I was recently able to spend a morning in Cadiz, Ohio, with part of my team from White Law Office, Co.
We spent the morning working as personal shoppers alongside parents and grandparents as they picked up essentials, winter clothing, and gifts for the children in their families.
I set myself about the singular purpose of imbuing the event with as much dignity and honor as I could.
Whatever this season of life was for the participants, it does not define their value or worth as individuals.
As I escorted a young mother of 5 around the room talking about age-appropriate gifts, I reflected on our humble beginnings.
My wife and I were married young, while we were both still in college.
Despite work-study jobs and regular jobs, we graduated with significant college debt.
My wife had the only degree worth something in the market, Music Education, and I had a less practially useful degree, Advanced Bible Studies.
Fortunately, she found us both teaching positions as a small private academy
While small private academies pay is enough to live on, it doesn't provide for much more.
Those first years we made our daily expenses.
But we were reliant upon family and community for their generosity for those infrequent expenses like car tires, winter coats, repairs, and a lawnmower.
To put it in perspective, we didn't even make enough for our student loan holders to consider us capable of making payments.
I cannot imagine what it would have been like having children to care for during that time as well.
That season is almost two decades past, but I still remember the feeling of walking on a tight rope without a net.
But amid that uncertainty, there were the bright spots of the generosity of those that gave to us when we weren't sure how we were going to tackle the next significant expense.
And even those that gave to us beyond our needs.
I remember the one family that gave me the small standing piano so that I could give it to my wife as a present.
She used it to practice her music and teach private lessons.
That piano is still in our music room today.
When I was helping families pick out essentials and gifts, I didn't see individuals defined by their needs.
I saw people who were having their needs met so they can get through this season, however long it may last.
And I may have, despite being grinchy about the commercialized holiday season, got a little misty-eyed knowing that the kids are going to have something under the tree.
Whatever your season, keep moving forward, you are going to make it!
See you over the next ridge!