Since I was a little girl, early elementary age, I feel like I have been pretty in tune to the world around me. At a young age, I understood full well that money was not something that was plentiful at our home. My father was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in his early twenties, shortly after I was born. He also had some other health issues that required surgery and hospital stays causing the medical bills to pile up. I also understood full well that my father was an extremely hard worker and was doing everything he possibly could to provide for our family. My mother too, worked outside the home to try to make ends meet.
It was just a rule whenever we went to a store that we were never allowed to ask for anything. Not even the candy or gum that was staring at you in the face when you were going through the checkout lane. I understood that “extra’s” just couldn’t be afforded.
At one point, I remember very specifically sitting at the table with my father in the evenings, licking the green food stamps that we put on little “BINGO” looking cards. When those cards were full, we both would go to the grocery store and “buy” milk, bread, and cheese. Looking back, I am sure that had to be a bit humbling for my dad, but he has never been the proud type. He did what he had to do and as a little girl, I watched him and took it all in.
One Christmas eve, our family gathered in our living room. We had big windows in the corner of that room and a Christmas tree filled that space for the people on the street passing by to see. The thing however that was probably different than other families sitting by their Christmas trees that evening was that ours didn’t have any presents under it to open.
I remember that my mother and us kids were sitting on the floor, and my father stood up. He told us that this year, due to the circumstances of that year, there just wasn’t going to be presents for us. But right at that moment, the front doorbell rang. My dad went to the door and I got up and did the same. There stood a man, holding a box, and handed it over to my dad.
He took the box, closed the door, and placed it down by the tree. Then he opened it and started to take out little wrapped gifts, and on those were our names.
We each took a turn opening those gifts, and my gift that year was a small angel ornament. Honestly, I thought it was kind of ugly looking, but none-the-less, I knew full well that I had to be grateful, and I was. I understood that as a little girl.
Throughout the years, us children always received a new ornament every year, so that someday, when we moved out of the house, we would have enough to cover our own Christmas trees. When it was time for me to leave home, I took with me my box of ornaments, each one representing a year of my life – memories. And that little angel ornament was tucked in with the rest of them.
Fast forward several years later. My husband and I had just moved to Wisconsin. We lived in an apartment complex that had an underground parking garage, and each apartment had it’s own little closet in that garage to store extra items. So, when we moved there in the early summer, we brought our Christmas tree, along with all Christmas décor, winter coats, etc. and put it in that space to store.
When December rolled around that year, we went down to that little storage closet and opened it up, anticipating gathering our Christmas tree and décor. At some point between the time we moved and the time we went to gather our Christmas items, the space had gotten wet and mold covered EVERYTHING. Our winter gear was dripping in mold. Our Christmas tree was ruined. I started to open the box of the ornaments that I had received every year from the time I was a baby to the present day, and found that mold had made it’s way inside of that too.
Very slowly, one by one, I started to remove those ornaments to assess the damage. 95% of the ornaments I had to throw away that year. But as God would have it, when I went to pull out that little angel ornament, not a single drop of mold was on it. I looked it over multiple times and I could not find any mold. It was placed in the middle of all the other ones that were covered in mold, and yet, it was not ruined.
Each year now, as I go to decorate my Christmas tree, I pull out that old angel ornament, handle it with care, and place it upon my tree. Each year as I do, I am reminded of where I came from, the grace that God had on our family all those years ago, and am reminded that despite what life hands you, our Father protects us.
Jeremiah 29:11, “”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I sometimes feel that this verse is misunderstood in today’s culture. People who read it tend to think that this verse means that God will protect you from suffering or pain. That is not it AT ALL. It does mean that God has plans for each one of us, and until we have fulfilled that purpose on this earth, we can have hope and know that He is with us and will help us along the way.
I just want to take a moment to encourage anyone who feels that they are stuck in the midst of an unfair time of life, or if they feel that things are just not going their way. It is hard, isn’t it? But you know what? It is going to be OK. If you can just try to remind yourself that God has plans for you – plans of prosperity – your perspective will start to change! None of your struggles have to be in vain if you place your trust in the One who is in control of it all.
I am happy to say that while times were not easy, from what I can tell, I always had the material items that I needed growing up. I know those items sometimes came with a price – financially, or worse with judgment from others. (That was actually easy for me to notice) But I could also tell that my parents placed their trust in God. And God supplied what we stood in need of.
And the whole time, He was using it to mold (no pun intended!) me into the person I am today.
I know because the Christmas Angel reminds me year after year.
And that everyone is a good thing. 🙂