1) Megan's birthday is coming up.
2) It's time to shop for school clothes.
Both of these events require money, and normally that would stress me out, but I work a fair bit of overtime during the summer which results in a nice paycheck right around the middle of July. This past summer was no different, so while I didn't know the exact amount of my overtime pay, I was pretty sure it would cover the cost of Megan's birthday wish list as well as school clothes. Until, that is, she showed me her list:
1) Braces (please)
2) Pink (Pink is only an option. If you only want to get me braces, that's fine too!)
3) Family time/swim
So, yeah. Braces is the main event here. A mere FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR GIFT, is what she wants. Oh, and if we want, we can throw in something of the brand "Pink", from Victoria's Secret.
Needless to say, this list made my heart sink. I mean it's one thing for her to ask for a hamster at Christmas, knowing that there was maybe a 2% chance that her father would allow it. (He didn't, by the way.) But here's the thing about braces, she's wanted them since second grade, and honestly, while her teeth are nowhere NEAR as bad as MINE were as a kid, she still could benefit from having them.
She's asked for them countless times, and my answer has always been that we can't afford them. Twice in the last 18 months, she's raised her hand in church when prompted to do so by our worship leader who asked if anyone "needed a miracle". She'd look up at me both times and mouth the word BRACES, so we both raised our hands and prayed for that miracle.
(Here's a photo of her many years ago sporting homemade braces she created with a bobby pin and several earring backs.)
Meanwhile, I found out that my summer overtime pay was going to be $1000. I couldn't believe it! When you live paycheck to paycheck, this kind of surplus never happens. That's when it hit me: not only would the girls' school clothes be covered, but it looked like there would be enough for a down payment on Megan's braces to boot!! I was SO excited and grateful to the Lord for His provision, and scheduled two orthodontist consultations.
A day or so later, I was reading in Acts 8 about God telling Philip to go stand next to an Ethiopian's chariot. I read that and thought, "THAT'S an ODD thing for God to tell Philip to do." What I found even more odd, was that Philip DID IT. Turns out, the Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah, and didn't understand what he was reading. So Philip, because he was standing there like God had told him to do, was able to explain the scripture and subsequently share the good news of Jesus with him, which lead to his conversion and baptism.
When I finished reading, I wrote down that I hoped I would hear God's voice when He wanted me to do something, and that I would be obedient to actually DO whatever it was that He asked of me, even if it seemed odd, because if my obedience would ultimately further His kingdom, then I wanted to be a part of that!
I then spent some time in prayer, and got ready for the day. While I was in the shower, I started dialoguing with God. I said, "You know, You've never answered me on whether or not it's okay for me to give my tithe to Rabbi Jason." And then a thought immediately came, which is the way God speaks to me. (I know it's Him, because the thoughts and ideas He places in my head, are ones that I would not normally come up with myself.) He said, "You can't give your tithe, but you can give extra." I argued, "But I don't have any extra." He countered, "You have a thousand dollars." I froze. "Uh ... no, I don't. That isn't extra, that is for my girls school clothes and Megan's one-and-only-heart's-desire-braces deposit. Surely You wouldn't ask me to give their money away, right? RIGHT?!?! HELLO????"
Back to crickets. Ugh.
So I wrote down, right below my sentence stating that I wanted to hear from God, and be obedient to Him, even if it seemed odd, that I thought he was telling me to give the $1000 to Rabbi Jason. I also wrote that He knew I was going to be seeing a woman that night at a home group that heard clearly from Him, and that He would need to confirm through her that I'd heard Him correctly regarding the $1000, otherwise, it was going to be used on my daughters. That's right, I gave God an ultimatum. Isn't that nice?
That evening, I arrived a little early, and wouldn't you know, this woman (her name is Cookie) was the first person I saw. We exchanged some small talk, but she said nothing regarding me hearing from the Lord that morning. Hmm. Well, the night was still young, I figured, and tried to focus on the worship and teaching.
My friend Aly was giving a message from Isaiah 55, and began reading aloud:
I sat there thinking, I suppose that could apply to my situation, Lord, but that wasn't the deal. You are to confirm through Cookie, remember? Okay, good.
Aly then said that she felt led to share a story about the "miracle clothes" God provided for her daughter back when she was seven years old. Basically, her daughter had no summer clothes, and they only had $30 to make it happen. As she was praying about it, and asking the Lord to direct her to the right yard sales the next morning so as to stretch her $30 as far as possible, He told her to have her daughter make a list of what she wanted. She argued, "Uh, she'll want what I can find." He didn't let her pass on this, so she asked her daughter what kind of summer clothes she wanted? The list included pink and purple sundresses, short sets where the picture on the shirt matched the picture on the shorts, white sandals and pink Converse tennis shoes. GREAT. Thirty dollars might buy the Converse tennis shoes, but that's about it.
The next morning, while it was still dark, she walked out to her garage and stumbled over a box. She opened her car door so that light would shine on it, and when she opened it, there inside were pink, purple and floral sundresses, never worn - with tags still on them from Macy's and Gymboree, all in her daughter's size. WHAT in the WORLD?? Then she dug a little deeper and saw short sets just like her daughter described. Again, brand new with tags still attached. At this point she is mildly freaking out. Below the short sets she sees a pair of new white sandals. And at the very bottom of the box, you guessed it, PINK CONVERSE TENNIS SHOES. COME ON!!! So as she's wiping away the tears and asking God how this could be happening, He reminded her of a time back when her daughter was a baby, and her friend who had a 7 year old at the time, came over with a box of girlie clothes that her tom-boy daughter refused to wear. She said, "I know you don't think your daughter will ever be this big, but trust me, someday she'll want these." WOW!!! AMAZING.
So as I'm sitting there listening to this incredible tale, I give God a "well played" nod, but let Him know that while the testimony I'd just heard was inspirational, and could apply to my situation, that was not the confirmation I'd asked of Him. (Why He puts up with me, I'll never know.)
Next up was prayer. We prayed for a couple of people who needed healing, then my friend Rachel's son suggested that we pray for crazy miracles. Like the time their vacuum broke down right before a bunch of guests were to arrive, and a little while after praying, one showed up on the walkway outside their house!! TRUE STORY. So Rachel asked if there was anyone in the group who needed a crazy miracle? I stared at her, and she stared at me, and I stared back at her, and finally she asked, "Do you need a crazy miracle?" She asked kinda surprised, because we're in a prayer group together, so if I had need of a miracle, she would have already known about it. I said, "I'm not sure. Maybe." She urged me to continue. I said, super lamely, in front of like 20 people, "Well, I think God told me to do something this morning, but it's CRAZY. SO crazy, that I told him He'd have to confirm it through Cookie tonight, but she hasn't confirmed it yet, and now the whole THING is blown, because I've said it out loud and I'm not gonna' know if it was God or not. Ugh." That's when Cookie said, "Well what is it?!" So I told everyone about the clothing/braces money, wanting to tithe to Rabbi Jason, but feeling like God told me to send him my "extra" money, which was earmarked for my girls, yada yada yada. I said, through sobs, "He wouldn't ask me to give away my girls' money, would He?"
I could tell by the looks on everyone's faces that they believed I had heard from the Lord correctly. And honestly, by that time, I knew I had too, but it was SO HARD to believe that a caring heavenly father would ask me to give up SO MUCH. Cookie said, "Well you know, it says in the Bible that those who bless the Jews will be blessed." Really? I hadn't remembered reading that before. Then my mentor, Shirley, said, "You have such a rich heritage of the Lord providing for your family when you were growing up, in miraculous ways, and for your mom when she was young. I believe He wants to show your girls that HE is THEIR provider as well."
So we began praying for miracles. It was the sweetest time, hearing children praying for me and my girls. And then peers and mentors praying for us. I was a complete wreck by the end of it, but knew what I had to do. Shirley took my hand and said, "I feel like you're going to have so much joy in the giving. It's going to be very joyful."
I believed her.
I left the home group to pick up my husband from work. He got in the car and asked, "So how was it?" I said, "Oh, I'll TELL you how it was." I shared the whole kit and caboodle, pulled into the garage and said, "And now I get to tell our girls that I'm giving away their clothing and braces money! Good times."
I called the girls together and explained as best I could what God was asking me to do. I said, "For whatever reason, God is wanting to show us that HE is our provider, and that we can trust Him with our needs." I have to say, I was extremely proud of them and how they received the news. Megan, after hearing Aly's miracle clothing story, asked if they had to go looking in our garage for school clothes? I told her I didn't think that would be necessary. Amanda acknowledged that it wouldn't be fun waiting for God to provide, but that she was okay with it.
The next morning, I couldn't WAIT to go online and give the $1000 to Rabbi Jason's ministry! I was filled with such joy and expectation as I clicked on the link and waited for the page to load. And when it did, this is the first screen I saw:
And THERE it was, my confirmation from Cookie, just in case I had any doubt that I had heard from Him the day before. "I will bless those who bless Israel." SO AWESOME!!
That night, around 5:45 p.m., I saw that there was a message on our home phone. I listened to it, and called the person back. They were wanting to confirm my address, because they were going to be mailing me something and wanted to make sure it was going to the right place. I listened in disbelief as they told me that the Lord had told them to give me $500 for my girls school clothes.
They were going to be mailing me a check for FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS for my girls to buy school clothes!!
I have to fight back the tears now just thinking about that moment.
I told Megan, who was helping me with dinner at the time, and could barely believe the words I was saying to her!! Just then, Megan heard a notification from my phone and said, "Mom, you got a text." So I went over and read the text. It was from someone I'd met the night before, and she was asking me to please call her, so I did.
She proceeded to tell me that after leaving home group the night before, God told her that she was to pay for my daughter's braces.
I said, "What?" Thinking that I had heard wrong, or that she'd said it wrong. Did she say she was going to pay for Megan's BRACES ... as in ALL OF IT? Maybe she meant the deposit, which would be WONDERFUL. But she clarified that God had told her she was to pay for the WHOLE treatment, and that she had to call me and tell me that night. She wasn't to wait until the next day. Honestly, I think she was as stunned as I was. We were both crying, and Megan was laying on my bed watching me and wondering what was wrong?
As the call ended, I got to share with Meg that God had told someone I had just met the night before, to pay for her braces, whom she'd never met. We thanked the Lord, and I texted my husband and oldest daughter what had just transpired in the last 30 minutes. Needless to say, they were floored!!
And as if ALL THAT weren't enough, the Lord prompted someone else to look into a situation where they thought I was owed some money. I thought they were crazy, knowing I wasn't owed ANYTHING. As it turns out, they were right, and paid me what was owed: ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.
So yeah. How's THAT for a testimony of God's CRAZY MIRACULOUS PROVISION?!?
And the story goes on and on ... When Rabbi Jason heard about all that the Lord had done after the $1000 had been given, he shared the story with another group he was teaching. Afterwards a woman came forward and said that she felt she was to give TWICE the amount that I had given!! ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME??? HOW COOL IS THAT???
And there are others, who felt like they too were to give to his ministry, and God returned their gift to them as much as 3 times what they gave!! THAT is what can happen when we daily spend time in God's Word, pray, take time to listen for His voice, and obey what He tells us to do ... even if it sounds odd or CRAZY.
Here are a few photos of our miraculous journey ...
Shopping for school clothes!!
My dear friend Dena surprised Meg on her birthday with the "Pink" shirt she wanted!
Me & Rabbi Jason Sobel, partners in ministry!
If you would like to know more about Rabbi Jason's ministry, Fusion Global,