Toilet Seats and Contentment


It was good for me to be afflicted.  —Psalm 119:71 NIV

Who would have ever thought purchasing a toilet seat would be the highlight of a shopping trip?

One year with escalating gas prices, a faltering economy, and a sharp drop in my freelance editing, my husband and I trimmed the budget and put into practice the two dozen ways to tighten our belts I had formulated.

During that year, I learned:

Wants are not needs. Like TV or satellite service. Like potato chips and ice cream. We not only saved the fifty dollars a month we were paying for the satellite service, we also shaved fifteen dollars a month from the electric bill by not turning on the TV as much. We watched DVDs on Friday and Saturday evenings and went to bed early, which also helped to save on the electric bill because we turned off the lights early. Unfortunately, cutting the potato chips and ice cream didn’t impact my weight loss hopes.

Living on less isn’t a hardship. It means less clutter, less stress, less money going out. Turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees, putting on a sweatshirt, and using a small heater in the room where I worked helped to save on the heating bill. I cancelled my gym membership. Walking and doing some old-fashioned exercises kept me in shape just as well as driving twelve miles to town to work out and cost nothing but time—much less time than it took to drive to town and back.

I really love gardening. Especially now that I’m freezing and canning for only two, not five. We expanded the garden, adding beans, squash, lettuce, and more tomato and pepper plants. I experienced once again the joy and satisfaction of seeing sparkling, colorful jars on my pantry shelves and stacks of vegetables in my freezer.

Staying focused on what we have—not on what we don’t have—increases the contentment level. “New” doesn’t always mean “better.” Throwing out something with years of good use left is wasteful and expensive, especially when that something is a vehicle. We ran our 1997 Explorer until we could afford to replace it. Sure, we had to get the transmission replaced and the alternator rebuilt, but that was a lot less expensive than a monthly loan payment.

The good life is really the simple life. Too often this truth gets buried under the advertisements bombarding us daily, under too much modern philosophy and not enough old-fashioned common sense. Making do with what you have until you can afford to replace it is simple common sense. So is using the cash you have, not the credit limit you have, to live on. I used a toilet seat with a broken hinge for months before replacing it. Hence the joy when I finally got a new one.

Blessings galore surround me, if only I open my eyes. For too long, the things I wanted but didn’t have blocked the view of the blessings.

Yes, affliction can be good. It brings us back to where we need to be: trusting in the grace and goodness of God.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21–23).

 Read and reflect on Matthew 6:19–33.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

My Redneck Deck

            And my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:19 NIV

My daughter-in-law called it our redneck deck. She should have been around when we first started building this place we call home.

During our poor years in the late 1970s, when our oldest child was a toddler and I was pregnant with our second, we yearned to move out of our second-floor apartment into a house of our own. Being that I’d resigned from teaching to be a full-time homemaker and my husband’s job at the local scrapyard brought in, on average, a hundred dollars a week, no bank would take a chance on us.

So we decided to build our own house on the pay-as-we-go plan on land that had once been the Huey homestead. Every nail, every piece of lumber, every inch of wiring, every bit of plumbing, every sheet of drywall, every roll of insulation, everything that went into this place, we put in ourselves.

We lived in the basement for five years until the upstairs was done enough to be livable. We put siding on twenty-nine years after we first put the shovel to the dirt and moved the kitchen upstairs around the same time. After nearly three decades, over a quarter of a century, the house was almost done, with the exception of a painted wooden floor in the kitchen, a porch-less front door hanging on the front of the house, and our redneck deck.

The redneck deck was unique in that it was built with wooden pallets my husband salvaged from the rubbish pile at work. We wanted a deck constructed with treated or rough lumber that stretched along the entire back side of the house, but we were still on the pay-as-we-go plan and couldn’t afford the dream deck.

So when the first redneck deck built from castoff pallets became too unreliable to walk on (pallets weren’t made to be transformed into some poor folks’ back porch and suffer a western Pennsylvania winter), I prayed, “God, please supply us with the lumber to replace these awful pallets.”

I should have asked for new lumber—honest-to-goodness real lumber. Ask and ye shall receive.

Within the week, Dean came home with the “new lumber”: another load of castoff pallets. Only this time the wood was thicker, stronger, and sturdier. And he added extra strips of wood so that the grandkids’ little feet wouldn’t slip through the slats.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Truth be told, I loved my redneck deck until we replaced it with a real deck. I kind of miss it.

You see, it was a daily reminder that we don’t have to have everything perfect and exactly the way we want to be happy.

Dear God, thank You for the redneck decks of life. They remind us that happiness isn’t dependent on our circumstances, but is found in relationships—with You and with those You’ve put in our lives. Amen.

Read and reflect on Proverbs 30:8–9.

The finished back deck
The finished front deck (before that if you stepped out of the door, you dropped 8 feet to the ground. The kids loved to jump out that door!)

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.