I was thinking to myself the other day that anyone reading this blog must think we have tons of money to do all these renovations. But we don't.
Like everyone else, money is an up and down thing. Lately, it's been down. For that reason, the shower doors that we need will have to wait a little longer. "Bad luck" has made us behind in bills; just when we think we're getting caught up, some unknown expense comes up and sets us back again. I try to help out where I can with my rosary orders but lately I am so swamped, that I think I might be losing money rather than making money. I am constantly out of supplies and have to get more, which is an expense in gas since our nearest craft store is 40 minutes away.
There have been days where Dennis and I don't eat to make the food stretch a little further. Instead, I will sit and eat either nothing or else have vegetables since no one else will eat them. I am assuming a lot of parents have done this--it's just something we have to do (especially moms) to feed the kids.
But then things got so bad that we were out of snacks and Dennis didn't even have the money for us to go to the store to get Cheezits or Goldfish crackers--our easy inexpensive snack. There was another day when we didn't have any money for milk for the kids cereal. Thank goodness for pancakes mix.
These tough days were only here and there and soon Dennis would get paid and we would be able to get more groceries. But as bills became the priority, other things began to pile up that we needed. For instance, as the weather has gotten warmer, I noticed that Lucy was still wearing her winter boots. I asked her why she didn't wear shoes and she said she had outgrown hers. So while her friends were wearing regular shoes to school, she was clomping around in her boots. And the white uniform shirt that Max wore to school was two sizes too small and he desperately needed another. I knew without asking that we couldn't afford these two things but worried and stewed about it.
A few more tight weeks went by with barely enough food to make it through the week. I had to turn my kids away hungry more than once when they asked for snacks because we had nothing and no money to buy anything. In the evening when I would make school lunches, I would stress about not having barely enough food to divide between the kids. One day, money was so tight that we didn't even have money to buy sandwich bags and I had nothing to put their crackers in. "We're already in the hole," Dennis had told me, sounding frustrated. "We don't have money to get sandwich bags."
Angry and frustrated, I went to my room and closed the door to pray. "We have no money!" I complained to God. Where did it all go, I had no idea. We had only been putting our money to bills and that was it. We were barely making it by and my kids were growing up hungry. More than once Dennis and I had gone to bed with nothing to eat. And now, we didn't even have money for sandwich bags? I had to throw the crackers in the lunchbox and look like a mother that didn't care enough to bag up her kids crackers.
And so now I complained to God about our situation, asking Him why we had no money. I guess what I was really trying to say (except I was too scared to admit it) is why wasn't He taking care of us??
And just like that, like a shot through the dark, came the words, "You have money."
Immediately I thought to myself, "I do?? Where??"
It was then that I remembered my savings account. Immediately I began to argue with God.
"That is a savings account, meant to make us a nest egg for emergencies." I said.
Which you started for your family, came the reply.
"Yes, but, how will I ever reach our goal of $1000 if we keep having to use it? I already use it for birthdays and holidays. I'm the one that has to come up with gifts. Everytime I dip into it, I have to save all over again."
That money is not to keep for yourself.
These words cut me short. I realized that I had been viewing all my rosary sales as my own, rather than providing for my family. I thought I had been doing a responsible thing by starting a savings account--and so I was. But I was not using it for the reasons that prompted me to start it. I had been making my children go hungry so that I could feel the comfort of having a nest egg I wasn't even using.
I felt very ashamed of myself. I thought of all those times I told my kids that we had "no food" when I could have easily gone to the ATM for some cash to get a few things to get us through the day. I thought about Lucy's boots and how they made her stand out, of Max's too small shirt that looked ridiculous on him. I thought of the burden Dennis had been carrying by himself, trying to pay the bills and make each dollar count and that I had not been willing to share my own.
Immediately, I left the house to go to the ATM and bought sandwich bags. I bought food to bring home for snacks as well as enough to fill up the lunch boxes. And the next day, I went to the store and bought Lucy tennis shoes and Max a shirt that was in his size.
I had to take out $80 to pay for all of it, and I won't lie--it hurt. It was difficult to give up. Somehow, in my insecurity, I had made money my new security--my comfort--of having it nearby for peace of mind, but never allowing myself or anyone else experience the relief of what money can buy you.
I realized that it's not only rich people that can be greedy. It can happen to all of us, even if it's just a few dollars.
It has been difficult "sharing" my money. I still struggle with taking money out when I know we are in a bind. But I also experience relief when I can feed my kids, when they don't have to go to bed hungry, or when they declare "I'm stuffed!" instead of "I'm hungry."
I have to trust God every time I take money out of our precious savings. There isn't much of it and I do still need to be careful about how much I use. But when Dennis asks me to spare $20 to help out with the gas budget, or if we're running low on something, I say a prayer for help to get myself to do the right thing. Every time I take money out, I am taking away a little bit of my peace of mind.
Our priest has said that mercy is "love when you don't deserve it." Well, God has been merciful. That same day that I took out $80 for my family, I received an $80 sale in rosaries. Another time, I had spent a lot of money on my family for things we needed. I also had rosary orders to ship out. I had already taken so much out of savings that I didn't want to take another $20 out just for a few orders. I was wondering what to do when I felt prompted to check my checking account.
It had a balance of $100. I have no idea where it came from. No deposit had been made. Somehow, the money got there. It could be that I had that money in my account and I just forgot about it. Or maybe it was left over from a transfer from a long time ago.
At any rate, that money showed up at just the right time. God knows how disorganized I am and how forgetful I am. Like He said, "You have money." Sometimes I just forget that I do.
I guess I've been pretty surprised to find out that God has been taking care of us all along. I'm not sure why I doubted Him. In my fear and anxiety, I tried to make things right by not spending money at all when we needed it--and made things worse instead. It was a good lesson in letting go, and let God.
Money. We may not have much of it--but we have enough.