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cracked windows and kids meals

How are you this afternoon? What are you up to this week? On a personal note, my husband and I celebrated our eighth year of marriage on August 11! Due to the lack of grandparents or family members to drop the girls off with, we decided to celebrate a romantic dinner at Chick-fil-A. Coupons and the play area had everything to do with that choice! On the snazzy side, we did have fresh flowers at our table which went along great with the melt-in-your-mouth nuggets.

In the process of trying to buy our first home and celebrating the past eight years have caused us to think about where we have come from, struggles we have moved past, and funny moments that have happened. No matter where you are in life, students, parents, moms, whoever you are, I think we can all appreciate difficult times. God seems distant, moving too slowly, or is doing life differently than you would choose. We look back and laugh at what we have come through and how life used to be and how it has changed.

When we were married at 22 years old, we were just beginning seminary, so the first semester only I took one class and he was not able to take any because we couldn't afford it! During seminary in Kentucky, we each worked three jobs at the same time and both attended school. I'm not sure how we have any memories together because I'm not sure how I ever saw him since he worked the 2 a.m. shift at UPS! After that job, he went to class, where I already was, then we both had afternoon jobs. He worked security, I babysat and coached cheerleading and lifeguarded. In our "off time" we filled in with parking cars and working security for events in the area. Some of the funniest memories we have are from when we had no money! Our first "bed" was a couch that smelled of cat urine until we could find a bed frame and mattress. Our clothes were folded in piles on the floor because we had no furniture to put them in! We had a major crack in our window in our apartment and the winters are cold there! Since the complex didn't fix windows until spring, we realized all our heat we were paying for literally went right out the window, so we quit turning it on. No joke, the average temperature of our heating bill for that month of January 2008 was 23 degrees! We wore sweat pants and layers a lot!

We moved to Missouri so I could obtain the appropriate classes to be licensed as a counselor, and there our finances became a little better. Although we were at least 11 hours away from the closest family members, we had a great time. We bought many homebakes boxes which are inexpensive and just-add-water kind of meals. They still sell these at the grocery stores! I used to add extra pasta and water so we could stretch that $3.00 box into three meals for the two of us. I remember the first time we were able to buy a "real salad" instead of iceberg lettuce. I remember the first time we bought chips to go with lunch sandwiches because when we first started out, we couldn't afford that. Dates were amazing at this time! Every Friday night, we saved up our coupons to have a date night consisting of kids meals at Chick-fil-A and walking around the mall until it closed. Seriously, it was more fun than I can describe! Did I mention we had a cat, lovingly called Big Griff, who was with me during every paper I wrote in seminary? Poor furry friend, though. We thought our apartment allowed animals but found out it didn't so we had to hide him all three years of seminary. We had to smuggle the big guy out the door when we went to visit family those many hours away.

By the end of seminary when we graduated, we both worked only one job, which was a blessing. We have been through following God to a random first church after seminary and getting fired, meaning jobless for three months! We continue to follow Christ for the sake of the calling of ministry even when it is difficult and plain old not fun. Your call isn't just in ministry, it may be accounting, teaching, nursing, marketing, whatever, but I want to encourage you to follow Christ where He leads you in His calling on your life! I know for me, though it may feel lonely at times, I am content where He has called me and I wouldn't be otherwise even though it may feel more comfortable another way.

Through these comical scenarious, I hope to give some encouragement wherever you are to trust God and know that He provides what we need when we need it. Usually cool stories don't happen to me, but I have one I want to leave you with. Our first year of marriage, working three jobs each, paying for school, insurance, rent, food, all that adult stuff, we were having a difficult time paying everything. We actually received an eviction notice for our apartment once so we knew the school wasn't playing around! One day, our rent was due at the same time our money for classes was due and my husband wasn't sure how we were going to pay for both. He prayed all the way home from work about what to do. When he got back to our apartment, he received my check for coaching cheerleading weeks ahead of schedule! I only was paid twice for coaching, once in the middle and once at the end of the season. This check should have come at the end of the season but was many weeks ahead and paid our bills to the exact amount!

Situations like those are when God is able to show His provision and miraculous ways! No matter what, you have hope. Lamentations 3:25 says "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him." I am even right now at this time in my life trying to understand what God is doing and why I feel He is slow with certain requests. This verse is one to hold on to and write on the mirror to memorize. Have hope, my friends!

Love,

Charis

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