Wealth–It’s Not About Diapers or Tomatoes
In answering a question about my view of wealth, I once answered “tomatoes.” I was thinking of my grandmother’s adept peeling of hot-off-the-vine, sun-split tomatoes from her garden, and eating their sliced deliciousness with nothing but salt and myself. Wealth.
That same grandmother once said, “Well! He did that just right.” She was watching John carefully fold and gently apply a soft, cloth diaper to Rebekah’s baby bottom. Wealth.
Rebekah, like her sister Hannah, didn’t fuss or cry when her diaper was wet. She sent in my direction a businesslike grunt of sorts and I responded immediately. No soggy bottoms on my watch, no sir! Wealth.
A lovely woman once discussed cloth diapers with me, telling me how other moms thought she was ridiculous for using them. “I enjoy the extra time, the interaction,” she said. I knew what she meant. We shared something precious, an understanding of the beauty, the wealth found in taking that extra moment to make things “just right.”
It’s a matter of opinion and preference, of course. With our fourth child, when John was changing a smelly diaper, he said, “We are not this broke. No more cloth diapers.” I didn’t argue. There was a new wealth at this time, one made of cash, one not as rich.
I am not suggesting you use cloth diapers or grow your own tomatoes. I am simply suggesting that wealth is made of moments shared.
Running From What Will Save Me–A Homemaking Thing
For someone who loves home and family as much as do I, I certainly can get bent out of shape when my runaway plans go awry. This morning, after six days of shopping dates thwarted and nixed by various and sundry entities and events, I finally let it go. I finally said, “Maybe it’s best I stay home. Maybe I’ll make like a big girl Jesus-truster, and be still. Rest. Stop chomping at the bit, whining, fretting.”
I have quite a list (been adding to it for six days) of things I “need.” Is it possible that all those things I think and hear myself say that I “need” are just me justifying spending money that will be needed later for a better cause? “Patience, my dear. We know from experience where pressure gets us.”
Could it be that all I’ve said and re-said about home is true? That it is the most excellent place, the place for a creative grace to be had only at the hands of a truly attenrive home artiste? Might it be so that time and attention at home are always rewarded, as I’ve so often maintained, even as time and attention to shopping is often more regretted than rewarded?
I sit now in peace–the taker of my own advice: when at all possible stay home, and when you least want to do so, there’s likely a prize hiding behind that desire to flee, a treasure to be found and had by simply being still.
It could be the treasure of a new book idea, or finding and using what I have to recover those filthy bar stools, or thrilling my heart by trashing all my makeup unless I bought it in the last six months (nothing left except my almost-gone mascara). I might even fertilize my plants! I can even iron my linen shirts while listening to a French lesson or calling my sweet friend Pam. Snow’s coming–I’ll build a fire, fill the wood box, make a pot of soup. And back to the makeup idea–I can feel the thrill of putting it all in the trash even as I am writing this post!
Who knows what I’ll get up today? The brain is stirring up possibility.
No More Cashlessness via Carelessness–Zero For Six Plans and Procedures
Sometimes you just have to say, “Whoa there, Girlie.” When you find beauty products you don’t remember buying–they’re a few years out of date, so how could you? When you think it makes sense to gripe about food going bad in the fridge–“people” need to eat more salad, right? If your closet is stuffed with “deals” you never wear, and there are life-changing (the good doctor on the net promised and he wore a white coat) supplements galore in the back of somewhere . . . Most of all, if your beloveds think and maybe even dare to say, that you’re just a teeny bit out of balance . . . rein it in.
If you’re like me, and quite gifted at excuse-making and behavior justification, you can be your own worst enemy. You, the real and reasonable you, would rather she had the cash than all that stuff. And yet, girls will be girls, right? Wrong. Just as it goes all over me when mothers of brat sons simper, “Boys will be boys,” it goes all over me when I catch myself excusing and repeating bad behavior.
Yep. Disrespecting your cash with throwing it away on stuff, is bad behavior. And so. Here I go. I’m on vacation and thinking about those flowers . . . Those flowers I meant to buy for my balcony as soon as I returned to Colorado where surely to Goodness the snow would be over–they’ll keep. Those supplements I “always order” (as though that justifies it) I will do without, because after all, when I stop with the junk eating, they’ll be much less needed. Designer soaps (my guilty pleasure and we all must have those, right? Nope.) will still be there in six months.
When I decide that not only will I stop paying for “entertainment” that doesn’t cut it, it follows that I will return to the “real” and often cost-free entertainment I once enjoyed. I’ll take a thermos, quilt and good book to the woods and watch the sun set; hike nearby trails with whoever wants to come along, make my own mayo and bread for roast beef sandwiches (such a good feeling and outcome) for a riverside picnic, play cards and board games, re-read my watercolor book and do a little watercolor painting, get my French DVDs out again, sit on the balcony and listen to birds sing as I hold my darlin’s hand, read deep and delightful books, listen carefully and for as long as is desired, to my children and friends–undistracted by a plan to engage in substandard and dollar-devouring behaviors.
And so forth. I actually began the spending frost (a freeze means you don’t spend a single dime) in May. There was a conversation, a catalyst. I would say it opened my eyes, but actually it just royally ticked me off. But when I cooled off and thought about it, I knew, again, it was time to rein it in. (NOTE: It makes absolutely no difference what other people are spending–this is about the one in the mirror).
And it’s like magic. When I say, “It really is possible to have brunch without sparkling cider; I can cut my own bangs; no one will croak if we don’t have milk every day; we’ll have just to get creative with our cooking (such good meals happen!); and, not only am I not buying summer clothes, I’m getting rid of half of what I have,” it is nothing less than astounding what happens to the checking account.
John called me to look at the bank statement the other day. “Can this be right?” he asked. Oh, so smug am I. Nonchalantly I nodded. “Yes. That’s right.”
And so it is. Absolutely right that I, a beloved child of God, do not drive a team of runaway horses unto the disaster, despair and defeat (in countless cases, even divorce) of cashlessness via carelessness.
Thanks for allowing me to share with you, and please pass this Zero For Six adventure on to anyone who comes to mind. Anyone. You could save a marriage, actually.
Not About Me, Not About You
It’s about us, and “us” includes our author, and a mighty fortress is our God!
I don’t know how it happened, but we, John and I, got crossways this morning. Over money. Sort of. Maybe.
Or maybe it was about deeper issues, like his need to “get excited about giving” (his words) and mine to “get excited about saving.” Seems pretty straightforward – we balance each other, help each other.
Or, as is the case when Satan gets his way, our differences become his strengths. Our filters came into play: mine that says any miser can save and money is to be shared and enjoyed; his that says any imbecile can spend and money goes in the bank where it belongs.
Ideally, we put both these filters where they belong–in the trash, and seek God’s word on every aspect of money. Better still, we simply seek God, and as always when we do, these things looming so large and untenable, become quite insignificant.
I am quiet inside, basking in revelation upon revelation: John wasn’t mad at me, he was frustrated and rightly so; his personality and background are not something I have to be frustrated about, as God has shown that even when Satan gives it his best shot, it only turns to our good; I am going to start a savings victory booklet beginning with the book I asked the library to get for me, rather than ordering it ($17.00 saved). After that comes the burritos for tonight that I’m making homemade salsa for, rather than running to the store for salsa and no doubt much more (easy $15.00 saved). I think again of how God heard and answered my (and no doubt John’s) prayers and rejoice that in Him, even mistakes are not really mistakes, just opportunities to grow and kick the enemy in the teeth. Always and in all things, He seeks and delivers our good.
It is SO much our good for me to realize that any discord between us, two people He decreed to be one flesh, grieves His heart. I don’t like pain, I REALLY don’t like hurting John, but when it comes to grieving our Lord, I’m simply not going there again.
I heard my worst self muttering (out of John’s hearing) “If you want to be a (you fill in the blank), fine. Two can play that game, and I’m better at it than you are.” That’s right. I am. What an accomplishment, right? I repented of my sorry attitude only to go right back there with more nonsense not worth sharing or remembering.
But the good news continues, taking precedent over the bad, as I choose and decree it to be so. Things to be quite glad about: I didn’t say ugly things to John. I recognized their source and repented over and over. I chose forgiveness. I prayed God would handle it (and of course, He did). Each time I was tempted to revisit John’s words, I spoke aloud: “Love does not EVEN consider a wrong suffered.”
“I will trust in You. I will trust in You. Amen.”
P.S. I will re-read my book, The Maker’s Marriage, and suggest you do the same if you recognized yourself in any part of this post. Thanks so much for letting me share with you.
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