August 31, 2013

What Ground Beef Taught Me About Contentment

I cried over ground beef.


These were not happy tears.  No sir.  I cried miserable, ugly tears of self-pity as I stirred up that last pound of cheap, grocery store beef.

Let me share some back story.

We, my husband and kids, aren't wealthy.  At least by any American standards.  During this season in our lives, my husband earns enough to cover our bills and we might have a little leftover to go out for donuts or get a treat at the farmer's market.  Forget shopping at the mall or hiring a baby sister so we can go to a nice restaurant.  We do thrift stores and the library and parks and bunny ears for the TV because that's what we can afford.

So fast forward to last Thursday afternoon.  Payday, and my weekly grocery shopping trip, was the next day but felt like an eternity away.  We had a pound of ground beef and some rice to make dinner, plus some seasoning and condiments.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem but it seemed like I was out of a few key ingredients for everything I wanted to make.  Everywhere I looked I saw "I can't".  On top of it all, my husband and I had been complaining to each other how it feels like we never have enough money to do anything.

We were both frustrated and discouraged.

That hunk of ground bovine was the last straw.  I grudging turned it, and it's humble side kick Rice, into a decent, filling taco bowl (minus the salsa and cheese, grumble, grumble, grumble) but it did little to erase the frustration and anger in my heart.

Payday finally arrived. Our fridge is full again.  Our bills are paid.  We actually have a little extra money to spend.  In less than 24 hours I went from bawling over dinner to giddy happiness, all over a few dollars.  I believe money can buy happiness but the way I allowed it to affect my attitude and my outlook on life is a little ridiculous.

We have a home.  We have food.  We have electricity and clean water.  We've never had to pay a bill late.  Luxuries that even some people in America can't afford.  A quick statistics search will show that we are wealthier than the majority of the world's population.  Yet I was so focused on what we couldn't do.  So attached to the misery I was creating over the lack of a few dollars.  What about all the stuff I CAN do?  We may lack a ton of money but...
...I CAN spend the afternoon outside with my kids.  A pile of dirt or a tub of soapy water is all they need to keep them occupied for hours!

...I CAN read an endless variety of books (and watch movies), thanks to our library.

...I CAN cook meals for my family, however simple they are.

...I CAN call or text my sisters and mom, all who live on the opposite side of the continent, and share the little things about our day.  

...We CAN go to the park, the farmer's market or just take a walk around the block.

...I CAN sit on our front porch each morning with a cup of coffee.  Or watch the sunset and enjoy the warm summer breeze.

...I CAN get my creative on because I have a sweet little stockpile of craft supplies that
I've accumulated over the years.

...I CAN enjoy a weekend breakfast with my family and linger at the table with my husband, dreaming about future house projects and maybe raising chickens and whatever, while our kids play outside.

...I CAN clean my house, because when I have a clean house, I have a clear and motivated mind.

...I CAN work on The Ruffled Pear, creating new designs, involving myself in the crafting community.

...Though we may not have much extra money, I CAN give my time and serve my family, my church, my community.

The simple things in life are never affected by money.  Sunrises, sunsets, hearing my children laugh, reading a good book, breathing deep and enjoying nature...all these things can be appreciated fully, whether we have all the money in the world or just enough to get by.

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  
I Timothy 6:8

From this moment forward I vow to seek contentment with one pound of ground beef and a few cups of rice or with much, much more.  I want to focus on what we HAVE not what we don't have.  

What about you?  Is contentment a struggle or does it come easy?  I would love to hear your experiences and tips!

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