Tag Archive | journey of Grace

I Am a Little Princess

I’m a little princess. Rather, a Princess.

I bet some of you smiled. I know my mother probably rolled her eyes and nodded her head. “Yep, that’s right. She’s definitely got a flair for the dramatic.”

But that’s not what I mean. I don’t mean the little girl in pig tails throwing a hissy-fit. I don’t mean the woman who whines and complains and prances around in fashions she can’t afford with accessories and all sorts dripping off of her. I don’t mean that characteristic “It’s All About Me” princess.

I mean a true princess.

I am a true princess. A princess from the days of monarchies and dynasties. The princesses back then were not these spoiled little creatures we have become now. (Because, let’s face it, I have more history as a modern-day spoiled brat than I do as the princess I truly am.) No, these princesses were trained from birth how to lead. They were trained in the art of court, in the ways people would attack them and in the use of networks and guards. They were trained how to dance and smile and curtsy. They were dignified and noble, and they faced their reality (usually as a pawn of their father) with grace. 

Thankfully, my Father won’t be pawning me off to any neighboring princes, but that’s because there are no princes. (And thank goodness for that. I’m quite content with my prince.) He does, however, ask me to act like His daughter: noble, compassionate, passionate, strong-willed but open-minded, gentle but firm, strong in my beliefs, kind, and most of all, confident in His power.

I love fiction. I’m sure all of us at some point have either read a medieval story or watched a movie/show based off of it. And we’ve all seen the difference between the prince or princess who cowers behind his or her guards, and the one who commands with authority from behind them. The first has guards who keep glancing behind them, unable to focus on the attack at hand out of concern for their charge. Their attention is split, and they can only defend, shields up and heads down. The second, however, empowers her guards. They know that she is behind them in spirit, and that she will take care of herself. They trust that she will not fall down, and her confidence in them and in the authority of her father the King lends them strength.

I was not the second. I was the cowering princess.

I am a bit of a romantic, so the idea of an honor guard like the royal guard of the past appeals to me. And it makes sense. After all, why wouldn’t our Father send us a personal guard of angels to protect us from the every day attacks. Is he less of a father and king than even our own, earthly fathers? Every morning, then, I ask for my honor guard to surround me. I know, because I am such an easy target for the Other Side, that even just walking up is an opportunity for attack. (Sleeping in is wonderful, but not when you have a day to get started and responsibilities to do.) I ask for it, though, as if I’m asking to win the lottery. “Jesus, it’d be really awesome if you could protect me today. Like, that’d be cool and all. So… yep. Gonna go back to sleep now…”

No wonder I’ve been struggling so much lately! And before I confuse or shame anyone, having this honor guard does not mean that you will always be protected, or that you will never have struggles in your Christian life. We all have doubts and we all have struggles. But a team that has been built up time and again becomes the safety net when you yourself are not strong. We’ve seen it in families, friendships, and work situations. Why should it be any different spiritually?

My struggles were and are a natural part of growing. They are also, I realize now, a result of the fact that I was not actually trusting that my honor guard was real. (I’m sure, by this point, I’ve lost half of you, so hang in there!) The number of times I am told, through Scripture, that I am both worthy of protection and will be protected is insane. Tell me, after this, that you do not believe you have your own group of 5 or 10 or 20 angels constantly walking with you. (Bold is my own emphasis.)

 

2 Chronicles 20:5-6 – “Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: ‘Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.'” 

Psalm 20:5-6 – Now this I know:
 The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
 
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
 with the victorious power of his right hand.
 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
 but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Nahum 1:2-3 – “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
    and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Ephesians 6:10-11 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Psalm 28:6-8 – “Praise be to the Lord,
    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
    a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”

Isaiah 45:24 – “They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone
    are deliverance and strength.’”
All who have raged against him
    will come to him and be put to shame.”

Habakkuk 3:19 – “The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.”

Job 5:20-22 – “In famine he will deliver you from death,
    and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
 You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
    and need not fear when destruction comes.
 You will laugh at destruction and famine,
    and need not fear the wild animals.”

Psalm 5:10-12 – “Declare them guilty, O God!
    Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”

Psalm 12:7 – “You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
    and will protect us forever from the wicked”

Psalm 20:1-3 – “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
 May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and grant you support from Zion.”

Psalm 32:7 – “You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Psalm 41:2 – “The Lord protects and preserves them—
    they are counted among the blessed in the land—
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.”

Psalm 64:1 – “Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.”

Psalm 19:4-5 – “‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.'”

Psalm 116:6 – “The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.”

Psalm 140:4-5 – “Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
    protect me from the violent,
    who devise ways to trip my feet.
The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
    they have spread out the cords of their net
    and have set traps for me along my path.”

Proverbs 2:7-8 – “He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.”

John 1710-12a, 14-16 – “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. …I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”

2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 – “And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

These are just some of the verses. He promises over and over and over again that he will protect me. If the God of the universe has promised it, who am I to doubt it?

Today, I am taking on my role as a true Princess in My Father’s court. I choose to believe that His power is absolute, and that He loves me so completely that He has given me my own guard. That He will protect me from “the evil one,” just as he promised. I will be a princess in the original sense, a person of dignity, worth, and confidence, and a person with the greatest inheritance in history.

 

Today, are you cowering behind your fears and doubts, or are you willing to step into his promise of protection? Are you confident that the name of God is strong enough to protect you? Are you ready to step into the amazing power and promise of a prince or princess of God?

 

 

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Super Awesome Birthday Day

Today, THE most awesome person IN the whole wide world has a birthday.

Who is this person? Is it the Pope? Katy Perry? Jesus?!? (Technically, Jesus is not currently IN this physical world, which is how I can say that the birthday boy is the most awesome.)

 

It’s my husband! 🙂

For all of you wives out there, just give up. My husband is so super awesome, and he’s more awesome than yours. (Disclaimer: I am obligated to say this as his wife, and though I personally believe it to be true, you probably think the same about your husband. I’m cool with that.)

Today, the list-makin’ bug has bitten me, so we’re going to do another one!

 

Things that make my husband awesome:

1. He just is.  Ah, I mean, he is super strong.

2. He has an amazingly generous heart. (I feel terrible, but sometimes the homeless scare me… My husband is never afraid and always has something for them.)

3. He’s a goof ball. (Ace Ventura and Norbit regularly make appearances at our house. “Hi ho silver AWAAAAAAaaaay.”)

4. He’s loyal.

5. He’s willing to change. (Wife note: so am I. One person changing a marriage does not make. But he’s willing. That is more than many men – according to their wives…. So yet again, a fallacy in and of itself…)

6. He helps with the dishes.

7. He lets me nap when I’m sick, and I don’t have to worry about the kids falling off the planet. (Their clothes might not match, their dinner might have been PB&J, and the house might be a right disaster, but my children and my husband are happy. Win!)

8. He likes the same things I do.

9. He likes somethings I totally don’t understand. We’re not siamese twins here, guys.

10. He’s incredibly handsome. And hott. And drool-worthy. But if you drool over him, I’ll have to cut out your tongue…. 😀

11. He is the best father. Ever. (When your children launch themselves out of their mother’s arms for you, you have succeeded in life.)

12. He always loves, always listens, always helps those around him.

13. He is amazing.

 

Happy birthday to THE best husband, son, father, and man in the world. I hope it’s an awesome day, and I hope I don’t seriously mess up these surprise migas. 

 

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10 Things My Mother Taught Me

10 Things My Mother Taught Me

1. Always make your bed.

2. Always clean the toilet.

3. Always brush your teeth.

4. Moisturize, even when you’re young.

5. Always pick up something to throw away, put away, or clean.

6. Always look for the new kid.

7. Always hug your parents.

8. Learn a musical instrument.

9. Never settle.

10. Learn from your mistakes.

10 things I learned from my mother.

1. Always make your bed. When the biggest thing in life is taken care of, the little things aren’t so scary.

2. Always clean the toilet. Take care of the gross stuff you’d rather avoid. Do it before the “red streaks” appear, and it won’t be so bad. Put it off, and the crap just piles up.

3. Always brush your teeth. You can look amazing on the outside, but something small like bad breath can completely ruin your image. You can look completely put together, but if your heart isn’t in the right place, none of that matters.

4. Moisturize, even when you’re young. Create good habits early. Then, it’s simple to do them later on, when they need to be done.

5. Always pick up something to throw away, put away, or clean. A clean house is a clear mind. Small things done over and over again throughout the day make it much easier to tackle the big things.

6. Always look for the new kid. Be aware of your surroundings. Remember when you were new, and reach out to new people. Be the person to stand in the gap.

7. Always hug your parents. Love never fails. Like might. Your parents will love you no matter what they do. Remember that. Someday, they won’t be there.

8. Learn a musical instrument. Music is the word of the soul. It’s connected to the mind. Learn how to express yourself, how to focus, how to coordinate yourself. Learn to appreciate the simple and complex, the classical and the classic. And, do better in math.

9. Never settle. A person is worth far more and can do far more than they ever realize. When something seems “okay,” decide to reach for “amazing.”

10. Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes happen. Learn from them, and don’t do it again. Better yet, learn from someone else’s mistake.

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Hug your mom today. Sometimes, we think they just know that we love them. Sometimes, we forget that they need a hug and an “I love you” just as much as we do.

What are some of the things your moms have taught you?

Keep Calm. You’re Beautiful.

Keep CalmI am SOOO excited for tonight! In the past few weeks, I’ve restarted my Mary Kay business (I’d taken a… *cough cough* sabbatical?) It’s been amazing! I love the products, and have no doubt that they are so worth the money. On top of that, the entire company backing it is amazing. Tonight, though, I am having my second True Beauty party, a party that I created on my own after realizing that so many women cannot stand the non-made-up woman in the mirror. Through talking with one girl, I realized something even MORE amazing about tonight’s focus, that of our true beauty without makeup: our daughters (and our sons) will see us learning to love ourselves, and will grow up loving themselves, too.

It is amazing that my job is literally to make people happy and change women’s lives. The beauty business can be so harsh, pointing out spots, wrinkles, dark circles, light eye lashes, WHATEVER they deem “imperfect.” We cannot open our computers without seeing articles like “Oh my gosh! Such-and-such Actress Stepped Outside Without Makeup!” or “Such-And-Such Actress Gaining Weight?” or “They’re Just Like Us: Look At Her Ugly Overalls!”

Seriously.

Our mothers were raised in a generation of physical perfection (whether it was the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or up). There was, of course, the free spirit movement, but the 80s (a tragic decade for makeup….) brought it back with a vengence. Is it any surprise that women today cannot look into a mirror without an ever-present little voice pointing out our flaws? “Ohh… Let’s not wear that shirt, dear. It brings attention to your baby belly.” “Oh, lord have mercy… Have you not been taking care of your skin? WHY are there so many pimples?” “Oh, those BAGS! Let’s just cover those up, shall we?”

Are we perfect people? No, most certainly not. But, we are what we are. When we learn (because we are most certainly not born) to dislike the girl in the mirror, it doesn’t just break us down. It breaks down all of those who care for us and look up to us.

Our husbands and boyfriends start to feel ignored and like their opinion doesn’t matter. They LOVE us the way we are, and our constant, “Oh, you’re just saying that because you have to,” whenever they tell us we’re beautiful is so… frustrating to them.

Our children and younger siblings look up to us as the example of what womanhood is. Our daughters learn to copy us, so all of that belly shaming and sighing and trash talk we think only we hear? Our daughters are learning to copy it. And our sons are not immune, either. Not only are they learning what to look for in a woman (which I hope they search for a self-confident, determined woman, unlike what I’ve shown them), they ALSO learn how to see themselves from us. I was horrified the day my son grabbed his non-existent tummy fat, heaved a sigh, and said, “Mom, I’m just so FAT!”

Tonight, though, I get to focus on something OTHER than the makeup. Tonight, I get to focus on the WHY behind my Kary Kay: the reality that makeup is NOT necessary, but is fun. That we, bare faced and beautiful, are worthy just as we are. That my dark circles are a symbol of my dedication to my family, and maybe a piece of my genetic past. That my freckles are something beautiful, as is my (ridiculously awesome) pale skin during winter.

Just as all of you are beautiful in your own skin. Just. As. You. Are. And true beauty comes from inside. It’s in your smile, your laugh, your kind heart. It’s in the self-confidence of knowing that you aren’t perfect, but that’s what make you YOU!

I cannot tell you guys how excited I am for tonight. Even if no one shows up, I still get the chance to change women’s lives. And in the process, I am learning to love myself again. SO MUCH TO BE THRILLED FOR! 🙂

So, Keep Calm. You’re Beautiful.

An Open Letter to International Delight Creamers

images17Much to my chagrin two weeks ago, I fed #2 some angel food cake dowsed in what I thought was non-dairy coffee creamer. After our switch to a dairy-free household, International Delight became my not-so-secret love affair with all things deliciously sweet. (When you are denied chocolate, ice cream, most cakes and cookies, you take what you can get. And it gets very, very tasty with ID.)

The creamer, though, is not in fact dairy-free, though the label states “Non-dairy Ingredients.” It lists sodium casinate, “a milk derivative.” I know, I should have known better. I have no excuse. I was desperate for sweets. I decided to listen to the “non-dairy” claims rather than the “milk derivative.” It was in parentheses, after all! (I know, I know…. No excuses…)

So! I decided to write an open letter to ID and see if we could change a few things. 

Dear Ma’ams and Sirs,

I love your creamers. Literally, I use them on EVERYTHING. In coffee, on cake, in milk, on ice cream… About 4 months ago, we discovered that my son was highly allergic to milk. I was nursing, so I, by default, became “allergic to milk.” Your creamers, though, were my salvation. When I couldn’t have chocolate, I had your chocolate caramel creamer. When I missed the cream on my angel food cake, I turned to your sweet cream creamer. When I needed that little push of sweet in an otherwise pasty, flavorless mess of a vegan meal replacement shake, I turned to caramel macchiato. If I’m honest, caramel macciato and I had somewhat of a love affair. Coffees and shakes and cookies and all the goodness I probably shouldn’t have been eaten were paired with its delicious, smooth caramelness.

Until two weeks ago, when I realized that your “non-dairy ingredients” masked a silent lie. How did I realize this, after 4 months of drinking it to my heart’s content? I fed my little man some sweet cream-soaked angel food cake. And he blew up like a balloon.

I know that your label says “sodium casinate (a milk derivative).” I’m fully aware that I probably should have avoided it just out of precaution. But I was desperate. And now I am both chocolate-less and in shock. I don’t personally know all of the legal requirements for posting food allergy information on your bottles, but as a mother, I’m begging you to add milk to your ingredients list. A simple “CONTAINS: MILK” would have kept me from 4 months of poisoning my child.

Again, I’m not blaming you. You have it labeled on your bottles as a milk derivative, but you’ve got to admit: your creamers are AWESOME! It’s heart-wrenching to walk past them after I’ve gotten my eggs, staring at their beautiful colored containers and knowing that, at least for right now and if I ever have a child again, I cannot taste their wonderfulness. Instead, I’m stuck with the ever-flavorful vanilla and chocolate options of the non-dairy milks…

Not because you have to, but because you love us customers, will you consider adding an allergy warning onto your list? While I’m well-versed in most milk by-products, I’m still new to this, and I’m sure many other parents with new food allergies have probably made this same mistake. Even better, would you think about possibly making a truly dairy-free creamer? Not only would you have the undying appreciation of all milk allergic folks, but you’d appeal to all of the vegans out there! (I’m not sure about the rest of the country, but my hometown is crawling with them….)

Anyway, I love your creamers, and I will be buying them again as soon as I’m done nursing, though they will be drunk in the wee hours of the night, safe from little boy fingers and tender little throats.

Sincerely,

Stevie Matus, an avid creamer fan and guilt-ridden mother

 

*****UPDATE:*****

International Delight’s parent company called within 30 minutes of my sending them this letter. I am amazed. Though I have no idea whether it gets flushed into the netherfield of bureaucracy, the man on the other end took all of my information, #2’s reaction, and my suggestions calmly, politely, and apologetically. It was awesome! So, whether they change it or not, I am still an ID lover.

I HOPE they change it. And while I am trying to be fair and polite myself, I DO think that an ingredient that could hurt my allergic child should be labeled. Legally, if it’s less than 0.05%, they are not required to label it. Gosh… that’s a potent 0.05%! 

Overall, though, ID was helpful, concise, and very concerned for #2’s welfare. Kudos to them! Drink creamer, y’all! Unless you’re allergic. Then… Don’t.

Kitchen Nightmares

I am beginning to realize that I totally have kitchen staples, and that my life literally falls apart if I don’t have them. I start doing crazy things, like subbing mayo in for eggs in pancakes. Seriously. This happened this morning. We survived.

Especially since our household is dairy- and oat-free, we’ve had to get creative. And, I’ve never particularly liked the taste of olive oil in cooking, nor felt particularly wonderful when using cooking spray. (It just feels right, I tell you, to smear oil with a paper towel.) So! Here’s my list of things I MUST HAVE in my kitchen for my culinary life to be complete. And not fall to pieces. But first, I must flip my mayo pancakes.

1. Coconut Oil

coconutoilSeriously, if you can’t already tell from my over-use of the word, I’m totally serious right now. This stuff rocks my dairy-free world. Not only can I use it on toast, I can bake with it, saute with it, and use it to whiten my teeth! (Oil pulling is awesome. I only did it once, because my mouth filled up with spit and that was kind of gross, but my breath was so fresh and coconutty, and my teeth felt so nice!) When you find something with health benefits that’s natural and not the gross fake non-dairy margarine that’s one molecule away from being plastic, your life is made.

2. Applesauce

No, not that jarred stuff you find in H.E.B. The real stuff. The “just finished cooking this” stuff. Theapplesauce-2 “no added sugars, but added spices and love” stuff. It’s amazing. A divine experience. And I am amazed at how easy it is, that we don’t ALL do this! After running out of eggs, I made brownies with this. A-stinkin’-mazing. I will never cook brownies any other way. For real, dude. Of course, I used two of my other staples as well: coconut oil, and almond milk. So good… like fudge cake. But again, applesauce needs to always be in my fridge. Not only is it an uber-healthy snack for the kids and easy on toddler teething gums, but it’s a baking essential.

3. Almond/Rice Milk

almond milkI interchange these always. My mayo pancakes today were with rice milk. Almond milk is my preference for baking, though, because it’s thicker and sweeter. It makes my world glorious. Seriously. Too exhausted to make cupcakes from scratch? Get the box mix, add almond milk, coconut oil, and dairy-free (or regular) pudding of your choice to those suckers, and get ready for an explosion of awesomeness. Plus, my kids can drink it and get that daily dose of calcium, as well as a little protein.

4. Spices??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Dude. Spices. ALL THE SPICES! I MUST HAS THEM ALL! (I’m having flash-backs to my childhood of Pokemon-induced comas.) No meal is complete without something from the spice rack, and a simple addition of salt (GASP) and pepper can bring that bland tilapia to its full, glorious potential. That, and some concentrated OJ heated up. Mmmmm….. I need to make that this week…. But spices are where it’s at. Cooking 60 years ago was centered around spices, and our international culture has brought so many fun ones to us! Nearly every week, another spices sneaks into my grocery basket and smuggles its way into my kitchen. They’ve started taking over another whole shelf.

Cooking in general, but especially dairy-free cooking, NEEDS these things. I cannot survive in my kitchen without them. Of course, there are tons of other things that I have in my pantry that are essentials, but all of them can be switched out for something else. No couscous in the pantry? We’ll use rice. No broccoli? Canned green beans it is! No nanners? Have some applesauce, wee one!

What are your kitchen must-haves?

The Truth About Government Assistance

government assistanceI started writing this post yesterday, and then scrapped it because I altogether did not like the insane amount of anger and frustration I was left with.

After seeing this picture today, though, I think I’m going to try again. This time, hopefully, I can do it without crying or wanting to smash my face against a wall.

You see, I have government assistance. My husband is our sole provider, and I stay home. I choose to stay home, and I have my reasons. But, I don’t have to give you those reasons. As it is, my husband works hard, and because he’s working, he’s – gasp – ALSO paying for the assistance we use. 

The truth of the matter is that, regardless of which tax bracket you fall into, if you work, you’re contributing. That’s what taxes do. They go into a big ol’ imaginary pot, and then they’re doled out to help the citizens. Are some tax brackets carrying more than others? Probably. Are low income families lazy and riding on others’ coat tails? Not usually.

The reality my family faces is that we cannot afford food on our own. Especially because of #2’s allergies, we are forced to eat real food instead of ramen and Mac n’ Cheese and hot dogs and Hamburger helper. Even IF we were to just eat that, which would be terrible for our bodies, we would still be spending more than we make. We have a very, very basic budget. We also have financial mentors and have taken financial classes. We do our best to find ways to make a little extra money. Regularly, nearly if not every week, I am over my budget by $200 – $350. That’s with Food Stamps and Medicaid, and with an uninsured spouse. What would you like me to cut out? Our life insurance? Our renter’s insurance? Clothes for my kids? Gas for my car? Those are non-negotiable things on my list.

We’re not out buying fancy-pants TVs and xboxes and designer shoes. Some people on assistance do, and usually it’s because they’re trying to fix the aching hole of inadequacy that forms from not being able to provide for your family. Is it right? No. Does it happen? Yes. And I’ll bet you’ve done it yourself. Binge-eating ice cream after a break-up? Binge-watching Netflix because you don’t want to do homework? Eating out all the time so you don’t have to cook? It’s the same thing, except that for those of us with assistance, we’re just digging a deeper hole.

Before you get on your high horse and judge people with assistance, take a moment to walk in their shoes. Imagine having to pull out your Lone Star card and swipe it, hoping beyond hope that you have enough still left on the card. Or, having to shuffle through your purse for your coupons or your WIC vouchers. Trust me when I say that those Oreos you see on the conveyor belt are because I can’t buy alcohol with my card, and I very much need a break.

So look, I get it. It is super frustrating to watch your hard-earned money get siphoned for some single mom buying frozen pizzas and fajitas and Lindor chocolates with her Food stamps card. I would be frustrated, too! And I get incredibly angry with those few people who abuse the system, lie on their applications, and buy stupid stuff. Most of them, though, don’t know any different and are reacting on instinct. Those of us who don’t cheat, though, are genuinely trying to make your money count. And these constant reminders about how we’re all lazy good-for-nothing moochers are getting old.

The next time you go to “share” one of these pictures, please stop and think. If you were to suddenly lose your job, where would you go? You now have a $1300 mortgage to pay, credit cards to keep up with, and kids who need to be fed. You have no room for pride anymore, and that’s all these pictures are. Reality states that at any point, at any time, anyone could be in the same position.

As someone who would LOVE to be forking over the cash for these programs instead of having to use them, please hear this if nothing else: we are trying. We don’t want to be in this place for forever, and we know it’s hard on you. We’re doing everything in our power to get to middle class, so we can have the privilege of helping someone else. Rather than looking at it as a burden on yourself, look at it as giving back to society.

Thank you, all of you who work long hours and hard days, for helping my family survive. Thank you for giving us the stepping stone to get out of poverty. Thank you for your taxes. In return, we will make sure to buy good food responsibly (though Oreos will probably still end up in the cart). We will continue to seek extra jobs and move up in our careers so that someday we don’t have to be on it. We will work, so that you know your efforts are not all in vain.

And maybe next time, instead of disgust and anger in your pictures, you can stop someone on the street, in person, and offer them a hand up. I can guarantee that it will do a whole bunch more toward what you want than a measly picture on Facebook.