My Mini Christmas Miracle

beachpost

You may not consider what happened to me near the close of the 1990s a miracle. But looking back, I do. How else would you describe the turning of a modern day Scrooge into a Christmas angel?

My transformation began while reading a magazine article as the holidays approached…

Christmas had never provided me with the warm and fuzzy feelings others have for this day. My father and mother had married on Christmas eve, but the company party was always that same day. My father came home drunk and only after the stores closed. My mother cried; they argued. We kids kept the tears inside knowing the only Christmas presents we would get would be bought at day-after sales.

This article’s author was describing how to get over a case of Christmas blahs. I needed more help than that, but for some reason kept on reading. She wrote that the answer was as simple as buying yourself a Christmas present.

Absurd, of course. And what would I even want for a present? I’m not impressed by diamond and sapphire jewelry, like my sister had just received. Flowers are lovely and OK for birthdays. But what would I actually want that I could buy myself for Christmas?

An idea occurred. Bill Cosby had just given away millions to a college. I would love to give away money like that to help others. So I decided to give $75; not a lot. And it would have to go to someone I knew who would not be expecting a gift from me. A Santa Claus gift indeed.

Our new company secretary was becoming a good friend. I could see she needed a new winter coat and spotted a bright red dress version on sale. Her surprise was hardly more than my own at the joy I received from giving this gift.

I kept up this annual practice for many years. Once I gave a co-worker $100 so he could buy his daughter her first new bicycle for the holidays. Years after he left the company to work elsewhere, he inquired about me and mentioned to that co-worker about the gift.

Yes, indeed. A modern day miracle that has changed me forever. An article written by an author, like myself. Miraculous.

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Miracle of the Tithe – Improving Financial Future

Butterfly and Me
Butterfly Buddy

Often I tell portions of my experience with tithing. Here is the complete story which covers a period of thirty years…and includes several miracles along the way.

We were living in northern VT where most families were at poverty level. Why were we there? One reason was because I wanted to escape from the materialism I disliked in CT. We became poor beyond my wildest dreams.

Our family included my husband (steadily employed at a bank), myself (running a free used clothes room in church building) and our four children attending a rural grade school. In-laws helped us buy a small house formerly used as a summer camp. The mortgage and car payments precluded eating out at restaurants, buying new clothes (grandparent’s gift got new undies for school), or vacations unless someone offered us a place to stay free. Buying food for six meant cutting a pound of hamburg into three portions. Even our garden refused to yield little in the short growing season except scruffy carrots and a poem I wrote about honking geese flying south overhead. I provided after school care for a friend’s daughter, cooked at the school, and then tried selling religious books and Shaklee vitamins.

These things did little to help our finances. That is when I read or heard about tithing…I don’t remember which. But Bible verses promised: “Bring all the tithes into My storehouse; see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing”, also “Give and it shall be given to you, heaped up, pressed down and running over.” Did we really have any choice?

We began tithing 10%, most coming from my husband’s earnings. Was there immediate improvement? That would be a miracle, right? Not in God’s economy. Seed sown must be patiently waited for.

So what did happen? My husband was forced into quitting his job, meaning there was no unemployment income. We had to take the money our kids earned helping their grandparents in order to buy milk and put gas in the car. We both had to work part-time temporary jobs, delivering newspapers, stocking shelves, selling phones, and once working three months on third shift an hour’s drive from our house. Did we stop tithing? Thankfully, no.

But I did get some financial wisdom from the marketing and sales tapes my Shaklee supervisor sent. One speaker said to check your financial earnings over the past 5 years. He bet the figures plateaued at the same point each year…he was right. No matter what weird combination of jobs we had held or which state we lived in, we earned exactly $22K each year. EXACTLY! That meant, without some miracle nothing would ever change.

I firmly believe our miracle finally came from insights gained due to tithing…my husband’s parents saw a job listing in their CT paper and offered to let us stay with them. Both of us got decent jobs, and our income finally jumped that plateau for the first time. We got an apartment. Our kids found after-school and summer jobs, too. An inheritance paid off our credit card debt.  My husband got steady employment with the post office. After two bad renters, we let his old bank take back the VT house.

Even after a divorce and living alone in a studio apartment, I kept tithing. My salary doubled in less than ten years. When I was forced to retire, my income doubled for that one year…a miraculous repayment of all I had given away.

Whenever financial doubt creeps in, I remind myself out loud: “I always have enough to meet my needs and give to others.” Then once a month, I get out my checkbook and give back to the Lord.

Location: VT: 1970-1980s
Type: Provision