Thursday, October 20, 2011

Not a Material Girl

Psalm 37:16
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of the wicked.

When I was growing up, we didn't have much in the way of material possessions. My dad was a college professor and my mom stayed at home to raise my brother and me. One salary demanded frugality, a discipline at which my parents excelled. Because of their responsible decisions made with the money they did have, we never went without what we needed.

Wants? Oh, sure, I had plenty of them. Especially in my teen years, I recall being jealous of friends who had fancier clothes, and more of them than I did, or whose parents owned two cars and lived in spacious homes with more than one bathroom. Yes, you heard me right - our family of four survived with one bathroom!

When I think back, though, I recall wants I had which my parents fulfilled, ones that called for sacrifices of their time and money.

I wanted to learn to play the guitar. They paid for years of pop and classical lessons; if Dad had a dollar for every Saturday he drove me to and from those lessons, he could have retired early! The good news? This grandmother still plays her guitar.

In high school, I made the cheering squad and became involved in as many clubs and activities as I could manage. My parents became veritable chauffeurs from early morning until late in the afternoon, during the week and on the weekends. Never did they complain or discourage me from engaging in extracurricular activities. The good news? Many of my best friends today are the ones I met and made through these very activities.

Most importantly, my parents fulfilled the want and need of every child without exception. They gave my brother and me a loving, stable, secure, happy, and nurturing home in which to grow up. They taught us manners and values, ever admonishing us to treat others in the way we would want to be treated. The example they set of doing without frivolities and living within their means is one I continue to follow to this day.

Thanks to my wonderful parents, I learned the difference between needs and wants at an early age. Being content with what I have, knowing God will provide for my needs, brings peace to my soul. And any wants that just happen to be fulfilled? Blessed icing on the blessed cake!

Are there any wants you harbor today that are hindering your ability to feel grateful for what you already have?

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything." ~ Anonymous

Psalms 37:1-18 or 37:19-42
Ezra 1:1-11
1 Corinthians 16:1-9
Matthew 12:15-21


  1. I agree with you Martha, my childhood was similar to yours in many ways, though we did not own a car till later. More than anything else, my parents taught me the important values of life.

  2. Martha the way we are as adults no doubts is in direct relation to the way are parents nurtured us and the things they taught us. My mother taught me many values, and one was how to enjoy and respect life even when money was extremely lacking. How to gain pleasure from the small things in life, and how much we should appreciate everything around us.

  3. Hi, Janu and Larry!

    Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts here!

    I love how both of you stress being taught values, real values, the ones that will get us through life with a smile on our face and with appreciation for the smallest of blessings.

    So glad to know there are others out there who benefited from the same type of teaching!

    Blessings to you both!

  4. Except the part about being a cheerleader (ha!), I could have written that piece. (Yes, I know that their are male high school cheerleaders, but of course that is just wrong :)) Anyway, I grew up not far from you and my folks were the same way. Remembering the Great Depression, frugality was a primary focus in our home. But so was stability. We moved there in 1958. So I hardly remember life away from the modest home I grew up in. In fact, now that my folks are gone, that home belongs to me. What a blessing to be able to hold on to one's roots aa I have been given the opportunity.

    And because my childhood was so stable, my memories are extremely vivid. Because the background of the events of my childhood never changed, I expect that this is one reason that my memories are so cemented. I did not have to use my brain to create new surroundings for my memories. What a blessing today to recall all that I can.

    Those recollections of home and the values that were important to mom and dad serve as the backdrop for what I understand to be important today. I have had a blessed life. I know that. And I owe it to being raised as I was by a mom and dad who truly understood what is important in life.

    Thanks for inspiring these thoughts for me this morning.

  5. I'm certainly not materialistic as I keep possessions until they're old and ragged. One has to look at my car, tv, camera, etc to know that I'm not driven by new items and while I'd love a fancy car or flat-screen tv, the old ones are working fine so why waste money. I poured lots of $$ into making Erin happy but in return I received love and friendship...Not a bad deal :)

    My Dad worked while my Mom raised 3 kids so money wasn't readily available but somehow we often got what we needed whether an Izod shirt or the latest Kiss album but they instilled family, friends, and God above all. My parents as yours taught the value of hard work while showing we don't have to keep up with the Jones as God doesn't care what earthly treasures. Good post!! Blessings :)

  6. We were truly blessed in our parents - who gave us what we needed to grow and mature and values to live by...and mostly they taught by example. Thank you for this reminder to stop and give thanks for them.

  7. I have no material wants that I know I can live without..I do have emotional wants that I selfishly still wait on....As always....XOXOXO

  8. Thank you, everyone, for stopping by today - Love your comments!
    @Hank - I'm so glad you have wonderful memories of growing up; your mom and dad sound like carbon copies of mine! It's so neat, too, that you own the house you grew up in. I so miss mine as the entire neighborhood sold out to developers and it was torn down . . .:(
    @David - I think Erin was worth every penny!!! :) And you are so right - God doesn't care about our earthly treasures, He cares about us.
    @Corinne - Teaching by example is always the best way. And, yes, if we are still fortunate enough, as I am, to have our parents with us, we should tell them "thank you".
    @Bongo - Emotional wants are okay; you are not being at all selfish. Everyone wants to feel happy and secure within. You certainly deserve to!

    Blessings all!!!

  9. What a lovely post! I particularly loved those- "and guess what the good news.." :D

    God bless your wonderful parents!

    Good day to you Martha! :)

  10. What a thoughtful post Martha. I can't think of anything that I don't have which is keeping me from being thankful. I do get a little jealous of people with health insurance...if I could only get my greedy hands on one of those shiny cards;)
    One can dream!
    You had wonderful parents and some amazing memories. Thank you for giving me a deeper peek into who you are. You're amazing.

  11. Thank you, Sameera and Leah, for stopping by today!
    @Sameera - yes, I thank God for my parents every day! Thank you for asking God's blessing on them (they do read my posts!).
    @Leah - Oh, I do hope you can get some health insurance! Do know, though, that no hospital can or will turn you away if you are ill or injured just because you don't have insurance and/or can't even afford the care. Plus, you can always go to a "doc-in-the-box" for that nasty cold or a flu shot for cheap. :)
    And, thank you for the compliments!

    Blessings to you both!

  12. I spent many years as a Material girl as an adult but, that was because my husband loved to buy our affection and I gladly welcomed it.

    I grew up in a family of 5 and a dog. My father kept rent and bills on two places because he would commute back and forth. He kept a tight rein on his money and a tighter rein on me over all my sisters. He was an abusive drunkard but, despite the bruises and scars I have that will never heal I have a few memories of a happy home.

    Like you I learned how to play guitar at age 9-12, I played sports, sang in the school Choir, and was given an old car for graduation. The latter was because I was the first to graduate high school in my family.

    I learned the difference between wants and needs and I learned that just because someone is family doesn't mean they will love you unconditionally. In fact, more often than not they will hold you responsible for whatever screwed up view they have of their own life.

    I suppose like you I learned a valuable lesson, even if my childhood was somewhat different than yours, I wanted love but, love isn't a need therefore it wasn't given, it was earned by being something I could never be...perfect.

    Now as an adult who has struggled for the last few years in a poor economy I have learned another important lesson. Just because you cannot buy everything you want doesn't mean you have to be a jerk about it. My kids never go without even if that means I have to because unlike my parents I realize that my kids aren't a burden they are a blessing.

  13. Jen-
    Thank you for sharing your own experiences here. It takes courage to look at our lives honestly and realistically, even when the picture isn't pretty. You have an overwhelming amount of courage, my dear, but I think you already know that.
    About love - I do think it is a need. Children (nor adults for that matter) should never, ever have to earn love. They need love in their lives to flourish and grow, to become all God created them to be. Withholding love on condition or, as you said, blaming a family member for something they are not responsible for, is plain wrong. It's abusive. I'm glad you survived. I'm thankful you are as strong as you are. I celebrate the candidness and vibrancy of your words in my life. I'm so happy I know you!


  14. I understand what you mean about love being a need. But, the reason I say it isn't a need is because I didn't get it but, somehow not only did I survive but, I broke the cycle and still loved unconditionally despite all of what I went through.

    In a perfect world, love would be a need but, we don't need to be loved to give love. We won't die without it. Will we flourish if we have it? Some do and some don't. Some can be loved more than anything in this life and they still won't feel it or turn out ok. Some won't be loved and they will love with their whole being. Then there are some who will only love themselves or hate themselves and confuse the two.

    I would never even consider not loving my kids or all the people I know (online or off), love is part of what I am. But, I don't need it to give it to all of you, I get all the love I want just by loving all that I do.

  15. True true. My childhood and upbringing was tainted by the goings on in secret. Dad would not buy school supplies or clothes after I turned 10. I had to work and buy them myself. He had everything he needed or wanted, while the rest of us had to make do with what we could get for ourselves. Didn't learn much from that, what I learnt was not measure my achievements by what I could purchase, but what I truly had as my own. My smile was the first thing I learned to appreciate.

  16. Okay, Jen, now I understand so much better where you were coming from with this. I am so glad you broke that cycle and were able to love others in spite of everything. That truly is a miracle!

    Hi,Jan - That must have been so tough on you! I can't understand a dad who would do this, and I'm so sorry you had to live through it. The good news, you did rely on what was truly your own as a measure of your reality. I'll bet your smile is just as sweet as it ever was! :)

    Blessings to you both!

  17. I grew up with values of living within my means...taught to me by my parents. I have gone through phases of where I used to be a material gal to someone that is now happily balancing needs, wants or desires in this aspect....

  18. Thanks for stopping by, Savira! Glad to hear your parents were like mine in this regard. Happy, too, that your needs, wants, and desires are in a healthy balance.


  19. Times have changed so much since I was a child. What used to be 'wants' to me when I was a child are now 'expected'. It saddens me so.
    I had the necessities when I was growing up, my parents saw to it that I had what was needed with some extras every once in awhile. Of course, having children of my own, I began to provide everything for them that I hadn't had. That was a mistake on my part and now I have been trying to reverse those actions. It is a slow process.
    Having too many 'wants' instead of 'needs' does impede you ability to stay focused on what is important in life. It is distracting.

  20. Yes, Mary, this saddens me so much, too, this life, this age of instant gratification.

    I recall, when my son was very young and I needed to go back to work, the impulsive desire to return to him with not just me, but with a gift in hand. I felt so guilty about leaving him to work a job when my first charge and responsibility should have been him. Objects will never replace the true love of being present for the beloved.

    Thank you for commenting here, Mary, and may God bless!

    The Lord never fails in taking our works and molding them into righteousness


Happy Birthday, Mom!

Proverbs 17:6 Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. Even though the photo abov...