Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Living in Reduced Circumstances

Library of Congress - A Farm couple doing their bookkeeping at home 1930

Several years ago, during a major oil crisis, gas prices rose to over $4.50 a gallon here in rural Vermont.  This caused food prices to skyrocket, partly due to the cost of fuel for the freight trucks who were delivering inventory to all the supermarkets.  

Many could not afford to drive to work and had to find ways to carpool, walk, or find some other form of transportation.  I remember having to give up going to church and limiting youth group events for my (then) teenage children.  It was shocking to realize we couldn't afford the gas to drive to church!

One of the hardest things during this time was having just enough food to feed one's family with little or nothing left over to share with a guest. Many did not entertain at home. Having company was rare and difficult. Offering just a cup of tea to a guest when one wanted to offer cake or pie was depressing!

Nobody wants to live in want or hunger. Nobody wants to feel like buying sugar to bake cookies would be a financial burden when the family needed more nutritious foods like vegetables or meat.

Food pantries in our county were suddenly full of the more affluent in our area.   We were told that many could not afford to buy food and pay basic living expenses at the same time.  One large church in our area was open on a daily basis and gave out emergency food boxes which were expected to last a family, or individual, for a couple of days.  We were seeing both homeless and middle class in the same breadlines.  Nobody wanted to be there.  Nobody wanted to need charity, but the economy forced many to seek help just to eat.

Another church in our area had a monthly potluck supper offered right after the morning service.  Almost everyone brought hot food, desserts, salads, bread and treats to share with each other.  This way each family could contribute what they could and enjoy a nice big meal without feeling like they were getting a handout.    This same church also provides a large spread of refreshments in the dining room after every Sunday service.  Most of the food is brought in by members of the congregation and is a lovely way to comfort one another with both food and fellowship.

There were certain days of the week where local supermarkets would provide display tables with food samples.  Children of customers were also given a cookie from the bakery or a piece of cheese from the deli.  This made grocery shopping, on limited funds, a special outing and a way to gratefully enjoy a special treat. It benefited the stores as well since they were able to offer new foods, and have a nice way to encourage customers to shop.

Today, times are better.  Gas prices have dropped to around $2.88 in our area.  This is the lowest I have seen it here since before the oil crisis hit our nation.  Yet, there will always be someone, or some family, struggling through a time of poverty, a time of "reduced circumstances."  These are the people on a financial adventure who will overcome the difficulties with prayer, faith, hard work, and the blessing of a good church family.

Mrs. White

* [This post is an excerpt from my book, "Economy for the Christian Home."] *

From the Archives -

I will never Regret Staying Home - A Humble Parlour as a School of Theology.

He Still Hears us - Prayers Which Cannot be Uttered.

Marriage - When Groceries are the Presents.

 - To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -

Read Mrs. White's book on Saving Money and Inspiring Charity:

-Economy for the Christian Home.  

Paperback, 110 pages. 







Farrah said...

This is why we should not be looking at whom people are before judging. We should not be judging at all! Good reminder!

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs White,

Thank you for writing when it popped into my inbox what a treat. What you wrote on today holds true to today, never judging others we all have long roads to travel in life with all the richness of valleys and hills. So thank you for encouraging us along the way.
Pray and hope all is well with everyone in your home.
shelley p
from over the pond

vintage ellen said...

A lovely holiday gift to find a new posting from you. Merry Christmas!


Meesha Mckie said...

Yes, Even for us right now...Even the simplest of things for the holidays that we were hoping to do...just won't happen the way we thought because of "financial adventures", ( I love that!)But times like these, do cause me to get creative (more than usual) and to put my focus into what I can do and not what I can't. And being joyful and thankful for what I have...and I have so much. Thank you for reminding me that we are overcomers through our precious faith.

Blessings to you and your family,
And Merry Christmas!
Mrs. M

Deanna said...

Merry Christmas to you, Mrs. White!!! I am so happy that you are blogging. Over the years I have so enjoyed reading your posts and I feel like I know you as a blogging friend.

We have some churches in the area that do food give aways. Glad that they are there.

The Lord's birthday is what I need to focus on this time of year. I must remind myself to not get worked up over all the other things that I want to be a part of.

Grandchildren and children will be here tomorrow...we are working at getting our tree put up. ouch. Hopefully it will be up and decorated this evening. grins.

Merry merry Christmas to you and your sweet family,
d on the prairie

JES said...

Thank you for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays Mrs. White. I love my visits here as they are always thoughtful and hopeful.

Melinda said...

Dear Mrs. White,

I am so glad that you are able to post on your blog again from time to time. You are a source of peace.

Merry Christmas.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing this at Good Morning Mondays, tough times shows us all the same, in need of the grace of God. Blessings to you as you continue to write such inspiring posts.

Oklahoma Lady said...

Thank you for this story of life. Today we are all facing higher prices and although our country is trying to do for all, the economy has to be supported by the people. If we don't have it then what coureagous citizens we are because we are so resourceful. I am thankful the Lord blesses America. We go thru storms yet we perservere. I run shorter each month as I try to meet all my obligations and finish raising a 12 year old. The schools put much on the parents today and I am seeing now some of his fellow athletes can't even afford to go to things because they lack the money at the time its due. Well, we will find a way, maybe even have to help each other as your story mentioned, hand in hand it can work.

happyathome said...

Thank you for this post Mrs White. I have just " found" you blog and it is wonderful. I am from New Zealand and the cost of gas here is between $7 and $8 a gallon depending where you live. Our food supplies are much costlier also. Everytime I have to go to the supermarket I feel stressed as to how far our wages will stretch that fortnight and I buy the basics. I do canning and grow vegetables which is a marvelous help. I also cook from scratch. When my mother was my age (56) I remember that she did not scrimp and scrape like we do nowadays. Thank you for your blog. It is most encouraging.

Marilyn said...

Here it is August 2023 and I have found this post so appropriate for my current situation. I have a lovely neighbor of my age who volunteers at a local food bank. At the end of her day,she brings my household of myself, my daughter and my granddaughter a bit of food that is allowed for the volunteers. I am so thankful for her. Thankful to God.