*Long, some-what haphazard post ahead, but once I started writing about God's provision I was reminded of more and more ways He's provided for us. My fingers could hardly type fast enough to keep up with my grateful little mind!*
I am especially struck today by the awesomeness of of gifting--both on the giving end, and on the receiving end. It's such a cool way for God to use people in other people's lives.
For us it's been a true tangible measure of God's provision in our lives. At just the time when we need it most, we'll end up being given a random gift. Sometimes it's money, and usually just enough to cover our current need. Sometimes it's money to simply cover a want (which is especially cool when it's something we've waited a long time for and wanted really badly but just couldn't quite justify). I'm amazed at how many times we're given a gift that is exactly what we've been wanting... and how could the giver have possibly known? God knew.
Other times we're given a gift that we didn't even know we needed--then quickly realized the need after the gift was given!
Sometimes even, we gift ourselves without even recognizing what we're doing until much later. Consider the bunk beds we bought for "big sister", so she would feel comfortable having friends stay over. Not to mention the dresser we bought for her and the room we had completely prepared. We had saved little by little to purchase the things necessary for big sister and we were quite bummed to think about the money we had spent on those things once we realized that big sister probably wasn't going to be a reality in the near future. Little did we know however, that we would end up being able to bring 2 foster kids into our home with no notice, and no preparation... because we had prepared for big sister. It would have been nearly impossible for us to have furnished a bedroom for them when they first came. The night we came home with them we had a box of things we might need waiting on our front porch including cereal and toothbrushes and some clothes for the kids to get us through until we could go shopping. God knew.
We have put nearly 10,000 miles on our car since we got it in May (due to weekly visits to and from St. Helens for the kids). That same 10,000 miles on our previous van probably would have likely yielded some significant (and expensive) repairs because of the mileage it already had on it. Not to mention we would have possibly been living in daily apprehension wondering what was going to happen to it next, how much it would cost us, and how we would transport a family of 6 while it was repaired. Thankfully though, we had the money to purchase Rob's mom's car at a generously discounted price that gave us the freedom not to worry about those things during an already stressful stage in life. God knew.
Speaking of cars, Rob's broke down when we first moved to Albany and a few people chipped in to partially pay for a replacement car.
We've gone to Disneyland twice and received some free tickets both times. People have paid for our meals, our gas, some clothes, Leeann's preschool, our honeymoon even! We've been given a number of timely gift cards (somehow I'm craving Starbucks just thinking about that!). We've received boxes of clothes for the kids and other goodies in the mail on numerous occasions. We've been given hand-me-down clothes galore! We've been given all sorts of hand-me-down furniture that has allowed us to have just what we've needed. Within a week of moving to Albany and posting a list of needs on the bulletin board at church we had a table and chairs, an end table, a microwave, a mattress, a couch and chair (though those were borrowed from someone who had them in storage), and a washer and dryer even!
When we had Titus I literally don't think we bought a thing. Or, should I say, the few things we did buy were because we had been given money or gift cards from others. A crib, strollers, carseats, a changing table and more baby stuff than anyone could imagine!
We've had a number of people give us the gift of labor. Some of our car repairs and many of our home repairs have been done by others at little or no cost to us. We've also had people come help out or give a hand out of the blue, or offer to watch our kids. Again, just at the perfect time.
Our adoption was paid for partially by a love offering taken at church and partially out of a clerical error on our previous year's taxes. Seriously, I believe God did that. I believe he guided our treasurer (who was in her first year at the job) to overlook whatever error it was. And also to catch it at just the right time. The difference was just enough to pay the attorney and remaining expenses for our adoption. And believe me, this was at a time that I had just finished college and our finances had very little wiggle room for such a big expense. God knew.
Speaking of college. How on earth did I end up getting to go to college? My family had always lived paycheck to paycheck and no one went to college. I received so many grants and scholarships and work opportunities that I am still flabbergasted by the fact that I was able to graduate college. God has even brought about some, um, unique opportunities for work that have allowed us to diligently pay down our remaining loans. Rob's are paid off and mine will be under $10,000 by the first of the year. It sounds like a lot of money, but it's so little compared to what they started out as. And, as always, God has been faithful to provide for even pesky student-loans.
We've gotten some really out-of-the-blue monetary gifts that were incredibly timely. I mean, incredibly timely. I am overwhelmed at the though of God stirring in the heart's of others to provide for our needs. I'm overwhelmed at the fact that those people would open up their hearts and their wallets, or give their time to meet someone else's need.
I'm overwhelmed at the fact that God works in our hearts to give in ways that we don't usually understand. Sometimes we just feel like God's asking us to give something. I like that. I like knowing that he's using us to provide for others in small ways. Just like he's used so many other people to provide for us. I feel like He's taught us so much out of the provision of others that I can't help but smile and wonder what God is trying to teach others when He stirs in our hearts to give to them. Of course, at this stage of our lives we've been given far more than we've been able to give.
Someday though, we hope to be able to give in HUGE ways. Like they say on the movie Robots, "See a need, fill a need!" I believe God is preparing us for that by asking us to give in small ways now. I especially like when He puts it on our heart to gift something to someone that hurts. I mean, I don't know how we're going do without this thing, or this money, but obviously God has a plan. So we give and God provides. Every time! Every single time!
This post only begins to scratch the surface of the cool ways God has provided for us in our nearly 8 years of marriage. Time after time, item after item, dollar after dollar, God has worked in and through people to meet our daily needs. I like being part of God's story.
A couple of things happened today that reminded me of the fact that God cares deeply about our pea-pickin little family in big ways. As I was pondering how grateful I am for His provision I thought I ought to write it down not only to share with you (and hopefully encourage you to consider the cool ways in which God provides) but as a way for our family to remember about all of the amazing ways God has provided for our needs. God is so faithful!