Our house with violets

How I Felt When You Complemented My Home

Our house with violets

I really do have a lovely home.

It’s not huge or new or rich, but it is pretty and cozy. It’s about “average” as far as houses go around here, but so much more than most people in our world would ever dream of.

We picked it over twenty years ago, and I can still remember how quickly it felt like “home” when we moved in. We added two kittens shortly after we purchased our house, and within about a year, I was pregnant with our first child.  It is where we are supposed to be right now.

our home - winter 2015-16

But often I notice what is wrong, not clean, needs fixing, isn’t new, is broken, or how small it feels when we have a certain number of guests. I see newer furniture and appliances that would just look nice, be more “functional”, or would make life easier.

Sometimes I look with envy at others’ homes, either in Facebook photos or in real life. We can always find someone with a bigger, newer, more modern house and more “stuff”.

I’ve already shared about how easy it is to struggle with discontentment; in fact, my second post ever was about how I often have to remind myself to be grateful for the things I have.

This is part of our own human nature, but also augmented by a wealthy culture which thrives on consumerism.

But I need to remember that there is probably someone looking at me in the same way, wishing they had a house perhaps, or maybe just wishing their big home was filled with peace.

Our living-room

Sometimes I just need a reminder of how lovely and wonderful my life really is. I need to focus on the positives, rather than the lacks.

This past week, I had two individuals complement my home.

One was someone we are just getting to know. He walked through our door on the first night he joined our church community group and said something like, “What a beautiful home you have!”

Exercise mat in living-room with cat

The second was a complete stranger. She was responding to a photo I shared on a Facebook page for those of us participating in a Pilates fitness challenge. It was a photo of a corner of my living-room, where I had my exercise mat, near the couch with the sleeping kitties. She commented, “What a lovely space!”

So once again I’m reminded of how blessed I really am. I needed those reminders (and I guess it took two of them), to get my attention once more to be grateful.

I needed once again to look at my life with fresh eyes.

There’s been a little video circling in social media lately that speaks to this, so maybe I’m not the only one who needs to be reminded.

 

And there’s another lesson as well.

Don’t hesitate to give out heart-felt compliments.

It may be just what that person needs to hear on a day when life feels overwhelming. It may give them a renewed sense of how their life is blessed.

Our house with summer watermelon flag

And thank-you to those friends who took the time and followed your hearts to share your compliments with me.

They made my day and are helping to make my grateful life.

Our house - kitchen entrance

humming-bird feeder and hanging plant

enjoy the little things

*****

 

 

 

 

duck swimming

Look at the Birds…

Hebrews 13:5-6

Being the “good” Christian that I am, of course I don’t love money. Besides, I’m not rich, so there’s no chance of worshiping money. I’ve got that one down.

But wait a minute: “…be satisfied with what you have” ???

That part hit me square in the nose.

You see, if I’m really honest, I have trouble with contentment. Not always; sometimes I am so happy and thankful for all of the many blessings I know that I have been given. Truly, I am. But other times…..

No matter in what financial state you find yourself, there is room for discontent. Especially when money is tight, it’s easy to feel that there isn’t enough. But if you have enough or perhaps are even rich, you may still long for more than what you have. Our human nature tends towards greed, and our culture doesn’t help. There’s always someone with a bigger, newer, nicer house, car, job, family, vacation…..the list goes on.

So why is it so difficult to remain focused on the blessings, rather than our apparent lack?

Discontent is lack of thankfulness or gratitude, to be sure, but I think sometimes it goes deeper than that. I believe that often my feelings of dissatisfaction are fueled by an inner fear that there will not be enough. How can I trust that God will provide when sometimes I feel I must do without?

There is an answer within this passage. Look at the words again. God promises to never fail us, to never leave us, so that means that we have a choice.

We can choose to trust him and have no fear. Does that mean we will never have moments of doubt, sleepless nights, and thoughts and emotions of worry? I don’t think so. We are not yet perfect.

But I believe that when we are confronted with fear, God wants us to face it, then turn and look to him. And there we find the one place where there is no fear.

It’s not always easy, but he promises to care for us.  duck swimming

 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” – Matthew 6:25-26

 

So next time you feel dissatisfied, look deeper.

Do not worry.

Look at the birds; observe the simple trust illustrated in nature.

Keep your focus on the One in whom there is no fear.

And be satisfied.

*****

Are you prone to fear? What do you do when you feel you don’t have enough? Have you ever taken a walk or hike and found peace in observing God’s creation?

 

Psalms 84:11

What Are You Lacking?

Psalms 84v11

What are you lacking?

I often feel I am lacking something. Too often, I compare what I don’t have to what someone else has.

Many times I have found myself feeling sorry for myself, when the Bible says, “The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalms 84:11)

How is it that we who live in the twenty percent of the world with eighty percent of the wealth can feel we are lacking in material things?

It’s not just about stuff.

I have also compared my gifts or abilities or how much I think I am noticed to the outward displays of others’ talents or ministries. It’s too easy to compare our “real life” with what we perceive as someone else’s life by way of the nice photos they share on social media.

But God tells me that He isn’t withholding anything good from me.

It’s a simple verse, really, but yet so hard to believe.

The straightforwardness of this scripture speaks clearly to my heart.

But I have to be constantly reminded.

Perhaps I don’t understand what constitutes a “good” gift. Am I really so shallow that I can only accept from God what feels comfortable, fits into my perspective, and is something I think I can handle as “good”?

What about those things that stretch me, wake me up, and cause me to grow closer to Him?

The Bible is quite clear.

But what about the part that states, “from those who do what is right”? Is that me? Do I fit into this category of those to whom He withholds no good thing?

I believe that to do “what is right” is not requiring perfection, but an honest attempt to do what’s right based on our relationship with the One who is himself righteous. If we are following Him, even imperfectly, we are “right” in God’s eyes, based on what Jesus did for us on the cross. When we accept his provision for our sins, God counts us as righteous.

So what is it that you’re lacking?

The next time you feel a sense of lack, I challenge you along with me, to stop and consider what God has already told us. He will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Maybe He just wants to get our attention and have us allow Him to be everything we need.

Maybe He’s just calling us to trust Him.

Perhaps we just need to count our blessings.

Here’s a book (and there’s a video study, too), that may help you cultivate a more grateful, thankful heart. It certainly changed my perspective.

I am endeavoring to record daily those things, both big and small, that deserve my attention and my gratitude.

Do you ever feel that you are lacking? How do you remind yourself to be grateful in all circumstances of life? Have you ever recorded blessings in a gratitude journal?

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

enjoy the little things

Make Do With What You Have (It’s not about the bacon.)

Happy New Year to you!

As I was throwing together a somewhat special breakfast on New Year’s Day morning (or shall I admit it may have been after noon?), I once again commented on how much I NEED a new, larger cookie sheet with sides.

We have been cooking our bacon lately in the oven; our latest favorite method, such as described here.

Not that it’s wrong to want new and better things, especially items that will help us to be more effective in blessing our families, but as I got out my still-shiny, medium-sized Pampered Chef baking sheet and began to cover it with foil, an idea formed in my mind…..or perhaps within my heart.

I began to realize that more than a new cookie sheet, what I need to develop is a new attitude of thankfulness.

You see, the recipe clearly states that the bacon strips should NOT be touching. By nature, I tend to be a perfectionist. And with the size cookie sheet I have (the one with sides; NOT including the countless other baking sheets I also possess), I have to often use more than one sheet, and/or overlap the bacon a little.

In other words, I don’t have the ideal baking sheet, but I have PLENTY of nice baking sheets.

raw bacon

Overlapping (breaking the rules) bacon.

Well, as you can see, this smaller package of nine strips of bacon just fits, and only if they are SLIGHTLY OVERLAPPED…..a cooking faux pas, to be sure.

But this is obviously another “first world” problem.

 

Other “first world” problems I encountered this Christmas were:

  1. – trying to fit all of the holiday food into my jam-packed refrigerator
  2. – attempting to serve and consume all of said food in a timely (and healthy) manner…before it spoiled and we had to resort to throwing it out
  3. – choosing which recipes to make out of the hundreds I have almost instant access to on my technology devices

 

I realized that this is not the first time I have had an attitude that wished for bigger and better.

Earlier in this Christmas season I suggested how much nicer it would be to have a stand mixer. This coveted, but expensive kitchen appliance would make my baking so much easier and more enjoyable (and I love to bake). It’s been on my “wish list” for years.

And maybe someday, I’ll get my larger, really nice baking sheet.

And possibly someday after that I’ll get that beautiful, colorful, powerful stand mixer.

Perhaps one day I’ll even replace my food processor that broke a couple of years ago,too.

But my bacon came out just fine.

cooked bacon

My bacon came out just fine. (You can blame my oven for the uneven cooking).

 

So for right now, I’ll just be thankful for and use what I do have.

I will remember how blessed I truly am.

I will use my arm muscles (and be thankful that I am healthy enough to do so), rather than a machine.

I will enjoy the little things in my life, and I will ask God to help me to be more grateful than greedy.

 

bacon breakfast

New Year’s Day breakfast.

 

Most of the time I can “make do” with what I have. And it’s not really even “making do”. In fact, it’s much more than so many others could even dream of.  

We are so incredibly blessed, especially in this part of the world. Yet we can so easily be caught up in the North American mindset (or is it just human nature?), of wanting that next bigger, newer, or better thing. Our culture cultivates this emotion and tempts us constantly with greed.

But I chose to be wise and creative with the gifts with which God has already graced my life.

I choose to be grateful.

 

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” – Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

 

enjoy the little things

One of my favorite Christmas gifts from my sister (my new plaque).

 

Please feel free to add a comment.

*****