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The Water Chestnuts

Last week my kids and I moved into our new place. By new, I mean new to us, not newly built and there's nothing really new about it either, other than the feeling of being in an unfamiliar space. This story isn't about where I am now, but of where I have been.

Kitchen cupboards are always one of the last things to get packed. I know this, because I have moved more times in my life than most people I've met. I reached to the back of my cupboard, and there, looking at me was a tin of water chestnuts. I grabbed the can, held it with both hands and took a few moments from packing to reminisce...

...Fall 2004. My then husband and I were raising three young children in small town Sask. We had bought a home almost an hour outside of Saskatoon the previous year for the lower cost of living and to have a more laid-back lifestyle. What we wished, and what really happened was the opposite. My husband lost his job, and was unable to find another. I was a stay at home mom and student, just finishing up a photography course in Saskatoon. Our money situation went from 'doing alright', to 'barely managing', to 'struggling' in a matter of months. His Unemployment Insurance wasn't enough to cover our bills, and neither of us could find work.

At our lowest point, I remember looking in the cupboard wondering what I would make for supper. I've always been a great cook and we swore I could win if I ever got on the show 'Chopped', as I learned to become pretty creative in the kitchen with throwing together a can of this with a scattering of that to make meals that worked! Every time I went to visit my dad, he would send me home with canned goods that he bought on sale at the Co-op - things that I would never buy like salmon and mushrooms and beef broth. I stood staring at my almost empty pantry, reached a can from the back and pulled it out. I turned it to my husband and announced, "Well, what can we make with water chestnuts?" trying to make light of the situation. Just then, the phone rang. It was my mom, calling to ask if we wanted to go to the Fall Supper in a neighbouring town. She knew things were tight, but I don't think she knew just how tight they really were. Our bank account was over the overdraft limit.

"Let me take you. My treat," she offered.

So we went. I don't even know how we got there and back, because I'm sure our car was almost empty too. Turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes brought me more comfort that day than I think they ever have. We enjoyed salads and the best home made church lady desserts (oh you know the ones I mean!) Even though I savoured every bite, worry loomed over me. Problems would be waiting when I got home. I made up some excuse to leave early, and even though I felt better, I was still in a pout-y mood.

As we walked in the front door, I heard the phone ringing.


"Hi Marie". It was my mom. "I bought tickets and put your name in for the food baskets and you won one! I'll be right over." I hung up the phone and cried.

I don't remember everything that was inside, but what I do remember was that we had enough in that moment. Enough for our family to eat meals and a warm roof over our heads for the upcoming week. It bought us another week to look for work. And thankfully, that soon came too.

There have been many times in my life when I've needed to put more trust in God and/or the Universe. That day, when I felt hopeless and had no idea how our situation was ever going to turn around, my family and I were taken care of. Not only once, but twice.

I don't think I've ever cooked with water chestnuts. My dad once told me to wrap them in bacon while he put them in my care package, but I just never got around to it! Somehow, a can has always been in my kitchen cupboard. For me, it represents trust and gratitude and a deep inner knowing that I do have everything I need -for ALL situations in my life.

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