Quirky Frugality

Bird

A bird only eats what it needs, do we?

To live in personal jubilee, debts are forgiven. This does not mean financial debts especially, it has a greater meaning than that, involving grudges, sins, and just letting go of everything and everyone that is causing a barrier to come between you and God.

Having said that financial difficulties account for most marital problems, and we are linving in a society that is carrying a huge debt problem. If financial problems affect our relationships then surely we can extrapolate debt and financial problems as a barrier to our relationship with God.

Is that too far a jump for you, think about it:

Yuo are in debt therefore you didn’t look after your share wisely. Is that a fair point or are you beginning to get defensive? Beginning to feel offended? What do I know about your situation.

More than you think, I am not on some high moral ground, debt free, looking down as people scrabble to pay one debt using money that should be servicing another debt. I have been in debt all my married life.

I started part time working like many children at twelve, my pocket money stopped that day. From that moment I was responsible for all clothes, travel and leisure expenses. Not surprisingly I moved to full time hours as soon as I could as I had a nicotine addiction to service and a growing liking for alcohol.

I married at twenty one and quickly had a mortgage which was small and manageable and a car loan which again was small and manageable. Every financial decision was no longer mine alone, it included my husband and we began a relationship with money that was not healthy. it was poisonous. The car wasn’t good enough, the house wasn’t good enough, and we quickly spiralled into unrepayable debt.

We started fresh in a new country, in rented accommodation, we have lived in some weird situation – a council flat sublet, a squat, a fellowship house ( before I was Christian), on relatives sofas, in rat infested flats, in undesirable areas, in a castle. Weird places, quirky places, and always with the memory of the debt left behind.

Last year I stopped working and among other debts had €10,000 owing on my Visa. Today I am debt free except possibly the smallest mortgage in Ireland and a relatively small car loan. I am saving, managing to have holidays and generally not living a curtailed life.

How?

By financial prudence in most areas allowing me to splurge on the things I want, holidays and a new van.

How is it done?

By knowing exactly down to the penny where your money goes. My financial week begins on Sunday – both my husband and I tithe to churches, not vast sums and the percentages don’t matter, we tithe. Then the bills get paid, then food is bought, cars filled with petrol and that’s it. I don’t spend outside of Mondays except my luxury – Americano twice a week and my continuing tobacco addiction.

How much do you spend on food?

I spend between €50-€100 per week for a family of four sometimes five. I think possibly this is where I save most money. Everything is cooked from scratch, no bottles or jars, down to making my own curry spices. I grow as many vegetables as I can, and barter with Sliabh Luacra women – jam for bread etc.

To free myself from financial pressure, I give stuff: I leave books on benches, CD’s on tables, veggies on doorsteps, software to school.

If I lend something out I never expect it’s return and that way bitterness cannot develop.

If I borrow something I always give it back, again to stop bitterness.

I never impulse buy, and probably drive shops mad as I keep going back in over and overe again.

My clothes budget is approximately €200 a year for all four of us including uniforms, I mend clothes instead. This has been a problem this year because I dropped 3 dress sizes and probably will drop another before this year is out, so my clothes are baggy but I have been able to wear older clothes that haven’t seen the light of day for a few years.

I recycle loads of stuff. We were in a house once with one chair and a mattress so I made tables out of cardboard boxes and and a slatted bed kind of a thing from pallets. I have even managed to fix a broken flusher with a carved piece of wood.

My life is not consumed by material possesions, I love technology and sometimes get an urge to get the latest gadget, but I suppress the urge and just utilise what I have. Because God is the centre of my life I think of it in biblical terms and relational terms.

To be continued, edited and rehashed a gazillion times until I get this piece right.

Nourished by Words

Birdwithpassage

To delve into scripture, to immerse yourself in God’s words, to allow the words form in front, behind, at the sides, in the mind, in the heart, spoken out loud, spoken within. What beautiful words, transforming words, teaching and guiding words, angry and gentle words.

The words of our God, written, rewritten, remembered, history passed down through generations, words that our God spoke.

Wow, don’t we have a gloriously wonderful God.

He is the great provider, he provides for all our needs, physical and spiritual, He is

Our God

Word_root

If we firmly root ourselves in him, nothing can sway us, situations will continue to come that try to rip us from him, but the roots are deep and we’ll not be pulled away from him. He is our centre, our core, our deep root.

Alice

Sisters

I wrote this poem as an exercise in the form ‘villanelle’. It one of the few poems of mine that rhymes, I don’t usually like the conformity of form. Alice was one of the people accused and tried for witchcraft in the Pendle area. She died in 1612 at the gallows. In the 1980’s a young punky anarchist from the Pendle area took the name and has used it ever since, she still lives and writes.

Alice Nutter, Both of Them

 

Men of Pendle, you called Alice Nutter a witch

You hung her from a tree across the fell

And now you folk full of chatter call me a bitch

Though you knew after thrashing with a switch

No witch could she be and could cast no spell

Men of Pendle, you called Alice Nutter a witch

You cause my ears to itch and nose to twitch

As you chatter at my dress and rebel yell

And now you folk full of chatter call me a bitch

You cut her hair and dragged her thru the ditch

Stripped whipped you tried to drown her in a well

Men of Pendle, you called Alice Nutter a witch

All based on gossip and lies from Rose Smith – snitch

We die, we curse you, from the earth we  now dwell

Men of Pendle, you called Alice Nutter a witch

And now you folk full of chatter call me a bitch

Bubble Rubble*

Rubble

How often do we use obscurantism without even knowing it? If you notice your spouses new hairstyle, do you comment on it asking how much it cost***? In reply your spouse, if female, will possibly use the term “the usual” or “same as last time.” It would be inappropriate to probe further without tension rising so the matter is dropped. When someone greets us and asks how you are? We don’t actually answer in detail no matter how down or joyous we are, “I’m grand”, “I’m fine.” 

I was in Eason’s in a shopping centre somewhere in Ireland this week (obscurantism – not naming the place) and overheard a conversation about mainstream versus elitism. It was a mobile phone conversation in a public place so I transcribed the one sided conversation. I was intrigued, were we talking about government level doublethink, was some new explosive drama about to unfold in Leinster House. The topic was actually quite banal for at least half the population, plus for the other half those above and below a certain age group. 

I had understood the concept of obscurantism from my early introduction to political and philosophical (non-Christian) thought, that of Wittgenstein and Hegel, and of course the anti-obscurantist, Marx. But that was a lifetime ago and so it was when I heard the terms mainstream and elitism that it all flooded back. As wikipedia is on speed button for me I looked it up and discovered that the person who taught me how bad obscurantism was, had lied. That the masses were entitled to hear the entire truth not selected soundbytes was true but it’s origins I was told was in the germanic philosophical line. What no one ever told me was it was a term coined from the satire ‘Letters of Obscure Men’ about the burning or not burning of the Talmud in the 1500’s.**

Bringing this concept back to today. There are times when vagueness seems to be the only answer, when you are living in a state of hysteresis and not sure how it is all going to pan out, when you have one foot over the wall but you have not yet committed to jump then using doublespeak, doublethink, obscurantism, obfuscation and polite fiction seem to be right thinking. I wonder sometimes if when someone asks “How are you?” if I answered truthfully and in the minutae of detail would they ever ask again.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NIV)

A year ago, if God asked me how I was, I would’ve answered I’m fine, even though I was anything but, because there was a whole gamut of people who needed his ear and I didn’t want him to know. It never occurred to me that he already knew I was in a bit of a fix, he already knew the minutae of detail, he was waiting for me to tell him, to spend those hours praying and being real.

That’s what he wants to hear, he wants to hear the good, the bad and everything in between. I have in my community a friend who asks a question, it is the same question posed in a gazillion different ways, she doesn’t just ask me, she flits from person to person, listening to the answer, which I suspect is the same answer and does nothing. There’s a time for doing nothing, there’s a time for human obsurantism but there is never a time to hide your true self from the One who knows everything. Be real, be truthful to Him and to yourself and then if you need to be vague to those around you for protection so be it, but to keep real and in the Truth, we need to let the Lord know so we don’t end up believing the doublespeak.

* Obscurantism in itself

**Did they burn it?

***The average cost of a female hairstyle is €150.00 depending on length, colour and the experience of the stylist.

Suzie Gallagher

Morrigan has left

reposted here, originally posted on http://marycronin.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/not-sure-what-to-do-about-mary-but-it-wont-be-written-down/

Mary was a part of my life for so long, but didn’t get round to writing her whole story down on paper. There exists a short story about Mary Cronin called Morrigan Mary which can be found in the short story section  at http://sukeymacki.posterous.com/, warning though it is not a pretty romantic tale, this girl is desperate and has no hope, it’s powerful only in it’s shock value. It was the first short story I wrote after a twenty year abyss. I was in a place of no hope when I wrote it. From that came the idea that even in desperation there has to be hope, this took Mary on many jaunts, being homeless and getting out in various forms including death, being abused and abusive and getting out in various forms including education, pregnancy and death. Mary was finally going to have a story for her in this blog, as a scrawny, malnutritioned, neglected child through various trials, as Morrigan the goddess within her surfaced more and more until she blossomed into the girl she is today.

But, and that is the clincher, but I have grown spiritually so much since first meeting the character Mary that I find I can’t continue. The reasons are many:

  • The concept of goddesses and gods – can’t go there anymore
  • the language needed in the place she is – can’t go there anymore
  • the girl and her decisions – can’t go there anymore
  • I can’t write about the hopelessness without a glimmer of hope
  • but most of –

The people, the characters I based on real people are still in that situation. “Mary” herself is no longer the fourteen year old girl, befriended …

Suzie Gallagher

Cellular Freedom

Our cells go about their work without any intervention from us. We breathe in and out without the aid of a prompt and our heart beats and pumps blood carrying oxygen around our bodies and return deoxygenated blood to the lungs to pick up more vital oxygen and on it goes in an endless cycle.

We, however need to be in relationship with God ,we need to talk to him, we need to sing to him, we need to glorify his name. We need to breathe in his word and be ensconced in his love. We are not like the cells in our bodies, we need guidance, we need to hear teaching, we need to engage when we are preached to. Doing all this whilst not just functioning in the world but being all this in the world. We need to share the love we have found with others.

“There’s a certain freedom you have when you’re sitting on top of the world” Paul Simon

I say, there is total freedom when you have accepted the love of God, a freedom that is so wonderful and amazing that you can’t help but give your life back to God, you want to do it, to glorify his name in everything we do.