There have been times when obedience seemed to come easy, like when I’m serving in a well-established, fine-tuned ministry or bonding with our daughter over nail polish and ice cream. There are other times when my obedience takes surrendered faith–like when we moved from our beloved KC to our now equally loved Papillion. But through it all, one thing I know to my very depths, when God guides, He ALWAYs provides. Today my sweet friend, the very talented Shannon Taylor Vannatter, shares a time when God called her and her husband to make a hard choice. As you read her story, pause to consider what steps God might be asking you to take in your own faith journey.
Please note: Shannon is giving away a copy of Rodeo Regrets to one randomly selected reader who will be drawn from the comments below and those left on Facebook.
Answered Prayer by Shannon Taylor Vannatter
“I bet your baby is glad to have you on vacation,” I commented while cutting my client’s hair. Her three month-old napped in his carrier a few feet away.
“He misses his baby-sitter,” she calmly replied.
I thought it was one of the saddest things ever uttered and vowed that I would stay home with my children one day.
‘And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son,’ (John 14:13). These are the words of Jesus and I take Him at his word. When my husband and I learned of our coming baby, I began to pray earnestly that we could afford for me to stay at home with our child.
My mother never worked until my teen years and then only part-time. She was always there for me and I yearned to follow in her footsteps. It didn’t appear that it could possibly happen, but I kept praying. Hubby, though supportive, didn’t think that we could do without my income.
During this time, hubby who had been ordained to preach months before, began to get calls from churches. He filled in at several pulpits and a few of them needed pastors. Suddenly he went from enduring months with nowhere to preach, to preparing a sermon for a different church each Sunday. We enjoyed it thoroughly, even though I battled morning sickness and excessive tiredness.
As our son’s birth neared, we struggled with whom we would trust to care for him. Would he get enough attention at the daycare? Would he be sick often if he went to daycare? My mother-in-law had volunteered to baby-sit. But after years of working toward retirement, would babysitting tie her down too much? Hubby joined me in my prayer.
We decided that my maternity leave would serve as a financial test. I planned to work as long as possible, hopefully right up to the birth, and then take three months off. At the end of that time, we’d know if we could afford for me to resign.
However, our plan didn’t work. Six weeks away from my due date, the doctor put me on maternity leave due to severe swelling and blood pressure concerns. Years before, I had hung up my scissors for an office job. Sitting at my desk all day contributed to the swelling. My doctor ordered me to keep my feet elevated as much as possible.
We realized just how good God is. I had disability insurance at work and had no idea that it covered pregnancy. The disability checks kept us afloat during my leave of absence.
Though thankful for the checks, it further proved that we could not make it on one income. My father-in-law helped us along financially during that time, however, it took every penny he sent along with the disability checks to keep our bills paid. I also received a nice Christmas bonus from my employer, which we used to pay more bills. We continued to pray.
Miraculously, we managed to sell my car. Only a few months after September 11, 2001, the economy staggered. The car dealers offered 0 down and 0.9% interest. If anyone bought a car, they bought new, not used. Yet, my car sold. We bought an older model truck, with cash. We now only had one car payment. Our finances improved overnight, but still not enough.
My husband soon accepted an interim position at a church. After two months, the congregation planned to vote on whether they wanted him for their pastor. Midway through the interim, another church offered him a two-month interim as their pastor. They understood that he’d already committed, but insisted that he let them know if he was available after fulfilling his obligation.
Both churches were small and offered bi-vocational positions, requiring hubby to keep his full time job as a dental technician. We’d never thought of his call to preach as extra income. We had assumed it might take years before he had his own church. However, we began to wonder if this was the means God would use to answer our prayers.
Our son made his debut the sixth week of my leave. I’d have six weeks with our precious child before returning to work, which I dreaded with every fiber of my being. All I wanted was to stay at home and raise my son. Once we actually saw him, we couldn’t imagine leaving him with someone else all day. We prayed harder.
I returned to work. The first day back was one of the worst of my life. My son stayed with my mother-in-law and cried all day long.
My boss understood my preoccupation and cut my hours to part-time. Still, each day I went to work was a nightmare. Though my mother-in-law never complained, I know the almost constant crying frayed her nerves. Hubby and I worried about him all day. We couldn’t stand to think of our baby crying so much without us there. My husband begged me to give my notice.
By this time, he had fulfilled the interim at the first church. The congregation wanted him as their pastor. However, after much prayer, hubby didn’t feel it was the right church for him. He began the second interim and immediately felt more at home there.
If the congregation asked him to stay, we could afford for me to quit work. They didn’t pay quite as much as I earned, but enough that we could squeak by. We felt sure God was answering our prayers. However, the interim had only just begun. If after two months, the church didn’t ask hubby to stay or he felt that he shouldn’t, we would need my income. I didn’t want my husband to take the church if asked, simply for the money, but because God wanted him there.
My plans to work until the interim was fulfilled and a decision made, only lasted four miserable days of work, with my son crying all day and hubby begging me to resign. He promised he wouldn’t take the church unless God wanted him there.
Deciding I could work as a hairdresser again and set my own hours gave us a backup plan. I gave my notice and worked two more miserable weeks before leaving my office job.
Immediately, after getting to stay home with me for a few days, our son’s fussiness improved. I knew we’d made the right decision and continued to pray that God would take care of our finances. My husband finished the interim, six weeks after I left my job and the church asked him to stay on as their pastor. With much prayer, he accepted their offer. We loved the church and the people there. God truly answered our prayers.
Over the next months and years, I witnessed all of our son’s firsts, instead of my mother-in-law telling me about them.
He’s eleven now. Two churches later, my husband is a full time pastor and, I am thankful that I spend my days at home writing. When school’s out, I’m here. When he’s sick, I’m here. During summer break, we play.
Hubby and I thank God daily for working everything out so well for us. We will do our best to raise a godly son and make certain that God is pleased that he answered our prayers.
My advice to women, who would love to stay home with their children, but think they can’t afford it: Pray. God is the best financial manager.
NATALIE WENTWORTH’S PAST IS ABOUT TO CATCH UP WITH HER
Natalie once dreamed of finding true love. Then Lane Gray broke her heart. After running wild to fill the emptiness inside her, she heads back to her hometown to heal. But when she sees the cowboy she once loved so much, she finds him hard to resist.
Lane Gray is a changed man. The handsome cowboy wants Natalie’s forgiveness-and more. Natalie has made plenty of mistakes in her life, but so has Lane. Could falling for each other again be the worst one yet? Or the path to redemption?
Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife. Her debut novel won the 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their son, and church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch. Visit her online!
Let’s talk about this. I love the oft quoted phrase, “When God guides, God provides. Perhaps God is nudging you to stay home like He did with Shannon, or maybe He is asking you to give generously to a ministry out of faith. Or maybe He is calling you into missions and you can’t imagine how you will raise the necessary support. Or perhaps He is nudging you in another way–to seek employment or return to school after an extended absence. It doesn’t matter what God is calling you to do, for His provisions remain the same–perfect for whatever He is calling you to do and whatever He longs to do in you. The question is, will you trust Him and move forward in faith, confidence, and obedience?
I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.