In September 2009, my husband was laid off. The economy in Georgia had fallen to an all-time low and unemployment was not too unexpected. At first, panic sets in when you obtain news like that until your head tells you that you have to believe your heart that everything will be just fine. To add insult to injury, the next day I got the Swine flu and the next week, my husband was stricken with it, as well. This blog is the product of 365+ days of trudging through the financial mudslide and emotional drought that comes when you lose your necessary income.
A few days after Dan lost his job, a friend sent us $60.00. My in-laws brought us a box of meat and canned goods. Then a neighbor brought us some meat from the grocery store that was nearing expiration and being thrown out. Here and there, friends asked my husband to do handyman-type things, which resulted in $200.00 here and $75.00 there. Someone else asked Dan to do some work and there was $100.00 for groceries. We were sure a new job would come soon and that these treasures were simply God’s little blessings…His way of showing us He had not forgotten about us.
The following Sunday at church, a surprise box was waiting for us at the Information Desk. This was approximately $60.00 worth of food and personal care items. Included in the box was toothpaste, which I had just run out of that day. That evening, my neighbor brought us $40.00 worth of meat from the grocery store. Just when things seemed to be too bleak to make it through the week ahead, a friend gave us $100.00.
Tithing was something that we had committed to do no matter how bad things got during the period of unemployment. And boy, it was getting hard! On November 1st, we tithed on faith not knowing from where our grocery money would come that week. When we got home from church, we found two $20.00 bills swirling around on the driveway in the leaves. The night before, it had rained. These bills were dry. They had not been there when we had left for church. We started to look up to the sky in thankfulness and in partial expectation for more bills to fall.
The next week, we tithed again on faith. Then a friend asked Dan to do some handyman work and paid him $200.00. Our daughter was having oral surgery that week and we were expected to pay $1,500.00 up front. On November 10th, someone from our church called and said that someone had brought an envelope to the church for us. Dan went to get it and the envelope contained $2,000.00!
On November 15th, a friend shook Dan’s hand and slipped $25.00 in it. Feeling inspired, we tithed it. On November 23rd, our pastor made a plea to the church, asking those that could to put money in pails that were up on the stage and for those that needed it to go and get it. Dan and I went down at the urging of our friends. We came home with almost $400.00.
Dan made $100.00 for doing some handyman work the following week and our neighbor gave us more meat. On November 30th, a friend gave us $60.00. We tithed $10.00 of it plus our regular amount. That week, we got a gift card in the mail for $100.00. Dan did some more handyman work and made $200.00 and a friend gave us $50.00 the following week. Dan worked again and brought home $210.00.
When the Bible says that the Lord provides your daily bread, you better believe it. These little amounts may not have seemed like much, but they got us through one day at a time.
That next week, my boss paid me $25.00 extra and a friend gave us $50.00. In mid-December, we cashed in the 401K and paid off several doctor bills and small credit cards, reducing our monthly expenses by a couple hundred dollars a month.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, a faint sadness set in around the house because there would be no gifts for the children. The children were nineteen and fifteen, but still, we wanted to give them something. On Christmas morning, we awoke to a surprise. On our front porch was a basket of food and a gift for each of us. Someone had also given us a honey baked ham and we pulled together some pantry items and fed some friends who had nowhere to be on Christmas evening. It was the best Christmas I have ever had. A friend gave us a gift card for $100.00 and my in-laws gave us $50.00 each.
On January 5th, a second cousin of mine that I had only met twice in my life felt led to send a gift of $1,000.00 to us. Two days later, he passed away.
On January 11th, we found out from our insurance company that the oral surgery on my daughter was approved and we would be getting a refund! That week, Dan earned $50.00 and another $200.00. A friend called Dan and asked him to do some handyman work at his cabin in the North Georgia mountains and offered to let us stay there. We went on January 22nd and our friend paid Dan $100.00 for the work. The next week, Dan did some more handyman work and made $280.00. We continued to tithe. Dan continued to look for work. He had only had one interview since September.
On February 4th, we had to put our dog to sleep. That day was horrible! We did not have the money to treat her illness and had no choice but to euthanize her.
Dan did some more handyman work and made $500.00. Then a friend brought us a $50.00 Kroger gift card. Our neighbor brought us a box of bread.
On February 16th, our house payment was due and this was going to be the first time we didn’t have money to pay it. I put my china up for sale and a friend paid me $500.00 for it but refused to take the china. A friend brought us spaghetti and chili supplies that next week along with a food box from a food pantry. On February 21st, a friend gave us $100.00 and someone left $30.00 at the front desk for us at church. On February 25th, I received a $250.00 Kroger gift card at my Bible study.
In March, the time came for us to put the deposit down on my son’s trip to summer church camp. Someone donated the $100.00! That week, Dan did a side job and made $500.00. Someone sent $10.00 and a $25.00 Kroger gift card in the mail. Dan worked again for a friend and made $100.00. We got our income tax refund and paid the March house payment. A friend sent $50.00. Another friend gave $100.00. Someone else brought us food.
During this time, we continued to give. We gave Seth’s mattress to a friend who needed it after he was given a new one. Dan brought home another $400.00 that week. On March 25th, we found out that our son received a full scholarship to camp!
In March, I started clipping coupons like never before. I saved $213 in coupons on food/household items that month, the exact amount my paycheck had been reduced. Dan continuously brought home little bursts of money from doing side jobs. A friend gave us $100.00.
I saved $289.00 in coupons in April. Then April 30th, Dan got rear-ended and his truck was totaled. He was unable to work for two weeks after the accident and was not able to go to the doctor because we did not have health insurance and no doctor would see him without payment up front.
Even though pain and discouragement was finding a home at our house, the blessings continued to come and we continued to give. We received a $50.00 gift card in the mail, a friend gave us $100.00, and Dan received $175.00 for handyman work. I cashed in our VISA points and got $125.00 in gift cards. A friend gave us $60.00 to buy clothes for Seth not knowing that he needed them. I earned $111.00 doing side work. We received enough from the insurance to purchase another truck for Dan. He finally had a job interview. He received $657.00 for a handyman job. He also made $595.00 doing work for a friend. I babysat and made $60.00 and worked for a friend and made $100.00! Another side job earned me $130.00.
The next day Dan found out that he got the job! The unemployment period was finally over!
We had a hail storm a few months prior and I prayed so hard for hail damage because we needed a new roof. We had the adjuster come out and sure enough…we had damage. The insurance paid us $3,000.00 more than the cost of the roof replacement and we were able to do some very necessary home repairs with the surplus. We also received help from church members with the repairs.
The total of our gifts and money for work during the past 365+ days was more than $16,000.00! God provided gifts and He also provides the opportunity for us to earn money and the opportunity to give. Since Dan’s job began in June, you would think that all of our financial problems have gone away, right? Oh, no! I lost my job in July. We are still waiting for the settlement on the car accident to pay for Dan’s emergency room bills. The wolves still knock at the door regularly. We are nearing the end of October, closing in on our daughter’s twentieth birthday, and we are still playing catch up.
But God is so amazing that I cannot contain myself any longer! He holds us in the palm of His hands and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. We are not promised that things will get better. We hope they will. But if they do not, we will still give God every single day of our lives!