When we bought our house nearly 7 years ago, we had big plans to live and grow in this home for many years to come.
And let me tell you, we have grown.
Move-in day was just two days before Christmas, 2006. We were the proud parents of a 6 and a 3 year-old boy and our brand new 4 month-old daughter. Over these past years we have added three more sweet babies. Those 6 and 3 year-old boys are now 10 and 13 and that 4 month-old daughter turns 7 next month. The other baby blessings are 4, 2, and infant.
Time marches on.
As time has been busy with all this marching, our 1915 farm house on two green acres has taken good care of us. We originally had planned to take good care of her--I naturally think of my house as a girl. :)
When we moved in we had two full-time incomes and part of our big plan was to slowly remodel, repaint, add shutters, and doll the place up. Within a year of moving in I felt the Lord challenge me to stay home full-time. My three 12-hour night shifts over the weekends as a Charge Nurse were taking their toll on the family.
Coming home full-time, however, meant that we'd have to lay down our dreamy plans of fixing up our new-to-us home.
Don't get me wrong. I love where the Lord has planted us. In these rooms our children laugh and grow. From the kitchen window we've watched the red cardinals eat bird seed that we've left for them in the snow. In these rooms I've cried out to the Lord that we would live our lives for His glory.
But all reminiscing aside, this house is falling apart.
I don't even see it most days. It's now natural for a doorknob to fall off here, while a tile cracks there. Over the last 4 years the paint has peeled off the exterior in sheets. The rooms feel like they're closing in, so we spend a lot of time outside. And to add another layer to my character training through living in this house, the gutters fell off last year.
Some days I've wondered if it's the house that's falling apart, or if it’s just me who is in disrepair.
4 Lessons in Contentment From My Run-Down Old Farm House
*What if today, this day, is as good as it ever gets?
Am I not already blessed? Self-absorbed me, should I complain? I have a husband who is forever patient and gentle and a joyful brood of children who I'm privileged to mother. I have a Mighty God who has never, ever forsaken me.
We have two refrigerators full of food, so many clothes that we can never seem to get them all put away, and just last month I loaded up the bed of my husband's truck full to overflowing with items that we needed to purge.
Really Jamerrill, your heart aches over the house paint?
*We have to choose joy.
One of my sweet sons asked me the other week why our friends all have nicer houses than we do. Oh, a moment of pang in my heart. But, I used this as an opportunity to talk to him about joy.
Yes, all of our friends have nicer houses than we do. It's just the truth, and it was an honest question. I explained to my son that no matter our situation in life we must choose joy.
No one can choose joy for us.
*We need to give ourselves grace.
As I mentioned, we moved into this house with 3 children and I was working 40 hours a week. I've since had three more babies. Yes, I could be Mrs. D-I-Y and install shelving and remodel bathrooms in my spare time, but honestly, I haven't had it in me.
And that's okay.
My final lesson in contentment goes back to my personal power verse:
Exodus 14:14, "The Lord shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest."
The Lord has fed me this verse in heaping portions over these last 10 years. I've clung to it in pain and despair. I would write it on my hand when I had to leave my babies to work night-shifts. I've chewed these words, and I think the Lord has caught me spitting them back up a time or two, so He serves me another helping.
The Lord shall fight for me.
*The Lord shall fight for you.
Your situation may be far more dire than living in an almost century-old house that is falling apart. You may have a husband who works a lot of hours and is hardly home (been there), or a child who is causing heartache, or an unfair situation in which there just seems to be no justice.
I encourage you to look for your contentment in the Lord. Stand fast and know that He is faithful. He is the deliverer and the judge. He knows you, He cares, and He can use it all for His glory.
And though He even cares about my desire for new paint, He’s more interested in strengthening my heart.