Last April I moved into an apartment for the first time all by myself. My overly gracious, former mother-in-law and grandmother to my children, aka Nana, had allowed me to live with her for a while after an unfortunate separation from my second husband. That “short while” grew into a year. Having her during that dark period was a tremendous help, but it was time for me to stop grieving and move on.
This would be the first in my life, other than the two years of college right after high school, which I am responsible for the rent all by myself and the first time I ever lived alone. I was scared about being able to make my bills. I chose the cheapest apartment I could find that was clean and in a relatively safe area, well better than some others. However, I was living paycheck to paycheck. My worry was great. I started to remember all the wise words of my mother when I was growing up and she was a single parent. I remembered how scared she always was and that she prayed a lot. I begin to pray and pray without ceasing.
The first week in my apartment, I was out walking my dog and praying. I looked down and saw a penny in the parking lot. That one little penny brought back a flood of memories of my mother who used to say she found a penny everyday. On a day she didn’t find a penny, she knew the next day or the next she would find a nickel or a dime. Mother kept a wooden bowl on the top of her microwave that she threw her pennies daily. I remember seeing her gather those pennies a few times to buy a gallon of gas, back when gas was less than a dollar, to get to work or a jug of milk until payday. I never laughed at mom for her pennies found. I remember her saying some thing like, “If you saw a dollar on the ground or a twenty dollar bill, you would pick it up, right? So how can we ask God to provide and not take the penny He put in front of us? If we prayed for God to give us money, and he puts money in front of us, pick it up. It might just be one cent, but after you add a few more together, they can add up fast.”
Needless to say, I picked up the penny that day. I thanked God for my penny and found peace in His reassurance. But it did not stop there. As we kept walking, I found another. I praised God for my extra blessing that day. Then I found a dime. And I started to laugh that God was surly finding enjoyment at dropping those for me. I came back home and got out my own decorative bowl to put in my kitchen and I dropped in those three coins to remind me of God’s promises to never leave me or forsake me.
It has now been four months and I am happy to say, I am still finding pennies, sometimes nickels, dimes or quarters. Every time I see a coin, I praise God at His reassurance that He is taking care of me. And I cast my worry on Him. Sometimes I find several together, sometimes not. Once I came back inside with seven pennies I found in seven different areas. Another time, I found 25 pennies in a little pile all together. There was the penny that was almost green and another that was partially buried in dirt revealed only by the perfect circle of the coin showing. There might be a rare day that I don’t find a penny, but I don’t worry, like my mother, I am already so blessed. And then the next day, I might find three.
Since that first penny, the Lord has used finding these daily coins to teach me more lessons. As I stooped to pick up a bent, oxidized penny one morning, I looked at that circle next to the shiny, copper one I had gathered a few steps before. It struck me that humans are like those pennies. Some are shiny souls that draw attention, glistening in the sun. Some are bent, weathered and hide in the dirt, hard to see. Some are found in large groups like the 25 I found together and others are spread out, the solitary penny dropped between two cars. Many people pass up the solitary, weathered and crusty penny saying it is not worth bending over to get it. But to God, we are all worth the same. Each penny is worthy of being picked up. Each penny started the same, made of the same materials. One penny might be coppery, another oxidized green or so beat and weathered it has no color, but like humans that are all colors, we are all made up of the same stuff on the inside. When a lot of us are put together we can add up to make a difference.
Another day, as I picked up a penny in a puddle, I could hear a friend in my head that said, “Ew! Don’t pick that up. It is dirty!” Well, be reassured, I am walking my dog at the same time and picking up his poop in a plastic baggie. I wash my hands thoroughly upon reentering the apartment. And usually I wash the coins too. But God reminded me that we are also like those dirty pennies. We might have the most, vile filth on us, but we, just like the penny, can be washed. He paid the ultimate price to make us clean again. He sacrificed His son that we could be washed by Jesus’ blood and forgiven of our sins. We could be clean again. We could be gathered together and reminded we are worthy.
About a month ago, my 8 year old son, Max, noticed my bowl of coins on the counter. Max has been saving money in his penny bank and he asked if he could have the change in my bowl. I told him no, that those were my pennies from God. Max looked at me like, “what?” I explained simply that God shows me pennies in the parking lot everyday to remind me that He loves me. Max just said, ‘oh!” Later that day when I came in from walking the dog, Max asked me if I had found more pennies from God. I said yes and showed him the few coins I found that day. Max then asked if God would give Him pennies. I told Max that I could not promise that God would give him pennies, but that God would bless Him. How he was blessed was between Him and God. Then it struck me that God had used my mother’s lesson with the penny to remind me in a dark moment of my life and now I have job of passing my own lessons to my children. I had just planted the seed in my son. Hopefully Max will allow God to remind him later when it is needed. The seed is there.
At a time when I was at my lowest and scared, God used some lost pennies in my apartment parking lot to remind me of some valuable lessons. They are a reminder that God will provide for my needs, we are all equal, that no matter how dirty we get we still have the same value after we are washed and God can teach me a lesson with something as simple as a penny. They remind me to pray and have a hearing ear. They remind me to share what God has taught me so that others might be blessed also. I am still finding pennies. I found two of them today. I found a dime yesterday. Tomorrow I might not find one at all. If I never find another one, I will always have this time of growth with me and God. I know I am blessed. I know He could also teach me more lessons as long as I have a willing heart. It was more than “Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you’ll have good luck.” These silly pennies are truly my gift from Heaven.