February 1, 2011

My Journey (part 3)

It would be so nice to finish this story right here and say, "everything is back to normal," but that's not life.  And is there any true normal?

During the time of my husband's recovery and our lightning party, another storm was brewing on the horizon.  It was call a recession.  My husband is a builder, so when the housing market tanked, so did the the extra cash flow.  We were relieved (beyond measure) that he still had a job, but with the strain of our medical bills and repairing the damage to the house, the extra income had become our grocery money.  Somehow, telling our kids not to eat didn't seem feasible. :)

Before we had children, we made the decision for me to become a SAHM (stay at home mom).  We felt like the Lord was calling me to be at home with them and focus on their little lives for a season.  That timing was cut shorter than we had planned, due to finances.  When we realized that I needed to find a job, I sort of panicked.
I had forgotten that we serve a creative God.
He provided a job at a preschool so that I could use my teaching experience and yet have my children there with me.   It turned out to be exactly the amount we needed for our grocery budget.  And not a cent more.

For two years we worked hard at sticking to the budget and not spending excessively.  We were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.  We learned to save for big (necessary) purchases and we learned to live without.

God wasn't done with us yet.

We had learned to accept our situation, but we hadn't learned to step out in faith.  We had learned to deal with what was handed to us, but we had yet to learn the meaning of sacrifice.  That's when we felt the Lord call us to home school.  (You can read about my journey to that decision here and here.) Home schooling our children meant I could no longer work at the preschool.
Our income would decrease.  Decrease, as in go down.
Some called us crazy.  Heck, we even said we were crazy.  But that's what true faith looks like, right?

Being creative with your finances isn't always what you'd expect, but the rewards are priceless.  Remember our trip to Maine?  We were able to afford that trip because we camped.  In tents.  El cheapo.  What a memory my kids would have missed out on if I didn't take a step out of my comfort zone (like heat and a mattress).

My children have learned the value of hard work and to appreciate the things they have earned.  They have learned that children and adults alike don't get everything they want.  They have seen the fruits of the gift of time far outweigh the objects.  
When I say they, I really mean "we."
I still have a long ways to go.  I still battle feelings of frustration when I see other kids get every kind of electronic gizmo available without any expectation of responsibility.  I still feel a little jealous of my friends who can afford to sign their kids up for camps/classes/lessons.  But I am learning.

And learning takes practice.  And faith.
And enough humble pie to write about this journey.

*I have just a little bit more to share with you about my journey.  I can't stop now.  The best part, the view from the top of the mountain, is why I started this story.  Stick with me for one more day.  Every story needs a good ending.


Richella said...

Gretchen, I was out of town and offline last week, but I'm back now. . . and glad to read your story. All the parts. I'm looking forward to the mountaintop view, but you should know that I've also really appreciated walking through the valley with you.

You're the only one who can tell your story. I'm glad you're telling it.

Kay @ Off the Beaten Path said...

I'm glad you swallowed your humble pie well enough to write this transparent series of posts. Truth is, more people than we know have been in the same circumstances you have but they refused to acknowledge it so they just sunk further and further into debt. I think it's so wise that you and your husband dealt with your situation the way you did - creatively and by cutting back and by saying no.

God is good. And sometimes, until we get a little desperate, we don't see just how good He is.

Samantha said...

You are an inspiration, and you don't walk alone.

Annie said...

I'm re-reading this post for a lot of reasons. It's such a blessing to hear another Mama talk about her family like you do. And it's very interesting to hear your thoughts on school -- homeschool and otherwise. We're at a point in our son's educational career where we've got to figure out what to do if Plan A doesn't pan out. We talk about homeschooling ... but I'm so scared of that. It would be STARTING at 7th Grade! But I also know that if that's what God wants, then I will sit down and do my best. And I'm happy to know that's all He'd expect of me!

Thank you for sharing this amazing journey with us all!!

Kellie said...

Yes... it is so easy to look at what others have and be envious. I have learned (and still am!) that I don't need to have everything I want. It is OK that my children don't have the latest gadgets because they can become creative (in ways like I showed on my blog yesterday), they learn the meaning of working for something, they appreciate it more, they are not demanding. Life lessons that the Lord teaches us are also rubbed off on our children when we open up to them. What a blessing that is! :)