Monday, January 21, 2008

testing my resolve

Two Sundays ago, Chikara woke up earlier than the rest of us to take a shower but the hot water heater wouldn't work. It had been very cold that night so we figured it was just frozen or having a hard time getting going. By the time we got back from church it was working just fine so we didn't think much about. All week we haven't had any problems but on Saturday night when it was time for the kid's baths it wouldn't work again. Chikara's first thought was to go to a Super Sento (public bath) but I knew that would mean me having to bathe and keep an eye on all four kids (and try to keep Natsuki from drowning) while Chikara had a nice, relaxing bath. No, thank you! We decided that if there was no hot water in the morning that we would go to the church early and use their shower. Emi thought that was an awful idea and that for sure someone was going to see her naked. Yes, she's hit that age.

On Sunday morning there was no hot water so we packed everyone in the car as soon as we woke up, drove through McDonald's and had our breakfast and bath at the church. I think Natsuki was the most put out since it was such a wide departure from her idea of "normal". But I was mad or at the least, very frustrated. When we moved to Japan, we didn't have very much. Chikara got what turned out to be The Job From Hell and it covered all of our expenses but with baby after baby arriving, we weren't able to save for the future like we wanted to. Before I got pregnant with Natsuki we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel but, of course, Natsuki coming meant that I had to take a break from teaching English. Chikara had found a way better job with a better salary and our needs were being met but our goal was still to build our savings.

This year, 2008, is our chance once again to get our act together. For one year, we won't have to pay any preschool tuition but our kids are still small so their needs aren't expensive yet. Plus, with Natsuki getting older, I can take on some extra English classes if I want. So here we are, January, and we are on the same page and ready to go for it when our hot water heater breaks. It's possible that we could fix it cheaply but it's old so we should replace it. My FIL found a hot water heater last year that had only been used for 3 years so he brought it to our house just in case we needed a replacement. But it would cost money to replace and even then we didn't know if it would work. The last possibility would be to buy a new hot water heater but that could be between $1,000 - $3,000. I was just so frustrated since all options bite into our fledgling savings plan. Grrrr! As I was taking my shower at the church, I just kept thinking that this is Murphy's Law. Why even try?

Anyways, I finished my shower and got ready and headed up to the service that had already started. As I was trying to get my head and heart in the right place while coralling our kids, the worship leader was leading when suddenly he was singing an old hymn. Of course it's in Japanese so I'm trying to place which one it is when the title pops into my head. I Surrender All. It just stopped all of the busyness in my head. Of course. Surrender it. It was so clear to me that I stopped keeping an eye on the kids and just raised my hands and surrendered it all. I felt so much lighter after that moment.

When we got home, Chikara's dad called to see what we were going to do about the hot water heater. We had been in the middle of deciding dinner (part of our savings plan is to make more meals at home). Chikara had been making rice and his fingers were bright red from washing the rice in cold water. They invited us out to dinner and saved the day really. I thought to myself that already God is providing for us. Then dad called us this morning and said that a work friend of his could switch in the used hot water heater for us for $200 and he could come tonight. I almost laughed when I heard. Of course God would protect our good intentions to be stewards of what He's given us. I never needed to worry.

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all

Already my resolution for this year has been tested. Did I pass? I'm not sure but at least I learned something!


Abigail Munday said...

That's amazing! We had a similar experience yesterday. When we did our car shaken (inspection, for those not in Japan) two years ago, a friend who worked at a Toyota dealership did it for us at his workplace, at a "discount" (the total was 132,000 yen). Yikes. And that was two months before Matthew was born and we were planning our big move to Hyogo from Aichi. Stephen was changing jobs and it was a lot of upheaval. But everything worked out and we really felt God's peace about it all.

When shaken time came this month, we were a bit worried about the price again. A friend recommended a friend of his who sometimes takes other people's cars for shaken to the actual shaken place, and he said it was cheaper than going to a dealer. So we asked him and he was up for it. He suggested we send 100,000 yen with him, just in case. But when he came back yesterday after taking our car, he brought 40,000 yen change! Woo-hoo! (Plus we gave him 10,000 as a thank-you.)

On Friday we had received a city tax bill that we weren't expecting--for almost 40,000 yen! So this leftover money from the shaken covers that! Even though we had to pull that 100,00 from our meager savings, the shaken was WAY less than last time! Less than half. Thank you, God! He sure does take care of us. I'm learning to trust him more and more with the finances he's given us. I'm trying not to think of them as "our" finances, because they're his. It's a tough lesson, and one I'm learning all the time.

Mom said...

I had a similar experience this Sunday. I have been stalled in my business, having taken so much time off to be with family and to recover from the flu. We were singing some new songs in church, then they launched into my favourite hymn (and the one I want sung at my funeral, take note everyone)
'tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take him at his word
Just to rest upon his promise
Just to know 'Thus saith the Lord'.

That pretty much does it for me! and the windows opened this week, business is pouring in so much that I should not be sitting here talking to you right now....

Kim said...

I hear you! We decided that my husband would quit his job and find one more family friendly. So, we will be living on those precious savings for awhile. Hard to see them go, but we too are trusting God for the future. Such a good song!

Christelle said...

I am often amazed at how generous the universe has been with me. I am one of those people who can visualize something and it often comes about in some form. Some people call it luck, but it is not as haphazard as that. Surrendering and trusting everything will be alright usually yields better results than staying in a bad situation because of fear. I still worry way too much, but as Mother Superior sand Maria say in the Sound of Music, "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." I also believe everything happens for a reason and that nothing is a mistake if you learn from it. And most importantly, in order to receive more blessings, you have to recognize and be thankful for all the ones you already have. Currently, I've been having some complications with my pregnancy which is causing me to take a lot of time off work. This time off is without pay, just when we need to save money the most. But, hey, I surrender. I can't control how this pregnancy goes, won't risk the baby and just have to believe that financially things will work out somehow. I already have a perfect job lined up for September, mornings only at an English preschool right near my house and I can even bring the baby if I want. Sometimes the blessings that come my way surprise even me.