Our little Haley is nearly four months old. She's doing so awesome, and getting so big - she's about 10 pounds now (we think..we'll find out for sure on Tuesday!) and just as cute as can be. She smiles quite often, she shrieks with delight (or despair, depending on her mood), and she's rolling over! Yes, she is rolling over from her tummy to her back. Last Saturday I set her on her floor gym, walked in to the kitchen to top off my water glass, came back in to the living room and saw her in a different position than when I left! It took me a second to realize what she had done. I turned her over on her stomach again, grabbed the video camera, and in about 20 seconds, she flipped over again. Of course that video isn't posted because for about 20 minutes after she rolled over, I was verbally flipping out. And still recording. No one wants to hear me go berserk over Haley rolling over. Not even me.
In the last several weeks, we've been receiving the medical bills from Haley's birth and follow up appointments. They trickle in one at a time. At first we thought the medical expenses would be manageable....and thank goodness for insurance! However, as the weeks went on and the mail kept coming, we realized things were a bit more involved than we had originally anticipated. We are now into the thousands of dollars for what we owe between my hospital stay and Haley's care. There were a few bills we opened that had me crying, some had me sighing, and others had me holding my head in my hands.
Early on, some dear friends from church had offered to do something along the lines of a benefit sale to help Brent and I pay for the medical costs. I agreed and felt a huge sense of relief. At times we wondered if we really even needed a benefit of any sort. But the bills kept coming. And I kept fretting about our finances.
Anyone who knows me, knows that there's one thing I fret about constantly - one thing that can send me over the edge in an instant. Finances. I am a saver. I never had a checking account until I rented my first apartment and they wouldn't accept cash. I never had a debit card until I was married and Brent more or less forced me to get one. I still have never had a credit card. (Credit cards are the devil!) Granted, our financial situation has been hairy lately - since we bought the house, have hosted athletes and let others live with us, since I became addicted to knitting, etc.... God has always provided for us, though. I could tell you countless stories of when He's provided groceries, gift certificates, refunds, coupons - and all at the exact time I was super close to losing all hope that we'd recover from our issue.
Why was this any different? I don't know why I thought it would be. Mostly because I'm a paranoid idiot when it comes to money. I am about to burst to tell you all the ways He has blessed us in this, though.
First, he brought us to Salem E. Free church where we met and befriended C & K. They're the ones who offered to organize this benefit sale. We don't know why, but they like us. And they have always been the first to offer to help us with anything we need, whenever we need it. They have spoiled us and loved us, and we don't feel we deserve it, but we very much appreciate it. Second, He had called E & M to have a benefit sale to raise money for their mission trip to the Philippines. We got the items left over from that sale, and a ton more donations on top of that. (Someone even boxed up an entire box of yarn and wrote a note on there that it wasn't for the sale, but it was for ME! I have no idea who it was, but I love that person!) I have never seen so many garage sale items in all my life. It was INSANE! Third, he moved the hearts of several people - to donate, to volunteer their time, and to do everything in their power to help spread the word for our benefit sale.
Friday morning I was pumping (sorry, but I was....) when I got a text message from my former boss, Dana. It read, "There is an email circulating around Microsoft this morning about the benefit garage sale for Haley! :)" MICROSOFT! I replied, thanking her, and her response was, "I can't take credit for it - I was surprised when it landed in my inbox. I belong to a parents distribution list and it went out to the whole list. :)" Then she told me who the email originated from (Greggo, Brent's best buddy) and said that she forwarded it on to a friend of hers at MeritCare (the other major hospital in town.)
I quickly headed to the sale and there was a ton of traffic. People were buying things I didn't even know existed in this world. I had a woman come up to me as I was unbuckling Haley from her car seat. "Is this the girl Charlie got to hold for nine innings?" I said, "Yes it is! You know Charlie and Dana?" She did - she was the woman Dana had forwarded the email to. She bought some items and told me that she had posted it to the intranet site for MeritCare and some 5,000 people would hopefully see it. Insert mouth drop here. So Microsoft and MeritCare were in the loop. Sweet!!
And just this morning a woman told me she got the "MOPS email" like I should have known it was sent out. I looked at her quizzically and she said, "the MOPS email group? Do you know (name I don't remember)?" I said no...."Oh. Do you go to Bethel church?" No.... Someone from a church we don't attend (but is a sister church to the one we do attend) sent out an email about our benefit sale! And I don't even know the woman, or how she got the info! We had people posting about our sale on facebook, sending out emails to their friends, I mean really - people know how to get the word out!!
At the sale we had people giving extra money, telling us to keep the change for the items they bought. That happened more times than I can count. People were so giving and so generous. Far beyond what we ever expected. We had one girl in particular who was a savvy shopper, and left her car running so the air conditioning would continue to run. (It was super duper hot.) As she browsed, I sat with Haley in my lap and heard the radio in this gal's car. It was a Christian radio station. When she came up to pay I asked, "Are you listening to KLOVE?" She said, "Yes! I am!" I told her I recognized the song that was playing and as she handed over the money she said, "Can I pray for you and little Haley? Is there anything specific you want me to pray for?" How awesome is that?! And yes I cried about it later, but I held myself together while she was there in front of me. You would be so proud.
Today, Greggo and his family showed up at the garage sale. I was handed an envelope and told, "This is our donation for you." I told them I wasn't going to open the envelope because I would cry. It was too late, though, and I started crying anyway. I had another friend put the envelope in the cash box, and I ended up having to go inside to feed Haley. When I was done feeding Haley I went back outside. Brent told me he had opened the envelope and what was inside. Yep. I cried all over again. I hugged Haley and said, "This is all for you, love! I'm sorry Mommy is such an emotional basket case. But this is all for YOU! God is so awesome!"
We still have a long way to go to cover all of Haley's medical expenses, but we have made a fantastic dent in it from the proceeds of this garage sale. It's a huge weight and relief off our shoulders. I'll tell you what - having people band together to help us out in a time of financial uncertainty has been totally overwhelming. I am in awe of how God works all things for the greater good. We have been able to share Haley's story with complete strangers. We have been able to foster faith in others. We have been encouraged so immensely, and we are so blessed! Since the day I was admitted to the hospital - four months ago tomorrow - I have experienced love and fellowship like never before. I seriously never realized how blessed Brent and I were to live in Fargo, but these last four months have been a powerful reminder. Also, God has shown Himself in such powerful and present ways, I just kick myself every time I remember I doubted Him or didn't spend time with Him or His word. God. Is. Awesome.
He has provided for us in so many ways - financially, emotionally, physically - and with a circle of friends I wouldn't trade for anything.
I want you to know - and believe - how very special each of you are to Brent and me. (And Haley, she just can't verbalize it yet.) We have been so humbled and so moved and so touched by your hearts, your actions, and your encouragement. Thank you. Thank you for letting the Lord lead you and for following His nudges. Thank you, Lord! Thank you!