I’m linking this post up to Saturday Success Stories at My Coupon Teacher. This is a different kind of success story, but really, I think it is better than the best coupon trip.
I have not posted much in the “Soul Food” category because, to be honest, I think my soul has been a bit starved lately. “Soul Food” used to be called “The Hub.”
Either way, these posts are supposed to relate to the “spiritual” side of our lives without requiring you to a.) gag b.) pursue a degree in theology or c.) get out a yoga mat.
But this post has been on my mind for a few weeks now and I cannot delay it any more. SO here’s some “soul food” as much for myself as for you . . .
Okay, in the spirit of keeping it real, here’s a confession. Since the end of the thirteen weeks of summer, I have been relishing the joy of NOT telling you every little detail of our family’s finances. This is partially because I am sort of trying to deviate from a blog that is purely frugality based. The other part is that full disclosure of financial matters can be uncomfy. And. . . .
. . . . this month has been MASSIVELY difficult. Perhaps this is because I was so geared up for the 13 weeks of summer that I envisioned that August 25th would come and rain down upon us massive comfort, ease, and provision in the form of J’s gigundous teacher’s salary. And the stresses of tight budgets would melt-away, right?
WRONG! Because we just got the regular old paycheck, with no step increase for his experience, thanks to the frozen salary thing. And joy, part of the national board pay has been cut, so it is actually less that last year. But I should not complain because he has a job and they have not cut arts, yet. And I should not complain because he got national boards in the first place, which has helped us survive. And I should not complain because HELLO . . . we have all our needs met. And I should not complain because he is teacher of the year and gets his own parking space for the year, which is almost as awesome as . . . well, you get the point. I should not complain.
And then J had to have a crown. And then there were three bills that are once a year bills, but of course, came due in August, Triple AAA, car tax, and homeowners insurance membership. Blast.
I should not complain because I was able to pay all those bills only to gulp and realize that we had no groceries. And I should not complain because we are much better off then we could be. But one day in a fit of annoyance I sat down and calculated how much “short” we were because of these unexpected bills because I needed to figure out how much to finagle the coupons. So rather than complaining, I was calculating, which, in my defense, is different.
Basically, the amount I needed–the bare minimum to get by was $132. $132. $132. $132 more dollars that had been snatched out of our hands. (THANK YOU TRIPLE AAA, CAR TAX, and HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE. ) $132. Not a lot. But not a little. It was actually the amount that we managed to go on vacation for this year. Wow. But that was the amount that I was worried about. And frustrated about. But not complaining . . .
But maybe complaining ever so slightly because I just didn’t see how I could get through this month without the credit card. I mean, even during the 13 weeks we had not kept our grocery budget as low I would need to keep it.
$132. $132. $132. It was a mental mantra. Not the good kind either.
So one morning as I was mumbling (rhymes with grumbling but is decidedly NOT the same thing; I’ll have you know) to God that I just didn’t quite understand how he had us SAIL through the summer only to SCREW US in August. (Keepin’ it real–I try to have a very authentic prayer life.)
And I was actually walking to the mailbox hoping that the weekly grocery ad would have a banner line stating “ALL GROCERIES ARE FREE THIS WEEK FOR TEACHERS’ FAMILIES!”
Instead there was a card from a couple who J and I have financially supported through a non-profit for maybe 6-7 years or so; I can’t remember. The couple is actually a friend of mine from college who has since married, and they were expecting their first baby. (They’ve since had her–a BABY GIRL! ) As I walked back down the driveway, I though maybe it was the annual hand written thank-you note or some such. (I am not belittling this. I’m just a former missionary stating that the hand written note has been largely replaced by the personal e-mail.) I’d had some contact with them about the joys of baby-life overseas, but I couldn’t imagine what the card would be since they are on the other side of the EARTH, and usually we talk on Facebook, and they were imminently expecting. But mainly, we just don’t get cards from them.
Here is what the card said: “J&K, Your sacrifices to support and partner with others in Kingdom work is so greatly appreciated. I’ve really enjoyed following thelowryder blog, and we felt moved to share with you out of some of the surplus that He has given to us. I know your 13 weeks of summer is over, but we trust that this money will bless you and be used by you for whatever needs you may have. . . . . . .”
And wait for it . . .a check for, I am not making this up, $132.
This is no multiple of the amount we give them and they didn’t know my mantra. I have no idea how they arrived at that amount.
Do you have that hot-cold feeling in your esophagus when you read a story like this? I do! Every time. But here is the crazy thing. I mean, I just sat down on the front steps with that card in my hand and stared at that check and cried. All the hairs on my Chewbacca-like arms were standing up on end.
I mean, WHAT!?!?! WHAT!?!? God, you are SO amazing to even give ONE little flip about me and my petty insignificant minute problems and yet, you do.
But here’s the real confession. This happened two weeks ago. And I did not blog about it. I told three people. I planned to blog about it. I wanted to blog about it. I got the hot cold feeling each time I thought about it. I cashed the check. I said a prayer of thanks.
And in that two weeks I’ve managed to complain some more. Doubt some more. Lack trust again and again. Would we really make it? Would $132 be enough after all?
I didn’t write this post because I knew and I know that I am totally faithless. Faithless. Faithless. Faithless.
As for the soul food application, hang with me . . . I read in the Bible about the Israelites wandering in the desert, eating manna from heaven and drinking water that poured out from a rock. These are the same Israelites who saw the Red Sea parted and then watched the pursing Egyptians get swallowed up in the sea. It takes a few days in the desert and a little taste of the unknown and they are flat COMPLAINING. And those dudes didn’t just complain a little. I mean, it was CONSTANT. Within weeks of being delivered from slavery in Egypt, they were all . . . “We loved Egypt; we want to go back; we had plenty of food there!” And then while Moses is on the mountain FACE TO FACE with God getting the Ten Commandments, the people are down in the valley making idols and having a big stinkin’ orgy. I look at them and wonder, “How can they so quickly forget?!? What is their problem? They’ve got a belly-full of manna, which was rained down from heaven to satisfy their daily needs and they are grumbling!”
But I am JUST THE SAME. I am sad to admit that this $132 dollar story is by no means the first story of the Lord’s amazing provision in my life. And I hope it will not be the last. But I am praying that maybe somehow this will be the last time that I give way to the arrogant, ridiculous, needless anxiety of doubting the ways in which my loving God will show up in my life, knowing my need, meeting it in extraordinary ways, ways that show me time and time again that He is an endlessly good, loving, generous Father.
So, as for manna, may I always love it and never think, “Gee whiz, this again!?” If you don’t know what manna is, click here to read.
Do you have a cool manna story? Post it in comments or e-mail it to me and I’ll share it with the lot of us.
Sorry so long . . . but not really. There wasn’t a faster way. Soul food is slow chewing.