Thursday, September 23, 2010

love, sacrifice and cough drops

{They were happier than they look. Promise.}

One of my favorite stories my mom tells is about sacrifice and cough drops.

They both moved away from their families in Illinois, where they met in college, to pursue a new life together. They earned master's degrees at University of Kentucky. My mom then worked to put my dad through the rest of his degree and eventually a PhD. There was no extra money, and sometimes not enough. They did their grocery shopping at different stores, referring to a master list of food prices and sales to maximize their grocery budget. She made cookies for a special treat but crackers, chips and pop never made it on the list.

One time they were running to catch the bus, and my dad dropped a handful of cough drops. Realizing later the drops were gone, they went back that night in the dark to pick them out of the snow. Because buying more cough drops would be expensive and unnecessary.

When my mom got pregnant, she worked up until the day she started having contractions. In fact while in labor she was shopping for new glasses for my dad. She nursed as long as she could and used cloth diapers. Soon they moved to Michigan and lived in a rented house my mom hated. (Considering you could lay on my closet floor and look through a hole into the basement, who can blame her?)

My dad continued in his post-doc, and my mom worked in the soils lab. It wasn't until they moved to Kansas before the start of my kindergarten year that my dad got his first professor job, and my mom eventually went back to teaching. This was also the first time they bought a house - more than 10 years after they were married.

Sometimes I think my generation - Shea and I included - didn't learn about sacrifice. So many people we know have fallen into this pattern of graduating from college, getting married, buying a house, buying a bigger house, getting a new car every couple of years, and it goes on and on. We'd rather be comfortable and impressive but consequently, in debt.

One of my very best friends is giving up her career dream, at least for now, to support her husband's. It's not always easy, and lately never easy. There isn't enough money, and the days of waiting for a job, a real estate miracle and new baby are full of worry. Shea and I aren't picking up cough drops in the snow, and we lead a very rich life compared to many. However we are trying to sacrifice so that our money goes toward paying down student loans rather than payments for a house we don't need. I don't love our apartment but I do love the stories we'll have about our crazy neighbors. (Seriously. Crazy.) We know someday we'll be debt-free and comfortable but only if we sacrifice and live a little uncomfortably now.

As for my parents, after years of sacrifice and discipline? They have more than enough money to buy extra cough drops.


  1. You two are wise. Who wants to mow a lawn, find mold behind your shower and pay for a new water heater in your early years of marriage?! Beyond the expenses of it, it's the time it takes for upkeep. That's taking far too much time away from cuddle, exploring and husband+wife time. :)

    and we should compare crazy neighbor stories sometime. ooooh boy.

  2. Thanks for sharing Eeds' blog, Sarah. She is an amazing woman of grace, character, and she shines in Jesus's glory. :)