The tale of a trailer and a pile of shoes

Two months ago, I joined six other women for a three day intensive leadership retreat away from home. It was a very growing three days, to say the least. One very significant thing that I saw in myself and which was then broken off in my life was a poverty mindset. It has been many years since we lived paycheque to paycheque. We have no debt and have money saved, earmarked for emergencies, replacing our vehicle, etc. However, I recognized that I struggle with spending that money or thinking of us as able to afford a lot of things. It was one particular thing that convicted me and actually caused me to break down. I don’t buy my kids shoes. I mean, I do, but very seldom are they new shoes. I will buy second hand, I’ll make them wear rubber boots for a month too long because I haven’t yet found a pair of hand me downs or thrift store shoes for them. So I committed to buying everyone a new pair of shoes when I got home. A few days after, I bought Jenny a new pair, but put off buying the boys shoes due to general busyness.

Another thing I declared while there was that I did not want to spend a single night in our tent trailer. It has served us well, but last summer, it developed a rip on one part of the canvas, the front storage lid came off, the cable system started fraying (again) and all the areas of wood rot and damaged siding started to stand out. We knew that practically speaking, we would not be able to fix all the damage ourselves and it would cost us much more than it was worth to do so anyway.

I had been casually looking for a new trailer on Marketplace for a few weeks prior to this trip. So far we had only seen a few that looked promising, and otherwise, most were far beyond our budget or would have required a lot of work. On the long drive home after that weekend away, I found a trailer that looked great – the price was right and the only change I thought was needed was in the bunk room. It didn’t have all the features I might have wanted but for what they were asking, I thought it was worth looking into. The owners were willing to take offers and I was told we could look at it the day after I got home. I was excited and felt this must be a promise fulfilled. Until I got home and the owner told me that her husband had sold the trailer while she was at work without telling her. Usually this would have been devastating to me, but I felt like since this wasn’t it, there was something better out there for us.

A few days later, I was on a classified site that I hadn’t used in a long time. I saw a trailer that ticked all the boxes and even though it seemed to be more than we could manage, it also said best offer, so I sent an email. This time we were able to go see it the next day. When we walked in, it seemed impossible that we could own something like this. It was just too nice. But it felt right to us, and we knew that if we came up with an offer for what we could afford and they didn’t accept it, we would move onto something else. We looked at our accounts and budget and ended on a number $3,000 less than they were asking and a full $5,000 less than their original asking price from the month before. It seemed even more impossible now and was still a lot of money for us. I felt some trepidation over that and heard God ask me, just days after declaring He was my provider, “Am I your provider?” I had to answer that He was and move forward in trust. When Mike called with our offer, he said he was trying to assure the owners that we were not low-balling them but that was just what we could afford. Thankfully they didn’t see it that way. Then we waited. Within a few hours, we got an answer that they would accept the offer. Again I was a bit nervous about spending so much but the Holy Spirit reminded me that my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).

With this excitement now behind us, I took the kids shopping to buy more shoes. We went to Winners and found a pair for Elias but not for anyone else. So we went on to Walmart to get the rest. I wasn’t picky and wasn’t trying to prove anything by buying them the most expensive or cheaper shoes – instead I just told them to pick what they liked. Along with a few other small things, we took six pairs of shoes to the cash register. I didn’t let myself think too much about how much I was going to be spending because I knew I was acting something out in faith.

This was when things got really fun. Just as our items were going down the conveyor, the man behind us said abruptly that he wanted to buy all our stuff for us. I was stunned. This had never happened to me before. I asked him if he was sure and with a great deal of cash in his hand, he said he absolutely was. So I thanked him and he said, “Don’t thank me, thank God.” I told him that I was there buying my kids shoes because God had told me to. He may not have understood that part, but my kids knew very well what this was about. There were tears and ear to ear smiles the rest of the evening. Here I was walking out obedience and trusting Him to provide and He sent someone to do that. Having my groceries paid for would have been one thing, but it was shoes. I still get chills when I think about it.

The summer has had its challenges and expenses but He has continued to provide. Our tent trailer gave out the first time we tried to set it up after buying the new trailer – we just wanted to get our things out and the cable system snapped. Then, even though the cables were broken, someone bought it from us at the beginning of August, just when we needed the extra money.

I know that walking out of this poverty mindset is a process that isn’t over yet. I still have a long way to go. But thinking on these testimonies of provision is such an encouragement to me when we face unexpected costs or needs.

Facing Impossible

Yesterday I suddenly became overwhelmed with all of the impossible we are facing right now.

We have been driving two vehicles since the end of June when we swapped our dying 15 passenger van for a minivan. We look regularly for another big van but everything we’ve seen is either way beyond our budget (which is pretty low) or is very far away from home.

We live in a province that is not seeing an increase in hospitalization or deaths from Covid-19 and is in fact looking at fairly low numbers in general but are being placed under increasing restrictions due to rises in positive cases in certain regions of the province. One restriction directly affects our family and many others as the newest order does not allow people to have more than six people visit their home. We have eight kids. Under this order, we would not be allowed to visit anyone else in their home.

We have a house that feels as though it is falling apart bit by bit. The list of projects continues to grow, right at the time when I’m starting to feel like we need to look into selling and finding something more suitable for us. Again, money must be spent, and we don’t have a whole lot.

There are other situations we are in the middle of that also feel impossible – no matter which way I play them out in my mind or talk them out with Mike, I cannot see how they will be accomplished.

I took a bath yesterday and put on an unfamiliar worship playlist from Spotify. The first song was one we sang in church on Sunday: Yes, I Will. The chorus rang out and the tears started flowing:

“Yes, I will
Lift You high
In the lowest valley
Yes, I will
Bless Your name
Oh, yes, I will
Sing for joy
When my heart is heavy
All my days
Oh, yes I will”

My heart is heavy and I feel as though we are in the lowest valley right now. I know I need to lift Him up regardless of all of this but it’s not easy.

Then Rattle played: “Since when has impossible ever stopped you?”

I have seen God deal with the impossible in my life before. I’ve seen Him do it in the lives of others as well. Why do these mountains feel so big? Why does it all feel like too much?

Each of these situations on its own may not pull me down but it’s a bit overwhelming right now when they all present themselves in front of me as things that cannot be solved with anything I do. And I know this is true – I cannot stop the government overreach or lack of transparency going on in response to Covid in Canada. I cannot instantly acquire $30,000 to buy the van I’d really like and another $50,000 to fix all the things wrong with my house. I cannot make all of those other situations play out perfectly or disappear, no matter how hard I try.

In Matthew 19, Jesus told His disciples that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. They marveled and asked, “Who then can be saved?” He said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

All things are possible with God.

All things are possible with God.

All things are possible with God.

I’ve been in the habit for the last year of telling mountains to leave in the name of Jesus. Mountains of migraines, cancer, illness, depression, etc. And sometimes I have seen healing happen after those commands. I just haven’t been very good at telling my own mountains to be cast into the sea.

And even with all my prayers of “God, fix this! Deliver and protect us! Provide! Give us direction!” I will admit that my faith in His response has been weak. I have struggled to really believe that we will be delivered, protected, provided for, directed. I need to build my faith and at the same time let these things go and stay in His hands instead of constantly pulling them back out to worry over.

I think we’re all facing mountains right now, in one way or another. Some are very personal and others are societal. We look around at the world we’re living in right now and sometimes it’s hard to feel a lot of hope. Facing the impossible has only one response – give it all to Him and let Him deal with it. When we need to act, He will show us what to do, but if we try to hold it all and lean on our own understanding, we will flounder and become overwhelmed.

I will admit that even writing this I have a hard time believing that it’s all going to be sorted out. That’s because I think with my finite mind and cannot see what is going on behind the scenes in the spirit. He is working on these things even when I cannot see or feel it.

“Even when I don’t see it, You’re working
Even when I can’t feel it, You’re working
You never stop, You never stop working
You never stop, You never stop working”

I sing these words easily enough but it’s time to start believing them.