Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Counting My Blessings; or How to Bless a Single Parent

God takes care of single parents and their children, and He often chooses to do it through the people in their lives.  But sometimes it is difficult to figure out what you can do to help someone, so today I will share a few stories of how I have seen God work.

1.  When I was in high school, money was tight in our single-parent family.  I needed a $5 workbook for my French class and there was not an extra $5 in the budget.  Somebody, and I suspect it was one of my teenaged friends, sent me an anonymous letter with $5 and a card that said "Philippians 4:19," which in the NIV reads

 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

2.  That same verse showed up just a couple years ago, when gas prices had soared and I was having a hard time making ends meet.  I received two gift cards for a local gas and grocery store with a card with the same verse as the signature.

3.  Back to high school.  A family with four kids, one of them a boy who loved to fix things and often got quite dirty, can be very hard on a washing machine.  Our washer died, and my mom started making the trek to the laundromat when needed.  But she didn't have to do it for long, because one day, a local appliance store called and asked when they should deliver her washer and dryer.  She told them she hadn't ordered one, that she couldn't afford one.  They replied that somebody who preferred to remain anonymous had come in and paid for the washer and dryer in question, and they just needed to know where to deliver it.  So we were blessed with a new washer and dryer.

4.  Blessings don't have to be expensive.  On more than one occasion in the past few years, I have been blessed by someone offering to take one or more of my kids so that I can either have one-on-one time with one of the others, or time alone. 

5.  I've mentioned before that transporting multiple kids to their multiple activities can be challenging for those of us who are cloning-challenged.  So anytime someone offers to give my kids a ride to an activity, I am very blessed!

6.  Do you ever wonder if those "adopt-a-family-for-Christmas" drives really benefit anyone?  When I was in high school, one year our family was the recipient of one of those drives.  A department in the local factory "adopted" us and were given our ages and sizes.  We heard later that the ladies in the department really enjoyed shopping for us, and I was thrilled to get a very stylish outfit, something my mom never could've afforded to buy for me.  They bought everything, right down to some cool shoes.  I still smile at the thought of that outfit and how much confidence I had when I wore it!

7.  One way my church blesses my family is by accepting donations of unsaleable merchandise from a local grocery store.  They then invite those of us who need a little extra help to "shop for free" whenever we need to.  This is a ministry that wouldn't have happened if someone in the church hadn't taken the initiative to contact the store and ask if they would be willing to donate this merchandise, and if someone in the church didn't take the time each week to go pick it up, and someone else in the church didn't take the time to unload it and place it on the shelves in an orderly fashion so we can see what is available at a glance.

8. A group of friends once helped me to clean my house from top to bottom.  What a blessing, since the chances of having it all clean at once when I do it on my own are slim to none! 

9.  There is a man in my church who is trained to work on cars.  When my minivan had a problem not long ago, he volunteered his time to check it out and see what was wrong.  The repair was one that needed to be dealt with at a dealership, but I went in knowing what was wrong with it, so I wasn't taken advantage of.  This same man checks with me each Sunday to make sure my van is running, and he reminds me to take care of routine maintenance.

10. A friend's husband once blessed me by taking my sons fishing when he took his own son.  That may sound like a little thing, but to boys who don't have an involved dad, this was a HUGE blessing.

So those are ten ways I have seen God work through His people to bless single parent families.  The next time you feel led to do something for a single parent, I hope this list will offer a spark to your creativity so that you can serve in this way with confidence!


Giggly Girls said...

I will as soon as I stop blubbering like a baby.

Love you!

Denise Houser said...

{{{{Stef}}}} You have BTDT while Kevin was deployed, so you KNOW what a blessing the little things can be!