|Us with our dear friends at the height of our poor-ness. Can you even recognize us?|
- Only being able to go out to eat if we had a gift card or someone else was buying.
- Not being able to buy new clothes for the first year, and worrying every time individual pieces were ruined by the little kids at work.
- Only having one car and having to ride our bikes to work - even in the winter. (Picture Dustin in snowpants on his bike - seriously - he wore those.)
- Making gifts instead of buying them.
- Our $10 Christmas present exchange limit.
- Pulling outdated furniture and home-goods out of the dumpster behind my second job so that I could furnish my home for free.
- Thinking that my life would be so much easier if I just had the money to...
- The anticipation of being able to indulge in the $4.99 pizza special once every two weeks at the local pizza place, and savoring every bite.
- The pride at walking out of a store with a desperately needed shirt, dress, or pair of pants that I had researched and saved for.
- The thought and planning that went into creating a gift for someone...and the pride that I could do it on a budget.
- The excitement of opening a creative $10 gift from my husband that he had stressed and planned over, and it being completely a surprise.
- Allowing my creativity to flow with furniture and home-goods that I pulled out of the dumpster at my second job, or off the curb in front of someone's house.
And there were things we could indulge in, and there were things that were easier.
But there was a loss. We lost something.
It became clear to me last week as we were sitting at a worship and the speaker was talking about this very thing. When we allow ourselves to indulge just because we can - rather than giving some of it away, or saving a percentage of it for something else - we lose something that we didn't realize we would ever miss.
Life after Corrymeela will be different for us. Dustin is thinking about going back to school and I don't want to commit myself to work so much while my kids are young. I know it will be hard and we will miss the lifestyle we had before. There are times when we already do. But I hope I can look back on the words that rang in my ears last week - heart-changing words - and that I can embrace these changes.
I hope that we can work hard to pay off the obscene amount of college debt I have created, or even save up to help our kids a little bit with their own post-high school lives. I hope that we remember how to appreciate the experience of going out to eat, and make it something special rather than something every-day. I hope that we remember the cost of a gift is so much more when it is paid for with time and love instead of money. And I hope that my kids are raised like Dustin and I were - not wanting for much, but knowing what it is like to scrimp and save for a dream dear to their hearts.
Oh, and I also hope that they can be satisfied with making junk sculptures for fun and playing with dirt and sticks rather than with expensive toys that we will obviously not be able to afford.
But that might be pushing it.