Sunday, August 27, 2006

Humility and God's provision.

With five children on a limited budget, finances are always a challenge. It seems that no matter what we do, we have month left at the end of the money. Recognizing that God is always the One who provides for our needs, sometimes I wish He would provide the money so we could purchase what we needed, and even what we just wanted. Instead, He seems to delight in providing for us through much more glamorous and humbling methods.

Lately, though, I've been too overwhelmed at the extent of God's provision to really think about being embarrassed because of it. Let me explain, and then you can share the awe.

First, someone wrote out a check to cover most of the costs for sending three of our five daughters to a local Christian school. Then, someone took my daughters shopping for school clothes - AND PAID FOR THEM!! Not only do I hate shopping, but I honestly wasn't sure how we would manage to purchase even the basics of a school wardrobe. Someone else said they are going to help us with getting school supplies, and my sister-in-law gave our oldest daughter the jump drive she needs for 5th grade. This is all just for school.

Someone gave us a bunkbed set, making it possible to rearrange beds to accommodate a crib. Since we're expecting baby number 6 in a matter of weeks, that is a good thing! One of our partnering churches hosted a shower (even though I wasn't able to attend) and blessed us with LOTS of clothes. Others have passed on baby clothes they aren't using, and my mom has done just a little shopping (ok - more than a little!), so we are set with clothes for at least the first few months. And, along with the bunkbed set, we were given a dresser to put all our baby clothes in. After spending most of a day looking for a used dresser without success, I appreciate that gift even more.

It is sometimes difficult to be the recipient of others donations. Going through hand-me-down clothes can be overwhelming, and you don't always have the latest style. I'd love to be free of the stress that comes with a trip to the grocery store or at the gas pump (the last trip cost $85 and didn't fill our tank!) because I'm nervous about how much it will cost and if we'll have enough for what we need. I would love to take my girls to McDonald's for lunch or buy pizza for dinner just for the heck of it. I'd love to have money to pay a babysitter so my husband and I could go on a date. I'd love to go shopping without a calculator, and not worry about the total when I got done.

But, when I think of all God has blessed us with just in the last month, it is humbling. The God of Creation, who created the entire universe and calls each of the stars by name; the God who puts presidents in office and kings on thrones; this same God is concerned with little things like where my daughters go to school this fall, what they have to wear, and where they sleep. This God, who keeps the planets in space, has provided a place to keep my son's clothes. Wow. In light of that, how can I be anything but grateful?!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

All's well that ends well

Travel is part of our lives. Every summer we go on a "summer project" with students from around the country, so we can have undivided time to help them with spiritual development. It is a tremendous experience for everyone involved, but it is a lot of work. Basicaly, we pack and unpack, moving in and out of a different apartment every summer.

The day of our departure was crazy and chaotic. By the time we had everything loaded into two Suburbans (we couldn't fit into one), it was 30 minutes later than we'd planned on leaving. We were suppose to be at the airport already! To make matters worse, before we'd made it to the airport, we had to turn around and go back to the apartments to pick up the daughter we'd left behind! Finally, we arrived at the airport only an hour before our scheduled departure. It was crazy! Planning to check our bags at the curb, we discovered that curbside check-in was closed for the evening. Then, one of our bags was overweight. If only they'd averaged the weight between all 14 items, we probably would have been fine!

After clearing check-in, and discovering that our flight was delayed (Thank you Jesus!) we headed to security. Expecting a LONG wait, and not being excited about getting five tired kids to cooperate with security officers, a miracle happened. The first officer we met diverted us to a seperate line, and then they stopped everyone else so we could go through. I wonder if it had something to do with having five children and 14 carry-on items. Whatever the reason, I don't care. Thankfully, they didn't select any of us for additional screening, and we were through in a very short time. It was truly amazing!!

By the time we reached our gate, it was after our originally scheduled departure time, but the plane hadn't left yet. We made it! And, we made it home without further incident, giving new meaning to the old saying "all's well that ends well."

Left Behind

Normally, we are fairly attentive to where our children are, and which kids are with which parent. Having five children in eight years makes it absolutely necessary. I was proud of the fact that I'd never lost one of my precious daughters for very long, nor had I ever left one behind anywhere. That is, until July 30, when we were heading to the Anchorage airport.

The day was chaotic and confusing. Stuff had multiplied over the summer, so we couldn't fit it back into the 14 pieces of luggage we could stick under the plane. Dirt had multiplied and found hidden crevices only to reappear just when I thought the apartment was clean. It was pouring rain outside, and we were running behind schedule. Finally, everything was out of the apartment, loaded into two different Suburbans, and ready to be taken to the airport.

I hopped into one Suburban with two kids. My husband hopped into the other Suburban with two kids. One kid was in neither Suburban. We left her behind! Not only that, but we didn't realize she'd been left behind until she called! By then, we were more than halfway to the airport. As quickly as legally possible, we returned to the university to pick up our abandoned child. She was fine, though you could still see red splotches around her eyes from crying. Quickly I gathered her in my arms, wishing I could take away the fear and misery of the last 30 minutes, and then I cried.

By God's grace, everything worked out just fine, and now my daughter will have a story to tell. Hopefully this is the only story any of my children every have about being left behind!