No presents but God’s presence

January 12, 2018

Six years ago, a series of events threatened to crush Judy and her family, but God was faithful and taught her what’s most important at Christmas time...and beyond.



My story begins with our own mistake. It was a big one. 

While I had struggled with depression and I think undiagnosed ADHD as a child, life had generally been good. For the past 21 years my husband, Gary, and I had run a successful slashing business, working on the sides of roads, highways and railway corridors. We were comfortable. The income was very good, but the expenses big. 

In 2011 my husband decided to upgrade our four tractors, not stagger the turnover as usual. I was against the idea, but he decided to go ahead. Then in 2012 we lost one of our major contracts and in 2013 we lost the other. We started selling the tractors and kept working, but overheads were so big and without the big contacts we went backwards fast. Any savings went straight down the funnel.

Soon there was no money left, the credit cards maxed out, we closed our business and the debtors’ phone calls were thick and furious. We didn’t answer the phone, no mail was opened. My husband had been seriously suicidal and our daughter diagnosed with severe depression. 

By 2014 I had up-skilled and was employed by The Salvation Army as a PA. I was so blessed and knew God’s hand was in it. I’d become a Christian at the age of 15 at a youth camp, then probably had been quite rebellious until I was 24 when my sister gave me a study Bible and I started walking closer to God. My husband and kids don’t share my faith—yet.

At work I never asked for help, I knew it was our issue, due to our decisions, but found great moral support. We did Bible studies and the Salvos’ officer (minister) I worked with and his wife became good friends. My husband couldn’t find work for a year so even though I was working, putting food on the table was ridiculously hard. We were living on my wage and trying to pay all the leftover business debt and house payments and everything else.

Very few people knew my story, but one day our officer’s wife Jan asked, “What are you doing for Christmas?” and the whole story came out. Here I was going to a Christmas party for work bawling my eyes out because I couldn’t do anything for our three kids.

Under cover and out of sight I received a basket of food vouchers for meat and fresh food. Honestly, without this we would not have eaten on Christmas day. I was so grateful.

So, Christmas 2015 there were no presents, but we had the food and in a funny way it was probably the best Christmas we’d ever had. We had each other and we were so thankful we had come so far. It wasn’t about extravagance; it was just about being together.  

And there was another could-only-be-God bonus of that Christmas—my husband’s friend, who is a fisherman, invited us over for Christmas dinner and we ended up having fish and prawns and crab—an amazing feast we could never have imagined possible. 

I have trusted God through the journey and he has never let me down, even in some life-threatening situations over the years. I have come to realise that regardless of who we are and what we do, even the mistakes we make, God is the potter, we are the clay and we just need to trust in him and follow in his footsteps. Through the tough times and good I have learned, most of all, that God is faithful.


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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Vol. 139, No. 14 // 11 April 2020

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