Gratitude Day 488
Fri., July 17, 2020
Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
The glass jar stood perched on the counter right inside the main entry door into the house. It was summer. Days were filled with baling hay, picking peas and beans from the garden, and training sheep and calves for the county fair. The jar was a constant reminder that the microwave in the kitchen was no longer in working order.
It was the summer after I graduated from high school. I had picked up a mid-day waitressing job, which allowed me to help with chores in the morning, work my shift and then be back home for afternoon milking. As I entered the house with an pocketed black apron still tied around my waist, I dropped the coins acquired from tips in the jar. Bills were saved for college.
This same summer, my younger sister picked strawberries. She added money from her earnings into the jar as well. Other coins and a few bills slowly began to cushion the bottom of the jar. Mom added a few coins. Dad dropped in the change found in his pocket. Every once in a while, someone would count the money just to see how close we were to acquiring enough money to fix the broken microwave.
It was awfully slow going. Would we ever get enough money to fix the microwave?
Years earlier, Mom received the microwave as a Christmas gift when microwaves were relatively new. On the farm, her the family felt the microwave would speed up meal prep for Mom. Mom was less than impressed with the purchase, which felt like a huge luxury at the time. Maybe she thought her cooking skills would be dumbed down by a machine that could melt butter in 90 seconds.
When our local high school offered microwave cooking classes, Mom signed up. Food actually could be prepared in the microwave. She embraced ways to cook favorites in considerably less time.
Yes, some foods were best not prepared in the microwave. Dad didn’t like crunchy vegetables which never got soft in the microwave. Baking was tricky. By the time dough was cooked in the center, the outsides were beyond crispy.
When the microwave stopped working that summer, everyone was dependent upon it. We made popcorn on Saturday evenings and used it to thaw meat. My dad’s culinary skills extended only to making toast. But he could heat up water for instant coffee.
As much as we wanted the microwave fixed, we were keenly aware funds were not available. I’m not sure how much money we needed. It might as well have been $10,000.
That’s when the glass jar became stationed right inside the door. Optimistic we could quickly collect the needed money, days turned into weeks, which turned into months. In the kitchen, the microwave collected dust.
My paternal grandparents always spent the week of our county fair in Wisconsin. While my sister and I put the finishing touches on our fair projects, Grandma Deaton inquired about the jar on the counter. Someone filled her in about the broken microwave. A check was added to the jar. Our grandparents anted up the funds to get the microwave fixed.
You would have thought we had just won the lottery.
Today, when something breaks at our house, if it is something we depend upon or needs replacing, Hubby Rick or I go and buy it. Yes, we discuss whether or not it needs replacing. I may look online for costs. But if we think we need it, we get it. We don’t put a jar on the counter and deposit coins or bills as we enter the house.
At the time, the microwave broke, my parents were experiencing significant financial burdens. Our entire family knew it. We had each taken on a way to bring in additional income. Mom worked off the farm. The kids had summer jobs. An occasional trip to the root beer stand for a float after chores was a huge splurge. We ordered the kiddie or momma sizes because the daddy size was way too expensive.
After four months of a pandemic that has financially hit some families significantly, there are families who look at their monthly bills and the coins left in their checking account and wonder how rent or mortgage will be paid next month. They wonder if they should pay their cell phone bill or go to the grocery store. These are real discussions.
If you are one of those families whose coins have been emptied out and you are not sure what to do next, here are a few suggestions:
- Visit your local food pantry. This is why we have them. Use them. DO. NOT. BE. ASHAMED.
- Call the businesses you cannot fulfill your financial obligation and talk with them. Don’t ignore the bills. Be proactive.
- Prioritize your expenses. Wait on anything that is not absolutely necessary, i.e. – microwave.
- Be creative. Think outside the box. Are there things you can liquidate? Opportunities to bring in even a small amount of income?
If you are doing OK and maybe even have a little extra, what can you do?
- Think through your family and friends. Is someone struggling and too proud to ask for help? There are ways you can help. Send gift cards, have groceries show up at their house, etc.
- Aid in a non-financial way. Watch children, drive somewhere, take over extra food from your house.
- If you aren’t sure who to help, inquire through a non-profit, church, or other organization. Leadership are often aware of folks who need assistance. You will probably not know who receives the assistance. Be OK with this.
- Whether you are a person feeling anxious about your current financial situation OR wondering how you to share blessings, begin by turning to God. No one at our house expected our grandparents to provide the resources to get the microwave across the finish line. They saw a need … and helped out. They were inspired to do so.
Look for inspiration to do the same. Share your heart with God. Let God carry your burden with you. Together, you and God will figure this out.
For God’s desire to carry our burdens with us, I am grateful.
Holy God – be with those who are struggling financially right now. Open their hearts for help. Bring someone into their lives who can share the burden. May we always turn to You first for inspiration and guidance. Amen.
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