"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Posts tagged ‘contentment’

Evidence

If you are like me—and I suspect you are—you can look around your home at any given time and see the “evidence” of the people who share that home with you.

Sometimes the clues are kind of cute.

Oh, did you need to use the stairs? Sorry, those are taken.

You didn’t want your laptop, did you? I’m kind of using it.

Pie? What pie? What makes you think I touched the pie?

Other times, those “clues” are not really that cute at all. Like the other day when our four year old went to the bathroom (and I mean REALLY went to the bathroom) and then decided to do us a big favor and clean the toilet…only she forgot to flush it first. (That was not on the list of why Amy smiles. And don’t worry, I didn’t take a picture.) She was just trying to be helpful, but…  AGGGHHHH!!!!!

Finding sticky spots on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, shoes all over the living room, and crumbs on the couch are all evidence of the people who live in this house. And while I don’t exactly consider those things fun to find, I do try to remind myself often that these are simply signs that I am surrounded daily by the people I love the most.

I will always remember sitting in a Bible class one Wednesday night and listening to an older lady who had lost her husband. Her advice to those who were married was this: “Be thankful every time you have to bend down and pick up your husband’s dirty socks from the floor. He may not have thrown them in the hamper the way you’d have liked, but be glad he’s still around to get them dirty.” I think I was in junior high that year, so of course it didn’t apply to me then. But to this day I still think about her wise words when I catch myself gritting my teeth as I clean up a mess I didn’t make. Because she’s right: I would rather have them AND their messes than to not have either!

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
    but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

(Proverbs 14:4)

I hope you are smiling as you look around at the “evidence” of your loved ones …even if it’s on your floor. Aren’t they worth it?

Thanks for stopping by!

Recycled backyard fun

You know the phenomenon:

You spend time and money buying your one- or two-year-old child a special gift that YOU think is fantastic, and all the child is really interested in is the box it came in, or perhaps the wrapping paper itself. We’ve all been there, right?

After yesterday, I’m starting to think the same principle applies to those expensive backyard play sets. Who needs ’em, as long as your child has a healthy imagination?

Although it’s been several months since we moved, our trampoline never did get set up in our new backyard. At first there was no grass, and then when there was we had to let that grass get good and healthy, and by then it was too hot….You know how it goes.

It doesn’t seem to have been a problem for the kids, though; especially for Addy, who is pretty good at making her own fun.

Recently, she was helped along by the mysterious appearance of a construction spool in our backyard. (I guess it wasn’t TOO mysterious, considering that our whole neighborhood is still one big construction zone and that my husband loves checking the discard piles for little treasures…or in this case, big treasures!) I’m guessing the spool was to be used as a work table of some kind, but Addy had other plans.

Yesterday, she decided to use it as her own rolling balance beam.

Remi was interested but I wasn’t ready for her to get up there, so I laid a board down flat for a balance beam for her. Of course it was too easy, so we had to change her challenge to hopping down the beam.

Then Addy had the idea to combine both girls’ equipment to make a seesaw. It was hilarious to watch their faces! (Click the picture for a better view.)

I should probably mention a couple of things here:

One, I do realize it is January. But while much of the world is huddling inside to stay warm this time of year, we in South Texas are heading outdoors to finally enjoy some nice, cool weather.

Two, my youngest daughter is in that stage….you know, the one where it is important to dress as a princess at all times, even when playing on boards in the backyard. (Addy did put down a towel for her to sit on so she wouldn’t mess up her dress.)

Once Remi had had enough of their homemade seesaw, Addy used the board to make an incline for another type of balance beam.

Before I knew it, she had created an entire obstacle course for herself.

The towel (?) was the starting point, and from there she had to go up the plank

…and across the next board

…and then walk off onto the spool and roll as far as she could.

I should note here that all these ideas were Addy’s. Of course, once Remi saw how much fun Addison was having, she wanted to get in on that action, too, and Addy was so sweet to help her all along the way.

I love seeing siblings helping each other out and having fun together!

Next Addy made a slide, and taught Remi how to climb up the spool and cross the plank to get to it.

Now for the sliding fun…

Addy needed to take it a step further—of course—so she started going down backwards!

By this time the sun was starting to go down, but the girls weren’t ready to go inside just yet. So they added some more layers of clothes and brought out their blankets, then laid the porch swing down flat to make themselves a comfy little bed on the back patio.

As it got cooler, they decided to make the whole thing into a tent. Look closely…

Did you notice their custom “tie-downs?” Cutest weights ever, huh?

Addy added some more layers, both inside and outside the tent, to make it warmer, then proclaimed it ready to spend the night in. (I’ll just assume you know what my answer to that was.)

Again, if you looked very closely, you saw that she used Troy’s tools, and even my hair accessories, to hold the covers on. (Click on the picture below for a closer view.)

I love that about Addy—she is the queen of “use-what-ya-got!” She never asked for help; just figured out what would work and made it happen.

Remi, meanwhile, was rounding up the babies who would be “spending the night in the tent, too.”

So here’s my advice, friends:

Next time you’re tempted to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on some play equipment for your kiddos, I recommend taking a step back and letting them use their imaginations for a while, instead. It just might end up being even more fun!

Thanks for stopping by.

That’s what I call a fortune

In dressing for a funeral this morning, I donned a strand of pearls. My ten-year-old daughter looked at me, surprised, and asked, “Are those real?”

I laughed. “Umm…no.”

“Oh, right,” she said. “If those were real they’d cost a fortune.”

I laughed again and replied, “And I don’t have a fortune.”

It took each of us just a fraction of a second to realize the fallacy in that statement. Because the truth is, I do have a fortune.

I have a faithful, Christian husband whom I love and respect.

He is an amazing daddy to these four precious kiddos:

I adore each of them, and feel incredibly blessed to be able to spend my days learning right alongside them.

I have parents who love me and taught me to love God.

I have friends I enjoy and friends I miss.

I lived in a country so great that men have been willing to give their lives for her.

I have plenty to eat, plenty to wear, and plenty to keep me busy.

I have more books than I can read and more happy memories than anyone deserves to have.

I have opportunities to serve and teach, and the ability and desire to learn.

I have role models whom I look up to.

I have a healthy body and a healthy family.

More important than any of these, I have the hope and expectation of eternal salvation because Jesus loved me enough to give His life for me.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.  (II Corinthians 8:9)

So yes, I have a fortune!

My life isn’t perfect, but I’ve been given so much to treasure.

How about you? Have you thought today about all you have to be thankful for? Your list may be different from mine, but I’m betting you can list off plenty of your own treasures.

While you’re at it, why not share a few of them here? I’d like to know: What makes you rich?

Thanks for stopping by!

Cold corn and contentment

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”

Can you guess who said that? It’s a proclamation that kind of puts me to shame. After all, if Helen Keller could be content, can’t we all? I can’t imagine living in a world of darkness OR silence…much less both. Yet, she was not only content, but found wonder in her situation. Amazing!

What jumps out at me in her statement is that she learned to be content. I don’t think it’s natural to feel that way. But, we can learn! And I’m not just talking about being content with the things we have, but with our circumstances in life, too. We’ll never have every situation just the way we want it, but we can learn to be happy wherever we are, with whatever we have.

Ms. Keller’s surprising assertion reminds me of another declaration I need to remember, this one from Philippians 4:11-13.

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Are you content today? Let’s work on it together!

*********

I handed my three-year-old sweetie a plastic piece of corn-on-the-cob I’d found on the floor, and said, “Here, Remi, go put this where it belongs.” Later in the day I opened the fridge—the real fridge, with the real food in it—and found this sweet scene:

Thanks for stopping by!

Teaching (and being taught by) our daughters

While going through some old paperwork I came across a little piece I’d clipped from a church bulletin some time back. I read it again and thought it worth sharing. (There was no author listed.)

We need to teach our daughters how to distinguish between

a man who flatters her and a man who compliments her,

a man who spends money on her and a man who invests in her,

a man who view her as property and a man who views her properly,

a man who lusts after her and a man who loves her,

a man who believes he is God’s gift to women and a man who remembers woman was God’s gift to man.

Hopefully our girls are seeing this in the way their dads treat their moms, but I appreciated the reminder to actively teach it as well.  And, it’s never too early!

In our house, I often feel my daughters are teaching me way more than I’m teaching them. Here are just a couple of the lessons I learned from my girls this week…

Yesterday, I woke up to this lovely sight:

A girl with a servant's heart

Our sweet Addison brought me breakfast in bed. There was no special occasion—she simply said, “I know you must be really tired from…” and proceeded to list all my current activities. The fact that she notices and appreciates my efforts is enough to warm this mom’s heart, and her attempt to do something for me in return was even more touching.

I learned from Addy that expressing appreciation for what others do makes them feel good, and makes them want to keep doing what they’re doing. I’m going to put out more effort to encourage others this week, especially those who just might be tempted to give up.

Then, there was the lesson I learned from my newly-three-year-old daughter, Remington. Her favorite activity these days is playing teacher. Her “lessons” go on and on and on and on…

Little teacher

But what she doesn’t realize is that our everyday interactions are actually teaching me a lot. This latest lesson came from a conversation we had when she found a bag of items I was planning to return for a refund.

Me: No, Remi, don’t open those. We’re going to take them back to the store.

Remi: But why? Why don’t we just keep them?

Me: Because we got too many. We don’t need them.

Remi: But why do we have to take them back?

Me: Because if we give them back to the store, they’ll give us some money instead.

Remi: But we already HAVE some money. Why do we need more?

Me: Ahem…

This sweet little one’s words have sure stuck with me. What a great reminder that we have enough. No matter what we have, it is enough, and I’m thankful I had the innocence of a little child to point that out to me. I am going to work on being content this week—not just with what I have, but with the situations I find myself in and the work I need to do.

So, here’s my encouragement for you today:

1. Teach your daughters, your sons, and your grandchildren what to look for AND give in relationships.

2. Look for ways to encourage the endeavors of those around you. Make an effort to notice. Let them know you see and appreciate.

3. Be content. Focus on what you already have, and find a way to share it with others.

4. Learn from those around you—even your little ones. They can make you a better person just by watching and listening to them.

Who’s up for the challenge?

Thanks for stopping by!

On being content

We don’t have an expensive stereo system in our home…but I am sure enjoying listening to the Christmas tunes emanating from my little one’s Dora the Explorer CD player.

We have a small tree that won’t win any beauty contests…but it was chosen as a family and joyfully decorated by our children with ornaments received as gifts from friends around the world, and it makes me smile every time I catch a glimpse of it.

I made a lot of my own gifts this year in order to include everyone I wanted to give to…but I am so excited about each and every one of them and thoroughly enjoyed putting together things I thought others might enjoy.

During this season there’s a whole lot of wishing and wanting going on. I think it’s important to stop and think about all that we have to be grateful for. It’s important to be content. Is that what we’re teaching our children? Is that what we’re practicing ourselves?

Today, let’s appreciate where we are and what we have. I think it will make us all smile!

P.S. This year, for the first time ever, I let the kids do ALL the decorating in our house. I set out the boxes, let them go for it, and didn’t change a thing.  Here’s a little glimpse of what they did:

Most of the decorations were clustered along the bar and on a couple of living room tables, but Addy proudly showed me that she had decorated the island, too:

Here was Remi’s contribution:

It says, "Dear Mommy, I love you so much!"

And, although not specifically for Christmas, this little guy has recently become a part of our living room decor, too:

Thanks for stopping by!

One-egg wonder

Two Easter egg hunts over the weekend yielded candy for the kids and plenty of lessons for me.

En route to the first hunt, we tried to coach our toddler on the proper way to hunt eggs: Find an egg. Pick it up. Put it gently into your basket. Look for another one. Seems simple enough, right? Well, we arrived and found that she had her own method: Find one egg. Pick it up. Look at it. Shake it. Hold it up for Mommy to see. Repeat the looking and shaking steps. Say, “I wonder what’s in here?”

In the meantime, of course, the rest of the eggs were all being whisked away into the baskets of other children. But Remington really, truly didn’t care. She had an egg, and she was sure there was something in it.  And that was enough for her.

As for me, I learned a few things that day on the egg-strewn field–things I hope will stay with me for a very long time.

1. Be happy with what you have. Because really, it’s enough! By not worrying about acquiring more, we can truly enjoy what we’ve been given.

2. Be in the moment. Kids excel at this. Adults, not so much.  And me? Let’s just say I needed the reminder.

3. Anticipate with joy what’s in store for you. Remi had no idea what was inside that egg, but she knew that whatever it was, it would be great. She’d already decided to love it!  How fun would life be if we woke up each morning looking forward to whatever was ahead because we knew without a doubt it would be great?

Anticipation

Thanks for stopping by!

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