Thursday, September 1, 2011


Earlier this year I was taking part in a regular yoga practice at a nearby yoga studio. One of the things I appreciated the most about practicing in this class setting was that all the teachers focused on the theme of acceptance. Yoga, they said, was the discipline of practicing the physical asanas with the body that we had that day, not the one we hoped to have in the future or wished we had now. Accepting where we were physically and being grateful for what our bodies were capable of, instead of comparing ourselves to another yoga student or to our "ideal" self is at the heart of what these teachers believed yoga to be. Since I am a follower of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I do not hold with the spiritual path of yoga to lead us into divine truth and peace. I do however look to see the seeds of God's truth that have been claimed and distorted through the lens of this world.
As Christians we should be always striving to die to our sin nature and to allow the work of the Holy spirit in our lives as we seek to have the mind of Christ. But in my daily life I find myself often being distracted from this true goal to those of temporal value. How much of my time do I spend wishing I were a better housekeeper? Or how about the time I spend imagining what certain other people would think about the state of my house? I am often trying to see my house through the eyes of my house guests. I may be perfectly content with the state of my home until someone stops by or is planning to come over. Then every imperfection of my home stands out to me with neon brilliance. 

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." 1 Timothy 6-8

That is not very much, just food and clothing. I have a house, lots of food, tons of clothes, more then one vehicle, a cell phone, a computer, dishes, dessert food, chocolate, coffee, ten flavors of tea, organic free range eggs, designer hair care products...well you get the idea. Having such abundance doesn't keep me from focusing on the things I don't have, or from wishing the things I had were different.  The very next verse says...

"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." I Timothy 6:9-10

There is no gentle, understanding words here to allow room for sin. Discontent is SIN and it draws me away from the true focus of the surrendered life in Christ.

"But thou, O man of god, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love patience, meekness." 1 Timothy 6:11

Acceptance and contentment come from the same root. To accept things as they are and to be thankful for the gifts that I am already the recipient of will lead to an attitude of contentment. If I am content with what I have been given, I will have more energy to focus on personal godliness. Just as in yoga class I was focusing on being thankful for my body and not comparing it, I should be thankful for my home and God's many provisions for our family, and not comparing them. "But godliness with contentment is great gain."  To attempt godliness without contentment would be truly unprofitable. Why look to worldly goods when I am offered great gain?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Simple contentment

“Do all things without murmurings or disputings" Philippians 2:14

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.." Philippians 4:6-7
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
I am currently reading a book entitled “Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way”. I heard it referred to on The Splendid Table podcast . The author was being interviewed about any correlation between diet and happiness. This intrigued me, so I requested a copy of this book through interlibrary loan. I was expecting it to be a bit more scholarly in it’s approach. More then a research report, it is written in the popular “self-help” style familiar in today's American culture. I was not looking for an answer to the plaguing question, “How can I be happier?” I am unsure that this is a question that a follower of Christ should even be asking. Still, I was curious to know what type of research went into this project, and what conclusions popular science had come to.
I have only just begun the book, but am compelled by this concept of happiness. I have always believed that followers of Christ should be the happiest of people. No, I thought that they should be joyful. When I think of happy people I picture a party with people joking, laughing, sharing pleasant company. When I think of joy, I imagine a solitary person reflecting on truth, or a couple seeing the world through the eyes of their young child. Joy is a state of being. Happiness is an emotion.
Of course I could be wrong and the two may be synonymous. Yet joy and peace seem connected in a way that happiness does not.
"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:11
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
Maybe the peace that the "world giveth" is what the scientists are referring to as happiness. It is based in situation and circumstance. Someone may perceive themselves as content, happy, peaceful and full of joy, but “Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom." Proverbs 15:21
I am reminded of the women at the well and Jesus’ promise of living water. Never thirsting again…is he referring to true peace and contentment? Out of these would surely flow thankfulness. And in it’s wake joy would remain.
As American’s we grow up believing that we are capable of greatness and should strive for it. We should go to the moon, cure cancer, make a million, be famous, leave our mark on society… In contrast I find my heart crying out, "As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” Psalm 40:17
Some are surely called on to do mighty acts, but for most of us this standard of greatness leaves us discontent with our accomplishments and lifestyles. Freedom is a huge responsibility. Unlike societies where our place is determined by the rulers or government, most of us have chosen this life. Some of our choices have been active whereas others came to us by default through our inaction, laziness, or poor judgment. Because of this things that are out of our control can get confused and mislabeled. Ceasing to strive for more can feel like we are giving up. We have trouble being content because it can seem complacent, even lazy.
If we live a life of godliness and contentment we may experience less worldly success then if we were striving for it. If we give thanks for what we have, we will probably have less desire to acquire more. Discontent can be a great motivator, but it comes at great cost. It robs us of a gift from our Lord, his peace.
If I am seeking a simpler life I need to be cultivating an attitude of contentment and joy. I will only find this like the women at the well did two thousand years ago. I will find it by listening to the voice of Jesus.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A simple life?

I recently picked up a used book entitled “ A Women’s Guide to a Simpler Life” by Andrea Van Steenhouse. A lot of the thoughts and ideas that the author touches on really resonate with me. I found myself feeling confirmed in choices that I had been making for my own life. My heart was resonating with what she was saying as truth. Feelings however can be deceptive and I should be weighing this book in the scales of scripture not emotion.

These guidelines for a simpler life are either based on godly principles or worldly ones. This then leads me to question my deeper presupposition, that a simple life is pleasing to the Lord. What if I am wrong and my search for simplicity is a selfish one? I have always held it to be virtuous to strive for simplicity. Now I am left wondering…

Thursday, March 31, 2011


It is rarely quiet here. Unfortunatly it is often my own voice I hear, repremanding, becoming impatient, yelling when the children come to me arguing. Right now we have 8 people living in our 2 bedroom house. It is going to be noisy. Yet I yearn for the quiet life, time when I can think, time to be creative, time to reflect. I lived a life full of quiet until I had children. Then into my life they came with all their laughing, yelling, whining, bickering, singing, stomping, crying and complaining. I want it this way, but I need to do it better. I need to foster an environment of contentment, of internal quiet.

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning...but the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." 1 Peter 3:3-4

It was quiet here when I started writing. It was the deep quiet of nap time; sleeping baby, sleeping 3 year old, sleeping 4 year old. My 5 and 7 year old were peacefully doing their own activities. It was quiet.
Now they are all awake. I want to bring that quietness in. I will water it with my own spirit of contentment. I will shine upon it with the light of a thankful smile. I will surrender my will to that of my Heavenly Father who says "Peace,be still" (Mark 4:39).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

100 things

I have a dear friend who is attempting an almost impossible task in our possession obsessed society; to have only 100 personal items. She is taking her time but that is her goal. Only 100 personal items includes toiletries, shoes, clothes, nick-knacks, etc. It does not included family heirlooms, tool for work, food items, kitchen tools, or transportation. Her question has been "Does this thing serve me, or do I serve it?"
I plan on applying this code of thought to laundry right now. I will let you know how it goes.
OK, I forgot we still have to do school. I guess I'll have to start after lunch.
Do you think sorting laundry counts as schooling?
Just joking.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cutting out Writing

So in an attempt to simplify my life, writing got the axe. Maybe not the best choice, but if you saw my house right now after a few hours of writing, you would understand my choice. I struggle for balance and peace between housework and personal endevors. Writing is so much more valuable to me then sorting and folding laundry, but my husband needs clean socks for work (not to mention underpants). I have added a regular yoga practice to my routine and getting out of the house a few times a week and exersizing has helped my patience and clarity of mind. I wish I could say it had done a viable job of improving my figure but I have been eating to beat the band.