Monday, July 19, 2010


The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. -Psalm 23 (NIV)

A few months ago at mom's group, we were doing a craft. The daughter of one of our friends was painting something to hang up in her room, and wanted her mom to write "her verse" on the paper. As it turns out, her verse was a version of Psalm 23: 

The LORD is my shepherd, I have everything I need. -Psalm 23 (similar to The Message translation)
This sweet girl's version of Psalm 23 has really been on my mind ever since. For me, it brought a whole new spin on things--because traditionally, I always heard Psalm 23 and thought of being "in want" as dealing with the big, extravagant things--boats, Hawaiian vacations, shopping sprees. This child's version of Psalm 23 has caused me to look at the verse through a lens of Need versus Want.

I struggle often with being in want, especially now that I am a stay at home mom. Because the honest truth is that money is tight, every month. We've dipped into our savings more often than we should have, sometimes out of necessity, and {honestly}sometimes because it's been hard for us to transition from two incomes (and thus more discretionary income) to one. I think sometimes we wanted to continue living virtually care-free about our spending. But the bottom line is that we just simply can't be as carefree with money as we once were.

It's hard because I want clothes that fit and feel flattering. I want lasagna for dinner instead of the chicken salad we have ingredients for. I want to be able to meet a friend for lunch and coffee before she goes away to medical school. I want to be able to go and visit my parents or Justin's parents as often as we want to, even if that means driving there two or three times in a week. I want to be able to occasionally buy Lizzy a cute outfit when I see it. I want to be able to put more money in savings. Heck, I have a whole tag on this blog called "I want." Justin has his own set of "I wants" as well--not extravagant "I wants", but just little things. 

Sometimes, these things that I want to do or have feel like needs. But really, they're not. I may feel like "Oh, I need to go grocery shopping, I have no food in the house." I may not have the groceries that I want, but my cupboards are not actually bare.We have food. It may not be a meal that I would typically put together--it may be a mish-mash of things, but we have food.When I think about it long and hard, I can't really think of anything that we need but do not have--we have a home, we have food, we have transportation, we have each other.

As I've said before, sometimes it is HARD to be in this place. I feel like I deserve to have these things that I want. They are small things after all. Sometimes I find myself looking up jobs on Craigslist, thinking how much easier it would be if we were back to two incomes {And yet, I do know that the grass is always greener. The additional money would come with sacrifice as well--either hardly seeing Lizzy or hardly seeing Justin}.

On the other hand, I know with every fiber of my being that it's God's plan for me to be a stay-at-home-mom right now. Justin and I have prayed about it long and often. I know it, I feel it, and I'm at peace with it. I have faith that our NEEDS will be provided for during this time, I just have to reconcile with the fact that our WANTS may not be. Honestly, this is probably a good lesson for me, even if it isn't always a particularly fun one.

This next month in particular, I really would to spend time thinking about where every single penny of our money is going--not that some of our money won't be spent on wants rather than needs, but I have a feeling that if we really continue to remember that we do have everything we NEED, we'll find a lot more discretionary income than we thought we had.


That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for you heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why do you worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for the wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? -Matthew 6: 25-30


  1. I don't get a chance to comment often because I follow you from work (shhhh...)! I feel so passionate about this very subject that I just had to take a few seconds to respond.

    I completely and utterly understand how you feel on this very topic. We have decided that I will work for now and possibly go part time as both children get into school. Then, I can spend the afternoons with them and not pay for afterschool care. Regardless of whether you work at an office or work as a stay-at-home-mom, there are wants that are often disguised as needs. I look at some of my stay-at-home friends and think how in this world can they stay home and still afford this or that. How can they constantly be going out for lunch or buying tickets to the zoo. Then I remember an ugly word...DEBT. So many people go into debt to enjoy the "finer things" or just to keep up a particular image. Be proud of yourselves for not doing just that. Be proud that you can distinguish a want from a need and say no! It's hard to do that when you know there is a savings account to back you up if you fall short. I'm guilty, we're all guilty (except for my husband who must be an alien or something weird like that because he NEVER - and I mean NEVER - buys something he hasn't saved separately for).

    Hang in there and KNOW that you are NOT alone in your struggle.

  2. Here's the way I think when I start to get down about not being able to buy something I want ...

    I remember that a billion people in this world live on less than $1 a day. Yep, 1 billion! And then I feel like we're doing okay :)

  3. Oh man, I feel you on this one. While we don't have kids yet, we are trying to pay down our student loans either prior to having kids or soon after having kids. Given that we would have liked to have me be pregnant yesterday, we do feel like we are in a bit of a time crunch with a long way to go! Plus on top of that, we are down to only one car, as his transmission has decided to go. We're trying to figure out whether we should get a "family-friendly" car or get something smaller and compact. Oh yeah, and how we're going to pay for it as we've always bought our cars used with cash... Sigh, there are so many other expenses building up, but that doesn't stop me from still wanting to go shopping or go out on a date or want to cook nice dinners...I am trying so hard though!

  4. This is so me right now as well. Thank you for this!

  5. Great post, Meredith. I can relate 100% to everything you said and oddly enough had a conversation with Chad last night about being more vigilant in watching our spending. So I'll be joining you in that venture!

  6. This post has served as a great reminder for me too to realize that there is a significant difference between needs and wants. And I am so thankful to have everything I need in life.

    What is ridiculously uncanny is that I almost used the exact same bible verses that you did at the end of your post in the post I wrote today (to be published tomorrow). Instead I went with a verse from Matt 10.

  7. I totally agree with you. I struggle often with what I want and what I actually need. It's one of the reasons that I'm going back to work in a few weeks. I am lucky that I can work from home though, but I'd still love to stop working and focus all my attention on baby E if I could. Maybe in a few months I'll be able to. :)

  8. I like how the Bible alternates between first-millennium morality and full blown hippy communism.

    My standard reference for when I need perspective is, "Hey, at least I'm not in World War II Poland!"

  9. I loved this...we're in the same place right now too.

    Here's praying for both of our families to get through this time.

  10. It's all relative, right? *sigh*

  11. I read this post on Monday and almost even linked to it while writing my Monday post. You and I are so alike in many ways and God seems to have the same desires for us, because we seem to be learning the same lessons. :) Keep listening hun.

  12. Wow! I truly appreciate this candid post. We have a 6month old and 5 year old and I recently became a stay at home mom. We prayed for the opportunity to allow me to stay home with our kids, but we didn't realize we would miss the income so badly.

    However, I've realized that God is using this time in our life to teach me some things about my wants vs. my needs as well. And he's also teaching me lessons in patience and unconditional love...Let's just say it is a real test to stay home with two very active children. But it's definitely a blessing!

    But more than anything I think I've learned that all of the things that I furniture, clothes, etc. were just a distraction for me. They were receiving my affections when they should have been for God. And it may not be the case for everyone. But it was for me, and I'm thankful that God used this time in our lives to show me the error of my ways.

    Thanks for writing such an honest post!



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