The Zero-Expense Writing Year, Part 6: God’s Hilarious Provision for Podcasting, and Conclusion

In Part 5, my prayer focus turned to the podcast, where The Simple Word sat empty. The episodes had reached 90 days old, which means they were auto-deleted. This was the rules for a free podcast subscription plan.

My immediate concern, however, was how to safely transport my mic and laptop to my oh-so-glamorous recording studio – aka, my car.

It seemed like a tiny, ridiculous request to pray for God to provide a carrying case for my mic. The ones I’d found online started at $100 (gulp) and I had no other bag/packpack that worked.

I prayed anyway.

Suddenly, the most perfect solution popped into my head.

I sat back in my chair and began giggling to myself. Could it really be that simple…?

The boys became curious about my solitary laughter. They ran over and begged me to tell them what was so funny.

I went downtairs into the garage, followed by my two sons who were berating me with questions. What are you doing? Where are you going? Why are you digging around on the shelf? What are you doing with my old lunchbox?

It was Spiderman.

And it was perfect.

I brought the Spiderman lunchbox back upstairs and set it on my desk. The boys watched curiously.

“Do you guys want to see what it looks like when God provides in the most unexpected ways?” I asked them.

I explained everything to them. Deleting the website. Making the money to remove the ads. The podcast … everything.

Wesley went to my closet and brought out the mic, which was attached to its own tabletop stand. “It won’t fit. It’s too tall,” he said.

I turned a screw on the side, and the mic folded down on itself, cupped and protected by its own stand.

I slipped the mic inside the Spiderman lunchbox, zipped it up, and laughed and laughed.

The boys laughed.

I took the mic out and put it back in. I zipped it and unzipped it. I stood up and held it by the handle, like Wesley did when he carried it to school as a three-year-old.

We laughed and laughed.

I went to the closet and remembered that I had a large three-ring binder that wasn’t being used for anything. I brought it out, carried the Spiderman lunchbox-turned-mic-case, and went downstairs to my car.

The boys followed, again asking me questions as they descended the stairs behind me. Where are you going? Are you going to record? Why do you have a binder? Why are you going to the garage? Ooooooooh…. that’s perfect!

I set the binder on the passenger’s seat. It’s wedge shape turned the tilted passenger’s seat into a perfect, flat desk.

Wesley nodded his approval as we shared a WOW moment. Caleb discovered sidewalk chalk in a bucket and began drawing on the garage floor.

“Welp,” I said. “Let’s go back upstairs and finish school.”

Basically, I floated up the stairs.

A Spiderman lunchbox is such a tiny thing. It’s something that’s been gathering dust on that shelf in the garage for literally five years. It somehow survived my massive truckloads of donations. There it sat, with its large white eyes, waiting for God to use it.

It gave me renewed hope, however, that more of His provision was coming.

Because when He calls you, He equips you.

The next day, I found myself preoccupied with thoughts about the podcast subscription plan. As long as I stayed on a free plan, the episodes auto-deleted after 90 days, and I needed at least $12 per month to keep them active.

God began leading me in His plan for how He intended to provide for the podcast subscription.

And I immediately began begging Him not to do it that way. Any way but that way. I’d been saying YES to everything so far … but this? God. Please, no.

He was leading me to ask friends and family for support.

And that was the LAST thing I wanted to do.

Let’s pause for a moment here to get a little more personal … I don’t like asking for help. I pride myself in being an independent woman. With my husband traveling for work, his absence left a gaping hole in our family dynamic and left us all scrambling for balance. It was disheartening, and in some ways, it angered me. Not at him, but at myself. It was all I could do to hold it together for myself and the boys while he was gone, because the pain of missing him was so immense.

It made me feel weak. And that’s what angered me.

I’m crazy about my husband. But being without him was just too hard.

Did that mean I relied on him too much? Did I need him too much? I wasn’t nearly as independent as I thought. This realization really messed me up. It dawned on me that God was dealing with me through all of this in a way I wasn’t expecting… He was breaking down my pride. Not just my pride over “my” work … But my pride in general.

And here I thought this zero-expense endeavor was MY commitment to GOD. Nope. It was just one tool that He used to show me that I had a pride issue that needed to be fixed. After all, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

So … I prayed, and said YES to God.

I opened a Patreon account, then called my mom.

As I stumbled through an awkward and clumsy explanation, my mom listened. I caught my own reflection in the mirror. My face, neck and chest were fiery red. The skin burned with a sense of embarrassment, all the way to the tips of my ears.

My mom happily agreed to contribute. It was nearly everything I needed for the month.

As I agonized over it all via text with my sweet friend, Cindy, she fired a message back that said she’d like to contribute. I’d not even officially asked her yet.

Her portion covered the rest, and then some.

I felt immediate relief. Finally, I didn’t have to approach anyone else with any more invitations to contribute. After all, I’ve not even finished writing the “bonuses” that Patreon contributers would receive for their generosity.

To my horror, the Father nudged me yet again. He wanted me to approach the other names He brought to mind as I prayed for provision. Of course, I argued, pointing out that my needs were met. Why approach others?

He’s been silent on His reasons, as He often is. But there’s one thing that He made clear to me … My vision for the podcast is very different from His, in a positive way. My only responsibility is to be obedient. To trust. And to say YES when He calls, no matter what.

The Zero-Expense Writing Year, Part 5: Hard Times, and New Beginnings

In Part 4, I had reached a roadblock where I thought I would be finding a fresh, new beginning … my old blog on the free WordPress platform was covered in ads. It was something I didn’t realize would happen when I made the switch to my shiny, expensive self-hosted website site back to the free blog. I needed $51 to remove the ads for a year. But my zero-expense commitment had me at a roadblock. $51 was a lot of money to just magically appear, especially when I didn’t have a job to fund it.

I decided to try to make that $51 bit by bit, in whatever way I could. I knew it would take a while to raise it, but I had to start somewhere. So I went around the house and took photos of a few things I’d planned to donate. I put modest price tags on the items, and submitted them online to sell.

I was shocked when the items began to sell, left and right. Everything was wanted, and they were wanted right then. I was shocked when nearly every single item sold within 48 hours.

The moment my funds reached $51, I went straight to my laptop and opened up WordPress.

I was surprised to find a notification … I had a message from WordPress, so I opened it up. It said, “Happy Anniversary!”

Nine years ago to the day, I had started my blog.

by Gaelle Marcel

Chills swept over me, and I had to look through a blur of tears to make the subscription purchase.

I published a blog post right away, feeling inspired and quite at home. I was once again both rejoicing and humbled. By the next morning, the stats showed triple the number of views than I’d regularly received on my well-established, expensive, self-hosted website.

God’s clarity of direction was astounding.

Blog – CHECK.

Podcast – UNKNOWN.

The next area God had been leading was the podcast, which was now blank, because the episodes had been auto-deleted. They had reached their ripe old age of 90 days, which meant auto-deletion on the current free subscription plan.

God still had plans there. I knew it. I didn’t delete the whole site … I just left it sitting out there, empty.

It made my heart ache.

I began to make focused prayers about the podcast then.

This provision was different than the blog, however. This provision would need to be continual. I needed at least $12 per month to keep the episodes live and available … which meant it wasn’t just a one-time purchase.

I had posted a few more things to sell, thinking God’s provision would follow the same pattern.

Nothing sold.

I prayerfully presented some brilliant (or so I thought) ideas for how to obtain that monthly amount. Every one of them was met with a definitive no in my heart.

You know the no I’m talking about … it’s not a “Thou shalt not steal” kind of message that comes straight from the scripture. It’s the guidance of the Holy Spirit within your heart. It’s that Voice you learn to become acquainted with when God is leading you.

“But God!” I reasoned. “I could approach a business or Christian establishment with a proposal, essentially making a business deal to gain support! That looks so professional, doesn’t it? With the backing of a business, it looks so much more important, doesn’t it? Don’t you think that’s a great idea??”

NO.

“But God, I could take on a freelance writing job. It would just take ONE job, a simple one, to provide the FULL means for the podcast subscription. Doesn’t that sound perfect? If you would just thump aside that roadblock, it would work out perfectly. So … how about it??”

NO.

“But God, the businesses … it would look so important … can we please go for that? I mean … you know?”

I said NO.

Fine.

I knew He would provide. He always does. (2 Corinthians 9:8, Hebrews 13:5, Luke 12:24, Matthew 6:33, Matthew 7:11, Philippians 4:6, Philippians 4:19, Psalm 34:10, and many more).

by Philipp Cordts

I decided not to worry about the subscription for now … Let’s focus on just reproducing the episodes. If I upload some now, there will be a whole 90 days before God provides the paid subscription. Let’s keep moving forward, I told myself. Don’t focus on what you don’t have.

That was the whole point of the zero-expense commitment, after all … to stop focusing on what I don’t have, and looking to God 100% for provision, getting out of His way, and doing things His way.

I already had a good mic … I’d bought it using the money my parents had given me for my birthday last July. The previous episodes had been recorded using the best sound booth I’ve ever tried … my car! Although it was essentially soundproof, the small space was uncomfortable, and it was cumbersome to carry my laptop and equipment into the garage. It was time-consuming to set up a makeshift platform with stacked books inside the cab to set my mic and laptop on. Everything slid off the books. It was difficult to balance things in my lap while also trying not to bump or drop the mic. So I tried something else.

I had used leftover birthday money to buy some foam soundproofing panels. I had mounted them on the walls inside a closet upstairs in the office, and couldn’t WAIT to use it for a recording booth! A few test runs had proven that it was the most perfect space. But then we started homeschooling, using the office for the classroom. I needed that closet for school storage.

Out came the foam panels, and in went a shelf stacked with school supplies.

At one point I attached the foam panels to cardboard, making soundproofing walls that I could set up and take down as needed. I ran a few test recordings … it was terrible. Plus the huge panels of cardboard were hard to store, and always in the way.

I was back to square one with the podcast.

by Kelly Sikkema

The first issue that needed to be resolved is the treacherous climb up and down stairs, and the trip across a concrete garage floor balancing my mic, laptop, and books to stack for a makeshift “desk” in the car. There was no bag, backpack, or case that allowed this transport to be any safer than just carrying it, piece by piece, and setting up my temporary “sound booth” inside the cab of of the car.

With that many trips up and down, an accident was bound to happen. Visions of shattered electronic equipment, with zero funds to replace it, filled my head.

I felt outright fear.

I simply HAD to come up with a safe, efficient solution for transporting the equipment and using my car for an office.

On a break during school lessons one day, I began researching a way to make a car desk. There were standing desks. There were lap desks. I mean, could there be such a thing as a car desk?

There is.

And they’re expensive.

Some cheaper alternatives proved to be platform the size of a lap desk that hooked onto the steering wheel … but still, I needed funds to purchase one. And they looked a little flimsy.

I put aside that, and began researching a protective case for my mic. I nearly swallowed my tongue when I realized they were around $100 for the cheap ones.

So, what now, God?

In that exact moment, the solution arrived as a sudden idea.

I sat back in my chair and began giggling.

Could it really be that simple? There’s no way.