First, I went to the optometrist to pay my bill. Opening my bag, I picked up the account only to find no wallet--meaning I could not pay it. I asked if I might ring my husband. I was able to do this and he soon found the wallet. I then passed the phone to the desk attendant, asking her to accept my credit card details as read out by him. He was a customer, so this was acceptable. But I did not know what I could do about the furniture problem.

We needed a good quality, three-seater sofa for immediate delivery. I alternated between prayer and feeling helpless as I rejoined my friends. One of them, Sally, offered to go with me to the bank, which did not know me, as the local branch at home carried my account. After giving them details of the account, the regional bank agreed to ring the local branch. The result: they gave me $260 from my account.

Sally suggested we go on to the furniture store. There was nothing for $260. I started to walk away but the salesman asked me to wait until the department manager was available.

When I was called in to see the department manager, I told her what had happened--that I simply could not pay for it. She stopped me, talked with me a little, then said "You can take the sofa you choose on lay-by. There will be no interest and you have three months to pay. Leave me with what you can deposit; you will have a receipt and I will give you a payment schedule for each month." Tears were in my eyes and praise was in my heart, as I gave the department manager a warm thankyou.

Later, my husband, John, needed a special chair. At that time, such chairs were available in the furniture department of a local shop. John wanted to go with me to see them. He spent an hour and a half trying the chairs out and finished up sitting for 30 minutes in a fine blue leather chair. The woman assisting us remarked that there was only one thing to do--deliver the chair as soon as possible. I replied that I couldn't pay for it like that and she told me if I paid a deposit, it would be treated as a lay-by. Again teary eyed, a "Hallelujah Chorus" sang in my heart and I gratefully thanked the woman assisting us.

How often our Lord provided for John and me, even to the extent of finding us a home when we badly needed it. But some months after his death, I happened to see an outfit my size in a clothes shop, made with his favourite colours in a leaf design. It was elegant but way beyond my budget, so I left.

A few months later, I went into that shop again, as a sale was on and there was the same outfit--but at about half price. I asked if I might lay-by it and, to my surprise, the shop owner packaged it. Handing it to me with a smile, she said, "Take it, pay as you can."

More than this, she has continued to handle things the same way on later purchases, in spite of my "protests." I will never forget those "angels" out there, who acted in kindness to an unknown woman, who was hurting inside. They are part of God's volunteer workers, who lift up and do not crush a bruised spirit.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6.

Linda Baskin lives in the Avondale Retirement Village, Cooranbong, New South Wales.