The lost is found

I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time, and I still don’t think I have my thoughts together to do it justice.

The short story of it is that the way God works is so not the way we work, so not the way that makes sense to our own minds.

The last couple of years have been a study in the way God provides, and I’m just starting to get a small grasp of it, finally.  I’m hardheaded, or I would have figured this out at least a year ago, or more.

Illustrative Story #1:

I spent nearly two years — which, I know, seems very short in retrospect, but at the time, it felt like forever — longing for another child for our family.  My hubby just did not want another baby.  I understood that this is an unwise issue to “push,” so I was careful not to nag.  I did want to keep him alerted to the fact that that’s where my heart was, so I made a plan to ask him every six months (seriously) where his thoughts & heart were on the baby issue.  We only talked together about it about three times, but in the interim, I thought about it every day. 

Even with my best attempts to keep a good attitude about it, I found myself getting bitter and angry with my husband.  I realized, in fairly short order, that bitterness and anger do not produce good fruit, and certainly wasn’t going to produce a baby.  Driving down the road in early July 2005, I tearfully told God that I was going to give up the whole idea of having a baby.  I purposed to not let my thoughts dwell there, or even sit there for a few seconds.  My longing for another child was ruining my joy and thankfulness for the three wonderful children I did have, and causing me to think unkindly towards my hubby. 

That was a really hard decision to come to — never again allowing myself to consider or daydream about another child.  It hurt deeply, and I sobbed in my grief for all the children who, at that moment in time, became lost to me.

At that time, Martin (my dh) was on a short-term mission trip to Mexico with our oldest son.  While he was gone, I was devoting some time to getting our photo albums in order.  Upon his return, we sat in our bedroom, flipping through the ones I’d completed, reminiscing about the times pictured.  At one point, he looked up and said, “You wanna try for baby #4?”  My jaw just about became unhinged.

When I had prayed my intentions to abandon those thoughts, I honestly had NO expectation of my husband EVER changing his mind.  Yet, the short end to that story is that, by the end of that same month, I was pregnant with our daughter, Audrey, whose 1st birthday we just celebrated.

Illustrative Story #2:

Some time ago, my pastor’s wife (to whom I’m very close) asked me a rather general question about the state of our finances.  (To many, this might seem inappropriate, but my 40yo husband has known our pastor’s family since he was in junior high — they are very much like parents to us.)  I told her, “Well, we’re better set, long-term, than any youngish couple I know.  We sock a lot into the 401(k), and have virtually no debt.”  In response, she said, “So, in other words, you have no spending money.”  My jaw dropped, but she was right.  Our day-to-day spending is quite tight.  We don’t keep up with the Joneses, we buy virtually no household item — when we do buy anything — new.  I drive a ’94 vehicle, my hubby’s is a ’92.  I’d like to go out and buy a whole bunch of clothes and shoes and jewelry for myself, but I just don’t.  Many of our children’s clothes are hand-me-downs, or purchased second-hand.  Splurging is buying stuff on sale.  We just don’t buy much.

In my reasonable mind, I’m OK with that.  I’m glad that we have, for the most part, responsible spending (or not spending) habits, and that our future is economically secure as we can make it.  But, in my selfish American heart, it sure would be nice to have some more stuff.

My internal conflict over this issue has seen even more challenge over the last couple of years.  The Bible teaches that when we give to those in need, we shouldn’t let our right hand know what our left hand is doing.  But, in August 2006, I blogged about my husband’s generosity, and how, while I appreciated it with my reasonable, trying-to-be-Godly mind, it was causing some internal conflict, because it meant that the money was not available for the things I wanted.  At the time, my big wants were a) a trip to visit family & friends in the Midwest, and b) a mobile phone.  But, whaddya know?  Here it is, 9 months later, and I recently got both of those things.

Since that August post, though, my hubby’s giving habits have escalated.  And, again, while it makes me feel comforted to have such a kind, giving, un-worldly, unselfish, Godly husband — and even though all of our basic needs have always been provided for — I still struggle, because there are things that I want that we can’t have because the money’s been given away. 

He almost always talks with me before he (anonymously) gives away another chunk of our change.  And, I always say, “Yes” no matter what I feel like.  The way I figure it, well, how can I grouse about not having a new entertainment center when it means that those funds will provide actual food on the table of a family who actually needs it, and not just wants it??

Speaking of that entertainment center, though, ours is a particle board number that is a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down.  It’s broken.  It’s been repaired, but it’s still in bad shape.  Still, it’s an entertainment center.  KWIM?  It’s a TV-holder.  Not really a big priority, in the grand scheme of things.

But, that’s kind of the shape that most of our furniture is in.  Most of what we have was purchased second-hand before my hubby and I got married, 12.5 years ago.  When I say “second-hand,” most of it was nice second-hand, purchased at estate sales and antique shops.  Still, though, 12+ years and four kids later, most of it is really shabby.  I recently had to throw away the slipcover I’d purchased for our worn-out sofa, because the slipcover was worn threadbare and had developed multiple tears & holes.

I could give other examples, but I’ll leave it at that.  Our furniture is past well-worn, and much of it inadequate for our needs.  But, Martin keeps giving.

While on that above-described trip to the Midwest, I spent some time in prayer again, deciding in my heart of hearts to completely give up my thoughts on new furniture, and just rest in the provision of God.  He always has been so faithful to provide all our needs.  We always have good food on the table.  We have the money to eat out once (sometimes twice) a week.  All the bills are paid.  We have a lovely house.  We homeschool, and always have the funds to buy our texts and materials.  We have all of our needs provided, and a great many of our wants.  I decided that I needed to stop dwelling on the wants that I don’t have, specially in the “furniture” category.

Well… I come home from the trip a few weeks ago, and Martin starts talking about how we ought to replace some furniture pieces.  Again, my jaw about hit the floor!  Also… my hubby does nothing fast.  He’ll say, “We should (fill in the blank with whatever)…” and what that means is, “I’d like to, theoretically, anyways, some time in the next five years, possibly consider going about maybe doing (fill in the blank with whatever).”  But, much to my surprise, he meant, “We should look into replacing some of our furniture pieces now.”

What we’ve gotten is still not new — but then, I can’t imagine spending the thousands of dollars on new furniture when we have found a number of really nice second-hand items for pennies on the dollar.

We got this couch from eBay for $67, and it appears brand-new.  It’s now sitting in our front room:

We got this table and eight chairs (we — usually every week — have family over for dinner, and are often squeezed in, and scrounging for chairs) from eBay, too, for about $450, much nicer and costing less than half of what I was able to find, new:

And, now, my hubby and brother-in-law are on their way back from Gilbert (75 mile trip, one-way!) to pick up this couch and loveseat from a Craigslist posting, paying less than 1/3 for it than the seller paid, less than one year ago.  They’ll be in our family room, replacing the above-describe sofa and another frayed yardsale find from a couple of years ago:

In other words, about a month after I totally gave up the idea of us ever (at least in the near future) getting some nice new furniture, we are now the proud owners of several really nice pieces of funiture.

God is good.  His ways… hard to describe.  But, whenever my heart gets whiny and selfish, demanding its own way, what do I get?  NOTHING.  But, whenever I sacrifice that thing as lost, determining not to let its absence spoil my outlook and my heart, I receive, way-more-generously than even hoped for. 

Long post.  Hope some are still reading, and able to be blessed (and maybe learn a bit) from my experiences… 


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on April 21, 2007, in God/Christianity/Church, Introspective Musings, Marriage, The Dear Hubby. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. But, whenever I sacrifice that thing as lost, determining not to let its absence spoil my outlook and my heart, I receive, way-more-generously than even hoped for.

    Ain’t that the truth!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I haven’t really thought about this particular type of issue much, but, it seems to be in step with what I’ve come to understand as the grace of God. Trusting him brings freedom.

  3. Gilbert! You were in my old stomping grounds. Don’t ya love a great deal?

    Craig’s List is another great resource. Let me know if you don’t know what that is.

    How’s AZ?

    : )

  4. Well I really needed to come across this post. Thank you.

  5. There are lessons here for all of us about holding onto hope, holding onto promises and clinging tightly to the belief that God wants the best for us, and ultimately wants us to TRUST him with everything in our lives, big and small.

    Thanks for sharing, Karen. Your honesty rocks.

  6. God is awesome like that, isn’t He?! Congrats on your blessings!

  7. I identify so much with the state of the furniture and the desire for better stuff. Our low-end Ikea stuff has been through three moves now and it shows. The line between WANT and NEED is a moving target. Good work! It is satisfying to make a great thrifty buy, isn’t it? Even if it takes more time to find what you want. And, I’m glad to hear that you’ve been blessed with things you didn’t necessarily “need.”

  8. “The short story of it is that the way God works is so not the way we work,”

    Frustrating, isn’t it?

  9. Responding last-to-first:

    Actually, totaltransformation, I don’t really find it frustrating at all. I find it perpetually surprising, but not really frustrating.

    Erin, thanks for the congrats and the understanding. “Moving target” to be sure.

    E*/E-star 😉 ~ God IS awesome, and thanks as well for your congrats.

    Iain ~ Amen, brother. P.S. Do you find it somewhat ironic that your nickname could be IMac? Sort of like TMac for Tracy MacGrady, though you surely don’t follow American basketball.

    Nita ~ Glad to be of help. P.S. Your daughter, who looks just a month or two older than mine, is swoony squishy cute.

    Sharla ~ I totally thought of you when I saw the Dirty Jobs from KC!!! I was hoping there’d be footage of the team going to Starbucks, but, alas, you continue to toil in anonymity. Actually, the couch set we *did* get off of Craigs List. And Gilbert… whew. That’s a drive. And all city, too. Ugh. Glad my hubby & BIL made it instead of me!!!!!

    Gracemark ~ Thanks for your comment. Your icon/pic makes you look like my college friend, John Morse, who used to have a blog, but is now running in addition to his job, and has no time for the frivolous.

    ummadam ~ SO NICE to see you here again!!! On my Clustrmap, I have a couple of dots along the Persian Gulf, and I have wondered if, perhaps, that was you.

  10. Indeed it is cool, and yes, I’d noticed that! In fact, my nickname on Virb is iMac! Only prob is I have a powerbook, not an iMac…

  11. I think that you did do this post and your thoughts justice…I have been struggling with wanting more children and because of some health issues that would have to happen via adoption and I didn’t want to be a nag and after much prayer, I shared my heart with dh and was surprised that he was open to adoption. We are now both praying for God’s leading, direction and timing in that matter.

    As for the finances, our situations sound somewhat similar. We do look good in the future and pretty okay for today but I know that there are times that I would like to just buy something without thinking about the other things that I can do with that money. I love the thrift store and my kids are learning to love it because quite frankly they grow to fast to spend outrageous sums of money on clothes. I like things that are diffrent, so I was a thrift shopper since high school and continue in that way with new shoe purchases being my splurge. 😉

    My dh and yours sound alike in their theoretical musings, I just listen and when he says that he wants to go to the store to make the purchase, I just get my purse. We give heavily to missions and others in need without the expectation of anything in return and are just thankful that God has blessed as He has…

    God’s ways are truly not ours nor are His thoughts but even our wildest dreams cannot compare to what He has for us and His timing is always perfect.

    Be blessed!!!

  12. Or, from another point of view, everything is frivolous.

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