woe is me

Once upon a time, we had a savings account.  Seriously, we graduated seminary with savings.   We both worked three part-time jobs and got scholarships and financial aid and were ridiculously frugal.

Then I got a full-time job, so surely we would continue to save, right?  notsomuch, Russ went to school and more school.  And we bought a fixer-upper of a house.  Then we had a baby.  Then said baby got older and we had to pay for daycare.  Then we had another baby.  Then I had surgery (DUDE, medical bills are ridiculous).  Then second baby needed to go to daycare.  Then our second car died and we had to buy a new one.  And along the way, there were the normal kind of expenses and such.  Just in the last week, Russ’ car died for the last time, Russ’ phone died and had to be replaced, our AC broke, and Caleb got another ear infection (requiring a office visit and prescription copay).

So now our savings is no more.   For the first time we are really having to watch what we spend.  We’ve always been frugal…but now we’re taking it to a new level.  It’s a weird feeling, this living paycheck to paycheck thing.

But all of this is pretty ridiculous because above all else I am extremely humbled because our entire existence has been supported by the generosity of others.  Growing up, our parents provided everything we needed and much we didn’t.  In college, we were both on scholarships given by people who loved the college and invested in our future.  Same thing in seminary.   We even took it to a new level in seminary.  We got free meals whenever we could.  We drove old cars passed down to us from our parents without car payments.  All of our furniture was passed down to us from family.  Nothing was new – except the CD rack – we bought that for $20.  Russ’ grandma bought us a washer and dryer.  A refrigerator was left behind by previous tenants.   All of the other nice things we had were wedding gifts.  And even our jobs were at the seminary or the church, so our salaries were based on people giving.

And still now, I earn a living on people’s generosity.  So it makes me unbelievably grateful and humble.  And it really makes me at least attempt to be a good steward of what we have….not wasting ANYTHING…couponing…giving when we can…etc.

It’s weird to feel poor but to also look around at all of the people and things in my life and feel an embarrassment of riches* in light of true poverty and and problems in the world.   So whenever I’m feeling woe, I need to remind myself of this…and also to remember it won’t be like this forever.

I am really looking forward to being a doctor’s wife and not only not worrying about our own cash flow, but being able to be extravagantly generous with others as others have been with us.  It’s going to be fun.

*I stole the phrase from Girls Gone Child – I love it because it really describes how I feel a lot of the time.

Advertisements

Gratitude

While I certainly wouldn’t wish a giant cyst and it’s necessary surgical removal on anyone, I do wish everyone had the opportunity to experience the blessings that come from an event like this (or at least to intensely recognize the  blessings surrounding them everyday).  I am truly overcome with gratitude and humility.  I have the best support system ever.

My mom has been here since the night before my surgery (two weeks exactly now) taking care of me and the kids….feeding us, cleaning, doing load after load of laundry, playing with the kids, driving us around…basically loving us in every possible way.

I have not cooked in two weeks and yet have eaten heartily (I take that back – I have only eaten heartily for nine days – since I was in the hospital before that – no hearty eating there).  The amount of food in our house is incredible.  Russ is getting spoiled…poor guy won’t know what to do when the food runs out and it’s back to me to determine and prepare what we eat.  Taylor has also grown accustomed to her “church friends” coming bearing food.  The one night we did not have a new meal (we needed a break to take care of some leftovers), she asked “Which of my church friends is bringing dinner tonight?”  For all of us it’s a double treat because we get to see some of our favorite people AND get delicious dinners.

I love the note in a recent card from a loved one:  “So, I’m southern and feel the need to feed you because that’s what we do when someone we care about is hurting.”  That note included a gift card…we have received a few of those as well, so we can still eat when the meals run out.  INCREDIBLE.

I received lots of beautiful flowers (and a balloon).  It seemed like there was a steady stream of flower delivery people coming in.  Flowers from friends, family, church people, and even the MUSC Dean’s Office (!).  INCREDIBLE.  I used to wonder why people sent flowers for things (other than an occasional love bouquet from your spouse), because really what do you need all those flowers for?  But, man, did each arrangement bring a huge smile to my face!  In the sterile white hospital room, I was surrounded by beautiful color, reminded of love and awesome people.

There were more cards than I could have dreamed

on top of the electronic love through comments here on the blog, on facebook, txt, and e-mail.  I got a stack of magazines to keep my loopy brain entertained and some games to play with Taylor.  I had visitors who braved the downtown craziness.

I am truly humbled by it all.  It’s not that I ever doubted that I had great people in my life or that I was loved deeply by many, but I have just come to a new understanding and appreciation.  I will never be the same (or at least I hope I won’t).

I will begin writing thank you notes tonight, now that I’m feeling better and hopefully won’t fall asleep as soon as the kids are in bed.  I made a list of everything people had done before Sunday because Russ wanted to make sure he knew what to thank people for when he saw them on Sunday…but I added all the non-church people as well for my future note writing (since the drugs do crazy things to my memory).  When I handed Russ the list, he stood there for a second with his mouth wide open – in shock by all of the acts of service we have received.

Shock.  Awe.  Overwhelming Gratitude.

I am grateful for all of you – for your love and support and prayers.  I couldn’t have made it through without them.

Thank you.

smiling faces, beautiful places

Yesterday, we encountered many smiling, helpful, kind faces – so I guess it’s true what they say about our lovely state.

While playing in the pineapple fountain yesterday, we met this great mom with a two year-old and a three week-old.   She assured me that (somehow) it’s gets easier to keep up with a two year-old after the second baby is born – that she is actually less tired now that she is not pregnant.   Maybe she was lying, but that is a welcome lie that gives me hope.

While walking on the pier, there was a young man selling sweet grass flowers.  We are cheap and never have cash on us, so when he asked if we wanted to buy one, we said no.  But then he looked at Piglet and GAVE her one.  It was so sweet, and she just loved it.  She carried it around the rest of the morning (even through lunch) and made us put it in a glass of water when we got home.  We obliged even though I am pretty sure this kind of flower doesn’t need water.

Then while we were swinging on the pier, I got up to take a picture of Russ and Piglet.  Then a super nice woman came over and offered to take a picture of the three of us together.  It was a nice gesture, but for some reason, the picture didn’t actually take, so there’s no proof.

Then we went to Babies ‘R Us to look at new car seats.   Piglet complains that her back hurts in the one we have and there is a little ridge in the back – she even has a bruise there!  Plus I really wanted one that reclines for car napping – I didn’t really know what to look for when I was registering and didn’t think about that feature until Grammy got her queen seat.  It really makes a difference, so we went for it.  While searching and searching, we found the one we wanted that was within our budget, but they didn’t have any on the shelves other than the display model.   I asked the sales associate if they had any more in the back.  She was really friendly and checked for me.  Then when she found that she didn’t have any in the store, she looked up the Toys ‘R Us store down the street to see if they had any in stock; and when she found out that they did, she called to have them hold it for me.  By the time I got to Toys ‘R Us, it was waiting for me at the check-out counter.  So I bought it, and then a guy CARRIED IT TO THE CAR for me (which was AWESOME since I am now 27 weeks pregnant and Russ wasn’t with me).  And bonus:  It was on sale $10 off the original price; I had a $10 off coupon (thanks Grammy); AND they had a deal that if you spend a certain amount, you got a $20 gift card – so it was like $40 off.   I love a good deal.  and good people.

MedSchoolMonday: S3

A few questions:  How can the church make its worship relevant to the lives of its people?  How does the church incorporate mission in its worship?  How do we pass down the faith and the importance of mission to our children, not just by our words but by our actions?  How does the church offer ways to make stewardship a way of life and not just a once per year campaign?  How does the church make sure the Table of the Lord is more than just a place for our bread and wine to sit every once in a while and is a symbol of possibilities, faith, and service?

I’m beaming with pride about our church.   On Sunday we began our Second Sunday Stewardship (S3), a monthly missional/educational/stewardly/worshipful/intergenerational act of faith.  Instead of the plates being passed around for the offering, people were asked to bring their financial gifts and items that we identified local charities were in need of to the communion table during the time for the offering.   Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures while folks were bring their gifts forward, but it was quite a sight, and the front of the sanctuary around the communion table was packed with the offering of God’s people, dedicated for God’s work in the world.   Here are some pictures from after worship as items were being sorted (so these are just a few of the offerings) and our design, created by one of our very own youth.

coupon fairy

I have always used coupons and tried to find the best deals, but I am new to the true art of couponing.  I know that people who do it well can save 50% or more on their grocery bill, but I am still learning, so I average about 40%.  Publix is our grocery store of choice because they take competitor coupons, have a good organic selection, give free cookies and balloons to kids, and the staff is really nice.

I was especially fond of their weekly penny item.  (you take in the coupon from the weekly flier and get the mystery item for a penny).   I was quite bummed when they stopped putting the penny item in the flier and hiding it in the regular Wednesday paper (which we don’t get).  So I decided to give up on the penny item.  Then I thought that getting the $.50 paper would still be worth it if we needed the mystery item.

Yesterday, the mystery item was supposed to be Publix cookies, so I decided not to waste my $.50.  BUT THEN.  I walked into the store to see that THIS Publix was selling white grape juice as their penny item, which was already on my list, because, well, you know.   I was running late, so I didn’t go back to buy the paper and search for the coupon and decided to suck it up and spend the $3.64 on the juice.  BUT THEN, when I was in the check out aisle, the cashier asked the man in front of me if he had any coupons, and he said, “Only the penny item coupon – what is it today?”  When she told him, he decided he didn’t want the juice and said, “Well, can you just save it and give it to someone who could use it?”  SCORE.  So I said, “I could use it – I have to buy the juice anyway and didn’t have the coupon.”  He said, “Great” and I said “Thank you so much!”

Then I felt like I was in one of those Liberty Mutual commercials.  Because I turned around to see the older gentleman behind me looking for the grocery divider thing, so I grabbed it and handed it to him with a smile (something I would have probably done anyway), but he responded with a “thank you” as enthusiastic as mine to the coupon fairy.  It was just one of those brief moments in the midst of a busy day that gives you a little hope (and saves you $3.63).