Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Worth of Want

Have you ever REALLY been hungry?  Cold?  Not had even the most basic of necessities?  If so, then you have been truly blessed.  Only when you have gone without can you be genuinely thankful for what you possess.

Years ago, Sir Knight and I lived in a house on the outskirts of a small metropolitan area.    The original part of the house had been constructed in the 1940's, however, it had been added onto many times in the years that followed.  The fellow that did most of the "improvements" loved a bargain, and so, while remodeling, he scrapped out mobile homes and used the plumbing fixtures to plumb the house.  He found a pipe there and a fitting here and made them work, however, when something broke and had to be replaced, it proved to be nearly impossible.  When the floor in the bathroom became a little "mushy" he simply laid another layer of plywood over the top and added new carpet.  After adding a living room addition (20' x 24'), he remembered that it needed to be included in the central heating and proceeded to install a 2"x2" heat register in the stair leading into the new addition.  Yes, (1) 2"x2" register to heat an entire 20' x 24' room!  

I cannot tell you how many times I complained about that house.  I was ungrateful and lacked the vision to see the many blessings that had been heaped upon me.  And then, we moved to an empty, metal shop, in the middle of a windswept prairie.  

Once, I had complained about non-standard fixtures in the bathroom, now, the nearest thing to a bathroom we had was a bucket in the shed, lined with a plastic bag.  My "mushy" bathroom floor had been replaced with unforgiving concrete with no indoor plumbing, running water or even so much as a door.  I had scoffed at the idea of a tiny heat register in our living room only to end up in a shop with NO heat and night-time temperatures of 17°.  

Moving into a "shouse" in the middle of the prairie was a gift from God.  It was in this shouse that I learned to be thankful for every little thing.  When I woke in the morning with my breath freezing into crystals in the subzero air, I became thankful for the warmth of my cozy bed and the piles of blankets wrapped around my children.  After months of scampering outside in 40 mile an hour winds and changing plastic bags full of human waste, I was so grateful for a toilet in our "bathroom", that I didn't mind using 5 gallon buckets of water to flush, not one little bit.  Having hauled water for everything from doing laundry, flushing the toilet, washing dishes, taking baths and cooking, my "cold water only" plumbing system was like a dream come true.  Spending month after month with only 1 window in a 1200 square foot shouse, rendering it roughly the equivalent of a cave, I wept for joy when Sir Knight and my father installed 2 new windows to celebrate our first Thanksgiving in Little Shouse on the Prairie.  After eating beans and rice and lentil burgers for more than a year, I still become giddy with excitement when walking out of Costco with a full cart of groceries. 

Every once in a while I forget.  I start looking around at everybody else and become discontent.  I feel sorry for myself, telling myself that nobody else has to live in a shop.  Everybody else has walls and doors.  Everybody else has a bed for each of their children - they don't have to squeeze together because of a lack of floor space.  The rest of America has closets, dressers and bathroom sinks.  Oh, and some folks even have power!  And then I remember.  It doesn't matter what anybody else has or doesn't have.  It matters that I am thankful.  Period.  End of story.  And I am - truly thankful.  I have God.  I have a family that loves me.  I have a roof that keeps the rain off.  I have warm blankets and a cupboard full of food.  I may not have what most people think they need to make them happy, but, in truth, I have EVERYTHING!  

A great gift has been given to me - the gift of want.  Through hardships and strife I have learned to be truly grateful - and that has a worth far above rubies.


  1. Perfect comments for Thanksgiving day. I honestly cry sometimes when I take a shower, or get a drink of water, because I feel so blessed to have a roof over my head, indoor plumbing, clean water. To some I may look poor, but I feel so rich.

  2. Enola,


    I can relate to what you wrote. I went from an comfortable house in the suburbs to Navy boot camp at Great Lakes (in January no less) I got sick three weeks into boot camp and was caughing up blood. I did not say anything to my company commander, I was afraid of being sent to sick bay and being sent back for more weeks of boot camp after a lengthy stay in sick bay (after a few weeks, my fever broke and I stopped caughing up blood)

    I have never been so miserable in my entire life, I cannot describe the cold and the cold wind blowing off the Great Lakes in January.

    I live in a house now with all kinds of stuff, but I remember just owning two sea bags (duffle bags) backpack and a garment bag with my dress uniforms. That is all I owned in the entire world for many years.

    1. captain crunch-i did not suffer great lakes in january- my mother and father did in the early fifties...i had my own experience with hell at bainbridge md in the wwII baracks there in july and august. it is these memories of hardships and how we make do or suffer through that make us as self reliant as we are now.

  3. How grateful I am to live in this country, even still. We have been blessed by the hand, mercy and grace of a mighty God beyond measure.

    We do not deserve to be so blessed, especially with the dirty dealings of inept "leaders" at every level in this nation....and with so much blood on our hands, and evil doers at the helm (voted?? in by a sleeping, ignorant public). His hand of blessing may well soon be removed.

    Yet it is those of us who perservere, remain steadfast in our faith in Christ and who will/are being persecuted that will keep this country, for a time, from falling deeper into the dark abyss of degradation and imnmorality. Until, one day, we will wake up to the Restrainer's hand completely removed from our once great nation. That time draws nigh.

    Yet, we will be content in whatever situation we find ourselves whether in plenty or in want. He is our all-in-all and His sufficiency is all we need.

    Nothing we hold dear at this side of heaven goes into that box at our final trip to Beulah land. And there is no guarantee of our next breath. We all have a shelf life and appreciating each moment of every day for what it brings us, whether joy or hurt, in plenty or in want....we still rejoice because we know our King is on the throne and in full control of it all. One day, one way or another, we shall see Him in all his glory. And what a day that will be for those who love Him and keep His commandments! For those who reject Him it will be a great time of grief and sorrow.

  4. Enola,


    Hey Enola, I dont mean to kinda get off topic of your blog, but one of my nieghbors who is a real good guy went to Walmart last night. My nieghbor said people were just about to kill each other at Walmart. Everyone was getting mean and dirty looks to each other, people were almost running each other over and it was almost complete mayhem and anarchy.

    We talked last night about how we have been reduced to animals competing over flatscreen tv's, Ipads, Ipods and other materialistic garbage to somehow fill the void in our empty souls.

    My nieghbor got out Walmart as soon as he could (not buying anything) and came home to his family were he belongs. This nieghbor has a good christian wife and two young sons. When we talked about the Walmart fiasco, I told him everything he needs is already inside his full house.

    1. Boy, oh for the rampage!!
      Reprobate, I guess! And for what??????

  5. I have my eye on a new refridgerator and a commercial I ned either? NO I make it a habit now when I look at those things to think back to the time when I started canning and had one burner on an old electric range and when in the winter, we had to pull all the furniture against the wall to keep the linens from freezing to them as the frost crept in. I try to remember our first bed was a cot, held up by books underneath and the second bed was retrieved from the trash pile.
    We are programed to want "better" and improve life I think. After the kids left, we had a nifty but empty McMansion and only used 3 rooms. I was bored out of my skull and felt I had no purpose except to shop...I didn't even have to cook! We gave up that wonderful life for a small house in the country with one bathroom and wood heat...I'm so grateful!

  6. I am 69 years old. My family was poor. My father was usually laid off all winter and there was no welfare and little short lived unemployment. Igrew up loving baked beans and can actually remember sitting in a high chair asking for thirds on baked beans. We grew a lot of our own food and my mother canned what we grew. They were married during the depression so bad times were the norm for them. We survived and thrived on very little. I could do it again tomorrow if I have to. I'm not afrain of being poor and I can eat anything. Growing up poor is not a bad thing.

  7. One of the most liberating feelings in the world is to be content with what we have. I was just having this conversation with my husband this morning about how people are sacrificing their families for the sake of having more and more. I think being poor is an advantage as far as learning to do things. If you don't have the money you do without or figure out how to make it. Life is what you make it , make it happy!!

  8. *Sigh* Enola, you are such an expressive writer. I totally relate to your post.


  9. I've lived in places that have been built(over time) with-"engineered materials"-and did a lot of that "engineering" myself(creative use of available materials/Institute of Advanced MacGyverism). If it does the job, way cool. I've also driven things that have gotten laughed at(no car inspection here, thank God). I look at it as a learning experience( though I didn't always think so when it was happening). Each improvement in your life makes you grateful for that particular improvement. Never, ever say "I wouldn't live there"/"drive that"/ "do that". You'll call down the curse. Say instead "I hope I don't have to do that"...(whatever that may be).
    You learn what you can do,if necessary.

  10. Thank you Enola. Lord, give me just what I need and nothing more, so that I can say The Lord provides.

  11. I am in my early 60's and was raised by my mother only. My father left my mom with 4 kids and never paid a dime in child support. We lived on public assistance until my mom got a job. Over the years we went without food until payday many times. We never had a car and took public transportation everywhere or we walked. I know my upbringing has made me a better person. I am not a "material" person, happy with what I have, if I can find it used I buy used, try not to waste anything. I have no problem asking to glean fruit trees or a garden when someone is done with theirs, have picked things up that someone threw away and buy all my clothes second hand. I don't need things to make me happy. I see it everyday, people think that the more they have the happier they will be. I find the thriftier I am, finding new uses for old things, finding bargains and saving money makes me happy. I love a challenge, it's a high for me.

  12. Thank you Enola for giving God the glory! Many times I have been convicted by what you have shared. Our little house on the prairie has grown to a big house with the addition of not only space by my oldest son and his family. As I was cleaning up a mess made by my granddaughter this morning (out of willfulness) I was whining and complaining inside (out of willfulness) I had to remember that I am blessed beyond measure!!! There are many people who would LOVE to be in my position.

  13. In my formative years my rich Uncle Sam sent me and some of my buddies to a little slice of heaven called Somalia to celebrate Christmas and spend a few months in the sun. Let me tell you, going to a war-ravaged third world country filled with starving children will make you count your blessings with a quickness.

  14. THANK YOU for bringing me back down to earth. It's so easy to become so absorbed in what we lack - it's the way this world works. But truly, I am abundantly blessed also. I may have less than half of what my friends, neighbors, and family do in terms of material things, but I have a family that needs and loves me, my basic needs met, and most importantly, a Heavenly Father who cares for me. Yes, that IS everything. Thanks, Enola. Your blog is just wonderful.

    JVS in the Midwest

  15. When we first moved here, the place needed a lot of work.

    The prior occupants had left the place unoccupied for a while, and water had seeped into the basement. The people that were supposed to be taking care of the place, didn't. And the folks that were hired to fix what was wrong, only made it massively worse. When we got here there were several inches of standing water in the basement that had been here for God only knows how long. (Don't ever hire Rotorooter by the way. They destroyed (collapsed) the drainage of our French Drain in our basement, took our payment, and then refused to pay for the damages or to even refund what we'd paid them.) To top it off, the water pipes were the old galvanized kind and from lack of flowing water through them, a few of them had rusted completely shut.

    We found that everything except the copper cold water feed directly from the well needed replaced. Not fun. We also had to replace the hot water heater, as the old one was frelled.

    It took us months to be able to afford a hot water heater. We had to boil large pots of hot water on the stove for our hot water needs in the meantime.

    That whole experience was one of the best things that could have happened to us. My wife and I had only been married a few months at that time, and the things we went through definitely tested our love and commitment. Not many new brides are very thrilled with the idea of having to boil water on the kitchen stove in order to take a bath. But I must say, after a very short period of adjustment, mine was wonderful.

    She agrees that it was the best thing that could have happened to us. It set the stage for getting prepared and made the transition infinitely easier than if everything had been all 'modern American peachy' from day one.

    So when we look back at the things we have today, simple things such as running hot water on demand, and heat during the winter, we are extremely thankful, and feel very blessed.