Monday, June 11, 2012

My Single Parent Adventure, Continued: Every Need Met

Previously I mentioned that a problem occurred when I made a costly error with my checking account. When my rent check and a few others bounced, I panicked, believing that someone had stolen my debit card number. I soon found that wasn’t the case. I was so overwhelmed that I wanted to throw that checkbook across the room and then jump up and down on it. I wanted to shred my bank statement and insufficient funds notices and throw them like confetti. What I actually did was ask for prayer at church. God moved a woman to offer her help. She knew how to balance a checkbook and set up a monthly budget. What a blessing she turned out to be! It was just a week later that God blessed me with that first writing job! You see, while I didn’t know the plans God had for me, they were already in motion. I shouldn’t have been so worried. Didn’t He promise never to leave or forsake me?

As with any suddenly single parent, I had many needs during those early years and no idea how to handle them. As much as God had done for me, I still feared that I had used up my allotted blessings. I was afraid with each new crisis that I was going to be on my own. I mean, come on, with all the people in the world, could God really afford to keep supplying my needs, even if He did “own the cattle on a thousand hills”?

I was familiar with Philippians 4:19. It says, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Why did I believe that it really meant, “My God shall supply all your need for a couple of years, but don’t get used to it”? Why was I so fearful? Satan doesn’t want us to have faith. He doesn’t want us to believe that God cares for each one of us personally. He hopes we never realize just how much our Lord can do in our lives. He whispers those doubts, and we start to believe them.

Many people believe that God helps those who help themselves. That sounds morally correct in our ears, yet it is not a biblical thought! What glory can God receive if we’re busy helping ourselves or if we’re relying on our own power to get the things we need? Am I trusting God to supply my needs if I’m running around like a maniac? Of course not! It’s one thing if you hear God’s voice telling you what to do to have your needs met. It’s quite another to be told to wait and see what God will do for you. In neither instance will you be required to race around in a blind panic, wasting time and energy. While that may make you feel like you’re accomplishing something, in truth you’ll have done nothing more than wear your shoes out!

I’d like to share with you some of the physical needs my Lord has met. You may have some of these same needs. Be sure that what He did and continues to do for me, He is able to do for you as well.

Christmas pajamas: I know it sounds like an odd need, but some needs are emotional. You see, every year it was a tradition in my family to get new pajamas for Christmas. My husband had never failed to give me a lovely set. My heart ached as I thought of my first Christmas without new pajamas. One late fall day as I dropped my daughter off at our neighborhood school for speech therapy, I saw a woman whom I’d met on the soccer field where our sons played. She asked how things were, so I told her that I was separated from my husband. She told me to take care of myself and not let stress and parenting wear me down. Then we parted ways. The next week I found her waiting for me with a gift bag! She said that she wanted to make sure that I was pampering myself. I nearly cried when I found a pair of pink pajamas in my size in the bag, along with candles and a thankfulness journal. She had no way of knowing our pajama tradition! That was God proving that He knew my heart and He cared about my hurts. Then my husband surprised me that Christmas with one last pair of Christmas pajamas from him. I felt doubly blessed, and I wrote about it in my new journal. The Lord can move people in ways you would never expect.

Rent: Soon after moving in a rental house, a check I was expecting got misdirected, leaving me without enough money to pay both the rent and my other monthly bills. I was in a panic! I told the deacons at church what happened, and they paid my landlord with money from the Deacon’s Benevolence Fund. 

Transportation: I was left with a dead van in my driveway. I asked if someone at church could look at it and tell me if it was fixable. The response was, “You need a car? We can get you a car!” Four weeks later, I was driving a donated car! That car lasted a year, but it had problems. It gave up the ghost as I was pulling into church one Sunday. Steam curled and swirled from under the hood. I told a deacon what had happened, and he went to take a look. The car was a goner. He drove me and my children home after the service. Two days later, a minivan was donated! It was perfect for ferrying around groups of kids, hauling 4-H club supplies, and stowing all our gear for camping trips. We got a lot of use out of that van! It lasted three years before the transmission went. At that point, I felt I had used up my allotment of vehicular blessings. I was really discouraged. You know what? The Lord gave me another minivan! It was the prettiest of the three vehicles I’d been given. It carried us to the Midwest to visit family and back again. It took us camping at a South Carolina beach! While I hoped one day to save up enough cash to buy my own vehicle (which I did), I was very appreciative of the vehicles that were donated to an anonymous single parent. I was also grateful for the Single Women’s Car Clinic that my church used to operate one Saturday morning a month. The men who volunteered changed my oil, my brakes, checked fluids, and made the A/C blow cold again. They answered my questions or sent me to the appropriate place for help. They taught my son how to check the air in the tires, check the oil, and add oil and water to the appropriate places. When it comes to cars, I’m mechanically challenged. I thank God that He moved my church and those men to minister to single women at a time when I desperately needed the help! I only wish it had not come to an end. 

Tires: When my tires needed to be replaced, I didn’t know what to do. I’d never had to buy tires before, and I wasn’t sure that I could afford them! I told a deacon that I needed tires but didn’t know what to do first. His suggestion was retreads, and he offered to look into it for me. The next thing I knew, a business in town volunteered to donate new tires for my minivan! All I had to do was bring in my van, and they would put new tires on it, free of charge! The receptionist showed my children and me to a comfortable conference room and served us soft drinks while we read magazines and waited. Everyone was so warm and friendly. What an unexpected blessing! Since then, I’ve been able to have the tires replaced on my own. There’s something empowering about setting an appointment and being able to tell the mechanic what I need. Isn’t the Lord good?

Washing machine: One winter, my washing machine quit in the middle of washing a load of clothes. Once again I called a deacon and asked if someone could look at my washing machine and figure out why it stopped. He told me how to empty it of water and came out to have a look. Then he got approval to buy a used one for me with money in the Deacon’s Benevolence Fund! 

Computer: I make a living writing and editing with my computer. When I was just starting out and not yet making much money, my computer began to make strange noises and act up. My brother-in-law looked it over and told me it was a lost cause. I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t have money for a new computer, and I also didn’t know what to look for when shopping for one. My computer had come from my husband; I hadn’t been involved at all in acquiring it. I sent my main client an e-mail  message saying that I would have to buy a new computer. I didn’t tell him that I couldn’t afford one. I was hoping that he might advise me on the best kind for the work I was doing for him, and trusting God to provide. What a shock I got when the phone rang fifteen minutes later. It was that client, calling to tell me that he was ordering me a new computer in appreciation for all my hard work! We had never met in person; our relationship was strictly an online business-related one. I had only worked for him for six months. He didn’t owe me a thing. Yet, he bought me a new computer that was better than anything I would have bought for myself. Is that a God thing or what?? Of course it is!

Other blessings through the years were food baskets, Christmas gifts, yardwork, plumbing help, help with housecleaning, and anonymous cash gifts. I never knew that the Lord could move so many people to help an overwhelmed single parent. I never realized how much He cared about me until I had no one to depend on but Him.

Eight years after my husband walked out, I moved myself and the kids out of a rental home and into a house I bought all by myself. And the next month when the engine died in my minivan, I was able to go out and buy another with cash. God was so good to bring me to a place where I could do those things! I've gained a lot of confidence from the single parent adventure. And in the end, I'm confident that if God brings me to it, He'll lead me through it. Do you believe?

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