I’m a genuine extremist. Yes. Anyone who knows me can attest to that. Not a perfectionist, mind you. Anyone entering our house can attest to THAT. No, I obsess over IMPORTANT things like nurturing friendships (emails, phone calls, travel); signing books with very long, hand-cramping autographs that include five verses of Scripture; and the futile pursuit of Doing Everything RIGHT.
But Frugality—there’s my shining extreme! I don’t recycle clothing—everything is already rags or several style-generations old. (Who wears Retro these days?) Our winter thermostat is set on 56 (or 57 if I’m feeling magnanimous). We do have two wood stoves, but they require hours of intensive labor from tree to stove. I darn socks. I cook from scratch. We won’t go into how I economize on toilet paper and Kleenex.
Why do I do this? Am I a child of the Depression and can’t get past survival mode? Jim claims that, but I know better. Neither of us felt deprived back then. We were rich in things that matter—loving families, good neighbors, sufficient food to energize our bodies.
I am frugal with one basic concept in mind: There are people nearby and around the world who need money far more desperately than I do. I find great joy in scrimping and giving. We are not rich, but God has given us enough to share with others. One has to be careful, though; generosity can have unintended consequences. We try to be wise but don’t always know what wise looks like. We do know, however, that our wise God can take whatever crumbs we offer and feed multitudes.
And in one small corner of the world, there grows a plantation of tea trees that will one day help supply school fees for three children, the youngest of whom is named Eleanor.