Saturday, 2 February 2019


It rained hard yesterday, before going on to snow as evening fell. Tony caught a train at lunchtime, to meet some publishing friends in Oxford, Alice and Hebe spent the morning cutting letters at the stone masonry, and we needed groceries from a supermarket a mile or two up the road later in the day.

And I felt so grateful that we have a car — it meant I could take Alice and Hebe to work, nip across town to collect some things I needed, take Tony to the railway station, collect Alice and Hebe again, and go with them for the grocery run.

I'm grateful not only that we have a car at all, but for our particular car.

My husband Tony, like most men, enjoys large, fast, sophisticated cars. I don't. My idea of a car is as close to an automated Amish buggy as I can possibly achieve. So this is our car:

We did have a different one. Tony chose it to be suitable for me to drive (a compromise between his preferences and mine) but somehow I just couldn't. It felt too modern, too insulated from the world . . . I never could make myself drive it even once. So we sold it (the new owner comes to pick it up today), and got this little blue one instead.

The thing is, while I am so grateful to have a car I feel able to drive, and we can do everything that makes life convenient and easy so we have the energy (and access) for all our tasks and commitments, I'm also grateful we have only one car. I don't think I'd be twice as grateful if we had two cars. Or three times as grateful if we added a third.

It's the same with money. I don't have enough to buy everything I would like, or go on holidays and so forth — but I am so grateful for that. It means that if a bit extra comes in (like if I sell some writing or do some editing), then I can buy a thing I've been wanting for ages and couldn't afford, or go out for a meal, or even go on an overnight trip to York or Cambridge. And that feels so exciting — such a treat. But if I had more money than I knew what to do with, what would my treats be? A yacht? Diamond earrings? 

It reminds me of when my children were small and my husband had a pay increase. It meant we could now afford to buy fizzy drinks and ice cream on a regular basis, not just for birthdays. At first I did — which was not good for our nutritional status but I didn't know so much about that back then; we ate white bread every day). Then I thought, "Wait a minute — what will we do for treats when it's someone's birthday?" I realised the treats would have to be bigger and more expensive.

Having five children, I've always been cautious about the treats. Even when we started to have more money, I used to bear in mind that life could broadside us at some point (and guess what; it did) so that we would suddenly no longer be able to afford luxuries, and then birthdays and Christmas could become great big festivals of Disappointment. So even when we were (relatively) well off, living in a large manse paid for by the church with two incomes and all that, I ensured we maintained low expectations when it came to family celebrations — ordinary food, small presents, maybe a quiz and hanging out together. Nothing mega.

It's like it says in the Bible (Proverbs 30.7-9 NIVUK):
‘Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or I may become poor and steal,
     and so dishonour the name of my God. 

And I am so very grateful for what I have, which is so much more than many, many people around the world have, but still is not so much that I become dissatisfied.

I'm sure I've shared some of these thoughts here before — about the ice cream and fizzy drinks as treats, and very recently the quotation from Proverbs — but still, I was thinking about it again. Some things just go on applying and being true. Anyway, I apologise for becoming a repetitive old lady, I'll try not to do it too often.


Anonymous said...

Amen. I read another Australian Christian blog and this lady feels that they Lord is telling her to use what she has. At present she is not on line as she lives in the far north of Queensland where they are already having huge floods with a massive amount of rain to fall and no option but to release dam water before more rain falls.

God bless you for sharing this. I own two cars but never see them as my children drive them. Mum and I share a Kia. I wish for a smaller car but mum like powerful cars for the open road. To be truthful we are rarely on the open road.

Pen Wilcock said...


Oh, Queensland! They have such challenges with their weather. May she be safe. May they make wise decisions of what to conserve and what to let go.


Rebecca said...

Kindred minds are such a brace and blessing. Never underestimate the influence of a repetitive old lady. 😋

Pen Wilcock said...



Julie B. said...

I echo Rebecca's every word.

BLD in MT said...

Absolutely. 100%. Matt and share a car and I wouldn't have it any other way!! I LOVE my walk/cycle to work or to the shop or about town. Why have all the expense and bother of a second!?!? Also: I love they way you described your ideal auto! Ha! So true! Many these days are basically spaceships with all their bells and whistles!

One of the things I am most grateful for in my simple life is how easily excited I am by things others find ordinary. For example, if Matt and I eat out or buy storebought bread it is a delightful luxury. So many other things, too.

I'm sure glad to know a few such old-ladies. I am thankful for you!

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi, Julie B — xx

Hi Beth — space ships with bells and whistles — exactly.