Tuesday, October 28, 2014
My Struggle: The "M" Word
I've done lots of debating about this blog post. If I should post it and how I should write it.
It's not a topic I normally talk about with vivid candor... it's uncomfortable for me, to be honest.
It's not about sex or politics, no worries.
No, it's about money.
God has done a lot of pruning on me the last few years on this topic. I've failed, too, over, and over, and over. I think we can ALL look at our bank accounts and see numerous places where we haven't been wise stewards of what God has given us. Hubby and I included.
But today, I want to tell you a story about money-- a deeply personal one that is not-so-easy for me to share. God is teaching me a lot, however, and so completely taking care of us. I felt like, just maybe, someone else needed to hear our story, even though it puts me in a not-so-comfortable, vulnerable spot.
So... here goes:
Once upon a time...
There was a man and woman. They had three sweet little girls. They did things a little backwards, the woman went to work during the day, while the man stayed home and took care of the babies, working part-time some evenings and weekends.
It wasn't the perfect scenario. The man and the woman didn't see each other nearly enough, but it kept their babies out of daycare, so they were a happy little family. The woman got a promotion, and then another one, and made a decent amount of money. They paid off credit card bills and had a nice tidy emergency fund in the bank. Dave Ramsey would have been proud. They were saving for fun things like cars that weren't 150k miles+ old and a bigger house to hold their growing family, and saving for retirement.
Then they got the news that baby number 4 was on the way. They were elated! Life was good. God was good. The future was bright and sunshiny.
Then they got some not-very-good news. Baby number 4 had a broken heart. They were told that the baby might not make it, but doctors would try their best to fix her broken heart.
The little princess was born, and her heart was indeed very sick. Surgery after surgery was done, and still, her heart was broken. She wasn't able to come home from the hospital, so her pretty little room sat empty, with unused furniture just waiting for their precious princess to arrive and use them.
Meanwhile, the man and woman struggled to keep their family well. Their three other kids missed their parents, particularly their mommy who still worked during the day and slept at the hospital with the little princess at night. They saw less of each other than ever.
They lived on hope that the princess's heart would get all better and that life could be sunshiny and bright again.
So many people gathered around to support the hurting family. Cards and letters and gifts, they were such a blessing. They treasured each one.
Some suggested they start fundraising, to help with the expenses that comes with a baby who has a broken heart.
But the man and the woman looked around. They were blessed already. All their bills were being paid, they still had their tidy emergency fund, and people's gifts were allowing them to not have to touch it. It felt oh so very uncomfortable to solicit money from people. So they refrained, only accepting gifts when offered, and trusting God to meet their needs.
Ten long months later, the princess came home, having received the precious gift a new heart.
But the man and the woman began to worry. The princess was still very sick, and the woman was no longer able to go to work, as caring for the princess became her full-time job. They began to spend their tidy emergency fund, and the man began to look for work himself so the woman could nurse the princess to full health.
The man eventually found it, but not after their tidy fund was reduced to pennies. And the work the man found, while it was good, it paid much, much less than the woman used to make, and wasn't nearly enough to pay their bills. After all, "daddy" on a resume, while impressive, does not draw a lot of high salary positions being offered. It had good benefits though, and allowed him time to help his healing family.
Still, God blessed the family in the form of many generous people. Without the man and woman even asking, people sent gifts at JUST the right moment.
The woman started to work a little again, mostly from home, sometimes in the evening. She struggled with this for a whole year. But it became too much. Her little princess needed her at home with her, to give her medicine and food and help her learn the big girl things she'd missed. Their lives were filled with doctors appointments and therapy and frequent trips to the hospital. The princess got sick a LOT. The woman working was just not going to work yet.
The woman did, however, write. She wrote her stories during the princess's nap times and hoped to sell them. Her heart ached to be able to help with bills again, but it also ached to have purpose. For the stories that God gave her to be used. So she was obedient and wrote--but writers of stories make very little money. She profited some, but not enough to make even a dent in their monthly bills. Still though, she writes and tells people about her books, hoping someday, she can make enough to help.
Finally, the man and woman, not knowing how they would pay their bills each month, applied the little princess for disability. It was a bit of a sad day for the man and woman. They wanted to be able to provide for their little family themselves, but it was becoming clear that at this moment, they could not.
They waited six months to be approved. And for six months, they struggled. But God was always faithful and brought help in some very amazing places, and some humbling places too. And each month, the bills were paid.
Then the seventh month came. They were told due to a miscommunication, the princess was not approved for disability and would have to reapply.
The man and the woman were devastated. God had provided so much and had always been faithful, but they would not have enough money to pay the bills for the eighth month, for the first time in the four years of struggle.
But they held tight to the promises that God would never leave them nor forsake them. That God knew exactly their needs, even better than they did. They went about life, trusting that God would provide in the exact moment they needed it.
Two weeks before their bills were due for which they would not have the money to pay, the woman got a phone call.
There had been a mistake. They were approved after all, and one week before the bills were due, there was money in their account to pay them.
And there would be a deposit into the account each month going forward. It doesn't fix all their problems. They still must be very wise with their money. But the man will continue to work hard. And the woman will continue to care for her children and write her books and promote them as best she can. And God will continue to direct and teach them that no matter how desperate things look, if they trust in Him and are obedient, God has it handled.
The man and woman are so thankful. Thankful that God shows up when needed. That even when all seems lost, God knows. That even if they don't understand why things happen, God does.
They still have dreams.
Dreams of being able to have that house that is a little bigger to fit their family of 6
Dreams of being able to not have to pinch every penny and stretch every dollar.
Dreams of having that tidy little emergency fund again--they are only allowed a very small one while on the princess is on disability, which hurts the woman's heart.
Dreams of being able to decide where to give, rather than how to cover each bill.
These aren't bad dreams. They aren't prideful or sinful or greedy.
They are dreams of hope. Dreams of a future.
But even as they are dreaming, they are content with where God has them. They are so thankful for the gift of a new heart for the littlest princess. They are so thankful for ALL four of their princesses.
Even though their bank account is in ICU recovering, they are blessed beyond measure.
Because they serve a GOOD God. A WISE God. and a FAITHFUL God.
Philippians 4:11-13 NLT
"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."