Wednesday, February 18, 2009

He Makes Me Lie Down

During the last few weeks, I've been battling anxiety every time I read the newspaper or watch the news--I seem to have a compulsion to hear about the latest round of layoffs and business failures. The recession became more real to me recently when my own company--which employs both me and my husband--laid off a modest number of workers, and also when I started to see some friends in our area losing jobs.

I'm thankful for my current memory passage, which admonishes me not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear, but I haven't really allowed it to transform my thinking yet.

When Allyson and I went to my parents' for our weekly visit on Monday, I asked Mom how she and Dad had managed during the recession in the 70s. Working in construction, Dad was out of work for extended periods, and they had five children to support! "How did you keep from going crazy with worry?" I asked.

"I just had to pray and trust God to provide," she answered.

And that is what God did, through the the church, family, and friends--and even strangers. There was the woman at church who gave Mom a stack of clothes that got my sister Amy through the school year. There was the man at the farmer's market who always heaped the bushel baskets of vegetables to overflowing. There were the dresses that my grandmother, an excellent seamstress, made for me and my sisters. There was the car that Uncle Max gave them. There was the man at church who loaned them money for a car repair. My sister Melody had been making two trips to drive everyone to church, and this is how he knew they needed help. Mom and Dad had planned to wait for six weeks for their income tax return, so this was a big blessing.

It couldn't have been easy for my parents, but what surprises me is that I have very little memory of those financial difficulties. Of course, I was very young, only six years old when we had to leave Indiana in order for Dad to find construction work. But I do remember our life there, and what I recall is a loving, happy home where we all had fun together. I remember spending my days with Mom, going everywhere with her. I remember playing games and reading stories. I remember snapping mountains of green beans on the porch, which we ate for months and months, so that the older kids said they didn't care if they ever saw a green bean again. (I was so picky that I subsisted on peanut butter and breakfast cereal, so I didn't eat any green beans myself.)

Starting Our Life In Texas
Our first Christmas in Texas, we had to buy an artificial tree and all the decorations; when they'd packed the U-Haul trailer, the ornaments had not made the cut. All we could afford was a wooden ornament kit that we had to paint. Sitting around the table together and painting those simple bells and rocking horses is one of my favorite memories, and we never would have experienced that if they could have just bought a few boxes of "fancy" ornaments. They lasted for years, and in better times, they reminded us of that first Christmas.

Amy, Emily, Me - Texas c. 1977

I'm thankful for the difficulties God allowed us to experience. I learned what really matters in life--and it isn't material possessions. I learned to be responsible with money and to get by with less. I learned to trust in God, not a job.

For some reason, I've been wanting to shelter my own kids from these lessons. I've always loved the passage in Matthew 6, but I never thought I might REALLY have to worry about what we would eat. I pray that God will give me the courage to withstand whatever trials the future may hold for my family, and that he will develop my character and strengthen my faith.

One thing I do know: God is with me always. When I catch myself worrying, he brings scriptures to my mind. I was walking through the dairy aisle at Walmart last week, and I felt my chest tightening as anxious thoughts attacked. Suddenly, I heard the 23rd Psalm in my mind--as plainly as if someone were reading it to me. I heard it in the King James version, beloved from my childhood: "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul."

I love the idea of God MAKING me lie down. It's like when Allyson is beside herself with rage and frustration, and I know all she needs is a good nap. I make her lie down, and when she wakes up she is her usual sunny self. I'm so glad God knows when I need to lie down, too.


Melissa Irwin said...

This is a wonderful usual! Yes, it is all very real...and it's going on around here too. And I sell real estate for a you can imagine we're eating a lot of peanut butter, for now.

Thanks also for posting at Wellspring! You have such a sweet soul!

Sarah said...

Here are some clarifications from my mom...

Actually the car that Max gave us was only to use until we got our car back. If memory serves me correctly it was when our car was hit while sitting in front of our house. The girl that hit our car really damaged it and while it was in the body shop that is when he loaned us his car to use. I do not remember how long our car was in the body shop.

Chuck Parker fixed our car and we paid him when we got our income tax money and if I remember correctly he gave us a big break on the cost. He was a really good Christian man.

Enjoyed your article. The time Chuck Parker fixed our car was a different time than when we had car damaged by an accident.

Love, mom


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