Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

My thankfulness post may be a long one because I have so much to be thankful for.

First and foremost I am thankful that God sent His Son to die for me and took the punishment for my sin upon himself so that I may have an eternal home in Heaven. Words can’t describe how wonderful that gift is. All pales in comparison.

I am thankful for my children. Only one of them was a planned pregnancy, but God sent the other two to me at special times in my life when I needed them. They are each unique and special and enrich my life. Though they often frustrate me and make me angry, I cannot imagine a life without them in it. I feel as though they are my entire purpose on this earth. I am grateful for their good health as my heart breaks to see parents lose children in death. I appreciate Arrena’s responsibility and willingness to help even when not asked. I appreciate Kimmy’s sense of humor and her intelligence. I appreciate Billy’s bond with me and his observation skills. I am thankful for the privilege of having them lent to my care for a short time and pray that I will not waste the opportunity and that they will grow up to be all God has planned for them.

I am thankful for my family. I love my mom and am so very grateful for her care for me. She has really gone above and beyond this year, allowing me and the kids to live with her for a time, loaning me her only vehicle, lending me money, and generally being there for me. She is (again) making me a wedding dress. She and I may not always see eye to eye but she is always there for me. I remember one night this year in particular when I called her, bawling my eyes out and she talked to me and calmed me down and gave me direction to get through the problem. I am thankful that my mother raised me the way that she did, that she taught me God’s Word, kept me in church, taught me to read, was a stay-at-home mom in my early years, etc. I am thankful for all the rest of my family. I have many loving members of my family that I am proud to say I am related to. I am thankful that God answered prayers this year for my grandpa’s health. I feared he wouldn’t see another Christmas, but he is still with us.

I am thankful for God’s financial provisions. This last year has been a very hard one, in many ways, but especially financially. I hadn’t planned on being a single parent. I had actually wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and my husband had agreed. So I didn’t go to school and learn a high-paying skill. I eventually went to work part-time to try to pay down some debt, which never seemed to go away. When I found myself parenting alone, the part-time pay was fine as long as we lived simply and had child support money coming in. But when the kids’ dad lost his job, he stopped paying. I tried to go full-time, but any extra I made went to paying for childcare for me to go to work, so it made no sense and helped us not at all. I also had to pay for health insurance. And then work started cutting my hours even further. Sometimes I was only bringing in about $650 a month. My rent alone was $575. How do you support 3 kids on that? My ex and I had also been supporting his missionary foster parents with $50 a month and I knew I had to keep that going because they depended on their support to live. God also burdened me to pledge $10 a month to our faith promise missions at church, in addition to my 10% tithe. $10 doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was to us. I had no idea how I could afford all of this. But I read Luke 6:38-- “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” and Malachi 3:10-- “ ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’ ” And God’s Word is true.

Early on in this divorce/separation, I was staying at my mom’s and I had nothing to my name. I had no car, no money, and it was not payday week for me. I ran out of foundation make-up and conditioner. No big deal in the grand scheme of things and not something I would complain about. Who cares about makeup when your life is in a shambles and I’d just have to live with brushing tangles out of my hair the hard way. But then there was a knock on the door. I was tempted to not answer it, as it wasn’t my house, but I did and found a group of women in the yard and on the porch. They handed me a heavy gift bag and invited me to a “Friend Day” at their church (which, in a twist of fate, was the old building of my old church, where I “grew up”) where they give away clothing and canned food and free medical screenings. I thanked them and went inside. When I opened the bag, I found it was full of cosmetics, including foundation (and in my skin shade!), and some hair care products--no shampoo, but a bottle of conditioner! Tears sprang to my eyes and I knew that if God would take care of little details like conditioner and makeup, He would handle my needs as well. My little insignificant details were important to God. Wow! And when times were tight, God always provided. It doesn’t make sense, the numbers don’t add up, but at the end of the month, I always had enough. I paid my bills and gave to the church and the missionaries. It was always there. Sometimes it was interesting how God provided. I had to swallow my pride many times. I had to go on food stamps and go to a clothes closet and a few food pantries, which I loathed doing and was so ashamed of, but I came to see it as God’s provision. Twice, the kids’ dad came up with some money when I needed it. And when Scott came along, he sent me a check for $500 to help me out. I resisted because I didn’t want to take charity or owe him anything. But I prayed and asked God to provide another way, but if not, I would know that Scott’s money was meant to be God’s provision. I had seen too much for too many months to doubt that God would provide. It became a matter of “how” not “if.” God provided no other money that month, so I swallowed my pride yet again and cashed Scott’s check.

And now, I am pleased to find that God has placed me in a sound financial situation. Scott makes good money, enough to where we feel like I will probably not have to work and will be able to be a stay-at-home mom like I always wanted. I am thankful that he had some inheritance money built up so that he has been able to accommodate us and our needs. He has been paying for my lawyer and bought many things to make us more comfortable in this house and make it home for me and the kids. And he was able to pay for a new addition on his home to give us more room. Construction started a couple of weeks ago. While money doesn’t buy love, the practical side of me had that aspect on my list for a potential husband: financially responsible and secure. I am ever thankful for how God has provided for us this year and I trust that He will in the coming years.

I am thankful for encouragement from God, which has come in many forms. Song lyrics are an obvious choice and I won’t go into all of the ones that have spoken to me as you can read them here in this blog. Scripture verses that I find at timely junctures in my life are another encouragement. Today I was reading Psalm 37 and found it very soothing for what is occurring in my life at this moment. I may blog that one, it’s so good. It was mentioned in my Sunday school class last week, which causes me to believe it was not accidental, but a seed planted for me to harvest in my mind later as the week’s troubles unfolded. Once when I went to one of the food pantries, I got home and was unpacking the food items. At the bottom of the large sack was a random bottle of conditioner! I felt like it was God's little love note to me, His reminder of how He provides for me! sort of a, "Don't forget, Robin, I will even provide you with conditioner!" There have even been times when I feel like God is revealing a truth to my heart, such as Jesus dying for me PERSONALLY, not just as part of the collective world, or about my feeling condemned and like a failure because of my sin, or about there being something greater in life than my personal struggles, or feeling that God is with me in the midst of fiery trials and that He is in control of it all and has my best interest in mind. Knowing that He is ultimately in charge, not any judges in a courtroom or whoever, and that He will ultimately work things out for MY good! There have been some instances where I felt encouraged by being able to get back in touch with friends I hadn’t talked to in a long time. One day, a woman walked through the YMCA locker room singing a hymn that fit the need in my life at that particular moment. I saw a note on a piece of mail at work that had the words to a hymn and the phrase "If you can't see past earth's shadow, look to Jesus and his light!" There are times when a specific word or phrase or verse comes into my heart at the precise right time. There have been times when I have felt like God has literally caused me to stop what I am doing and come to Him in prayer, pouring my heart out. Once I truly felt pushed to the ground and held there. I needed to stop and rest and receive peace and comfort and I did. In the courtroom, I felt like Jesus was there, holding my hand, and in my mind I imagined reaching my arms up to my Father to hold me like a child and was calmed by the thought. The list could go on extensively.

I am also thankful for my future mother-in-law, whom I not only like, but truly love to death. She is a sweet, wonderful lady. It’s very nice to have a mother-in-law that you like because I have had the other kind and it ain’t pretty! I have gotten along well with Sue since we met over 16 years ago and even continued to write her after Scott and I broke up back then. Whenever she wrote back, she was sensitive to my feelings and never mentioned Scott to me, which I was always amazed at. She prays for us and encourages me often. She has welcomed me and the kids into the family with open arms and as though we were not tainted by divorce and remarriage and step-parenting, etc. She treats us as her own. I love her as a mother-in-law, but also as a friend. And she babysits too! ;)

Finally (I think), I am thankful for Scott. I am thankful that he never stopped loving me in 16 years. That’s so amazing to me that I can’t comprehend it. I am thankful for how he treats me. It is radically different than what I have experienced and it feels nice to be put on a pedestal. He accepts me with all my faults and some of what I thought would be deal-breakers, he actually finds endearing! What’s wrong with him? Ha, ha. I am thankful that even though I tried to scare him off, he wouldn’t run. I am continually amazed at how eager he was to take on all my baggage, because, let’s face it, there is a LOT of it. I am thankful that he has not only accepted my kids but actually loves them and treats them very well. I am thankful that he is willing to help me parent and does such a great job with Billy--better than I do even. I am thankful that he is generous and was willing to give up his money to buy trampolines and swingsets and tickets to Hannah Montana concerts and pay for preschool and a lawyer and to add on to his house, among many, many other things. I am thankful that he wants to go Christmas shopping for the kids with me, even if that caused a minor misunderstanding. ;) I am thankful that he is so even-tempered and doesn’t get mad often and when he does, his reaction is to become quiet. I am thankful that he is willing to help me with chores around the house. I am thankful that he agrees with me not working. I am thankful that he brings me flowers. I am thankful that he listens to me and remembers what I say. I am thankful that he searched for and found a replacement for something that had been very important to me. I am thankful that he went to Jared's (ha, ha)! I am thankful that we have a lot in common. I am thankful that he is an encouragement to me. I am thankful that he gave up his brand new SUV for me to drive while he drives his old pickup truck to work. It’s a minor thing, but I am glad that he likes to decorate for Christmas. There are so many things that I appreciate about him that I would be here the rest of the day if I were to list them out. I’m not delusional, it’s not all a bed of roses, and there are things about him that drive me nuts, but I appreciate him more than I can say. More than anything I appreciate how he was there to catch us when we fell. God worked it out so that he was there at the right time to be able to take us in and care for us when we had nowhere else to go. I can never thank him enough for willingly walking into our nightmare and accepting all that came with it. I love you, honey.

I’m sure if I sat here the rest of the day, I could think of many more things to be thankful for. But I will leave it at that.

And while I am not thankful FOR the situation that I am in now, I am thankful while I am IN this situation (I Thessalonians 5:18-- “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”). Romans 8 says that God will work it all out for my good and to conform me to the image of Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal is to be more like Christ. Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!


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