For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
I went to my mom's house this weekend to celebrate Christmas with her and the rest of our family. It's our tradition to celebrate the weekend before Christmas with her. Our kids even think Santa comes twice when they're young because he comes once to Grandma's house and once to our house (not that I at all encourage the belief in Santa, but that's another post and I won't get on my soapbox now)! Eric and I are always there to help my mom finish up wrapping, stuff the (14) stockings, do last minute cooking, etc.. We DO get to sleep (unlike my mom who usually pulls an all-nighter) but it's normally 2-4am before we head to bed. Anyway, my mom was thanking us and saying, "I couldn't do it without you" before we left. That was the perfect way to begin this post.
We couldn't do it (this time of being unemployed) without you. Our friends and family who have supported us through the past few months with your prayers, words of encouragement, and various gifts of support. You have allowed the Lord to work though you to keep us afloat.
Because of the friends and family I have, and the enlightened things you say just because of who you are, I have had very few truly "down" days since October 11th when Eric got laid off. When he first notified me of what happened, it felt like the world shifted from under my feet and I thought, "How are WE going to do this." That's the place I was in at the time. I was focused on US; OUR abilities, OUR money, OUR job. It was so completely out of focus, but I didn't realize it at the time. I had a relationship with the Lord, a close one. But I was leaning on our bank account to survive much more than I was leaning on Him. Our entire family was.
It didn't take long to begin seeing the good side of unemployment. One of the great things about adoption is that you can do nothing but lean on the Lord. It doesn't take long to figure out that the entire process is completely illogical and without God one might just go crazy. We haven't adopted in four years now, and haven't had that "hold on tight because here we go" need since then. Our family has been in this awesome place of growth and comfortableness (ya know, minus all the health stuff!). So this job loss has given us the OPPORTUNITY to remember how truly wonderful it is to lean on the Lord for our daily bread; in this case both literally and figuratively. There is a certain excitement in that that's hard to describe. I suppose it must be how missionaries feel much of the time.
I don't know if the Lord saw a shift in our hearts or what, but it wasn't long before HE began to provide, through YOU. And I'm talking about in a physical bill-paying, food-providing way. One of the most astounding aspects of this experience has been seeing how the Lord has provided through friends that we would have *never* expected to give so generously to us. Let me just make it clear that we in no way equate the goodness of a friend with whether or not they have sent a financial blessing to us in this time of need. That's the thing. The Lord didn't send these gifts from the "usual suspects." Rather, He laid it on the hearts of dear people who are our friends, but not necessarily the people I would call on and cry on their shoulders when I'm having a bad day. To make it more amazing, these have not typically been people with big bank accounts themselves. These facts have made it so very clear that it is all FROM GOD. These are God's people, being obedient to His call to provide for another brother and sister in Christ. Amazing to us. Even though we knew and had faith that He would provide for us some way, to see it done in this way has been so very humbling and inspiring. To hear, "We had X money and God really laid it on our hearts that we were to give you and Eric X portion of it." Wow. Thank you obedient servants.
Are we out of the woods? Not by a long shot. Every month we are thousands of dollars short on being able to pay our bills. But thanks to the Lord, through you, we were able to keep food on the table until we got food stamps. [And wow--now food stamps are SUCH a blessing.] Thanks to the gifts we have received, we were able to pay some bills, which freed up other money. Now our children will have gifts on Christmas morning that are pretty much in keeping with other years. We didn't at all expect for that to be the case! Not a need in any way, but it's nice to give them some wants after many weeks of just getting by. They are blessed by you.
We anticipate that this season will come to an end soon after the new year. [No job offer yet, but some possibilities.] And while we will rejoice in Eric's ability to once again provide for our family, there will actually be some bitter-sweet aspects to him returning to work and our family not "living on the edge" anymore. When asked what Kendi was most thankful for, she said, "I am thankful that we get to see Daddy now and he doesn't have to work late." She shares all of our thoughts that it has been a blessing to have Eric/Daddy home for an extended time! The children are much closer to their dad than they were before. Seeing my children come back down to earth; realizing that certain things are special, not expected; and learning how to budget much more carefully--that has been a blessing. It will be wonderful to be out of financial crisis, but I will also miss that feeling one has when you MUST depend on God for your survival. It's special. The key will be remembering that I always MUST depend on God for our survival, even when it might appear otherwise.
Thank you my friends. We couldn't get through this without you; without your willingness to be obedient even when it makes no earthly sense.