We had a great Memorial Day today. I didn't plan a thing. Should I admit that? Gary did most of the planning and work. He did the shopping, too. No wonder I thought it was such a great day, huh? Gary and I went out together to buy the drinks and a few condiments and spent some relaxed time talking, and his problems at work didn't come up once!
Then he started grilling the hamburgers and hot dogs. He made french fries – 2 different kinds- and baked beans and had bought potato salad. I cut up strawberries and prepared them for the little dessert shortcake cups. We listened to Adventures in Odyssey while we cooked. The kids cleaned and did chores while we prepared the meal. There was a really good atmosphere while we did these things. We had started discussing how we wanted to remember together the Memorial Day five years ago when we couldn't afford to pay the electric bill and had our electricity cut off. Gary and I were both feeling reflective and grateful before we even started the festivities. We all ate together, and the conversation was interesting and enjoyable without being contrived. The older kids helped serve the younger ones without being told to. I had to nurse the baby right when the food got done, but fortunately I wasn't extremely hungry. Then I was able to sit in Emma's place when she got done. I think we all felt an easy camaraderie. Gary was more relaxed than he has been in a while.
After the meal, we all gathered in the living room and reminisced about that week before Memorial Day of 2004 when we went on a forced fast of electricity. The twins were newborn babies at that time, so we have to tell them about it, so they know what God did for us. And the others were pretty young, so it's good to talk about it with them. They don't remember it, either. We had been living by faith for over 2 years at that point and money had come in fairly regularly. But we had gotten to the point where we were having to pray for every cent to pay every bill. And some things were not getting paid. The week before Memorial Day, we were all sitting in the living room praying for money to pay our bills when the doorbell rang. I went to the door, and it was the guy from the electric company. He said he needed $260, and I told him we didn't have it. I thought he would just go away. But after he left the door, we heard the computer shut off and the music shut off, and the lights went out. We all looked around at each other. We were shocked. We thought it was just an attempt to collect not an actual shut-off. I said I guess they were serious this time. Anna started crying. Gary told us to just keep praying and that God would take care of us. He said we would have to go to bed when the sun went down because we wouldn't be able to see anything after that. We started making plans for life without electricity and electronics. We were all very dependent on electronic media at that time. We didn't know what we were going to do all day without it!
As we prayed, the Lord told Gary that we were to leave the house each day. We were to go to the park and run and play. We were thinking about that when our relatives came and delivered a new cooler to us. It was a nice one with wheels and everything. We were amazed. That was our sign that God had spoken. We gathered up some soccer balls and volleyballs and put a picnic lunch together in the cooler. We went to a park that we had never gone to before. We noticed that there was a waterfall that you could hike to. So we did that. It was really nice. The kids were able to climb up to the top of it, much to my consternation. They had a blast! We pushed a double stroller all the way back there along a very rough trail. Shawn pushed it on the way there, and I pushed it on the way back. That was a workout. We had a great time that day in spite of all the negative things that were happening financially.
The rest of that week, we were taken care of through a friend letting us use his generator. We ran it just enough to keep our food from going bad in the refrigerator and freezer. We didn't cook at all. We had enough money to eat out each night. Somehow God provided for us so that we could have more fun and excitement than we normally did when we had all of our wonderful electronics and conveniences. I had to do dishes by hand and hang laundry on the clothesline. We felt like we were living in the Little House on the Prairie days. It was kind of fun. Lots of little miracles happened during that week. The first generator started leaking and could have blown up, but we discovered the leak in time. Gary's dad had a generator that we didn't even know about, and he let us use it. When we turned the generator on each morning, the water was already hot for baths and washing up. It shouldn't have been hot. The generator was only supposed to run a short time on the amount of gas we had in it, but it ran the whole week without adding gas.
We went to our house church meeting that Friday night, and I shared with our friends what was happening. They had been feeling like they were supposed to give to us, so they wrote us a check that more than covered the electric bill. Our children saw God provide for us in so many ways at that time.
When our electricity was restored, we had a new appreciation for all the conveniences afforded us by electricity. Even though, we enjoyed some aspects of our fast, we were very thankful for baths whenever we wanted to take them and being able to cook meals and being able to stay up after the sun went down. We're a bunch of night owls, so that was big for us.
Today we remembered that time and praised the Lord for what we have now. God has so abundantly blessed us with enough money to provide all of our needs. We have no lack now. We are able to give to others in need. So we praised Him and prayed together for guidance for the next part of our journey. Almost every one of us prayed. It was a really wonderful way to end our Memorial Day festivities.
Before we prayed, I read some stories from our family journal. In it we write things that happen that are funny or meaningful that involve several members of the family. I have told the kids to write in it whenever something memorable happens, but I have written most of what's in there. The few stories I read were interesting to all of us, and the ones involved said they didn't remember the incidents. I said it's a good thing I wrote it down. Some of them were funny. There was such a sense of unity and family closeness during that time. I felt like we had achieved something I've been hoping we could reach for a long time. It was so good to have Gary with us for a three-day weekend. And he and I were in more unity than we have been in some time.
I'm grateful for the family the Lord has given me and for the help He gives us in living together in love and truth and for His presence that we feel that makes life worth living. This has been a truly memorable Memorial Day. Thanks be to God.