Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Contentment's Not My Virtue, Either...

Remember when I told you I sucked at being patient? Well, news flash for ya'...I'm not too good at being content, either. For various circumstances, situations, and dilemmas I have currently found myself in, this too is a lesson that I apparently have not yet learned.

I have always been a "shoot-for-the-moon-and-if-you-fail-you'll-still-end-up-a-star" kind of person. (By the way, whoever came up with that quote should have put a disclaimer behind saying that should not apply to people who are already over-achievers because it will just create anxiety and chest pain...and discontentment.) I guess I'm also one who has the ability to think that the grass may just possibly be greener on the other side. (And no, Ben, I'm not talking about you.) Honestly, it's not a very fun way to live life most of the time.

I was folding clothes in our room a few days ago while Grant was doing one of his favorite things...pulling every book, journal, and magazine out of one of our nightstands and scattering them across the floor. He had pulled out an old journal of mine and it sat plopped open to September 20, 2006. I read it...and laughed. We had recently moved to Wichita Falls from Lubbock, Ben was working, waiting for his Bar results, and I had a job lead but no job. I pretty much sat around our apartment, took a potted mum outside every afternoon so it could get it's daily dose of sunlight, and waited for Ben to come home. So, my journal entry read:

"How I wish the Lord would have given me the gift of patience. It is so difficult for me to come to grips with the fact that "my plans" are not always "His plans."...I am struggling with finding contentment in where I'm at. I want to find a job. I want to find friends...but it all seems to be taking a while...Lord, please help me find peace in the place you have called us to. Help me enjoy a break from work...give me rest in You. Fill my heart with your love and faith and take me wherever You want me to go..."

Ha....well, I still suck at being content.

Some of the things I struggle with? I'd LOVE to work one day a week instead of two. (Seriously?! How many people would DIE to work two days a week?) We need more storage space in our house, therefore we have a long to-do list of building shelves and built-ins. Our bank accounts. My weight. (Which, p.s. I now weigh what I did before I became pregnant...but now, there's just these extra 10-15 pounds I'd love to lose...) The Texas heat. (Yes, it has been hot. Not sure what me complaining is going to do about it.) The dog hair all over the house. There are numerous woulda-been's, coulda-been's, and should-been's that cross into my life on a daily basis that I don't always handle well.

Paul, the master of contentment, said in 1 Corinthians 7:17, "Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him." And in a letter to the church in Phillipi, he said "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plently. 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." (Phillipians 4:11-13)

If I'm being honest, a lot of times I read these verses and get really annoyed. PAUL - IT'S NOT THAT EASY!!! Once discontented, always discontented. And then sometimes I think...Oh wait, maybe there's something to what he's saying. If Paul found contentment while being beaten, abused, as an outcast, and in prison, maybe it is possible for me to find contentment in this life. 

And that journal entry I read...here's an update. Those things I struggled with were given answers. Ben passed the Bar the first time around and got his results that November. I got a job (the one I had the lead on) and started that November. We found friends. AMAZING friends. We bought a house the following January and LOVE it. And my mum died. (The plant, that is.) If I would have been a little more content, I probably would have LOVED hanging out, reading, brushing up on my cooking skills, and enjoying some time to relax rather than do some of that and then just sit around, waiting for the fence gate to open so I could head into greener pastures. And isn't it funny...I found another slew of things to be discontented with...again!

So, in case you're struggling with contentment and get a little tight in the chest with anxiety like I do, please know that you're not the only one. If you're frustrated with your job, if your marriage is stale, if your bank account is not growing or even shrinking, if you feel like you've been "relegated" to being "just a mom" now, if your house is too small, or your butt's too big, if your husband is apathetic and now you are too...hang in there. I don't have the answers. However, I do know that He does. And He cares. And He really wants me to let Him teach me how to be content. So...let's stop and smell the roses. Let's enjoy the gifts that we have been given and the fact that we are alive to enjoy them. I mean...really try to enjoy them.

I think that when dealing with discontentment, our mind set shouldn't be, "This too shall pass." No...I think it should be, "This is where I'm supposed to be right now. And this, whatever this is, there is good in this." I'm not saying it's easy though. Hence the EXACT same struggles written about 5 years ago.

But I guess if Paul...the guy who used to be called Saul and HATED Jesus and everything that had to do with Him, learned how to be content while beaten and in chains, I bet there is still a possibility that we can find contentment, too. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Here Comes the Bride

P.S. This is a deep one. Bear with me :)

This weekend, we got to celebrate the marriage of Ben's little brother Matt and his new wife Jacklyn in Fort Worth. It was beautiful. They have a funky, vintage style that was mirrored in her dress, the reception, the cake...super cool. Plus, one of the groomsmen was pretty hot...and they had the cutest ring bearer who started walking the day before the wedding...and not too shabby of a wedding singer/reception decorator either. Quite the family affair. But oh-so-lovely.

So, I'm sitting back behind the piano during the wedding which I think happened to be the best seat in the house (minus the pastor's standpoint). I got see both Matt and Jacklyn's faces during the entire ceremony. I love raw emotion.

I'm a female, so naturally, I'm a fan of weddings. The romantic love is unlike any other. The anticipation of the doors swinging open with the bride, smiling ear to ear, making the longest walk of her life down the aisle to finally be with her groom. Watching the groom's face. The awestruck look they have as he is staring at his beauty in white...the girl he gets to spend the rest of their life with. It's beautiful, romantic, breathtaking, intimate...

And I used to watch weddings, gushing over the love between a man and woman. Totally appropriate. But the closer my walk becomes with the Lord, the more I love weddings and love the symbolism behind them. Yes, the earthly love he gives us the capability to experience in a spouse is an amazing gift. One I would desperately long for if I didn't have and one I can't imagine life without.

But our weddings here on earth are images of one day we as believers in Christ will get to experience again. We are the "Bride of Christ" waiting for our Bridegroom. (Rev. 21:9-10) To be united in a perfect union. A perfect, pure relationship.

So, as I watched Matt's face as he was anticipating holding Jacklyn's hand to help her walk up the steps in the chapel where they became husband and wife, I imagined the joy on my Savior's face as I (and we as His children) are being made His Bride. What a sweet picture.

I've decided that weddings make my cup "overfloweth." Therefore...Jesus is going to have to give me a much bigger cup once I get to Heaven.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Do you know how good it feels to be home? Of course, minus the 115 degree heat that we're having in Texas. (Really...right now I'd like to have a word or two with the original ancestor of the Lewis and Hoover families who decided to stop and settle in Texas. What were they thinking?!)

So, this past month has been fantastic...and super busy. The three of us spent 6 days in Michigan visiting my mom's side of the family at the lake. Phenomenal time! We drove there overnight...which is the ONLY way to go when you have a kid who will actually sleep in his car seat. Catching up with family you only get to see once or twice a year is PRICELESS.

After Michigan, we drove back, both worked about a week, took Grant to Ben's parents house (both the grandparents had G-man for a couple of days), and took a lover's trip to San Francisco for five days and four nights. Amazing. I'll probably post about that trip again to give more details (a couple of you have asked about things to do while there because you're planning a trip soon). But there's just so much catching up to do!!! It took a little while to unwind once we got there. After walking around, getting our bearings the first day for a couple of hours, we finally got to our hotel and decided to take a nap since we had gotten up at 3 a.m. the morning to head to DFW airport. As we're walking into the hotel room, my first thought was, "Oh my gosh...I need to pump!" Hallelujah, I was wrong. No more pumping! Then, we laid down for a nap and when I'm about 5 seconds from falling asleep, I hear a car honking outside our hotel window, jump up, and think, "Oh no...Scout got out of the backyard." So obviously, it took about a day from me to unwind from "Mom Mode" but once I got there...I definitely got there. Everyone asked when we got back..."Did you miss Grant? I bet you couldn't wait to see him!" Of course I missed him, and love him, and was excited to give him a hug and a kiss...but when people asked, I just sort of smirked and said yes because man...was it nice to just be ME for a bit. The trip was reminiscent of our dating days when we ate whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Dressed up to go out. Went to a 10:30pm movie (and that's PST, too). Livin' on the edge.

So after 5 days of zero responsibility, we picked up Grant from my parents' house, picked up Scout (our lab) from Ben's parents' house, and headed back to the scorching heat of Wichita Falls. (Forgot to mention that the high in SF/Monterey hit a balmy 62 degrees one day.)

I had a couple of days off before working 4 out of 5 nights (then I'm off for 9 days). It was spent detoxing Grant...who had decided that he should always be carried around and hitting people in the face was okay. It was also spent taking Scout to the vet twice...who has terrible allergies that flared up from eating other dogs' food and being outside at the farm. She broke out with massive dried skin patches which became infected from being wet in the pond all week at the farm. Now that she has her neck shaved, got a steroid shot the vet says he only give to 8-12 dogs annually, on Benadryl twice a day for the rest of her life, on 2 antibiotics, and a hypoallergenic diet...she's started to act like her normal, energetic self. (And p.s. we also discovered that Grant is allergic to wheat.)

So...was it good to get away for half of the month of July? Oh my gosh...yes. We refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed (and cooled down). But was it good to get back home after some R&R? Oh my gosh...yes.

Now that the kiddos are starting to heal and hit less, I feel like life is becoming a little more "normal." Sometimes, I think trips make you remember what you love about home, too. Man...it's good to be back.