Bear with me guys, this is more of a short story than a traditional blog post.
This past weekend I was making preparations for Sabina's 2nd birthday. Now, money's so tight that I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to afford the candy decorations for her Puppy Cake, but I wanted to get her one good gift. My other daughters made her a headband and necklace, I had a couple small things on reserve in the emergency gift stash for times like this, but I wanted her to have something she would love. I had a limited budget and garage sales were fruitless, so I brought my oldest son for some one-on-one time and headed out for the secondhand children's store. Sabina didn't need clothes, they've been provided in abundance; I had in mind a rocking horse, but knew we couldn't afford a new one. I wandered through the crowded labyrinth of clothes, toys, shoes and books, a rack of costumes momentarily distracted me. I searched along the tops of the clothing racks where large toys are displayed. Too little for a trike, and already using her brother's like-new ride-on toy, Sabina's gift should be a rocker.
There were cute plush ponies on plastic bases that made (shudder) noises and music. I saw a couple expensive wooden rocking horses that were probably too big for her to get on without help. The two plush Disney rockers looked too small. The three Fisher-Price spring rockers were somewhat pricey and would take up too much room at home. The one I kept coming back to was perfectly fun - a purple stuffed elephant on a wooden rocking base; low enough for her to negotiate by herself and sturdy enough for her 3-year-old brother to take a ride. $25 price tag. I looked around. I wanted to get that elephant. With a little groan, I decided to leave and take my chances at Goodwill. I took note of the store hours for the following day; if I didn't have any luck I still had a chance to come back.
Antonio and I got back in the car and traveled to Goodwill where I'd seen a cute, if worn, rocking horse a couple weeks before. I quickly scanned the toy area there, no rocking anything. Then, I started the thrift store hunt; this is when you walk, sort, and sift through junk hoping to find a treasure. I discovered a brand new, in the box, child's hair care set with brightly painted hand mirror, brush, and clips. I picked out 2 Blues Clues and Baby Einstein video tapes. At 69 cents each, they didn't have to last long to live up to their value. I discovered 2 great gifts for the small Christmas stash I've begun. Then, I dug to the bottom of the toy bin. Antonio had already bought an eagle Webkinz for less than 50 cents. He was ready to go. "What are you doing, Mom?" I think there was a rolling of eyes in there, but I was distracted. That's when I hit paydirt. I found a c-u-t-e "Boo" doll (from Monster's Inc.) Her hair still looked like it was in the original pigtails, a little smooshed from the toy bin but fixable. She laughed, talked and sang. She had a few stickers on her nightshirt. So what? I knew Sabina would love her. I was ready to go. While I was paying $8 (for all that good stuff!) I found a tiny white, new-with-tags, girly purse AND white sunglasses just Sabina's size to put inside. Now she wouldn't have to steal my sunglasses out of my purse! Another dollar plus tax and I happily went home.
As I was showing Nick the gifts I'd picked out for Sabina, he was pleased with them, but frustrated that we couldn't get the rocking elephant I'd loved. With a grumble, he said, "Well, God's her Daddy and if He wants her to have it, He'll provide it. Maybe someone will give you some money tomorrow at church and you can go back to get it." (A short word: As intercessory missionaries, we live by faith. We have monthly pledged supporters, and are blessed by others unexpectedly.) The next morning, Nick was guest leading worship at another church. As it was a Spanish church, I figured the kids wouldn't get much out of it so we went to the Sunday celebration service at OHOP as usual. After the service, I had a few people ask where Nick was and how were we doing, as the kids swirled around me and I picked up the little ones from the nursery. One of these kind souls put folded up cash in my hand. I thanked and hugged him, and put it in my purse without looking.
When the dust had settled at home, after lunch and getting the 3 youngest down for naps, Nick called on his way home. "How was church?" "It was good. Oh, J--- blessed us with money." "Really?! How much?" "I don't know, there was a 20 and a 5, I think." "You think?!" "I'm checking." There was actually 2 $20 bills and 2 $5 bills. Doubly blessed! My eyes filled with tears because I knew without a doubt that God had provided this for Sabina's $25 purple rocking elephant. He is a good Daddy.
It was the hit of the party. Sabina wouldn't even stop rocking long enough to talk on the phone to her grandparents; I put it on speaker. She had to be coaxed off to have cake and ice cream. She love, love, loves it. She liked all her gifts, but that purple elephant will always have a special place in her room, her memories, and my heart.
Verse for the day:
"Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it." Jeremiah 33:9