In the middle of a family budget crisis, Amanda Woodiel was inspired to pray a prayer she didn't expect—and received an answer she didn't expect.
Last year we were able to move into our dream house, an 1851 log cabin situated on two acres. Our budget would be tight again, but we were used to that, having never had very much to spare. But then a convergence of factors made our already-tight budget overwhelmingly constricting: my husband had to quit his second job delivering pizzas due to being told he would have to purchase commercial car insurance; the few hours of overtime he was getting at his first job was rescinded; our utility bill ended up being a couple of hundred dollars over the monthly projection (it turns out the people who owned the house before us hadn’t actually lived there for a couple of years); food prices surged at the same time our teen and tween boys’ appetite skyrocketed; and we were forced to undertake home and car repairs. It’s nothing out of the realm from what many of you have probably experienced. If so, you know the sinking feeling of there being bills and not enough money in the bank.
We prayed a novena to St. Joseph. My husband applied for a couple of different jobs. We discussed whether I could add a part-time job to my responsibilities of homeschooling, housekeeping, and volunteer church work.
One night in the midst of this our hot water went out at the same time some plumbing leaked. The plumbing company who was responsible for the leak sent someone out to fix it, and he checked out our water heater as well. He emerged from the basement shaking his head. It couldn’t be fixed.
I had grabbed some crumb cake from the freezer to give to this knight in coveralls who had come to our rescue at 10 PM. He politely refused it and took his leave.
My husband and I locked eyes. I knew—and my husband knew—that we had no money to replace a water heater. It would take every dollar from our checking and savings accounts and then some.
I looked at the cake, I looked at our older three children who had not been put to bed in the midst of the chaos, and I told them, despite it being Lent, to grab some plates.
So 11 o’clock that night, without hot water to wash the dishes, my husband, three boys, and I sat at the table of our dream house offering a toast and clinking glasses of milk. We toasted to “the good and gracious God who always takes care of us.”
I really don’t know where that prayer came from other than to say it bubbled up within me by the Holy Spirit. I can tell you that the next morning that was not the prayer I felt. But at the time it seemed like the right and just thing to do.
The next day I called a friend of ours from the church, one of our deacons, to see if he knew of someone who could help us replace the water heater more cheaply than the plumbing company had quoted. He did, he said. Himself. That evening he came over and spent four hours changing it out for us.
We were able to pay for it all—the water heater, the parts, and a little token of our appreciation to him—with twenty dollars to spare. Our good and gracious Lord, indeed!
Copyright 2022 Amanda Woodiel
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About the Author
Amanda Woodiel is a Catholic convert, a mother to five children ages 14 to 6, a slipshod housekeeper, an enamored wife, and a “good enough” homeschooler who believes that the circumstances of life—both good and bad—are pregnant with grace. Her oldest son was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2022, which is providing plenty of opportunities to test that hypothesis.