I believe that things happen to us, and that our life happens, because we are to learn lessons in this life that will help us in the next. But sometimes I'm just plumb wore out from all the learning. When can I coast just a little bit? God, help me here?
Of course, I did plenty of coasting when I was younger. I just kind of let life carry me along without thinking too much about my spiritual growth and what plans God had for me, my marriage and family, community, world. Truth be, I can hardly get beyond myself some days, feeling like I'm treading water. One of the places where God speaks to me most is through finances. All my life, having "enough money" has been a real struggle.
I grew up in a home with parents who worked hard to provide shelter, food, and clothing for our family of five siblings. We never starved thanks to mom's beautiful garden and her ability to put food into jars and freezer. Dad provided meat and milk from cows, pigs, chickens (actually the chickens were my mom's project), and he got the most he could out of cash crops planted, cultivated, and harvested in summer. It was a perfect set-up in the 1940's and 1950's. Finally, in the mid 1960's, when the youngest of us five, that being me, graduated from high school there wasn't reason to try and scrabble a living out of 80 acres. Dad and Mom were getting older and farms were getting bigger. Dad could no longer both farm and work off the farm, as he had for many years, to make ends meet. Most everything was auctioned off (including some things I wish we had kept--like Mom's treadle sewing machine which taught me to sew) and Dad and Mom moved to a small, but bustling, farming town 20 miles from where we all grew up.
I set my sights on going to college, and endured one semester of a four-year liberal arts school, long enough to meet some friends and my husband. I wanted to major in music, but my advisor advised against it, unless I wanted to teach...which I didn't. Being a free spirit, studying wasn't one of my favorite things to do. I transferred to business school where I lived in a boarding house and shared a room with another student who is still my best friend after 42 years. My husband-to-be courted me driving me an hour back to Brown-Mackie Business School in Salina, Kansas so I could resume my secretarial studies for the week. I studied from January to October of 1965 and quit just short of receiving my secretarial certificate. I got through accounting class, but learning to do income tax was a bit too taxing for my free-spirit. Besides, my best friend left to get married, and my dating relationship was getting more serious. I took state boards which I passed and was offered a good job (in those days $5/hr. was pretty good money) at Fort Riley, but decided to move back home to take a job at the local hospital as a receptionist. That December I got engaged, and felt like the luckiest person in the world. At that time all my prayers were being answered.
Secretarial and receptionist jobs kept me happily working for several years. With both my husband and I working for the first nine years of our marriage we did well. We also had a small business my husband inherited from his parents. We didn't have to buy a house as my husband's widowed mother moved to an apartment and we lived in the house my husband grew up in. I always hoped I would finish my education, if not in the business field, then some other area, ranging from dreams of being a social worker to librarian. But most of all I wanted to be a writer, and did take writing classes and succeeded at getting printed when I took the time to write.
I finally did get a job as a library clerk, after our son and daughter were both in middle and high school. I loved that job for 12 years. By then my husband, who had lost another of several businesses, was working out of an office an hour away from our little agricultural town, which was economically challenged. He was doing a lot of driving as a sales representative for a home improvement company. We decided to move closer to his office in Wichita.
Since then, it's been touch-and-go. My parents passed away in 1986 and 1989 and I inherited $10,000 which instead of investing I spent on what, I don't remember. My mother-in-law is still living at 102 years old. The income she saved and social security that she made as a registered nurse is running low due to assisted living expenses, and if she keeps adding on the years, we probably won't inherit much of anything. Perhaps her remaining farm that our son-in-law is working will outlast her.
Our daughter and her farmer husband have given us a beautiful granddaughter with another baby due in January. It can be a wonderful life when I trust God to be with me through thick and thin, even when He chooses to withhold financial blessings. Admittedly, we're not very good stewards which is why we probably haven't known we've been blessed when we were.
The stresses have taken a toll on my health: I'm now tryng to learn spiritual lessons through diabetes and the chronic, daily, pain of neuropathy. God, where do I go from here, is my daily prayer, trying to remember to be grateful for what we DO have.
The words of an old song come to mind today:
"How many times have you heard someone say,
If I had his money I'd do things my way.
But little they know that it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind...
"Cause money can't buy back your youth when you're old
Or a friend when you're lonesome, or a love that's grown cold.
And the wealthiest person is a pauper at times,
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind."
~Author unknown, sung by Porter Waggoner
So I look to God to satisfy my mind, and grow me spiritually. He has given me the daily challenge of finding contentment in other people, places, nature, rather than money. Somedays I'm doing fine, other days I'm not doing so great. How about you?
"And he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Cor. 12:9 (KJV)
"I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours." Mark 11:24 (NLT)
Where is my belief? God help my unbelief.