The girls were 7 and 3 years old when their mom and dad moved into a new home. The home that would be a fun, exciting place, full of memories and celebrations. A home that was perfect, just for their family of four. This home was in the suburbs, away from the city, where it had become a difficult place to raise a family.
It was exciting during the period leading up to the first Christmas. The spring and summer months were spent enrolling the girls in the local schools, park district activities and visiting the local church. Both mom and dad worked full time jobs and they knew things were looking up. That was their dream.
They began dabbling a little in network marketing, encouraged by a friend and co-worker who had done well. As the opportunity unfolded, personal savings ware often used to get the business off the ground because supplies and inventory were needed. As the months passed, the parents thought they should buy some Christmas decorations, too, at least a tree, so the would the house would look festive and the girls would be happy.
A six foot artificial tree was purchased. It was perfect for the living room, even though there was hardly any furniture. But, it didn't matter, they thought. The girls had many presents from their parents, grandparents and other relatives. Next year, as the business grew, their current income would be supplemented, enabling them to furnish their home and pay bills. God would provide.
Soon after that first Christmas, dad lost his job. Mom continued to work every day. Dad worked the business and search for employment.
As time progressed, the job market became more difficult, but they remained hopeful. Even with one income, they never stopped tithing.
By the next Christmas, the tree was put back up, with a few more ornaments, but with less gifts.
“Tell us what you really want for Christmas,” they told their daughters. “You can get two main gifts each. Remember, we will do more later.”
“Okay,” the girls grumbled a little, but still excited about the possibility. That scenario continued.
Over a ten year period, dad worked mostly part time teaching jobs. Mom remained employed full-time. After just four years in network marketing, they stopped. It became a strain as bills piled up, and activities and sports dominated the girls time. Church, however, became more of a focus, helping the family progress in their ministry and serve.
It appeared that every Christmas was a small event -- in the natural. With not much family, gatherings were intimate and more focused on Jesus'.
Sometimes the girls complained that other kids were getting things like TV’s, X-boxes, PlayStation, clothes, shoes, cell phones and money.
“Ashley just got $300 from her parents for Christmas. How come we don't get money like that?” the oldest would ask.
By the time the girls were 17 and 14, the family had to move. The pervasive economic crisis finally overcame them, in the natural. But, John 10:10 states, “the thief comes not but to steal, kill and destroy,” while Jesus goes on to say... “I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.”
It was still rough during the high school years and sacrifices were made. But, God's favor was in operation. New friends were discovered, new talents and gifts were showcased, and opportunities to see God move mightily was something great to behold.
It seemed the family began to truly appreciate life a little more in their rental home. Grandparents and favorite aunts and uncles had passed on, but the many blessings God had bestowed on their family were remembered more every day.
Now, the oldest is married and has a baby. Last Christmas, her parents, younger sister and uncle spent a few days at their first home. A wonderful time was had by all, exchanging presents, gratefully expressing the true meaning of Christmas.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21).
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