Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Journey to Contentment - Part 3

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God
that at the proper time He may exalt you,
casting all your anxieties upon Him,
because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

Offering a Humble Heart Before God

This point takes us further along Linda Dillow's book to the chapter called "Worry is like a Rocking Chair". (I didn't go in order of chapters for my acrostic) She hits the nail right on the head with that title! Worrying "will give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere"! That's so true.

There are certain things that never really worry me. I know God will provide financially. I never worry about not having clothes on my back or a roof over my head. God has placed so many wonderful people in our lives that always seem to be right there when you need them. We have seen God work in these ways over and over again.

But then again, there are other things that can sometimes really get to me. When I first started reading this chapter, it was miscarriage. 

When I found out that we were expecting again I was *delighted!* So happy and excited. So thankful that God would give us another child! And then the sickness began and my spirits began to sink. (I found with both of my pregnancies that this was a very low time for me.) And then worry hit me like a dark cloud. Every time I thought of being pregnant I felt discouraged and afraid. I couldn't fulfill my daily tasks. Even doing laundry and cooking for my family was really hard! 

The reading in the chapter started to make me think about and wonder why I was so fearful and angry. I realized that it was because I knew that it wasn't just the wicked who lost their babies. It was the children of God too. I started thinking of other things that worried me like rape, murder, car accidents, etc. God allows these things to happen to His children!! I heard about a missionary whose orphanage was broken in to. Her husband was killed, she was raped! God why would you allow that!? They were serving you in a foreign land, sacrificing comforts for your name's sake and you would let this happen? I was angry! If I wouldn't let things like that happen to my children, then why would God let them happen to His?

And then I read "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God". Let me quote from Dillow. She says it well.
"Many of us have memorized 1 Peter 5:7 and tucked it away to be pulled out whenever we have a problem. Too often, though, in applying the wonderful part about "casting all your cares" we forget the first part about "humbling ourselves under the sovereign, mighty hand of God." Not only are the two verses one thought, they are one sentence! They must be read together and applied together. 
What does it mean to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God? Humility means to have total trust in God alone. It is the surrender of our total being -- intellect, emotion, will, plans, and judgments. It is relinquishing everything. For me, humbling myself involves yielding to God as the Blessed Controller of whatever situation or person is causing me anxiety."
 Somewhere along the line, I made a mistake about God's character. He is the Blessed Controller. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. His ways are higher than my ways (Is. 55:9). He can see the whole of creation from beginning to end whereas I can only see one little tiny part. God doesn't just forget about us little specks of dust on this earth (although he has every right to!). He hasn't just forgotten the Moms and Dads who have gone through the terrible loss of a baby. He hasn't just forgotten about that missionary. He has planned everything for a purpose, for His Glory, for our good.

And even though I will never understand it this side of heaven, I just know that I need to humble my heart and trust Him, for he cares for me.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Journey to Contentment - Part 2C

This will be my final post on the topic of "Considering the Cup/Portion that God has given you". To see the previous part click here.

I began in part 2 speaking about how God has given everyone a beautiful and unique cup. Even Jesus Christ had a cup while he was on this earth. Luke 22:42 shows us our dear Lord and Saviour in Prayer before his Father. He knew the cup that the Father had given him. To die on the cross for the sins of His people. And so he prayed, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me." This cup was a very difficult one to bear! We certainly can't blame Him for asking this of His Father. But what he says next shows the ultimate example of submission and for our purposes, contentment. "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done."

Dillow points out that what Christ was essentially doing was taking His cup and holding it up to the Father and saying "I accept this cup Father. I know it will be difficult and painful to bear, but I know that Your will and Your plans are perfect and I will follow them for Your glory!"

Is that what I was doing with the cup that God had given me? With the portion of Motherhood? Unfortunately, No. I took a sip of my portion and I spat it out! I took my cup and I smashed it! I didn't want it. Take the cup, God! I'll go find my own cup. Meanwhile, I would be miserable and discontented.

I prayed and asked for the Lord to forgive me for not accepting the cup and portion that He had given to me. I realized that I wasn't thinking about His Glory. I was thinking about my own. I was thinking about my own comforts and pleasures. I was being selfish. 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Thank you Lord for that!

The lesson wasn't over though. The Lord still needed to show me in a way that I would never forget! That very same evening I went into my pumpkin's room to check on her and I found her laying perfectly still with her eyes wide open. I stood there for what seemed like hours waiting for her to move or breathe or cry or anything that would tell me that she was still alive! As I waited there I cried out to God in my mind, "I just  learned to accept this cup today and you are going to take it away from me!" Just then, she closed her eyes and turned her head. She was alive!

I left the room very shaken up. My legs were weak, my heart was pounding, I started crying and had to sit down. It was like a slap in the face - one that I deserved!

Of course this scenario of going into the room and wondering if she was still alive had happened many times before and many times since. I'm sure every parent knows of it! But this time, God really seemed to draw out those few seconds!

After this, I wrote in my journal:
I needed that Lord. Thank You. Both for your justice and your mercy. I am learning to accept this cup and portion that you have given! Help me with this! So that I may bring glory and honour to you.
 I am still learning. And God is still helping me. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Journey to Contentment - Part 2 B

Hello again everyone!

I do want to send out a warm welcome to those visiting from The Growing Stam Family!
For those of you just joining, this is a series that I recently started about contentment. You can find the introductory post here.

Part 2 was getting a bit long so I thought I would split it up into two days! (I had a lot of other work to get done yesterday!) To read the first part click here.

So I left off yesterday with the knowledge that I was definitely *not* content, but yet I couldn't figure out why! I did an exercise from Linda Dillow's book Calm My Anxious Heart to see if I was focusing on the negatives too much, but the problem was that I couldn't even think of any negatives! So why was I not content!?!

I was puzzled over this for a long time. To give you some history, my little girl was probably around 4 or 5 months old at this time and we had already been through some struggles. Breastfeeding was really difficult, painful, and uncomfortable for the first 5 weeks and after that I still struggled with milk supply. And she was not a very happy baby! I don't know for sure if it was colic, hunger (from my seemingly 1% milk), Or if it was just because her Mama wasn't happy! But either way, it was difficult for me to deal with. And I struggled a lot. I knew that I was supposed to be enjoying these days with my newborn/young infant, (That's what everybody says!) but I sure was having a hard time doing that!

One day while at a church event the reason for my discontentment came to a head. It was a picnic. It was sunny and warm and everyone was happy and enjoying themselves, eating their food, going swimming, playing games. Everyone, that is, except for me! I had a baby on my lap trying to shove food into my face as fast as possible before she started crying...again! Then I was inside feeding her under a hot breastfeeding cover, and then when I was hoping she would go to sleep....nope! Wide awake. And not willing to go to anyone else! I felt so angry on the inside but just tried to smile and not let anyone know my heart. Because that would make me weak and I did not want that, of course!

When my husband and I had a chance to talk alone I just blurted it all out! I said it all!
"I am not enjoying myself. I never get to enjoy myself anymore. I am always looking after the baby and not doing anything else fun. I hate being a mom! I don't know why I ever wanted to be one in the first place!"

You know how sometimes you are thinking something for so long that it just begins to seem OK, but when you actually say it out loud - hear it with your own ears in the presence of someone else - you realize just how sinful you are. (A lot of my sinful thinking has been exposed in this way since I got married!)

Peter just looked at me with shock and neither of us said another word for a little while. He didn't need to say anything because at that moment I realized crystal clear where my discontentment came from...

Wow, this story is much longer than I thought it would be! This was a pretty significant moment in my life, So I suppose that is why!
To be Continued...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Journey to Contentement - Part 2

Today I am going to share with you the first major step on my journey to contentment. If you missed my introduction to this series, be sure to read it here.

Considering the Cup/Portion that God has Given You

 Last week I asked you to join me back here today with a cup of coffee or tea. That was partly because there is just something nice about having a warm drink in your hand as you sit down to read or have a chat with a friend, but that wasn't my only reason. In the first chapter of Linda Dillow's book Calm My Anxious Heart, she sets forth a very useful and eye-opening analogy - "The Teacup Analogy". 

Take a look at your cup. What does it look like? Is it a dainty and fragile tea cup? Or is it a strong earthenware mug that's been dropped a million times but yet has never broken? What size is it? How does your cup compare with your personality? Maybe you're holding the strong and sturdy mug, but feeling more like the fragile one! Either way, it is God who has assigned you with that special and unique cup. He did this at the very beginning of your life - "For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother's womb" Psalm 139: 13.
Now think about what is in your cup. God has given that too! This is your portion. It includes your "physical and emotional being, [your] abilities, circumstances, roles, and relationships". All of these things have been assigned by God to you because that is what he sees as best.

The cup I have today is a pretty cup that I received from my Secret Sister at the Mom's group I attend. It has the word "March" (my birth month) in golden letters and a beautiful image of Lily of the Valley. I like the cup. And I like what is in it (Coffee!). And I can look at my life right now and think the same thing, but that wasn't always the way I felt!

When I found out I was pregnant with our first I was, of course, ecstatic, overjoyed, delighted, etc! I couldn't wait to be a mom and have a little baby and it was going to be so wonderful and joyful. Everyday I would wake up with a new-found purpose -- because I would be a Mom! I'm sure most new mothers can attest to this feeling. I think it mostly happens, though, if you haven't been around newborns that much prior to having one yourself!

When we met our little pumpkin for the first time, it was a joyful occasion! I still remember the shock that I felt that there was actually a baby inside me all that time. I guess it never really clued in before! She opened her eyes and looked up at me. Wow. You can't get any more amazing than that!

There was an exercise in the book where you had to make a list of all of the positives and negatives in your life and then decide which list you focused on more. If you focus on the negative list, well then that's why you are discontented. I did this exercise and I couldn't really think of any negatives! I saw so many wonderful things! I thought to myself, 'Well, I should be content. Look at all of the blessings! I have a husband, house, and baby. We have food to eat, clothes to where! How can I complain about anything?' But yet, I didn't feel that way *at all*! I was puzzled by this for a long time. I knew that I wasn't content. That was very clear. But I just couldn't figure out why! 


To be continued!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Journey to Contentment

I have been meaning for a long time to begin a series about contentment. Not that this is an area that I have excelled in (despite my blog name!) but rather, I strive toward it and in faith say that I am a Contented Mama!

Our church has a Ladies fellowship group that meets once per month. I have found this to be such a blessing and encouragement to my Christian walk and have grown so much in the discussion of Godly topics and sharing of experiences. We just finished reading through and discussing the book Calm My Anxious Heart: a Woman's guide to finding contentment by Linda Dillow.

It was through the reading of this book that I first thought of my blog name! And also more importantly it was through reading this book that I began to realize my desperate need to strive for contentment and how I may go about that.

The following is an acrostic poem that I wrote as a summary of the book and I intend to cover one letter per week in my series on contentment. So join me here next Tuesday with a cup of coffee/tea and an open heart. May the Lord Bless you and keep you until then!

Contentment is…

Considering the cup/portion that God has given you

Offering a humble heart before God

Not allowing greed to consume your heart

Thanking God for the joys and the trials

Erasing negative thoughts and words

Never Complaining

Taking time to pray when your mind would rather worry

Making God’s purposes your purposes

Ever focussing on Eternity

Noticing the blessings God has given you

Trusting in God’s providence and sovereignty