Contentment

Contentment

Fiona in the Spring

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

It’s a verse I’ve heard since my youth, one I have often striven for to varying degrees. Contentment remains…elusive, though. In fact, I believe contentment looks different in varying phases of life. The lessons learned about contentment as a single 21-year-old are useful, but different than the lessons in contentment as a wife and mother in my 30s.

We have done a lot of growing, a lot of striving. We have purchased a house, moved up in our careers, made significant changes, renovated a home, had a baby, and so much more. While all of these are good things, they aren’t centered on contentment (though they are not inherently opposed to it either).

As I moved into this new year, as I continue to learn what it means to be a working mom, as I strive to balance my life and my career, I feel a call toward contentment. Read more

Getting Out of the Way

Getting Out of the Way

I watched my girl this weekend as she began grasping new ideas and learning new skills. She is so close to pulling herself up to her knees, given the chance. And she has realized that when she throws something, she just has to look over the arm of the chair to find it again. I love being witness to each new trick, each developmental leap. Ah, object permanence is such a wondrous thing!

But as I watched, I witnessed something that both amused and struck me.

Playing gleefully with her basket of toys, Fiona found a cloth book that unfolds into one long succession of “pages”. It’s a bit unwieldy for a baby when it’s all open, but she loves it anyway. Having pulled it out earlier, she found herself sitting next to the end of the book. She picked it up, but the book wouldn’t budge. She pulled and pulled on it, thinking surely she could lift it to her mouth to chew on (that’s what 7-month-old babies do, after all), but it wouldn’t work. She look plaintively at me to fix the problem, as though it was I who was keeping her from her desires. Or at the very least, I wasn’t helping fulfill them.

Unbeknownst to her, though, she was sitting on the book. Her own weight kept it grounded. I tried not to laugh as I watched her try with all her might, yet fail because she didn’t notice that she herself was the obstacle in her way.

It struck me just then, that perhaps that’s how God feels. Read more

God’s World

God’s World

sunrise
The sunrise over the Nansemond River on my commute this morning.

God’s World
BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
     Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
     Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
     But never knew I this;
     Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Source: Renascence and Other Poems (Harper & Brothers, 1917)


Learn more about Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Pointing fingers

Pointing fingers

“It’s no use pointing fingers at yourself,” Husband told me recently.

It made me pause.

I’m not a finger pointer. I don’t place blame. I conscientiously work to offer grace rather than fault, to give the benefit of the doubt. To be understanding.

But there is one person I hold to a different standard. One person who doesn’t receive a “Get out of jail free” card. One person who gets chastised, berated, guilt-ridden when something goes wrong. Me.

Twice in the last week, I’ve let myself down.

The truth is, I forgot. Two things lost amidst the many other things of life. Really, in the grand scheme of life, neither are even that important. But I gave my word, a commitment, and then forgot. And I don’t normally do that.

But instead of giving myself the grace I so freely offer others, I let myself fall into thoughts of failure, frustration, even anger at myself.

I was pointing a finger at myself.

Husband is right, I need to not only give grace to others, but also to myself. I need to let myself be human. Understand that I make mistakes, I forget sometimes. And that isn’t failure, it’s humanity. I need to forgive myself for my own imperfections.

Story teller

Story teller

I never really thought of myself as a story teller. But, at its core, that’s what I do.

I tell stories.

I tell stories of pain. But also joy.

I tell stories of despair. But also hope.

I tell stories of tragedy. But also redemption.

Recently, I’ve been working on the story of a young girl sold by her mother to an 80-year-old man in exchange for food and drugs. It’s ones like these that really get to me. How do you survive that? How do you ever heal? Or build a life?

This girl, she’s 14 now. Fourteen. A child, still. And yet, nevermore.

But amazingly?

She’s healing. She’s rebuilding. She’s living.

Because we serve a God of redemption.

It astounds me, these stories that God places in my hands — these people that God rescues and redeems.

I find I am not worthy to tell the stories. And yet, it has been entrusted to me to do so. I pray God gives me the right words. Words that honor, respect, and edify.

This day

This day

There are a lot of emotions attached to this day…this first anniversary of our great loss.

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about it. We’re just trying to get through.

These words have been helping:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
-Hillsong United, Oceans

God’s gift

God’s gift

Sometimes life is heavy and hard. And it feels like Husband and I have had more than our fair share of that lately. The days of laughter and joy seem so far gone. But I take courage, that while Christ warned us of the trouble we would face in this world, there is hope.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Beach

And today, these verses that remind me that it is not only in heaven that we will find happiness, but even in the rhythm of life.

“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 3:10-13

I used these same verses in a post about rhythm in early 2012, but my focus was on other portions of the passage; somehow I managed to skip right over the part where we are told that being happy, doing good, and finding satisfaction in our work is God’s gift to us.

God’s gift.

The journey still aches

The journey still aches

This morning as I read the blog of a sweet and insightful young woman, something she said struck me with its utter truth:

“The hard work of healing and restoration has begun, but the journey still aches.”

I guess that’s how I’m feeling. Big days loom before us, hard days. The day that would have been Michael’s 28th birthday. The first anniversary of his passing. They are coming. Each day brings us closer. And I know, I know it is going to be hard. Because although healing has begun, the journey still aches.

I struggle to know how to prepare for these hard days ahead. Prepare my own heart, and prepare to support Husband as he also works through this journey.

I’m reading Max Lucado’s new book, You’ll Get Through This. While I can’t say the content is ground-breaking, it is a wonderful reminder. In one example, Lucado records the words of a man who had to call his family members to let them know that his young son had died. The way he started each conversation?

Hold on to everything you know is good and true about the nature of God.

So that is what I will do. As the days and weeks of this journey continue to ache, I will hold on to all that I know about God.

A break in the clouds

Everything in it

Everything in it

We found out last night that we will have to vacate our home in six weeks.

Six weeks to find a new place to live, pack everything up, and–hardest of all–say goodbye to our life here.

I know it’s only a home, and a rental at that, but it’s our home. The beach house, while loved, was never really ours. It never held our furniture or dishes or pictures on the walls. This house…this house has been a real home for 27 months.

Country House

Our house, the day we moved in…

I won’t lie, there were a lot of mixed emotions that came with the news, and a few tears. We’ve had a lot of good times here, and some not-so-good ones. But the memories we will take with us, those cannot be left behind.

The question then becomes, where will we move to? Where will we live? Where can we take our little family of people and pets and provide for each need?

As Husband and I tried to settle our hearts and get some sleep, we read Psalm 24:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.[a]

They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.

Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.

We serve a great and awesome Lord–one who holds the whole earth in His hands. Did you see that very first verse? The part about the earth being the Lord’s, AND everything in it? Every person, every house.

He will provide.