Learning to be Content in a Discontented World

Sunday, May 26, 2013

At least once a year I go through a time in which my longings for something more out of life overtake me.  I become overwhelmed with the itch to travel to new places, live extravagantly and have a great adventure. I get to the point where I crave it so much  that I can literally taste it....mmmmm

I picture myself jet setting to an amazing destination, lounging by pristine waters, visiting a quaint city, backpacking through beautiful mountains, exploring ancient ruins, eating gourmet food, meeting new and interesting people and having fun and exciting experiences.

Yeah, I dream big. I think I have been watching too many travel shows. The truth is I have done many of these things and they just haven't left my system. The result is, my everyday ( very blessed) life starts to look uninteresting, stale and boring. Lets face it, doing the dishes, non stop cleaning, changing dirty diapers, and cooking isn't always that glamorous.

You might have a different picture of what your day dreams look like but  we all go through times of restlessness and longing for something out of the ordinary...something more. Whatever position we are in in life we can find something or someone to be dissatisfied with.

Most of the time I am very happy and thankful for where God has placed me and who he has brought into my life. I really am living out my dreams as a mother and wife, though I daily have to fight my tendencies to compare my self, my house, my clothes, my looks, my finances, my ministries, my personality to someone else's.  I have to say though that I do not wish to have different children or a different husband... I think they are pretty amazing, though not without their faults:)

As I start to let myself go and covet what others have, wish I could do what they do, go where they go; I begin to become discontent and stop seeing all that I truly have.

"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

Once I start down the path of seeing everything greener on the other side, I am unable to see the beauty, adventure and greenness that I am experiencing right now. The more I focus on what I don't have and what I wish I had, the more I fail to see what I do have.

A lot of the things I desire are not necessarily bad things; most of them are actually good things, but if they exceed my contentment in Christ alone and are not in his will, then they are not good. He is the only one who can truly satisfy me.

When I choose to think that I know what would satisfy and fulfill me best; I am taking my trust from God and saying that I know what is best and he doesn't.

When I start to realize that I am heading into dangerous territory in my thoughts, I have to fix my heart and mind on Christ alone and seek his will above my own.(Matthew 6:33)

 Deep down inside my spirit, I know that he has the best for me and that nothing that I desire could ever compare to the plans he has for me. As I  learn to trust him completely with my dreams and desires his desires become mine and I become truly content with the life he has given me.(Jeremiah 29:11)

 My "grand" dreams and desires pale in comparison to his grand design for my life... that goes beyond the boundaries of this world.

You see, when I get those yearnings and dreams for something more; they are God given, but they are not for what I think they are. I desire more from this life because I wasn't created for this world.... I was created for heaven!!!!

It is a daily struggle and a fight to be content. Yes, my body was made for this earth but my spirit longs to be connected with my new body in heaven. Some days I get tired of fighting my flesh and sinful nature. I want to be  made holy as he is holy, to be pure as he is pure, to see as he sees. It's a continual battle until they day he sees fit to take me home.

"Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly  dwelling, because when we are clothed we will not be found naked...now it is God who made us for this purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 2 Corinthians 5:2,5

What a glorious day that will be when I see him face to face!! I have to continually remind myself of it. I am not living for this world, my hope is in heaven! This world is not my home, I am only passing through.

Honestly, when things are going good I want Christ to delay his return but when I am struggling with my sin and all the sin I see in the world, I long for his return. I am so thankful he is in control! Each day I want to speed his coming by being faithful with what he has given me to do and pray his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Even in my moments of greatest joy and happiness there is still sin and pain right there with me, there is still a longing for my true home, an ache to be reunited with  my loved ones who have gone before me and a desire deeper then anything....to be truly united with Christ.

I have found in this short life of mine, that whenever I want something in a bad way, for example: an amazing vacation, bigger house, nicer neighbors, new car, a way out of a certain situation...etc....I usually don't get it when I want it. I have come to  realize I have to surrender my will, my desires to God and trust him with them.

God cares about our desires and dreams and like a good parent, wants us to give them to him for safe keeping.

One of my favorite verses that I have always kept close to my heart is:

As a parent there are many times I have to say no to my children because I know that it would not be to their benefit to say yes to all they want. The fact is I just can't always give them what they want, whether I want to or not. They have to learn to trust me and my husband, and know that we truly love them, but that doesn't mean we just give them what they want all the time.

I have always seen God as a Father to me. I believe that when we surrender our desires to him and put our trust completely in him( even when it is difficult) he is truly delighted that we would give him the desires of our heart. As I learn to trust him and become content in him alone...guess what??? He gives me even more then what I could have ever imagined!!!

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more then all we could ever ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Ephesians 3:20

Are you feeling restless, discontent, dissatisfied?? Search your heart and ask God to fill those places in your heart that only he was meant to fill. Whatever situation you are in life you will find a peace and contentment that can only be described as out of this world... because that is where you will find it.

How to Plant a Spring Garden with Raised Beds

Monday, May 13, 2013

Since owning our own home we have had a garden of some sort. Some of which were very productive and of which we enjoyed the fruits of our labor, others of which we felt like we planted
$ in the ground and received nothing in return.

My husband of many talents, has mainly been the head gardener. He put much love and care into trying to coax some produce from our plants while I  would  be content to plant flowers in the spring and be kept busy indoors tending to our growing garden of children. I helped by watering... but had no problem leaving the dirty work to him.

 This year for some reason, I felt the urge to prepare a spring garden myself and get down and dirty. It can be tricky in Florida knowing the right time to plant. If you plant too early it might get too cold, too late and it will be too hot. Our winters are usually when Spring begins in most states. It can be cold one day and broiling the next. We have finally had some nice spring weather with some April shower's thrown in for good measure, so I finally decided to put my shoulder to the plow(shovel)...and get a garden started.

I just love the taste of homegrown cherry tomatoes, broccoli and beans. If you haven't tasted these fresh from a garden then you have not experienced their true flavor. Not only is it rewarding to learn how to grow your own garden but there is nothing like sitting down to a meal( at least part of it) that you brought to the table straight from your own backyard.

It really is pretty simple! So don't be intimidated if you have always thought gardening is too hard for you.

1. Prepare your ground/ I suggest raised beds, a friend gave me a wooden bed and my husband found some concrete blocks and bricks that we used also. If you can get your hands on the concrete, do it! This was my first time using raised beds and I have had the best results!

2. Make sure you find a spot that gets a good amount of sun. Most vegetables need about 6 hours of sun. Lettuce, peas, carrots and kale can tolerate some shade though.

3.Put down garden material to block weeds and unwanted grubs. I used card board, you can also use newspaper or buy the ground covering at your local hardware or garden store.

4. Get some good ol' dirt! We have chickens so we take advantage of their manure. We usually put our compost in their yard so it all mixes together and makes for great fertilizer! We also bought some  good top soil.
If you don't happen to have chickens, you can buy cow or chicken manure, you can even call a local horse stable and they will give you some for free if you can haul it.

I let the dirt, compost and manure sit for about a week so it wasn't too strong for the plants

5.Now you are ready to plant! I went to our local nursery and purchased some seedlings they had started: bush beans, romaine lettuce, red salad bowl lettuce and cherry tomatoes. I also bought some broccoli and arugula seeds that I am starting myself. I just put some dirt into the containers we received the plants in, keeping them in a partially shaded spot and am waiting till they get bigger to plant in the beds. Here is a great website if you have any other questions: http://www.your-vegetable-gardening-helper.com/growing-vegetables.html
The 1st week

2nd week

I planted my tomatoes next to my lettuce in hopes that the lettuce will get some extra shade.

6.Make sure you have a way of watering your garden daily. The best time to water is in the morning,but it wont hurt to water them later in the day if you see they are getting parched. I use a hose with a spray nozzle I have near by. You could even get a little sprinkler and attach it to a hose if you want and let the kids play and get the garden watered at the same time.

 Encourage your children to help plant your garden, I promise they will have a greater understanding of how food grows and they will want to taste the results of their work! Mine were fighting over who could plant what! I let them have their own little plot that they could call their own and take care of.

If you have been afraid to garden, don't be! Raised beds are such a great, low maintenance way to start! Just water  and watch your plants grow and in a matter of weeks, you will be enjoying fresh vegetables from your own back yard!

Wanted: a Mother

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I was having a particularly hard day... the kids were trying my patience more then usual and I was not reacting... lets say... in the most loving and forgiving way. Tears were welling up in my eyes, I felt like calling my husband, whining to him and telling him how hard it was to be a mother. He needed to know how hard it was and how easy he had it. I was trying so hard, they just didn't respect me. I deserved respect!!!  I should be able to give them directions and they should just listen, no questions asked, no fighting, no reasoning, no negotiating. My word should be law! 

But unfortunately there is this thing called our sin nature.(Romans 7:18-19) We all come into the world with it whether we like it or not. We have to continually fight against it, it will be our  battle till the end of time. We want to do what we want to do, and that is just that! We will suffer consequences but we just don't care sometimes. We are selfish and self centered, we want what we think is best for us.

I wanted the kids to listen and no matter how well I disciplined them or tried  my best to be a good mother, they were still going to fight me at times and I unfortunately would not always respond in the best way.

I am glad I didn't call my husband ( even though I am sure he would have tried to encourage me) but I did cry out to God and ask him to help me: to give me patience, wisdom and love.  I felt God's overwhelming presence as he spoke to me and comforted me. He knew right where I was at, he knew I could not handle this job on my own. He would give me strength when I didn't have any, love when I didn't feel it, patience when I was ready to lose it. He was forming me and making me into the mother he wanted me to be; not dependent on my strength or "amazing" mothering skills, but on his wisdom, his love, his strength, his patience.

  As I called out to him in my weakness, he was glorified...  as  I admitted my great need for him,  and acknowledged that I couldn't do it on my own, but that he could... through me. (Romans 3:5)

I wrote this poem last year as a result of what he spoke to me, I have it up on the wall and read it often to remind me that God will give me all that I need, to be who he has called me to be.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13

 I thought it would be fitting this mother's day weekend to share it with those of you who are mother's, in hope that (if for some reason you struggle at times too) that you will be affirmed in your beautiful role as a mother as I was.

Whatever role in life you are in know that if God called you there, he will give you all that you need to accomplish it!

Wanted: A Mother
By Rebekah Harris

I applied for a position not knowing exactly what it required
I was told just be willing and you will be hired

As I started my job I realized it called for more than I was qualified for
My boss said, “Be patient, what you lack, I will give you even more."

The hours are long, I’m on call twenty-four seven
But the payoff is big though I might not see it till I get to heaven

Yes, there are times when I want to quit
When the complaints are constant and I can't handle the demands another minute!

But when I look into the eyes of my employer
I see he too has tears of frustration and hurt
Yet with love and patience he continues his work

He knows the overtime Iv'e put in, the pain that Iv'e endured  
For he too has sacrificed himself and yet has been ignored
So like Him I cherish the times, when I am reminded why I applied for this job too
Just to feel an embrace and hear the words, “I love you!”

Some might say,"Why not do something for yourself?
You are wasting your life, give this job to someone else."  

But each day I learn not to trust in myself or any other
As I am entrusted to care for the least of these
And look to the One who created me to be… a Mother

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