I love my online community! It is small but special. Handpicked by God, each reader is. I've been ministered to in so many ways. Thank you.
Just thank you.
This morning I received an e-mail from a blog reader friend whom I've "known" for twenty-one months. She wrote a very warm, loving, heartfelt letter urging me to ask the church for help for my kids' sakes. Having experienced financial instability as a child, she wrote from that perspective--as an advocate for our kids, while being understanding of our perspectives. I couldn't see until after I read her letter that I (we) were punishing our kids by removing them from programs they dearly loved, all because of fear--fear of asking for help.
Yes, it is fear.
My head says people will wonder what is wrong with my husband and me, that we can't get back on our feet after all this time. After all, we both have college degrees. This really shouldn't be happening--or at least not for this long. What are they saying behind our backs? Things like this maybe: They're not trying hard enough! They should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make it happen! They should both be out there looking at every available moment. They should put their kids in public school, start with subsidized daycare if necessary, and get good jobs!
I've no doubt that some of this, or all of it, is circulating in various minds. Our financial crisis began when Baby Beth was three months old and colicky (she's now nearly 22 months). There was no fear then that people would expect me to go to work. But as time passed, I became self-conscious about being home while financial ruin threatened. It was a relief of sorts when our second car went down for the count, making it impossible for both of us to work. Was it God's way of providing some peace for my self-conscious soul?
I don't have a single flesh-and-blood person to confide in about the gravity of our situation--which explains my sobby previous post. Holding it all in has been difficult, even though hope has been my companion until recently.
A few hours after reading my friend's e-mail, I decided to contact the church and tell them about the AWANA night transportation/work hour situation. I agonized about whether to use the phone, e-mail, or a letter. And I agonized about how to approach the topic of help. (Can you tell I rarely ask for help?) Should I directly ask if someone can pick up my kids, or simply tell them why we can't continue, and hope that God puts it on someone's heart to offer help?
Worrying myself into a migraine, I decided to wait until Monday.
Then Erica, the children's director, called. She asked me how I was doing, and right there I almost lost it.
She knew it would probably be difficult for us, but she wanted to call anyway and invite our kids to participate in the Christmas Pageant, even though we're no longer regular attenders. (We're still going to the flexible-schedule megachurch right now).
I gave her a heartfelt thanks. And then I took a deep breath.
I mumbled through some details, saying that I knew it was a lot to ask, but we needed transportation help to continue with AWANA.
And the woman started crying.
She said that she loved our kids--that the whole church did--and that she'd do anything for them. And through her tears, she pleaded with me not to be afraid to ask for help. She mentioned the art class, telling me they had a surplus of money, and that not all parents could pay, and that was okay.
And then I started crying.
Breaking down, I told her how exhausted we were--husband and me. How we had both recently lost hope, wondering how long this trial could possibly last.
And she listened. She understood. Then she prayed for us.
And I felt loved. Relieved. Uplifted.
After the phone call, I went outside to tell the children, tears still streaming down.
Hearing the news, Paul ran up to me and jumped in my arms, full of joy about AWANA and art and Erica's love.
I learned a lot today.
Most of all, I learned that when you lose hope, the Body of Christ hopes for you.
Thank you, dear sister, for your e-mail! And the prayer. God used it.