Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pantry talk - learning to think off the financial grid

Thank you for your prayers, comments, and e-mails. Christopher is beginning to worry about how many classes he has missed. That is a good sign. We are definitely imperfect people making an attempt to live out the life of Christ as best we know how in a dysfunctional world. I am constantly asking God's forgiveness when I snap back at my husband or get annoyed with my son (he is still a teenager!).

I laugh (just on the inside) when I hear someone comment on a family and call it "dysfunctional". I want to pat them on the shoulder and tell them, "Honey, every family is dysfunctional". God placed the first couple in a perfect world and they still messed up. :)

I want to begin writing more about what God has taught me... prose form... about living a "pantry lifestyle". Losing a job (and/or your spouse losing a job) can be one of the worst times of your life... or the best. In our case, living without an income for a year the first time is what taught me there is "a whole other" retail world out there.

Even if we weren't living on Disability, I would enjoy the lifestyle I've come to know. It would just be easier to plan at times. :)

I've used a name for it before... forced simplicity. I should also add... forced adventure. For it is in the hunt for what is needed (and a few desires) at the very smallest of prices that led me to another world which I truly did not know existed.

Also, I have developed a sense of expectation. It is not "will" God answer prayer but "how" will He answer prayer... and when. He is never late but sometimes he seems to be whistling Dixie.

Having a new baby to clothe had a lot to do with trying out that new fangled way of shopping in the late 1970s called a garage sale (does that mean someone is selling their garage?). My main focus back then was to find all things baby, then toddler, and then preschooler for pennies on the dollar.

Garage sales became a fun warm weather activity, even when we had a fairly significant income. Back then frugal shopping was more sport than necessity. However, lessons learned during those years were very helpful later. As with everything in life, the more you do it (as in garage sales at that time), the more skill you obtain.

I learned to grocery shop to get the most nutrition for the least amount of money for a very selfish reason... when we were no longer a two career couple, I received a certain amount of money for food and eating out... if I wanted to eat out a couple of times during the week then grocery shopping had to be on a budget. Those skills have proved invaluable.

Even when I worked full time in a corporation, I knew how to shop for clothes at department stores to save at least 50%. My mother taught me the best time to shop for clothes, at the end of each season. I wear a larger jacket size then skirt so I'd clean up at the end of season suit sales where "orphan" suit jackets and skirts were sold separately. :)

However, I now know I was still totally oblivious to living off the financial grid. Very few of us at the time felt the need. I've been told a few times by Social Workers that the middle class are totally unaware how to live when they have little or no income. The poor know how to survive already and the rich have no need to survive with nothing (although that may no longer be true with very wealthy people losing everything these past six months or so).

In the weeks to come, I plan to share more of what we've learned by doing and by research. Along with a few book reviews and family updates. Just by chatting... few lists (I have plenty of posts already with lists and links to other sites with lists) but plenty of "off the top of my head" prose.

My own sense of the times we are in... things may begin to look a little better for awhile but I see no way our country can permanently stay financially stable. Everything we can learn now (whether already affected or not) to learn "living off the financial grid" will give practice to a new way of thinking.

Always remember, God is in control. If you have already been affected by this economy and it was not your fault... let it go and lean on Him. If some of your financial earthquake has been your own fault... let it go, ask His forgiveness, lean on Him... and learn new skills. Do not blame yourself from this moment on. The enemy of our souls whispers to you that you can't ask for God's help because of past mistakes. Ask me how I know?

If it wasn't your fault at all, let it go and do not let bitterness take root. Take every thought captive and pull up those weeds as soon as you hear your own whispers of blame towards other people and corporations. Let it go...

Once you develop the good habit of throwing out the continuous thoughts of guilt, bitterness (or fear of what is coming for people not affected)... then you are ready for God to take you on an exciting... albeit sometimes uncomfortable... adventure.

I ask for continued grace when I have typos and grammar errors. My eyes are a little crossed by this computer screen. :)


Vee said...

Such good advice you've offered. Letting it go is the best. So many are in the throes of this and we just talk it to death when we get together. Doesn't really matter so much (other than to learn not to do it again) what or who is responsible, the thing is to keep moving now.

You made me laugh with the comment that sometimes God is whistling Dixie. Yes, doesn't it feel just that way so often? Yet, He has rescued me time and time again.

Patty said...

These posts are so good Brenda..I am referring people that come to my blog to come to yours for all your insight on these matters.

Thank you so much!
Blessings, Patty

scrappy quilter said...

Again I could have written this myself. I agree 100%. When hubby lost his job, it was the best thing that could have happened for our family. It became an adventure and still is to this day, even though he is now fully retired. It drew us closer together and closer to God. He became our source. There were times when we felt we wouldn't make it, and yet each time God was there. We love our life.

Can't wait to read more of your posts.

~~Deby said...

Everything in this post is so well said, Brenda. I am looking forward to the future posts...
It is all so timely now isn't it?
and truly it is about being a wise steward of what the Lord has given us...we all need work in that area.

hmsclmom said...

My husband and I were just talking about this over coffee. We have been through some periods of no income through no fault of our own in the past and honestly we learned so much! I now know the security that comes from having a full pantry, a garden and a low mortgage payment that is lower than the cost of rent in our area.

Anonymous said...

I have been visiting your site and have thoroughly enjoyed reading here. We have been blessed with fairly stable work and income over the years but when our three children were young we did have to take a step of faith and my husband quit his job because of some things going on in his workplace that we could not agree with. The Lord strengthened our faith and provided a new job for him and blessed us in many other ways as a result of that move. It was difficult at the time but we learned many lessons about trusting the Lord.
Your writings have been a blessing to me and I am looking forward to more installments about deepening the pantry.

LizBeth said...

Brenda, thanks for what you are beginning here. I'll be following your story. Think it's going to get a whole lot worse. Want to be as far ahead of the curve as possible. Blessings. Liz

Linda Nichols said...

Dear Brenda:
I just had an aha moment and immediately thought I'd share it with you. I keep hearing about your pumpkin spice coffee and decided to try my own version. I fixed my usual coffee with cream and sugar, then added pumpkin pie spice and stirred it up. It was yummy. Give it a try. I'm sure it's not as good as Starbucks, but it'll do in a pinch.

Linda Nichols

gail said...

Wise words. Thankyou Brenda.

Blessings Gail

Anonymous said...

If you wrote nothing else but the "let it go" paragraph it would have been the best thing I read all week. I learned this lesson years ago but always need a reminder. I grew up having to spend the least possible and we were taught to look at the bright side of it and make a game of it. A few times you find an even better bargain later than the one you bought at way less than half off but you did your best...so "let it go"....as you would have told me. :) To find what we need and a few wants at the cheapest price but the best quality has always been a fun hobby of life for us. It has served us well before through almost a year without any income {but all bills paid}... and through sickness etc. Of course God is in control of it this whole situation. I do not want to take credit for doing it ourselfs. At the moment it is another layoff. I look forward to any wisdom you impart to us. As always I learn something new or a new way of doing it etc, etc. Thanks Brenda ,..you are a blessing. Thanks again for letting your light shine...{and pointing the way to Him as you also do :) } Jody

nanatrish said...

Thank you Brenda for reminding us to let what's beyond our control go. It's not easy, but knowing we can't go back in time and we can't control the world. I think all we can do is pray and learn what we can learn to do our best.

debbie bailey said...

I look forward to your future posts. I consider myself a somewhat frugal person (is that an oxymoron?) but know that I'll benefit from your years of experience with this subject. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.