Tuesday, May 25, 2010

flour and oil.

do you know the story of elijah and the widow?

that's how i'm feeling right now. 

i don't like money.  i don't like it at all. i don't like dealing with it, i don't think i'm especially good at it, but i am in charge of it in our family, mainly because i was already paying most of the bills for my entire apartment before we got married (everything was in my name), so when we got married, it was pretty easy for me to just keep doing it. 

but it perplexes me, the slippery nature of money.  i don't like the way it pretends like it's there and then it's not, but it is at the same time.

let me explain.

i am not one of those inexperienced people who looks at their balance on any given day and says WHOOHOO I'M RICH.  far from it, actually. i'm incredibly cautious because i have been in DEEP debt before (and only got out of it because my mom is awesome and helped me get out of it...really, she got me out of it) and refuse to get there again. in fact, since my mom started helping me, i have not carried a balance on a credit card for more than a couple of months. i am vigilant about keeping us out of the red and am really committed to saving as much as humanly possible.

with a few really large expenses on the horizon, that's important to me.

so when i look at my balance on any given day, i don't think a thing about it. instead, i consult my handy dandy notebook, where i keep track of bills and expenses and what we actually have is there in assorted shades of ink. 

but the slippery nature of money is this. just about the time when i think i'm going to be able to put a sizeable chunk of money into the savings account, it's just gone.  that is frustrating to me, because one of my primary goals for the last five months has been to build up the savings account.  it has grown, every so slowly, but not by much. 

(if this reminds you of how the weight loss thing is going, the parallels are clear to me too. what i think i want is not happening--but that's not to say that things aren't happening.)

because even while the money seems to slip through my fingers far too easily, it's going to things that are awesome--like being able to pay off a $700 unexpected and unplanned brake job in one fell swoop, or being able to pay back tithing that somehow slipped through the cracks without worry.  i know that that sounds like we are rolling in discretionary income. we definitely have sufficient for our needs, so please don't think i'm complaining.

i'm definitely not. in fact, as i think about money, i think about the widow. 

i think about that story because it's miraculous in a completely not-like-you'd-expect way.  the widow didn't get a big basket of fruit and grain on her doorstep after she followed the prophet's counsel. she didn't suddenly find herself rolling in money.

she didn't GET anything that she could see.  she just never ran out of what she needed.

and that's the way we've been blessed since the day we got married. in somewhat lean times, when i'm worried about how we'll manage until the next paycheck, the food just lasts longer. i can make more with less, or i get creative. or i drive less, so there's no need for gas. or we find ways to entertain ourselves with what we have or we make use of the free gift stuff we still have access to. somehow, it just all lasts or the time seems to go quite quickly. 

in the times when it seems like we'll get way ahead, when i do occasionally look at the balance and think WHOOHOO!, the problems and challenges come...so that we can deal with them.  and we haven't had trouble dealing with them, even though i know that in other times in my life, such expenses would have knocked me flat.

at times, i still wish i could build that savings, that i could rest knowing that we had more than sufficient to buy a year's worth of health insurance without cleaning out all of our bank accounts, or so that we could have enough never to have to worry about anything if somehow the jobs dried up. 

it's one of the reasons why i work as much as i do. while i can work this much, i keep thinking that it's preposterous to not take advantage of every opportunity. if it means that i have to work a little bit harder or do a little less pleasure reading and a little more discussion board moderating, who's to complain about that? because i see every one of those jobs as a blessing, and i take them as a way of signaling to the Lord that i am aware, that i am appreciative, and to keep them coming.

never look a gift blessing in the mouth, to take and butcher an idiom.

but even as i do this, and even as i worry about upcoming expenses, and even as i pray for more classes and for things to work out, i know that the flour and the oil in our lives will never run out.  i know that the Lord's promises are sure, even when i don't see them at work. 

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