2014 has come and gone. When a year ends I find myself reflective. This past year has been one of the craziest I've ever experienced. I learned how to trust the Lord's provision and sovereignty with hard times like never before. Join me as I summarize our year.
As the clock struck midnight and 2014 began, we found ourselves in the pediatric emergency room with our week-old little boy.
Sammy had been breathing strangely and would just stop for what seemed like an eternity. Thankfully all of the tests and procedures said nothing was wrong. We were in the hospital over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for his birth and both New Years Eve and Day for this little scare. This was not how I wanted the year to start.
Over the next few weeks we welcomed and said goodbye to family visiting from the West Coast. All the while, Anthony was at a new job as a respiratory therapist 25 miles from our house. His position was scheduled to be nights and we were sharing one car. As his orientation ended, he began having anxiety that he (or I, for that matter) had never before experienced. We knew he needed this job. We needed healthcare. We needed an income. Even though he was working at a hospital, we paid over $600 a month for health insurance. We quickly realized we couldn't live on what he was making.
Very soon anxiety, night shifts, distance and the car situation made us decide that he would resign on February 10th. There was no other job lined up. With a 2 month old baby, this couldn't be the best choice. Yet Anthony told me he had more peace about resigning than staying at that job.
Having been unemployed or underemployed since moving to Raleigh, we had nearly depleted our savings. We sat in our front room and made the decision: if Anthony didn't get a new job by March 1st, we would pack up and move back to California on April 1st. On February 19th, Anthony had an interview with Citrix and the same day we got an envelope in the mail with $120 cash in it. We were encouraged that the Lord was continuing to provide for us. Less than one week later and before the March 1st deadline, Citrix called and offered Anthony a position to start work on March 17th.
During the transition between jobs, Anthony made some money building websites and we received more unexpected money in the mail. We applied for WIC, a food program designed to help Women Infants and Children. As I sat in the waiting room, with my iPhone, Coach purse and nice clothes, I thought that everyone there had to be be judging me. We had purchased all of those things when we were DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids) and yet we needed government help to buy our food. This was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
I still don't know how we made it through those months without consistent paychecks, except for the provision of the Lord. I began to understand more of what the Bible says - if God takes care of even the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, how much more will he take care of his children? There wasn't a day we went without food, shelter, clothing, or diapers. In fact, we haven't gone into 1 cent of debt since moving to Raleigh.
Although this humbling help from friends and family was first a difficult pill to swallow, I began to see it as the Lord's care for us. I did not like needing other people. I had been on the "giving end" for years, and this was truly a different experience. As time passed, I began to make our needs known. My mom and mother-in-law would ask what size clothes Sammy was wearing, what size diapers he needed and then a smiling, brown box would show up from Amazon! Friends gave us used clothes from their boys and now Sammy had a collection of toddler-sized clothing. He hadn't even turned a year old.
Mother's Day was rapidly approaching and my mom was very sad that I wouldn't be in town so I called my dad and sisters and told them I wanted to surprise mom my flying to CA. My dad said he wanted to pay for the whole thing and booked the ticket immediately. It was great to see mom's face when Sam and I got out of the car at her house!
My mom with her kids and grandkids
We needed a baby gate, friends gave one they didn't need. Another friend thought Sam would like a ball and sippy cups and she bought them. These were small purchases and we probably could have managed them ourselves, but the point is, we felt like friends and family rallied around us and it was amazing to see. They wanted to give and be a part of God providing for us. All we had to do was accept the gifts.
In the month of July, we were given almost $2,000 that paid for us to fly to California to be a part of my brother's wedding. We had a little extra for a rainy day and it is very rainy in Raleigh as we've learned!
Me, Christina, Josh, Heidi, & Heather
During the summer, Anthony's Dad called us and asked if we had a second car. He said he had an extra car and wanted to give it to us. Over the next couple months, he (and Anthony's grandma and aunt) paid the car off. In November, he drove it out to give it to us.
You see, the car was actually a much bigger deal to us than just the value of a car. When we moved to Raleigh, there were 5 things we prayed for time and time again: a place to live, jobs, health insurance, a healthy baby, and a second car. By this time, 4 of the 5 things had been fulfilled. The car was number 5! Before we moved to Raleigh, we sold one of our cars and gave the money to friends. For many months, I was angry with what we had done, thinking we should have kept the car/money to help ourselves and here we were, receiving a MUCH nicer car and witnessing God's provision firsthand, yet again.
Story, after story, after story...
I wish I could say I don't worry about money now, but I still do. I am getting better at trusting that God will take care of us. One way I can visibly see God's provision is through the generosity of others.
As 2014 has ended, I am surprised at how much we have received - WAY over and above what we have ever given. Even today, we sit with a room full of beautiful toys, a table, food, candles, and shoes that others have given us.
If we have benefited from your generosity over the last year, THANK YOU. It meant the world to us.