Before we even began any sort of paperwork regarding adoption God was wooing my heart to trust Him in ways I never knew possible. A question I always seem to have is this:
Can God really see me? Does He really care THAT much?
If you are asking this question or ever have- I have something to tell you... YES HE DOES. How do I know this? Well, I want to tell you the story of a PURPLE BIKE.
Rob and I had finally made the commitment to tithe the full 10%. Tithing is an extremely personal matter and I struggle with where God calls us to tithe each month. I don't necessarily believe that its to a church. However, we are told to give God 10% according to Malachi 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows." At this particular time in our lives, Rob and I knew that God was convicting us to give back to Him. Both of us believed that we were to give to our church. It wasn't that God NEEDED our money...its a matter of obedience. Tithing that amount meant a HUGE sacrifice for us...even not being able to pay certain bills or being incredibly creative with birthday gifts. Let me just say that May, June, and July are birthday months. (Something that's abit like the torturous season of Christmas. It means A LOT of family time, birthday parties, and STRESS. Its almost worse than Christmas actually.) Rob's and Duncan's are May 6th and 7th. Isannah's is June 27th and Nataleigh's is July 3rd and because they are so close we usually have one combined party for them. That means that Isannah and Nataleigh's birthdays are absolutely the most stressful time for me. Yes, it makes drinking heavily seem like a reliable survival method. I do not work out of the house (don't even think about trying to get me to do Mary Kay, Primerica, or any home business for that matter) and Rob gets paid once a month. This is not a complaint because God has always provided for our needs, but you can understand how tithing would add to the monthly stress of financial survival! lol So this was June and both girls were asking for new bikes for their birthdays.
I have a thing about gifts. I want my kids to appreciate the items they have and not be bogged down with so much stuff that they can't enjoy any of it because they have too much! So birthday gifts need to be something that they need to really think about and really want. well, that particular year it was bikes. Thankfully they were still pretty small and so 18inch bikes were a great idea! One problem though, even the cheapest bikes at Wal-Mart were still $45. Well Isannah's birthday being on the 27th is usually a struggle because its the end of the month and money is TIGHT. At that time I had also realized that I enjoyed keeping a prayer journal. I hold things in and chew on them and stew. Its a vicious cycle and dissolves me to tears because stress creeps in. This journal was a great way for me to put it on paper and pray through all that was on my mind and then once it was in my journal I had made it a personal rule that I could NOT think on it again. No stewing. So that's what I did. 2 weeks away from Isannah's birthday when the girls were bouncing around getting excited about birthday cakes and a special day for them and telling me what they wanted I wrote it all down in my journal. "Lord, the girls want new bikes. I have searched high and low for anything we could afford and there isn't anything. I know what its like to ask for something and not get it. I want to be able to give our kids new things and bless them with bikes. I just don't see how its going to work. We don't have $90 for 2 bikes, let alone $45 to just buy one. So you are going to have to take care of this God...Isannah wants a pink bike. Princess bikes would be great. But I'm leaving this up to you because I got nothin here." One week before the 27th we received a check in the mail out of the blue. Huh, cool...thanks God! I thought.
One SOLID Fact: I am NOT a morning person. I do not do anything before 8 am and at that time I didn't go garage saling. Its Friday at 745am. And I'm still asleep, as are all of my children. "Robyn, get up go get $20 out of the ATM and go garage saling." EXCUSE ME? That was crazy. God? was that you? Huh...odd dream...still not thinking I had really heard right I heard that voice again, only it was more stern and urgent. "Robyn. Get up and go get $20 out of the ATM and go garage saling." I want to tell you that I never used to carry cash ever and I never use the ATM. No reason really, I just don't. Let me also say that this has NEVER happened before. Oddly I wasn't freaked out because I KNEW this Voice. I sat up, sighed and called Rob.
"Bo? Do we have $20 for me to use?"
"Well, God just told me that I had to go get $20 out of the ATM and go garage saling."
"Are you serious? What are you supposed to be looking for?"
"Yeah,...bikes I think."
"Oh...okay, well yeah, we got that check so go ahead pull it out. Call me when you figure out whats going on."
So as I wake up my kids and they look at me like I've gone nuts, I'm still thinking, did I hear that right? I piled everyone in our car and they are excitedly asking me, "Mommy! Where are we going!? What are we doing??"
"well, we are going to go check out some garage sales..."
"Whats that?" (They LOVE to garage sale now and I find it very fun as well.)
I suddenly noticed A LOT of neon and big signs screaming for a chance to boast how 'BIG' the garage sale was. (Side note: "BIG" garage sales usually mean "LOTS OF CRAP" and require a drive-by viewing) Anyway I had heard many friends say that one neighborhood in particular was a great place to start and is primarily a young family area. So we get ready to turn in and I wasn't really surprised to see a garage sale sign, but it had 'Kids stuff' written on it so we headed that way. (Another side note: ARROWS PEOPLE...Don't give me an address because I don't have GPS and I don't know where your house is so since its 8AM just make arrows and point me in the right direction.) As I am turning onto the street and can see the sale and tons of people milling around I notice a Barbie bike leaning against a tree. OH MY GOSH!!! I parked and jumped out of the car, dashing to see how much this bike is. Remember I was told to get $20 our...no more, no less. And that's ALL I had. "$10" said the sticker stuck to the bike seat. I ran back to the car to hear 2 delighted and squealing little girls. "Mommy! Can we get that bike for my birthday PLEEEEEEASE?????"
"Let me pay for it first, hold on..."
I pay for the coveted Barbie bike that was literally BRAND NEW and head back to more excited squealing. The tires were still white and except for a few scuffs was perfect. Yes, this had to be what God was talking about. As I'm loading it Isannah is bursting with excitement because she was getting her bike and birthday present BEFORE her actual birthday. That's when Natty began to cry. "But mommy, I asked for a bike too? Where is my bike? "
"Natty, we'll get you a bike too, but Isannah's birthday is first. Don't worry, okay? We'll find another one."
More tears. "But Mommy, I don't want a pink bike like Isannah's? I want a purple bike..."
While I am turning out of the neighborhood I'm praying frantically because of Natty's hurt face and tears. Lord, you provided one bike and I'm so thankful for it. But Lord, remember...? I have TWO daughters. You can't possibly mean for me to only get one bike and have to watch my eldest cry because she's not getting one two. I don't understand? Please Lord, didn't you say $20 for 2 bikes? No, God didn't really say much more.
We passed by many more garage sales. Nothing. We came to one and we did, in fact, find another bike. What color? Purple...however this bike was in TERRIBLE shape. it was beat up, rusted over, clearly left outside with the rest of the unwanted stuff. In my mind I couldn't help but get mad. Lord, this cannot be the bike you have for Natty. you supply a practically brand new Barbie bike and thrill one child to her very tiptoes and then give this other child....THIS broken bike? And that's when Proverbs 31:16 came to mind, "She considers a field and buys it..." The Proverbs 31 woman considers. She doesn't just buy this field because its available or because she's desperate to buy something. She has purpose for what she's doing. She's looking to plant a vineyard. And planting a vineyard isn't some flippant decision; its meditated upon, its thought out, it's planned and prayed over. I realized that I WAS that Proverbs 31 woman in this moment. I needed to consider. Why would God do one thing wonderful for one child and not for the other? No, this was NOT the bike. Natty spotted this crummy purple bike and said, "Mommy, this bike is purple, but its not very nice...are we going to get this one for me?" I could hear the disappointment in her voice and it broke my heart. "No Bug, we aren't going to get this bike. Its pretty gross. We'll just keep looking." When we got back in the car I could see that I was losing the ambition. It was getting hot, we were thirsty, and getting hungry again. It was almost 11am and for seasoned garage salers you know that this means that most sales are wrapping up and those that aren't have been pretty well picked over. Hope was dwindling.
"Mommy, is there a bike for me?"
"Natty, I'm going to tell you something okay, are you listening? God has a bike for you. But its like when we play hide-n-seek. God knows where you're bike is hiding, so we are the seeker and we have to keep looking for it! Okay? So lets keep being the seeker and find your bike!"
That helped perk everyone up. I had literally driven ALL over town. Nothing but that crappy bike from the last sale. UGH. Then as we headed over to one last newer neighborhood I saw a sign CLEARLY made by little girls. It was very pretty with hearts and stars and smiley faces. It made me laugh abit. I knew that if we didn't find something here that it was a no show for the day and I wasn't sure what I was going to tell Natty.
We pull up and immediately I notice there are NO bikes. But I knew I was supposed to get out. I felt completely ridiculous since there was nothing that I was looking for here, but walked around it anyway. That's when i noticed a BRAND NEW(with tags) turquoise girls bike. WOW...hmmm,...I spotted the owner of the house ans asked her about the bike and found out that it was her daughters new bike but the daughter didn't want to ride it because she was too attached to her first bike. "Can I see this older bike?" Sure her mom said and lead me to the front door.
That's where I saw a PURPLE BIKE. My heart leaped out of my chest. Other than a few scuff on the seat from a wayward fall, this bike too, was pretty much brand new. I asked the mom is I could buy it for $10. "You know, I can't sell it without her knowing, but you can ask her."
Alright, where is the child? Out of the garage door I see this adorable 8 year old with two HUGE front teeth, too big for her little mouth come towards me, her mother in tow. I crouched down and looked her in the eye. "My daughter Nataleigh wants a purple bike, just like your old one here. Would you sell me your bike for $10 so I can give it to her for her birthday?"
Her aunts and grandmother started cheering her on, helping my cause. "yeah! We can go get your nails painted with your money! We can get you a bell for your new bike!"
She wasn't really looking me in the eye so I upped the bartering. "How about $12? Would you sell me your bike for $12?"
Again, she wasn't sure about parting with her beloved bike. I didn't want to make her feel bad so I started to straighten up and she smiles at me with a very TOOTHY grin and said, "For $12! I'll sell it to you for $12!!" I looked at her mom and said quietly, "I don't have $12, I only have $10, but let me run back to my car and see what I can find." Remember how I said I never carried cash and I hadn't garage saled before? I knew I had NOTHING in my purse besides the $10 left over. But I went to the car and saw Natty hanging out of it, hoping for me to say that I had found her bike. "Mommy! Its purple! Just like I wanted!!" I'm frantically searching through my purse and find change...oh boy...huh...well look at that...I had EXACTLY $2 in CHANGE. Yeah...I know. I about sobbed. I'm blinking tears back frantically and told Natty to take the change I had and to come meet the little girl who was giving her a new PURPLE BIKE. You could see the JOY that swept through my daughter.
Now see, the coolest part isn't the exact change, the journey, the morning, or the Voice that woke me up that morning, bidding me to obey and go garage sale. Its the mere fact that God didn't just hear MY prayer...HE KNEW MY CHILD'S HEART. Does God see me? Oh yes, He most definitely sees me...but He showed me that HE SEES MY CHILDREN. He knew that my child wanted a purple bike, not a pink one. He knew that she whole-heartedly wanted this and had a SPECIFIC way that He was going to give it TO HER. He was going to show her mommy that playing hide-n-seek was exactly how He wanted to delight her trusting heart. He wanted to show my child that HER prayer was answered in a very REAL way. That, my dear friends, is a God that is ALWAYS SEEING us.
So now when I start to worry about the little things and I wonder if God's listening or sees me all I have to do is remember this PURPLE BIKE and know that if God's doing the big things around the world, but delights in giving my child a small PURPLE BIKE, He's big enough to take care of the things that I can't do on my own. Thank you Jesus for seeing EACH of our hearts and loving us enough to take care of each of our "PURPLE BIKES."