I am writing this blog in hopes of encouraging those who may find themselves in similar circumstances. Perhaps their number of hours at work have been reduced, perhaps they have been laid off or have lost their job. Perhaps this has happened to their spouse and as a result, finances are being strained and they do not know what they will do in order to keep a roof over their head and food on their table. Perhaps, like myself, illness or injury has caused them to be unable to work, for at least the time being. It is my prayer that my journey at the moment might encourage you and remind you that regardless of our circumstances, God is aware of our needs... and He cares for us.
It has now been close to two months since I last received a full paycheck after being put on a medical leave of absence due to the secondary effects of a ruptured brain aneurysm and stroke which happened back in December of 2009. For the past two months I have been receiving a portion of my salary due to the fact that my employer has a "sick leave pool" which if approved, the recipient can receive a portion of their salary for 90 days.
On paper this means we have had a household income loss of more than $2,500.00 over the past several months. I don't know about you but my husband and I cannot afford that kind of loss if we expect to pay our mortgage, utilities, insurance, buy groceries, buy gas, pay any other debts we may owe, etc. As much as I loved teaching, I worked because I needed to do so.
On paper we should be receiving past due notices and perhaps have even defaulted on a loan. On paper, we should not be able to give to our church, other charities or even to Christianblog.com The reality is... we have been able to meet each and every obligation exactly on time and even save nearly one month of what I would normally earn.
While we have been trying to be very careful with our money, what our monthly income should have been over the past two months falls a good deal short of what our mandatory living expenses are. I say mandatory because these things are truly needs as opposed to wants.
Right away, we sought God, asking Him to help us be good stewards of what He had given us and to "close the gap" each month as He saw fit. We did the things God led us to do and in turn, God has provided for us each month.
While we cut back on all non-essential things, we realized that giving is essential. We made the decision to continue to give even though our "instinct" told us we couldn't afford to give. We couldn't afford NOT to give! How can God put things into our hands... if our hands are clenched shut? He can't! We believed it was critical for us to continue to give. Not just for the benefit of others but for our benefit as well. What joy it is to give! We needed that joy, that knowledge that despite our circumstances, we could contribute to the well being of others! This is important. As tempting as it is to stop giving when you are facing a financial struggle, you must resist the urge to do so. I am not suggesting that you should foolishly give that which you do not have. Instead, seek God for what He would have you give and then do it.
Someone wanted to buy some equipment they had been borrowing from my husband which he no longer needed. The price they insisted on paying us was more than fair. Overtime work and free-lance jobs for my husband increased. A couple of bills got paid off, we were able to switch companies in one case and in doing so reduced a bill by one-third the monthly amount. There were other things but you get the idea. Day by day, God has been providing for us.
I will be receiving only three more checks this year. After that, we do not know what we will do because as of now, I will not be permitted to return to work until next fall at the earliest. My applications for long-term disability are pending and there are the usual roadblocks which must be maneuvered. I do know however, that we serve a very big God who is fully aware of my needs... and your needs, a God who cares for us.