So, yesterday’s post expressed the serious side of me–and lots of gratitude. Thought I’d lighten it up by sharing a little humor on this Thanksgiving day.
My boys responded with the teenage eye roll.
Maybe I tend toward the melodramatic, but hey, a girl’s gotta express all that excitement.
This morning it was over the working burner in my stove.
Time again to be vulnerable about a “private” subject. Since 2013 I shared here about losing weight inside and out. I’ve mentioned periodically our struggle with money.
There it is. The taboo word. Money.
Always paired with the word struggle.
But as I’ve lost weight Jerry and I have also fought to lose the poverty mentality. The attitude that money is always pain and struggle and worry. That there won’t be enough.
I admitted last week that we had some really hard times in the years surrounding Jerry’s near death, times when I couldn’t get groceries. During this season my stove went out. We found a free one on Craig’s list, but the front glass was broken in the oven. Soon after the main burner of the stove started working on only one setting: high.
This morning I put turkey bacon in my skillet and used my favorite burner on medium. MEDIUM! Hallelujah. See, little by little, (and sometimes huge project by huge project), the nagging things that have made me feel pushed down are being fixed, replaced, repainted, re-purposed.
It’s amazing what a new oven door or fresh coat of paint or new fabric on old pillows does to that weary, poverty mindset.
Yesterday we got new carpet. NEW CARPET throughout downstairs. The old carpet was original to the house 30 years ago. And I always hated the color. LOL.
Today? New shelves for the freezer. After the old ones broke I was determined to not be angry every time something fell out. It took a while to afford replacements, but thanks to that $75 needed, this is no longer an issue.
A friend tells me, “inch by inch it is a cinch.”
And it’s true. A little effort and money here. A little more there. It’s getting done. The upgrades long overdue in my home are actually happening.
The temptation has been to not even start these home projects. There are many, and we are weary. To be candid the first project was thrust upon us, and we had no choice.
But over the last three months much has been accomplished, and I have a peace about my home that is natural. It’s a peace I fought for, sometimes several times a day, when the need for repairs or the lack of beauty threatened to send me into despair.
During those lean years I changed patterns in how I lived, hanging out in rooms that needed less work so I didn’t get pulled down by the bad carpet or old paint. I cut fresh roses and brought them in from outside or made cloth napkins from old fabric to add beauty to each day. I lit a candle. Played some Beethoven. Used the pretty dishes. Cleaned out clutter.
We learned a lot in those years. The kids don’t take a gift for granted. Their hearts are tender when they see a need. They work hard. (They have some wounds, too, which I ask my Lord to heal.)
I learned to pray hard. That even in the worst of times I could find something to share with someone else. To find joy in little things, like those 1,000 gratitudes I wrote in marker on my ugly wall. (By the way, it took about seven coats of paint to cover that!)
I learned to treasure the gift of laughter, of a peaceful home life, of friendship and walks in the sunshine.
The best things in life really can’t be bought.
I learned that God cares about little things. Like when I craved mangos in my weight loss shakes, but couldn’t afford them. I prayed for them and was given a whole flat that were on the verge of being too ripe. I cut those mangos up, froze them, and enjoyed them in my shakes for weeks!
My journey has not been as intense as others. A friend of mine went without food for some time as did her son. Both left the bag of a few cookies on the counter for the other to eat, choosing hunger over taking the last bit of food. I haven’t been hungry like that. But my own journey was significant for me. I fought hard to find joy and to rise above the broken things and broken places in my home and in my heart. Sometimes I cried. Many times I found victory after the tears.
As we’ve worked together in my home I’ve learned new skills like caulking, painting, and using a power tool. This knowledge also helps me rise above my circumstances to create the beauty I crave in my home.
Today I am grateful.
For the lessons learned.
For feeling like I can breathe.
For the fact that I shopped for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal without worrying if I would be able to pay for what I need.
I’m grateful for a new fence, new carpet, painted walls, working burners, shelves, and oven fronts. For a new-to-me couch and end tables. For pillows a friend and I sewed that spruced up furniture I already had. For new dish clothes and new shoes.
I’m grateful for children who dug out old fence and scrapped off old wall paper and filled in holes in sheet rock. For a friend who contributed resources and taught us and for other friends who gave of their time and skills. For a husband who refused to abandon me to finishing projects even when he was bone tired from an eleven hour shift at work. Who fixed my stove burner and installed that new oven door. Who, with our son, helped hang shelves.
I’m grateful for a God who is returning to us the things stolen during the hard season. For a God who cared even about the perfect painting to set the theme for my remodeled room and the 50% off candles that tied the colors of the new sectional together with the blues and greens of the walls.
For a God who is teaching Jerry and me to live outside of the fear of not having enough and to trust Him as He teaches our hands to create the provision we need.
All our circumstances have not changed. But we are moving into a new season. We are dropping the weight of a poverty mindset.
We are learning a new place of freedom.
How about you, my friend? What’s your relationship with money? Is it friend or foe? Is there stuff at your house that drives you to despair? If so, what CAN you change? You might not be able to buy new carpet, but how about covering some old pillows or cleaning out a clutter pile?
If you’ve never had old carpet, old furniture, or old paint, have you realized what a gift that is? What about the intangibles like love and joy and peace?
May the God of all fill your (and mine!) heart to overflowing with gratitude and joy.
May He empower us all to lose the weight of the money issue and embrace the truth that He has provided and will continue to do so.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!
Until next time,
A gentle breeze, cool and fragrant, teases my hair, and I straighten. Pause.
Those blossoms smell how I imagine heaven. I let the scent, the stirring of air, refresh my body and my soul.
Did He stir the branches?
Send the breeze, the fragrance?
Or it is just how the Creator planned it out years ago. Scientific.
Maybe God is big enough to have planned out my encounters with nature even before I was born. Maybe when He set his plans in motion, spoke the seed for this beautiful tree into existence, He had me in mind even then.
Doesn’t the first chapter of Ephesians support this way of thinking? This God who plans with me in mind?
I choose to believe this moment is personal. He SEES ME. Wants to bless me. To cover my aching, weary body and soul with His perfume.
I’m reading Ann VosKamp again. She quotes Erasmus, a contemporary of Luther, “A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.”
She admits the struggle for gratitude. Like her, my writing of over 1,000 thanks sometimes felt juvenile. I didn’t know then I was driving out a nail by another nail. That I was practicing what it is like to live a life of moments embraced and noticed with thanksgiving before they march on, lost in time, pushing me to hurry without living.
That noticing the little things and giving thanks to the One teaches me to live with Him. Notice Him. Trust Him. Slow down and embrace Him as I delight in His gifts.
i still practice. Choosing to hammer gratitude. Trust. Faith. For my soul. My mental and spiritual health.
And for my body I hammer healthier choices. Salad. Walks. Water.
Sometimes I awake fearful again. And which nail do I pick up? I want to practice trust. To drive out unbelief with faith. To grow as one who walks in peace with the Father. Believing He is personal. He sees. Me.
Sometimes, like the last six weeks or so, I curl in a ball instead of walking. Gaining a few pounds from not choosing the nail of activity.
And maybe that was ok, this drawing into myself to grieve. This wintering.
As long as I come out.
And there’s nothing like spring to draw me from winter, tempting me with fragrant breezes.
Reminding me that He sees.
He sees me.
Several of my friends are stressing about entering the holiday season. I get it. When you’re working hard to win the battle for a new body and more active life, all the excess food available is daunting.
But here’s the truth. Between October and Jan last year I lost 32 pounds, and you can keep losing, too. I don’t remember feeling deprived. I do remember being intentional.
Here’s a bit of advice for Thanksgiving from someone whose been there:
Let’s face it: Thanksgiving is about the food. While that doesn’t mean you have to take seconds or thirds, you will eat more than you normally do. But one day won’t ruin what you’re trying to accomplish as long as you return to your new good habits on Friday and keep to them! Honestly, last year I think I had pie for breakfast on Friday morning, but I put it into my calorie counter app and kept the rest of the day within my goals.
The biggest Thanksgiving danger is not the day itself. It’s the day after and the day after that. Enjoy your day, but commit to making it only ONE day, not a week of celebrating that turns into continued betrayal of your goals.
And while you’re enjoying all that abundance, take a minute to thank those who provided, starting with the Giver of all good gifts.
Thanksgiving! (Remember, these posts were written a couple of months ago.)
Today is not about counting calories, even though I do.
I don’t count to stay within a plan, I count to make it up later, so I can even out my week on other days.
Apple pie. Cinnamon rolls. (And let me tell you, I make the best!) Turkey and dressing.
I enjoy it all.
But . . . I don’t eat until my stomach hurts, and this is maybe a first EVER on Thanksgiving.
Real Time Update:
I love that I continued to lose weight through the holidays without feeling deprived. My BeNew did its job. I kept walking. When I indulged in food that was heavier than usual, I savored every bite–then was more intentional to eat well the next meal or the next day. The weight kept dropping off.
That’s one of the best lessons I’m learning–to enjoy my food without becoming over full and to balance a turkey and dressing day with a day of lots of fruit and veggies. For me, weight loss can’t be about deprivation. I can’t live that way long term. But (barring catastrophe) I can eat healthier and move more for the rest of my life.
This is about life change, not just dropping a few pounds to look good in a mother-of-the-bride dress. When that happens, it will just be a fringe benefit.