Saturday, July 25, 2009

No Income and the Basics of Life

Enchanted Garden

We live in a very rural area. We have our own well, which is run by electricity. We have to be very careful about our water usage. However, it is not always easy with older teens who tend to be wasteful. The last couple of days, we have been struggling with plumbing problems. I cannot do any laundry.... When I wash dishes, I have to plug up the sink and use a dishpan. Then I have to haul the water outside and dump it in the yard. My kitchen is on the second floor of our old, colonial house. I have to walk down a flight of 15 stairs to get outside. This is just a small taste of what our ancestor mothers had to go through to run a home.

This morning we lost electricity. It was off for quite some time. I talked to the electric company and learned that our entire area (several towns) were without power. So what did I do? I prayed.... Then I put on my apron and got to work in my kitchen. I tidied things up. What else could I do?

This all reminds me of what happened to us a couple of years ago. We had no income for a few months. I mean nothing.... My husband and I went hungry. The children lived on a simple, inexpensive diet. We used up all of our savings to survive. ... survive... I remember reading this Christian magazine, and one of the articles was about this mother who went out shopping, trying to pick out a birthday present for her nephew. In my frame of mind at the time, I could not understand how anyone could have extra money for presents. How? I was baffled. We had nothing but our old house, our family and little else. The basics of life take on a new meaning. . . We are told in Scripture that we are to be content with food and raiment. It also says that we brought nothing into this world and we will bring nothing out. (I Timothy 6-8) This passage becomes very vivid when you have no wages.... no extras... and are living on an extreme standard of living. The tears come when you have children who count on you to provide for them. It is at these moments we weep in private, but put on a happy face in front of the family. You have to make their childhood innocent, free of care, and whatever else you can to keep them happy. Depression, in this society, is far too rampant. We do not want it to start in the minds of young children! So, we must be inventive. It is like the Old Yankee Spirit, here in New England. It is the spirit of the Great Depression Era Mothers who are an inspiration to us all.

Here are some of the things we have done when there wasn't enough money to go around:

1. My son had his 16th birthday. We gave him a book (a book!) and a CD. That was it. Granted, they were items he dearly wanted, but they cost only a few dollars. I felt so bad. I asked him how he felt about it. He told me he would have been angry if I had given him more than that. He is such a mature, young man and wise beyond his years. He said he is not a little child anymore and would rather we paid our bills and bought food than spent money we didn't have, just to buy him a bunch of things.

2. I didn't buy any school books. We re-used what we already had and made it last. * We also used books from the library. In the middle of the school year (during tax time) we bought the curriculum we needed. But we bought far less than normal. The children still learn.

3. Birthday cake is a box mix purchased on sale. Amy (14) has learned to make decorations out of scrap paper, crayons and a little tape. Without her skills, holidays and celebrations around here would be bland and sad.

4. Presents - were either something we made, or something special we already owned. I remember my Nicole (18 at the time) giving me this old, black and white movie that she treasured. It was something she already owned. I was so happy with it. She has also given the children her favorite books or jewelry out of her own possessions and delighted them.

5. We did not have a cell phone... no cable bill... no internet extras. You can live without these things. We had no car payment... no credit card bills.. no frills. It is a simple life..

Oh, I have to say, if I went back to live my married years all over again, I would never have wasted all the money I did... I would have carefully, frugally and prudently saved and scrimped and I would have been inventive. I would have made our days happy and cheerful without the use of money. Can you just imagine the resources I would have today, If only I had been more careful? Yet, I am still young. There is still time to be prudent. I will take all that I've learned and do my best to pass it on to my children. I will continue to make a way to live very simply so that money is used for what it was meant for... survival, helping others, and the simple basics of life.

No Income? Time to pray.. Time to trust your Heavenly Father... It is not something to worry about. God is just saying... "My child... it is time for you to awaken from your sleep and change the way you live... I will guide you... I will be with you.."

What more comfort do we need than that?

Mrs. White

* Re-using schoolbooks - These were hardcopy books or textbooks for reading only. We had to take care of the binding so the books would last for a long time.  (Such as the McGuffey Readers).

My House - An Elegant Home Despite Poverty.

Encouragement - How The Old Time Mothers Survived Poverty

Index of Featured Articles - Thrift - Home Economy (Stories and Inspiration)

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FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Nice post. When we have to go without, we appreciate all the more what we have been blessed with. God sees us through every area of our life. You are teaching your children wonderful values that will be with the them the rest of their lives.


Unknown said...

Totally agree. We are experiencing just that right now. Trying our best to trust and trying to teach contentment to the kids. Reading aloud Little Women right now is huge for them and they have come a long way.

Deanna said...

Mrs. White,
Thinking on what you have posted.
Will pray.
God Bless,

Michelle Gibson said...

Very inspiring and encouraging post! I feel we are headed to those more simple days and I am doing all I can to prepare for it. We don't celebrate birthdays (in the traditional sense) so I am grateful that is not an issue. My boys are happy to make cars out of scrap pieces, so I am confident they will be just fine. I think the biggest change will be for me and my luxuries - electricity, running water, computer, internet, etc. I've already weaned myself off of the cell phone. . . oh, so much more to work on though! Great post! Got me thinking for sure!

The Happy Acorn said...

This is very inspiring, and very timely for our family... even to what God has spoken to me just this morning. I'm so glad I clicked your link someone shared on Facebook. :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Thank you so much for sharing all you have I agree so much with you I have marked to follow you and added you to my blogspot.

I am wondering if you maybe related to the WHITES in Newton Mass ?

thank you so much you put into your words how we all should be and the First person in our Lives should be our Lord and Savouo. Hope to get to know you better the reason i asked i f you were related to the WHITES in Mass is that is part of my hubby's heritage. Hope you will join my blog an new at blogging look forward also to sharing with you and this coming Thanskgiving and Christmas

A new friend Bev

Amy Walker said...

I love the way you share your experiences on your blog! So edifying and encouraging! I've been reading the autobiography of George Muller lately!!! God does provide!! He's speaking that to me so much lately that it makes me wonder...are hard times ahead...but that is sin..sufficient for today are the troubles thereof!!!!!!!!!!!

Karen said...

I love your article.
How did you re-use books that you had already used?

Unknown said...

Let me ask you- what do you do to cut cell phone, internet, cable etc when you are in a contract and they say you have to pay to get out of the contract?

Unknown said...

we are looking to cut in these ways but are in contracts and don't see out anytime without incurring extra costs.

Mrs. White said...

Jessica, I would just talk to the company involved and explain you are having a financial problem. Ask them if they will work with you to get out of that contract. Sometimes, they charge a fee, but may allow you to make small monthly payments until that fee is paid off. This fee is often far less than what you would have paid over time if you had remained under contract with them.

If that's not possible, perhaps cutting back on other things until that contract time is over, and just not getting into something like that again.

Hope that helps!

Mrs. White

Unknown said...

I am truly inspired! Thank you so much for sharing!

Gwen said...

I was one of those children who grew up in extreme poverty. But I consider myself to have had the happiest childhood of anyone I know! My mother worked so hard to protect us from the negatives and to make our childhood full of magic, wonder and faith. We were always truly grateful for what little we had. The other Christmas I spent with my dad and I saw the terrible glut of presents my little half-siblings had, and it actually made me feel sorry for them. Those peices of plastic will be forgotten and discarded in a few weeks, whereas the memories I have of playing outdoors with my few treasured possessions, or just items from nature, will be with me forever. I just wish I could give that to my children someday but I know it is hard nowadays for either parent to be able to afford to stay home. It would be my greatest dream to have a little peice of land and to be able to stay home and homeschool my children.

Country Mama said...

We are in this situation and have been for awhile. Since 2008, my husband has had hardly any work, and often(like now) we have times of no income. NONE. However, I have watched God provide in so many amazing ways. Personally I don't totally shelter my kids from this; they know what is going on, because then they can see the hand of God provide and their faith grows! We talk about the circumstances, but in a positive way. We have a wonderful community of people where we live, and churches pitch in and help out those of us in need. I always feel bad for the kids, but I think they're learning a lot through this! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been a faithful reader of your blog for a couple of years now. And in those couple years my family has had seasons of "not much". No extra monies for anything at all. Sometimes not even the basics.Your words about how our children rely on us to provide for them and we just cant hit my know what its like. Over the years I continue to read some of your post over and over. Sometimes just to be reminded and I find so much encouragement. I am so grateful for your wisdom and experience . Thank you so much!