After a few months of configuring how to post this entry, I just need to do it. This is my heart pouring out. It is long. I don’t know who will read it or how many, but it needs to be said. You may have noticed the lack of entries I’ve been making lately, especially the outfit posts. When I created this blog, I started it by posting how God’s changed my heart each day. I started to post vintage outfits over time, but most of what I posted were either outfits I won through giveaways or outfits I borrowed while posting about human trafficking awareness or outfits people gave me. While I did buy a few of them, most of them I would sell again. I do like vintage fashion and not dressing “normal”, which has always been a part of me, but I mainly did so to show that modesty was important and very lovely without being frumpy. I did so to encourage others towards modesty. I still believe in such a value.
The point of this entry isn’t to talk about modesty or fashion though. It is to talk about what is important in life. I am tired of the “look at me” fashion blogging or “look at what I bought” mentality that I see many people do in facebook and on blogs. Wishlist after wishlist is posted and “I got this!” posted all over. It is tiresome and hard for me to see and makes me sad. Is this where you have your identity held? Is this the standard you want to go across to others? How long will you enjoy these things? Will they eventually sit in your closets or somewhere in your house, only to be easily destroyed in time? I love seeing people posting photos of what families DO TOGETHER or the joys of activities and learning. It is so beautiful to see PEOPLE!
As a child I understood being “poor”. I put it in quotes because we still had a home we lived in and clothes to wear. I was always underweight as a child. Although, as I grew up I thought this was just a natural thing because I was just born tall and thin; now I remember hunger pangs. I remember my mom praying constantly in her kitchen as I would watch something in the living room. She’d cry and pray that God would provide us with food or money to pay for bills. I remember empty cabinets. When cereal would be in them I’d end up eating 7 bowls of cereal in a row because my stomach grumbled all the time and was in pain. The problem was that when I did that there was nothing to eat the next day other than dinner (which we did always have). Sometimes I only had one meal a day, which was dinner. We sometimes only had macaroni and cheese and hot dogs to live off of (which didn’t bother me and I still love both). I even started to heat up hot dogs and put it in a thermos of water in 5th grade each day. I would eat it with my hand, quickly finishing it, and a boy once asked me why that was all I ate for lunch every day when people had lunch boxes filled with so much food. I was mocked for being skinny constantly as if it were my fault I looked like a stick figure. People would sometimes leave food at our doorstep. This would make my mom’s heart so happy. I remember going to a pantry with her a few times and sometimes having to eat food that was terrible because people only put bad foods no one likes to eat in such places. I still won’t eat a certain type of rice because there were bugs all throughout it from one of the pantry items my mom cooked (I love white rice though).
The problem is my dad grew up without ever needing anything and was a bit spoiled. He was taught to keep what he made for himself because he worked hard for it, so therefore all the money he made, he’d use on himself instead of his own family. My mom was pretty much in rags in her childhood and her siblings all fended for themselves, with the oldest daughter cooking for them all because their parents weren’t really around. I was sick and partially deaf as a child and so I am sure the medical bills they had to pay were a heavy burden as well. I recently saw my mom’s journal from 1988 (I’m a snoop) and all the times that she was worried she wouldn’t have money for food or scared that they couldn’t pay an electric or gas bill. People who were Christians would give to them time and time again. What a blessing it was to her.
My mom eventually got a full time job and it wasn’t as hard for them to pay their bills. My brothers had to deal with the hardest part of growing up under that roof, while me, being so much younger, got more handed to me than they could ask for. I got the good dental insurance (while they had none for my brothers growing up). I got the nice medical insurance for if I got sick, while they did not, My brothers barely had clothes to wear. While back in that time I did wear hand me downs which sadly were mainly from bigger girls than me, so even normal sized clothes were too small on me because I was so skinny. My mom would send me to various people’s homes to live sometimes for weekends, other times for a full week, just so I could eat 3 meals a day and not have to deal with other issues under their roof. Once my mom was able to bring more money around, by the time I was 12, I got an allowance that was pretty good, so I would save for clothes from catalogs all the time and my mom would help me out. I was much better dressed than my brothers because of this. I even bought my own rug and paint for my bedroom (yellow walls and green rug. I loved it, so don’t laugh! I still love that combination). However, I also was pretty selfish. I used to dig in people’s purses to look for things they could give me (when I was really little). I always wanted so much. I used to have very large boxes that I called “memory boxes” where I would horde things. I collected so many things back then from stamps, sand from different states and countries, trolls, puppy in my pockets, faery figures, etc. I would buy and buy off of ebay (when they started) all the time when I was 16 (by then I had a job). When Rob and I started dating, we bought movies and anime every single weekend (I had already been doing that anyway). I became my dad. However if someone I knew was in need, I would do my best to help them. I was a “perfect mixture” of my parents (though completely imperfect in every way). It was really bad.
Even in the beginning part of our marriage, Rob and I would spend so much money on useless garbage. I even spent $400 on a BJD (ball jointed doll). When I got pregnant, the selfishness in me remained until I realized I was going to be responsible for someone else. I started to dig into the Bible after barely touching it for a couple of years. This grabbed me by the throat and cut me to the core in the heart in Matthew 19:16-30. It is a story of a young man who seemed to have it all together. He had lots of money and could afford plenty of things. He really loved being obedient of God, but he lacked one thing. He asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to go to heaven. Jesus tells him to sell all that he has, give to the poor, and follow Him. Basically: “Abandon all you have for my sake.” His identity was in what he liked and what he owned, not on God at all. He was glorifying himself, not God. He cared about God, but not enough to give it all up. He walked away from Jesus with a forlorn face. He couldn’t give up what had a hold on him. It truly made me understand that I had so much that I held on to. I told Rob about my deep revelation and conviction. I sold nearly all I owned. Rob was willing to give up things in time as well, but I didn’t make him do anything, but I tried to help him understand what was going on in me. There was something different. I was known for my materialism. My family knew I was a “material girl.”
After I had Leto, I was left with stretched out clothing and skirts with many rips in it. The only clothes I owned fit in a box. I didn’t even need a dresser. My mom was a little disgusted by my “hoboness” and started to give me money to buy newer clothes because she felt badly for the holes she saw in my clothes. However, I was content. I pinned my skirts to the side even to hold them together. I felt so free without all the collections I had. I was unable to sell them all, but about 80% of my belongings were gone. I loved it. I am the type of person now who would love to just live in an RV. Rob however is not, so we compromise with living in a duplex that is pretty small, yet much larger than homes in other countries where poverty is or where a family of 6 live in a room. We have much! We used to own 3 cars and now share one (though now that the boys have so many things they need to do, sometimes two would actually seem more convenient, but we do what we can with what we have). We used to have 5 computers (Rob is a geek and likes taking computers apart and rebuilding them). We brought it down to one laptop (we each have one now and don’t plan on expanding at all). A couple of my friends have seen how little I have in my home at times and tell me how plain it is. . .and that’s good. I used to have loads of things all over the place and now I only have candles I light and some photos and books (that were all free, that I send back out through paperbackswap). I got rid of my memory boxes. In fact, I am not sentimental at all now when I was totally and completely into that only 7 years ago. It was freeing.
However, now that I have clothes again, I hate having it all. I have too much. However, Rob and I live day by day. We have a truly hard time knowing there are millions of refugees in Syria, Sudan, the Congos, Uganda, and so many other places. We hate knowing there are loads of slums in India and Bangladesh and Cambodia. Rob looks at things all the time now and sees hungry children that he sometimes won’t even buy a cup of coffee because he knows that dollar can feed a child for a day. It blesses my heart to know we share our heart. We hurt so much for our friends who have financial times. We hurt as well when we know dozens of Christians who don’t even try to help other Christians in need, let alone the billions in need. Rob and I barely are able to pay our bills. It bothers us when we see Christians living in extravagance with 3+ cars, large houses with extra rooms, people constantly redoing their homes because they want them to look better, or wanting to buy bigger homes because they feel theirs isn’t big enough, people taking vacation after vacation, sometimes more than once a year. We are sure those people care for others, we know we can’t convince them to open their eyes to the burdens in their own church. Rob and I are so thankful that our church has helped pay off a couple medical bills. They didn’t have to but they did. The first time I went to ask for them to help, I cried and cried.
This summer has been hard on us. It got so bad one week that I had no money to even get milk. Our fridge only had a couple eggs in it and a stick of butter. Our cabinets only had rice and maybe a can of soup and peanut butter and crackers. I would eat one meal a day so that my sons would have bread for their lunches and not know hunger like I have known it. I don’t want them to miss a meal, and they haven’t. It wasn’t easy. No one was hiring me to photograph them which helps pay for gas and groceries. A member of our church gave us gas money one day, which was exactly what we needed for the amount of travel we would do that week. It was a blessing and made me cry. Simple acts of love.
The earliest church EVER is found in Acts 2. It says how “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:44-47
I see needs. I see people shying away from the church. I see people who care more about their own desires and needs that they are not willing to help the people in their own congregation. Do they forget that EVERYTHING WE OWN IS GOD’S!?? EVERYTHING. The money you have is not yours at all and should be used to help others. If you know someone can’t pay a simple bill or eat a meal one day, give them the ability to not cry out in fear. We know God provides for us and our trust in Him has grown increasingly this year. We are truly thankful for the simple jug of water we might have left in our fridge, because we know that there are children in other countries who have to walk miles to even get their water, and still that is not even clean. It makes us realize how much we have and how much we want to help the suffering child so they won’t have worms and die. We have more than we can imagine even though we have little. I love God so much.
Wake up American Christians. I’m not talking to the unbelievers of Jesus. You are the ones who should know better, if you are a follower of Christ. The 1st greatest commandment is to love God. Worship Him. Obey Him. Serve Him. Dwell on His word. The 2nd greatest commandment is to Love your neighbor as yourself. I’m in your family of God yet I wonder how we’ll be able to make our rent payment this month. If we end up on the street, so be it. We still have God and each other. I don’t think we’ll be on the street because I at least know that people will temporarily open their homes to us, at least I would hope so. Who is my neighbor? The person the next town over who won’t be able to have a Thanksgiving meal this year because they might live on the street. I’m ready to change that somehow and depend on God to show me how. The person in Mexico who wonders how they will provide for their family and fears they may have to go to this place called America they have heard stories about and might have to leave their family to send money to them. . .that is also my neighbor and I am not to turn them away but show kindness to them, for God created them and loves them. I am no better than anyone. The child on the streets of India who begs for money and picks up plastic bottles in hopes to get money for them and doesn’t know if they can ever live to see their adulthood. . .they also are my neighbor. These are the people we need to care for because it shows God that we do love Him and obey Him. I am nothing. I am someone because of God.
Jesus Himself said in Matthew 8:19-20, “And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ’Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’”
Jesus was homeless. You get that. He didn’t live in comfort!
He also said in Luke 6:28-36, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. ’If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.’”
You get that? Get out of your selfish, “I work hard for my money and will use it for me and my family only” mindset! I have been so into this mentality lately of “one-anothering” to “love others more than myself” and even told Rob one day to open our door to a Jehovah’s Witness because if Rob were trying to go to someone to ask them to hear him out about his own faith, he would hope they would show kindness to him. . .and he thought about it, agreed to understanding my mindset because he believes the same thing, and went to them, and it only took them a second to be freaked out by his skull on his shirt that they didn’t seem to want to talk to him anyway.
Jesus also told us about the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46. True believers of Christ who help others and forget about themselves and do it because they love God so much that they care for them are said to be those who truly care for Jesus Himself! It should be so ingrained in us to help others that when Jesus thanks us for doing so we will go, “Wait, I did that for you? Oh cool!” Then there are those who will do it so they get a pat on their back or didn’t do a thing at all, Jesus will say, “ha! You helped yourself, not me!” I want us to be so careful that we don’t help others to get a “thank you” or a “Yey! I did something so great today! Look at me!”. A Christian we know posted a gigantic donation they gave to an organization on their facebook and everyone said, “How great you are! how nice!”. . .and although I was grateful for their contribution to the organization, at the same time I was so sad that they seemed to want to flaunt their ability to make enough money to donate it and expect praise from others selfishly (and if that isn’t why they did it, that is how it came across regardless since scripture asks us to give secretly). I recently had a friend shut me down when I was mentioning something I was thinking about doing in order to get help for something. It was very private, but they said they helped someone that I asked them to help (because the amount was one I couldn’t match). . .they had to count back to me what they did and therefore refuse to like the idea I brought up to them. They counted the various fundraisers I did and how they donated to each of them. To me, this meant they didn’t give to my friend because they love Jesus or me. There was no “cheerful giver” involved and they said, “I won’t help with this one” even though it was just an idea I wanted advice on, and not something I was asking money for at all, but that is what they automatically thought of. It broke my heart for my friend that received the help, because they were incredibly touched by their gift at the time!
It reminded me of myself. Rob and I helped a friend who was evicted and without a home and we did what we could for them. When we received poor treatment in return and never received a thank you, I held on to that. I expected a response of gratitude. I never did it because I cared for that person, I did it from my own pride. In hearing my friend state the ways of what she did for me and why she shouldn’t be involved in the new idea I had (which I didn’t go through on) it reminded me that I did the same thing. I felt awful about what I did. That was a good 8 years ago now, but it made me realize I was not one-anothering at all. I wasn’t really caring because I wanted a reward. It isn’t about that. It should just be natural for us to care for others WITHOUT expecting any form of gratitude. We should always care for “the least of these” who are not well off in any way. . .just as Jesus did. I am so thankful I am learning and growing, though sad I didn’t realize this earlier on in my life. Thankfully I still have time to worship Christ by living as I am supposed to, for no reason other than to glorify Jesus alone!
Thank you to those who HAVE given anonymously to Rob and I over the past year. I don’t know who you are, but you blessed us so much that I cried. This is truly how it should be. I did post pictures on facebook of the gifts, but only to express my gratitude in case those people are on my facebook list. I wanted them to know we received them with gladness and it helped. You have shown us the Acts church lived out. Perhaps this post will make people angry. That is okay. I don’t expect everyone to agree or understand my heart, in fact probably most people won’t. Yes, I get extremely bothered when people spend frivolously and forget that there are people dying all around them. You don’t need a 5th car or a new car when your current one works perfectly well. You don’t need that iphone upgrade when your older version still functions perfectly well. You don’t need that $300 purse when $30 of that alone can feed one child for a month in Africa. You don’t need to go to that expensive diner and spend $30 for one person’s order for that same reason. You don’t need to go on that vacation when there are people who have no where to stay for one night alone and wish they could get out of the city they are stuck in or when there is someone who can’t afford their own gas bill and wonder if it will be shut off as you go on your cruise in luxury. You don’t need a vacation home that stays empty most of the year when it can house 3-10 people who have nowhere to rest their heads at all ever other than sharing it with a curb where mice might try nibbling at their heads. You don’t need to redo your bathroom when it is already in full function and will cost you the price of a car when you know of a family who’s been using a beater that constantly has to be fixed up. You don’t need to go out to dinner tonight when you know a family who may need you to buy them food so they can have dinner at all tonight. You don’t need all those holiday decorations that will cost you the same price of your friend’s bill that they don’t know if they can afford to pay off. You don’t need a sprinkler system put into your lawn when there are families who travel 3 miles 5 times a day to get water for their families to use throughout the day, You don’t need another dress that will sit in your closet unworn for a full year when there are children in other countries with a threadbare dress that barely holds up that they wear every single day. . . . . . . . . .Does your heart break?