The morning of December 14 arrived. This was our moving day of crossing the dry river bed of our Jordan River. We continued to pack the truck with our belongings. My friend, Linda S., called. “Well, do you know where you are going yet?”
“No, not yet. Still heading straight north.”
“Then why don’t you stop by and see us while you’re heading north?”’
She and Chuck lived north, in Texarkana, Texas, so that is what we did. We had an upright freezer full of meat and corn from Jim’s parents’ farm. We placed the freezer to the back of the truck so we could plug it in after arriving at our friends’ house.
The day after our arrival, Linda and I walked around the block and saw an empty house. Further inspection found it was being renovated to rent. It would not be ready for a couple weeks; we rented it. This necessitated our staying with our friends.
Linda and I were like school girls, rejoicing in the Lord’s provision in bringing us together. All four of us shared in the Lord’s goodness and discussed His Word. After more than three days passed, I said to Chuck, “My parents always said that if company stayed more than three days, they start smelling like dead fish.”
“Only if you feel that way, is when you start smelling like fish,” was his reply.
We had never experienced such gracious hosts and friends as Chuck and Linda. I changed my attitude, and was able to continue to rejoice in our friendship and the breaking of bread together. Learning to receive was hard.
We visited the church two blocks away. The first sermon we heard was from Deuteronomy 2:3, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.” God’s Word had directed us, and we knew we were where He wanted us––exactly one-hundred miles straight north.
Immediately after getting settled in our house, I looked at the four walls. “Well, we’re here, Lord. We’ve crossed the Jordan. I’m ready to do what you want me to do. Now what?”
The next Sunday while sitting in church, it dawned on me why I might be feeling queasy. Sure enough, I was pregnant! We had enough money to pay the doctor for the first visit. The next five visits, we had to have $120 before I could even get in to see the doctor; insurance was terminated.
I had told some friends, “God never makes mistakes.”
Now I had to find out for myself if that was really true. I could not sleep. At 2:00 a.m., I slipped out of bed without waking Jim, and went into the other room. My thoughts ran to Rebecca when her twins jostled within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me? So she went to inquire of the Lord” (Gen. 25:22). And, the Lord told her that two nations would come from her twins (Jacob and Esau), and the older would serve the younger.
I decided to inquire of the Lord, and simply asked, “Why now, Lord?”
The dry river bed was more than dead stones
I thought about Joshua, wondering what He initially did after getting into the Promised Land. I opened my Bible. My eyes fell to Joshua, Chapter 4, where it told how the children of Israel chose twelve stones from the riverbed to place on the other side as a memorial––to remind them when their children asked in time to come, “What do these stones mean to you?”
They were to tell them of God’s wonders when the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and they passed over on the dry riverbed. I thought, we should have stopped the truck and picked up some stones and set them up in our front yard.
God immediately spoke to my heart: I am giving you a living memorial, this baby, to always remind you of your new beginning.
Reality set in: nine more months to the other side; oh no. The baby was due September 3, Labor Day, close to one year from when Jim had asked the Lord for a year to study His Word. We weren’t across the Jordan at all; we had only taken the first step down into it!
And, the manna had only just begun! Our church needed a pianist. Of the churches I had played for, the organist is paid, never the pianist. After our moving money ran out, without fail, a check for twenty dollars was on the piano each Sunday. We gave two dollars tithe each week, put three dollars gasoline in the car at twenty-five cents per gallon, and spent $15.00 on groceries. That, with the garden Linda helped me plant, and a full freezer, we never went hungry. We would learn first-hand what the psalmist meant, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Ps. 37:25).
That spring, one of the elderly members in our church, Mrs. Tittle, invited us to lunch. Included in the meal were crispy, delicious biscuits. Jim and I liked them so much that she invited us back to show me how she made them. (See recipe at end of chapter.)
The dry river bed held manna and fig jam
Mr. & Mrs. Tittle also had a fig tree in their back yard. Kurt and Francy helped pick all we wanted. I made my first and only fig jam. It was super on those hot biscuits. What an amazing summer it was, seeing a real fig tree and eating the fruit of it, much like being in the land of milk and honey. Those biscuits sustained us that year––along with gravy that could be made from the same ingredients that $15.00 could buy––and for years afterward when our children were young. Mrs. Tittle made her biscuits every morning; they were the mainstay of her diet. And now for us, it was manna––good manna our children would request upon returning home in their adult years.
When bills arrived in the mailbox, I wrote out a Scripture on each one, such as: Phillipians 4:19; 2 Corinthians. 9:8, 10, 11; and Luke 6:38. Jim kept trying to find a permanent job, but found none. When the $235 monthly rent came due, a temporary job would spring up––such as waterproofing basements for Chuck in his business.
Even though we knew we had a long wait until September, we could not understand why, and four different times looked to our own efforts to bring about God’s plan. The fourth time, after gripping and complaining, I watched Jim stumble home with a heat stroke. It took over three days for him to recover. We let satan steal from us during this time because we questioned God’s wisdom in how He was dealing with us. After this, we turned our anger on the right one–– satan––declaring he would steal from us no more; we had borrowed money for the rent.
The dry river bed was filled with Heaven’s blessings
Heaven’s blessings began to come in again––our having gotten back in the Word, looking to the Lord. We discovered Mark 10:29-30, which we did not know was in the Bible. We had left all to follow Jesus, just as Peter had said. We felt God wanted us to prove His Word. We had four dollars. We gave it to Him, claiming these verses for us. In a couple hours, a call came for Jim for a job that would pay the rent––over the $200 needed. Two days later, my friend, Martha, came to our door and handed us an envelope containing her income tax return. She said that God told her to give it to us. We knew that not taking it would rob her of God’s blessings, so as difficult as it was, we received it as from the Lord. It was $200 more, completing the 100-fold return on the four dollars.
I knew Martha deeply desired a violin, and that her obeying the Lord put Him first and the violin second. She had planned on buying one with this money. She did not know God desired to multiply her gift back to her so she could give some more. I showed her Mark 10:29-30 and told her I believed God would somehow give her a violin a hundred times better than any she could have bought.
Thank God it is His Word and He watches over it to perform it––when it comes from our mouth. On her birthday a couple months later, an old acquaintance gave her his violin he could not play anymore––a beautiful old one brought over from Europe 100 years earlier, possibly a Paganini, one of only fifty surviving treasures. He even bought her a new bow and case for it. He told her to get insurance on it; she gave it back to God.
Back to the baby of the dry river bed
We knew God gave us this child; therefore, we knew He would provide for it. Each month, the $120 was there, except for one, and the next month, it was paid for by a $500 check that came in June for my May birthday. It seems a gas well was dug on my sister’s farm. She and her husband received only one royalty check from it, and sent us the tithe. Before the baby was born, Martha had a truck load of out-dated Kimbie diapers sent to us from the medical warehouse where she worked, enough for the whole neighborhood!
July arrived. Nothing outstanding happened. We eked by on the $20.00 per week. By August the bills were mounting, but just as sure as a baby will be delivered, we were assured we would also. We had learned our lesson. I was believing God and confessing His Word everyday, that He would bring us out from under the burdens of the Egyptians and make a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, and the mounting bills (or chariot and horse) would lie down together, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick (see Exod. 6:7; Isa. 43:16-17.)
But, we were about to the end of our rope. Just when we thought we could go no further, on the fifth day of August, the pastor of our church asked Jim if he would consider an education and youth position. The church had been looking for a full-time music and youth man. No leads ever came. They decided they had been looking for the wrong person. But it was not until the end of October––after a total of fourteen months––the job materialized.
Meanwhile, the bills were still mounting. We had been setting aside (out of our need) $25.00 a month during June, July, August and September in a savings account, money to help a trusted organization get out of debt. We knew the Golden Rule Jesus taught said that, as we do unto others, He would do unto us (see Luke 6:31). Plus, we kept up our tithe to the church. Jim taught Wednesday evening services during the month of August for which he was paid.
From the seventh month of pregnancy, I spent most hours on the couch, since walking brought on false labor. My Amplified Bible was especially meaningful to me: “Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? says the Lord; shall I Who cause to bring forth shut the womb? says your God” (Isa. 66:9). I felt Jesus’ words, “I am with you all the days,––perpetually, uniformly and on every occasion––to the [very] close and consummation of the age” (Matt. 28:20) were directed to me alone. Daily, I spoke to our mountain of bills in the name of Jesus, to be cast into the sea (see Mark 11:23), and wrote Scriptures on their envelopes.
September 4 arrived. Yesterday was Labor Day, due date––no baby delivered, no bills delivered. It was the hottest day of the summer, using fans, no air conditioning. My devotional read how a potter puts china through the final hottest firing to set the rim in gold. I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know how it could get any hotter, the landlord is coming today for two months rent. Just let it get as hot as it has to so we can get this over with!”
At 2:00 p.m. the public service man came to turn off the electricity. The lights went out. The fans died down. Our freezer quit running. Sweat poured. Jim and I could not talk to each other. The next thirty minutes seemed like hours as we silently prayed, and praised the Lord.
Sweat turns to tears in the dry river bed
I don’t know what Jim was praying. He went to the other room. I turned to Isaiah 43:1-2 and I Peter 5:10 and read them back to the Lord, “We will fear not, for we have been redeemed. We are summoned by our names. We belong to God. When we pass through the waters, You will be with us; and when we pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over us. When we walk through the fire, we will not be burned; the flames will not set us ablaze. We know we are exactly where You want us to be and we are not budging. We will be established, rooted, and grounded in Jesus. And satan, in the name of Jesus, you will steal from us no more!”
As I was praying, I saw the mail truck pass on the opposite side of the road. When he came back around, he left a letter containing a check for $500! Sweat turned to tears.
We picked up the children from school, paid the electricity bill, and got our first ice cream cone of the summer. One hour after returning to our steaming house, the landlord came. Exhausted, we handed him a check.
September 14, 1979, Jim and I walked hand in hand all over the shopping center nearby, just enjoying being alive on such a beautiful day. Matthew James arrived that evening, nineteen minutes after arriving at the hospital. Exactly nine months––to the day––from leaving Carthage, our biggest mountain had finally arrived––8 lb. 5 oz., with red hair. But, the mountain was only half gone; the hospital bill was $560.00 for a one night stay; translated into figures for 2007 that would be about $4,480.00.
Six days later, we wrote our check for the $100 seed we had saved to help with someone else’s debt. We clipped the envelope with a clothespin to the mailbox. The mailman took it and left a letter with a check for $600––more than enough to pay the hospital bill and give some more..
But, that’s not all. Before Jim took over as Education and Youth Director, he had been coaching our church’s softball team. This entailed our traveling to remote places to play other teams. No matter how far we traveled, the three dollars of the manna-twenty always bought enough gasoline to make it to the next week.
After one unusually long trip, with the gauge on empty as usual, I asked the Lord if He was making our car run on fumes. I received no answer until one Sunday evening at the end of October––the Sunday Jim was officially hired. As we drove into the parking lot, the car died and coasted into the spot.
At the time we gave our $100 seed, Chuck and Linda gave $1000. Before Christmas, a miraculous business proposition for Chuck made a move necessary––bringing a hundred-fold return for his first year’s income. His new boss loaned him interest-free money for the down-payment on their house. They rented us their previous house––a beautiful large three-bedroom home with a large yard at the edge of the woods in the middle of town.
My parents gave us their car that got twenty miles per gallon when their church gave them a brand new car for Christmas. But those things are not the best things. Having needs met are great, but God filled our home with His love, His joy, and His peace. Kurt and Francy came to trust in Jesus as their personal Savior as very young children, and they were so proud of their little brother.
Best of all, Jim and I experienced together the blessings of El-Shaddai. I will treasure forever the day the electricity was turned off––the refining fire of Jehovah-Jireh. We both were able to study God’s Word and share it for another year––thinking we were possessing the land, until we were surprised to find it was not the “land-plan” at all.