Skip to main content

$100 Pair of Pants

As I was hand washing our clothes today over our outdoor washboard sink, I instinctively grabbed another pair of pants from my basket and as soon as I looked at them, huge guilt feelings came to my mind. Why would I feel guilty about washing a pair of my husband’s old pants? Well, these pants go back to our Pre-Paraguay days when we were first married. We were getting our start in adventure racing and for his birthday I wanted to surprise him by buying the best adventure racing pants on the market. I scrimped and saved to make an extravagant online purchase (still a novelty in those days). Yet, they were so expensive; he didn’t want to wear them! Since they are expedition weight, they are too heavy for Paraguay’s heat. I feel guilty today and I know I won’t ever buy $100 pants again for Norb, myself or anybody.

Not because I don’t like to buy quality. I do.
Not because I don’t think he’s worth it. He is.

Since moving to Paraguay, I have seen too much poverty, too many children without clothes and I simply can’t justify extravagant spending when so many go without.

I am not writing this to make anyone feel bad about their nice clothes; I’m writing to self-disclose that it is easy to get carried away with consumerism and buying “the best.” Why do we need “the best” anyway? If I’m worth it, isn’t my Paraguayan neighbor worth it too? The only difference is that I CAN purchase $100 pants; that’s more money than what he’ll see in the next month.

So, what would it look like to intentionally forego “the best” of something and give the surplus to someone in need? I think what I’ve been learning about simplicity and stewardship these days is the joy of self-sacrifice to help someone else. Truth of the matter is, we hardly buy any new clothes anymore. Instead of buying 1 pair of pants for $100, we load up our suitcase with goodwill finds for ourselves and bless those around us when we come home and still have change in our pocket. Once you know poverty by a first name, you’re never the same.

"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard." Isaiah 58:6-8, NRSV

How can your lifestyle be adjusted to take into consideration the poor around you?

What extravagance in your life can you exchange for simplicity?

When was the last time you got involved with helping the poor?

Do you know poverty by a first name?


  1. Totally agree with you. I would love to wear some pretty, nice, real jewelery that I have. But why? To rub our differences in their faces? We are always evaluating our spending to see if its glorifying to God. I believe its a lifelong issue.

  2. This was a very thought-provoking post to read, Julie. I had a conversation with my sister a couple days ago about charity and who should be responsible for taking care of the poor. She indicated that wealthy people should have to contribute rather than buy $5k watches or something else extravagant but I countered that WE ALL need to do our part. I have a lot of luxuries in my life, things that I take for granted that I could scale back on so I could contribute more. It is easy to say that "wealthy" people need to give to charity without looking at ourselves. I am a middle class American who can afford to give more than I do. And even though we give to charities monthly a goal of mine in 2009 is to double what we gave last year. I can do without a fancy coffee and new shoes.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Christmas in Paraguay!

If you're wondering what Paraguayans do at Christmastime, they have some great traditions, including the "noche buena" meal on Christmas Eve at midnight.  They eat lots chipa guasu (a type of corn casserole, stay tuned for a recipe), asado or grilled meat (some eat it cold), salads, especially fruit salad, watermelon and drink mucho terere.

Families travel from all over the country, many even return from working in other countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Spain, to celebrate with loved ones. This is us at last year's Kurrle celebration in Asuncion. Festivities are anything but a silent night with fireworks, loud music and drinking cidra (hard cider). 

Most Paraguayans do not decorate Christmas trees (we decorate ours in shorts!) or emphasize Santa Claus.  Instead, they put beautiful nativities "pesebres" in their yards and in store fronts.  Kind of novel to focus on Christ at Christmas, isn't it!

To beat the heat, many Paraguayans go to a river to rel…

The Genesis of my story in Paraguay: Part 2

In Part 1, I shared how my first move to Paraguay was at age 5. At that time I was a minor, following my parents around. But my second move to Paraguay was at age 25 when after college, I—or better said, we—decided to move back to Paraguay. This time, the Genesis was a letter inviting us to help pioneer a new radio station there.

At the time I had just gotten married to my college sweetheart Julie. We were both enrolled in seminary, enjoying just being married and going to school. Among our hobbies at the time was traveling the U.S. and to any country that we had the funds to go to. During those days, we began running seriously and trained for our first marathons and adventure race. Our first marathon was the Flying Pig marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. Julie and I finished together in what I thought was a pretty good time of 4 hours, 12 minutes.

One day, a letter in our mailbox got us thinking about plans beyond graduation. The letter was from Walter Franz, inviting us to help establis…

Paraguayan Weddings

On Valentine’s Day, we had the joy of attending the wedding of Sandra and Anastacio, young leaders in the church. Sandra is my assistant with Children of Promise and Anastacio, apart from his carpentry job, has a popular youth-focused radio program every night at 8:00 on our station.

We’ve been to quite a few weddings, and these are some of the uniquenesses of southern Paraguayan wedding celebrations from our North American culture:

1. Nothing is fancy. Emphasis is placed on the act of marriage and not on the decorations or food.
2. It is not an expectation that parents help pay for expenses. Most families just make it each month with regular expenses and cannot afford to pay for eleborate feasts. Most couples have to spend months saving for their own wedding.
3. Borrow as much as possible. Many times wedding dresses are borrowed 5-10 times, because few women can afford their own. Flowers, decorations, shoes and ties (Norb loans out his ties often...since he never wears them!) are …