Thursday, August 29, 2013

...but how can I be content?

Everything in our lives threatens our ability to be content. We daily pour our time, emotions, and talents into this quest for contentment. But what is the true meaning of contentment, and how do we get there?

The state of contentment is simply the state of satisfaction. Too often we set out on the never-ending cycle of waiting for happiness and a feeling that's better than what we already have. You get a nicer house and immediately start looking at how nice your neighbors’ houses are, or the faults in the house you have.

Even the most basic steps in life of growing older are a set up for always wanting the next best thing. As a young teen nears the end of grade-school, they can’t wait for the new excitement of high-school... only to find that as their time there comes to a close, they want to leave the house or go off to college.  And it does not stop there. Whether they wish to jump into the chosen line of work, or yearn to build a family- each step of life leads us to think that we’re not quite there yet (at happiness).

Social media may be great for keeping in touch, but I’m sure the devil laughs at how easy we have made it to bring jealousy of others upon ourselves. Hollywood, commercials, and general media has unleashed a barrage of all the things that we COULD have or COULD be.

Other than cutting ourselves off from today’s accepted world, how do combat all the temptations of greed thrown our way? Is it wrong to want something new, or strive to be something better? I don’t think it is, however the thought process from one point to another is the true key to contentment. You can read about contentment and the thought process from great writers of every century, but everything we need to know is in the Bible.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
- God has a plan for us. He gives us a road map to life, outlined in His Word. This alone should bring us peace, simply knowing that God knows where we are, and it’s part of His plan.

Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your thoughts.
- If we first take all of our focus and energy and turn it to our amazing God, then we can know that we are not alone on our journey to contentment, but that He is there holding our hand along the way.

 Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious and worried, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But FIRST seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.

-It is in our natural sinful nature to worry about our needs. Know that God sees our needs, and as our loving Father will make sure we are taken care of. He takes this worry away and offers peace and provision for us, His children. When we set out to learn all we can about our Father and His will, we can rest with the knowledge that our Fathers perfect love would never see His children harmed.

Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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 all this through Him who gives me strength.

- Paul speaks of his own journey to contentment. No matter what his current place in life, he realized that it is solely through God that he has the strength to be happy and continue on.

 Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.

- Too often Christians site this passage in an attempt to ease their guilt of wanting more. I believe the true meaning of this passage, in order to calm and assure us is this: When you ask God for something, what are you really asking for?  i.e. A new car, is really a request for transportation. A new house, a request for shelter or space or even a better position in society. After examining our lives and possessions we will often find that God has not only provided us with our needs, but in most cases has gone above and beyond to include countless blessings. He has never-ending wisdom to know what we need, and what we don't need.

Even though the Bible has given us the outline for a content life, we stumble into the greed and jealousy that is all around us. We look at our situation and we say “This sucks.” It’s times like these that we need to look with an open mind at the problem. When our focus is on God, we can better see that we have so many blessings that the world views as human rights.  The world pushes the agenda that we are all equal and therefore all deserve the same things. The world is only right when you realize that we are all equally sinners, deserving of nothing but death, and knowing this we can see that anything above death and eternal punishment is a blessing from God.

With so many blessings from such a wonderful God, we should strive daily to know Him better and to use the talents and gifts He has given in such ways to bring Him glory and thanks for all He has provided. When your life goal is to give praise and thanks to God, contentment for all you have will fall into place.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Creating a Snack Station

        Eating is such a routine and natural thing... so why is it that I get so irritated when the kids ask for snacks? Anyone who has spent time with my children, know that Piper's favorite word is "' 'nack". It seems each time they beg for food our minds go into overload with all the questions:
-What do we have?  -Is that even good for them?  -Do we have anything?  -Didn't they just eat?  -Is there enough for everyone?  -Didn't I just buy a bunch of snacks?

    The general problem is not knowing what you have on hand. (Seems to be the problem with dinner too!!) Then when you think of something, you offer it and get turned up noses. I only have two kids (and a third that seems to live here), but I decided that I'd come up with a snack station to rid me of all this irritation. So here you go.

This is what my snack stations looks like: dry and cold


What you need:
snack size ziplocks
big container(s) or baskets to store pre-bagged snacks
  -I got mine at the dollar store.
small containers for things that won't work in bags
...and lots of snacks!

     I opened my cupboards and took out anything considered "snack worthy". I made up a batch of jello, added my own canned pears, and poured into 1/2c. containers. Then I mixed up some of the things into trail mix like concoctions. What you choose to use for snacks will obviously depend on your kids likes, and your health/allergy preferences. The amount of snacks you have ready will vary as well. How often will you be able to replenish the snack bins? How many kids and snacks do you hand out in a day?

     I might have gone a little overboard to start mine up, but I didn't want to have to add a lot right after starting this whole idea. I figure each time I go shopping I'll have a couple new things to portion and add. I DO have a bigger bin with extra portions made up of certain things, that didn't fit into the bins e.g. one bag of popped popcorn gave me nine portioned bags. If you think it might take a while to go through your snack supply, it might be a good idea to date some items. I decided to make a few "healthy" options that stay in the fridge, and I have dates on those.

     Once you have the snacks bagged up, you'll want to come up with a system (at least something basic). For my youngest, I have set times for her to have snack. She gets to pick ONE bag, but from the bin that I choose. After school, each kid gets to choose ONE snack, usually from all the choices. When the bag is gone, snack is done. I think it's important to teach our kids that a snack is not meant to "fill you up". It's simply nutrition to keep you going until the next meal.

     I thought I'd also mention that when it come to drinks in our house, I have some basic guidelines that make things easier (for me AND the kids). We have milk with breakfast and lunch, and juice with dinner. Any other time we have water, and everyone has their own water bottle. -I'm not washing 25 cups a day. ...and if you look in the picture, I found these nifty water bottles that have snack cups that attach to the bottom of the water bottle!! We haven't left a snack cup outside yet, and with color coded bottles/cups, they are better about reusing the cups. Anything making less dishes for Mom is a win in this house.

    Here's some ideas to start your mommy gears turning:
Salty: Chips, Tortilla Chips, Crackers, Pretzels, Goldfish
Sweet: Graham Crackers, Animal Crackers, Cereals, Dried Fruit
Frozen Yogurt Tubes, Sliced Apples (spray with sprite to keep from browning), Cherry Tomatoes, Pepperoni, Cheese, Jello, Canned Fruits, Carrots, Celery, Olives, Cubed Ham
Trail Mix Ideas: 
-Cheerios, Peanuts, Raisins, Craisins
-Goldfish, Corn Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts

     Now gather your snacks that you know are hiding in your cupboards, and get it together! Help us out with any other good snack ideas I missed.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Decluttering the Closet

     I'm getting the spring cleaning bug, and wanted to start some bigger projects. Today I decided I would declutter my closet. With full intentions of going through every single peice of clothing in our house (before my birthday in Sep.) I figured, why not start in my own closet. I set up my space with a bag "To Donate", a bag for "Trash", a box "To Sell", and a box "Mom's- Doesn't Fit". The last box I am only allowing myself because I am in the middle of losing the last final pounds from having my 2 wonderful kids, so I figured I can hold on to a couple things that don't quite fit me yet.

     Normally this would have been done with loud girly pop music blaring, but Piper was occupied watching TV, and my music would have called her intention in to bug me. I set my timer for 45 minutes (I knew I'd have to speed through in order not to dawdle on decisions). I went through everything that was hanging. Then  I went through socks and tossed the warn out ones. Our MOPS group is donating gently used bras, so I got rid of a bunch of those too. I even went through the underwear drawer and tossed a TON of those (and many, many thongs from my high school days)!

     I'm pretty happy with my final results. Now I just have to stay motivated to tackle Mike and the girl's closets as well. How about you? When was the last time you went through your closet??

Monday, March 4, 2013

Trust: Earning and Rebuilding

    Trust is a funny thing. It’s probably the thing most taken for granted by people, especially in today’s society, with information so easily at our fingertips. Some feel that trust should be earned before it is given at all, but the problem with that thought is that it is SO hard to earn in the first place.

    You can probably think of more than one time that a person has lost your trust, but thinking of times when someone has earned it is much more difficult. Trust is generally earned over a long period of time with consistent results and obvious actions on their intentions. In an ongoing relationship, like a marriage, this can be difficult because day to day life is on auto-pilot. Your spouse consistently provides the same results (earning a paycheck, doing the dishes) without you even realizing it. When it comes to intentions, it’s a matter of communication. A lack of good communication in any relationship can mean a gradual breaking down of trust. And we all know how a single simple event can completely break down trust in one swoop.

    So how do you earn/gain trust? Proper communication on a daily basis is key to rebuilding trust. Since trust in relationships is a two-way street, both parties need to be working at it. It doesn’t matter how hard you are trying to earn trust, if the other person involved isn’t actively trying to trust you. Communicate! Don’t break your word, and don’t intentionally lie. Don’t assume things either. Talk about everything till your blue in the face. Being obviously open, shows the other party that you are actively trying to have good intentions with common expectations. It’s a daily task that is well worth the effort.

    Take your steps toward rebuilding trust today and everyday by communicating your intentions and making sure that you both have the same expectations. And when you hit a bump in the road, communicate some more, ask for forgiveness, and be willing to start over again. Any real relationship is worth the work- from both sides of the relationship.