On Grace, Gratitude and Thrift

grace.jpgWe have a picture that hangs in our dining room that was titled, “Grace” back in 1918 when it was first taken. The photographer who took the photograph never dreamed how many people would eventually purchase copies. Nearly a hundred years later, the photograph still hangs on many walls. The story of the famous picture can be read here.

On the other side of our dining room china cabinet is the companion photograph called “Gratitude” which features a grandmother in a similar pose. I hung the photographs there to remind my children to be grateful for simple things. The man in the photograph has a Bible, a bowl of soup and bread. He is wearing a warm shirt, and he is giving thanks to God.

With the darkening economic news, I have been trying hard to be a better steward of resources. We have had plenty in this country for so long, and we are so used to having so very much beyond our necessities that it is easy to become extremely callous to small blessings. It took just three days without heat in an ice storm a couple of years ago to be reminded how fleeting comforts can be, and how much hot water, lights and heat really mean. It’s easy to live in abundance, never giving a thought to how blessed we really are. But since the new year began, I have felt a consistent urge to be more frugal, to plan more carefully and to try to spend money with more thought as to how far it can go.

I don’t mean that I want to be a greedy miser, I am talking about being more judicious in spending and having more to give to the Lord’s work. Being a mindless consumer is easy to do. Hectic schedules war against frugality and thrift. What busy mother hasn’t felt the lure of deli meals and take-out when she hasn’t planned ahead? But it is a goal of mine to do more with less. I have been making more meals from scratch these days, and planning creative ways to use up left-overs and so forth. With the rising cost of food and the threat of inflation hanging over us, it seems wise for everyone to plan ahead for family expenses even more carefully these days.

Speaking of thrift, a large church in our area has an annual event every year that I think is a tremendous idea. They call it a Clothing Share. Rather than have a rummage sale, they give it all away, and all are welcome. Everyone empties closets and drawers of clothes, boots, coats, etc. that still have life in them and volunteers sort it all by size and gender. The church gymnasium gets lined with tables, people bring bags with clothing to share and then take what they need from what everyone else has brought. It’s a wonderful way to recycle still useful items that may be a real blessing to someone else.

It is bitterly cold outside here in Wisconsin this week. The wind today cut into us like knives when we went out to run errands. The blessing of having a warm car and a warm house was driven home once again to me and the children today. The Madison Avenue advertisers tell us that we must have top-of-the-line everything to be happy. It is utter hogwash. Happiness lies in contentment with having our needs met. Shelter, something to eat, a warm bed—Lord, help us see your daily provision for our needs, and fill our hearts with gratitude at your manifold mercies.

8 thoughts on “On Grace, Gratitude and Thrift

  1. abigail says:

    Hey, Ingrid. . .thanks for this thoughtful post. I, too, have been thinking about tightening my belt. The Lord is speaking to me about being very careful in the coming months about spending and keeping everything up to date. Also, when I purchase, buy only what I need and what I routinely provide for others, not extras just because I can do it. Since giving is one of my gifts, I have to stay under the yoke of Jesus Christ to do this. I am very thankful for what God has provided for my family and me also. We are eating in more and eating leftovers also. We have two extra family members staying with us temporarily, so it takes more to keep things going right now. When we built this house up on the hill, I knelt down and prayed and asked the Lord to make it a safe place and a place where God’s people would feel welcomed and that He would bring those who needed to learn more about Him. He has answered my prayer over and over. We should be praying for Christians everywhere, that they would desire Jesus Himself above all other things and when I do things like that, I begin with myself. . .that I would be an example and be obedient myself in what I ask for others. Keep on keeping on!

  2. Debra says:

    God does seem to be moving us toward being careful with
    spending.
    He does know what lies up ahead of us.
    I think He is preparing us for tough times coming.
    But He will provide for His children.
    We must heed the warnings in advance so we will be ready.
    Most of all as you say Ingrid, be thankful for every single thing that God does for us.
    No matter how small. The best part is being able to recognize where it all comes from.

  3. Bonnie B. says:

    You are so right, Ingrid. Shelter, something to eat, and a warm bed are all we truly need. My kids and I live in public housing in a small, relatively affluent city in upstate NY, and while we have little in comparison to what many other residents of our city have, I am very grateful for what God has provided.

    For most of 2005, my kids and I were homeless. We lived in a motel for almost 6 months, and then in a tent at a campground in the Adirondacks for 3 months because the summer tourism industry in our city commanded motel rates that I could not afford. I thank the Lord that an affordable apartment became available in September 2005, just a few days before school began and about a week before the campground was scheduled to close for the fall and winter.

    Being homeless taught me to be thankful for and to appreciate what God has given to us. My kids and I chose to make the most of our homeless experience, particularly at the campground, where we met some wonderful, caring people. We decided being miserable wasn’t going to make us any less homeless, so we made some friends and some good memories instead. And now we have a warm, decent apartment in a city with good schools and a low crime rate, a city where I feel safe walking wherever I need to go at anytime of day or night since I have no car. We might be poor by our society’s standards, but we have so much more than we need… and unlike a few of their more affluent friends, my kids are grateful for things that some other kids feel entitled to and take for granted.

    But most of all, God has taught me through this experience that there is a huge difference between wants and needs. And He has shown me that I need to trust in Him more than I need anything else, because He alone provides.

    Thank-you, Ingrid, for the wonderful work you are doing for the Lord.

  4. sharonc58 says:

    Thank you so much for the post, Bonnie B. It would seem the Lord used this bonafide hardship to ground you in His reality in ways I could never begin to understand.
    Go well, my sister

  5. Debbie says:

    God has also been prompting me to be content with what I have. I sense that this coming year will be difficult and things will become more and more expensive. I pray that I will heed the prompting.
    Thanks, Ingrid for this blog and for Slice. I come to these and other sites daily.
    Debbie

  6. Joel @ money saving says:

    I have to completely agree with you here. Being a senseless consumer as you put it is something far to many people have problems with.

    Its great (my opinion) that you also have a solid reason that you value for trying to adjust your spending.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Ingrid, the old saying, “what goes around comes around” sure fits. We grew up being careful about turning lights off, using shopping bags for garbage (we never bought ‘garbage bags’), recycling oil, etc, etc. As guardians of God’s creation, no one should be a more ‘environmentally conscious’, and careful with their possessions than a child of God.
    It is sad that it takes financial hardships to make Christians realize what we should have been practicing all along. Keep up the good work. You are in our prayers.

  8. Bonnie B. says:

    I think we don’t realize how little we really need until we go without. Here in the U.S. we consider ourselves to be generous in our giving, but is that really how God sees it? How many of us have truly sacrificed our own well being for the good of someone in need? Don’t we usually calculate our giving — whether it’s time, money, or material goods — based on meeting our own needs first? I could probably count on one hand the number of times I took that “leap of faith” and gave what was needed without considering the cost to myself first. We pride ourselves on being a generous nation, but we consume and waste far more than we give. Perhaps He intends to show us an ugliness we don’t want to see in ourselves by taking away some of what we have.

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