I watched two jays squabbling in the front yard today over seed that Grace and I had accidentally spilled from the box. The beautiful, black-capped jays with their cornflower-blue wings showed their ugly desperation for more by screeching and flapping at each other in an effort to grab everything they could. Does a bird have a cut-off switch? It’s said dogs can eat until they vomit. I don’t know whether birds can do the same. How much seed does one bird need? There were tiny scatterings of seed beyond the bigger, central pile. But the birds went straight for the biggest payoff, missing what was hidden in the grass.
I can relate.
Money is tight. As Matt is in sales, we live on his salary, but we advance on his bonuses. Bonuses that aren’t around right now. My dear husband is burning the midnight oil on project after project, but to no (seeming) avail. Each night we pray, “Lord let a deal close.” Each morning, He answers, “Not yet.”
And then I spend a fair amount of time screeching at Him like a Jay.
We’ve already burned through our medical flexible spending program, and it’s only May. With two kids on the autism spectrum, Grace’s eye care, and my own medical needs, we spent $5,000 in less time than it takes a Kardashian to start a reality show. This study from the Brookings Institute, indicating a robust and direct relationship between income and well-being, didn’t lift my spirits, either. Apparently, money CAN buy happiness.
But not necessarily contentment.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12
Daily, the Lord reminds me I haven’t missed a meal. I have a roof over my head, cars that run, beautiful, healthy children, a devoted husband, and a few nice things (relics of a past, more…..er…..plentiful lifestyle). He has used our present circumstances to forge a new frugality, and we are stretching dollars like they are made of tire rubber. No food goes to waste, no excessive purchases are made. We have prayed for nearly two years that the Lord might heal our finances. His answer to us has included the practice of looking carefully for ways to get by on less.
I HATE less. I like MORE. But I cannot deny that my heart swells with pride when I shave $50 off my grocery bill, or sell outgrown clothes at a consignment store. It is in the saving of money and our systematic downsizing that we are reminded we CAN survive, and thrive, on less. And in so doing, we are content.
There is ALWAYS enough for us, scattered somewhere in the grass.
Image courtesy of Ron Bird/FreeDigitalPhotos.net