Monday, February 22, 2010

Tomatoes.

I had a Valentine's party to go to last night at my friend Gini's house.  It was supposed to be last week but, because of the ice and snow, and general discombobulation that comes any time a winter storm passes through Texas, she rescheduled.

I was making a plate of desserts to bring and ran to the store to grab a couple of last minute items.  Mostly whipping cream which, by they way, can elevate just about any dessert to rock star status in my book. 

With my lone whipping cream, I got into the express lane behind a sweet elderly woman with two tomatoes.  When her turn came up, she asked the checker to weigh the tomatoes individually and tell her the price of each.  One was $.25 and the other was $.27.  She laughed and said, "I'll take the $.25 one."  Then she pulled out her Lone Star card, which is Texas' brand of food stamps and payed for her tomato.  The checker rang her up, said thank you, and told her the balance on her card.  It was $11.87.  I know enough about Lone Star to know it will be the first of March before she gets her next allotment.

I've thought about that transaction all night.  Things can get pretty tight in the Hill house and we really do try to be careful with the way we spend our money.  The reality is, though, eggs sometimes get broken by helpful little hands carrying in groceries, bananas go bad, and tomatoes are sometimes hit with bats in the backyard and I don't really sweat it.

Her careful purchase of one small thing represents a whole new level of tight, doesn't it?  And I know enough to know she's not the only one debating the purchase of a tomato over two cents and trying to make it these last few days before the end of the month with less than $12.  There are thousands just like her in my zip code alone.

It's made me think once again about the way we spend our money.  Could I do that?  Could I get through the next seven days with only $11.87?  Do I pick up pennies in the vaccuum and not bat an eye?  Do I waste food because I've changed my mind about what sounds good for dinner?

Once again, the Lord has used a very small incident to cause me to examine my heart and my habits and perhaps to change my definition of some words I throw around about money like "tight", "careful", and "stewardship".

I'll guess He'd rather me ask Him those questions this week instead of why He didn't give me the ability to ski like Bode Miller. 

Go figure.

14 comments:

Sheila said...

We sponsor a couple of kids through Compassion. A few months ago, I sent a birthday gift. They sent me a picture of her with her birthday gifts. They included sugar, rice, a new dress and a soda. I just sat and cried. Sometimes it's hard to let go of this world, and then at other times, you realize how much better the next will be.

Deidra said...

God is all about opening our eyes, isn't He?

Sometimes I find myself sitting there at a stop light, staring at the man on the corner who holds a sign that tells me he's homeless and anything will help, God bless you. And I remember that Jesus said the poor will always be with us. And then I wonder about the "rightness" of it all. Not the righteousness, but the rightness. Can it be right that the poor will always be with us?

And then I'm reminded that we are blessed when we are poor in spirit, and I realize that God often uses the material poorness of others, to show me my own spiritual want.

C. Francis said...

Your post today has forced me to take a long, hard look at myself when it comes to money. My husband and I don't have a lot but even then we are wasteful. I'm grateful to have read this.

Traci said...

I'd give anything to be able to take her some groceries. I'll think about her the rest of the day. Thanks for this - oh and I can ski like Bodie Miller- you're not missing much. Ha ha- I wish!

Andrea said...

So blessed and challenged by your post today. Thank you.

Becca said...

Right? We sit here thinking about how we dont make enough money and cant pay off our credit card bills. but the TRUTH is that we're rich compared to so so so many people!

The Niemeyer Nest said...

I needed that today! Thought provoking as always as I sit here thinking about how to make my house prettier when I have three tomatoes sititng in my fridge - not the best place for them but you get my point!

allthingsjuice said...

Wow. Thanks for providing perspective.

Janet said...

Seriously, I would love to help with her groceries if you EVER cross her path again. I passed an old woman begging in Bangkok because I was told to hurry on. I have regretted it to this day. Thanks for providing perspective for all of us.

Kim said...

Another beautiful post Melissa. You have such a gift of story telling while making us think.
I had some similar revelations on our recent trip to the Philippines. I am praying for the right words to capture all He showed us!
Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,
Kim

Sitesx6 said...

I'm totally convicted by this. We waste so much. Today alone I dumped a carton of blueberries that got moldy (because no one ate them for the week) and a thing of lunch meat that had freezer burn so I tossed it out. I waste A LOT!!!!!!

Thank you!!

TDM Wendy said...

Good post. Something I always wrestle with-spending less and giving more. Making financial sacrifice so others can live. Just live. Forget treats and fancy hot chocolates. Most of the world is just trying to make it to the next day. I am so selfish and greedy and need constant reminders to be a better steward of my cash. Thanks for the reminder. Wish I could find tomato lady. Doubt she is traveling to Cali anytime soon. But there are tomato ladies all around us.

Laura said...

I wonder how many of us, your readers, would recognize what was going on, and would even realize that was a food stamps transaction? I don't think I would have even understood what was going on, or realized that the balance was all she had left until the end of the month! Thank you for the education, and I pray that we may all be more aware of how those things work so we can comprehend what goes on around us.

These Three Kings said...

Uh Thanks Mel... now if you will excuse me, I have something to do that involves weeping, sackcloth and ashes....

wow convicting!!!!!!!!!!!

God is so serious about revealing to us the truth