These posts regarding stewardship are the personal experiences of my husband, Steve and me. They are designed to illustrate the long and sometimes trial-filled road a Christian can take when making strides towards stewardship. As you will see in this and upcoming posts, God has faithfully shown his provisions to our family over and over again. I would not change one thing about the way He laid out His plans for us, or we wouldn't be where we are today.
Uggghh! I strongly disliked that "stewardship" word when my husband and I were first married. In my mind, it was all about money. I knew that talents and treasures were a part of it, but the main focus I had been taught was on money. I could recall my dad, grumbling, when the church elders showed up at our house, talking about that word. Like my parents, Steve and I worked hard for the money we earned. We didn't want to give it away to a church or any other charity.
God started my stewardship journey about a year in to our marriage. We had both been raised in Lutheran homes and had witnessed our parents placing their white envelopes in the offering plate on Sundays. We had heard about tithing, knew what it was and certainly felt that it didn't apply to us. 10%? Are you kidding me, God?! We're just starting out. We're getting ready to buy a house. And, doesn't "God love a cheerful giver"? I would not be giving cheerfully, so better not at all, right?
I clearly recall sitting in the pew at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in West Allis (our church home at the time), during "Committment Sunday", staring at the white card my husband was holding. He wrote down $10 per week on that card. I remember glaring at him and being angry. At the same time, I was having pangs of guilt, for feeling that way about $40 a month.
Well, we committed to that $10 a week and moved forward.
Steve and I had been attending church, fairly regularly, about twice a month, and were feeling pretty good about that. After making our stewardship commitment, God gently tugged on our hearts and we began attending every Sunday. I clearly remember our vacancy pastor at St. Paul's in West Allis at that time, Dr. Rev. LeRoy Hass. His sermons spoke loud and clear to me and I was feeling (for the first time in my life) as though I wanted to be sitting in that pew, not that I had to be.
About 6 months had gone by and Steve and I were overjoyed to find out that I was pregnant with our first son. We were thrilled! I, being a planner, began rummage sale shopping, going to all of the resale shops and accepting any hand-me-downs that were offered. I have always been thrifty and this situation wasn't going to be any different:). I was working as a substitute teacher during the day and as a cashier in a grocery store at night. Steve was working at a car dealership as an oil change technician. We had recently purchased our first house and everything was going according to our plan.
However, our marriage was far from perfect. We were struggling in some areas that we were not proud of. We were living in Milwaukee at the time and one Saturday afternoon in April, decided to take a drive out to Steve's parents' house in Dousman. I felt it would be beneficial to talk to them about our struggles and perhaps get an "experienced" opinion:). We visited, talked, and had a good discussion, which included prayer.
We left there, with our spirits feeling lifted, being reminded that God is in control. It was snowing (in April) and the roads were slippery. As we traveled down Hwy 67 towards the interstate, a large SUV pulled out in front of our little Plymouth Duster and we T-boned it. I was 4 months pregnant, and unbuckled. Thankfully, I was not ejected from the car, but my head hit the windshield and my right arm and hip crashed in to the dashboard. An ambulance was called and I was transported to Oconomowoc Memorial. They did an ultrasound and found that my amniotic fluid was a bit low (I also learned that I would be having a boy!). I wasn't concerned and I told Steve, "God won't take our son."
That evening, the doctors performed two surgeries--one to relocate my hip back in to its socket and another to put a rod in my upper arm, which was broken. Both surgeries went well.
The next morning, I had another ultrasound done. My amniotic fluid was all but gone. My water had broke. On Tuesday, April 15, 1997, my first son, Noah Daniel, was stillborn at 19 weeks. We were surrounded by family. We sang the doxology. Everyone took turns holding him. Steve baptized our dead son.
I WAS FEELING ANGRY...VERY ANGRY AT GOD!
to be continued...
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