Well, actually, no I didn’t.
Believe in miracles? I do.
I’m blessed with countless miracles in my lifetime. I suppose we all experience them, but maybe we don’t pay attention. Or we’re just too caught up in our hectic world to grasp when they happen. Possibly, we don’t experience miracles because we don’t pray for them or don’t realize we can.
I rarely pray for a miracle. Then, I pray so hard I know God thinks I’m insane. I’m confident he understands my human-ness. I recall while in school desperately praying, ‘help me pass this math test’ (gosh, I suck at math!). Or ‘I need money for bills’ when we spend beyond our means (there’s that math problem, again!).
We exalt at the miracle of life when our babies are born; beg for a miracle when a loved one is dying. Those prayers are easy to understand.
Some miracles are harder to understand. The sun rising and setting … miracle or science? My vegetable garden producing real vegetables to eat and share? Miracle? Science? My smartphone and the computer I can’t live without? Miracle? Science?
Who knows? I know.
We can debate the wonders of the world until the cows come home.(Cows actually do ‘come home’ – it’s a thing.) Miracle? Or Science? This miracle story involves a simple gallon of milk. I typically receive varying looks of astonishment, disbelief, or skepticism when I tell this story.
It happened. It’s real.
My little – huge – miracle is similar to the familiar story of Elijah and the Widow found in 1 Kings.
When Elijah arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.”
She left to get it, and he called out after her, “Please bring along a crust of bread.”
She said, “As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a few sticks to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.”
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you have said. But first, make me a little cake and bring it to me. Afterward, you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
“For the LORD, the God of Israel says: The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.”
She left and did as Elijah had said. She had enough to eat for a long time—he and she and her household. The jar of flour did not go empty, or the jug of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD spoken through Elijah. 1 Kings 17:7-16
Aside from my annoyance with women waiting on men hand and foot, I’m focusing on: ‘The jar of flour did not go empty, or the jug of oil run dry …’
An exciting job opportunity led Greg (my husband) and me back to our hometown. Our young family was complete. We had our son Travis, a beautiful, wild and crazy, three-year-old and our daughter, Evanne, an equally beautiful, delicate thriving three-month-old preemie.
Mere days into the move, Greg unexpectedly lost his job. Horrible things happen to employees when business owners steal money from their own company. But that’s a whole other blog topic.
Reeling from the blow, we quickly found ourselves in a financial bind. We hadn’t even made the first payment on our new house. I was not working and Greg hurriedly looked for a job. Due to pride, we never asked family members for help.
A week went by, then another. Having never participated in the unemployment system, we discovered a policy dubbed a ‘waiting week.’ Should be tagged a ‘waiting in hell week!’ Our money was tied up in closing costs, escrow accounts, bank accounts changing locations. This was before automated banking – back in the dark ages when we couldn’t simply click our smartphone and transfer cash in an instant.
Buying frivolous extravagances like food and diapers took a toll on our finances. As our money dwindled to zero – zilch – we were told a check would be arriving within ten days. It might as well have been ten years! We checked our sofa, pants pockets, old purses and successfully collected $1.76. I’ve never been one to let money languish in hiding.
My daily prays turned to pleading. I hung on the phrase, ‘give us this day our daily bread’ like a life preserver. I focused on feeding my kids. The next question: ‘How in the hell did this happen?!’ I got angry, then afraid and then terrified.
I breastfed Evanne, so no worries there. Travis, on the other hand, was an eating machine. On the third day, I realized the milk at the bottom of our last gallon dwindled to about an inch. We had no means to get another.
I collapsed on a chair in our tiny kitchen. Both babies were napping. I had the luxury of crying alone. I pleaded with God. I apologized for being a money idiot, for making foolish financial decisions and for daydreaming when the bankers were explaining all that boring money stuff.
I asked God to protect Travis and save him from my stupidity. I reasoned if he had milk for the next week we could figure out what else to feed him. Then I left it up to God. I didn’t know what else to do.
Each time Travis asked for milk – something like ten times a day – I poured out of that gallon. I did it countless times; the level of milk did not increase. But it never diminished either. We had an inch of milk in that damn jug for a whole week.
There was always enough. God did provide. He answered my desperate prayers. He didn’t have to.
When I told Greg about the milk, he was the first to throw me those looks I mentioned earlier: astonishment, disbelief, skepticism.
I’d like to say I became the best Catholic ever, but I didn’t. I definitely thanked God profusely. I still thank him for getting us out of that jam. I tell our milk story often because it is such an enormous part of my life. That little gallon of milk opened my eyes to ordinary blessings. I try to look for blessings each day.
Maybe God’s plan to open my eyes a bit helped the floodgates of understanding open? It did. Now, if I could just get the math part right …