I once heard Julia White, the talented and loved founder of the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir, say that when she was growing up, her family didn't have a lot of money...but they always had enough for music.
That thought came floating back to me this afternoon as I sat and watched Josiah and David participate in a play-in at the end of a wonderful day-long violin workshop today. "We are rich," I thought with a full heart. "In all the ways that matter, we are so rich!"
Let me be clear: we are definitely not rich in terms of a six-figure income, bulging bank accounts, or a lavish lifestyle. Because of Jeff's hard work, our convictions about frugality, and the gracious provision of the Lord, our needs are all met abundantly; but we are very careful about our spending.
Having been blessed a number of times by friends giving us hand-me-downs, we rarely buy clothes...and when we have to, we buy them at a thrift store. We shop for groceries at a discount store. For meat, we've been eating a lot of venison in the past couple of years--some of which was given to us by generous friends, and some of which Jeff has bartered haircuts for. We try to grow as much of our own food as we can, and also try to preserve a lot of it, through freezing or canning. We don't indulge in expensive electronics; as a matter of fact, I don't even have a cell phone, and none of us have iPods, iPads, or the other "must-have" gadgets of the day. (Note: I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with having those things...just saying that we've chosen not to get them.) I use the public library often for materials for our homeschool. As far as vehicles go, we have two older vans, both of which we paid for up front, so we've never had to worry about a car payment for them.
In so many ways, we pinch pennies so hard that the next person to hold them wonders why in the world they are skinnier than normal pennies! ;-)
In so many ways, this is what many families around the country are doing these days.
And yet, with all our scrimping and saving, we have chosen to make music a high enough priority in our family that it actually gets quite a bit of money. SVCC for two boys, violin lessons for two boys, instruments and other supplies, concert tickets, etc...it all adds up. I have no idea what the grand total would be that we spend yearly on music-related things, but whatever that total is will likely increase in years to come as more of the children get old enough to participate in such things.
Which leads me to my initial conclusion: we are rich.
There I was earlier today, sitting in peace and safety in a beautiful space, listening to the haunting beauty of "Appalachia Waltz" and the stirring rhythms of "Hunters' Chorus," watching the children I bore be a part of such a talented group of musicians, knowing that after it was all over, we would return to our home where the three little ones were being cared for by our wonderful neighbor (who happens to wear a bonnet on her head and go to church by way of a horse-and-buggy) and then sit down for the evening meal when all nine of us would gather around the table...well, anyone in that situation might begin to think of herself as rich!
Rich in music.
Rich in beauty.
Rich in smiles and laughter.
Rich in kindness and cheerfulness.
Rich in respect.
Rich in love.
A rich family indeed!
We have five happy, healthy children...beds, clothes, books, and toys for each of them...a cellar and two freezers full of food...wood for the woodstove to keep us warm...a loyal collie to greet us with wagging tail...a marriage that's wonderfully stable but simultaneously exciting...God's own words to comfort us, correct us, inspire us, and help us to grow.
Yes, it's true. In all the ways that matter, we are unimaginably rich!