Sunday, July 19, 2009

What do you value?

*sigh*

I look at our mini-van and it really is just sad. We bought it in Colorado, after a hail storm, as a dented 'sale' vehicle. We were very happy to have it.

Now it has had it's pitfalls ~ it's a Windstar, which I've come to learn from many others, has a reputation for "issues". While we could put the required money into it, and get it back to it's best running ability, I doubt the vehicle itself is worth what we would need to put into it. Nope, I'm guessing we will simply put the minimum amount of $$ into it to get it running, and it will become my husband's work vehicle. That cheap-o vehicle that you own outright, a second car (what a luxury!), that allows me to have a vehicle at home (wow!).

Amazingly enough, these things *are* luxuries. I do not NEED a car at home. It would be nice, of course, but I do not NEED it. If there was a *true* emergency, we could call an ambulance. A non-medical emergency would bring my husband home to us. It is only recently that a second car has become so "normal" ~ nowadays, if you don't have a second car, you must be poor. Right?!

People often ask us how we can afford so many lil' ones. I mean, my husband is a pastor, not exactly rolling in it, ya know?! And you know what, money can be tight. We are on a budget. I wonder how many people who ask us this question are themselves on a budget?? Not simply living within their means, but actually budgeting an amount each month for specific areas of spending. It's hard, takes discipline, yet yields great results and benefits.

I have a friend who put it this way ~ when asked how he can afford to have many children, he answers honestly, "I guess we just have different priorities about how we spend our money". It's true. If he didn't have many children, he wouldn't have any more money, he would simply be spending it on different things. Instead of little girl shoes, a mini-van and more food ~ he might have a nicer car (or two), fancier clothes, and more "toys" (i.e. iPod, camera, Blackberry, whatever). I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those things - there's not - but that's not what he chooses to spend his money on.

When we are struggling to get through a "rough patch" financially, I am reminded of this friend's comments. I look at the faces of my children and think, "which would I give up to NOT have these struggles?". None, obviously. I would rather struggle for YEARS with a beat-up vehicle, than not have one of my babies. I would rather be on a tight grocery budget, not being able to afford meat for every single meal, than I would having it *much* easier with only one or two babies.

In the previous post, someone commented that it was irresponsible to give away $5,000 to charity, and then not be able to pay your mortgage. Agreed. Yet if we have many children, and are struggling financially, I do not believe the solution is to regret having many children, nor even to stop having those blessings. I believe the solution would be to reassess your priorities, where your money is going and how you can bring in more income.

I'm not discussing extremes here. We are not anywhere *near* starving (ha!). My children have an ABUNDANCE of clothes. They have shelter, heat, water, love, fun, etc. etc... I am talking about middle America, middle-class life, the lifestyle that doesn't understand how we can choose to live "uncomfortably" by allowing the possibility of more children in our lives.

We have lived in abundance and we have lived with little. Like Paul, we are striving to be content in any situation. When we have been able, we have shared our excess with others. Even if that excess is only love and fellowship, although we have been blessed to be able to help other financially at times. We have also been blessed to be helped financially as well. What an amazing thing it is to be involved in God's blessings - on either side.

So yes, it is a "struggle" at times to have many children (again, I hardly think 5 is MANY, but okay). Others may look at us and see second hand clothes, lack of a new car, or the inability to go out to a nice resturant. What they are missing is the joy when my children get a new dress (never no mind that it came from a second hand store - they are excited!) and how thankful they are to Mema for thinking of them and loving them. They see the beat up car, yet miss the occupants who are singing praises to the Lord inside, thrilled to be headed to a park for a picnic with the family. They miss out on the wife who is proud of the creative and delicious meal she made, even with her limited budget, and what joy it brings her to see her family eating it.

They're missing it. Plain and simple.

And yes, I used to be one of those people. I used to be one who saw the outside and made assumptions. PRAISE THE LORD, He has chosen to open my eyes in this way. Praise Him for these struggles and the opportunity to be molded more like His Son. And thank you, Lord, for every single baby you have given to us, and every single one you have for us in the future, if you choose to give us any more. With my "situation" (numerous c-sections), any child may be our last. Somehow that makes each one, each stage, each smile, that much more precious to me.

So there ya go. No, I don't have all the answers. You may not like the answers I *have* given - and that's okay. I am not asking anyone else to take care of them, especially not the government. Loving them, teaching them, training them, being blessed by them ~ I want that!

Yes, beaten up old van and all~





**Now, I hope you are not lumping our family and our situation with ALL of the world. I am not an inner-city mother who has more children to get more welfare (I taught at a school where this was quite the norm). I am not a struggling African mother who is watching her children die due to starvation. I am not a drunk mother, having baby after baby, yet not loving them nor caring for them. I don't have an answer for those situations, or other extremes. I am simply discussing "our" life, what we struggle with, what we are blessed with. I understand this is not a "salvation" issue. Yet considering how often we hear these types of questions, I thought it appropriate to address this topic. Thanks**

9 comments:

Danielle a.k.a Yellie said...

This makes me think of something my grandma always told me. She had 5 children and said people would always ask her how she could afford to have so many kids. She would tell them, "You can never "afford" to have kids, you just adjust your way of living to accomodate them." I think that's so true. Sure, if Brian and I didn't have 3 kids, we could afford nicer cars, have a nicer house, go on vacations, etc....but we would come home to a house with no giggles of kids playing, no little arms spontaneously wrapping around you and no little voices saying "I love you, Mommy/Daddy.", no seeing things through children's eyes and getting to experience things that have become ordinary to us, as if it is the very first time we've ever experienced them. I can't even begin to put a price on that. So, I think you bring up a very good point. In no way are my boys suffering by not having the newest video game system or being in every activity available for their age group, but they are benefitting greatly by seeing their parents give to help others when they can and being happy with what they have been blessed with. They also have a Mommy who chooses to be home with them, to love them and be there for all of their needs and experiences, rather than work to have extra money to have more stuff. It is amazing how much you realize just how blessed you are when you really step back and look at it all. Give me shopping trips to thrift stores and setting up our tent and camping out in the backyard anyday. We're making memories with our children to last a lifetime and that's something we can't afford not to do!

*Michigan Momma* said...

**clapping**

Love the grandma quote, Danielle, thanks for sharing~
Lori

Anonymous said...

Hey, tearing up here. I agree with you, completely....

Brooke

PS I read part of it to Jeff and he said that this must mean that he now is a philosopher. Oh Jeff....

*Michigan Momma* said...

Hehehe....I was wondering if you were going to realize I was quoting Jeff ~ cool!!

For some reason, that really struck me, when he said that. It's *so* true - it's a great answer. Non aggressive, honest, simple. Thanks Jeff the Philosopher~
Lori

Henley said...

Thanks for the explanation. I appreciate you taking the time to further clarify explain your situation. We are all different and we all have different priorities - that is for sure!

LLJ said...

Same is true of time. So many people say to me that I must be very busy with my 6 kids. I just answer that everyone I know is busy. My busyness is just mostly surrounded with my kiddos! I think that is a great investment of my time (& money).

*Michigan Momma* said...

Totally agreed ~ I remember having just one child, and I was *busy*! Dean & I try to recall what exactly we were doing (we can't remember - ha!), but we do know we were busy. You just adjust as you have more kiddos!

One of my friends asked what we do in the evenings (since we got rid of our dish tv). I looked at Dean the other night, as we were finishing baths, cleaning up the kitchen, cycling the laundry, doing some paperwork, straightening up a closet, reading books to small children, making sure older kids were brushing their teeth.....etc.etc.etc......

How in the world did we used to have time for tv????

It's all a matter of perspective and priorities~
Lori

KarenB said...

Hi Lori-

Yes I do know where Lawton is, though I haven't been there in quite some time. I've lived in Dowagiac and Three Rivers growing up. Is Lawton where Big T's Steakhouse is, or is that Lawrence? Anyway, small world. FYI: women get pregnant nursing even without a cycle. I got pregnant with my third while nursing, though I did have cycles. I know it can effect a mom either way. Hopefully yours continues as it has in the past and you're good to go with this surgery. I will pray all goes well. And pray for the vehicle situation. I agree that 2 vehicles is a luxury, just one we're all used to having. Unless there are two parents working outside the home, then it may be a necessity. It all depends on circumstance. Anyone that follows Dave Ramsey will know he pushes for debt-free living and to pay cash for vehicles and trade up bit by bit. I wish I could chat more, it's time to get kids up and around to take my oldest to art camp at church. A good way to gear up for the homeschool year.
Blessings!

*Michigan Momma* said...

Karen,

Art camp?! That sounds like fun!!

Hmmm....Big T's steakhouse...I have no idea. It's just a small lil' country town, we had maybe 60 kids in my class when I was there. They have a great little ice cream shop, Casee's I think, that still only takes cash (no cards). I stopped on through one day with my kiddos when we were making a trip past there. Ahhh, the memories....

And yup, I do realize that I *could* get preggo before my cycles come back. Thus far, I haven't been ovulating before then though ~ which gives me a nice break. Ugh...I can't stand cramps....;)

As to the D.R./car stuff, we will probably be following something along those lines. We need to get something fairly quickly, but I think we're gonna get a cheaper van, then save our money and work our way up to a nicer/larger vehicle. I agree that a large, long-term car loan is silly, seeing how quickly car depreciate and all.

Hope to talk to ya some more later ~ I gotta go get a few more things together with this house before my surgery tomorrow. I believe my mil might be coming up to help, plus our Bible Study is at our house on Friday. I just want things in order before tomorrow's surgery~

Later, my new friend ;0)
Lori