I don’t like to talk about poverty. Rather, I don’t like to talk about those months when we had next to nothing. Those months when no church would hire my husband.
When every lead led far away and then to nothing.
When we both tried to find jobs but couldn’t stick with them because the Spirit was clear that we weren’t supposed to be there.
Somehow, between God’s grace, the kindness of others, our family, and the Body of Christ being the Body, we lived on less than $15,000 during Abby’s first year and even into Lily’s first. We worked hard to save money in any way possible while accepting whatever came our way.
I could write posts upon posts on how to save money and scrimp by.
In those days, finding those tricks sucked away most of my creativity. How could I spend less on laundry detergent? How could I cut corners on my beauty routine? Was that can of biscuits really necessary, or could I make my own? How could I keep our cloth diapers clean without buying the fancy detergent?
Things became even more interesting when I had to cut out dairy and soy with Lily. Alternative milk solutions and butter were just the beginning. Finding fairly inexpensive meals that tasted good became so burdensome that I would rather not eat a meal than to be frustrated again. Since I was breastfeeding, my health suffered.
Any creative spark that I had was snuffed out. I became depressed and sullen.
My hope had gone.
And slowly, slowly, I rebuilt it.
I’m gonna’ be real honest, folks. We were following the Spirit’s guidance, but I wasn’t happy about it. I was mad that any hope of leading a decent life and even paying bills on time seemed impossible. I was mad that we had been left there for no apparent reason. I was hurt that God would take away comfort on top of taking away our first two babies.
Admitting that hurt was my first step back to creativity.
After re-reading One Thousand Gifts, I started keeping another “gift list.” Looking for the good, the blessings, even the ugly-beautiful helped me to see more clearly. I also started spending time daily in the Word, specifically the Psalms. I started journaling again, writing out what I felt and thought and prayed.
Creativity kept surprising me. That same year, I tried knitting again and found that I was actually good at it. Before a year had passed, I started crocheting too. I surprised myself again and again with what I was capable of doing.
To feed my soul, I fed my creativity.
My creativity fed my hope.
It still feeds my hope.
And hope is the brightest light in the darkness of poverty.
I realize that there are many who live day in and day out where we have been. It’s hard. It’s heavy. It’s bitter.
But it doesn’t have to be hopeless.
The next phase of this series will have the added tag “creativity on a literal dime.” Some posts will be about handling money while others will be about creative ways to include your kids. All of them will be written with the understanding that money IS an object and that you don’t have to have $20 or even $10 to blow on supplies to add beauty to your life. Join me?