We took 5 rolls of film when we visited our grandbaby, Ellington. My daughter forgot to pick up the film this afternoon, so she’ll pick it up for me tomorrow. Then I’ll be able to post pics of the family-tug-of-war we held over him. Since he was not only the first grandchild all around, but also the first nephew to each of our children, we fought over him incessantly!
It’s such an emotional journey becoming a grandmother. You don’t have control. You struggle with that concept then you discover that’s actually the fun of it! You let go, and let someone else enjoy learning to be a mother/father. Your job is to just enjoy the baby. Watching your child parent, you have flashbacks to your first days as a mother — and you try to remember that there ever was a time you weren’t known as "Mom!" You hold a tiny bundle in your arms, knowing more than you ever have before, how fleeting that moment is and how soon you will look up to the little boy that now fits into your arms and nestles under your chin.
Remembering back to my first days as a mother, I recalled the wonder and adventure it was to learn everything about the new little child that was mine to care for. I was sometimes overwhelmed and afraid and the rest of the time felt like I had been her mother forever and knew exactly what to do! It was a time of great growth and incredible sleep-deprivation. It was fun to watch Ariane go through all of the same emotions and experiences and becoming so proficient at being Ellington’s mother.
Being in touch with my memories made me think of something I would like to share with you, just in case some of you are struggling in difficult financial (or other) times right now. When I was first pregnant with my daughter Jennifer, her dad, my late husband Jim, lost his job with Sears. It was during the 1980-81 recession and unemployment was over 10%. It’s easy for us now to have a heart attack when the rate is just over 5%, but that rate is lower than almost every other time in our country’s history. For perspective, we’d have given anything to see that rate when Jim was unemployed because when unemployment reaches 10% you can’t even find a job at McDonalds!
At each stage of my pregnacy I had so many things to worry about. How would we pay for my prenatal care and birthing costs since it was now a pre-existing condition? I worried and worried. I thought about it night and day. I would turn it over to the Lord, then take it back. After a long battle I was finally, half-heartedly able to pray "with thanksgiving." That meant my prayers went from panicked cries for help to ones like this, "Thank you Lord that though I can’t figure out how you are going to take care of this, I trust that you will. Thank you for providing the money for us to have this baby."
One day, three months into the pregnancy I received a very plain little post card that was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen before or since! It asked us if we would like to continue paying for our Kaiser Health Insurance at the cost of $35 a month for the family. You have no idea how fast that postcard was back in the mail with a check attached! I had battled to trust the Lord and he provided a way where there didn’t appear to be a path forward. I had no idea how he could provide, but he did. Each month we were able to make the insurance premium and in the end it cost me only $2 to check her out of the hospital — which was to pay for the phone service!
There were many other financial stresses during that time. We lacked groceries at times and just when the cupboard was bare four bags of groceries would be left on the front porch after someone rang the bell and ran. At one point we got three months behind in our house payments and came very close to our home going into foreclosure. Because of pride, my husband had not told his parents that he had lost his job. The crisis with our mortgage finally brought him to the place of opening up to them. He was afraid of their reaction, but of course they came to our rescue in amazing ways. They had the resources to save our home, provided for our needs and even more importantly helped their son get moving towards finding a new job. I’m in tears as I recall the incredible loving support of my in-laws. They are amazing people who have blessed my life in so many ways.
Still, night after night I had fearful dreams, racing thoughts and battled fears of what would happen in the near future. But I began to learn that the worry never changed anything. What changed our circumstances was being transparent with family and friends (and the Lord in prayer). When we were able to confess our need, they were able to step up and meet it, AND BE BLESSED BY DOING SO. Help came from every side. All we had to do was let go of our pride and ask for help. Help came in many forms, some inexplicable and heaven-sent, but most often God met our needs through the loving hands and hearts of those who shared our lives.
In retrospect those tough times were some of the most fruitful in my life. They changed me forever. I wouldn’t choose to go back for anything, but I also wouldn’t trade a single day of the struggle either. It was the struggle to overcome that made me who I am today. In all these things God taught me the truth of the verse: Phil 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. NIV
If you’re struggling with anything today that is just too big for you to handle, too painful to cope with, or too fearful to contemplate, please stop and pray this prayer with me. God is able, but more importantly, God is willing to handle every burden you entrust to Him.
PRAYER: Lord, I’m struggling with some of the most overwhelming things I’ve ever had to deal with in my lifetime. I don’t know where the answer is going to come from. My mind cycles over and over, worrying about it, being anxious and fretting. Help me to learn how to "be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving" to present my requests to you.
Teach me to trust. Give me courage everytime my heart races with fear. Give me hope when all around me looks hopeless and use my current circumstances to make me a better, stronger more faithful person. I’m trusting you to lead the way through this circumstance. Amen