Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Thankful Lens

"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."
I can't wait for Friday to get here!
If I can just get through this month...
Once the kids are out of the toddler stage, we can do (fill in the blank).
When we make more money we can do what we really want.
When we finally settle down and own a house, then I'll really be happy.
Once I lose those last ten pounds, I'll feel okay about myself.
After we decide where we're going to 'settle' for good, I'll go for my dreams.
It's what Ann Voskamp would call living in the Waiting Room.
It's a home I know all too well. It's different than just looking forward to something, like a night out with your man (kid free) or an upcoming vacation. The waiting room is a constant state of discontent, continually wanting and wishing for more; different; better. 
 Our pastor told us this morning that in general, people drift away from God if they aren't actively seeking to grow closer to Him. We don't just drift toward God naturally. It takes discipline.
Well, the same principle applies here. I am thankful and content because I choose to be. But I can easily drift into wanting.
In general, I like to think I'm a thankful, content person.
I see our 'small rental' as an adorable, charming house with the cutest little yard, complete with gardens, lilacs, a white picket fence, and a porch swing! The small space inside bothers me sometimes, but it's an excuse to continually be giving things away that we don't absolutely need. It's a cozy space to practice hospitality and motivation to live what I'm passionate about: simplicity. Our giant, outdated box TV is in great working condition and is all we need for the girls morning cartoon and Brad's and my Friday movie night. A tight budget just means we don't waste money on stuff we don't need. It forces us to prioritize on a regular basis, which is good for keeping our life balanced.
Yet in the midst of all this contentment I just claimed to possess, I see myself living in that perpetual Waiting Room in so many other areas. I think to myself on a daily basis, "If I could just feel good for one day, I wouldn't be so moody." Then I have to stop and think that although I might not go another day of my life with out stomach pain, I am blessed to be otherwise healthy, breathing, walking, and alive! But still...for that moment, everyday I wish I felt better, and keep waiting for the day...
I have some clear dreams I believe God has given me, and I've put them off for years, with the excuse of, "I'm just waiting until we are more settled." and "After I'm not pregnant and the baby's a little older." These seem like valid excuses to me, but I wonder if God thinks so...
I long to have student loans paid off and to buy a house so that we're not "throwing our money away every month on a rental house"...rather than seeing the rental as a huge blessing; As a roof over our head and lovely gas heat to keep us warm during weeks like this when the temperature dips way below zero overnight.
And then there's the little moments each day that I find myself discontent, waiting for the day when my little ones aren't quite so needy and so messy. When I just want to curl up with a blanket and catch up on some reading, only to have one of the girls wake up just as I'm getting settled. When I feel like all I do is pick up a mess, clean up a spill, do a load of laundry, scrub a toilet, do more never ending dishes, fix more food, only to get everyone tucked in for the night and come down the stairs to find more messes, spilled milk and smashed peas under the table, dirty laundry tossed near the washer, messy bathrooms, and more dishes.
Those are my Waiting Rooms.
Yet in all of this, in the big things and in the little daily moments...I, like Paul, have been learning to be content. To stop living in the Waiting Room of life. To be joyful always (different than being happy 24/7), to pray continually (still needs work), and to give thanks in all circumstances (the book 1,000 Gifts is life changing!). For THIS, this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus.
Oh, I still have my moments. I'm not all smiles when the girls manage to spill three things in under two minutes. I still let out a heavy sigh sometimes when I'm busy and one of them wakes up earlier than I hoped. But, I'm aware of those sighs. I'm aware of my irritable demeanor when messes are made. I'm convicted and making progress as the Holy Spirit helps me each day.
When I see life through a lens of thankfulness (rather than allowing myself to drift into a state of discontent and want), it makes all the difference.
A lens of thankfulness
Helps me be thankful for crying kids...they're alive and healthy, and taking it a step further, every hard and trying time I have with one of them is an opportunity to teach them something...and for God to teach me something!
A lens of thankfulness 
Allows me to see how massive my blessings are, and in turn gives me the desire to bless others in any way I possibly can.
A lens of thankfulness 
Is getting me through a physically demanding and uncomfortable pregnancy by reminding me to be grateful that I can have kids, when there are so many women who would gladly go through this and so much more if only they were able to have a baby.
A lens of thankfulness 
Is helping me make it through another MT winter...this year I'm taking walks and seeing beauty instead of gloom. Feeling the crisp clean air and allowing it to energize me instead of shutting me down. (Okay, I still long for Spring, but I'm a work in progress!)
I didn't make any new year's resolutions this year. That was a first for me. Instead, Brad and I reflected on the past year (the good and bad), and voiced to each other some things we feel we did well, and where we did poorly. And we talked about some hopes and dreams for this year.
Well mine can be summed up in this post. I want to live a completely thankful, content life right where I am, and wherever we may end up. I want to take hold of those areas of discontent and repent of them, and ask God to help me see the good in it all.
Speaking of waiting rooms...I keep thinking that after I have this baby, maybe my crazy mood swings will disappear, along with my new potty mouth that seems to emerge more and more with each week closer to the due date! Lord, help me, I've still got seven weeks to go!!! Here's a sneak peak:)


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