Thursday, May 31, 2012

A day is life in miniature

I love how just one day can comprise, through many small snippets of time, so many of life's good things. 
A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice "on the rocks". 
Watching the ripening grapes.
 Simple wonders of nature.
Crafts.
And some baking.

Time to work,
And time to rest.
Time to laugh,
And time to cry.
Time to plan,
And time to go forward with what the moment brings.
Time for the plain and mundane,
And for the sparkling and creative.
Time to enjoy what comes our way only once, and may never come again. 
I am thankful for all the good things in my life,
And in this day,
Which is but life in miniature.
I'm savoring it as it comes, and as it is, in this very moment.

I hope you are, too.

Your friend,

Mrs. T

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just some thoughts on this and that

Recently, I began to think that I should probably update my header photo. As much as I love it, and a truly beautiful caption I think it is, I am no longer a young bride, but a mother of two (beautiful and wonderful) girls. I thought perhaps to replace it with a photo, or a collage of photos, that would better represent my day-to-day life at home and with my family. 

This led me to thinking about life, and how it changes and transforms. When I began to write on this blog, I was a young and energetic girl, living a very full and busy life, seeking truths and pondering about the role of family, society, femininity, women, feminism, and so on and so forth... I expressed opinions, hosted heated debates, and  (busy as I was with studies, work, etc) miraculously functioned through lack of sleep the likes of which I had not experienced even later, in my new-motherhood days. 

Fast forward a couple of years... I got married (much sooner than I thought), had a baby, then another... and now, just as though Someone smiled at me and said, "let's see how you live out your dreams", I am placed in a little house in the middle of nowhere, with a rain-collecting and water-recycling system, a herb garden, and chickens in the yard. 

And so, naturally my focus has shifted primarily towards living a simple, satisfying life with my family, learning how to be the best mother I possibly can, and keeping my Crocs well away from chicken poo. Sometimes I get these panic attacks, fearing that time is slipping by and "nothing is done", but then I realize that this seemingly-nothing is actually the great gift of slowing down... I'm now at a stage of life when pace should be slow and outward commitments kept to a bare minimum. 

Some would say it's boring. I'm loving it. :o)

And what of the header photo?.. Oh, when I spoke of it to my husband, he was really disappointed. "What! Take off this lovely picture, which captures the very basic essence of building a Jewish home!" - and so I obligingly left it unchanged. Some things, after all, had better not change. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicken bone soup

I don't exactly make stock around here, but I do often cook a slow-simmering, rich soup from the bony parts of a chicken which are often discarded. This makes a delicious, nutritious and economical meal - and it can be put together in a very short time. It's best to make it in the morning, then allow it to simmer on the stove top all the way till lunch.

To make it, you will need:

- the bony parts of one chicken (wings, neck, back bones)

- vegetables: basically, everything goes. I like to throw in one roughly chopped onion, a couple of carrots, some potatoes, several cloves of garlic... some celery is great if you have it, or some bell peppers - anything you have on hand.

- 1 cup pearl barley

Cover the chicken, vegetables and barley with water, just until they are covered. Ideally the water should be cold, but I sometimes (like today) start with pre-boiled water to save time.

Add salt and season to taste... and prepare for a looong time of enjoying the smell of your soup, right until the moment when you can finally eat it!


Monday, May 28, 2012

And another week begins...

It feels as though I have been away for so long (although only a few days have passed), that I hardly know where to begin. Most of all, and above all, I'm just very happy with how the Shabbat and holiday went. In the days before Shabbat, we were of course all in a flurry of making good food - I made pot roast chicken, meat balls in tomato sauce, and baked potatoes, and my husband made a potful of his delicious fish stew (I haven't forgotten all those who asked for a recipe - I just need to corner the man and ask him exactly how he makes it!). And of course on Friday we baked a large batch of our homemade bread. I made braided challah.

Then on Shavuot (Sunday), which was my husband's birthday, a family of friends that lives nearby came over for lunch and we had a great time celebrating, relaxing around the table and talking, and of course, sampling the birthday cake, photos of which (dear me!) I abysmally failed to provide. 

Today, after a double Shabbat of sorts, it was time to seriously dive in into all that has been left undone from Friday night and until this morning. There was a lot of laundry, all of which I heroically tackled in the first half of the day, and then, in a spontaneous "let's do it" way, I decided to make pizza with the girls. They were so happy - involved in every stage of the process, from mixing to kneading to rolling the dough, to helping stir and spread the sauce and toppings... covered in flour up to their ears, busily assisting, and feeling all the importance of their doing so! The final result is in the photo below... 
And while the dough was rising, a lonely package of cream caught my eye and I grabbed the electric beater to make ice cream. I followed my usual recipe, with the variations of using cream cheese instead of milk and carob spread instead of chocolate or halva spread. Mmm. 

Naturally there was a lot of kitchen clean-up to do after all that... evidence to vibrant family life at home, happy children, and creative cooking. :o) I'm good and tired now, and in eager anticipation of a warm shower, bed, and a nice slow day tomorrow.

I hope your weekend was lovely!

Your friend,

Mrs. T

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Little Home




The Little HomeEdgar A. Guest

The little house is not too small
To shelter friends who come to call.
Though low the roof and small its space
It holds the Lord's abounding grace,
And every simple room may be
Endowed with happy memory.

The little house, severly plain,
A wealth of beauty may contain.
Within it those who dwell may find
High faith which makes for peace of mind,
And that sweet understanding which
Can make the poorest cottage rich.

The little house can hold all things
From which the soul's contentment springs.
'Tis not too small for love to grow,
For all the joys that mortals know,
For mirth and song and that delight
Which make the humblest dwelling bright.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our own thing

In our day, expressions like "personal growth", "self-fulfillment" and "following our own dreams" are tossed into the air on a regular basis. We are constantly convinced that to be happy, we must do what we want, when we want; and that our children are better off seeing a "happy" mother a couple of hours a day, than an unfulfilled, frustrated one all day long. 

I will not say that this doesn't have a grain of truth. It is important that we grow and develop our personalities; it is lovely to dream, and to pursue goals. And yet it is crucial to remember - especially for young mothers like me, who are often bogged down by diapers, food smeared everywhere, and squabbling toddlers - that for every thing there is a season, and that almost everything can wait while we raise a family. Our dreams are not gone; they are just put on hold, or on a back burner, while we do that which cannot wait. 

Writing is my biggest passion and has always been. Recently, with the appreciation of my husband, I began to take myself more seriously as an aspiring writer, and currently have several large works in progress. Yet this progress is slow, as I can't exactly allot much time in one stretch to sit down and type away. The largest part of my day is spent in very mundane pursuits. Today, for example, between getting up and dressed and tucking the girls into their naps, I made breakfast, broke up a couple of fights, fed all the animals, wiped the floor clean after several potty training accidents, took out the garbage... and on and on - you get the idea. All the things that seemingly don't leave a lasting impression. A countless train of work, even though this morning, atypically, did not include the usual chores of laundry and cooking lunch. 

Yet do I feel as though my morning has been wasted in vain? No; I actually am happy with every hour I spent.  Not butterflies-in-my-stomach happy, not I-should-get-an-award-for-doing-this happy, but a deep feeling of contentment all the same. I knew I was doing what must be done, and I knew I was coping with the tasks that were meant for me, just as they were coming at me, one by one. Someone has to take care of my family; someone has to wipe that floor after the toddler had her "accident", while explaining to her what she should do to prevent it from happening next time. 

My other option would be giving my children over to the care of someone else, so that I could be doing something else, supposedly something neater, more respectable in the eyes of others, more accomplished. Yet the "lowly" tasks involved in childcare cannot be eliminated - they can only be transferred, usually to someone who does them for money, not for love and duty, and thus does not put her heart into them. In a point of view that has become prevalent, yet still seems bizarre in my eyes, such an arrangement gives more social consequence to both women - the wife and mother who leaves her home, because she does paid work; and the daycare provider, because she does paid work. The ones who usually miss out are the children. 

And so I know that this job was created for me, and should be done, whenever, if at all, and for as long as possible - by me.

I'm not saying I'm perfect all the time (or ever). I'm not saying I never break down, feeling as though I'm suffocating with the desperate need of silence, solitude, sober conversation; of doing what I like, and what makes me feel good, to refresh and renew myself. I do try and incorporate such moments during the day. There is praying in the morning; and writing on my blog when I have a couple of spare minutes - that is my "instant" writing outlet, when I cannot commit myself to something more lengthy, yet feel I have thoughts swirling in my head, begging to be let out. I write down ideas for hobbies, pursuits and recipes I would like to try just for fun, and once in a while I even manage to accomplish a new project.

But I do not feel entitled to do my own thing all the time. 

I don't look very far ahead; for as long as I can see into the visible future, toys will always be scattered on the floor. Fights will always break out. Butter will always get smeared all over the table. For hundreds of times every day, I will have to repeat "don't touch this", "don't shout, I'm trying to listen to Daddy" and "stand still if you want me to help you put your shoes on".

In my mind I know, of course, that some day it will all change. If all follows its due course, someday I will have more free time to do all the things I dream about. It will not necessarily make me happier or more fulfilled; it is a statistical fact that rates of depression are higher among the relatively affluent Westerners than in "primitive" societies that live simply and slowly. All I can hope is G-d will guide me and help me doing what I need, can and should be doing, for the benefit of my loved ones, and to distribute my time, energy and work in the right way, in every period of my life. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

As the days fly away

I'm back home and online, after a long and packed Shabbat away, and a busy Sunday in which to catch up on everything; and I must say, taking everything into account - the lateness of Shabbat hours during the summer, the post-Shabbat nighttime travels, packing bags, cranky children who are well past their usual bedtime - I definitely prefer to spend weekends at home, at least during the summer months. 

Yesterday, as our busy day was drawing to a close, my husband suggested that we pack up our dinner as picnic fare and head out to one of the parks a short drive from our home. An airing at a lovely place was just what you need when you have done a lot of work in your home, yet it is still messy and you know there's no chance you'll clear it all up before bedtime! 
 There was this cute little bridge and artificial pond with water plants. The girls had fun crossing the bridge over and over again, and we took some pictures. It is always fun to make much out of little. :o)
Then we came across this tree. Perhaps you can't tell very clearly from the photo, but it has a bent trunk - something brought it down to the ground, but it still lived, and regained its upward direction of growth. I saw a truly symbolic message in it - even when circumstances bring us down, there is still hope for renewal, growth, and beauty.

This afternoon, the girls and I made my husband's birthday cake - as some of you may remember, his birthday is on Shavuot, which is going to take place next Sunday. Naturally, with two little helpers in the kitchen it was fun, fun, fun! They cracked eggs, mixed, stirred, and of course sampled. :o) The cake is now safely kept away in the freezer until the Big Day. I'm looking forward to us all enjoying it as a family, with perhaps some friends for company. 

Recently I've been feeling as though I'm floating downstream a large, powerful current, with so many things slipping by that I simply have no time or energy to do, or even to properly think of. I know many women in my stage of life, with young children at home and various circumstances keeping them busy, feel the same way. I'm doing my best to live simply and slowly, because truly I feel it is the only option for me to go through these years, not only with my sanity intact, but also treasuring the time I have as something precious, yet still having enough of it for what is really important (although there are occassions when I feel I have absolutely no time for anything). 

It's very late, and I feel that I'm being carried on to an endless ramble even as my eyes are beginning to droop! I'd better close this off now, and leave you with my sincere wishes of updating again soon, and hearing from you all.

Your friend,

Mrs. T

Thursday, May 17, 2012

All we need

Yesterday, as I was reciting the morning prayers with Shira, she asked me to explain about the blessing that gives thanks to G-d for giving us all we need. "What does it mean?" she asked with wide, wondrous eyes. "Well," I said, pondering, "it means that G-d has thought of all the things you might need, and made sure you had them - a home to live in, food to eat, clothes to wear, Mommy and Daddy to take care of you, and even a little sister to be your friend. That is because G-d knows you and loves you, and makes sure you want for nothing. For this, we give thanks."

She nodded happily, content with my explanation, and I felt tears of joy and revelation well up in my eyes. I knew that there was good reason why she stopped to ask specifically about that blessing, and why I had been allowed to partake in her childlike faith. These clear, simple words were needed by me as much or more as by my daughter. 

I will not go into details here, but things could have been more stable financially, and often I find myself fretting and worrying, anxious... yet I must remember that each morning as I recite my prayers, I am not exaggerating. G-d has literally given me all I need; he had always given it, without fail, since the day I was born. Has He ever given me reason to mistrust Him? 

Wisdom, frugality, entrepreneurship - it is all fine and well, as long as I remember Who is really in charge of giving me my life, my home, the food I eat, the people I love. Thank You for that. Thank You also for the wonderful child who illuminates my eyes while we learn about life alongside each other. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Organizational homemaking

A reader emailed me and expressed interest in some old posts of mine, about home-management binders, and also asked how my organizational system has evolved over the years. I decided to take up the challenge and give a short explanation. :-)

When I first began to think about homemaking as something that requires thought and organization, I took up a thick, hardcover ring binder and filled it up with charts, timelines, lists, recipes and other odd things. But later it turned out that I need something more handy, something to which I could always throw a quick glance and know where I'm standing.

Some time ago my husband bought me an erase board and I fell in love with it - it's so convenient. I keep it in the kitchen, and use it to write down the running shopping list, my weekly cooking plan, various short-term goals, etc. My husband also uses it to write down some things he wants to remind me to do. When those are done, I simply erase them. 

I still have a notebook for long-term plans, and my recipe notebook of course. I also have a weekly planner in which I keep all of our appointments, etc. But nothing beats my little erase board for things I can't afford to forget! Because it's in front of my eyes all the time, there is no chance I might forget to look in it. Also, it's very conveniently located in the kitchen, where I spend a large chunk of my time. The only problem is that sometimes I run out of space. I often joke that I need a wall-sized erase board. :-)

There are some very cute, inexpensive erase boards for sale, but here is a guide to making one yourself. Isn't it lovely?

I would love to hear some of your ideas for organizing your schedule and to-do lists! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Learning for eternity

Today, Shira (3 years old) asked me, "Who made G-d?"; I explained that G-d was not made, that He had existed, and will exist, for all eternity, no matter how far back or forward we look; that He is bigger than anything we can imagine, and that He made us all, and knows us better than we can ever hope to know ourselves. 

The profound depth of children's spontaneous questions, coming straight from their keen, sharp, probing minds, never ceases to amaze me. The matters of eternity, infinity and creation are awe-inspiring at the age of three, and just as much or more at the age of forty-three. 

We do not do any "official" lessons yet, but as we are discovering, children can learn much by simply being involved in everyday life, side by side with their parents - including what is usually delivered in the form of lessons ("We collected four eggs from our hens and cooked them. You, me and Tehilla ate one each. How many are left for Abba?"). Shira is now at such an age when questions spring up about anything and everything; I have heard parents describe this stage as wearying, but I have been very much looking forward to it and find it very stimulating. Perhaps I will feel somewhat differently before we are done, but I hope not *smile*. 

We are having another lovely day here, with all the usual things to do - bed-making, dish-washing, laundry, tending to the animals, clearing out some weeds in the yard, and a million odd things here and there. Something simple will soon be cooking for dinner, and we are looking forward to a pre-evening routine relaxing time outside, to just sit around with a cup of tea and wonder about the world. 

I am going to fly off to do afternoon chores now, and hope to post again, and visit all your lovely blogs soon.

Your friend,

Mrs. T

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The beginning of a new week

 Can you see the bee in the middle of the picture above? I always love watching these little pollinators, buzzing and humming about their work of making honey. 
 And just a couple of photos of beautiful and delicious cherry tomatoes, in interesting shapes and colors. The match is just to give you an idea of their size. A perfect mid-morning snack for little fingers.
We're beginning a new week here, and as always, the start of a week is busy - and feels doubly so since we've been away for the weekend, returned home late last night, and are still recovering from the tiredness such a trip always brings with it. It's good to settle into familiar routine. First thing in the morning, I put in a load of laundry, and then proceeded to sit on the couch for my favorite quiet spell of the beginning of each day - nursing Tehilla, and simultaneously, reciting the morning prayers with Shira. 

Then there was all the usual humdrum of making beds, hanging out the washing, breakfast, doing the dishes, tending to the animals, collecting eggs, etc (not necessarily in that order). Then we stopped by at my sister-in-law's, to pick something up, and stayed for a few lovely minutes of visiting (trying to be mouse-quiet, so as not to disturb the sleeping baby). Then back home, to fold the laundry, have a light lunch, and tuck the little ones into naps. 

I am now using some of that quiet midday lull to catch up on blogging/emailing/Facebook - not more than a few minutes, for soon the girls will be up again, and the second half of the day will begin, filled with busy-ness to the brim - cleaning up some of the rooms, and one of the bathrooms (that's on the schedule at least) and making dinner. 

In between, there are the gifts of laughter, joy, beauty, good music, and precious moments of peace. I hope you are all having a lovely day! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hand crafts

There are so many hand crafts I'm itching to try; for now, time forces me to be content with crocheting, some very basic knitting, and occassional candle-making, but I can always hope I will have more leisure in the future, right? :-) I'm also doing some very simple beading now, with Shira, which we both greatly enjoy.



Here are some other hobbies I would love to acquire:

Sewing - making my own clothes, clothes for my family, and decorative pieces is a dream! Endless possibilities. This website is by a Jewish lady who makes lovely items, and also gives sewing classes.

Quilting - such a cozy hobby and makes for great gifts.

Bead embroidery - so impressive!

Pottery - my husband and I once fell in love with a house of a relative, which was filled with unique, handmade pottery items. It created a magical atmosphere.

And perhaps most of all I would love to perfect my knitting. It really is a pity that I did not learn to knit very well while I still lived with my mother and grandmother, who are both very good knitters (although now somewhat out of practice). But... I will be waiting for a chance to present itself, then seize it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Home-cooked and healthy

In response to my post about hospitality and the family table, one of my readers emailed me and pointed out that home-made food is not always necessarily healthy: many people use unhealthy cooking methods and incorporate way too much sugar and fat into their cooking. Here is what I wrote back.

***


You bring up a valuable point, and I agree with you - the mere fact that a meal is home-cooked does not guarantee its being healthy. One has to know how to choose the best ingredients of what is available, balancing between optimum health, taste and economy, and to use healthy cooking methods. That is why nutrition and wise consumerism are two subjects which are so useful for a homemaker to learn. 

Having said that, however, I will maintain that it is easier to produce healthy meals at home than to obtain them elsewhere. Most commercially prepared foods are a poor choice, because food manufacturers think mainly about profit, not health, and thus use the cheapest ingredients available. 

The phenomenon of leaving frozen pizza and instant soups for children to have for lunch after school, too, is rooted in the absence of someone to welcome them home. Of course, it ispossible to work full-time and still leave a wholesome meal for the children to have after school, but the fact remains that too many children have substandard fare as their main, and sometimes only, hot meal of the day. Some are picky eaters; even if there is "real" food in the house, they will not be induced to eat it alone, without anyone to serve them and keep them company. 

And, of course, sometimes the simplest choices are the healthiest ones. It is easier to prepare a fruit platter than to bake a cake, and arranged in an attractive way, it can be an excellent dessert. I personally love an arrangement of kiwi and banana slices, with some strawberries on top. In the summer we have chilled watermelon for dessert quite often, which is very refreshing. And on Shabbat nights we often skip dessert altogether, because everyone is so full. 

Just a word about fats: after reading "Nourishing Traditions", I was confirmed in my earlier  suspicion that it is the quality, not quantity of fat in our diet that matters. We have been using butter, cream, cheese and so forth in our diet more liberally than before for the past two years, and none of us (well, except for the children, of course!) gained an ounce of weight.

I really, truly believe that real food, made of good-quality natural ingredients, even if it is rich (and our ancestors in the not-so-distant past ate a diet which contained much more fat than what modern nutritionists are trying to get us to eat! My grandma still smacks her lips when she tells of goose fat spread on a warm piece of challah), does not by itself cause obesity, if it is eaten moderately, at a cheerful family table.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Feathery cuteness


My husband brought me these two as a surprise today. Not sure about their breed (probably mixed), but aren't they cute? What about those hairdos?! I've always had a penchant for chickens with feathered feet. :-)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The table of Abraham

In the Jewish Grace after meals, Birkat ha-Mazon, there are lines specifically intended for the guest to say: and this table shall be as the table of Abraham; all those who hunger shall eat from it, and all those who thirst shall drink from it, and it shall never lack bounty, always and forever. I find in these lines a very beautiful image of hospitality.

Our first dinner guest was sprung up on us quite unexpectedly. The memory stands out vivid in my mind; we were a newlywed couple, married perhaps for a month or so, and it was one of the first Shabbats we spent in our home. We were just returning from the evening service when a stranger came up to us and asked if he may have a dinner with us. We exchanged startled looks, but somehow (if not very eloquently) we must have given our consent, because half an hour later this man was seated by our table. It turned out that he is our neighbour, a middle-aged bachelor with no family living nearby. For as long as we continued to be neighbours, he was often our guest. He used to bake the most wonderful pita bread, and it was initially through trying to emulate him that our passion for bread-baking grew and flourished. 

When we moved to our new neighbourhood, several months ago, most people assumed we were committing an act of some serious social downscaling; we did, after all, move to an area with only a handful of families within walking distance from us. However, in our old neighbourhood we seldom dined with any of the families on our street, while here (where we have no street) we have guests over, and go to other people's homes, almost every Shabbat. 

I am a scrupulous kind of person when it comes to receiving guests; I have good intentions of being hospitable and welcoming, and having my doors open to others, but when the rubber hits the road I often get these fretful nervous attacks, thinking that nothing is up to scratch - that the food I prepared isn't fancy or plentiful enough, my home is not clean or orderly enough, my children not disciplined enough to allow space for adult company to talk. 

But all this passes in my mind before the dinner or lunch takes place; once we are in the thick of action, I feel very glad for having done it, as there is nothing like the exchange, fellowship, enrichment of discussion, and generally just the knitting of hearts and communities together, that takes place 'round a dinner table. Leisure time is plentiful, the children play together, and there is that ease and laughter that accompany a good meal in good company. 

I am beginning to relax. Around here, an impromptu invitation usually assumes that the guests are bringing some food with them, which turns every shared meal to a spontaneous pot-luck party. I'm telling myself not to fret about the additional side dish I did not have time to make, and think instead that washing dishes after everyone is already bountiful enough. :o)

It never ceases to impress me just how much our society lost by, when people stopped regularly congregating around the dinner table. Food, family, fellowship - the magical trio. Immediate family first of all, of course, but then the circle is expanded; others are included, made to feel welcome. Jokes are shared, discussions spring up, ideas are born. Once people dispersed for time-efficient gobbling up of substandard food from plastic TV-trays, a crucial element of togetherness was abandoned. As a clinical nutritionist I feel qualified to say that at least half of all our modern obesity and other nutrition-related maladies would be solved by the return of the family table. 

As wife and homemaker, I mingle in the neighbourhood more often than my husband does. It is up to me, therefore, to provide those links that can so enrich our lives and the lives of others. I truly believe there is no better way to make someone feel welcome and accepted, than invite that person to share a meal. 

So my advice, to myself and to others, would be - take the plunge. Invite someone over; it doesn't have to be anything fancy. Perhaps you didn't prepare dessert; perhaps your home has a lived-in look (a couple of kids will give that perpetual air to a house); but your hospitality will be warmly appreciated as you toss on an apron and continue smiling and chatting with your guests while you soap up the dishes in the sink. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rest in the middle of a busy day

To me, nothing spells "summer" as much as hammocks. It's amazing how a simple piece of sturdy fabric, hung between two wooden posts, can bring about so much fun and relaxation. I don't need to work very hard to entertain my kids - I'll just go outside, get comfortable in the hammock, and let the girls take turns in sprawling on top of mama. :-) Just this morning, I had the privilege of spending a lovely three-quarters of an hour in such a manner, holding and rocking each child in turn. 

The hammock is placed so that it is in the shade until about noon - a perfect place for a midmorning recess after busy activities; to tell stories, sing songs, or just daydream. 

It is now Friday afternoon, and Shabbat will be soon upon us. The house is filled with delicious smell of baking bread, the girls are taking a very deserved nap, and I'm here, in the middle of all the quiet, after a flurry of cooking and cleaning. I will now head off for some last preparations, and wish you all the loveliest of weekends.

Your friend,

Mrs. T

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A surprise gift


A rose plucked by my husband on the spur of the moment.

Sometimes, little things can make your day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Provision

This is a subject I wanted to touch upon when I wrote my last post, but time simply did not permit, so here I am now. The skeptical question of "how can you afford so many children?" is often simply answered by, "God provides", and this, in return, gets a lot of raised eyebrows. "Don't you think it's irresponsible to simply trust God?"; "Don't you think it's careless to venture forward and have baby after baby without a sound financial plan?" 

Yes, having children costs money. Not as much as some would have us believe. I cannot give you exact numbers right now, but I do know for sure that in the three years since we became parents, we have only spent a fraction of what we were "supposed to". And yes, there is such a thing as financial wisdom, and I believe we all ought to work towards acquiring it and acting upon it. 

But all this doesn't change the fact that the ultimate key to plenty or poverty is in the hands of Hashem. 

We have experienced it both ways. Miraculously, things we needed - and even many things we wanted, but thought of as luxuries - found their way to us at exactly the moment we needed them, without costing us anything. Furniture, clothes, household supplies, electric appliances... things too numerous to mention. Lucky finds, generous gifts, creative solutions. It was too much to be a coincidence, and truly, I cannot speak of this phenomenon as anything but a miracle. However, we have also suffered sudden financial losses which in no way could be expected or prevented. 

What am I trying to say, then? Wisdom, knowledge, self-reliance, responsibility and resourcefulness are good things. Very, very good and worthy, but they can only take us so far

We can juggle numbers, argue, and prove that in many ways, raising a family is really not as expensive as it is cracked up to be - but the bottom line, the underlying motive, is that something really exists that is bigger than all our plans, and that a gracious hand is always extended to those who seek to hold on to it. Many people would probably say that we "cannot afford" to have children at all, yet here we are, and yes, with all the rational frugality and good sense, sometimes a miracle is needed. And it is alright to trust we will not be abandoned. 

I live in Israel, where the largest slice of society with many children is the Haredi. "Well, and look at them!" knowing ones would say. "They all aim to have a dozen children, and they are so poor!" - that is so, but I do not believe there is a direct cause-effect relationship. I believe that in their case, the problem is in the disproportionally large percentage of men who opt to study Torah full-time and bring home only a meager stipend, while their wives provide. Even so, their families are respectable, and their children, generally, well-fed, properly dressed and given an education.

We have experienced, we live our life in the overwhelming charity and benevolence of G-d. I know He expects us to be responsible financially, and we try our hardest to be. But I also know He has shown us that His hands are open, and I trust that they will ever continue to be open to us.