So with the hard economic times we have had lately, people are thinking at stewardship in a different way. Stewardship is not just something we ought to do, but we have to. Our whole society is rethinking its relationship to money, credit, saving, etc. That has been a hard reality for many families. Foreclosures, bankruptcies and the like are now common household terms. These were always things that happened to "other people" or to "those people", you know the ones who made unwise spending choices and paid for their consequences, no one you knew.
That has changed. Luckily, my family has not had the misfortune of bankruptcy or foreclosure. For that we are truly blessed. However, we have been hit pretty hard by the economy. My husband used to be able to work overtime, to get extra jobs, and make up the deficit of me staying home. It made more sense for him to work the extra work than me to have a part time job, as he made so much more doing his off-duty jobs. Those jobs were coming steadily for awhile a few years ago. They have all but stopped. We depended on those jobs, as we should have known not to do, but now we have had to learn how to live without them, and with the choices we made while we had them.
So this has made me look at stewardship and my roll as a housewife in a whole new way. Stewardship is more than investing monetarily the money you have, but making that money work for you. Using what you have to the best of your ability so that in the end you have made the wisest choices with that money you could. We have cut our extras back considerably. Do we really need the premium cable channels? Is a landscaper absolutely necessary? What about cell phone plans, could we use a house phone more, and cell phones less?? We have cut back the amount we spend on groceries, we stopped buying so many unnecessary food items- soda, chips, and candy. We don't eat out nearly as often, and we buy simple whole food items and make them stretch. This will not only help our bottom line but our waistline as well.
All this started making me think of the Proverbs 31 woman. In Proverbs 31:10-31 (I would paste it on here but it is rather long) it describes a wife of good character, one who works for her family and is reputable and dependable. She works hard and is busy trying to make the most of the things that she has at her disposal. Her husband and children relish in her and sing her praises. She is kind and loving and diligent. She is not out spending money or gossiping at the corner about her neighbors, she is too busy taking care of the responsibilities in her home. My goal has become to be more like the woman in this passage than the other types of women mentioned in proverbs- the ones who tear down their own homes with their nagging and berating and gossip.
I have started to think of ways we could make the most of the space, the money and other resources that we have. I took up crocheting. I have made the children birthday and Christmas gifts. I started canning so that we would not have to buy as much produce in the fall and winter. I have started growing some of my own food so that I can have fresh and free food. We bought some chickens and a coop so that we can have fresh eggs and at some point chicken (my husband and his friends are going to throw a chicken slaughtering event in the backyard. I told him he better use a tarp!!) I am cloth diapering to save the money we spend on diapers, which with two in diapers is a lot! And my newest endeavor has been foraging. There are plenty of food available around us if we look for it, and today I found prickly pears on the side of the road...free fruit!
We were not living like kings before, and neither are we living like paupers now. We have begun to be more conscious of our spending and that is a good thing. Before it was easy to do what we pleased and make ends meet without feeling the hit. Now we have to work harder at it. Granted it is a challenge and at times we wonder if the money will come, but it does and then some. It has been such a time of blessing, this might sound as a strange way to look at a financial hardship, but it is. We are able to see God work in the little things, helping us to trust Him in the bigger things. This has grown our faith and our sense of who God is. We are learning to be more responsible and to be accountable for our actions. It is a beautiful time!! Praise God.