Two women, two pews apart {Day 12 of 40 days of Lent}

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

(Mark 12:41-44 ESV)

She tries to be a good mother. Proverbs 31 is her guide.

She uses her money wisely. She clips coupons. She shops around for the best deals. She stocks up on groceries when there’s a sale and takes her car for maintenance checks when the card from the dealer comes in the mail.

Her children wear clothes until they’re worn out or outgrown. Of course, there’s always new clothes for school. But the old clothes? They’re used for play until they can’t be used anymore.

She balanced the checkbook while the kids got ready for school. She closed the computer and checked her watch.

Just in time.

She called upstairs to warn the kids they had five minutes. She picked up the checkbook and started writing. Thanks to good money management there was extra money in the account again this week. The family only rarely cut it short and even then there were savings accounts from which they could draw.

She wrote out two checks. One for the church and another check – a generous one – for the missionary who was to be speaking at the church that Sunday.

She piled the kids in the car and set off to take them to school.

She breathed a prayer as she passed the bus stop, thanking God that her children didn’t have to ride the bus. It was enough to deal with the negative influences the kids encountered every day in school. At least she didn’t have to worry about what they were hearing on the bus.

Some kids were running. Others talking and still others staring numbly ahead as they listened to music. A couple of kids stood near a woman wearing an oversized sweatshirt and pajama pants. She looked tired, but attentive to the children as they talked to her.

She never saw the woman wear anything but an oversized sweatshirt and pajama pants in winter and old shorts and a t-shirt in summer. It’s a wonder she goes out like that, she thought.

***

She tries to be a good mother. Proverbs 31 is her guide.

She watched the black SUV go by as it did every morning at this time. Someday she might be able to afford that, but she was lucky enough to have an old sedan that she could drive to work. At least for now she had the old sedan. It was making noises and was well overdue for an oil change, but she just didn’t have the money to have the mechanic look at it.

Every day she came home from the third shift at the nursing home so her mother could go to her job. Her mother has been such a help since her husband died. By working the night shift, she could be home with her kids in the evening before her mother arrived to spend the night with them.

The bus arrived. She was thankful her kids had a way to school. Who knew how long the old car would last? Where would they get the money to pay for the gas to run them to and from school?

She walked back to the small, single-story ranch house. She and her husband thought they would sell this house and move into a bigger one in the development down the street. That was before cancer.

She stretched out on the bed. She always changed out of her scrubs and into what others would call night clothes while the kids finished getting ready for school. That way, she saved a few precious minutes for sleep while the kids were at school.

That evening after a dinner of hot dogs and boxed macaroni and cheese, she looked through the ads to mark the sale items. Usually, she could only buy what was on sale. There wasn’t money to buy extra while the items were on sale so anything she found would be a great treat for the family.

She had cut the expenses as far as she could, but there was still a long way to go. It wasn’t easy raising two young children alone, but she spent her money carefully and worked hard to pay off all the old bills and keep the house. She had finally made the last payment on her husband’s funeral expenses and was whittling down the medical bills.

She figured the kids’ clothes were in decent enough shape to last the school year. Maybe by summer, they would have recovered enough that they could buy new clothes at the big box store instead of buying from the thrift shop again.

She was getting ready for work that night when she remembered the missionary coming to church that weekend. She wanted to give an offering, but even a small gift would cut into the budget significantly.

She decided that she would give anyway. It might be small, but God could use even that. And it was important for the kids to see that giving was important even in tough financial times.

***

Two women sat two pews apart at church that Sunday listening to the stories of the missionary. Two women dropped gifts into the offering plate when it was passed.

One gave out of her abundance. The other gave out of her lack.

Jesus saw them both.

These (hopefully) daily devotions for Lent have turned into daily devotions for March, which is technically not Lent but is the month leading up to Easter. They are based on the 40 Days of Lent reading plan available at YouVersion. The plan was graciously provided to YouVersion by Journey Church.

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