Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Different Perspective

So… I feel inspired to write about something a little different today. The stories and miracles I share are told with hindsight perspective. I understand how difficult it is to wait on the Lord's perfect timing. But when I do so without panicking, I'm in awe of HIS perfect plan for my greatest learning and greatest joy.

I wrote about “Our Big, Happy News” about a month ago.

I wrote that we have moved into our dream home.  I have felt joy every day that I drive the 7-mile street that borders the ocean.  I thank God daily that we have a home of our own.  I am truly happy.

Because I have felt so much joy, I haven’t written in as much detail about disappointment and PANIC I have felt along the way.

A friend sent me a text message with a quote from Mormon.org.  I don’t know who the author is, but this is the message:

“God loves us.  He is good, He is our Father, and He expects us to pray, and trust, and be believing, and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, when something doesn’t seem to be going just right.”

This message is the key!!  God is providing me with opportunities to understand this principle better.

Of my many faults, I have a serious fault that I know God is trying to help me with.  I tend to panic!!  I guess I panic because I KNOW that bad things happen, and I worry that the worst of those bad things will be my next lot in life. 

Today I’m writing about 2 (of many) experiences where I panicked… and learned.

The Baptism Trip

We had just moved into our dream home.  We had 2 large checks that were promised to us from 2 different companies, but they still hadn’t come because of mail issues.  All of Abe’s co-workers from both companies had received their checks. 

A bill for $200.00 was withdrawn from our bank account 3 days earlier than usual.  We have a rental property in Utah.  Income from that property wouldn’t come until the next day.  We needed money that day in order to get to a very important  baptism in Orlando!

The $200.00 bill overdrew our account this particular morning by about $6.00.  We had just put all we had into moving into our new home.  Now we were in a predicament…

I needed to get to Orlando for our neighbor’s baptism.  I promised I would go, and I did NOT want to miss it for anything.  I had been a part of several of their spiritual discussions, and my children were doing the special musical number.

I panicked…

In order to drive to the baptism, I would need $55 dollars to drive my giant van to Orlando and back and about $6-$8.00 to bring our account into the black again.  I had nothing left. 

I prayed to know how to get to Orlando for the baptism.  The children rounded up the last of their birthday money and spare change.  They brought me $45.00.  I sobbed as I borrowed money from my own children… but it still wasn’t even enough.  Then, I remembered a reimbursement check in my wallet for $18.00! 

In tears, I went to the bank to deposit just enough money for our drive to Orlando.  I felt stupid for putting all our money into our house…. but we really did have enough… it just wasn’t getting here when it was supposed to! The lady accepting my deposit reminded me that everything would be ok.  She said it with so much love- I could feel it was a message from God trying to calm my panicked soul.

I apologized to Jackson for taking his money.  However, Jackson was too busy smiling like a champ knowing he had saved the day.  He confided in me later that as he ran to get the money he was chanting, “Jackson saves the day!!!” 

I was horrified at our predicament, but even now Jackson comments about how grateful he was that he could have just enough for us to go to the baptism. 

I had planned to visit a dear friend on the way to the baptism.  I reapplied my make-up before I entered her house trying to feel normal; but the moment I saw her loving face, I broke down in tears again. 

I did not want anything from her.  I was just happy to hug my friend.  Abe had been gone for a long time, and I needed her loving arms.  I cry now thinking about the love that emanated from her. 

I had to tell her why I was sobbing.  I told her we were using our last pennies to go the baptism.  I felt stupid, but this dear friend saw me in a different light.  She expressed her admiration for our faith to come support the baptism even amidst our financial stress.  We had to come!  The Lord had provided just enough money for us to arrive in time!

Feeling emotional with me, my friend ran to get me some cash for our trip home.  I absolutely refused- I didn’t want anyone’s help.  We had enough to make it.  I just wanted to cry because I was in a panic- hating the feeling of being so vulnerable.  With $100.00 in her hand, she cried begging me to take the money.

With tears, she continued to press the money into my hand, and with tears, I finally accepted.  She promised me she would let me give it back to her next time I saw her.  She wanted to make sure we were safe. 

We only visited for about an hour; but during that time, my friend started loading up boxes of food to put into our trunk.  She loaded up several boxes of her very best food.  I kept begging her to stop.  She wouldn’t hear it.

We had given away most of our food storage to those who were in need before we left Michigan.  We still had some wheat and flour.  Our family had been living off of spinach shakes, eggs, crackers, and potatoes.  Abe was eating peanut butter while away in order to keep costs down.  We had what we needed to be healthy and strong, but our fridge and pantry at home looked like the ones described in stories… quite barren.

I could not stop crying from gratitude, love, and my humble circumstance.  We of course visited my in-laws as well while in Orlando.  I wasn’t crying anymore at that point, but as we departed, my mother-in-law pressed some cash into my hand for our drive home.  She too would not take it back.

Our Broken Van:  The Panic

I have recently shared about our broken down van and car.  Here are a few more details….

I shared about how my bike was fixed in 30 seconds after my deep, heartfelt prayer.  I didn’t share that on our bike ride Mariah’s bike got a flat tire… but we were escorted home in the middle of the night by a random police officer- who happened to be passing by.  

During the repair process on our van, the auto technician said, “Think positive… maybe it will only cost a few hundred dollars.”  The next day he said, “Think positive… maybe it will stay under $2000.”  What was the final cost to fix our van?  It was $2,600!!  It was NOT what I was praying for.  It would seem as if my positive thinking didn’t do much good at all.  Abe had been making GREAT money for the last several weeks.  This past weekend was his worst show.  The money he did make got cut in half because a high-paying customer cancelled his order.  I have a STRONG feeling God was teaching me not to panic.

Although the van cost more, although Abe had his worst sales week, although I would have rather not had these huge bills come all at the same time… it all worked out.  The loan was approved.  Our van is running.  Our family is together. 

I am learning that sometimes God takes away those problems, but ALWAYS God provides an opportunity for us to learn and to grow and to see HIS hand in our lives.

Where was God in our baptism trip and our van troubles?

*In my 12-year old son donating all his money with great joy.  What an opportunity for him to serve the family.  He will always remember that experience. 

*In the forgotten check in my wallet-which equaled the exact amount I would need to get to Orlando and back.

*In the dear friend and mother-in-law sending us on our way with security of money and food.

*In the elderly man giving us a ride home after our transmission died.  (I wrote about him in a previous blog post.)  When we saw that elderly man again, he cried as the children hugged and thanked him.  Wasn’t that more important for him to know that he had done a great act of service?

*In the dear sister, my visiting teacher, who went out of her way to donate her family van to us for an entire weekend. 

*In the lady at the bank who reminded me that everything would be ok…

*In the lady at the loan office who worked overtime to get us the loan we needed to cover ALL of our expenses with our van.  She spoke with so much love and understanding on the phone.  She also reminded me not to panic. 

*In the man at the transmission shop who refused to give up on a plan to help us get our van fixed. 

*In the numbers… When I added up our money and all we had to pay for tithing, fast offering, doctors, loans, rent, food, and gas.  We will have enough.

*In the police escort when our tire went flat as nighttime made our long ride home a bit scary.

I wasn’t ever going to share the story about going to the baptism because I was too embarrassed about our situation.  However, I need you to know that God is taking care of all of us even when every bit of us may want to panic or exclaim that things are not going our way. 

God could have made the mail come to us like it did for everyone else.  God could have miraculously fixed our van to only cost a few hundred dollars.  In fact, I fully expected HIM to provide those miracles for our family.  When those miracles did not come, I learned to accept and feel joy in the miracles HE did provide… which were absolutely perfect.  God is orchestrating miracles in more lives than just ours.   

The miracles God provided taught me humility and trust.  I believe it also gave others beautiful opportunities to sacrifice and thereby grow closer to HIM.