So many times, I have seen God provide for our family…so many times, I have seen God do more than I could ever imagine or think but, somehow, there are times that I forget. I forget to look back on the blessings and rejoice in the times of need because of how He has provided before.
We moved to Maine from North Carolina to pastor a church knowing our income would not be coming from the church. We would spend our days just relying on family and friend’s support. My husband served as a missionary for almost 4 years after graduating from college and lived off of less than $200 a month in the country where he served. I grew up in a family who served as native missionaries in the Philippines conducting medical missions, I have seen the poor, I have seen the needy. I have been in that place where I learned to count my blessings. BUT, our first few years in Maine, I was not so thankful. I was not content.
“Ministry, simply cannot be this hard…surely, a young pastor’s family shouldn’t be ‘suffering’ like this.”
It’s different when you and your husband are doing ministry alone…you can conquer the world with anything together, you look out for each other. You don’t worry about ANYTHING! When children come into the picture, you worry more about what you will feed or clothe them with. Your bank account affects your mind and your actions when you have children. We had two kids at the time, my oldest was 2 years old and youngest was 6 months old when we arrived. My oldest daughter was born with a complex club foot, a severe deformity that has required surgeries and her last one just happened about 6 months before we moved. We had bills that were piling up and we didn’t know how we would pay so I spent the first few months calling creditors and the hospital where she had surgery last, to inquire about a payment plan. I was charging the credit card with hopes of paying it back later, but our debt only piled up.
The first month, my 2-year-old became really sick. In the course of a weekend, our lives became unsure with her health. She had a blood infection and nearly died, thankfully, we brought her to the hospital when we did. The bill for this visit to the ER and 10 days of high doses of antibiotics came to haunt us later.
We were not doing well at all. For a pastor and his family to feel a little hopeless while trying to share HOPE with others was a hard. I didn’t have any, so I had a hard time “selling” what I didn’t believe in. Someone advised us to go to the Department of Human Health and Services to see if we qualified for help. I was also sent to the WIC office. I was so embarrassed! I was that person who always looked at some of those who needed government assistance with judgement, like, “Why can’t they just get a job, everyone works!” My pride in asking for help got in the way of really seeing that maybe, our family, honestly, could use help. Maybe government help existed for families who were experiencing life, like we were.
I am the girl named May, in chapter 11, the Elephant in the Church. Erin discusses the shame that we put on people, especially those who belong to the body of Christ who are in a season of need. We judge too quickly before trying to show compassion. We do not realize that we, ourselves, may need some type of assistance someday. We need to understand, there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
Erin Odom’s book, More than Just Making It, is timely. So many are hurting because of the guilt they feel when they ask for help. For some reason, we are a part of a society who thinks it is wrong to ask for help in any way. Asking for help is an inconvenience or a sign you are weak and lazy. Erin specifically reminds us that we are to treat one another with kindness, that scripture specifically states, “kindness to the poor as honoring to God.” We weren’t meant to live life on our own and be so independent. We were made to need one another, to help one another. We need an attitude adjustment. My family has walked in the Odom’s shoes and sometimes, we are still there…just a few weeks ago, we had a debt to pay with the kid’s tuition. We didn’t think they could attend the school they were in. BUT GOD, stirred the heart of family friends and they paid off the debt and paid the first month’s tuition. We have had to be creative with how we spend the income we have. In the last 8 and a half years, I have stories upon stories of God’s Provision…checks or cash in the mail that paid exactly the amount of something we needed for our family. We have also learned to practice with conviction, the giving of our first fruits before we ever spend the income we have on anything, like groceries. God has blessed to the point where it was doubled, enabling us to give to others in need.
We have learned and continue to learn to be content with whatever the circumstance. God has done so much and continues to provide. More than Just Making it emphasizes the fact that God is in the business of taking care of His children, even if we don’t think we will make it. We aren’t suffering because we aren’t making the income my other friends are making or have what they have. God has blessed us with plenty but our blessings look different from others. He can take whatever happens in our life and make something beautiful out of it. It is my hope, that everyone gets their hands on Erin Odom’s book, More than Just Making it. It is real and raw, she is transparent with her emotions and how God has taught her whole family about having Hope when they were financially frustrated. To order your copy, please go to morethanjustmakingit.com.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love God be in Him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18