As a girl I was enchanted by the Little House on the Prairie books. My great-grandmother passed on her set to me; they were yellowed and tattered when they came to me and I read and re-read each one until pages were falling out. Laura's life was so attractive to me. She explored woods and played with paper dolls and swam in creeks and made maple sugar candy. And she was perfectly content. I remember wishing that the world was still a place where oranges and cakes were delicacies and people were happy to eat mere bread and butter when there was nothing else. The simplicity and yet fullness of this lifestyle was attractive to me even as a child.
Sometime in middle school I told my mother I thought I would be really good at being poor. I don't know what we were talking about; probably something related to living a simple lifestyle. My lovely mother is the queen of the simple life. She's got it down. We were probably talking about how she makes her own chicken stock or uses bread ends for croutons or doesn't buy paper towel or something else amazing that she does. I saw such value in these practices from a young age, and carried along the assumption that it would all transfer seamlessly into my own life.
Surprise ending: It didn't.
This is partly because being poor didn't seem like a real possibility to me. I grew up fully expecting to one day stake my ground in the upper-middle-class world. Little daydreams about pinching pennies and living off of soup were merely daydreams, more fascinating than they were serious.
But now here I am, and the truth is I really stink at being poor. And it has taken me a long time to figure this out. Growing up with one socioeconomic status and landing in another is a confusing journey of replacing old habits and being really honest about where you are. It's hard to walk into a grocery store on a tight budget and ignore all of the Kashi-organic-superfood-crazyexpensive goodness screaming your name. When I was single it was easier to pretend I could afford things like that, since the only person my budget affected was me. I spent a few years in college attempting to maintain the lifestyle I desired, thinking, "I'll tighten my budget when it really matters."
But here's the problem with that: when "it really matters" your old habits will still be in effect. Your flesh will still be patterned to react a certain way. If you are used to ignoring your bank account and buying whatever you want, you will do that even when it really matters.
My hope in writing this is to encourage you, whoever you are, to think about you and money. Are you pretending to be in the "it doesn't really matter" place right now? Are you trying to live above where you can afford to? Do you spend money when you know you shouldn't?
Think about these things. Ask the Lord to reveal to you why you mess up, because habit is involved, but it is ultimately a heart issue. Maybe you are medicating your life with new things, or doubting that God is good, or believing that you are in control of your life, or trying to win the approval of people. When you begin to understand which lie your heart is believing, the burden will be lifted and habits can be changed.
So for me, this:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. [1 Timothy 6:6-10]
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light. [Psalm 36:5-9]
are what I want to soak in this week.
And I am actually going to put into practice something I saw my mother doing; buying and eating a rotisserie chicken and then using the rest to make chicken stock. I found this great tutorial and plan on using this clever method
to store it! Look how cute, little soup muffins. You freeze them, throw them into a bag for storage, and grab a few in the morning to put in a thermos for lunch. Perfect right? Yes, this is me getting excited about soup-freezing methods. It's the little things.