LCN Article
The Homeless Year

May / June 2023
Woman To Woman

Amber Leonard

Some experiences stay with you forever. I will never forget the year we packed seven times—when we were “vagabonds,” utterly dependent on God’s mercy and grace. Although we owned our home, mold had made it uninhabitable due to a hidden water leak. We lived in many different places for various lengths of time over the course of several months. Each temporary “home” helped me grow as a woman in God’s Church. We started off by camping in a tent, and later lived in a camper, then a hotel, and after that with family, before finally moving back home. Along with this were other trips: serving at camp and Church events and going to the Feast of Tabernacles. Throughout all of this, we never went without a place to stay.

In each part of our journey, I grew in faith and hope. There were also dark times of doubting and lacking faith—but with each dip into depression, God threw me a “rope of hope” in the form of His word, like when I would read that “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Putting Our Trust in Him

To begin at the beginning, when we discovered the problem, we arranged for a construction company to remedy the situation. The workers tore out our entire kitchen and living room wall, leaving the mold exposed. At that point, we had to leave and did not know when we would be able to return. We left with many unanswered questions and an uncertain future. We had been told that the demolition and remodel would take a few weeks, but we figured we would just go camping while the work was done.

Somehow, our family camping trip didn’t seem so much fun when we were forced to do it. I lay on an air mattress next to my sleeping husband, our children on another air mattress at our feet, and stared up at the lights from neighboring camp sites playing on the sides of our tent. Worries ran through my anxious mind, warring with scriptures saying, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and “I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25).

I worried about where we would go if the work took longer than expected; I remember thinking that four weeks seemed like an eternity. We did not yet realize that four weeks would turn into many more of struggle, frustration, and trusting in God to get us through. My faith as a woman in God’s Church would be tested many times in the months ahead.

A Battle We Couldn’t Fight Alone

At the beginning of this trial, I mentally weighed my faith and thought that I could be strong for my husband and children and trust that God would handle the situation, whatever it might be. I knew He would fight the battle for us. After all, the Bible tells us, “He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him” (Psalm 37:39–40).

Months later, however, when things were at their worst, I did not see things so optimistically. I felt helpless, vulnerable, and spinning out of control. I asked God, “Why have you forgotten me?” When we were severely pressed financially, when my husband and children became ill, when nothing moved forward on the house, when it seemed that everything came crashing down at once, it took faith to keep moving forward on my knees. There were times I had to just let go of worry and remind my Father in Heaven of His many promises of protection and provision. I prayed that God would fight our battles for us, just as He did for the Israelites: “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:14).

Reading scriptures of promise helped me endure many emotional roller coasters during months of battling with insurance and construction companies. I began to fast and pray more earnestly.

Seeing Prayers Answered

Finally, we began to see progress: a new floor, a fresh coat of paint, and the hope of a new kitchen to come. I was a happy woman. We began to see God’s hand working in the trial. When one company said no, the other said yes. Many times, God used them in competition with each other to get a favorable result. He was saying, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Seeing these events unfold before us brought incredible peace of mind.A nicely remodelled living room

It is an amazing feeling when God answers our prayers and comes through for us at exactly the right time. Sometimes you can’t see Him working behind the scenes. You can’t see what the puzzle will look like until He has put the pieces together—but you can have faith that He is moving and turning each puzzle piece until it fits perfectly.

When we were finally able to step through our front door again, things were still a little bit disappointing—an unfinished home still unfinished. But, after months of being away, just being able to go home felt like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. The trial was not over; the house was not finished, and we were still waiting on our “happy ending” kitchen, but things were looking up and prayers were being answered. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps” (Psalm 40:1–2).

Not Just One Lesson

We’re told that there is always a lesson to learn from a trial, and that we should ask God to reveal it to us quickly. But sometimes it isn’t just one lesson that we need to learn—and sometimes it isn’t quick. Sometimes the lessons unfold as the trial plays out. Sometimes it takes a few breakdowns and a few times asking God “Why?” to prompt the deepest and most heartfelt prayers you have ever prayed.

I see now, after this trial, that I have become a different woman than I was on that forced camping trip. Having had to rely on God for everything, with hindsight I can honestly say that He never let me down. He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

The lessons I learned as a woman of God are invaluable. I learned that in a world where circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, there is One who is solidly there for you. I learned that prayer is as essential to a true Christian’s life as breathing. I learned that when you are stuck and can’t do anything to help your situation, God is already moving behind the scenes to work it out for you. He knows what we need before we ever do; we just need to ask and trust that He is faithful to give it. “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22).

I learned that He wants to give us good things. “So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house” (Deuteronomy 26:11). He wants us to have our hearts’ desires. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). I learned that our lives, as God-fearing women, are truly in His hands—and there is no better place to be.