There is a movie that runs the HBO circuit occasionally, entitled “Things We Lost in the Fire.” Though I’ve never watched the movie, my take from the previews is that the plot details the intangibles that people lose when tragedy occurs. Sometimes it’s not the material things that matter so much as those items that money can’t buy. In any case, as I was thinking through this blog post, the movie’s author should consider his/her title revamped and stolen.
I’ve spent a lot of time lately praying for friends to gain employment, to come into finances that help keep cars from being repossessed, and for supernatural turn-arounds that keep water and lights turned on. Those in power call this extended downturn a recession, but I think that depends upon who you talk to. I know that, for the few months in 2009 that my husband was laid off, I don’t care what anyone says–it was a depression around here. Truth be told, until a couple of months ago, we still felt the stress of current events even though we’ve both been gainfully employed minus that brief stint. When you work in a sales job and drive ~100 miles a day, with gas at almost $4, the nearby gas station owners know you by your first name. The salt in the open wound of the whole gas increase predicament is that it’s not just your personal gas; every utility company has trucks that need your help, too.
The other factor that has nearly killed us locally is the extended drought. The weatherman says that, with the exception of 1-2 days, we have now been almost 200 days with less than 1/2 inch of rain. Translation: we’re trying to keep our plants somewhere close to green with no help whatsoever from the Lord. The grass is on its own. The ground has been too hard to try our luck at another vegetable garden. I just throw up my hands and think, oh well, next year.
As my mind often travels to books, I reflect upon the double whammy of the Great Depression and the plight of the mid-western farmers during the Dust Bowl years. Stories like Dust for Dinner and Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp come to mind. The Lord was doing something back then, and trying to get peoples’ attention. I believe He is also doing something now, and calling us back. Back to what? I believe, in part, back to our mother wit and the ingenuity of our ancestors, and away from the materialistic, wasteful lives that many of us in this generation have engaged in for far too long. Our parents and grandparents knew how to take a little and make a lot of it. Somehow, in all of our education and corporate jobs and suburban lifestyles, we’ve lost that same resourcefulness. This season under God is teaching us to go after it and get it back. I know personally I’ve had to make adjustments, and as hard as the transitions have been for those around me, I can’t help but believe that we will come out better for them if we hang in there and faint not, as Paul says in Galatians 6:9.
One of the adjustments I’ve made is to begin sewing again. Unfortunately, I have no pictures immediately available, but that’s a post for another time. My task right now is to finish a shirt for our son before he grows out of it!
Though it wasn’t a necessary adjustment, homemade laundry detergent has been a tremendous savings.
I love to do things like this, and I’d seen several homeschooling moms brag about the increased effectiveness, and the ridiculous savings, of making their own detergent. But I had no idea where to buy products, and terms like “fels naptha” intimidated me, so I originally blew it off. Yet, when I ran across a site that gave a recipe and told where to buy the products, I decided to give it a go, and I even got a bit of help.
This recipe is popular across the Internet and among a few of my homeschooling friends, so with some encouragement and inspiration, I’ve finally begun to like my egg drop soup-like laundry detergent, and I LOVE the fact that I’ve been able to take that ~$10 Tide off my grocery list for a couple of months now.
Another of the adjustments I’ve had to make is in food preparation, and learning to think more about foods that give more bank-for-the-buck, so to speak. Pastas stretch. Potatoes stretch. Beans are also quite versatile.
Last year when we had our garden, I quickly saw the value of raw foods, both in our pocketbooks and in our health. This year, as I stated earlier, we couldn’t get the garden going, but I’ve stuck with my passion for raw foods, learning new ways to prepare familiar vegetables, and trying some varieties with which I’m not as familiar. As a purposeful digression, I was reading a devotional in the last couple of days from Sheila Gregoire on marriage, and being made for each other. You can find it here. By the way, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Sheila’s blog, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, she is well worth a “follow,” or at least a frequent visit. She blogs candidly, yet graciously, about marital issues that most won’t touch: the impact of porn addictions, what happens when there is unresolved conflict, and of course, keeping the romance in relationships. Anyhow, as I read this devotional, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own marriage, and how my life has changed–for the better–in our almost 20 years of marriage. One of those changes has been in my eating habits. As a southern girl, I came to the marriage not knowing much about cooking anything that wasn’t fried, buttered, or dipped in gravy. My husband was health-conscious long before it was stylish; his family simply thought of him as picky and strange. Though I’d never be called petite, I know for sure that without him role modeling a healthier diet, I would probably be twice the size that I am and tumbling down a vegetable oil slick to an early grave. I should also mention that somehow we managed to produce a vegetarian in our son; between the two of them, I now have a repertoire of dishes that take me from tilapia to tofu, and from honeydews to jicama (pronounced HIC-uh-muh, so that you don’t miss the alliteration–smile).
I see God honoring my faithfulness in small things, and it makes me smile. Last night, I was preparing dinner and thinking about my husband’s impact on our diet (and admittedly thinking about this blog post). I was preparing oven-fried chicken and sweet potatoes, and I didn’t want my usual sweet potato casserole, made southern-girl style. I decided upon a low-fat, orange-juice based glaze that I once used years ago. All of that role-modeling sounded really good until I realized that I didn’t have enough flour to coat the chicken, nor enough orange juice to spread across all of my sweet potato slices. (Had plenty of butter, though–tee hee!) Rather than make an unplanned dash to the store while everyone’s stomachs were rumbling, I prayed for the Lord to stretch what I had, and I witnessed a widow of Zarapheth-like blessing with the flour and orange juice. Plenty to cook dinner, with some to spare. I even found an avocado to add to our dinner salads. It was a great meal, made tastier by the fact that I knew of its humble beginnings.
If we will not grow bitter or weary, there is such a testimony awaiting each of us on the other side of this recession. I invite you to embrace your hardships for what they are–love from up above, and lessons from way back. God bless you, friends.