Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Words That Soothe Old Hurts

Well, I finally got my voice back and have moved on to the 'up all night coughing' stage of this fun virus.  Hopefully I am turning a corner!

The other night I hosted Bunco at my house and it was really fun, even though I couldn't talk above a whisper because of the laryngitis.  I had made quite a few changes to my decor since the last time I had the bunco gals over and I got a lot of really wonderful compliments.  One sweet friend said "I just want to go around and take pictures of all the great ideas!  I've seen some things on the blog but it is so fun to come see it in person!" 

Later that night I was sitting and reflecting over the evening and I thought about how much those compliments and comments had affected me.  They were truly a balm to my heart and salve on old hurts. 

They say a woman's sense of how she feels about herself comes from her home and a man's from his job.  I think this is very true.  When I married my late husband I was just 20 years old.  On our wedding day I moved from my parents home to the house he lived in, a rental of his parents.  My husband was a Christian school teacher and made the lofty sum of $600 a month!!  A few months before our wedding, the school he worked at decided to close their doors.  It took him 6 months to find a new teaching position after we were married.  I was working at a daycare and we survived on unemployment, odd jobs and generous parents. 

The house we rented from his parents was nice but every single stick of furniture in the house was a hand-me-down from his parents or mine.  We were grateful to have it, but nothing matched, nothing was fun or attractive, it was just depressing.  Several of my friends had married around the same time and some through debt, others through two good paying jobs, managed to have houses full of beautiful things.  I tried to be content and I tried not to be ashamed when we had people over.  But I hurt.  I used to think "I would be thrilled to have just one thing, ONE thing that they have."  But we made do and I learned to be the frugal queen! 

You see, my husband had found a new job at last~making $800 a month!  Baby #1 was on the way and 22 months later a baby sister.  We struggled financially but there were LOTS of blessings and we always survived somehow. The greatest blessing over the years as our family grew was that I was able to be home with our kids and my children were all able to go to  wonderful Christian schools free of charge!  When it was time for college~ TONS of scholarship money and grants were received because of the great prep they received at those schools. 

Hubby climbed the ladder and wound up as superintendent of a large school.  We bought our first home, I started a business and the money was good.  We traveled some, bought nice furniture and fun things for the kids.  I had a pretty house and was no longer ashamed of my home but funny how you never forget those feelings of hurt and insecurity.

In 2004, my husband was diagnosed with cancer.  He died 3 years later and I am now raising our youngest, twelve year old Maddy, alone.   The days of plenty of money are over and I am back to being the Queen of frugality.  I am content with where I am and so grateful to God for His provision.  I sometimes remember with longing the days of free spending and then I quickly remind myself of those who have lost everything ~in Japan and so many other places. I AM BLESSED!  And I have learned to decorate again on a shoestring~thrifting, repurposing and creating.  Buying a new couch is really fun, but the satisfaction of making over a $5 chair from Goodwill~ Priceless! 

A few weeks ago Maddy turned to me and said "Mom, our house is cute!"  Those words and the comments of my friends the other night are like a sweet ointment on those old hurts.   Getting to share them with my dear blogger friends is a joy as well.  Thanks for stopping by!



  1. You are so right Renee. Yesterday I went with my mother in law to help her pick out new furniture, which bless her heart she hasnt bought anything new in 8 years. I was sorta jelous til they told her how much it all costed. 500$ for the couch and 200$ for the chair.I thought to myself,it would be more fun to find the stuff at the thrift stores for so much cheaper and give it a make-over! Then I came home and my dryer died and you cant hardly go to the goodwill and get one of those! lol Thanks for reminding us all how blessed we truly are and things could be so much worse and its not the end of the world if you have to hang your bloomers from the ceiling fan to dry;)

  2. Dear Renee ~ Thank you for sharing such a personal story and I'm sorry for the struggles you've endured. I have always lead an average existance, probably due to being a single Mom for many years. I learned then how to purchase inexpensive, but good quality furniture from yard and estate sales, and then repurpose them to make them my own. I really appreciate a piece of furniture like that over a store-bought, high end piece. I think if you have the knack to pull it all together, you can always have a beautiful, stylish space and from what I've seen, you possess that gift! I really hope you start feeling better soon ~ hugs!

  3. I just love you are such a good example and mentor. I'm thankful God introduced us!! :)

  4. Renee,

    Your story brought a tear to my eyes. So many couple marry in their late 20's and early 30's these days and are established in their jobs. It seems they have the best of everything right away. Our generation struggled and usually lived on one income. It took time to have the things we wanted and I think it makes us treasure our good fortunes more and maintain a sense of frugality.

    I am so sorry for your loss. Than goodness for the love of family and friends!


  5. Renee, This is such a touching story of your life. You do have a really cute house, from what I have seen of it!

    I used to have more money to spend too and when my husband and I bought our first house, we bought expensive, brand new furnishings. We lost that house and now that we do not have money, I regret ever buying new furniture. It is so much more rewarding fixing up old things to make them beautiful again. I will never buy new again, even if I have money!


  6. My heart is so full of warmth and tenderness and yearning to have you over for a cup of tea in my cottage and giggle with stories. Renee, God has blessed you in so many ways, and I have been blessed to have such a wonderful blogger in my life. Have another wonderful day .....

  7. Renee, I understand. I went from Military wife (with no money) to now seperated with a teen daughter too. It's wonderful that you are so honest. I'm joining you now too and look forward to more from you.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Renee. We, too, have gone from 2 good incomes, to sinking everything into our business, which we lost, to living on one income. Our priorities have really changed and we are so grateful for our home (which we didn't lose!), our friends and our family! My home is my refuge and I love coming home after work every evening, even if it is a mess and needs work! It's HOME! It's heartwarming to hear of your experiences. Thank you!

  9. I was a stay at home mom and it bugged the heck out of me when other's would tell me how "lucky" I was to be able to stay home. It wasn't luck, my husband and I made the decision to do with less and invest in me being able to be with the kids. Because of this we didn't have new cars, new furniture or the big house that many of our friends had/have.

    I don't regret it one bit, our children are successful and well adjusted. I love searching for just the right piece of furniture at a thrift shop and "making it my own". Half the fun of decorating in my opinion is the hunt for that special piece.

    I love your blog and your home. I'm sorry for the loss of your husband but happy for the blessings that you have with family and home. You're an inspiration.


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