You haven’t heard from me through the holidays because the holidays killed me. For two months, I felt buried in a pile of, “What’s going on?”
My calendar was LIT UP with appointments and concerts and all manner of comings and goings. I was rushed and tired and sick.
I haven’t had a holiday season like that in six years. I remember how bad it was six years ago, and how I came out of that holiday season with blood on my lip and courage beating in my chest.
I raised my banner, “NEVER AGAIN” with determination, and we kept to it. The years that followed were beautiful, and we really were able to enjoy the holidays -the sights, smells, tastes!
So what happened this year?
I’m not sure I know yet. I’m still head-scratching and trying to recover. The fact that I’m exhaling and reveling in a house without holiday decor is disturbing to me… because I usually feel sad taking them down.

Most of all: I feel a sense of homesickness for the holidays, as if I missed them. To be honest, I really believe I did miss them.
I physically was there and lived through them, but I MISSED THEM because I wasn’t really there.

I exited the holidays feeling sapped and the attitude of “not enough” ruled the day.
Not enough time.
Not enough money.
Not enough space.
Not enough sleep.
Not enough health.

As I began to renew my relationship with God which had been strained at best during the holidays, I felt Him reaching back and telling me to focus on contentment, especially with my house. The message was so strong that I knew better than to mess around. Contentment goes in all directions, but today I’m going to talk about the cash and house end of things.

The house I live in isn’t mine, right? I’ve always said that. I’m renting, I’ve always rented. As I renter, my homes have always been treated as a temporary arrangement.
“If it was mine, I would…,” I say, “But it isn’t, so why bother?”
Well, God told me to stop that.

It doesn’t change the fact that the house isn’t mine, not on paper. But the time for me to start treating my four walls like they really do belong to our family is NOW.

So I’ve strapped on a new attitude, and the house is already feeling much more included.
I haven’t taken to tearing into my house, not at all. I’ve only taken to talking to God about, “what now?”

His answers are low and slow, probably because I need low and slow right now. I picked up counted cross stitch again and stitched a pretty little heart to put on the wall. In a few weeks, I’ll switch it out for a pretty little clover, and a few weeks after THAT, I’ll switch it out for a pretty little Easter Egg, and so that little spot in the house is more OURS because it carries my touch, flawed as it is.

I read Little Women for the first time since High School, and the level of contentment that book carries is overwhelming. I was inspired everyday as I turned the pages over and read of their creativity and happiness and sadness and family connection.
What’s more? The more I read in a GOOD BOOK filled with solid words and ideas, the less satisfaction I found with junk TV to fill my time. That fact alone improved the air in my house, I think.

Instead of abusing my car because it’s legally old enough to drink, I’ve decided I can just learn to love it for it’s quirks and broken parts. Instead of rebelling because I can’t lock it with a button or distract my kids with a movie so they’ll quit touching each other, breathing on each other and fighting, I can take better care of it so the small space the kids are confined to is at least somewhat welcoming.
I’m trying this new thing I learned from The March Family called, “playing together.”
This means connecting and doing mad libs, reading books together while we ramble down the highway to the nearest bulk warehouse.
Danny and I usually love the drives because in days gone by, the kids would nod off and we could visit about grown up stuff like what we’d do with a million dollars or tempt each other to stop off at the casino to try our empty pockets at the penny slots.
But the kids don’t nod off now, and we’re transitioning into the place of parenthood where you can’t jest about penny slots without someone shorter than you asking questions about your moral character -and TRUST ME -after riding in a 21 year old Jeep for an hour with three short people, I am too tired to defend my morality with appropriate zeal.
So we work on playing with the kids and embracing the opportunity to be so physically close together without the option of escape.
It’s harder and better than it sounds.

During my Quest for Contentment, I was given a couple of hours with my Granny who unveiled to me her years as a single mother in a two-story house that was not only old enough to drink… but actually housed Mormon pioneers who shared a few home brews until the Word of Wisdom leaked down and their supplier (read: one of their wives) quit brewing.
Granny lived there. The old, creaky house kept her and more kids than you can count on one hand. She talked about character and things they went without.
She said these sacred words to me, “Going through it was really hard. It was SO hard. I looked around at other couples, the trips they took and the cars they drove… and I wondered WHY. Why couldn’t I have those things instead of worrying about how I was going to get the next meal on the table? But looking back, I’m so glad. I’m so grateful. Those days taught me so many things, and the kids and I really came together. We built a lot of character. Money can’t buy that. Now I can see that God gave me not what I wanted, but what I NEEDED because He loves me, and He is compassionate. That has sustained me through lots of hard times… knowing that God always gives me what I need, even if I don’t know what it is yet.”

God always gives me what I need.

I walked away from our time spent together feeling inspired and pushed farther along in my quest.

As I’ve worked the 12-step program, I’ve come pretty honestly face to face with myself in a moral mirror that has the potential to be peace-giving but often feels SO UNCOMFORTABLE.
I see my vanity and pride, my ego and my selfishness. God wants me to be as a child, but I find I’m more childish than child-like.
The blessing behind it all is that I’m realizing The Problem in most situations is myself and that’s awesome because MYSELF is the only person I have any control over.
So it’s bittersweet, I guess.
But after time spent with my grandma and time spent with The March Family and time spent looking in the mirror of truth, I was hit with a very sincere TERROR of money.

I realized that when it comes right down to it, I would be a lousy rich person.
Not snobby, exactly.
But knowing me as I do now, I know that I’d turn to money instead of God and I would never, never be content.


I would chose not to access humility, I know I would, because with money I could do all sorts of things motivated by ego.
I’m not talking about tropical vacations. I’m talking about donating so much money to charities that they would herald me as The Queen.
I would work really hard to look really good morally all the while holding hostage my motivation:

That realization was comforting, and I have to say that I now earnestly live in fright of monetary fortune. I don’t trust myself to stay true to myself with it.
Maybe later, when I’m as sage as my Granny.

But for now, I’ll raise a glass of milk to my car and drink deep the dregs of contentment.
Something tells me this quest will be life-long.

{As part of seeking contentment, I took a leaf out of our dining table. I’m trying a downsizing experiment that I’m hoping will open up a little space in our living area and also discourage people from leaving their junk lying about. So far, it’s working. But so far, the only junk-leaver has been Me… }

Speak Your Mind