For now, I'll just have to give the condensed version.
I wrote about saving money at the grocery stores in previous posts (and I really want to get back to that). I have been able to save between $50-$100 each week from what I used to spend at the store (praise God!!). I have been able to take advantage of sales and build up a tiny reserve in my pantry... which is nice.
Coupled with that has been the whispering in my ear: "You know, you could buy extra now and share with those in need."
That's not a thought that comes naturally to me (much to my great shame, but it's true.)
So I started buying a few things, here and there, to bring to the donation box at my parish.
Then I heard the amazing story about Lopez Lamong, one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan who is on the Olympic track and field team for the United States. In one of his interviews he talked about his first meal in the United States:
"They [his foster parents] got me a chicken sandwich, and I didn't eat it right away because I was looking at it. They told me it was OK if I wanted to take it home. In the camp, we had chicken twice a year, Christmas and Easter, and there was one little piece and we had 10 people, so we chopped it up and boiled it up in water and ate the soup. If you got a little piece of chicken, it was Merry Christmas.
"And here I was, with my own piece, and they were telling me I could take it home and there was more there."
Dear God. How can people live like that? I couldn't get the picture out of my head.
Then I had, of all things, my water stop working. A water main had broken and my entire neighborhood was out of water for 3 hours. Unfortunately, at the time, I had only a tiny bit of water left in our jug in the refrigerator, very little milk, and a smidgen of iced tea. I was in the process of making lemonade when the water gave out. In those 3 hours, I went from being a Mom who could get her children something to drink at any time to one who quickly realized that, while I could hop in a car and buy water or juice, there are so many around the world who can't.
The only thing that separates me from them is that I live in a country with that sort of infrastructure in place that delivers water right to my own home.
What if I didn't? What if the whole system shut down tomorrow? How could I take care of my children? Where would I get water... especially now when upstate South Carolina is in a horrible drought?
[I can thank this book series for bringing these questions to mind]
Suddenly the world got a lot smaller... a lot scarier... and I realized that it would be horrifying to live day-to-day, not knowing where to find safe drinking water for my children.
I guess all this is to say that I'm starting to notice things a lot more now. I wasn't trying to be oblivious... I simply had my plate completely full trying to live out my vocation as a wife and mother right here and now, and everything else had to take a back seat.
But now I'm able to get more at the store, and the question is: when is it OK to build up a reserve for your family, and when is it imperative to give sacrificially to help others?
Those are the thoughts swirling around my head, along with this song that has haunted me for weeks: