living and our own concerns and forget to interact more kindly and decent to wards our dear one and the others who cross our paths each day.

    To exude joy and to make others happy requires at time a very conscious effort. You have reminded me to make the effort with the coming of Christmas. This has also happened with my husband and I doing the advent reading with the blue Advent book. It creates a space to pray and reflect in all the busyness in the led up to Christmas.


  4. Thank so much for your comments, everyone. Our power is being turned off in a few minutes for some maintenance work to the electricity lines. No internet all day! How will I survive? I look forward to replying properly to your comments later.

  5. I love this post. Some of the very best gifts I have received as a teacher has been heartfelt notes of appreciation - makes it all worth it!!! I am so happy for Andy! Teaching can be so fulfilling!

    I also love the way you took this letter of his and turned it around - We do have the power to bring joy to others. Giving joy is a great gift - to both the receiver and the giver. What a great challenge! We should all use this wonderful power more often. It would make the world a better place!

  6. Victor,

    Thank you for your congratulations and Christmas greetings. They are appreciated.

    Andy has worked extremely hard the last three years. I guess the letter was a sign that he's doing OK. He's doing the job God wants him to do. Very encouraging.

    God bless!

  7. Willa,

    I find it amazing how our little actions can have such far reaching results! Andy's fellow teacher could easily have not written this letter but she did, and I don't suppose she knows her effort was shared as I turned her letter into a blog post!

    I quite often get little inspirations to do good, however I am good at ignoring them. Time to listen maybe?

    You said, "I get pessimistic and forget how much tiny little things can have a big impact." Willa you frequently stop and say something to me in a comment that makes my day. A tiny thing? A lovely warm feeling for me. Thank you!

  8. Karnak,

    Yes! Life is very busy and we do get caught up with ourselves. When I get those inspirations to do good and spread a little joy, I often tell myself I am too busy to follow through. Space and time to reflect? You are right.

    It's strange how sometimes that conscious effort you spoke about seems so big. We really have to make ourselves do something. But when we succeed in making a person joyful, all that effort seems nothing at all.

    Thank you so much for stopping and saying hello.

    God bless!

  9. Dana,

    I knew you would understand how much joy a letter of appreciation can give, as you are also a teacher. You also know how difficult and exhausting teaching is. To know that one's efforts are not only appreciated but are making a huge difference can be very encouraging. I think we all need encouragement at times.

    I was going to write about my dear husband and the things the letter contained but on reflection, I decided that wasn't what was really important. The actions of the deputy principal which resulted in joy were a much better story! They gave me much to ponder.

    I imagine you have been very busy with school and Christmas preparations, Dana. May you have a restful and blessed Christmas!

  10. Wonderful news Sue! Congratulations to Andy. He looks quite happy in his picture. It's a great feeling to know that one's hard work is appreciated by their superior. Merry Christmas!

  11. Noreen,

    Andy is very happy. He had a great year. And to receive the appreciation for his work was wonderful.

    Thank you for your Christmas greetings. I hope you have a very blessed Christmas with your husband and son!

    God bless.

  12. Wow, Sue that is a great Blessing. Obviously andy is really shining in his teaching position. Wonderful news. God Bless and May God continue to Bless you this Christmas and into the New year, Leanne

  13. Leanne,

    Andy was meant to be a teacher! It was so lovely to finish the year with such an appreciative letter.

    I have been very blessed to have your friendship this year. Thank you. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family. May God bless you all!

  14. Andy must be an awesome teacher.

    My church gives foodhampers and love gifts. I was there to help pack them.

    My new neighbor's kid just came with a Christmas cake.

  15. Ann,

    I am so pleased to see you here! Thank you for leaving a comment.

    I am a bit biased but I do think Andy is an awesome teacher. He's found his vocation in life.

    I am sure you are feeling joyful as you think of the people who will receive the Christmas hampers and when you eat your neighbour's cake.

    We exchange small gifts over the fence with our neighbour. Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to say thank you for friendships.

    I hope you have a very joyful Christmas, Ann!


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