I spent this Summer thinking about (but obviously not writing about) abundance. With 106 days, it was already an abundant season, but it was especially fruitful for my family. Many of the events, on the surface, seemed more like problems, but as they unfolded, I learned to see the Grace — the abundance –within. Here’s what happened and what I learned:
In early June, two of our cars needed a lot of work — so much work on one that we thought about trading it in. We chose short-term inconvenience and expense rather than the long-term pain of car payments. In late June, our cat became deathly ill, and by July we were frequent fliers at a specialty vet clinic an hour from our home. The bills came daily, in awe-inspiring amounts. The cat did not die, but our dishwasher and computer both did, and replacing them was not an option, given our other expenses. The abundance, besides the negative bottom line and the mileage on my car?
1. The prayers said on behalf of a beloved animal by friends, family, and anyone who heard about what was going on. Susu gave the surgeon such a tough time in the operating room that I expect he said some prayers as well. The frequent proof that those prayers were being heard and answered — daily improvements in Susu’s health — greatly strengthened my faith and encouraged my to pray still more.
2. Generosity: My husband’s response to the situation was a whole-hearted acceptance of just how much this would cost, and a graciousness about Susu’s need for care once she returned home.
3. Affection: Susu liked us just fine before she became ill, but afterwards she became a real love bug. Her purrs were more frequent and she cuddled for as many hours as I’d sit still. During July, this was hours and hours, literally, as I held our sleeping cat while she recovered.
4. Renewed empathy: Susu sometimes needed care in the middle of the night and needed help getting in and out of the litter box while she gained strength. Interrupted sleep and offering assistance in the bathroom are hallmarks of caring for both young children and the elderly. Whether you are caring for one or the other, and especially if you’re sandwiched between both, you have my sympathy and admiration.
5. Tech alternatives: Each of us has a tablet, and between us we have two laptops and two smartphones. Getting online and reading emails wasn’t as easy nor as comfortable as before, but it was doable, in lots of ways.
6. Service: For most of the Summer, my husband and our daughter, did the dishes by hand. To save them some of the trouble they were saving me, I practiced cleaning up as I cooked (an excellent system — I recommend it!) or just shooed them out of the kitchen and washed up myself.
7. Provision: I spent money on almost nothing but bills, utilities, and food this Summer, yet I never felt like I had to go without. My summer wardrobe, stack of books to read, stitching projects at the ready, even the contents of my pantry: all seemed more than abundantly supplied. I made plans for a “homemade Christmas” because I had plenty of gift-making supplies and enjoyed a lovely three-day sewing class that I’d prepaid before all our troubles began. I’m still finding personal care products tucked away in my bathroom: I guess I knew I’d need extra lotion and razors!
While I would not wish to repeat the events of this Summer, I don’t think I’d choose to have missed them, either. The sense of abundance in the midst of a season of extreme frugality and the lessons learned while pleading with God and the surgeon to save my cat’s life go beyond what’s listed here. I expect to be tripping over results from this Summer’s testing for years to come.