they toil not; neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is,
and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you,
O ye of little faith?
Matthew 6:28-30 KJV
My son, the only boy of the set, had hand-me-downs galore from his four older brothers and didn't mind a bit wearing what had survived their tortures.
But for my daughters, there were no saved boxes of girly fashions for even one of them, let alone two. They had received some new clothes for Christmas, but my list of their needs outnumbered our resources: coats, shoes, tights, pants, shirts, nighties, and dresses.. I could whittle away at it - shop the sales, welcome friends' hand-me-downs, and hit the thrift stores, but it would still be a stretch.
Then, came The Moment. You know, the one that illuminates the past and defines the future? It struck like a typhoon, knocking me off my feet and leaving me gasping for breath and clawing for daylight. It was early January of the year 1999, and I had discovered my husband's betrayal that would compromise our future financial life and unravel, irrevocably, my already precarious sense of security.
As a school-my-own-children, stay-at-home mom with a high school education and seven kids ranging in age from seventeen to three, I was devastated. Disbelief, hurt, anger, fear, helplessness, defeat, each took their turn wracking my world.
Because the big picture was just too big to comprehend even if I had been allowed details, I focused on the minutiae of the life I did know - my list. How could I afford these things now when everything had changed? Where would the money come from? Who could I ask for help? I had never shared the true state of my marriage with anyone. How could I start with this information?
I spent the following dark hours pacing and fretting, and finally, near dawn, fell asleep on the couch.
The house was still, no one had yet risen when a gentle tapping on the door roused me. I opened it to find a woman I only vaguely recognized standing on my porch with two giant plastic trash bags, one in each hand.
"I hope I didn't wake you," she said, almost in a whisper. "I don't know if you remember me, but our boys were on the same baseball team last season. I was sorting through my daughter's clothes last night and for some reason I thought of you and wondered if your girls could use these things."
In my dazed and groggy state, I took them from her, thanked her, and watched her drive away. I couldn't remember her name (Linda, maybe?) and I had no idea how she knew where I lived.
I did remember visiting with her one afternoon in the stands. She and her husband had been blessed with one son, and though they had wanted more children, she hadn't become pregnant for many years. Then, just as their boy had reached adolescence, they'd been shocked to learn that they would be having another baby - a girl, one year older than my triplets. She had told me how much she loved having a daughter and was a little embarrassed to admit that she'd spoiled her with more clothes than any one little girl could ever wear.
One piece at a time, I took those clothes from the bags, realizing with growing amazement that each was an item on my list. Several pairs of hardly worn shoes, at least a dozen pair of tights, sweaters and jackets and coats, pants and tops, nighties and dresses, so many dresses. Everything in pristine condition. Everything two little girls could want or need.
I sat on the floor surrounded by a near-stranger's generosity and wept hot,roiling tears of fear and relief. In one moment, I had learned that I had no champion on this earth. In another, God had reminded me that even in my peril, He would provide.
My list had been His list, too.