In this episode:
When we pause to think about it, having "just enough" is actually an abundance. Scarcity says there isn't enough, but even with a very little, God can provide even more than we really need when we practice generosity and faith.
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Last week I talked about Blue Light Specials. I would like to continue the conversation just a bit as I talk about something from childhood you might be able to relate to.
Growing up, I learned that we had to wear it out or outgrow something before we bought a new one. When I was in elementary school, I was hard on boots.
Sometimes boots were hand-me-downs that had already had some wear!
When the soles started cracking, the moisture from snow-melted, slushy puddles on the playground would seep into the boots and squish around in the woolen liners.
I wasn’t the only one whose socks left a drippy trail from the coat racks to my desk where my sneakers waited for me after recess. Can you recall the smell of wet socks in the classroom after recess?
But those boots were worn, not worn out. We couldn’t afford new boots, so my mother, like many other mothers, sent us to school with used bread bags on our feet. We’d slip them over our dry socks and then slide them into the boots. Not only were our feet dry after recess, but the slippery bread bags made it easier to put on boots that were getting just a little bit too small as well.
I learned many ways of being frugal from my mother. But I didn’t know extreme frugality until I met my mother-in-law. I’m recording this on the 15-year anniversary of when she passed away from cancer, so this is a little tribute to her.
If Joy were still living now, I think she could try out for the show “Extreme Couponing” and make it. She wouldn’t purchase anything or eat out anywhere unless she had a coupon for it. Any grocery shopping trip with her meant making at least five different stops so that she could use her coupons, get her milk card punched, or get the best price on sugar.
Her extreme frugality also included a basement full of stuff she bought simply because it was free with a rebate. She was as pale as never-seen-sunshine came, but in her basement stash, she had pantyhose for people of different shades of ethnic backgrounds. She also had foundation make-up for brown skin and boxes of L’Oreal hair color of shades she’d never use in a million years because the shelves were emptied of her favorite platinum blonde and honey brown. It didn’t matter. It was free.
I laughed when I found some test-market feminine supplies on the shelf. Those never got used because was already starting menopause, but she bought them anyway. Because they were free. Those sat right next to the packages of Depends undergarments on the shelf. I figured she was stocking up for someday because no one ever used those.
When asked about her strange collection of freebies, she’d say, “Well, you never know.”
There she was, caught in the phase between menstruating and incontinence and she had supplies for both, but needed neither.
We weren’t sure what she planned to do with the fifteen tape measures and slew of screw drivers and hammers that were free at the home improvement store. Nor the 20 packages of light bulbs that didn’t fit a single fixture in the house. But, for years, I didn’t have to buy shampoo, or lotion, or shaving cream, or toothbrushes. I just went down her basement and chose what I liked.
For us, frugality sprung out of necessity. The money simply wasn’t there to pay full price for name brand clothing or household appliances that might be used only a few times per year. It wasn’t there for my mother or my grandmother, or my mother-in-law, and it wasn’t in my bank account either. But circumstances provided us with opportunities to bond that we may not have otherwise had.
Garage sales with my sons isn’t as much about checking an item off a shopping list as it is about discovering buried treasure together and laughing about the ridiculous things we find.
We make plenty of memories in the driving around trying to find the garage sales too.
There’s a story in the Bible about a widow who made do, and she never ran out. It’s found in 1 Kings 17.
As this widow was gathering sticks to make a fire to bake bread from the last of her ingredients, the prophet Elijah showed up hungry. In the midst of severe famine, God tested her faith by asking her to give the last food she had to one of his prophets, a stranger to her. When she obeyed, God worked a miracle by providing a never-ending supply during the rest of the famine.
I can say that over the years, as we’ve learned to make do, God has also supplied just what we needed. And often way more than we needed. I have a LOT of nice things. I have purchased things foolishly that I never needed.
And I’ve pass up some things I’d never miss.
But the point of a life repurposed is that we aren’t underprivileged when we learn to need less. And by someone else’s standards, I live in abundance.
The widow in the Bible story had to trust God when someone asked for the last of what she had. I’ve never been in that situation. I’ve never had an empty pantry and then someone asked for our last bite of food.
What great faith she had to give it to the prophet Elijah!
Then God tested her faith again when her only son died. Again, she saw a miracle from God when Elijah brought him back to life.
Life repurposed happens when we live in an abundance mentality rather than a scarcity mentality. That mindset is possible when we have faith that God will be generous when we’re generous with what he gives us.
It’s been a long time since I put bread bags on my feet, but those memories will forever stay with me! It reminds me that God provides.
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.
When has God tested your faith through a difficult experience? Have you had times when you had one difficulty after another? Looking back now, see if you can spot areas where God was at work that you couldn’t see when you were in the midst of the trial.
Start a blessing basket. Decorate the basket with ribbon or fabric and put pretty slips of paper and a pen by the basket. Or you could decorate a jar or cover a box with decorative paper—whatever you have on hand. Whenever you or a family member thinks of a blessing, big or small, write it on the paper and put it in the basket. Encourage regular additions to the basket.
On a day when you’re discouraged by events beyond your control, or frustrated by circumstances, read the papers in the basket.
Often, we have more food on hand than we realize. Our freezers bulge and pantries overflow, yet we go to the grocery store and fill up a cart with what we “need” for a week.
Are you up for a challenge in making do? Inventory your cupboards and the freezer and plan meals for the next two weeks—or even a month if you have a big stash—based only on what you already have on hand. Plan to purchase only milk and a few limited perishables, but don’t purchase new ingredients for any specific dish.
You can make it a family project and see how adventuresome everyone can be with their breakfast and lunch choices based on what’s available.
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.
All blog content copyright MichelleRayburn.com
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.