Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hard Times

Hard Times' or 'At the Pawnbroker's', 1859

There are periods of crisis in the homes of the lower class.   This is for the working class, who are often listed as living in general poverty.  Hard times make survival even more difficult.  Rising utility costs, transportation, and the high cost of food make basic needs almost too expensive.

 We are in one of those periods of hard times right now.  Mr. White and I are having car troubles.  My car broke down last week.   I have been unable to do my errands or take one of my boys to church events.  Because we live in a rural area, no one can help with the driving.   Mr. White has this large old van that was given to him, years ago, by a relative.  I am afraid to drive it.  I can only manage to drive the little cars or possibly mini-vans.    So early each evening, Mr. White has offered to take me to the store.  He has his own errands to do, but takes me along.  He opens the door for me and buys me Pepsi.  I am able to get his help in deciding what will be for dinner.  My evening outings with Mr. White would not happen if I had a car I could drive on my own. This brings a blessing out of suffering.

As this past weekend began, we woke to find that our hot water heater was broken.  The plumber arrived and found the damage was quite extensive.   I went off to one of the rooms and watched something on DVD while Mr. White helped the plumber.  It turns out that our water heater is this pretty unit from the 1950's.  We had to wait until late Monday afternoon for a specialist (in older units) to come by and pronounce it needed to be replaced.  Of course, we had to pay for the service calls and still be without hot water.  In a home where there are no credit cards and no debt, one would think we had plenty of money saved to pay for such events.  Well, we scraped up enough to pay the service fees, but then we had to figure out how to replace the unit.

The plumber quoted us several hundred dollars.  We won't be calling him back.  Somehow, the men in this house (who are not plumbers) will figure out a way to buy a unit from the local hardware store (there are no Home Depots in the middle of nowhere - smiles).  They will find a way to do the work themselves.  We managed to borrow the money from one of our grown children. We will pay it back very quickly over the next few weeks, by scrimping and being careful.

In the meantime, I have been heating water on our electric stove for baths and dishes. This makes one grateful for running water.

This has happened right in the middle of one of my health breakdowns. I have been mostly bedridden for several days.  (I really believe the chill of the cold, and fighting despair can add to one's physical woes.)  Late last week, I told my boys, "I am taking a sick day. You will have to do the chores."  I have been resting ever since.

Is that enough of a crisis? Of course not. . . . Our electric statement arrived with a ridiculous bill.  Our wood pellet stove had broken down last year and we have been relying on electric heaters to try to stay warm all winter.  It has not worked well.  The cost is unbearable and we are still cold.

Somehow we will make the most of this.  Living in poverty is not new to many Americans.  Perhaps someone will go to the local pawn shop and sell something of value to help pay these bills. Perhaps we will go without a few more things to handle the crisis.  Once the smoke clears and all is well again, we will continue to scrimp and save and build up our savings for the next emergency.

This is the adventure of living in poverty for the lower class. It is a way of life.  Most of us, in this life,  will have periods of seeming wealth, and of dire poverty.  It is nothing new.  Yet, in these moments, our helplessness leads us to the source of all comfort and wealth.  It leads us to the Lord, our Father, who will care for His children. All will be well.

Mrs. White

For Home-keeping Inspiration, order my book - For The Love of Christian Homemaking


Debbie said...

I'm so sorry for all of these expenses that have come upon you at the same time.

I can't imagine being so cold and I'm guessing it's what attributes to your body not feeling well.

I just posted today about a money issue.

Your post has prompted me to think of times when we were hardpressed, yet blessed by simplicity.

I pray God's provision for you this week - both physically and financially!

Blessings to you:)

Mrs. A said...


I'm sorry you're going through all that you are. It seems we're in a storm, just coming out of a storm, or going right into one.

Our family is in that "lower class/poverty" area, and it gets rough. God blesses with enough, what we need, and ideas and ways to make those things stretch to cover a family. He sure makes us thankful for the things we have, grateful when abundance comes, and mindful to still give thanks when times are very lean.

Isn't God good? :)

Unknown said...

We went through our "hard times" back in November and December. God is faithful to provide but it doesn't make it any easier when you're going through it. Praying extra blessings your way.

Bonnie said...

I'm so sorry for everything you are going through right now. Your willingness to share has greatly encouraged me today as we struggle through our latest financial crisis. Take good care of yourself and please know you and your family are in my prayers today.

In His Love,

Unknown said...

As Angie stated, it does seem that we're in a storm, just coming out of a storm, or going into one. We certainly appreciate the lulls but more often than not it seems that we are in the middle of a storm. Sometimes I just get so worn down from it... the constant pressure, not being able to get ahead for all the things going wrong, constantly scrimping and saving. As Christians we have to continually look to the Lord and hold on to our faith, and He does provide. But I still worry and still have stressful moments and concerns and I wish I could completely hand all of that over to God. Praying for you and your family, Mrs. White... may He watch over you and ease your burden!

Anonymous said...

Hang in there! Spring is on the way, even if it does not feel like it just yet. It will warm up and your house won't feel so cold. You might be able to work out a payment plan with the electric company. I live in a state close to yours and our electric provider allows customers who are typically in good standing to make payment arrangements if their bills get out of hand. You can also have a budget plan set up where they average your costs for a year and spread them over 12 months, so the bills aren't as bad during times of high use. With your medical issues, there may be some hardship assistance, and you might be able to be placed on a registry that prohibits shut-offs for longer than typical. The best thing to do is just call them right away, before things get any worse, and ask what is available. You might also qualify for some heating assistance, if not now, next winter, when they start accepting applications again. I know you may not want to accept that, but it is there for working families. It gets so cold around here, almost everyone struggles in some way with the heat in the winter, and many people, even some with very nice houses, need heating assistance. Our gas company and electric providers will even visit a home and suggest ways to make it more energy efficient, and depending on income, they sometimes do the work for very low cost, which is a huge help to homeowners. You are right not to go into debt, as that would just make things more difficult. You may be able to find some help online. My sister recently ran into a high electrical repair quote for her home. She looked online found a very reasonable contractor, who charged much less than everyone else. It might be worthwhile to call around to see who can help with the repairs you need. The calls cost nothing and you might find the help you need for much less.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs White
My heart goes out to you during this "challenging" time. You and your family will be in my prayers. I never fail to be encouraged by your posts, and truly appreciate you sharing the good times and sometimes not-so easy times.

I too, know what it's like to have something break down or wear out and wonder where we will find the money to fix it. It isn't easy, especially when it's a necessary item. I understand what you mean about being grateful for running water! It is truly a very large blessing and one that it is easy to take for granted.

God Bless You

Oklahoma Lady said...

I just teared up reading this because it was as if I could have written it, just changed a few things here and there. Being steadfast takes courage and the Lord is giving your heart the courage and the tenacity to rebuild. I've done that. Water & Gas & Phone companies don't work with people like they used to, deadlines come and they turn them irregardless of the situations, then say its the machines. But one day I felt I wanted to just give it up and throw in the towel and say you win, I can't win. Tears fell hard and the Lord came to my rescue once again, he provided with money I didn't expect and it covered what I needed. I haven't given up since then! I'm learning to budget. Sorry this is so long but just had to say!!! been there; done that.

Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

Dear Mrs. White,

We are all too familiar with "hard times" and y'all are in our prayers.

Although I must admit the when I read of you living in a rural area and the plumber coming out to your home, I was jealous. We also live in a VERY rural area and I've been trying for 3 weeks to get a plumber out to my house - they won't even return my phone calls!

Hang in there - spring is on it's way and you will soon enjoy basking in the warm sunshine.


Deanna said...

Hello Mrs. White.
Though it is tough and you're being hit hard......I will rejoice the day I can say I have no debt!!!
You have a big hallelujah there.

That is awesome. You are victorious.
Thinking about you.

There's gonna come a day when these hardships will be a thing of the past. May we both be of good cheer and have a jolly personality.

Doing my best for breakthrough and praying for you.

Your friend,

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady, I am sorry for your recent trials. I hope you feel better soon. After reading your post, I had to smile about the plumbers situation, because at least one of the things we never had to worry about in the mountains was needing a plumber--no running water! We relied on rain barrels and hauled in drinking water. We heated our bath and cleaning water on the wood stove in the winter, and on a campfire in the summer. So you can imagine just how very thankful we have been since moving back home, where running water is a normal thing. Again--I pray you will be better soon.

JudyZ said...

Mrs. White, you are in my thoughts and prayers. It seems poverty is quite an epidemic with homeschooling families. We give up so much to stay home, teach and love our children. I am learning my own lessons these days: going without, learning to make (and keep) a budget.

The Lord always blesses those who trust in Him throughout their trials. It helps us to grow in our faith... and somehow it even pays the bills--in one way or another! ;-)

Lynd said...

Lord, I pray you relieve the White's distress and provide exceedingly and above what they ask or think. We too are always trying to outrun this underemployment. Your candid post lets me know others in the body of Christ are suffering too. I tend to feel like I'm the only one. I will pray for you dear sister. I enjoy your blog very much.

Anonymous said...

I can only sympathize. Hubby and I lost EVERYTHING during the financial meltdown of the last few years, coupled with my cancer diagnosis. With God's grace, we are back on our feet, but it was a blow. Have you ever perused the blog "The Prudent Homemaker?" She makes a very good case for building a good pantry as a hedge against hard times. I hope things will look up for you soon!

Rebecca Knox said...

I'm sorry that your family is going through so much right now, but know that the Lord is more than able to make a way to meet the need. I ordered your book 'Mother's Faith' and it arrived today. We have our own little set of troubles and it centers around our 17-year-old son and troubles within our marriage. We will be lifting you all up in prayer here. Please do the same for us. God bless you, Sweet Sister!