"Get in there!" I coaxed one last T-shirt into my extra-full laundry basket. It had been weeks since I'd last done my laundry, but I was determined to save my last few quarters for something more exciting than a clean sweatshirt.
Without warning, my clothes revolted, springing out of the basket and pretty much covering my dorm room floor. Brushing the hair from my eyes, I gave in, grabbed the quarters sitting on my dresser, and stomped toward the laundry room.
A few weeks earlier I'd had a devastating phone conversation with my parents about money.
"Allison," Dad said, "things are tight here. My new job isn't paying as much as we thought. I'm sorry, but we all need to cut back on our spending."
"What's that mean?" I cautiously asked.
"Well, Mom won't be getting the new living room furniture she had her eye on. Your little sister's flute lessons are being reduced to once a week. We won't be making our family trip to California this year."
Tears began forming in my eyes. "And what about me?"
He hesitated. "I'm not sure we can afford your college tuition. You might have to drop out for a semester and work at home. Hopefully you'll be able to earn enough money to go back.
I'm sorry, sweetie."
"Oh" was all I managed to say. I was crushed. The tears that had built up in my eyes earlier spilled down my cheeks.
From then on, I schemed every way imaginable to save money. I stopped going out for coffee with my friends. I babysat between classes and worked more hours at my part-time job. I even waited as long as I could before doing my laundry, hoping the saved coins would somehow help. But it was useless. The small amount of money I made and saved couldn't compare to what I needed for the fall. My workload and anxiety over money left me tired and cranky.
My roommate saw how stressed out I was and confronted me.
"You're killing yourself, Allison," Tara said softly but firmly. "Try hard to trust that God will provide for you. He provided for me when I was awarded a leadership scholarship and was able to go to college. You might have to sit next semester out, but don't let that keep you from trusting God with your future."
I knew Tara was right. And even though I still struggled over finances, I started asking God to help me trust him to take care of my needs. Slowly, I began to feel God's peace, even though I had no idea how he would provide for me.
A few weeks later, I received an e-mail from the financial aid department. The subject line read: "Congratulations!" Eagerly, I triple clicked on the e-mail. An anonymous donor had given a huge chunk of money in my nameenough money to pay for my fall tuition! All I could do was stare at the screen.
God had provided for me in ways I never thought imaginable. Ephesians 3:20 immediately came to my mind: "Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope" (NLT).
This was a huge reminder to me that I can do nothing without God's help. Whether it's something as gigantic as my tuition or something as minor as quarters for my dirty laundry, God is the one who provides and takes care of my every need.