Our summer plans involved lots of frugal activities. By frugal, I mean FREE. When I found out my nieces and nephews were coming into town, I wanted to do something very memorable. My first thought was to splurge and get tickets to the waterpark near us. Then I priced the tickets. At first I thought, we can do that! We haven’t spent much this summer on fun stuff, it’s about time we treat our kids to something fun! I talked to my sister and the kids and everyone was on board. Then reality hit. There is NO WAY we could pull off $350 for all the tickets. Plus parking. Plus snacks. My sister and parents offered to help. Then, I told them how much. After the large gulp, they said they would still help. It just didn’t feel like a good decision. I couldn’t fathom spending that much for a day of activity – even if my parents and sister pitched in to help. I cancelled the plans and we decided to hang out at a pool. (Insert a sarcastic “yay” right here.)
The week before the cousins came in town, our church had a family VBS. On the second night we walked in to see a door prize containing tickets to a local water park. THE waterpark. I looked at it longingly, but didn’t count on winning. I’ve been known to be at an event where they have doorprizes for all but a few people… and I’m one of the few… that don’t win.
During VBS that night, a stranger asked to pray with our family. She was one of the prayer partners for the event and prayed a special prayer with us. She specifically prayed financial blessings on us. It felt strange having her pray that – and I immediately felt a tingle in my Spirit, like God was saying “Just Watch.”
After the prayer, the very next event in VBS was the announcement of the door prize. As they were walking the basket to the stage, I felt a nudge to pray. I said no. I mean, I NEVER win those things. I felt the nudge again, so I prayed something like “God, that sure would be cool, but I get it that I don’t usually win. I just hope someone who will really appreciate it wins.” And then – Our name was called! I count it a true miracle. God sure showed me!
The day for the waterpark comes! I have eight excited kids. We packed lunches and water. My dad gave us some money for everyone to get a treat. That added another level to the excitement! (Remember, Happy Kid Day and Seven Tips for Saying NO? I don’t splurge on special treats much.) After paying for parking and a miscalculation on how much the tickets were, we were not going to have enough for each kid to have their own treat. I caught the miscalculation in enough time to run by the bank, but also prayed that God would continue to provide.
Let me insert a cool fact about the tickets – Usually when you win a family prize, there’s a standard package of four tickets. That’s great, unless you have a family of six. The number of people I was responsible for getting tickets for – five. Guess how many tickets we won? Five. Coincidence? I think not.
As we’re standing in line to purchase tickets for my nieces and nephews, another small miracle occurs. The lady next to us gave us a coupon. One of those really really good coupons. The money we saved using the coupon, plus the money from my dad provided EVERYONE with a special treat. When it came time for the kids to spend their treat money, I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was SHOCKED. They didn’t spend all of it. They came back with change. A few of the kids decided to share their snacks. Did you catch that, they shared. Without prompting. It was a definite proud mom/aunt moment for me.
All day, I watched the joy on the kid’s faces. They didn’t complain, argue, or fuss. They took care of each other. My joy was complete. I felt my cup overflow. Floating down the lazy river, I prayed prayers of thanksgiving. I prayed for the stranger that prayed for us that night, for the people who gave the tickets, for the lady in line who gave us the coupons, and for my dad and sister who provided the rest of the tickets.
I’ve yet to tell you of the most meaningful miracles I experienced that day – My nieces and nephews. I love being with ALL of my nieces and nephews (I’ve been an aunt since I was ten and grew up with the older ones.) This visit, I saw significant life changes – miracles of the heart! I saw things in all four of them, but want to tell you about two of them. The oldest niece with me that day is almost 17. Her love for the Lord has been blooming this year. This summer she has already been on a mission trip and worked as a camp counselor. I knew she would be on fire for the Lord, but I didn’t expect to see her heart shine so much. I’ve seen kids on fire for the Lord, aglow with love and service for Him – usually with a glow that is lit brightly at camp then fades in reality. She had a different shine. It was real and deep. She went out of her way to help me or others. She gave up something she really wanted to do when she realized I needed help with the younger kids – and with a smile. I felt like I was seeing her come out of her cocoon into a lovely young lady with a servant heart. My nephew had a similar growth experience. He recently returned from church camp where he began his relationship with the Lord. I noticed a change in his life. The chains of frustration and anger that had bound him were gone. I saw a young man free of his past.
Celebrating Miracles – tickets to a waterpark and tickets to new life. Whatever your miracle – celebrate it! I am thankful for each miracle I saw that day. Building Bridges – Connecting Families – through miracles.