By Meadow Rue Merrill

When my friend Jenny was getting ready to host a party celebrating her daughter’s wedding, she cleaned her farmhouse top to bottom, even washing all 24 of the ironstone tea cups stacked in her dining room cupboard. Ridiculous! I thought, helping her. Who’s going to check her china closet?

Then I began planning a wedding celebration of my own to fête my oldest son and his bride, who exchanged vows earlier this year without most of their loved ones by their sides. Now it’s me cleaning my house top to bottom, which includes painting the walls around the old windows my husband, Dana, recently replaced.

And in the middle of shampooing rugs and dusting away the cobwebs that seem to be invisible unless company is coming, we also needed to replace our refrigerator. All summer it’s been freezing nearly everything we put inside: Milk, cucumbers, sour cream, organic lettuce, fresh picked from the garden. “Maybe that’s why they call it iceberg,” Dana joked.

But with a feast for roughly fifty people to put on, I found it anything but funny. Dana cleaned out the refrigerator coils, inspected the damper and replaced the thermostat, all without success. With less than a week before our party, I was desperate enough to call a couple local appliance stores, but they didn’t have what we needed in stock. And, with college expenses looming this fall, the price was beyond our budget.

“How are we supposed to survive in this economy if we can’t even afford a fridge?” I complained to Dana.

Having already postponed other basic expenses, I was feeling pretty low. Particularly after checking the balance on our credit card. By this time in our lives, I thought our finances would be easier. But we were struggling. And now our fridge was kaput.

In a last ditch effort, I typed ‘refrigerator’ in the search box of on an online listing site. I’d checked every week or so for more than a month, but hadn’t found anything promising. However, this time I spotted a listing for a fridge in good shape. The asking price? One-hundred dollars. Well worth the thirty-minute drive. Best of all, the seller wasn’t concerned about the price. “Pay what you can,” he said. He just wanted it gone.

So Dana enlisted the help of a neighbor and his son, and off they rattled off in his truck to pick it up. Two hours later, when they dragged it into the kitchen, I scrubbed and scoured the shelves before stocking them with food. Best of all, I woke up the next morning to milk that didn’t rattle with ice when I poured some in my coffee.

All of this makes me really grateful – to the stranger whose generosity answered my unspoken prayer, to my neighbors who spent their evening helping us out and to my husband who never waivers in his faith or in his efforts to keep our family going.

 “So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already,” the apostle Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:11.

Whether it’s helping a friend wash 24 ironstone teacups or helping a neighbor haul home a refrigerator, this is how we survive. By helping each other.

Know a child with a birthday coming up?

Perfect for birthdays or just any day, The Best Birthday is a fun way to celebrate God’s love with young children. Why? Because as much as children love birthdays, the best birthday is when we become part of God’s family. Available in hardcover or as a board book, check out all the books in Meadow’s Lantern HIll Farm picture book series, celebrating the holidays with activities that build children’s faith. Best of all, author royalties benefit children through Compassion International.

Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes from a little house in the big woods of Midcoast Maine. She is also the author of the children’s picture book The Best Birthday and four other books celebrating the holidays in a way that builds children’s faith. If you’ve enjoyed today’s Faith Note, please share with your friends.