Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Single-Parent Homeschool Adventure, Continued

Journey into the Unknown, Part 2

Tested

I had wept and begged God to show me His will. The phone rang the next morning. Incredibly, it was a businessman in search of a typist! In stunned silence I listened to him explain that a local university had given him my contact information. I had graduated from that school sixteen years earlier with a BA in Interpretative Speech; I had not been a secretarial student. True, I had posted a notice offering to type theme papers—about five years prior to his call. However, university guidelines stated that such notices would be disposed of after one year. Plenty of other typists post ads looking for work. To expect anyone to have my name and phone number and be prepared to recommend me over hundreds of other worthy graduates, especially after all that time, was unrealistic. For this call to come the morning after I had prayed just proved to me that God had heard me and was going to take care of us. I went to the man’s office and accepted the job to type his business correspondence from my home. Now I had two jobs: the menu typesetting job, and a typist job, and both could be done at home in the evening when I was not busy teaching and raising my children, and both jobs had just fallen into my lap.

Somewhere in that time frame, Mrs. Smith (her real name) was referred to me. She had lots of ideas for articles and things, but no time to type them! She began to give me things to type for her. One of the most important to her was a tri-fold brochure on prayer. She was a sweet and generous Christian woman who became like a mentor to me. She also gave the children and I gifts one Christmas! Even though she moved away, she still keeps in touch with me.

Twenty-eight months after my husband walked out, I lost my house. Because I had hoped and waited for the Lord to send a miracle that would allow me to keep my home, I didn’t have a backup plan; I had felt that preparing a backup plan would show a lack of faith. Choking back sobs, I rang up a deacon from church to tell him that I had to move, and I didn’t know what to do. It was Sunday morning. I was so distraught about the foreclosure that I couldn’t bring myself to go to church. I stayed home and cried. Do you know what happened next? That deacon called me back to say that he had found a house for me, he had found some rent money for me, and he had found twenty-five people willing to give up their Sunday afternoon to come and pack up all my stuff and haul it to our new home! It took all of us five hours to pack up thirteen years’ worth of accumulated possessions, but before dark the kids and I were in another three-bedroom house owned by a couple from our church. The previous tenants had recently moved out, and the landlord hadn’t even had time to clean the carpets, but I didn’t care! God had sent a miracle! We weren’t homeless!

The next eight months were hard financially. For about a year the Lord tested my faith, beginning in the months before I lost my house. Those months were filled with tears and anxiety. Every time the Lord answered a prayer, I was joyful but felt that there had to be a stopping point. Somewhere along the way, I was sure that the Lord would abandon me to go help someone else. I would use up my quota of help from the Lord. Where did those crazy ideas come from?

Child support no longer came on a weekly (nor even a monthly) basis. I knew I couldn’t expect it. I wasn’t making enough to pay not only for food, gas, and utilities but also rent.  My active and highly social children had to forego extracurricular classes and activities that year with the exception of their weekly homeschool choir practice. The director wanted them to participate even if it meant that he didn't get paid.

Sometimes God came to my rescue right away, but sometimes I had to wait. There's no doubt that everything worked out in God’s perfect timing. My rent was paid every month that year. Once the deacon’s benevolence fund took care of it. Another time, my dear widowed mother sent me some money, and my homeschool support group took up a collection to surprise and support me. Put those together, and I received the exact sum of the rent! If I still wasn’t sure that God was going to provide — and I wasn’t, oh me of little faith — my self-employed prodigal husband would occasionally show up and give me enough cash to cover one and a half month’s worth of rent. 

Then there was the Easter miracle. The children and I went to the Good Friday service at our large church. Afterwards, we hopped in our van and drove home. The next morning we woke up to a light rain. A church down the road had invited us to an Easter Fun Day for the kids. When we went outside to get in the van, I saw a soggy white envelope on the windshield. That was strange; surely one of us would have seen it on our way home from church if it had been placed there during the service the evening before. Otherwise, it had been raining since the early morning, and who would put paper on a car windshield in the rain? I took it and saw written across the envelope the words, “Thank the Lord for the gift.” I opened the envelope, and inside were five damp $100 bills! I laughed and cried as I drove to the Easter party. God must have been chuckling to himself about that soggy surprise!

Through all of that, I was able to buy my son a bed. He’d been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for several years because I’d been unable to replace the old hand-me-down bed that had broken. I was excited about that. His father even came over to help me put the bed together! I thought things were looking up both financially and marriage-wise. However, one month later, in May 2002, was the last time we ever saw him or received child support. He gave me less than half of the usual amount and promised to bring the rest that weekend, and then disappeared from our lives for four years.

It was in July that I discovered that I wasn’t as good at balancing my checkbook as I thought I was. At the worst possible moment, I made a substantial error in my checkbook and became overdrawn at the bank! If I had no money, then I really couldn’t afford the NSF fees, you know? I had no money and had made a $300 error! What would happen next?

First, I cried a lot. Then Mom sent me some money that she made working an extra parttime job. Best of all, God sent me the job of my dreams!

I had told a friend from church that I needed more work. Without any child support coming in, I couldn’t make ends meet with the odd jobs I was doing. Once again, I wondered whether I should put my kids in public school and look for an office job. The next day, that friend sent me an e-newsletter to which she subscribed. The company, a supplier of supplementary teaching materials, was looking for teachers who were writers. They needed people to write reading comprehensions for teachers to use in the classroom. What luck! I was a writer, and I was a homeschool teacher, so I was qualified for the job! I contacted the company, submitted a sample of my writing, and got the job! Within a short time, I was also proofreading for some of the other writers, and I received a pay increase!

Soon after that, I received an answer to an application I had sent earlier to a company that publishes church materials; I had several friends who wrote for that company. The editor had a children’s stories project for me if I could send a sample of my work. My sample was approved. That work paid per project, and it took me several months to complete a project, so that income was more like a bonus than a regular paycheck. It helped to pay for those unexpected expenses, such as a new refrigerator when mine died and a new loveseat when the bottom fell out of my old one. I could complete three projects a year.

I was so busy with my new work that I had to quit being on call to typeset menus and to type correspondence. That was okay; with my new income, I could pay my rent and other bills! What a great feeling! 

I loved being a writer/editor, I loved working at home, and I love knowing that my work was chosen for me by God. I had no idea that this type of work was out there. If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have pursued it, thinking I’d be wasting my time. But that was exactly the type of work I was suited for, and it brought me so much happiness. At that time, it was truly my dream job, and only God could know about my dream and make it come true.

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You might think that at this point God was done. Maybe I had received my allotment of blessings for this life.  Stay tuned for the next installment of my story: Every Need Met!

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