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5.24.2010

Godliness With Contentment...

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich, fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all of this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness..."
1 Timothy 6:6-11

If I could sum up in one word, what the Lord has been teaching me for the last few months, it would be contentment.  Or perhaps, my lack of contentment.  In more ways than one, He has laid that principle on my heart and my mind daily now, month after month.  It's a word that's frequently on my tongue as I remind my own self to "be content" with what He is doing in my life and with what He has given us.  I don't know if it's the season we are in or just the sin that has been manifesting in my heart for some time, but a little while ago, I found myself in an old-fashioned pity party over what we didn't have.  I was dis-satisfied with things I had no business being dis-satisfied with.  Blessings that had been given to us, were suddenly hardships and inconveniences to me.  As I wallowed further and further into that pit, I quickly realized that I was going no where good and I was getting there fast.  The comparison game was eating me alive and I was starting to believe every lie that Satan threw my way.  It wasn't pretty.  My heart was  full of sin and ugliness, that had a way of spewing out towards the people I love the most.  

Fortunately, the Lord also saw what was happening and He was mighty to save me from it.  In the most peculiar of circumstances, I found myself unable to control my universe and pregnant with this second "surprise" baby.  The "I must control everything" trap I was caught in, had led me to a place of discontent and was feeding a very foolish tendency to evaluate our situation and plot and scheme about how I could change it or make it better.  It's a little depressing to me to look back at how much time I wasted, plotting, scheming and worrying.  Obsessively.  Lots of time thinking, "If only this would happen, then it would be better/easier/happier..."  Do you know that trap too??   As I walked through the thick of it, I discovered that my own plans were actually not as great as I thought they were and in fact, my own plans were rather flawed.  And as if to give me a 9 month lesson in realizing that, I found myself now pregnant again, with a busy 10 month old and a new reality that was totally and completely out of my control.  

In the strangest way, it was the most freeing thing to me.  In the blessing of this little life, the control I so desperately was seeking, suddenly was taken from me and I realized, I never really had it in the first place!  The error of my ways and the ugliness of my sin, quickly surfaced and the Lord helped me see just how I got there and how He mercifully cut the chains, forgiving me of it.  Since that day, He has given me a peace that I can only attribute to Him.  While our circumstances haven't miraculously changed and now we face greater need and responsibility, He has made it abundantly clear that He does and will continue to provide for us and the way I can obey Him in that, is to be content and grateful.  

One of the biggest ways I've had to surrender my contentment, is with our home.  For lots of reasons, I never imagined us living in this condo with 2 children.  I hoped and prayed that we would be in a bigger house, with a yard and a garage and all the bells and whistles I dreamed of.   I knew when we moved in here, that we would trust the Lord with how long we were to stay.  He provided this home for us and I remember asking Him on our closing day, to also provide the way out when it was time.  However, somewhere in the last few years, I must have amended that request to include "my time" instead of "His time."  In the last year, as we watched the market tank and our property value sink, we both knew in our heart of hearts that He was calling us to stay here longer than we hoped for, with thankful and content hearts.  We called a realtor we know and trust and asked him to come out and give us a good picture of what we were facing.  He did and we took a deep breath when the "reality" of it all sank in.  It was pretty clear that short of a miracle, we needed to stick it out a little while longer.  Which we were ok with, because we had enough room for Travis, Ava and I and we had no plans to add another baby for at least a year or more.  It was do-able.  

Well, as with most things, the Lord had a different plan for us.  As we discovered in March, He was not asking us to stay with one baby, but actually two.  And a dog.  Not ideal in our minds, but reality none the less.  So, for the last few months, my mind has gone into overdrive, adjusting my attitude and letting my design wheels spin.  It's so amazing to me, that the Sovereign God of the universe, would look at our very common and small "problem" and take the time to intimately work on our hearts and minds to see us through it.  He gave me the gift of mind that knows and loves design and He's helping me use it in the most creative of ways!  He also knew that in my pregnant, hormonal (and thus sometimes irrational) state, I would need a little time and inspiration to adjust to this.  So, as only He can, He ministered to me in a really sweet and personal way.  

About one month before I discovered I was pregnant (although I actually was and didn't know it), I had a very vivid dream.  I'm not one who places lots of value in dreams, because usually mine are so bizarre and weird that they would scare me if they actually meant something!  But this time, I woke up the next morning, totally inspired and excited to tell Travis all about it.  I told him that I dreamed I was pregnant and that we decided to stay in our condo with both babies.  In my dream, I was not at all sad about it, because we were not living in our condo, in the same way we are now.  Instead of being in our own Master bedroom, Travis and I were in Ava's room and she and the baby were in the Master bedroom and the Master walk-in closet.  HOWEVER, in my dream, I very vividly remember and recalled in great detail, they way that we had designed the new "baby suite" (think the baby suite from Father of the Bride 2)!!  I could see the new color scheme with all of our baby furniture and I LOVED it!  I saw all the additional space that the bigger rooms gave the kids, and the fun design details that pulled it all together.  My favorite part was the nursery that we had converted from the walk-in closet.  It was darling.  And dreamy.  And perfect.  I woke up that morning, thinking "I could do that!"  In fact, it would be fun to do that.  I described the whole thing to Travis and then told him, "You know what babe, I seriously think I could be ok with 2 kids here, because I know that would actually work and I would actually like it."  He laughed at me and shook his head saying, "You have the craziest dreams!  Glad you liked it, but at least we don't have to worry about that yet."  I laughed too, but I did tuck that dream away in my heart and for the next month, I can't tell you how many times I thought of it.  I imagined lots of different design scenarios and I found myself excited about the challenge of it.  Although, I wasn't pregnant (to my knowledge) and I was sure that was at least a year or more away.  

I tell you that funny dream because the day I realized that oh yes, I actually was pregnant, I distinctly remember washing the dishes while pondering this new "life" and all that meant for our future and realizing exactly why I had that dream.  God did that for me.  He knew our situation ahead and He knew how He made me.   He knew I would struggle at the thought of a home that already felt "small" but He knew I was going to need to accept that, and somehow joyfully be able to live here.  So He planted a seed in my mind that met my need.  He took the scales off my eyes and gave me fresh vision for our home.  In the months that followed, I have been renewed with a challenge to make the most of every inch we have!  It has helped me from wallowing in what we don't have, to enjoying what we do!  

Believe me, it's a daily surrender I find myself making and some days, it comes easier than others.  We have watched some dear friends and family walk away with amazing real estate deals in this crazy market and it's been hard for us to not dwell on their situations, but to instead find contentment in ours.  But God is so faithful to walk this road with us.  I trust Him to see us through 2 kids and a dog in a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo!  I also trust Him to still provide a way out for us, in HIS perfect timing and not ours.  We serve a big God who can do big things.  But we also serve a God is faithful and tender in all things.  I love that He has ministered to me in so many small ways, so that I can truly say today, I am grateful and content with what we have.  It doesn't come naturally and I can't always say that I don't find myself struggling.  BUT, I have set my heart on that passage from 1st Timothy 6 and I am constantly reminding myself that "Godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN..." and I know that God will bless my obedience to Him in this season, down the road.  

So, I am in a flurry of nesting, re-decorating, buying, and selling over here!  Craig's list is the best thing to ever happen to me and I am finding deals galore right now!!  We find out the sex of this baby in 2 weeks and I'll finally be ready to start moving on the "baby suite" plan :) It's a huge challenge for me but I am having a blast in the midst of it!  I love my home.  I love my family.  And I love the Lord.  

We live in a world that is anything but content, however as followers of Christ, we aren't called to live like this world.  The counter-cultural call to doing things God's way is never easy.  But it's always worth it.  I know we are exactly where He wants us right now and that is worth more to me than the best yard money could buy!  Although believe me, when I'm finally in a yard of my own, I've got big plans for that too!  But not now.  Not yet.  In no way do I claim to have this lesson down or think that I'm the example here...I could possibly be the furthest thing from an example if you knew how I've reacted in the last few months!  But the Lord is working on me and is faithfully weeding those seeds of discontent out of my heart....

"...For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:12-13

EVERYTHING.  
Including 2 kids under 2, in a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo, with a big, hairy dog-and I don't mean Travis!!
Yep, I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me strength...
I'm asking today for Him to pour it on!

10 comments:

Sarah said...

Praising God that you've found contentment in Him. :) We're always looking at what we can get from who has more than what we can give to who has less.

Last summer at The Landing I read a 19th century autobiography of a woman who married a man she didn't know and ended up moving to Minnesota as a pioneer wife. Their "home" was a 10x10 shack...then her in-laws came to live with them...and she had babies...and they had no barn, so in the winter the chickens and cow were also cooped up in with them. The saddest part of her story was that she did not have the contentment rooted in Christ that you do.

Also...I picked out some paint colors and want to see what you think. :)

Kruger Kids said...

Sweet blog-friend and Sister-in-Christ~
I know JUST what you are talking about!! We have three children with two bedrooms in our upstairs. All of our babies made a nursery out of our walk-in closet in our master bedroom! When #3 came along, it was the same with him. But then we decided to put all three kids in the master and we'd go in the smaller room. It was a hard thing to grasp, but when it was finished I loved it! I learned to be content with what God had given to me because that was the reality of it. I was finally alright with it all and I guess that was how God wanted to see my heart, because then he provided a way out! We closed on our new house THIS MORNING!! We'll have three bedrooms upstairs and one down. God is good! He is providing beautifully for your family. Just think of the driveway you don't have to shovel and the lawn you don't have to mow- those things that take time away from family time. Count them as blessings!

Sonya said...

The Lord works in amazing ways! I have found contentment to be so tricky at times! I feel like I am and then I run across that thing that I'm not content with. Thanks for sharing!

Angelica said...

Wonderful post! I've been struggling lately in being content at my place of work. I don't feel inspired and because their is not much work I find myself bored most of the time. And dreaming about being home with my child and going back to school. But, I have to work.

This was such a gentle reminder...thank you!

Sarah said...

BTW, I stumbled upon a blog you'd like: http://www.designspongeonline.com/

Have you seen it? There's ridiculous amounts of design talent featured.

Miz Jean said...

You are a genius! I love this room-switching idea and I cannot wait to see pictures of the finished suite! :) Sounds lovely!

Strangely, I am in a very similar place. I just read Crazy Love by Francis Chan and it really challenged me to not be so much on the lookout for myself. And I was very convicted to let go of my incessant house-hunting. We have a 3 bedroom house with 1 bedroom way down in our basement. So the girls share a room - a big room. They are not cramped for space. But I kept thinking I needed a 4 or 5 bedroom house. And truthfully, God has shown me that I really do not. I've let it go just this past week and found such contentment and peace with my decision. Because anything more than what we have right now would be really very selfish and prideful. Instead I am finding new ways to use our space and enjoy our home and its a realy blessing. I've been pondering a post on my blog about it too :)

Great words, Steph!!

~Jean

Jennifer said...

Love it love it LOVE IT! That's right girl, you can do everything through HIM....I'm excited to see this "baby suite"

tapango1 said...

you are a blessing steph...thanks for sharing and being real....

Peggy & Ron said...

Who would we be without some struggle? We're never done, are we?

Jess said...

Thank you Stephanie, I really needed to hear this right now. I've been a "silent" reader of your blog for awhile now and am very inspired by you. :) I know you don't think you're an "example" but you definitely are!