It was early spring of 2011. I had lived 3 lifetimes since the planes hit the Twin Towers. I had finally run out of energy to run anymore. I had managed to navigate the years from 1999 when Jeff got sick thru 2005 when our lives finally began to stabilize in such a way that a few friends would say, "You have the strongest faith of anyone I've ever met." I hadn't felt strong. I had just felt very sure that God had a plan....a good plan...no matter how mystifying it was from my perspective. I had done what mothers do. I kept juggling plates and balls and knives and whatever else there was at hand to juggle -- hoping to outlast the need.
In that mean season after 9/11 when the skies were empty of any flying objects other than birds, we settled into an other-worldly routine. The phone that had been ringing off the hook with job prospects stopped ringing. It would not ring again for 3 years. Our COBRA premiums began to hurt. They were more costly than our mortgage. Given Jeff's health and 2 boys with asthma, we couldn't forgo insurance coverage. All the crisis planning we had done before Jeff got sick was no match for an economy that was blistered by the flames of 9/11.
Dollars began to count. I had 2 young children to feed but was loathe to go to the grocery store knowing I had no way to replace anything I spent. On one particularly brutal day, I cried the entire 6 miles. "God. What am I going to do? You have to help me." I purchased $98.00 worth of necessities and headed home with a huge gaping wound in my soul.
I pulled up to the mailbox and mindlessly yanked out the stack of envelopes dreading the chore of separating out Jeff's medical bills. I put it off till the groceries were in place. I numbly began to thumb thru the stack of mail dreading the appearance of the tell-tale windowed envelopes. Tucked in the middle of what was otherwise only junk mail was a smaller envelope. The handwriting was neat and almost antiquated in style. I recognized the name of a widowed, retired teacher in our church. Her daughter and I sat beside each other in the choir. Out of the card fell a check for $100.00.
I called our now perpetually wide-eyed and just turned 11YO. "Look. God sent a postcard from Heaven to remind us he has not forgotten us. It will pay for our groceries and give me a $2.00 tip for going to get them." It is easy to trust when postcards arrived via friends who are God's hand extended on this earth. Little did we know that the months of uncertainty we had endured would morph into years.
|courtesy Mad Penguin Creations|
I was alone, so it didn't matter. I erupted at God: "Are you CRAZY? I cannot be still. My friends already think I'm nuts because they don't SEE me doing more to affect our situation. And you want me to stop? This world is a 2 paycheck, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps kind of world. I cannot be still. I have got to do something to fix this mess!"
More insistently the voice in my soul echoed: "Be still. Trust me. Yes, they are going to think you are crazy. In the end, your obedience is what matters not what they think about your obedience. Be still. You cannot fix what is coming...and it is going to be brutal. Trust me."
I ignored the voice. The next week I had 3 interviews for jobs that would have solved our insurance crisis and provided enough money to allow us to remain in our home till Jeff had work again. I got word that I was in the top 3 for all 3. I didn't get any of them. They were of the opinion that as soon as my husband found gainful employment, we'd be on the move again. Hiring me would be a waste of time. In my desperation, I had attended one interview with a raging case of pneumonia and a 103F temperature. The voice in my heart clanged and banged. "I said you cannot fix this. Be still. Trust me."
Jeff began to apply at places like Office Depot and Home Depot. One manager said, "I'd hire you, but my district manager won't let me. As soon as you get a job in your field, you'll be gone." The emergency fund was gone. The retirement fund dwindled. Surely God would not require the college funds for our boys?
Every day I gathered our 11YO and 4YO boys close and reassured them that God was a good God with a good plan. He would not abandon us. My prayers became, "I have prayed everything I know how to pray in every permutation and variation that I know how to pray it. If you remember us for no other reason, remember us because I have not turned my back on you. We are here still trusting that you will deal with us as your helpless children. Help us."
To be continued:
Come back again tomorrow and bring a friend? I'll miss you if you don't!