By Rebecca Clendenin
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
–Hebrews 11:1 NIV
Nathan and I have been married almost 17 years. The best, and hardest, times in our marriage have always been when on the adventure of trusting God. Faith often doesn’t come easily for me. God has often used community to encourage us (me especially) along the way. More amazingly, something God has used at times in our marriage to encourage us the most is the surprising faith of our young children. But it has required us to let them in.
Allow me to share two examples:
The following stories recount two times, within the same month, when our children were instrumental in encouraging us to trust God for His provision.
It was May 2018. Our oldest son Samuel (SJ) was 8, and our younger son Henry was just shy of his 6th birthday. Nathan and I were in the thick of trusting God to grow our family again biologically from two children to four children, specifically trusting God for two girls (a longtime/lifelong desire of Nathan’s to be a dad to daughters– plural). On many levels, this was a HUGE leap of faith for me to “start over” again in my late 30s with pregnancies and babies and all that entails. Would I have the wherewithal as a mom to tack on an extra decade of parenting?? My journal entries around that time are chocked full of fears, yet the yearnings of wanting to be obedient to God, who was speaking to me to surrender and to trust Him to be creative and orderly. We were now in the fifth month of “trying” without a positive pregnancy test. I know many couples try for much longer than that, but for us getting pregnant was not usually a struggle. It was a very confusing time for me personally.
Meanwhile, Nathan’s company StoryDriven, which had historically always had a slow first quarter in terms of revenue, was now in its fifth month, almost sixth month, of a dry spell. We had recently reached a point where Nathan as CEO, unbeknownst to his team, had stopped drawing a salary. Now we were within the 30-day mark of not meeting payroll for the three other individuals whose livelihoods depended on StoryDriven. Simultaneously, we were beginning to drain our personal savings to meet our family’s expenses.
There were other stressful unknowns in the spring of 2018 as well.
One evening after dinner, Nathan and I were at our dining table discussing the matter of growing our family in light of our present “survival mode” financial difficulties. Nathan said maybe we should stop trying. WHAT?! After all my emotional ups and downs since January even considering a possible pregnancy (after years of desiring to adopt), here my husband was all of a sudden acting fickle, when it was his hope originally to grow our family biologically?! Our discussion now turned to dispute.
The boys came over and asked what we were talking about, and at first, annoyed by their curiosity, we told them to “go play.” They returned a few minutes later. We told them to go back to the playroom, that Mom and Dad were discussing something important. We were in a heated state of bickering by this point when the boys resurfaced.
Unrelenting, we finally let them into the conversation. We explained that Mom and Dad were having a hard time trying to decide whether to have more children. We explained that Mom and Dad were arguing about the timing and about trusting God for a girl or girls and whether it’d be wise given the situation with Dad’s company. What did they think?
Our oldest son SJ, age 8, nonchalantly said, “Well we could pray about it and ask God for a sister at the right time.” Why yes, we could! The Lord used SJ’s statement of the obvious in that moment to nudge us to stop bickering and start praying!
So, as a family that evening, we took turns in our own way asking of the Lord, that he’d provide a sister or sisters at the right time. I confess I still wrestled with the Lord in the months following, but God intended that special moment in our family’s story as a blessing to me and Nathan both, to be encouraged by our own children to simply pray and trust God with the timing.
Two weeks later, the situation at StoryDriven had not improved much. The boys were aware that we needed God to show up and provide. One Saturday morning when I was relaxing on the couch, Henry, around age 5½ at the time, rounded the corner from the playroom with something behind his back.
“Happy Day-Before-Mother’s-Day, Mom!” he announced, and handed me a $20 bill from his personal stash of birthday money.
“Honey, no, that’s too much money. Put that back,” I replied.
“It’s for StoryDriven.”
Oh man! I scooped him up and praised him for his generous spirit. At that age, Henry knew the difference between a $20 and smaller bills and opted to give us his largest denomination of money. We called Dad to tell him, and Nathan was equally blessed.
Later that day when I deposited the $20 at an ATM, I prayed, “Lord, please multiply this money—to reward Henry’s generosity and to strengthen the faith of this 5-year-old boy.”
Monday morning we found ourselves sharing with the StoryDriven Family, through tears, the harsh realities of potential lay-offs. We also shared how God had encouraged us over the weekend. Our team seemed okay, trusting that the company would pull through.
As the week went by, we kept pressing into God, our faith restored and really trusting God for the how He’d provide. However, Friday morning rolled around and Nathan had no choice but to share with the team that he would have to drop everyone’s hours and pay. No new deals had come through.
Friday I was in a huge funk. The situation….unchanged. All my expectant faith…unsatisfied. Little did I know that my husband was going to call me later that afternoon that a longtime StoryDriven client, unprompted, had asked Nathan to send over an invoice for advance work, in the sum of $89,000!! The single largest invoice Nathan had ever issued.
WOW! Only God could move in such grace and in such power! God showed us so much that week and also exposed so much in our hearts! He came through! And, as answer to my simple prayer, perhaps most importantly, He multiplied Henry’s $20 bill!
It was so wonderful that night to tell the boys. To this day, it’s a story we keep retelling. May Henry always know the power of generosity and simple faith!
When our first daughter Louisa (Lucy) was born in March 2019, guess what? For the first time in StoryDriven’s history, there was no dry spell in Q1. No financial stress. Little stress in general. We had worried that having three children amidst the stress of running a company might be too much, but the Lord provided.
God had provided a sister at just the right time! May SJ also always know the power of simple faith!
From these stories, we’ve learned to bring our children into hard things—to share (appropriately) and allow them to feel some of the weight. Doing this allows children to see God at work when prayers are answered, or to learn patience and the mysterious ways of God when the prayer isn't answered how we asked, or not at all. For instance, when we lost a pregnancy in 2020… We invited the boys into that, and they understood at the time the pain of loss their parents were experiencing.
To be clear, we don’t share everything at every time with them, but when we have felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting us to, letting them in has served as such encouragement to us, in the good and the bad. We plan to continue this practice as the girls come along.
Indeed, today Samuel and Henry have not one, but TWO, little sisters, Lucy and Vivian. Entirely by God’s grace! Praise God for the faith of our sons when we needed it! Imagine if we had not invited them in! All thanksgiving and glory be to God!! He is so worthy of our trust!