We 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.