Tag Archive | God’s provision

The Not So Strange People of Walmart

It was the Saturday before Father’s Day. I wasn’t in the greatest of moods. I had seen my doctor the day before and he changed my medications around yet another time and I needed to go pick up my new prescription. I had dropped Katie off at Bible school and Dave was fishing with a friend. I had some time to myself for a change, but instead, had to run errands and part of those errands was getting a prescription I didn’t want.

I was upset that I had to have another medication change. I’ve been dealing with uncontrolled hypertension for a while now, and have gone through countless medications in hopes that one will bring those numbers down. But time and time again, I hear those words from my doctor, “This medication isn’t doing the job, let’s try this.” I dread seeing him any more. I have a medicine cabinet filled with meds that I can’t use….money down the drain in my eyes.

As I drove to Walmart, I was thinking about all I had to do that day and about the fact that part of my day was disrupted again by my need for a new medication. “Wonder how much this one will cost, ” I thought. I pray a lot when I’m alone in my van and driving. (I do keep my eyes open, obviously!) I began to cry out to God and implore Him to help me and my doctor find something that would work to change my chronic issue. I found myself actually whining. I’m sure God wasn’t impressed with my prayer that day…it was mainly a lot of complaining.

Finally, Walmart was in view and I pulled into a parking space. When I went inside, they were out of the motorized carts I’ve come to depend upon to get through the store with my arthritis issues. I was feeling defeated. I was dreading hearing what the cashier would say my total was today.  And, on top of that, I’d have to walk all through Walmart on a day I was having some significant pain.

The pharmacy wasn’t busy so I got to be waited on quickly. “Did you know this medication costs $294?” the clerk said. The look on my face told her I didn’t. I didn’t have a choice though.  I paid my bill and started shopping for the remainder of the things I needed.

I needed to get a Father’s Day gift for David. Katie had given me specific instructions to get him a Duck Dynasty t-shirt with Uncle Si on it.  I went to the display where we had seen them before, only to discover the only size left was small. There would be no Uncle Si shirt for Dave. I had to find something else. This only added to my disappointment in the day.

Cards were picked over….I shouldn’t have procrastinated on that one! I was at a loss to know what to get for Dave. I had my mind set on the t-shirt and now it wasn’t an option. I looked at my list of things I needed to purchase, and decided to look for the other things instead.  As I shopped, I tried thinking of what I could get for Dave. The idea finally came that he had been wanting a small chainsaw. Certainly, Walmart would have an inexpensive one. No. No such luck. The only thing left in that department were weed eaters and he didn’t need one of those.

Feeling even more defeated, I went to the check out line. “Really, there’s only 3 lanes open and about 100 people to check out?” I thought. How could my day get any better? I was just about ready to cry at this point.

Then I heard it. Someone was humming. It wasn’t extremely loud, but it was loud enough that I could hear it. The tune sounded familiar. I moved toward the sound. It was coming from the cashier in lane 13. Despite the fact that I usually avoid lane 13 (call me superstitious) and it seemed to be the longest line, I got in line there anyway.

The cashier continued to hum. I was thinking really hard to figure out the tune. I knew the song, I was sure of it.

About a minute went by, and someone decided to open the lane beside us, about 4 people in front of me flocked to the new lane. I stayed where I was. I needed to figure out the song she was humming. “Change My Heart O God“! That’s what she was humming. I was intrigued!

Finally, it was my turn. She began to scan my items, still humming away at the tune. She looked at me and smiled, still humming. I smiled back, “Change My Heart O God.” I said.

“You know the song?” she said.

“Sure do! It’s a good one,” I replied.

“One of my favorites too!” she exclaimed. “Some people don’t like it when I hum, but I was made to praise the Lord and I want to do it all the time. He is good isn’t He?” she said.

“Yes, He is,” I answered. I felt a little guilty as I said it though. I had really not been very joyful that day up to that point. I whined and complained to God instead of thanking Him for all He was doing for me. I left one thing just ruin everything.  “Thanks for your song,” I said.

“My pleasure! Some days, it’s really hard to be joyful and courteous to some of the people that come in my line. But, I just pray that God will change my heart so I will treat those people the way God would want me to,” she said. “I want to encourage everyone I meet. I believe that’s what God put me on this earth to do…encourage others.”

“Well, you sure encouraged me today,” I said.

“Me too!” said the lady behind me. Up to this point, I was oblivious to who was in line with me. I turned and saw an haggard looking woman, probably in her 50’s with a tank top on, heavily tatooed and missing several teeth. (One of those people you see show up in the pictures entitled “People of Walmart.”) “God is great and takes care of all of us, even when we don’t deserve it,” the tatooed lady said.

“I’m so glad I got in this line today!” I exclaimed. “You both have made my day a little better! Thanks!”

“Any time!” said the cashier.

“Yup! It’s what we’re supposed to do for each other!” said the tatooed lady.

I left Walmart, feeling a bit better and a bit lighter because my burden had been lifted. I went to my van, crawled inside and quickly thanked God for all He had done for me and asked forgiveness for doubting that He was caring for me. My heart had been changed by my check out encounter, and because of two ladies who weren’t afraid to share their faith with others.

praise

The rest of the day went much better and I found an inexpensive chainsaw at Home Depot for Dave. He deemed it one of the best Father’s Day gifts ever!

I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I believe these two women were put there just for me that day. God knew I needed some encouragement and He sent two angels, one dressed as a Walmart cashier and one as one of the “strange” people of Walmart. Where ever they are, I hope they continue to share this love and encouragement with others. It meant so much to me!

♥Miriam

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It’s a Baby…Maybe…A Terminal Case of Baby Envy Part III

We were at a stand still. All attempts at pregnancy had failed, either in miscarriage or just not achieving a positive result. We were frustrated beyond frustrated! Everything we did revolved around the possibility of achieving or not achieving pregnancy. I couldn’t stand it any more. I began to finally listen to those who were suggesting adoption.

One day, our phone rang. My friend Lois Ann was on the other end. “Are you considering adoption?”

“Maybe…”

“If you are, I know of a girl here in the states that wants to give her baby up for adoption. If you’re interested, I’ll get you connected.” This was my friend who had adopted two boys from another country. She was always open for more children to be added and so people were constantly making her aware of those she knew were going to give a child up for adoption.

We agreed to let her connect us with this girl.

*Maggie (not her real name) called us and we had a lovely conversation. She was a junior in college and had made a “mistake” that resulted in pregnancy. She wasn’t ready to be a mother yet as she hoped to do some mission work in Africa. She asked a few questions of us and we discussed meeting at some point. She wasn’t excited about meeting immediately, she wanted to meet closer to the time of the birth. I was so excited! She was 20 weeks along and knew she was having a girl. I began making plans for the future. We wouldn’t need clothes, we had Katie’s old things. A name…what would the name be? I had spent a great deal of time picking out Katie’s name. I wanted a name that meant something. I poured over the meanings of names and came up with Katie Elaine. Katie means “pure” and Elaine means “light”. I didn’t know at the time how much her name would become significant to us.

baby-feet

As I began to pour over possible names, I decided (but never shared with Dave) that this little girl’s name would be Hannah Grace, which ultimately means “grace grace”.  “What a fitting name,” I thought. Surely it was God’s grace that would bring this little girl to us.

I looked forward to the weekly phone call I would receive from Maggie as she kept us up-to-date on her progress. She was a music student and loved writing.  We had something in common! She even had red hair like me! Certainly, this little girl would perhaps even look like she was mine! Time was going quickly and we wanted to start preparing for Hannah’s arrival.

Then, the phone calls stopped. I tried in vain to call Maggie, but could never get through. Nearly a month passed. Finally, the phone rang one evening. It was Maggie at the other end. “I lost my phone and just got another. Sorry, I haven’t called sooner.” I was upset that she hadn’t tried to call by any other means. I asked her how things were since she was just about 8 weeks away from potential delivery. “Fine,” was the only answer I got. This was not the usual bubbly responses that I recieved from Maggie. Something was different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I told her we were starting to get things together and the next thing we were going to do was graduate Katie from her crib to a toddler bed.  “That’s nice,” she said. “Don’t rush it though, you still have eight weeks!”

I felt somewhat reassured by speaking with her, but yet was beginning to feel uneasy. Maggie had yet to speak with Dave directly and each time I asked was flatly turned down. “I don’t need to speak to him,” she’d say.

Another month went by without a phone call. I had left messages each week on the day we’d always converse with no response from Maggie. Finally, the phone rang one evening with Maggie at the other end.

“It’s me,” she said. I tried to remain calm. I was angry. How could she just leave me out of the loop?

“Hi, Maggie! How are things?”

“Fine.”

“Just a month left now, right?”

“Yup.”

“Can we soon meet face to face? After all, the baby will soon be here.”

I was not prepared for her reply. “Yeah, about that. There’s no need for us to meet.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, there’s no easy way to tell you this except to tell you. I’ve decided to give the baby to one of my college professers instead of you. Sorry,” and she hung up.

I stared in disbelief at the phone in my hand. Four weeks away from the arrival of Hannah and there would be no baby….again. I screamed! I threw the phone. Dave came running. “What’s going on?”

“She changed her mind! That’s what’s going on!! That little brat changed her mind!! How could she do this to us!” I screamed.

Dave came to me and put his arms around me as the sobs took over. I couldn’t take it any longer. Why was this happening? We couldn’t have a child of our own, and now even an adoption wasn’t going to work.

“We’re done with this,” said Dave. “Enough is enough. I can’t stand to see you go through this anymore. We’re done.” (That’s what he thought.)

At the time, we couldn’t fathom why God would allow yet another baby to slip from our grasp.  A few years later, we realized why He didn’t allow this to happen.

Maggie had wanted an open adoption, one that would allow her to see the child once a year. We’d send frequent photos and letters. Hannah would always know that she was adopted and who her birth mother was. It was the least we could do for Maggie considering the sacrifice she was going to make.  Looking back, I am so thankful that God did not allow this adoption to take place.

A couple of years ago, out of curiosity, I Googled Maggie’s name. I wanted to see if she had indeed graduated from college and went on her missions trips as she had hoped. What I discovered floored me. Certainly, this was not the Maggie I had come to know from phone calls and conversations we had had.

There it was in bold print. Maggie had gotten pregnant again, and while on a missions trip to minister to homeless people in the inner-city of a large city here in the US, gave birth in the bathroom of the church where they were staying, drowned her baby in the sink and placed it in the dumpster outside for disposal! It was a boy. She had gotten caught and sent to prison for manslaughter. I couldn’t believe it! I shared this discovery with my friend Lois Ann, who confirmed it with the ones who had connected her with Maggie initially.

God’s hand of protection was on us! In an open adoption such as she had wanted, how in the world would we tell a then 3-year-old Hannah that her mom was in prison for killing her baby brother? I was relieved, though it was three years later, to know that we wouldn’t ever have to deal with that. I felt sorry for Maggie’s college professor and his wife. How were they dealing with this? I prayed for them and for Maggie that she would get back on track with God.

We thought we were finished wanting a baby, but this was a terminal case of baby envy that I had. It wasn’t over yet.

(To be continued….)

♥Miriam

How a Shopping Spree at the Bent & Dent Requires a Remodel of my Kitchen!

BB's Grocery in Newburg, PA

BB’s Grocery in Newburg, PA

I had no intention of going to BB’s Grocery in Newburg, PA today. After all, we didn’t really need much from the grocery store, just eggs and bread. But Dave thought this might be a good day to go since….1. We hadn’t been there for a few months, 2. Katie was at camp and wouldn’t complain about having to go through the freezer. 3. We could use the money we usually use for groceries to stock up on some things we use a lot and get a little ahead. -and- 4. We were babysitting for our in-laws and needed to find something to entertain a 3-year-old boy that just wants to be with “Uncle Dave.”

So, we headed to Newburg. I was sucked in the moment I walked through the door. Bell peppers were right inside the door in a huge bin marked at $0.49 each…yes, I think we could use some peppers. Next up, cauliflower $1 a head…why yes, I’ll take that. Roma tomatoes for $0.10 each…I think so! 3 lb bags of gala apples for $2.19…oh my, yes!  I was slightly disappointed that there wasn’t any zucchini, after all that has become a “staple” vegetable at our house. But, my disappointment soon turned into joy as I rounded the corner and found bottled water $2.00 for a 24 pack!

We got about a 1/3 of the way through the store and already our cart was over half full.

In the freezer at BB's Grocery

In the freezer at BB’s Grocery

It was time to head to the freezer. Aaahhh…that glorious frozen wonderland of bargains! We scored big in the freezer section today! There was Turkey Hill ice cream by the half-gallon for $1.50 each. We found Bronx Bombers Sundae (it has to be good…it has the Yankees logo on the box!) and Gertrude Hawk Box of Chocolates (which I have had before and loved!) We found Freschetta pizzas, Marie Calender’s meals, Hanover frozen veggies, Smart Ones frozen desserts (yum!), Mrs. Smith’s pies, Bob Evans breakfast sandwiches,  and Mama Lucia meatballs. We go through the freezer quickly, after all it is mighty cold in there! We end up going through about 3 times until we decide we’ve seen it all.

The refrigerator section was a palace of dairy goodness as well today! There we scored 3 bags of shredded cheese for $1.50 each, a stick of turkey ring bologna, Turkey Hill Diet Green tea in the gallon jugs for $1.89….a real steal!  We got a block of sliced American cheese, hot dogs, Hillshire Farm sliced turkey in the family sized pack, and then we saw it! (Insert the Hallelujah Chorus here!) A whole pork loin for $20!!! We brought that home and sliced it into our own pork chops. We ended up with 30 pork chops, which is the equivalent of 10 meals for us!!!

We made it through the rest of BB’s rather quickly after that, but not until our cart was overflowing! We found Delmonte canned veggies for $0.69 a can, canned mushrooms 2/$1 as well as canned sliced black olives for the same price, Campbell’s soups, enchilada sauce, bread and butter pickles (our family’s favorite) for $1 a jar, canned salmon, canned chicken, and Extra chewing gum in dessert flavors for 10 packs for $1! We usually have to pay $1 per pack for that!

The left side of the cupboard.

The left side of the cupboard.

As we went to the checkout, I began to worry what the total would be. At a regular grocery store, a cart this full would easily run around $350. (I feel pretty confident in that estimate as I monitor prices pretty closely and consider myself a bit of a coupon diva!) I watched the Amish girl who was checking us out enter in item after item. I was concerned because there was an awful lot of meat in the cart and some normally “big ticket” items like coffee and cheese. I watched, holding my breath until she hit the total button. “That will be $149.36 please.” Wow! What a savings!!!

As we traveled home, I began to formulate how I’d get all these items put away. Of course, the frozen and refrigerated items would go in….well…the freezer and the fridge…duh! I decided that this would be a good day to clean out my cupboards and get rid of some of those things we didn’t use any more (i.e. “Let’s get rid of mis-matched stuff.”)

When we arrived home, we heave-ho’d all our loot into the house, and I got to work. I started on the cupboard I thought  would give me the most room once cleaned out. I pulled out all the unwanted items and created a whopping 1 foot x 1 foot space. Oh boy….I needed way more space than that!

The right side of the cupboard.

The right side of the cupboard.

I started on my food cupboard next. I decided the best thing to do was to empty the entire cupboard and start from scratch. About a half hour later, I discovered I now had 10 cans of mushrooms! But, since we go through about 4 cans of mushrooms a week, that’s not such a bad thing! We also have enough soup to last quite a while! I have enough spaghetti sauce to have a charity spaghetti dinner and feed about 70 people! But none of it expires any time soon, so it’ll get used. It took a good half hour to get this cupboard looking good, but I realized that there was still so much more to find homes for!

We had found quite a few spices for a tiny price, so I decided to start on my spice cupboard next.Once again, all the contents were removed. Duplicate spices were combined if I was able. This cupboard also houses all my teas. Well….they needed organizing too! Another half hour later, and my spice/tea cupboard was gorgeous! But….there was still quite a few items that needed a space!

My teas and spices

My teas and spices

I called Dave to help me. The next cupboard was a bit out of my reach….(I’m vertically challenged). So, he agreed to help with this cupboard. It didn’t take nearly as long with 2 of us working at it! This cupboard now contains all of my pastas and mixes and is right above the stove. I discovered that we will soon need to return to BB’s because I have 3 canned icings and no cake mixes. (The icing wasn’t purchased today!)

My kitchen still looks like a mess, but only because I haven’t figured out what to do with those odds and ends I removed from the first cupboard I tackled. (Oh yeah, that 1 foot x 1 foot space is now full of sprinkles for icecream and cookies!)

Now, the refrigerator…..that’s another story. It looks like a disaster area! Everything is just shoved in where ever it’ll fit. Ugh! I’ve decided the best thing I could do is just remodel the kitchen! I’ve been wanting to strip the wallpaper and paint anyway. And while we’re at it, we may as well add a few cupboards and get a larger refrigerator/freezer. Perhaps an addition on the kitchen would be good….a walk-in pantry would be nice.  Hmmmm…..maybe I should go to BB’s more often. If I came home with this much stuff every week, Dave would have to agree to a remodel right? 🙂

Nah, I don’t need a remodel. (I would like to paint the kitchen though!) I do see that we are going to eat well for the next few weeks! I feel blessed that we have places like this in the community to help those of us on a tight budget to make ends meet and stock our pantries at the same time!  I doubt that I will need to go for groceries (other than milk, bread, eggs, fresh veggies and yogurt) for a few weeks!  I’m happy to know that my family will be well fed for just a little. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this day of plenty!

Mixes and pastas

Mixes and pastas

♥Miriam

It’s the Little Things

I keep mentioning that I want share about God’s provision as I go on with this blog. God’s provision is not always obvious and sometimes it screams out, “Look! Look what God did for you!” Obviously, it’s much easier to notice those times when His provision is clearly evident. But, have you ever considered His little ways of provision?

It’s in those not-so-obvious moments that God will provide some of the greatest things that we don’t even dare ask or hope for.

Consider those near-misses when you’ve been on the road and someone pulls out in front of you. You somehow get stopped just in time. Was that God’s provision? Sure it was!

Ever have one of those moments when you’re at the grocery store and the bill comes out to just the amount you have in your checkbook or wallet.  (This is something that recently happened to me! My grocery bill was climbing and I wasn’t sure I’d have enough to cover it. My eyes bugged out as I saw the total! Then the cashier hit the button that took off the bonus savings with my card, scanned the coupons, and miracle of miracles—I had just enough with $0.18 to spare!) Was that God’s provision? It sure was!

I had shared before about seeing God provide for my family since going into a full time job in Chrisitian ministry. Some of the ways He’s provided have been huge! But a lot of His provision has been in little things. One of my favorite stories of His provision comes in the form of a coat.

Katie put on her winter coat she uses for school earlier this winter and we discovered it was now too small for her. The sleeves ended just below her elbows! This was something I hadn’t anticipated. After all, just a week or so before, it fit just fine! As Dave and I discussed how, where, and when we would replace the coat, I received a message from a friend on Facebook. She asked what size clothes Katie was currently wearing. “10-12,” I replied.

“Great! I have a friend who’s getting rid of some of her daughter’s old clothes and they’re 10-12’s! Do you want them?” she asked.

“Sure!” I said. The thought of Katie needing a new coat had already left my mind.

We chatted for a while and made arrangements to meet so I could pick up the clothes. As we closed out our conversation, she added, “Oh! There’s something I forgot to tell you!”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Well, there’s a brand new coat in this bag, never worn.”

Oh wow! Really? I quickly shared how this was an answer to prayer.

“God provided didn’t He!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, He did!” He provided in something as small as a girl’s winter coat. He takes care of even our smallest needs.

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So then, why is it so hard to trust that He’ll provide for ALL our needs? It’s part of our sinful human nature. Often we have the mentality that if we can’t provide the need, then it’s something we just will have to do without. But when we allow God to work in our lives, He’ll provide all our needs.

Paul says this well in Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Think about all the little ways God has provided for you! You’ll find they add up rather quickly!

♥Miriam