|Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative|
In those early, almost heady days, of waiting on God, we were bolstered and strengthened. A car would drive up, the occupant would get out and almost wordlessly hand us an envelope. Smiles would take the place of words. My little family would huddle in the kitchen and breathe in deeply as the air around us grew light with relief. Extended family sent cards with gifts that enabled us to buy groceries or pay a light bill. On 2 occasions, total strangers paid our mortgage. We opened the stranger's envelope and found the amount to cover our mortgage even tho' no one but us knew what was required to pay the bill. Surely, we'd make it. Things would turn around before the end came. We were still on God's radar screen and had an envelope in our hand to prove it!
Labor Day Monday of 2002, I opened the fridge to find no green vegetable and no protein source left. Milk was running low. I had no grocery money. "I have 2 children," I pleaded with God. "Have you forgotten me? Don't forget them!" A few hours later, the doorbell rang. A neighbor with whom we had little contact, but for whom I had prepared meals when they had a baby, stood holding 2 bags. "Can you use these? We had a picnic that was rained out. These were left." It was a bag of chicken breasts and a salad mix. I burst into tears and told him what he was providing and about my desperate prayer. He cried too. Jeff found a couple of jobs that lasted 4-6 months. I found full-time seasonal work with a charitable organization. Surely we'd make it before we lost everything.
We put the house up for sale. Realtors paraded through assuring us that our 3+ acres in a bedroom community near Charlotte would get snapped up within days. I could hear God's voice in the ears of my soul, "There is nothing you can do...be still...the house is already gone." I looked at Jeff and choked out, "I don't think we will be able to give this house away." Somehow, I just knew God meant what he said that day when his voice interrupted my vacuuming. It would take 3 Realtors, 2 FSBO efforts, and a foreclosure vulture, but the end would come before the house would sell.
Despite all we could do, the phone did not ring nor did the mailbox hold work related solutions for either of us. The kindness and patience of friends and strangers was becoming exhausted. Friends no longer looked us in the eye. Not only had the phone quit ringing with work related calls, social calls became fewer and farther between. More and more we were an isolated island unto ourselves.
I'm sure that some of it was that folks just ran out of hopeful things to say and were tired of the same old, "no solution yet," answer. I reached a point that I could not remain in the sanctuary on Sundays. I felt like we needed to put a score board up in the vestibule of the church to keep folks convinced of our steadfast efforts to solve our own problems. I'd slip out at some point in the service to cry silent tears in a bathroom stall. One bitter Sunday, I heard the door open and the clickty clack of shoes approaching. The feet stopped in front of my stall, toes pointed my way. "I'm sorry. I wish I could fix it. I'm sorry." The feet retreated leaving me to my isolation and agony.
|Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative|
Whew, I'm exhausted. Are you? We are in deep water, you and I, dear reader. I hope you will continue to bear with me as I share my story. If you haven't been through something similar, there's a big chance you know, or will know, someone who faces times just as tough. I wish I could tell you I had an easy answer for them. I don't. I'm still finding answers of my own 10 years later. Still in all, I hope my story will serve as a light in a tunnel for you and me both as I write my way back to God.