Why is contentment so difficult?

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Like every good Christian, American, and Facebook follower, for that matter, I have been trying to be thankful this month.

This morning, I realized that for me, thankfulness is not so much the issue as contentment. Being content with the circumstances that God has placed me in is a daily struggle.

I love being Todd’s wife, my children’s mother, my grandchildren’s gramma. Being a full time homemaker and homeschool mom is a great blessing. But in the daily grind there is much I complain about.

Last year I had a post about giving up my nursing license. You can read it here: What does “niggardly” mean?  Dumb title, sorry, about that.

I still struggle with the issues I wrote about over a year ago. This is part of what I said: “When I fail to surrender part of my life to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when I want to control because it is scary to yield, I am keeping an idol in my heart.” One of the idol’s of my heart is wanting more money than God has provided for us.

Every summer, when I have extra time on my hands I start to get antsy and try to think of ways that I can bring in extra money, get a job, or even volunteer. I usually entertain these thoughts for days, even weeks before talking them over with Todd. He is always the voice of reason and quickly tells me my hands are full. These desires are often the result of my lack of trust in God providing for all our needs through Todd’s job alone.

It has been over 21 years since I have left the nursing field. I have had other short-lived part time jobs, but not any at all for the last 9 years. If you do the math, you will see it has been since before Henry was born. Wouldn’t you think I would be grateful to be able to stay home? content even?

There is still that part of me that wants to contribute. There is also part of me that wants to be out in the world feeling fulfilled personally. It is an idol of my heart. It is the desire to have more than, or different from, what God has planned for me.

The Bible speaks often about contentment. We are all familiar with 1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Just now I read this verse in 2 Kings 14:10 “Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble?” Granted I took it out of context. It is written about a battle between the King of Israel and the King of Judah and the trouble you can imagine that brought about.

But do you see how I need to apply that verse to my circumstances? It is a glorious privilege I have been given to serve my family in this way. It would surely provoke trouble if I were to divide my time and seek a job. I need to be content.

So my goal for the rest of this month, when we normally emphasize thankfulness, is to go beyond giving thanks to becoming content in whatever situation I find myself day by day.

 

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Gratitude not Grumbling

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The other day a young missionary friend posted this on Facebook: “Today I am incredibly thankful for my circumstances.” I have not been able to get that thought out of my head.

I determined to begin being grateful for all the circumstances that cause me to grumble and complain. My first opportunity came early in the morning. Yesterday was our decorate for Christmas day. I know, crazy early, but with Olivia leaving for 6 weeks in Georgia she wanted to be able to be part of the fun.

Last year most of the lights on our-only 2 year old-Christmas tree died.  The other night we stripped every strand off the tree. So yesterday, I headed off to K-Mart, my very least favorite store! I was ready to spend $42 on new Christmas tree lights,  when I called Todd, just to let him know how much they were going to cost. I was taken aback when he said to leave them there, and go back home to try to make last year’s lights work. My first thought was to say, I made a special trip here (of all places!), in the rain/snow, AND I have a cold! But I meekly said okay, and went home.

You know what? It felt good. I determined that I was not going to complain; not only to Todd, but to our sons who were there with me. We drove back home with a plan to sort through all the old lights and see how many we could work with. Later I called him back, and asked him to pick up 3 more boxes at Hobby Lobby, a much pleasanter store, plus he used a coupon!

Today what I decided to be grateful for instead of complaining about was much more difficult. But I am hoping by month’s end that it will be a habit.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Riding a Little Donkey Instead of a High Horse

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“All this happened to fulfill the prophet’s saying—‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold your king is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey’.” Matthew 21:4,5

Last night I stewed, and made snippy comments all because of a missed “thank you”. I offered, and did a simple task, then when it was not recognized as a great act of service, I was offended. This morning it seems all so childish. Especially as I open my Bible and read about how the the Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself.

In “Gate-Keepers of the Home”, Nancy Campbell does such a lovely job of describing humility. This is what she says:

“How often we get on our “high horse”! Many times we won’t come off. This isn’t the way of Jesus. He rides the foal of a donkey. Will you follow His example? Will you get off your high horse and choose the lowly way?”

Being humble and serving our husbands and children is a glorious honor. Taking on the form of a servant, even slave, is so very contrary to my nature. There are many lowly tasks I do without grumbling, but occasionally I expect recognition, expect, not want. That word “expect” is what too often trips me up. When this happens I am no longer doing my work unto the Lord but for myself. Pride is what it is called. Sin is what God calls it.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-7

Being an Old Battleaxe

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Being an “Old Battleaxe” is a derogatory term for an older woman with strong opinions. I resemble that remark, and I am not ashamed.

I tend to go off on crazy tangents in my Bible reading and study. This morning I was reading about the Horse Gate in Old Jerusalem. Nancy Campbell, the author of “Gate-Keepers of The Home”, does such a great job of creating word pictures. In chapter 9 she writes about God roaring like a lion. Then she goes on to share many scripture verses where God’s people are called to be like a lioness roaring against her enemies.

When she used the word “battleaxe” I immediately got the giggles picturing an image like the cartoon above. Being an “Old Battleaxe” is considered a bad thing. Yet in Jeremiah 51:20 God calls His people to be just that, battleaxes.

I looked up the Hebrew word for battleaxe: mappet:  war club, battleaxe, or hammer.

Is it okay for a godly woman to go into battle wielding a fierce weapon? You better know it! The next question is what is our best weapon? Yep, it is our Bibles. Now stop right here those of you who have the picture in your mind of me smacking someone with a Bible. I actually did that, playfully, in church just last month. I hope the young man I smacked took it in the manner it was intended. I think he did.

The Bible is a fantastic weapon. Sharper than any battleaxe. Who are the enemies we use it on? The powers of darkness alive and well in our world today. We all know them. They want our children, they want our marriages, they want our churches, schools and government.

We must use God’s word tempered with love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Love is a strong word. Godly love is a challenge I seek after every day, and fall short of every day. My desire is to love as God loves, even in my battles against sin. That’s not easy, in fact it is very difficult; but, in Christ alone,  it is very possible.

We can’t use God’s Word if we don’t own it. I don’t mean just having a Bible, or many Bibles, sitting on our shelf. I mean own it by knowing it. Keep it with you. Read it and memorize it and you will be able to call on its power in great and mighty ways. It has helped me through many dark days in the past. The future is not uncertain to me since I know that God will always guide and direct me because of His many promises found throughout the Scriptures.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,” Hebrews 4:12

Facing Hormonal Changes: The Monster Within Me

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I faced a difficult truth last week…I am not handling my changing hormones very well.

I like to do everything well. I like people to think I have it all together. I don’t mind admitting I have problems, as long as they are small ones that I can take care of easily and quickly.

Probably  No, make that:  Definitely, what is most important to me is that no one will think the lesser of me for not dealing with my problems thoroughly.

I  have been experiencing perimenopausal changes for over 10 years. You ladies my age (54) know the symptoms. Younger gals, you can click the link to read a Web MD article that describes the “fun”.

Anxiety in the form of obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and perfectionism are issues I struggle with. Hormones, raging or waning, magnify my anxiety making me difficult to live with. There are terrible words for the way I have been behaving. No one in my world is so unkind as to use them to my face. Thank you Heavenly Father for that! I know that I am not the way I should be and that needs to change.

Last Saturday I had a great, and difficult discussion with my closest girlfriend who encouraged me to take action. That evening I sat down with my so very sweet and understanding husband and told him I had reached the end of my short rope. Being the man of action that he is, he immediately got online and researched how we could deal with this naturally and healthfully. Then we headed to the health food store to stock up.

I  bought Phytoestrogen cream about 2 months ago. I started using it daily and thought I was good. I really didn’t see any benefits from it alone. From what I have read, I now realize I probably have declining progesterone levels. So I have also added natural prosterone cream. I will be using it on a 3 week per month schedule.

We bought an herbal composition called Transitions, by Pure Essence Labs. It has dong quai, black cohosh and lots of other goodies for those in hormonal change as I am. Swallowing pills makes me gag, so this is a big deal for me to be taking these giant horse pills.  I also started taking my multivitamins, calcium, B complex stress formula. Basically what feels like a huge handful of pills twice a day.

Essential oils have piqued my interest in the past year. I really don’t know that much about them yet, since I have no first-hand experience. It is time now to learn. I ordered a starter kit  through Young Living  recommended by my e-friend, Lisa Pennington at Pennington Point

Let’s talk caffeine a bit. It is a good thing, really; research has shown that using small amounts of caffeine is beneficial. Unless you have issues, as I do.  I drink coffee every day. I love it. Okay, true confession time: I am obsessed with my delicious and strong morning cup of Joe! For now, I am going caffeine-free. I have to say, “for now”, not “never”; or it could send me into deep depression.

That is where I am today. I am going to check with my beloved ones in a month or so to see if they think I am doing better. My dear and best friend said I need to remember that this is just a season and it will pass. I love that! Do you see why she is the best?

Homeschool Mom School of Guilt

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This is where our homeschool books are. I wanted to take a picture of my desk, but I couldn’t find it. Please let me know if you see it. It is a roll top and should not be this hard to find.

This morning Henry asked me an innocent question, “Mom, what is a book report?” You fellow homeschool moms will probably be able to relate to the feelings of guilt that question brought out.

Our homeschool year is on hold. The last day of our first week God sent a flood. It was not one of biblical proportions, but a devastating flood nonetheless. As our DIY restoration project continues, I am having to get creative with keeping my scholars busy and off media. When they can’t even climb over the computer desk to get to their favorite book series, it makes the simple command, “Go find something to read” a challenging quest.

My dearest friend will tell you that I have not been very flexible with my schedule over the years. The four daughters that have graduated can testify to my rigidity. Surely there is a lesson for me in all this. Then today,  I read a beautifully encouraging email from Terri Johnson of Knowledge Quest.

This is my favorite part:

Have you ever felt like you were barely hanging on?

We all want to feel like we have our act together. At the least, we want to look like we have our act together.

When it comes to homeschooling, there are times when we are struck with pangs of inadequacy.

Inadequate was how I felt when I heard that question from my son. I wanted to get him right to the library and check out a stack of books on the Mayflower Compact. Then I remembered he has a fever. Oh, and it is 6:30 A.M. and the library is closed.

I really believe Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good. I am happy that we are getting our basement spiffed up. My children are thrilled that we are taking an extended “vacation”. I just need reminding often that it will all work out in the end.

Coffee!

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I am in love with coffee. It is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I am always looking for tastier, bolder, deeper, darker, and hotter cups of ‘Joe’.

This past week, thanks to CHOW, I discovered a cold-brewed coffee recipe that is portioned down to a size I can deal with.

I first tried it over ice. I started with 1/2 cup of the coffee, then added 1/2 cup water, and 1/4 cup of half and half, and 1/2 tsp Truvia. (I used THM Sweet Blend You can buy it online from Trim Healthy Mama)

This morning I drank it hot. Starting with 1/2 cup of the coffee, then I added 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, and 1/4 tsp THM Sweet Blend. It was so rich and thick, and very hot out of the microwave.  I normally detest nuked coffee, but this was one smooth cup!

It was a great morning. I am eager to wake up every day knowing my faithful God’s mercies are always new. Plus, He created coffee, and that gives me great joy! Oh, and much needed energy.