"Blessings won by prayer should be dedicated to God, as Hannah dedicated Samuel. The gift came form heaven- let it go to heaven. Prayer brought it, gratitude sang over it, let devotion consecrate it. Each blessing provides a special opportunity to pray, 'We have given you only what comes from your hand.' (1 Chronicles 29:14)'."
For the first time in our marriage, my husband will go to bed and wake up this weekend with no homework, no looming paper deadlines, no clinical hours to prepare for. He will read non-school related books, spend hours in Bible commentaries (yes, he loves it) and not feel guilty about it. Alex graduated from nursing school this week, and our little family could not be prouder.
We've taken a bit of an unconventional road over the past four years, and I can tell you looking back on it all, it only makes sense because of God. Alex started school in January of 2011, we got married in August, had Harper in December 2012 (oops!), and then in June of 2013 I decided I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom, because it made perfect sense to have one student and one unemployed adult heading up our household, right? We made approximately 375 budget spreadsheets to see how we could make it work financially while Alex applied for every scholarship he could find. Let me tell you, not much works financially on a GI Bill housing allowance. But then Alex got grant money, financial aid, and a Nurse Corps scholarship to complement the GI Bill and just like that, we had enough to make it each month. And then I was offered a few teaching jobs and a part-time job at our church, and Alex worked landscaping jobs and YMCA jobs and, despite my trepidation and "I think God would understand there is barely enough in the account for this!" statements, he never, not for one month, did not make us tithe whatever money we brought in- something we believe to our toes is the answer to financial provision even in the smallest forms. Cannon joined us this May (not an oops!) and here we are, at the end of this crazy how are we going to do this season, not one penny of student loans waiting for us. (Lest I paint this picture that we have navigated this season perfectly, I feel the need to assure you there have been no shortage of marital throw-downs over time and money management, and plenty of days of doubting God at every turn. We are more than certain that provision has nothing to do with our merit and everything to do with his).
If we were to write down the financial debits and credits of the last few years, I'm actually not sure it would even make sense. God's provision has truly defied math. Our community has blessed us in every way with kids' clothing, baby gear, even a whole month of meals after Cannon was born. We have seen Jesus in tangible ways through our people, and it has been such a gift.
And my husband, I don't even know where to begin with him! He's the hardest worker I know. He has spent more late nights under the dim lighting of our kitchen table with books open than I can count. Nursing school is no joke, but he believed that God gave him a desire for this career that served others, and he never wavered from that. Alex and I are both learners, and to be honest, would probably prefer to be poor students than rich employees if we could have it that way. Alas, the bills must be paid and children must be fed, and we should probably start contributing to that retirement plan again, but this season has been sweet in a million ways and I think we are both a little bit sad to see it go. (Temporarily, that is- we both have plans for more school should God open that door for us!)
For now, we are going to soak up a few weeks of vacation and Holiday celebration before Alex takes the NCLEX (nursing license exam) and starts working at his new job at a community health clinic in West Central Spokane mid-January. It feels like the end of something beautiful and the start of something exciting all at once around here. But gosh, I am so, so proud to call this man my husband, to know this is who Harper and Cannon get to look up to.
God is good friends, and he knows what we need even before we ask for it. If there is anything Alex and I have learned in our marriage it is that He is the gift, not his provision or his blessings or his gifts of intellect or a college degree. Everything he gives us is an arrow straight to him, so that we can look up and know He is able, every time.