I wanted to let everyone know that my aunt, uncle and brother have been applying for jobs EVERYWHERE – even McDonald’s and Wal-Mart type places, but even these places aren’t hiring right now due to low sales. I think for anyone out of a job at this point, it’s going to be nearly impossible to find something.
Chris and I are doing well and we’ve had plenty of people offer wood. Thank you so much for this. We are using it!
A couple of people have sent gift cards for grocery stores. My family has used those to purchase groceries.
We were also given some money. I used most of it to buy food for our own family. I had also hoped to use some of it for Christmas gifts, but I did not. I want to share how this money was spent.
The other day I was driving down the road thinking about all the difficulty we’ve been having and also about so many other families in need. I’ve never seen so many requests for help on the homeschool digest and on other e-mail loops I read. There are MANY needs this year and these aren’t minor needs, but families who are losing their homes or who are in danger of losing their homes, who can’t pay to heat their homes, who can’t afford food due to rising costs, etc. Many of you understand. Anyway, I was driving down the road on my way to work (Chris was off that day so he was watching the children) and I passed a man and a little girl walking along the road. I heard that little voice inside of me saying “Stop and offer them a ride.” Now this isn’t something I normally do, but I learned a long time ago to obey the voice. God saved my life once through that voice, but I won’t share that story here. Some of you have heard it, but it was TRULY a miracle and I believe it was either an angel or the voice of God himself.
So anyway, I stopped the van, backed up, and asked if they wanted a ride. The man hesitated and then said, “It’s a really long way to our home. If you could just take us a short distance, I would appreciate it.” I said, “Absolutely not. You hop in and it would be my pleasure to take you all the way home.”
I always have extra car seats in our vehicles so we buckled the little girl in and the man got in on the other side. I looked back at this adorable child, whose hair was brushed and who was probably cleaner than my children, but whose clothes were a bit dirty and she was missing one glove. We were driving along and he asked me to stop at the gas station so that he could put some gas in my car because it was “a really long way,” but I told him not to worry about it. I told him that I had some very good friends who had helped me out recently and I really felt that God wanted me to give him a ride and not worry about the money.
He said, “Well, I’m very thankful, ma’am. I was a little worried about how I would get home by 3:30. I have to be there when the bus comes or they won’t let my son off the bus because he’s in kindergarten and someone has to meet the kindergartners or they won’t let them off.” Now it was around 12:30 when I picked them up so I was wondering how far away they actually lived. I was also wondering if he had to meet the bus every day so I said, “Is your wife working? Do you take turns meeting the bus depending on who is off work?”
“My wife is deceased, ma’am,” he replied. I quickly glanced at the little girl because I was wondering what her reaction would be to this statement, but she was already sound asleep.
I changed the subject and asked him why they were out walking in the cold rain. (It was drizzling last Thursday when I picked them up.) He said that he had taken his daughter to Northside Hospital because she had been sick for a few days and couldn’t seem to get over it. She had been diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and after he went to the pharmacy to pick up the medicine, his car wouldn’t start. I picked him up a couple of blocks from the pharmacy.
It was almost 15 miles to his apartment. We chatted the entire way. He was a very polite, friendly man and we discussed several things, including where he went to church, the economy, and how he had moved here earlier this year because he had heard that the job market was better here than in Virginia. He is a tailor by trade, but he came here to work in a factory because when the recession began, he said it was kind of difficult to get a job as a tailor any more. He moved here for a factory job and worked three months, but when the layoffs began in earnest a couple of months ago, he was among the first laid off since he was new.
I asked if he had any other children besides the little girl, who had just turned four, and the six-year-old boy. He also has 9 and 12-year-old girls. We arrived at his home about this time and I asked him if he needed anything. I was thinking of the money I had in my purse that had been given to us because we are having such a difficult time. I didn’t want to give it away. I had plans for it, after all. I asked if they had food and he told me that they did.
I drove away and cried the entire way to work. I worked for a couple of hours, but I couldn’t get this family off my mind. I had made him give me his phone number and I had taken his number, too. I told him that if he had any difficulty getting his car, he should call me and I would do what I could to help him. I also told him I’d check up on him to see if he needed anything so I called him that evening and asked if he really had everything he needed. Bills? He said they’d be ok. Food? They have food stamps. Clothing? He said they get hand-me-downs and buy other stuff at the Salvation Army so they were fine. Christmas gifts? He said he saved some of the money from his last paycheck to buy the children each a gift and he was going to do that, but if I could possibly give him a ride to town to buy the gifts, he would appreciate that since he doesn’t know if his car would be fixed before Christmas. I told him I had been given some money and I would like to buy the children’s stocking stuff, like toothbrushes, toothpaste, candy, and some other little stocking things. And I asked if they needed anything for winter like gloves (since the little girl only had one on). He said, “OH YES! If you could just do that, I would be so appreciative. The children could really use some gloves.”
My children, two of my friend’s children (who were spending the weekend) and I went out on Friday and spent about $50 on each child. We had a lot of fun and bought them things that many people would take for granted or at least not consider a huge treat, but that these children will probably really appreciate – a new toothbrush, your own tube of toothpaste, some little kids’ hand gel, a slinky, gloves, winter hats, etc. Even like last year (and this year) when we don’t have money for “gifts,” we have always filled the stockings with the things we really need to replace on a regular basis anyway – small packs of kleenexes, toothpaste, etc. We bought the children all the things we usually put in our own stockings and my children had great fun being the “givers” rather than the “receivers.”
It may seem that I have wasted the money I was given, but I didn’t. I can’t imagine why in the world God would send that money my way and then place someone in such need right in my path if he didn’t want me to share it with them. It’s not just about the money, after all. I’m going to take the dad Christmas shopping this week. (We don’t have any more money, but I’ll give him a ride! 🙂 We’re also inviting them over for Christmas Eve. His children are in such close age to ours and it would be a joy to have them visit. Perhaps we can develop a relationship, even a friendship with this family. That’s certainly worth much more than the $200 we spent.
And I’m not worried about our bills any more. You know, I think the reason I cried so much after I dropped this man off is because Chris was almost left raising five young children a few years ago. If that had happened, or even if it happened tomorrow, I know my husband would not ask for help. If he were walking along the side of the road with Hannah and someone picked them up, he would insist on giving them gas money, whether he had it to offer or not. It’s just the man he is. And this man was laid off at the same time as my aunt, brother and uncle. It all just seemed a bit too coincidental and a bit overwhelming. So many people hear of others needing help, but I grew up without a home most of the time. I’ve been homeless and without food and I don’t want to be in that position again, but that is selfish. The Lord knows our needs and he never fails to meet them.
I have been sick all weekend as my immune problems are seriously acting up again. I’ve pretty much felt awful this entire fall, and I’ve been having fevers off and on again for a couple of weeks and this weekend I had severe headaches. A little over a week ago I also started having some horrible side effects to my medicine that I won’t even mention here. It’s very depressing and draining on my system. However, I am VERY happy. I will not ask for help again. I appreciate the help we received during the past few weeks and we will continue to look for wood, but the encounter with this man reminded me once again that we are only worrying about our bills and my health. There could be so much more to worry over, but we serve an awesome God and even if we lost everything we own, we STILL would serve an awesome God. He doesn’t change and I believe the lesson in all this is that nothing on this earth really matters except what we do with what we have (are we willing to share what we’ve been given to someone who needs it even more?) and what we do with what we KNOW (are we willing to share the gospel with those who may not have a relationship with the savior?).
I’m sorry this is long. I figure since I haven’t written much in the past couple of weeks, I could make up a tiny bit. I also wanted to give everyone an update and encourage you this holiday season to share with someone in need. Many of you are. Some of you have so little to share in material terms, but you can share the GOOD NEWS. Others sit on thrones of judgment and offer nothing to those who they believe have gotten themselves into the situation and should get themselves out. It is good to know that most of the people who will read this fall into the first two categories.
We’ve read many instances on the digest and I’m sure some of you have heard of other cases of need in the community, through your church, etc. Many of the people who live in government housing are there by choice – I’ve met many of them when we did foster care and they would literally tell me HOW they did it and how they would continue to do it – by choice. But many of them aren’t there by choice. There are many circumstances beyond our control in this life and some of those people have had many runs of hard luck. Many of the people in greatest need don’t go to church – like my extended family. They think “those people” (Christians) judge them and they aren’t “good enough” to go to church. Reach out to these people, too. They are perhaps in the greatest need because they don’t have a church to offer them material help, but also they don’t have the Lord to provide comfort. Find them. Pray for them. Look for them. Trust me, if you are willing to reach out to them, God will place them in your path, even if it means that he has to put them right beside your vehicle on a drizzly day on the side of the road. If you are willing, He will give you an opportunity to serve Him.
Thanks to everyone for the help and the prayers you sent to my family. I would appreciate continued prayers for my health, but otherwise our main request right now is a prayer of thanksgiving for our many blessings!!! I pray that all of you who are worrying right now about bills, the economy, relationships, your job, etc. will find peace this holiday season first of all in your relationship with Jesus Christ, but that you would be blessed by sharing your many blessings with others during Christmas and throughout the year.