Friday, June 6, 2008

I Know Someone More Powerful Than the Oil Companies

Our days are so filled with child-rearing, teaching, preparing meals and keeping house, that there's scarcely time to dwell on things like, say, gas prices. I just clicked on a news story predicting that gas will hit $5/gallon by July 4th. That's a little disconcerting, to say the least. Better not to click on such stories.

Upon finishing that article, I looked up the federal poverty guidelines for a family of 5. We're right there, almost exactly, yet we don't receive any assistance. That blows my mind, when I think about it. My husband is an elementary school custodian, armed with a Bible College Bachelor's degree. The degree comes in handy for many reasons, although none of them have to do with financial gain. Folks, if you know a woman who wants to stay home with her children and thinks she can't afford it, tell her about what seemingly impossible things our Lord can do - does do - everyday.

We eat well, dress in decent clothes, live in a decent neighborhood, have a beautiful, spacious, fenced yard, and a house (that we own, monthly payments $734/mo) with more than adequate space, notwithstanding the smaller bedrooms.

Our cars are paid for, but old, and when they break down, we get perks like wholesale parts prices, or free labor. My uncle happens to have a very good mechanic who works out of his backyard, and passes the overhead savings onto his customers by giving them wholesale prices on parts. Also, when it makes sense, we can use my husband's school district's auto-shop teacher, who works on employee cars for free, only charging for parts.

Our kids are not disadvantaged, partly because when we were a double-income family, we spent a good amount of money on educational toys, books, and supplies. Their playroom is stocked as well as most daycare centers or preschools, with enough materials to stimulate all the senses.

While it's true that we have to say no to most of their material requests, it helps our case greatly that they are not exposed to commercialism, through public schools or daycare centers or commercial TV. They know we are low income, but because our interests have mostly to do with exploring and appreciating nature, and pursuing knowledge, they don't experience life as poor people.

My husband and I pray for our daily bread, and the Lord provides. We pray for a way to fix things, to pay deductibles, even to visit people and places, and the Lord provides. Our monthly needs usually exceed our income, yet somehow we get by. One example of a big blessing is that tax refunds for poorer families are fairly generous; every year, come March, we can attend to things that have been neglected.

Tell your mom friend who wants to stay home that God provides, in large part, by changing our hearts. He aligns them with His priorities. As a result, we can live simply without feeling stifled, disadvantaged, or bitter. The times when these feelings do creep in, are those in which we've taken our eyes off the Lord, and put them on ourselves, or on the Joneses.

We had to move from California to Ohio to allow me to stay home, and while we all miss the mountains, we get that life requires sacrifices. We count the flat land of Ohio as one of those sacrifices. My husband's love for the mountains is deep. He grew up in PA, and definitely prefers the West, although not California specifically. I know we will someday live near mountains again; the Lord knows the desire of my husband's heart. But for now, we are parents first, not individuals. We both married late. I was 33 and Don was 40 when we tied the knot, in 1999. First marriage for both of us. We had our time to be individuals, whether we wanted it or not. This lifestyle works. It fits. I wouldn't trade it.

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