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Friday, December 14, 2018

Recent Reflections - December 2018: Our Peanut Butter Christmas



This is the last Recent Reflections post of 2018.  Recent Reflections goes live the third Friday or Saturday of each month.  Each Recent Reflections post covers something that I'm reflecting on.  If you'd like to share a post with a similar theme, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your post, and I'll hop on over and leave a comment (and maybe some other readers will, too).

This month, I will be reflecting on our Christmas of 2010 which we lovingly refer to as "Our Peanut Butter Christmas".


Our kids the Christmas of 2010.
In July of 2010, our daughter was born.  In September of that same year, my husband Aaron's job situation started to look uncertain.  In December of 2010, the work ran out.  Because he did contracted work and it had been a long time since he'd worked a non-contracted job, he did not think he could collect unemployment.  At the time, there were literally no jobs available, and we weren't sure what we were going to do.  We had been living paycheck-to-paycheck (as a lot of people were at the time), we didn't have savings to fall back on, we had 3 kids to feed, one of which was in diapers, and bills to pay.  We had no idea where the money would come from, but we knew God would make a way.  We literally put Philippians 4:6 and 19 (KJV) to the test: "(6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (19) But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

I will share the events as they unfolded according to our records.

Our boys with their Advent Calendar.
December 1st, 2010: Aaron's job was about to run out, so we prayed with the boys about their Dad finding more work.  The boys went upstairs and came back down with $0.51 to "help out".  It touched our hearts deeply.  The boys also opened up what we thought was going to be their only Christmas gift that year - an Advent Calendar from their aunt.
December 8th, 2010: I had gone to the store to go grocery shopping with the little money we had - $1 and a store gift card.  We needed both eggs and peanut butter, but we only had enough to buy one of those things.  After taking a moment to pray about it, the Lord really impressed upon my heart to buy the eggs, so that's what I did.  We left the store with $0.15.

Later that night, my sister asked me to go to the store with her.  My sister was buying peanut butter, and the store was running a sale - buy the name brand, get the store brand free.  I asked my sister if she would be willing to let me get the freebies since she was buying the name brand.  She said sure.  God provided the peanut butter, plus a jar!  We were over the moon, and made it a point to tell the boys about the blessing, and thank the Lord for His provision.  This was just the start of our Peanut Butter Christmas, and we had no idea just how amazing the Lord was going to be, but we were about to find out.

{Just a note here: Though we did post on Facebook about Aaron looking for work and about the blessing of getting the peanut butter (and other blessings as they came in), no one knew just how bad off we were, and some had not even seen our Facebook posts until after they'd been a blessing to us.  We kept the extreme of the situation to ourselves; even our parents and family didn't know how bad things really were.  By the Lord's leading, we decided to just pray and trust the Lord to provide for us vs. getting a loan or asking for donations/help.}

December 9th, 2010: We were expecting a family from our church to come over.  They were going to give Stephen and Sean suit coats that their boys had long outgrown.  When they arrived, they not only gave us the suit coats, but they also threw in $100 in a Christmas card to "buy pants".  We now had a little income to pay some bills.

Our boys with their tree.
December 10th, 2010: We went over to my sister and her family's house for dinner.  My sister also took me shopping as someone had given her $150 to buy us groceries and supplies, including some fun stuff, like the Christmas tree in the picture for the boys' room - a want they had.  When we got home with the groceries and goodies, my husband asked Sean where all of those things had came from since we all knew that we literally had no money.  Sean knew, like the rest of us, that God was providing, just like He promised in His Word He would!  We all prayed that night and thanked God for His blessings to us.
December 11th, 2010: We received a Christmas card with $100 in the mail.  God had provided more money for bills!

Our boys decorating Christmas cookies.
December 13th, 2010: We received a box full of food and other things in the mail.  Included in the box was the makings for Christmas cookies that the boys got to decorate.  They were so excited!  God was providing our needs and wants in ways that we never would have imagined!  We thanked God for His goodness. 

Our boys coming home from school
to discover all the presents under the tree!
December 14th, 2010:  Rhonda and Callie, two women from our church, came to our door with arm loads of presents that a couple had asked them to give us for the kids.  We literally had to prop the Christmas tree up about a foot off the ground just to be able to fit all of the presents under/around it!  A few hours later,  we had a knock on our door and in walked a person from our church loaded with groceries.  God provided food and fun things again!  We again thanked the Lord for His goodness and provision.
Some of the many groceries
we received during this time.
December 15th, 2010: We received a $50 Walmart gift card in the mail.   At church, we also received two bags of groceries, and a tin full of baked deserts with a card containing a $25 Walmart gift card.  With these gift cards, we were able to buy a few small things for our kids and family for Christmas - something we were sure we would not be able to do that year.  We were overwhelmed at how God had provided over the last 2 weeks, and praised Him for His blessings.

December 16th, 2010: Aaron went to Petoskey to finish the paperwork to be hired by Kelly Services (a temp agency).  He had no job yet, but at least there was a glimmer that work might be coming in the near future.  We prayed about Aaron's work again, and also praised the Lord for how He had been providing.

More presents given to us
and presents bought for family!
December 17th, 2010: We received two boxes in the mail.  They were both FULL of presents, and we are now starting to run out of floor space in our living room to contain it all.  In the card was $220.  We now had more money to pay bills and so many gifts for the kids - It all felt surreal.  We again thanked God for His blessings.  At this point, we were sure God was done blessing us.  We were wrong!
December 18th, 2010: We received a $50 American Express gift card from the choir (Aaron is the choir director).  We could use this to buy gas to get back and forth to different things, to buy necessities, etc.  It was a huge blessing, and we thanked God for it.

December 19th, 2010: Aaron received a paycheck for work done 2-3 weeks prior.  We now had another $300 to pay bills and possibly do some Christmas traveling with.  We again praised the Lord for all He had done for us.

December 20th, 2010: I had been doing a load of laundry, when I noticed something terribly wrong was going on with our washer.  I had a washer full of soaking wet, soapy clothing and the water just would not drain.  In the past, when the water refused to drain, it meant that it was too cold the night before and our drain pipe had frozen, so we figured we needed to get the ice out of the drain pipe (our washer and dryer are in a converted mud room, so it was not a heated space).  This entailed me getting all of the clothes out of the washer and finished them by hand, and my husband warming up some water in a tea kettle and pouring it into the drain pipe and what was left of the water after we bailed out the tank.  This trick did not work, and my husband even blew a breaker when he left the washer to run a bit too long making a horrible electric sound to see if it would go ahead and unclog.  We were devastated, and starting to face the possibility that we would most likely have to purchase a new washer when we had finally gotten just enough money to pay the rest of the month's bills.  

I decided to do some checking on Craigslist, and I also checked prices at Best Buy.  My husband ended up calling Best Buy, and we found out that they had a GE washer that was on clearance as it was a discontinued model, but it would still be $322.  Though God had provided that much money, we didn't have peace about buying a new washer.  The Craigslist leads were all dead ends, too, as they wanted us to purchase a dryer with the washer, which we did not need or want.  

The sock that clogged up the washer!
As I finished doing the laundry by hand in the bathtub, my dad called up and asked my husband a few more questions about how the washer was acting (we'd called my dad when we couldn't get it unclogged to see if he had any ideas).  He really did not think that the Lord would give us all that He had in the past two weeks just to take it away on account of a washer, and we agreed.  Because my Dad had the van (an oddity as my mom normally would have taken the van to work), he decided to come right over to take a look to see if he could help us figure out what was wrong with the washer.  My dad and my husband tore the drain pipe apart and, wouldn't you know, one of Elaina's socks had managed to clog the drain!  Praise the Lord, we were able to take the drenched, hand-washed clothes out of the dryer and do a proper spin cycle on them before placing them back in the dryer to dry.  We were beyond thankful, and thanked my dad for his help and the Lord for His goodness.

December 22nd, 2010: We received cookies from our neighbors and people at church.  That may sound like a little thing, but it was so sweet and the boys really enjoyed having some sweet treats for Christmas!  It was all just another blessing from the Lord to thank Him for!

December 23rd, 2010: We were able to go downstate to visit my husband's family, something we were sure we would not have been able to afford at the beginning of the  month.  We had left early in the morning with the hope that Elaina would sleep the whole way there (if you have ever traveled with an infant, you know how hard that can be, so her sleeping the whole way would be best).  Elaina did very well on the trip, and ended up finishing off her morning bottle as we were pulling in.  Our car ran very well which was also an answer to prayer, and the roads could not have been better.  While we were there, we were given many presents by my husband's family including 4 jars of his favorite kind of peanut butter - Kroger brand!  

{Just a note here, every time we got groceries given to us, we were given at least one jar of peanut butter.  The total jars of peanut butter given to us in those two and a half weeks was around 15 (This is why we call this our Peanut Butter Christmas! :) )!   And to think on December 8th we couldn't even afford 1 jar! } 

The many Christmas cards we received,
many of which contained financial gifts.
December 24th, 2010: Our Blazer was fueled for us, lunch bought, other food given to us, and we were on our way back North!  We stopped in Roscommon to visit my husband's Aunt Corinne and Grandma Moore.  We were given more food as well as money for supper.  We also had a great time being able to talk with them (His grandma died less than 2 years later, so this was a precious time indeed!).  When we arrived home and checked our mail, we had a Christmas card with $100 from my husband's aunt and uncle.  God was still blessing, and we were so grateful and thankful!
Stephen with his new Bible!
December 25th, 2010: We were finally able to open all the Christmas presents we were spoiled rotten with!  There were so many things from toys for the kids to clothing.  One of the things that our son, Stephen, was the most grateful for was his new Bible which he was able to get from our NBB - our version of AWANA - "store" at church (He had earned points by saying verses, attendance, etc. and was able to trade in those points for his Bible).  God was so good, and we thanked Him for everything He had provided.
December 26th, 2010: We were able to go get food.  I think this was the first time in 2 weeks that we'd even had to think about shopping for food due to all that people had given us.  God had been so good, and we made sure (as we did every time we received a blessing) that the kids knew it, and we prayed together and thanked God for everything He'd done for us.

December 29th, 2010: Aaron was given a pay check for past work done, enabling us to be able to pay bills again and buy supplies as needed.  God was still meeting our needs!

January 1st, 2011: A man from downstate that had a home in Charlevoix called and asked if my husband would be available to help him work on his home.  Of course, my husband said yes, and my husband now had the possibility of a little bit of work in the near future, though still nothing permanent.  We still praised the Lord for providing the opportunity.

January 2nd, 2011: We related an abbreviated version of our "Peanut Butter Christmas" to our church family, bragging on God and how wonderful He was and is.  After the service, an elderly man placed $30 cash in my husband's hand.  God was still providing, and we were moved beyond words and to tears.  

January 4th, 2011: There was a knock at our door, and a person gave us $200 from an anonymous source.  Praise the Lord, we had more money for bills and supplies!

January 9th, 2011: We received a wonderful beef roast and some farm fresh eggs.  God was making sure we would not go hungry, for sure!  We had a lot to be grateful for, and we made sure to thank God for everything.

January 10th, 2011: Aaron met the man with the house in Charlevoix and was given a side job working on his house.  Praise the Lord for a little work to help us out!

Even more groceries!
January 11th, 2011: We received another bag of groceries.  Praise the Lord!

January 14th, 2011: We received baby wipes which we were in great need of with no money to buy.  God truly was supplying EVERY need, no matter how small!

January 16th, 2011: We received more farm fresh eggs, and some clothes for Elaina.  I can't tell you how truly overwhelmed with God's grace and goodness we were at this point.  We saw Him providing nearly daily for needs.  You can't imagine how awesome that is!  We, as always, made a point to thank the Lord for His provision.

January 19th, 2011: A teen that rode on the church van that my husband was driving at the time made a profession of faith in Christ.  We praised the Lord greatly for this, especially since my husband was only able to drive the van because he was unemployed.  If he had not been unemployed, no one would have driven the van, and that teen would not be saved today!  God knew what was needful, and we praised Him for allowing us to be a part of this miracle.

January 26th, 2011: We received $80 in the mail from my Granny.  Another three young people made professions of their faith in Christ, and Aaron had the privilege of leading one to the Lord.  Again, if Aaron had not been out of work, he would not have gotten to be a part of this.  What an amazing time in our lives this was, and it seemed we could not thank God enough!

January 29th, 2011: Two more young people made professions of faith in Christ at Echoing Hills Bible Camp where my husband got to help out because he was out of work.  God blessed, and we got to be a part of it!

January 31st, 2011: Stephen had a school field trip the next day, and he needed $5 to be able to buy a meal on the way back.  Aaron was going to go with him, too, and would need $5 for himself if he planned to eat, as well.  Aaron figured he was ok to just skip lunch, but Stephen would definitely need the $5.  Anyway, Aaron had told him that we did not know where the money was going to come from because we didn't have $10 or even $5.  We prayed about it, and found $10 from a friend of mine in the mail that day!  God had laid it on her heart to send us just the perfect amount of money before we knew we needed it to arrive just in time!  What a blessing!  I sent her a text to thank her and tell her exactly what a blessing it was to us.  She cried and praised the Lord with us.  She told me she nearly didn't send it because she felt a bit silly sending so little, but she was so glad she followed the Lord's leading.  We all thanked the Lord for His provision.

February 2nd, 2011: Elaina was almost out of diapers, and we had not made it to the store to get any.  At church, a lady gave me a bag of diapers and wipes.  We also received some outfits for her.   Another teen made a profession of faith in Christ.  We praised the Lord for His goodness and provision!

February 5th, 2011: At Echoing Hills Bible Camp, a teen made a profession of faith in Christ.  Again, Aaron was able to be there because he was out of regular work.  If he had a full-time job, he would not have been able to be there to be a part of this blessing.

February 8th, 2011: The Lord watched over us on the way to and back from Traverse City (I believe this was around the time I was either having a surgery or doing a pre- or post-op for it).  On the way back, the roads were a sheet of ice, and we ran into a whiteout.  Praise the Lord, we made it home safely with no issues!  After we arrived home, we received a phone call, and Aaron was offered a job starting Friday (11th) in Charlevoix working for Destaco at $12 an hour.  This was a huge answer to prayer!  We were so grateful, and prayed to thank the Lord for everything He was doing for us.

{Note: If you were keeping track, the Lord provided over $1,100 in cash/gift cards alone from outside sources (most of which was anonymous), not to mention the hundreds of dollars (if not well over $1,000) in groceries and supplies, nor the money from odd jobs he had here and there.  If I were to give a guess, I'd wager that what God provided was well into the thousands when it was all said and done if you factor in gifts, too.  The money and supplies always came in at just the time we needed them, too, and none of our bills were ever paid late during this time.}

Shortly after this, Aaron had pretty steady work off and on (enough to get us by, even though it was tight at times), and we found out that he would be able to collect unemployment when he didn't have any work, which ended up being the case some time in the fall of that year.  Though we still dealt with other health issues and bill needs, the Lord provided for those along the way, too.  It was in December of 2011, about the time the unemployment dried up, that Aaron started working for the company he still works for today.  God gave us just what we needed to not only get by, but to thrive in so many ways!  I still am in awe of all God did for us during this trying time.  

God truly showed us the truth of this passage in Luke 12:22-31 (KJV):

"(22) And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

(23) The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

(24) Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?

(25) And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

(26) If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?

(27) Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

(28) If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

(29) And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

(30) For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

(31) But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you."

God took care of our every need and then some!  Don't let anyone ever tell you that God can't take care of His own - He can and He does!  From this experience, and others like it, we know the goodness of God intimately, and we can truly say, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV))


I truly hope this post has been a blessing to your heart, or at the least made you stop and think a little.  What has God done in your life lately to bless you?  What are you reflecting on?

Have a wonderful weekend!