For years, I have had anxiety about money. All of my life, really.
And then, of course, my husband's stroke added a lot of anxiety. I had generic anxiety about everything the future held, because I had no idea what the future held (and I still don't). However, we are 10 months "into the future" since the stroke, right? And we're still alive and making progress and learning how to live again.
There is still anxiety, but I try very hard to put the Lord's words into practice, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7).
Also, when dealing with anxiety about money, I cling to this verse: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:26-27)
I think that, even though my children have never gone without food, clothing or shelter, it was a long and hard lesson for me to learn that God provides for His people. Always. Since the stroke, we have had some amazing "windfall" moments that I still can't even believe.
At first, Al was covered by short-term disability for 6 weeks at full pay. Then, for the remainder of the 6 months after his stroke, he received 2/3 pay. Once the short-term disability discontinued, we were covered by long-term disability, and that was about the same time that Al's social security disability kicked in. However, it took MUCH longer for our dependent benefits to kick in, but LTD was only paying us the bare minimum, as if we were already receiving the dependent benefits. During that time, I had taken 6 weeks of FMLA leave (which is unpaid), and I had 4 weeks of unpaid vacation to use up in the summer. Money was tight to say the least, but we still made ends meet.
Now for the windfall moments. There were many, and I will simply list them because I am still profoundly moved by the generosity of people, and that God moved those people to care for us.
A friend of ours, who is suffering from MS and is confined to a wheelchair - and who undoubtedly knows what kind of trial we are facing - gave me an envelope. Al was still at the hospital and I was there every day, sometimes several times a day. Inside the envelope was a $50 bill, to which she attached a little sticky note, saying "for parking, meals or whatever." (She also told me that if I wrote her a thank you note, she would run over my toes with her wheelchair! She's a fiesty one, that woman! I could learn a lot from her.)
An envelope arrived in the mail one day from a person whose name I didn't recognize. I opened the card, and it was from a friend of my husband's brother, whom we had never met. But my brother-in-law told her about Al, and she was moved to help us. Her husband had passed away in the previous year, so she knew what it was like for me/us to be struggling with finances. She included a check for $100.
During the summer, with intermittent work and FMLA time at my back, money was tight once again, and I received a very much unexpected bonus of $750 from the company I work for. I had only completed one school year and had a vague memory of being told that I would earn a performance bonus each year. This one came at just the right time. And on the very same day, I received notification from Kohls that the balance of my Kohls card on the day of Al's stroke, was completely forgiven. They have a program called Account Ease, just in case a death or disability affects the family. I'm glad I chose to enroll in the program!
Toward the end of summer, after I had taken all of my unpaid vacation, and money was exceptionally tight, I had the brainstorm for a fundraiser. I really felt that it was an idea that came from the Lord, so I ran it by a few of my friends, who agreed that it was a good idea. I had a charity yard sale, and asked people to donate goods to the sale. My friend lent us her garage (since we don't have one) and she actually did much of the organization. By the time the sale started, her garage was completely packed with furniture, household goods, clothing, toys, etc. that people had donated. The sale was Labor Day weekend, and it was excruciatingly hot and humid. But from the moment we opened the sale on to the end of each day (Friday and Saturday), there was a non-stop swarm of people. I had no doubt that God inspired every one of those people to attend that sale.
That yard sale earned us an epic $1300! In addition, people who weren't able to donate or attend the sale sent us cash and checks to help out: $40, $50, $25, $100. One friend sent me a check for $500, and another group of friends - lay men who are living single for the Lord - had been saving up money from the day that Al had his stroke. They presented us with $500 in cash! In all, we were blessed with almost $2500 toward medical and other expenses.
Later in September, we received notice from Sparrow Hospital that they had "reduced our debt by 100%", meaning they had forgiven the remainder of our $4000 debt.
As I mentioned earlier, even though my husband received his social security benefits 6 months after his stroke, waiting for the dependent benefits was a grueling trial. Each month, we would make our mortgage and other payments late, our account would dwindle down to nothing, and the new batch of SSD would come in just in time. The dependent benefits didn't come in until this week.
This week, we received another windfall of 4 months worth of dependent benefits. Finally. Just in time for the holidays.
To top it off, we received another letter and a check from the group of men I mentioned above. They are celebrating 40 years of being a lay brotherhood and wanted to give a blessing to a needy person or family. Inside the letter was a check for $1000.
With that final check, I think God finally got through to me (I'm kind of thick-headed, wouldn't you say?). I really DON'T have to worry about money or material things. I don't have to worry about our mortgage payment and car repairs. God is enough and He is a God of miracles. Money truly is no object to Him, the Creator of the Universe. I think (I hope and pray) that I am finally done worrying about money.
Please remind me of that the next time that I am tempted to worry. Instead, please tell me, and please be reminded in turn, to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7