Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: October 2013 (page 1 of 4)

When little is enough

I did one of the most dangerous acts of our household yesterday: I balanced the checkbook. I’ll be honest: We ended the month with $32 and change. And then I saw that JJ had given $14 of it to the band. 

After previously noticing an increase in our spending, I proposed this week we do a major cut so my grocery store run included only essentials: bananas, spinach, grapes, a package of ground beef (a splurge because it was on sale) and our contributions to the upcoming birthday party. I walked out of Meijer $42 proud. 
Which means the kitchen required a bit of creativity and a lot of freezer raiding. I found myself rationing my 2 onions. Seriously. I checked my menu plans twice to make sure nothing was coming up that would require an onion. When trying to figure out what to make for lunch, I looked in my fridge and freezer and made something from it – specifically, vegetable soup. I had made a batch of broth last week, had tomatoes from the garden in the freezer (because I’d used all the tomato sauce in an earlier soup), had carrots and frozen vegetables and potatoes abounded. Voila. Lunch. (And it’s one of the kids’ favorites, so double word score). 
As I carefully allocated my onions, I realized that I had a stash of garden onions in my makeshift root cellar downstairs. No rationing needed! And when the kids wanted a snack, not only did I have a gazillion fresh bell peppers in the fridge (thanks, last chance cart!) but I had 2 ziplock bags full of slices in the freezer thanks to an earlier stock up session. 
We didn’t go hungry at all this week. I even made granola as a snack. The only thing we really missed were eggs (to be purchased tomorrow). 
And though the checking account said $32, in all honesty we have another savings account full of options. There is money – it’s just not earmarked for our day-to-day life and I’m a hardcore rule-follower. We’re trying to live within our means, so exercises like this remind us of our careless spending. (Because nothing causes you to ask yourself “do you really need those 3 bottles of wine that are on sale?” like when you can’t have sour cream on on a taco after it didn’t make the short list.) 
We have more than enough. And in the little that we had, we didn’t go hungry. At all. We snacked, we ate 3 meals. And good meals! A taco dish, chili, oven fried chicken with mashed potatoes & gravy, vegetable soups, pasta e fagoli soup (total winner! H Boy slurped from his bowl)… and the cupboards aren’t even bare. I’d venture to guess we could go 2 more weeks, as long as no one complained about the hodge-podge nature of the meals as we went. And if “beans” counted as a meal. We have a lot of beans, I noticed. 
So while we ended October victorious over the checkbook, my perspective also grew. Sometimes you don’t know how lucky you are until you scale back severely and see that you still have more than enough. We can enter into a season of Thanksgiving truly thankful that our “little” still put us in a pretty blessed situation. 
And next week, the cart will be filled to the brim. 
That part of the story brings me to my knees every time. I know that I know that I know we’re okay. This was an exercise in restraint, a reminder that we control our finances and not the other way around. We’re not loosing the house or avoiding phone calls, we just want to be good stewards. Folks live this way week in and week out, without the promise of a refill later. I must remember this when I start to get ungrateful or feel “deprived” when we don’t eat out on a whim. 
We have more than enough. 
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In defense of: (My own) old folks Music

The other morning my Pandora station brought out a song that I hadn’t heard in a while. It took me back to Summer Project (#SDSP) and my initial thought was, man we should sing more of THIS at church on Sunday. My honest self will tell you I was tempted to email Bob and make a kindly suggestion. I refrained – thank goodness – and soon realized that this song is over 10 years (!) old.

I specifically remember thoughts of disdain when I went to churches and heard praise songs that were “at least 10 years old.” Come on, folks, let’s get with the times, I would say to myself. Shine Jesus Shine had its days of glory, but we’ve moved on.

Now, it seems, my musical preferences fit more into the archaic category. As KLR would say: another nail in the coffin. I suddenly have more empathy for the elders of our church, the ones from whom the larger evangelical “contemporary” movement has been trying to pry away the hymns and organ.

Music has such a powerful way of shaping and growing us. The tunes I hold dear don’t just have a catchy rhythmical structure. They catch my heart because of their presence in my life during significant  moments. They are the soundtrack to my faith story.

I remember singing and crying to a Jars song about being “between worlds”when driving to and from Athens my freshmen year, trying to figure out how I fit into this new, big place. Then came the Lakeside years and the handfuls of songs that call me to remember specific kids and moments. I cry nearly every time I hear Blessed be the Name because it was led so often during a period of time while I grieved for our friend Vanessa.  Never Let Go takes me immediately back to Findlay and a difficult period of transition for our family.

My heart leaps in hearing Listen to our Hearts because it made a round of my college friends’ weddings and I cried at the weddings, too.  My mom learned a Chris Tomlin song  soon after her dad and brother passed away, and I cry when I hear it, knowing it provided a healing balm to the sting of death.

I sang a DC*B song, Never Let Go, over and over and over after a miscarriage to remind me that In sun and rain, in joy and pain, You’re the same, You never let go. I heard a preacher once say to “sing until it’s true” and that’s what I did in that period. I sang it until I believed it. I did – and I do.

Music doesn’t just tickle the ears, but rather supports our hearts with truths. It sings to us the bigger story. Even the scriptures remind us to “sing to one another the Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” because the ancients knew that music has a way of burning the truths into permanent memory.

Which is why we need to honor those whose own soundtracks include songs from yesteryear. Even more, because they share a soundtrack with many more generations than my own. My mom doesn’t have the same faith soundtrack as me, but I have to wonder if my grandmother shares one with her mom. Likely they sang the same choruses throughout their homes despite generational changes, much the same way most of us treat Christmas music. We don’t necessarily love Hark! The Herald Angels Sing because the words spur us to action – who actually knows what it means?  Rather, we love its heritage, its place in the rhythm of our years.

So be gentle, you young whippersnapper, when you rebuke the hymns of yesteryear. I have to believe that music (at least the kind used by churches) doesn’t exist just to tickle our ears or cause our foot to tap. It’s a tool for us to tell our story, to declare truths, to evoke thoughts that we can’t put to words until a base line provides the framework.

Someday a young person will tell me that Marvelous Light is irrelevant to the next generation and we need to move on. And then I’ll cry a little because they’re not just making my taste in music obsolete, they’re moving my story into the archives.

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When I wear a pretty necklace

Someone who is more on the cusp of fashion trends than myself informed me that gold is back in the accessory rotation. So this morning I repurposed a few jewelry pieces from my previous life, bracelets I hardly wore then and a necklace that made its virgin appearance.

I only chose it because I recently purchased a silver owl necklace, so I know it’s hip with the youngsters now.
Beyond its trendiness potential, I felt it was appropriate for today’s voyages. The necklace bears little market value, but reminds me of the worth of great character. My grandmother Mary put it in a Christmas stocking at some point prior to 1997 (seriously, it’s vintage) and I’m positive I rolled my teenage eyes at its lack of cool factor. It’s an owl. The sentimental chump that I am kept it because my grandma gave it to me.
Grandma Mary was always bestowing chintzy jewelry on us gals and probably anyone who gave her reason. She kept an entire drawer full of the stuff. It was Avon. So, yes, the neighboring drawer housed random perfumes, lip colors and whatever else she probably dumped on my mother and aunts.
I don’t believe Grandma Mary really loved Avon. She didn’t even wear Skin So Soft, except to fight the bugs. She was a tried-and-true Exclamation(!) fan.
She bought and bought the stuff because in her later years, her Avon Lady became her biggest ally. While the family was only about 30 minutes away, she lived mostly solo after my grandfather died and my grandma did not drive (like, ever. She didn’t have a license. “Except to church” she once said. “If a cop is going to pull me over going to church, then so be it.”)
So frequently the Avon Lady would make a call, grandma would buy a future present and then they’d go get groceries. Or medication. Or eat at Aunt Millie’s. Whatever Grandma needed to get to doing, the Avon Lady would help her do.
One time, the Avon Lady had to pick her up out of a snow drift. It was quite a winter but Grandma needed groceries. After arriving home, Grandma got a little to close to the snow drift and tumbled over. The poor thing ended up with a black eye but she told the story like a warrior.
Now that I’m older I have a much deeper appreciation for what the Avon Lady did for our family. She cared for a widow in ways that meant so much. She kept her safe, she kept her company. Grandma, the hairdresser she was, probably craved company and conversation more than anything else, especially on days she didn’t have her Bridge Club.
What a brave, honorable, generous thing to do, to give of your time every week to make sure a wonderful old lady could get her groceries and have a little lunch. Granted, who wouldn’t love to hang out with Grandma Mary each week? But people value their time. Giving it to someone else is probably one of the greatest gifts we can offer.
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