Monday, May 21, 2012

Just Another Meatless Monday (And Budget Update)

So, do you have that Bangles song in your head? heh. Shameful, I know.

Here's the rundown for the week, proving that you can always eat veg and have a happy tummy too:

Monday: Cabbage/Burger Casserole

Tuesday: Veggie Italian Sausage (my family loves this one from Tofurky) with Baked Fries. Tuesdays and Thursdays are tae kwon do nights for the girls, so I choose something light and easy to make since we get home later. Most of the time I'll do soups or chili in the crockpot on these nights, but with the weather so nice, I've been changing things up a bit.

Wednesday: Pizza!

Thursday: Corn Chowder

Friday: Lentil Loaf and Mashed Potatoes (we had church events last Friday evening  and one daughter not feeling well, so I ended up not making this; we just grabbed a few things and went)


Back a couple of months ago, I posted about how I was going to be trying to work on our food budget. I did so well that first month with a budget of $525 that we thought I could try trimming it even more to $515. This has turned out to be more difficult. Last month, my mom came to stay with us for a couple of days and this month we started hosting a Bible study in our home on Sunday evenings. We wouldn't want to change any of those plans to accomodate a budget, so the budget will need to change to accomodate to our lives. We'll go back to $525/$530 and see how comfortable that keeps us.

The great news is that because we stuck to our guns and bought a home within our means, below what we actually qualified for, come July our mortgage payment will be almost exactly half of what we are currently paying in rent! SOOOO very happy about this. That will give us a little more wiggle room as well as being able once again to set some money aside into savings.

It's tempting, so tempting, in this culture to reach beyond our means to satisfy, however temporarily, a desire for bigger and better. Advertising wants us to believe that we deserve certain things, especially when we've reached a certain age. "Shouldn't we have, by the time we are in our thirties, XYZ?" "Shouldn't I be making more than I'm making by X age?" "Don't we deserve to have X after so many years of hard work?" The bank account may not reflect that possibility, but we get tired of waiting. Or maybe we haven't even been waiting, but a new desire has been created in us, perhaps from the friend or neighbor that has something that looks like something we think we would like.

Reality and history show us a different perspective.

 History shows us that generations have passed with our ancestors having worked very hard all of their lives never having attained half of the material goods that some of us take for granted today. Wars, depressions, recessions and the like cannot be ignored. Now, I specifically note that they may not have attained material goods, but it does not mean they didn't lead fine and happy lives. We realize, of course, that material goods do not buy happiness (a temporary emotion) or even more, joy (a sustained state of being).

Reality reminds us that it is all grace. Simply being born into your country with your family, your friends, your connections, your educational opportunities is all grace. Plenty of people don't get what they "deserve" good or bad. Plenty of brilliant children live in parts of the world where opportunities will not come their way, where they are responsible for caring for their siblings, their parents, or themselves. Good kings ascend to thrones by birth and wicked kings follow. Wise men are servants, wicked men despots. A good man is rewarded. A good man is denied.

What I am trying to say is that we simply cannot allow our thinking about what we feel we "deserve" to color our view of the world or motivate our decisions. It is all grace. The Bible tells us that what we all really deserve is death. It also tells us that because of Christ and the free gift He offers, it doesn't have to be that way.

I'm not saying that we should never do anything nice for ourselves or even be a little extravagant once in a while. But temper it with some perspective of what it really is (a gift) and don't be fooled into believing you deserve it.

I don't know that I was planning to "go there" with my topic today, but there you have it. Maybe my point is that having this kind of perspective is helpful when one is trying to live within her means. It is helpful in avoiding unnecessary temptations. Because, for example, buying a pair of shoes that perhaps you really shouldn't have, perhaps really couldn't afford, is a smaller thing and one that can be more quickly and easily overcome, but buying a house, notsomuch. And yet the same thinking that causes the one mistake is the same that instructs the other. Making a regular practice of living within your means in the small things translates into greater rewards when it comes to the large. Like a smaller house payment and lower property taxes. It's worth it. :)
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