She never thought she’d be a single mother

Shelly Newton grew up in a Christian home in a small community in West Texas. Her parents, her grandparents, and her aunts and uncles were all people who married and stayed married. And they attended church regularly.

So, when Shelly’s husband left her on a scorching August day with three young children, ages 3, 5, and 7, and the realization hit her that her husband was not coming back, Shelly says she was tempted to fall into the pit of self-pity, a temptation she had to fight against.

“It was a lonely, lonely time. I didn’t have a job,” she explains. “I didn’t have savings. I had an old car. My parents couldn’t help me financially at the time because they were having financial difficulties themselves. But, God took care of us.”

“When you go through hard times, they can either make you or break you.”–Shelly Newton

God provided immediate financial help for Shelly and her kids from an unexpected source: her widowed sister, Karla.

“My sister’s husband had passed away the year before in a plane crash,” Shelly says. “He’d left her insurance money. She gave me an allowance every month for three months.”

The allowance from her sister kept Shelly and her children afloat, especially since Shelly didn’t have any debts.

Shelly knew, though, that she had to work at getting a job immediately to support her and her three children, so she applied for over 30 office/clerical jobs in the area.

She shyly interviewed at first, barely able to answer questions. As she went on one job interview after another, she felt less shy. Her determination grew. During her last few interviews, Shelly told the interviewers she needed a job and was willing to work hard. Her boldness surprised her.

Yet, no one offered her a job. Potential employers told her she lacked skills and experience.

How could she get skills and experience unless someone hired her? How could she raise three kids without her husband? How long would her heart hurt? The questions swirled around in her head.

“When you go through hard times, they can either make you or break you. You can either get out of the bed or crawl under the bed,” Shelly advises.

She chose to keep getting out of the bed.

Shelly had not worked outside her home in five years. She had been told she lacked skills and experience. She realized she needed to learn word processing basics so she could get an office job.

She chose to keep getting out of bed.

“My little sister, Ronda, was a legal secretary. She took me to her office at night and showed me about computers,” Shelly relates. “I knew how to type on a typewriter from high school, but I’d never typed on a computer before.”

Her father encouraged her to register with temporary staffing agencies to begin earning a paycheck and getting some experience. Shelly signed up with several agencies.

With some understanding of word processing basics and the money from her sister about to run out, God began providing temp jobs for Shelly. She got an inventory job.

Then, she got another temp job addressing Christmas cards for an interior designer.

“We were never without,” Shelly tells. “God took care of us.”

The money from the temp jobs allowed Shelly to continue paying her bills and putting food on the table for her and her children.

“We were never without,” Shelly tells. “God took care of us.”

What she knew she needed, though, was a full-time job.

“I prayed a lot,” Shelly remembers. “God said, ‘Tell me what you need. What do you need to make?’ I wrote down in my notebook how much money I needed to make and I circled the amount.”

On Thanksgiving Day, a woman from Kelly Services temporary staffing agent called Shelly to work as a temp at a Coca Cola bottler nearby. On the following Monday, Shelly went to work as a temp at Coke.

“I can still hear the voice of my dad telling me to impress them with my work ethic,” Shelly recalls.

Impress them she did.

Shelly saw firsthand that God truly is Jehovah Jireh, the God Who provides.

Shelly did all the work assigned to her. She even looked for opportunities to do extra work. People noticed. After voluntarily helping a coworker one day, Shelly says the coworker “went and bragged on me to one of the vice presidents.”

After a month of working as a temp at Coke, the chief financial officer walked up to Shelly at her desk and said he wanted to bring her on full-time. He told her Coke would buy her contract from Kelly Services. He then told her the dollar amount of her salary.

“When he walked away from my desk, I got out my notebook and opened it up and it was the amount I’d written and circled weeks before. To the penny.”

In December, four months after her husband had walked out on her and the children, God provided a full-time job with Coke that would allow Shelly to support her family of four for many years. Shelly saw firsthand that God truly is Jehovah Jireh, the God Who provides.

She kept her focus on God, not self-pity.

Sitting at my kitchen table eating pancakes nearly 30 years later (see, Shelly’s eyes shine as she recalls God’s amazing provision she says happened because she kept her focus on God, not self-pity.

To remind herself that God provides, she says she kept a framed copy of Philippians 4:19 hanging on her bathroom wall for many years: “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Are you a single mother? Here’s Shelly’s advice

“You cannot afford to fall into the devil’s trap of self-pity because that keeps you from reaching out to God for help,” she counsels. “Tell God what you need. Trust Him to meet your needs.”

What about her broken heart? God would take care of that, too. It would take a lot longer than four months. And, would give my friend, Shelly, the opportunity to know God even better.

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