We all have times in our lives when we feel completely helpless. For most people in America this feeling is associated most commonly with health of finances. In 2005 I got a phone call that left me feeling that way financially. To be as transparent as I can, Anita and I have been digging ourselves out of debt for a little while. We both had student loans; we both made some poor financial decisions in college; and we made some poor decisions financially early on in our marriage.
Everything caught up with us in December 2005. I still remember standing outside of the restaurant I was eating lunch at with my fellow staff members when I got the phone call informing me that something had to be done immediately….or else. That day I went home and told Anita about it all. I've never understood panic attacks but right there in that moment I had one. It had never happened before and never happened again but it was real and it was terrifying.
To shorten a long story, we came up with a solution to the immediately problem but that left us in sad financial shape just before Christmas. We made the hard decision that there wouldn't be any presents under the tree or from us to anyone that year. To a lot of people this is a regular situation. In the bigger picture it really isn't even that big a deal but for parents of an almost two year old and as much as we enjoy doing for others, this was hard.
Not long after that decision was made Anita went to a Christmas get-together for some of the Pastor's wives at our church. A story was told about a family who had a similar experience. I don't want to butcher the story so I'll only explain why it's important to this post. The family in the story had only feathers to decorate a tree. Anita came home that night in tears. As she told me the story we both knew what our ornament should be that year. A simple red feather that she brought home that night. We'll always remember how God carried us in spite of our poor decisions.
In the end there were presents under the tree for our little girl. We were given several things by friends, family and a local church. And now each year that little feather reminds us to pass on the generosity that was so lovingly shown to us.