Hebrews 13:5 NLT Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. God has said, "I will never leave you; I will never abandon you."
It was Christmas, 1992. We had just moved back to our hometown of Denver, Colorado after eighteen months in Corpus Christi. Gene had been offered a job with great potential, but not much money. In Texas, our address was a pretty little house on an even prettier street, which fit neatly into our small budget. While we were in Texas, Denver’s real estate prices soared as people from Silicon Valley migrated to the Mile High City. So we found ourselves unable to afford a house, but instead settled for a six hundred square foot townhouse in a sketchy part of town. We told ourselves it was ok, it wasn’t permanent.
We had two children then. Max was six and Samuel was 11 months, and I was enormously pregnant with our little girl. We joined a wonderful church and became part of the music ministry. We thanked God our church had a food bank, which we visited every week. It helped us stretch our small income, and make ends meet. The holiday season was fast approaching, and we needed all the help we could get!
We couldn’t afford a tree until a few days before Christmas. Gene found a tree lot owner that was willing to take pennies on the dollar for one of the last trees on the lot. The specimen he brought home was green, and that is the nicest thing I can say about it! Do you remember “A Charlie Brown Christmas”? It was like that tree, small and scruffy and in need of love. We set up the tree, and were ready to decorate it, but our box of lights and ornaments was nowhere to be found. We searched high and low, but to no avail. My precious ornaments, collected over a lifetime, were gone, presumably lost in the move.
With little time before Christmas, I was determined we would decorate our tree. We didn’t have money for new ornaments, but I had seen a picture in a womens’ magazine of some simple homemade ones. I found the magazine and clipped the instructions. Max and I made the clay-like dough, cut out the ornaments, and baked them. We used my cookie cutters and made stars, angels, bells and candy canes. When they were dry, we painted them bright holiday colors, and threaded red ribbon through the top of each one. We put two strands of small colored lights and two dozen candy canes on the tree. Next, we hung strings of popcorn on the branches, and tied our ornaments to each bough. Gene made the quintessential foil star for the top, and we were finished. Our tree was beautiful to us, and we were so thankful. We had a few gifts for the children and for each other under our little tree. It was a magical Christmas! And when we moved from that tiny townhouse 2 years later, I found our lost ornaments in a forgotten cabinet in the garage.
As I was decking the halls last holiday season, I found one of our homemade ornaments from that Christmas of 1992. I put it in a little glass bowl on our coffee table to remind us to be grateful for all God has done. I was telling a friend about that Christmas so long ago, how little we had, and how thankful we were for our scruffy tree and our homemade ornaments. Max seemed so surprised, and said “I didn’t know we were poor! I thought we made ornaments for fun!” It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? It’s all about what we’re focused on. Max remembered the fun we had, our time together, and the wonderful memories we made. What a gift, to see our lives through the eyes of a child!
Prayer for today: Heavenly Father, Teach me to focus on things that really matter. Help me to be content in whatever situation I find myself, grateful for all You provide. Help me remember You will never abandon me, but always care for me. In Jesus name, Amen.