My most memorable Christmas was not my most fun Christmas in the Norman Rockwell sense. At Christmas in 1988 I was seven and a half months pregnant with Kelsey and Katie had just turned two. Gene had been laid off since October. Our finances were lean, so Gene and I decided not to buy each other anything for Christmas. Gene was feeling the stress of not bringing in his usual paycheck and the uncertainty of when that would happen again.
Gene worked part time at a Christian bookstore. Many returned items had minor defects and could not be resold so the staff was allowed to bring home what they wanted from these items. Since Katie was only two, she did not know or care if her gifts came in the factory packaging, nor did she notice if there was a slight chip in a toy. So we used this opportunity for most of Katie’s gifts. What a gift from God! We had gifts for our little girl and spent very little on a few other toys. She thoroughly enjoyed her second Christmas even though we were on the strictest of budgets.
Also from that bookstore, Gene purchased for fifty cents a little booklet written by the late Larry Burkett. In it he explained the basics of making and working a budget. This was new information for Gene and me. But we put it into practice and have lived by it ever since. I would hate to think how we would have handled our money all our married life without what we learned from Larry Burkett.
That winter was tough, but God was incredibly faithful. We never missed a bill. God met our every need. Gene and I learned to trust Him like we’d never done before. Then in February I gave birth to our biggest baby—9 pounds and 2 ounces. Kelsey was born with a full head of red hair. She was a happy baby and blessed us all. Gene did not find a new job until April. Even with a new baby, God continued to bless and provide for us.
Not exactly a Norman Rockwell Christmas, but through the leanness we definitely came to know and trust God more than in any other Christmas.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.