(Side note - what I am doing right now: writing while watching a PBS special on the demise of the independent bookstore. Sigh.)
This is what is on my heart. When I finally got quiet today - after a lot, a lot of noise - this is what rose to the surface: I am thankful.
There are many reasons I feel this way, but tonight I'll focus on one in particular: money. Cold, hard cash. Money has been extra tight since I began my career as a stay-at-home mom (or SAHM, pronounced "sam", as my other mommie friends have told me). My husband and I had saved a large sum of money in order to provide a safety net after I left work. But, within two weeks of my leaving work, an unexpected incident happened that forced our financial hand, so to speak.
Our health care costs skyrocketed, reaching over $1,000/month to cover all four of us. This does not include copays, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs. We had been expecting to pay around half of that for health insurance. On our already thin budget, this extra expense was really pushing it. We've limped along for a month, trying to hang in there until we got word from my husband's employer.
We were under the impression that his employer would be switching plans soon, in an effort to significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs for the employees. Today, however, we learned that this new, "inexpensive" option would cost us exactly $998/month. A net savings of around $50/month.
Okay. Now what?
My husband called me with the news in the middle of the day. All of the joy and faith I had been feeling from last week's "manna revelation" (see my post dated November 22nd entitled "Catching Up") leaked out of me like hot air from a punctured balloon.
Panic ensued. "I know the Lord is calling me to this SAHM-business, and I know He's promised to provide step-by-step, but, really? This no longer seems wise or prudent. I mean, I have kids to take care of, regardless of what I think I'm hearing God say." These are the thoughts that cascaded down the cliffside in my mind.
After several hours of exploring options and doing, I finally found a moment to sit and be still. It was in the middle of dinner - a dinner I didn't feel like we could afford but that my husband really wanted to bless his family with anyway (we were using a gift card he had received for his birthday). I sat outside the restaurant for a few moments in order to listen to my heart, and, like I said, thankfulness is what I heard. Not fear or anxiety or worry, but true thanksgiving. I felt like God does and would provide; I reached a place of inexplicable peace. I knew it would be okay.
I went inside, finished dinner, and asked the waitress for the check. (My husband and son were in the restroom; I had my one-year-old daughter with me at the table.) "Um, about that," said the waitress. "You see, another table bought your dinner."
"I know, right? I thought it was crazy too, but they wanted to. I asked them if they knew you and they said no, that they just wanted to pay for your family's meal."
I looked at the waitress and said the first thing that came to mind: "well, thank you Jesus."
The coolest part about this? We had the money to pay for dinner. We could have afforded it. God didn't provide because he had to; He wasn't giving in order to meet a need. He wasn't even doing it to teach me a lesson (I had already come to a place of trust and peace, remember?). He provided because He wanted to; it was nothing but love. It felt like abundance - like He was giving us abundance out of His abundance. Providing above and beyond.
We don't serve a skimpy God. That's my deep thought for the night. Enjoy.
(Side note #2 - what I'm doing now: watching another PBS special, a concert that includes Josh Groban, Sting, Katharine McPhee and many other amazing musicians. I'm thankful for PBS. And I'm really thankful I don't have cable.)