Blue Light Special, Repurposed Hope

In this episode:

From blue light specials to garage sales, I've enjoyed making the most of living on a budget! Sometimes, life's challenges have hidden fun and joy. There is no second best when we embrace our present circumstances as part of the adventure!

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Inspired Life

I grew up post Vietnam War. It wasn’t like growing up in the depression, but my parents are boomers who were raised by parents that grew up in the depression. And they knew how to save money. One of my mother’s favorite lines was, “We can’t afford that.” She was right. But I resented that phrase as a child.

To me, she may have just as well said, “We’re dirt poor and you’re gonna have to learn to like it.”

But I didn’t like it. I wanted to be able to walk into JC Penney and buy a size 6X Garanimals pink and yellow outfit off the rack like the other little girls did. Then, I didn’t know what the X was for, but now that I’m older and I remember my somewhat sturdy body, I suspect it was X for extra generously cut in the seat and the waist.

Back then, I didn’t care. As long as it said Garanimals in the tag, I wanted it.

My mother sewed a lot of my clothing. Now, it’s fashionable to sew one’s own clothing because fabric costs as much as caviar, but in the 70’s and 80’s, it meant you were poor.

“Mom, can I just have a store bought dress? I’d plead.

“We can’t afford it.”

Little did I know, someday I’d look back at all of the darling things my mother made for me and remember the many hours she spent hunched over a sewing machine and appreciate all of it. But I didn’t appreciate it then.

I had some store-bought outfits, especially for the first day of school. I loved having a pair of jeans so new that they turned my legs blue before the end of the day. We shopped a lot at K-Mart because they had blue light specials.

I think blue light specials were designed to keep housewives fit and children cranky. My brother and I would follow mom around, ducking in and out of clothing racks, listening to Debby Boone sing “You Light Up My Life” on the overhead speakers.

My little sister chattered in the shopping cart and suddenly the PA system would click, go silent for a brief moment, then give out a loud whine of feedback before a man would announce, “Attention please. There is a Blue Light special on curtains in aisle six.”

Mothers everywhere raced for aisle six. They didn’t have to go jogging for exercise if they shopped at K-Mart. If children came with rubber arms, they might be better equipped for following maniac mothers who yanked them by the hand and made off for aisle six.

Smaller children lagged behind, dragging tired little feet, slurping sticky lollipops their mothers had bought to keep them quiet. “Mommy! Wait!” They whined.

Inevitably, the Blue Light Special in aisle six turned out to be the world’s most hideous set of olive green and orange plaid curtains, but the sales associate waiting by the flashing blue light couldn’t keep up with the women waiting in line to get their discounted curtains marked with a sticker from his hand-held sticker clicker. Well, that’s not what it was called, but I was fascinated with its ability to spit out price tags one after another. Chu-chick. Chu-chick. Chu-chick.

Life, Repurposed

I have realized that I could whine about being an underprivileged farm kid, or I can see the blessings I received from frugal experiences with my own mother and grandmother. I could feel terrible that the only name-brand clothing my boys have owned were mined from heaps of ratty jeans and t-shirts on someone’s makeshift sawhorse and plywood table in a garage. But where would the fun be?

Some of the most precious memories my boys have of their grandmother were sitting in the middle of her living room floor with coupons heaped up like leaf-piles, scissors in hand, helping her clip coupons.

No matter the circumstance, there is some sort of blessing. Every experience has a trade-off.

Would it have been a blast to slap a plastic card on a travel agent’s desk and charge an all-expense paid family trip to Orlando when my boys were little? Of course. But I suspect that some traveler who has done that vacation might enjoy one of our state park camping trips too.

The woman of the repurposed life realizes that God’s purpose never changes. It’s our perspective on his purpose that changes.

Instead of wishing for what we can’t have and mourning for what we never had, we can find satisfaction in what we do have because it’s exactly what God intended us to have. God repurposes our intentions when we seek him before setting out, our own plan in hand.

I know that at least one listener to this show had planned on having a family, but God has, so far, had other plans. Another planned to get married by the age of 25, but at 40-something, she’s never had a steady boyfriend. One intended to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary with the love of her life someday, but his years were cut short by a car accident before their 15th anniversary.

The blessings aren’t always where we expect them to be. Sometimes they’re imperceptible. Other times they can be so clear they nearly smack us on the forehead. But like finding the best treasure on a garage sale table, when we discover God’s blessings in the middle of a lot of junk, the thrill sends a hefty dose of joy right to the heart. Those moments when we see his purpose clearly in the midst of hardship are the ones when we see that we can trust God to deliver what’s best for us—always.

Recommended Resources

If you have enjoyed this episode, you’ll find the content in chapter 10 of my book, The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure.

I want to leave you with a question:

What hardship are you going through right now that feels as if there isn’t any hope? I want to encourage you to keep trusting that God is there and that he has your best in mind.

Also, have you checked out my latest book? It's a great next step for couples.

Classic Marriage: Staying In Love as Your Odometer Climbs

A classic is something of high quality and lasting value. In a marriage there will be hours of maintenance work, tinkering, breakdowns, meltdowns, blowups, cute photo ops, wear and tear, overhauls, memories, vacations, celebrations, and repairs. There will be moments where you haul yourselves back to “the garage” for work. Like a trusty old truck, a classic marriage isn’t perfect, but who can put a price tag on it?


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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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