My Greatest Burden is My Greatest Blessing

b2_sun_14A valuable and rather surprising lesson I learned from my daughter Irene in the spring of 2004…

My Greatest Burden is My Greatest Blessing

Late on a Friday evening, my oldest daughter and I were on our way home from a bridal shower for a young friend. It had rained most of the evening of the shower, but had stopped before we left for our almost two-hour drive home. The hostess had given us the leftovers of the fig newtons we had brought to the shower, which turned out to be most of the package. After all, who wants fig newtons when they can have nanaimo bars, chocolate squares and home-baked cookies? So we drove along in the dark, not even trying to resist the temptation to munch on fig newtons. We did manage to save a generous share for the rest of the family at home.

We were driving the Cavalier, which means Irene was in the driver’s seat and I was on the passenger’s side in the back seat. We haven’t replaced the front passenger door since Ian hit a deer one dark morning last February. Nor has he been successful in getting it to open and close. So, unless I wanted to climb under the steering wheel and over the centre to the passenger’s side, I was stuck in the back seat. Normally when I sit back there someone else is sitting in the front seat, and I can just sit there quietly with my thoughts. But this time I was a captive audience to Irene’s rambling thoughts… of which there were many that night.

Since we were in talking mode, I decided to put a question to her… one which has puzzled me for some years now. In a day when we see so many godly families struggling with their teens wanting to dabble and experiment in the things of the world, and try their wings too soon… why is it that so far my children haven’t? It was a major thing for Irene to get her ears pierced at age 21, and for her and her sisters (17 & 15) to get their hair cut to just below their shoulders. I will never kid myself into thinking it’s because I am doing things right and others are not. I know I am not being diligent in teaching them, and yet they are all gravitating toward the things of the Lord. So why is this?

Is it because we are long-time members of an excellent church where the meat of the scriptures is taught thoroughly week by week? Is it because we have regular daily family worship? Is it because my children are often reminded that their chief goal in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? Is it because they are homeschooled? Is it because I pray for my children? Or am I just lucky?

The answer is “No!” to all of the above. There is no such thing as luck. And I know too many wonderful, godly people whose children have grown up with all of the advantages listed above, yet some of the children have made some devastating decisions during their teens and young adulthood.

I can only attribute it to the Lord’s faithfulness and mercy in spite of my many failings. But since I know God uses means to bring about His ends, it still puzzles me. What means has He used in our family, where we are frail and inconsistent at best, in our efforts to teach our children?

So I put it to Irene, as one of my children, to see what she came up with. Her answer surprised me.

“I think it’s because we have never had the money to buy things and do things, and so we have done things together… things that don’t cost any money. No one has ever expected to have brand new clothes until they can afford to buy them for themselves… or toys or outings or movies or special foods. And even though it’s only in the past year and a half that we have lived in the country, we were always kept somewhat isolated from the world.”

Not My Will - How Much Will Surrender Cost I still don’t get it. I asked her if she has ever read “Not My Will,” by Francena Arnold. The main character was kept isolated, yet she was determined to be integrated into her peer group, and resorted to a life of deception in order to get what she wanted. Why have my children not done that?? But Irene knows whereof she speaks. In some ways she knows her sisters and brothers better than I do because she is one of them and they confide in her as such.

“So are you trying to tell me that the thing that has been my biggest burden and has given me so much grief all these years, has been the very means the Lord has used to hold our family together and keep you children on the right track?”


Wow. That blows me away. I used to fear that my children would pick up on my money worries, and resent the fact they couldn’t have what other kids have, and grow up determined not to have large families and focus instead on making money. But no… instead they have gone the opposite way and focused on the real things in life, and not fretted about what they can’t have. They value love and appreciation expressed in ways other than those that cost money. They value people over things, and family over their peers. The friends they have chosen are those with similar values and beliefs, who encourage them on in the ways of the Lord.

It’s as I said to them when they were little, “Poor us! We are so poor we have to resort to eating delicious homemade bread instead of buying the junk at the store… and we have to let the cat have adorable kittens every five months because we are too poor to have her spayed!” But I have never been able to accept our financial plight and fully trust the Lord for His provision. I have always worried about it. Even now after hearing what Irene had to say, I worry about it. But my eyes have been opened, I can’t help looking at it in a different light. It gives fresh meaning to the old saying that when God closes a door He always opens a window… or that when he says no in answer to prayer, it’s always because He has something better in mind for you…

© Willena Flewelling


  1. Hi Willena,
    Reading your articles are like reading parts of a novel. Always reminds me of Little Women somehow.
    People believe what they will but I do believer that…
    “when God closes a door He always opens a window… or that when he says no in answer to prayer, it’s always because He has something better in mind for you”
    I think we just need to trust that HE knows all. Have a blessed day.
    Kathryn recently posted…Robert HollisMy Profile

  2. I see alot of people think like this. I think it is sad. It is not a sin to be poor or rich. The Bible does say money is a protection Your Children would of grown up the wonderful people they are no matter what. It is a FREE WILL Choice. I grew up in a horrible place. I looked for God. Did I have to grow up there to look for God? No I refuse to believe that. You can thank God for your wonderful Children but they are free will agents and they made the choice to do right. If it was made for them through circumstance that is not free will. Your desire to have more for your family was put in your heart by God. He wants us to thrive. You took care of the most important thing their spiritual food. And they did not starve. Does that mean you were meant to be poor? No. It means you might think poor people are better then rich people. No one is better then you. And no one is worse then you. And being poor is neither a sin or a virtue. Being spiritually rich is all that really matters Hugs

  3. This is really touching Willena,
    Your daughter really gave you the best answer to your question and i sincerely agree with her 100% because i can also relate to what she said.

    Indeed, I’ve come to realize that often time in life, most of the kids whose parents has it all, buys them whatever they asked for and even the ones they didn’t ask for usually tend to loose their way because they were being spoiled by their parents.

    But most of the kids whose parents rarely afford to buy them luxury are usually well trained and useful to their parents at the long run.

    Also, the environment matters as well. If your children usually mix up with other kids in the neighbourhood, they can easily be influenced negatively especially if they’re hanging out with bad kids.

    But i also believe that it all depends on the kids, any body that want to spoil will certainly spoil.
    Theodore Nwangene recently posted…Newsjacking – 21 Ways to Be Sure You’re Doing it RightMy Profile

  4. Hello Willena, We do what we need to do HUH? I was a single mom raising my 2 sons and when it was time to go school shopping we went to Goodwill or St Vincent De Paul stores and OH MY!
    My sons told me I was the WORST Parent ever, but they had new clothes ( WELL NEW TO THEM)

    Anyways my point to this is Now guess where my sons shop? HEHE Yeppers thrift stores for everything, Crazy Right?

    Yes we do what we need to do.

    Thanks for the reminder
    Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Can A Success Mindset Help You Make Money Online?My Profile

  5. What an incredibly touching story Willena!

    And first of all, let me say, you’ve done a marvelous job
    raising your kids!

    And it’s also obvious, they’ve realized that having the right values,
    are worth far more than trying to stock pile
    any particular physical items!

    That’s an extremely hard and rare sell! Big congrats, because you’ve apparently instilled some life long lasting values in your kids!
    Mark recently posted…Why Wall Street Aren’t The Only Ones That Profit From Creative Asset Management!My Profile

  6. Oh Willena, amen and amen. This is what my kids say as well, even though I’m over here lamenting that we nearly lost our house and that we haven’t been able to afford college for them. My kids all say, “God is real because we saw Him provide in amazing and miraculous and sometimes small , sometimes big ways.”

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