Monday, August 11, 2008
Usually the Mr. does the grocery shopping but on Friday, I ventured out. Mostly because we were down to ice cubes and diet Pepsi if you don't count my mint and lemon balm as food stuffs. My bill was $193. With no frills. Five or so nights worth of dinners. Laundry soap and a kitchen remodeling magazine. No lunch supplies for little kids. No Starbucks coffee (Folgers Black Silk). Just a week's worth of plain old dinners and the few necessities. In fact, the Mr. went out on Saturday to buy water and a few things I'd forgotten. And I made another stop for shampoo and such; another $48. As I took out my bonus card and paid my bill, I did not feel anxious but so thankful to be able to simply pay and be on my way with my week's worth of groceries. We're not rich by a long shot but we can afford food.
There was a time in our lives when I did all of the grocery shopping because I was a full time home maker. And while I wax eloquent about that time before I was working; there was a price for the luxury of staying at home with daboyz. The price was we were stinking poor. Every week I'd tell the Mr. I was off to buy groceries and without fail we'd have the same conversation, "What is the least about of money you need to get us through this week?" I hated that conversation. It seemed that no matter how many corners I cut, I still spent too much on groceries. I think his goal was for Farmer Jack to pay us to take home food. I'd get a knot in my stomach just anticipating the grocery conversation. I'd go to the store with a calculator and add up every penny that I put in my shopping cart fearing going over the limit before I ran out of aisles. And about half of the time, I'd have to go back through the store returning this item so I could afford that item. I was torn between paying with cash to force me to stay on budget or writing a check to force him to cover our expenses. The problem with theory number two was that in those days, over spending on groceries meant not paying another bill. Grocery shopping seemed like a huge burden on my shoulders every week. We'd sink or swim on my choice of breakfast cereals. I think those days of cutting corners to the extreme had a lot to do with my weight gain because eating fat is cheaper than eating skinny. Not to mention eating fat is a small comfort when you're flat broke. This is why the Mr. now grocery shops. I figured, let him try to live within his own budget.
In hindsight and having survived those years, I can't say I regret staying home. It was way hard and I don't want to go back there. I'm glad it's over. That's probably why I don't mourn my twenties and didn't freak when I turned forty. Probably why my kids graduating high school and growing up is nothing but happiness for me. It means the days of white knuckle grocery shopping and praying that the winter coats would fit for one more year is over. Thank you Jesus.
Now I find myself doing what my parents and grandparents were probably doing; worrying about how young families can afford to survive in this environment. If my grocery bill makes me gasp; what about the young mom or dad with little ones who don't have twenty years seniority in their pay check and a second income to stretch the budget? Now that $193 grocery bill really isn't about the money draining from my account. It's concern for the people walking where I was walking.
If you're there, I am praying for you today. You'll be ok. You'll make it. You'll use that calculator and find out which restaurants feed kids free on which nights (because then it's cheaper to eat out.) You'll eat a lot of hog dogs and mac and cheese. Time will pass and you'll take a deep breath having lived through it all. And then you'll worry about the next generation of young families. It will be your turn to pray.
Father, I ask you to extend your hand to young families struggling not for luxuries but to afford food and clothing for their kids. I ask you to cover their minds with peace and increase their faith. I ask you to grant them wisdom as they try to find money where it doesn't seem to exist and bring them blessings in the form of provision. You Father are able to send manna from heaven and draw water from a rock. This is not too difficult for you. Meet the needs of these men and women. Let them not go so long in crisis that they are crushed but show them your miraculous love as week by week they see you hand at work. Burden the hearts of those who are able to be your hands and feet that we would be the bearer of the help that they need. May this not be a time in their lives of desolation but of the revelation that they are loved by you and your people and never alone. Lord, I come boldly to you to say that pretty words are not enough when you have run out of milk before you have run out of week. Send help in a real way. I thank you God, knowing that you are Jehovah Jireh; Provider. The cattle on a thousand hills are yours and these families are your children. Send them manna. Amen.
Deuteronomy 6:10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.