faith · one word 365 · reflections

On Reveling in Contentment

I chose content for my word this year. It was like praying for patience.

Suddenly, as soon as I made that declaration, nothing was good enough.  I couldn’t stretch the groceries, I couldn’t make that old outfit work, I couldn’t wait to put our house up for sale, I couldn’t enjoy writing or reading or my birthday.

Because it was all about I.  Me. My search and my quest and my journey alone.  Except, I can’t ever find contentment in myself by myself.

I’m hopelessly flawed. I bet you are too. I can be incredibly selfish with my time and my resources and my heart, and I’m pretty sure when we’re being honest, you get what I’m saying.

Sometimes I just want what I want.

I want to go to the grocery store and buy whatever I want to eat that week especially meat because that’s what we limit the most.

I want to buy a new house with a basement and new kitchen cabinets and a deck that’s accessed from somewhere other than the master bedroom.

I want new Toms for summer and cute tops that hide my muffin top and I don’t want to figure out how to make the same pair of capris work for the fifth year in a row.

I want everyone to focus on just me and my needs and my desires and I desperately want to hole up at the library or a coffee shop for hours and hours and just write so I can get a handle on the blog and the article submissions and the maybe novel.

But contentment never comes when I focus on myself all the time.

I started a Bible study with Hello Mornings a few weeks ago. It’s called Taking Refuge: The Story of Ruth. It’s about seeking Jesus as our only refuge, our only source, our only contentment that never wavers under the pressures of life.

The Word is squeezing my heart and stirring my soul and constantly challenging me to dig a little deeper.  For the first time in a study, I’m using multiple translations and the word of God is singing over me in a way it never has before. I owe that to my pastor’s wife who is teaching a ladies’ study at church and she has encouraged us to use versions I’ve never tried before.  The Amplified Bible is like the main course of Bible study–so much clarification and meat.  The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language has been like dessert–a sweet touch to words that I had let grow stale in my own life.

Over the past few days, I have begun to notice a new feeling.  For the first time in a while, I feel full. I feel secure.  I feel content.

I’ve been handing over tasks to the Lord that I’ve always tried to do myself, and He’s blessed me in return.

I realized this when I went to the grocery store a couple days ago with a list that was small, but somehow, I had planned a week’s worth of meals that included meat and snacks and dinner for a friend who had her fifth sweet baby girl last week. I bought a whole boneless pork loin (that was the big sale item) and had half cut into pork chops. We grilled for the first time this season, and I’ve got the rest in the freezer for next week’s Sunday dinner, and then I had to laugh when I saw this week’s fellowship supper at church: pork tenderloin.

See with God, it never rains, it pours. I gave Him something small when I handed over that grocery budget, and He gave me back something much bigger than myself and my petty concerns.

He gave me contentment in Him. And that’s way more filling than any meal.

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Friday Five · motherhood · one word 365 · reflections

What’s Been Crowding My Heart (Five Minute Friday)

It’s Five Minute Friday, and that’s about all the time I have for this blog right now. I’ll tell you why below.

Prompt is crowd:

There are thousands of texts on a group text message on my about to kill itself iphone 3 because I have five sisters and a sister-in-law and we know no restraint.

There’s about 180 pages of word vomit in a document on my computer and I’m trying to finish and maybe suck it up and let someone actually read it before I go this conference in May and try not to throw up when I meet with agents.

There’s a new season of MOPS on the horizon and new leadership and I’m trying to give advice while letting go of control.

There’s four little sets of toes and swirly hair and tickling fingers in my bed on Saturday mornings and their daddy is just grateful we took the plunge and set up the king size before he got knocked to the floor.

I’ve been tagging and selling and working consignment, redecorating the living room, making tomato sauce from scratch, and strategizing marketing plans for the CSA for the past two weeks.  Baby boy has eczema and I want to write and submit some articles (or maybe rewrite what’s already there?) and should I try an ebook and daylight savings is kicking me to the curb, y’all.

Life’s a little crowded right now. Even when I’ve let go of some responsibility, I’ve found more to fill it with and less time to be here, in this community, and I don’t know, maybe that’s okay?

Maybe I’m feeling crowded because I’m still failing to recognize my season. 

It doesn’t have to be everything right now. It doesn’t have to be now or never. It doesn’t have to be a missed opportunity if I choose to wait.

Sometimes, the crowd has to thin out a bit so we can really see where we’re going. 

family · Home · joshua · linkups · one word 365

One Little Corner of Sanity {Behind the Scenes}

We’re rearranging.  Again. Either we’re furniture moving junkies or incredibly indecisive.  Or both. But really, it’s just that we keep trying and trying to figure out how to live best in the space we have (that whole contentment struggle) and so that necessitates constant motion until we get it right.

Or until I get a new idea from Pinterest or the IKEA catalog and it’s back to the moving we go. Thank the Lord I have a tolerant husband who actually agrees with me about most of these projects.  Except when I change my mind halfway through.  Then he gets a tad frustrated and there might be some yelling strong discussions.

I was tempted just to show you the one picture.  Because it appears from that little corner that we might actually have a plan that is organized and working.  But that would be false advertising. Like telling you how there’s less than a 100 calories in a serving of Oreos.  That’s only true if you only eat one and who does that?

We do have a plan.  It’s just that each step scaffolds upon the other, and I can only handle so much chaos at one time. So for now, we have a corner.  And a couple of several messy closets. And rooms that really look like this.

Linking up with Crystal today to tell the story Behind the Scenes.  Join us over here!

family · Home · linkups · one word 365

On Being Content {OneWord365}

So I jumped on the bandwagon. But then I read this and almost jumped off. But my “un-word” would have to be “un-complain”, and really what are you when you don’t want to complain all the time?


So that’s it.  That’s not just a word I’m claiming for this year. It’s an attitude I’m developing and hoping to nurture in my children because last night my nine year old sat in a sticky kitchen chair while I mashed potatoes and told me that the truth is she’s just jealous.

Jealous of her friend’s fancy clothes, their big house, the horses in the pasture. Jealous that some kids are already being told they’ll attend the trendy private school after fifth grade, and she knows that’s not in our future plans. Jealous because she doesn’t have her own electronic device and she barely has her own room.

I don’t want to foster those feelings. I don’t want to smooth them over and say this lifestyle we have is just temporary and someday we’ll have a bigger house, and clothes that aren’t consignment, and maybe even a horse for her to ride even though all of that is probably true.

Because if I can’t help her find contentment now without all that, how will she ever find peace with it? How will I?

For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance….

Philippians 4:11

That was my grandfather’s verse. He’d written it in the back of his Bible and he modeled contentment for me. He had nice things, some of the best things actually, but he was most content with basics and a campfire in the woods. He knew the secret of living well, and I wish I’d listened more.

So this year, I am striving to emulate his presence by reminding myself to be content in three specific circumstances.

1.  Content With Myself:  We all have a different level of capacity.  I am learning that just because other people may multi-task really well, or be able to manage home businesses, or grow their blogs into salary-producing establishments, or homeschool half a dozen kids while writing a novel, doesn’t mean I have to.  My capacity is not there right now. Honestly, it is all I can do to manage laundry, dishes, and meal planning some weeks, much less all the volunteer and church work I’ve heaped on myself. How I ever worked full-time and managed our  home is beyond me. But then again, that was when I had two less children and full-time daycare. My life is vastly different now.  I simply can’t do it all anymore and that’s okay.

2.  Content With Our Home: We have, by most standards (especially when you consider four kids), a small house.  It’s about 1400 square feet and there’s nothing particularly charming or unique about it. We bought it almost 8 years ago with the intention of fixing it up and flipping it. Then the market crashed and since we have no equity and no option for refinance that doesn’t include money down, we’re stuck in an upside down mortgage with a property that was never supposed to be a long-term home. See why I need to work on being content? But here’s the truth: it meets our basic and current needs.  There are four bedrooms, so only two of the four have to share.  The master tub is big enough for them all to take a bath at the same time.  There are hardwood floors and new kitchen counters and a laundry room (not a closet!) that’s big enough for pantry storage as well as the piles of dirty towels. My husband has plenty of yard to work in and the kids have plenty of room behind the house to play.  Over the past year, we really began to try and embrace this as a home and we’ve made some changes I’m going to be sharing with you throughout the year. Finding what’s good and not comparing our home to everyone else’s takes a conscious effort on my part.  But I want to know that I can be content wherever we live because it’s my family that makes any place a home.  

3.  Content With My Family: Comparison is a trap that robs us of all joy.  (hmm…Maybe my un-word should really be “un-compare.”) For instance, I love my kids. I think they are smart and funny and interesting and whiny and uncooperative and delightful.  They’re not perfect and yours aren’t either.  But for some reason, we trap ourselves into comparisons.  My girls brought home report cards yesterday that were all As and Bs, so I refused to scroll through my facebook feed because I didn’t want to see all the posts about who got straight As.  It’s great if your child did, it’s great if you posted about it, but my personal issue is that I make that all about me.  I make it all about how I should be helping more, quizzing more, trying harder to make my kids into model pupils who excel especially at reading and language arts because, hello, their mother is a certified teacher!  But when I do that, I’m not finding peace with who they are. I’m trying to make them into someone else.  For a long time, I’ve carried an image in my head of my perfect family.  Guess what? My perfect family is nothing like the image I had because this family I have is real. This family is love.

So that’s it.  One word that I somehow managed to make into many.


I’d love to hear about your one word. Or many. Or just how you’re becoming content in whatever circumstance?