Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Tea

A  comment a friend left brought about my ponderings today.

Trish wondered if she should have enjoyed the fabulous gift her friends had given her, a visit to a lovely tea room, when there are so many problems in the world today.  My answer... carpe diem!

Okay, so I wrote all about this before but after three and a half years of pondering, repeats come more often... and this is a subject my own life's experiences has made me passionate about.  We must balance frugality with generous living and the making of many memories.

Yes, I am always talking about how learning to live on less is a good thing.  But there is a flip side to my story and that is the experience of knowing one must seize the day when they have the opportunity.  For it is in embracing the good times that one provides precious memories for leaner days.

When Stephanie first talked to me about going to England, I encouraged her whole heartedly.  Yes, the economy overall was dismal but it was perfect timing for them to go... they had the money in savings, the time, and the circumstances, all coming together for the first time... ever.  For I have found that happens very rarely in life and when God makes provision one should take full advantage of it.  They will always have wonderful memories of England which are priceless.

Such expenditures bring choices... they had to put off new wood flooring and a couple of other projects but one doesn't have to have such circumstances to add wood flooring to their home.  Just one year later the trip would have been impossible as a new little girl is expected in May.

A very small statement Edith Schaeffer used quite often in her books proved to be profound to me through the years.  She would often say there would be no day like today and its' circumstances... ever... that our children will never be these exact ages again... so today is important.

As one who has known more than her share of dark and lean days, I can assure you it is memories made and money spent when we could that helped make dark days easier.  Not only special family memories but purchases made when we could afford items... like the good quality cookware and knives, my Kitchen Aid mixer, and well made furniture (all purchased either on sale or by finding the best prices).  How much easier it is to almost always cook "from scratch" with the right tools in the kitchen.

Most of my "decorating" has been done over the years by searching through thrift shops and garage sales... because I love the hunt whether I had the money to buy new or not.  It's just more fun to find a silver tea service for $25.00 instead of hundreds and tea cups for a dollar.  Having said that... we have very good quality furniture (purchased when we knew the sales would make the items affordible) purchased when we had the cash for a necessary expenditure.

It isn't all or nothing, of course we must be very careful about going into debt (we do not even own a credit card), make certain when times are good we are setting money aside in a savings account instead of spending it all for the moment, and continuing to be a good shopper by continuing frugal shopping skills (which work well in good times by stretching our money and lean years... ditto).

But one should never, ever feel guilty during the good years.  Once we have our emergency funds set aside and debts paid, those are the years for important home improvements, deepening the pantry, building the garden, car repairs, replacing old appliances with the energy efficient, buying the camera to take precious pictures, and making memories... when everything is coming together to make spending without debt a possibility.

We should never fear the future but everyone who has lived long enough knows there are the good years and those which bring with them challenges.  It is a good thing to fully embrace the possibilities by the big (as in a trip to England or a much needed home improvement) and the small (a lovely tea time with friends or breakfast out with the family) when we have the opportunity.

There is always a time for frugality and smart spending, savings accounts and sound investments, giving to the poor and reaching out to the needy, supporting causes and ministries we believe in, deepening the pantry and replacing that which is old (except husbands, of course).  :)

But my friends, never ever forget to seize the day when life is good and dreams are possible and memories are waiting to be made.  For as Edith would say, there will never be another day when the kids are this age (or the circumstances have come together).  Embrace that which makes your heart sing while the sun is shining and when you find yourself in the valley, the memory of the sun will warm you in the cold and dark until you walk in that sunshine again.


scrappy quilter said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Great post!! Hugs

Anonymous said...

Amen to that! Feeling guilty for things that are beyond our control, is wasted emotion. Find happiness where you can, because we don't know what lies ahead.

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Brenda, I so needed to read your kind words. You have much wisdom and I appreciate you taking the time to discuss both sides of the situation. God has blessed me and I need to just say it and praise Him. Sometimes I get to feeling guilty about things and I need to realize the Lord wants me to rejoice in Him and wonderful times.

Vee said...

It's like a breath of fresh air to read this today. Thank you. I love the balance that you always provide, Brenda.

Dawn said...

Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom. I appreciate that you are able to be so open and hones about things.

Jenn@Spejory said...

Well said! I have been pondering similar issues lately. I recently got over my fear of spending money on experiences, when experiences wear much better over time than things, which grow old, outdated, and eventually end up in the trash or in a garage sale. God wants us to enjoy His blessings, and we should sieze the chance when we get it, instead of allowing His blessings to go unappreciated.

myletterstoemily said...

a hearty amen to that wisdom. my son says,
"i am going to live adventurously and trust you to
pray!" gulp.


Beth said...

I have to admit, that I fall into that trap of feeling guilty for the little luxuries I am able to participate in. Where I live, the economy has tanked. Unemployment hovers around 13%. In my job I am in the homes of these people who are so desperately struggling to make ends meet.

Yet, my husband and I are earning more now than we ever have. We are financially very sound and thriving. Mind you, all our years of living lean have taught me to be so very frugal and I still live that way. We never, ever pay full price for any of our major purchases.

My husband has definitely been given the gift of giving. He can see the needs of others and gives generously. I feel that God has blessed us financially so that we can bless others at this point in time. We have been on the receiving end of those gifts...we still don't know who paid our house payments for 6 months when hubby had a medical emergency and was off work. How nice it is to be able to secretly help out others in need now. And I stress that word secretly. Only God needs to know who is helping these people, lest we get prideful.

Okay, enough rambling here. Thanks for this post, Brenda. I needed to hear it.

Brenda Leyland said...

Over the years, I too have pondered whether to enjoy the luxuries and beauties of our days when so many suffer.

Something that Mother Teresa once said really helped me to find a balance of enjoying the life I have (without guilt)and yet being 'present' to those that are going through much.

She referred to the gift of joy. She told her workers that if they could not go out into the streets with joy in their hearts and a smile of hope on their lips to help those dying in the gutters, then they should not go out there. These people do not need us to come down where they are (in the dumps), but we need to bring them joy and hope in the midst of their darkness.

I figured if Mother Teresa could face the exteme poverty and hopelessness with joy and hope and a zest for life then I could too in my own life situations.

Not sure if this actually addresses the heart of this conversation, but I know it helped me to sort out some of the feelings I had.

So I agree, Brenda, let us seize the day. Our being unhappy because someone else is in dire straits helps no one. If we can find hope and joy through the beauty we experience on a given day, then let's consider it our gift to that day. For the smiles on our faces will register and create a life flow that will feel a little like 'heaven on earth.'

Anonymous said...

Your post reminds me of something Dr. James Dobson said when our children were small and I've always remembered it. If you have a choice between new furniture or a family vacation, take the vacation. The memories will last forever.

Friend Debra

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes. Good advice. These are the abundant things God gives to His children. We should always welcome the opportunities as gifts.

Heather L. said...

What a good post -- thank you! I'm so excited Stephanie is having a girl (as are we :) ).

joyce said...

What a beautiful, thought-provoking post. It souunds like a chapter from a book - if you aren't seriously pursuing writing for publication and $$, you should.

I'm like you in that I love thrift store shopping and the thrill of the "hunt." Many of my most special treasures came from thrift stores, Salvation Army, or Goodwill. I've always said even if I were a millionaire and could afford anything I wanted, I think I would still go into thrift stores. Something draws me there....

I like good quality items, and when I purchase something new it is either on sale, or I've comparison shopped for the best price and deal. Investing in good quality kitchen items and furnishings can save money in the future, for these items will last longer and provide better service.

Thanks for giving us such good, timely advice.

Annie said...


I usually "lurk" but wanted you to know htat your blog is one of the first ones I check each day. I know that life has brought you many trials, but I believe that you are here for "such a time as this."

I also have diabetes. I know well the fatigue involved and the balancing of insulin, etc However,God can work ALL things for good, and now you are still enough to reflect on Him and minister to others through this blog. And never imagine that this isn't a surely is.


The View from 256

Lynn said...

Very well said, Brenda. :)

FlowerLady said...

Great post!