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Everybody stumbles.....

.....and yesterday was a wipeout for me.

As much as I know that Christmas is all about the birth of our Savior, it's hard not to be at least concerned about having some presents under the tree for the kids.

My wipeout was about money.....or the lack of right now. You see, the choice to stay home to homeschool and be home with the kids is just that.....our choice (and freedom that I am thankful for). Another choice we had to make was making our life more simple to be able to do so. Over the past years, we have stripped alot of "things" that we didn't really didn't own......they owned us. They owned us in the sense that we seemed to have the desire to just buy things when we wanted them, not needed them, ykwim? We were not living this luxurious life.....but we had some toys, we ate out whenever we felt like it....and browsing/spending was something that I treated myself to whenever I felt the urge. We didn't live beyond our means, but we certainly didn't live on a budget.

So fast forward the past few years.....our income basically got slashed about 40% after the birth of N and deciding that I was going to be staying home. (I used to work late nights, so I was home during the day, but completely hagged out). So think about your monthly income and whack 40% off of it.....yeah, it stings. And it forces you to look around and see what you really could do without. At first it seemed like a choke hold ......but as we started to peel off the excess....it was actually a breath of fresh air. The "stuff" we thought we needed......really was just a want. And being able to be home at night....doing normal "home at night" things was so worth it. No more parenting-on-the-phone during work breaks......no more feeling like I a was hit by a Mack truck while I was making breakfast. Even though we had less.......I felt like I had so much more.

So that is good.......and it works on our day-to-day living. We have some weeks where we still barely squeak by. As I have mentioned before........God is the ultimate accountant and finds a way to crunch the numbers. Even when we shouldn't make it with the numbers on paper.......we do. For example, yesterday I cashed my check from the subbing job I did a couple of weeks ago at the preschool.......it was a whopping $23.55......went to Target to pick up a few things for the kids' lunches.......total was $22.45. no kidding.

But with Christmas rapidly approaching.....and Josh not getting a Christmas bonus.......we are facing the ultimate test in being a witness for God to "WALK THE WALK, NOT TALK THE TALK".......and yes, I failed yesterday. You see.....Josh has gotten a bonus every year that we used (and relied on) for our Christmas shopping. Being creatures of habit, of course we depend on that little extra reward for his hard work all year. I don't know if we took it for granted as we always felt blessed by it, but looking back.....I guess expecting (relying on) it each year is sort of taking it for granted. So this year, when we really really could use it (as I am sure the majority of our country)....we are faced with the fact that there isn't one to use.

So yeah....we have the resources for a little bit of money with 0% interest for three months.....and we are going to have to make it really stretch. I hate the fact that we have to use a credit card but what are we supposed to do? The kids already know that it is going to be a lean Christmas and say they understand......but who doesn't want to disappoint their kids?

I guess the "human" side of me caved into the stress/disappointment and got really down yesterday. I started beating myself up for not pursuing a more substantial paying job scenario (working one night at the salon and subbing once in awhile at the preschool is far from a steady, sufficient income.....you read how much my check was for).....I started looking back (instead of looking UP) at everything I should have/could have done and got sucked into a very negative mindset. I was snappy at the kids......Josh and I got into a spat where distance did not make the heart grow fonder.....it was just a total drag. Even our Jesse Tree nightly devotional wasn't so spiritually uplifting as I hoped.

One thing that stuck in my mind.......was one of Josh's more positive comments about the finances.....he said that the pressure we are feeling about buying gifts at this time of year.....is what many people feel about paying their mortgage, electric bill, heat and food.....all year long. I think God was speaking through him for that particular moment, with a "GET OVER IT, Michelle" kinda tone. At the time, I was still angry at Josh so I didn't even agree with him......I actually was hanging on to my own pity party. Even as he was talking to me, my ugly spirit felt some satisfaction that I didn't tell him he had something stuck in his tooth all afternoon (and secretly hoped others saw it too)

So the day went on......we spoke only when necessary. He went out to get the tree with E (who I may add, picked the perfect size this year!) and things started to calm down a bit.....I made sure that I apologized, kissed and hugged him before bed because I was taught to never go to bed angry. I told him that we'd figure it out.....we always do.

Before I fell asleep, I was thinking about what our pastor said last weekend in regards to the greediness that Christmas shopping can bring. He was talking about the tragedy of that poor Walmart worker who was trampled to death opening the doors on Black Friday. How people just wanted their "stuff" and didn't care about anything (even someone's life!) in order to get what they wanted.....so sad. :( He also referenced on how in Africa, the way to catch a monkey is to dig a small hole in the ground and put peanuts in it. The monkey will put his hand in to get the peanuts, but when he has them in his grip, his fist will not allow him to pull his hand out. He will not let go of the peanuts and struggles to get his hand free. He does not realize that it is because he wants something so badly......that he is putting himself in danger. So it is easy to catch him as his stubbornness fails him. I do not want to be gripping on the "peanuts" in life and miss out on enjoying this Season.
(*I must have fallen asleep thinking about that monkey, as I had a very weird dream about a monkey biting me......the pepper jack cheese I ate before bed also might have played a factor in the weirdness)

So yes......I stumbled.....but I am thankful that God granted me a new day to pick myself up and try again. I may not be able to change my circumstances.....but I can change my mindset. I will focus on looking UP and not down.



Summer said...

Awww, Michelle. I am sorry you had a drag of a day yesterday. It sounds like your outlook on things is a bit more positive today. I hope today proves to be a little better. I know it's hard to disappoint our kid's. It stings so, so badly! But remember they know just how much we love them. Our kid's have a lot more than many kid's do, especially a loving mommy and daddy.

P.S. I was going to suggest maybe doing a trade for some jewelry to help out your "gifting" but I don't know if I have enough time to order supplies and mail it there quick enough. :(


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