I originally wrote this article for an online magazine, and I just realized that I’d never gotten around to sharing it with you all. A shameful situation such as this simply must be rectified. So here it is and here you are… hope ya like it.
I am a single mom and I am a homemaker. Now, now, now… before we go any further, let’s be honest. I know what you’re thinking: how does a woman manage to stay at home without a husband to provide? How can she make ends meet without an outside job bringing in income? I suppose that I could give you a long, drawn-out answer complete with thrift-store-shopping tips and recipes for dinners-under-a-dollar. But I won’t. Because, really, that kind of answer misses the point. The real explanation, the only explanation for how I manage, is by the grace of God. By the grace of God. Day by day He provides our family with everything we need and a goodly portion of what we want. He called me home, and He blesses me with the contentment, peace, and material provision to stay here.
It hasn’t always been this way, though.When my husband left our home, one of the first things I did was run out and get myself a job. I just couldn’t conceive of any other means of providing for my children. I told myself I’d get used to leaving the children and spending hours at a desk away from the familiarity and warmth of home. In time, we’d get used to our new life and be the better for it, I told the children. I thanked God for my job and headed off to my office every morning, trying with all my might to be happy. But instead of getting easier, as the months went on it got harder. Instead of getting used to the demands of the working world, my longing for my babies and my own four walls grew until it was an almost physical pain. So I prayed. I fasted. I reminded God of the promises in His word. I begged God for some kind of miraculous breakthrough… maybe a large check would come in the mail, maybe someone would anonymously pay my mortgage, maybe there was some kind of single-mom-who-wants-to-be-a-homemaker grant out there, maybe, maybe, maybe. I came up with all sorts of great ideas for God. Not surprisingly, He didn’t take me up on any of my fantastic plans. So I got up every morning, put on a happy face and toddled off to work… and every night I prayed my heart out.
Then one bright and beautiful August morning, something happened. I woke up that day with a single, crystal-clear question in my mind: Do I trust God or do I not?
“Yes,” I thought sturdily. “I do trust God. I am willing to depend upon Him.”
So that very day, I gave my two weeks’ notice, and, instead of being irritated, the agency director was understanding. She told me one week’s notice was sufficient. She told me that the door was always open should I decide to come back to work. She hoped I’d consider them first when looking for employment. And so right from the start I was struck by God’s graciousness. His graciousness has daily humbled me ever since.
Ever since then, I have been a homemaker. I homeschool my children and bake our bread and sew much of our clothing. While our income is very low, we have never had to do without. Certainly, we live frugally and make the most of simple pleasures but (even without debt or government aid), our lifestyle far outstrips our income. My children eat well and dress well. They have toys and books and ballet lessons. We have a large, warm home and a spacious, reliable vehicle. Daily the Lord shows us His grace by providing for us in concrete, tangible ways.
Just last summer my children befriended a stray cat and … as stray cats are wont to do… she became great with kitten. I stalwartly insisted that she would not be coming in to the house. We couldn’t afford a pet, and the children all knew it. But it seemed that events (and my own pathologically soft heart) got the better of me. The stray cat indeed made it into the house, and in a rather embarrassing turn of events, actually gave birth to her two little soot-colored babies under my very own bed. Yeah. I know. Eventually we were able to find a farmer who was willing to take in mama cat, but by then we were all hopelessly in love with the kittens. But what could we do? They needed hundreds of dollars worth of veterinary care, and I certainly did not have hundreds of dollars to spend on it. Then a friend emailed me with word of a program that provided free vet care to families like ours. All of the slots had been filled for months, but a family had unexpectedly dropped out, leaving room for two cats. Two cats. Free vet care. Would I be able to drop the kittens off the next day? Why, yes, yes I would be able to do that. Oh yes indeed!
And then my ironing board broke.
“Lord, you know I need a new ironing board,” I prayed one day as I was driving along with the children. As I came up over the very next rise, what should there be on the side of the road, but an ironing board. Bright, clean and almost new, someone had put it out with their trash. I pulled over and stowed it in the van. Just like that, I had my new ironing board.
One snowy winter evening my daughter, Amelia, and I were on our way home when I noticed that the van was almost out of fuel. I wasn’t worried, as there was a gas station just a mile up the road. However, when I saw an unexpected detour up ahead, I started to worry. And I was aghast when the worker waved me onto a side road and straight into no-man’s land. We were in a right pickle: the detour headed us for a village several miles away, much too far for our meager fuel supply. Always one for the bright ideas, I decided to work my way back to my original route, and hopefully the gas station. Well, instead of getting back on track, we became progressively more and more lost. I was traveling on roads I had never seen before, and even the houses were few and far between. By this time, the snow was coming down thick and fast and the numbers on the fuel gauge were ticking down, down, down; lower and lower. Amelia and I were verging on a state of panic when it suddenly occurred to me that we hadn’t prayed. “Dear Lord, please help us!” I said aloud. The fuel gauge ticked to zero; there was no fuel left. Just as a warning bell sounded from the dashboard, I looked up to see a gas station. Right there, seemingly in the middle of nowhere was a gas station. With an overwhelming feeling of relief, we glided in next to the pumps. And as if that wasn’t enough, I noticed a familiar building just to the south. Suddenly I knew exactly where we were and I knew how to get us home. “I don’t understand how people can not believe in God,” Amelia said as we pulled back onto the road .
And in that moment, I thanked God, not just for answering my cry for help, but for showing Himself both tender and mighty in front of my child.
Now, I’d love to tell you more: the bills that have come in several hundred dollars less than expected, the appliances that were handed down to us at the precise moment we had need of them, the godly gentlemen who have taken my son camping and taught my daughter to drive, the brand new computer that was given to us outright, the mentor who is teaching me the ropes of running a home business… on and on the stories of God’s provision go. I wouldn’t have the time and typewriter ink to tell you all of the miracles our family has witnessed, because miracles are an everyday occurrence in our lives. Why are we so blessed? Well, honestly, I’m not completely sure. I certainly have done nothing to deserve such bounty. I surely know that I am nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary.
But, just as surely, I know that our God is out of the ordinary. He has a special love for the widow, the fatherless, the weak… the sinful. When we are willing to be dependent upon Him, He takes us under His wing and gently cares for us. He has shown me that He is relentlessly dependable. Day by day by day, He meets our needs. I trusted Him and He didn’t let me down.