I knew I had to write a tale about coats when it happened; it was too extraordinary to not pass on. Oh, I had prayed for "things" before, things like new school shoes that I would be able to afford. That September, the girls and I had gone downtown and stopped at a store that I wouldn't ordinarily expect to stock shoes. Lo and behold, they had wonderful quality shoes that looked like a well-known brand, one that was always beyond our budget. When Cindy, Susan and I left that store, we left with two new pairs of beautiful school shoes for the grand total of $4.00. No, shoes weren't priced as high as they are today, but they probably would have cost three times what I paid that day. If God hadn't been answering my prayer.
And I remember when Susan had outgrown so many of her shirts, it was a desperate situation. After I asked God (privately) for new shirts for Sue, a lady at our church gave us several bags full of girls' shirts, which happened to fit Susan-- not Cindy or Carol or Amy--they didn't have a need at that time.
So many ways, so many times, God met our needs. One Sunday morning, Bill placed $20 in the offering plate at our church. I was horrified when I saw him giving the only money we possessed. He was laid off from his job at that time, and we were a family of seven! But God had a real surprise for us. Before we left the church that day, the Pastor handed Bill an envelope someone had asked him to give to us. In the envelope was $200, exactly ten times the amount Bill had placed in the offering plate!
We were learning that God was with us in the hard times and would teach us more about His love as we trusted Him. There are many more stories I could tell, but I want to get to the tale of the coats.
One year, as winter approached, it was obvious that Carol needed a new winter coat. It was the same year that we faced some very troubling personal trials. We could have bought Carol a coat, but I decided to approach God about it, anyhow. "Dear God," I prayed, "You know that we could buy her a coat, but coats cost a lot. Would You consider sending her one instead, so we wouldn't have to buy it?"
A couple of days later, the father of Bill's niece's husband approached me and asked if we could use two coats his daughter didn't need anymore. The funny thing was, his daughter lived with her mother, not with her dad. It seemed strange that he was the one giving her clothing away. As a matter of fact, he never gave clothes to any of our daughters before or after that.
One of those two coats was a "stadium coat," nice and warm, but too big for Carol. The other one was lighter, okay for fall, and she wore it for a while, but still would need a warmer coat for winter.
Shortly after this, a woman from the church who was a regular fashion plate asked if we could use some coats. Of course we accepted, knowing anything from "Ellen" would be stylish. One was a white leather coat and yes, it was very classy!
We had a young neighbor named "Julie" who lived in an old trailer up the road. She had two little kids, and for awhile I used to babysit for her when she went to work. She was not what you'd call well-to-do, so I was quite surprised when "Julie" gave me some coats.
Then someone else gave us a coat, and someone else, and someone else.....I can't even remember where they all came from, but the coats kept coming until we had received thirteen coats! Laughingly I prayed, "Okay, Lord, You can stop sending coats! We get the message!"
How I thanked the Lord for showing our family how abundantly He loves us! Our children needed to know that at that particular time more than ever before. My husband and I needed to be reminded, too. When we "cast our cares on Him," as the Bible tells us, we learn that He truly cares. In the hardest times in our lives, God can draw us close to Him and comfort us through His word and His very personal care for each one of us.
When I first recorded the story of the thirteen coats, my family was still going through turmoil. I wrote then, "My family has not been totally restored to this day, but God is still in charge. The God of the thirteen coats, the God who answers prayer abundantly, is still working in each heart, and He has taught me to trust Him no matter how long it takes."
Can you understand now why I cherish this little COAT TALE?