the contentment challenge

I think every single day that week I had made a comment about our carpet; and not the “oops, there’s some crumbs I need to vacuum up there” type of comment, but the “oh my gosh, I hate our carpet” type of comment, accompanied by extra-loud sighs or eye rolls for good measure. All of this pleasantry was followed by the thought, “Gosh, I can’t wait until we can get new flooring……it’s going to be forever, though.”

Now, it is true that the first time we walked into our now home we both thought, “yikes, cream carpet.” Not our first pick of flooring and we were moving in with a dog and a kid and, well….me, who is known for the greater amount of spills in our home. We knew this carpet was going to quickly gain the look of well-worn. Yes, it’s been impossible to keep fully clean. Yes, we can’t wait to change it one day. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with excitement in that plan.

This attitude, though. This attitude was springing from a much deeper place in my heart. A place where I wasn’t satisfied. A place where gratitude was not even a fleeting thought. A place where I told myself that changing our flooring was a key to contentment in our home.

A few days later I was scrolling instagram and came across a post by Nancy Ray which began, “Well friend, here we go again. It’s been over 5 years since God put the Contentment Challenge on my heart for the first time…….on January 1st, I’m doing it again!” This caught my eye, for obvious and humbling reasons. I clicked a bit more to get to the post on her blog and discovered the definition of her Contentment Challenge:

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This portion:

“More than just a bad habit, it’s an underlying spiritual issue. I’m lacking in self discipline. I’m finding my joy in material things, not in the Lord. I’m straight up distracted from the precious souls in front of me, and I’m tired of it.”

This portion brought the tears to my eyes because I saw it’s truth ringing loudly in my own heart. I saw all those moments of complaint about our carpet, the moments of comparison to those around me, the moments of making more of a material thing than the ones who the Lord has gifted me to live my days with, the moments of making much more of the undeserved graces He’s provided for me than of Him, the One who has given me my very life.

I needed this heart check. I needed this accountability. I needed this purposeful set-aside time to not just have a spending fast of sorts, but to plumb those heart depths a bit and consider what sat under those discontented thoughts, those moments of annoyance, that reasoning of why I needed to purchase that particular thing.

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So here I am, 17 days in, and loving it. It has been so freeing, friends! More than I imagined it could be. Freeing because I’m just not thinking about purchasing new things, but freeing because I’m seeing the Lord purge those sinful pieces of me and redeem them into what is better. It’s freeing because I’m learning to slow down and consider every single purchase. It’s freeing because I’m excited about staying within those budgets set up. It’s freeing because I’m learning how much is actually needed and how much is purely just for want. It’s freeing because I’m learning all the more to find beauty in simplicity. It’s freeing because I’m learning more of what is lasting joy, of WHO is lasting joy.

This has been the best way to start my year.

There have absolutely been moments of struggle. I will share more of those soon. But it has been far better than it has been hard, and the timing of it is so beautiful, in that way that only the Lord can do. I’ll also share on that, too.

I’m grateful. Grateful for Nancy and her vulnerability in this, her stepping out in this way, her welcoming others in it with her. I’m grateful for what I’m learning, for the stretching and redeeming that’s happening, for the joy I’m finding, for the sweetness that’s marking this season, and for how I know I’ll move into the next season with such a refreshed and renewed heart

It’s a marker in my life.



turning 31

A friend asked me this past weekend how I felt about turning 31.

I’m excited about it. Thankful. Eager for what my 31st year will hold.

30 was a sweet year, one of the best I’ve lived actually. There was so much growth, so much needed change in the life of our little family, so much beauty found in simplicity, so much joy found in what the Lord has given us to fill our days with. I’m so thankful for what 30 was.

I also told my friend, though, that I feel like I should be wiser than I am to be turning 31. I have a feeling of almost slight intimidation that I’m now beginning the 2nd full year of being in my 30’s. But I know that wisdom will continue to come and, as I’ve thought about it, I think I feel the lack of it because I’ve lived so much of my life clinging to the opinions of others and attaching my value to their thoughts and approval of me rather than to the Lord. 30 was an Ebenezer year for me because it was the first year of my life that I’ve ever experienced the F R E E D O M and come to know the wisdom of the Lord in a true and right way because I’m finding it in Him. Yes, I am always gaining — and cherishing! — wisdom from those my life is filled with, but the difference is……..they are not my end all.

Grace continues to be received and growth continues to happen so, rather than be ho-hum in a rather Eeyore-ish way about feeling as though I should be further along than I am, I choose instead to rest in the knowledge that the Lord is sovereign over my seasons and is not standing over me with a checklist, spectacles perched on the end of His nose, telling me I should have been better. He has gently prodded my soul, revealed what does not honor Him, and is working out His grace within me to produce that wisdom, that fruit, that greater reflection of Himself.

I pray that 31 makes Him known all the more.


— Some hopes I have for 31 —

To practice piano weekly || To take more walks || To consider more and make wise changes in caring for my body || To wake before the kids || To read what I own now before buying any new books || To continue building margin into our days || To hit those financial goals we’ve set || To use those 15 minute moments I have wisely and well || To write more || To read more with AK || To fill our home with music, books, creativity, warmth, and beauty, even in simple ways || To make the tv the rare thing || To take specific social media breaks || To continue chipping away at home projects, even if the chips are tiny || To be brave, to push myself || To be honest, with love and grace || To give full face attention to whomever is talking || To celebrate others well || To call out growth in others and encourage them || To grow in patience || To ask myself: why am I eating this? || To be ever more my husband’s helper and greatest source of encouragement || To look for beauty || To fight for joy || To soak up the moments and thrive in this season, even when it’s wearying || To speak life-giving words to my littles || To help AK be brave, too || To take steps toward those dreams || To pray without ceasing and in faith || To send cards || To play more games and have more adventures || To love where I am || To be grateful for what’s been given to me and for who the Lord has made me to be, and stop looking to the right or the left || To pour into what is lasting

It’s nothing profound. It’s all things grounded on the desire and hope to be

I N T E N T I O N A L

in everything I do, in everything the Lord has called me to, seeking to make much of Him, even in the simplicity of my everyday.

I want to live marked by joy, loving as He loves, with such eager hope for all He will do.

Hello, 31. I’m very much looking forward to you.

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friday chats

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Hello all you beautiful people and happiest of Fridays to you!

It’s technically still Thursday as I sit writing this at our coffee table, AK next to me with her math book open, and an open box of nerds as our little reward to ourselves. (This is what happens when you buy candy for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters a week before the actual holiday.) It’s a cozy autumnal day, the scent of the pumpkin bread we baked this morning still fills the house, and I’m looking ahead to a beautiful weekend.

We just got a delivery of a few packages, their arrival being heralded by our ever-faithful Winnie. One of these packages was from christynockels.com and carried with it a candle and a cd that I had ordered when she had a sale last week! I was so excited to finally purchase a copy of Be Held: Instrumental as the lyric-filled version of the CD has been beloved in our home since before Jack was born. I am an absolute sucker for a fall candle and when they are packaged as sweetly as this autumn one then I must bring one home. Also, her podcast is one of my top two favorites. I highly encourage a listen.

Another package was from Old Navy with the long peacoat I ordered on another great sale last week. Unfortunately, they are out of the color I ordered it in online, but they still have it in a dark heather gray. The fit is terrific — which has been a struggle for me with peacoats, to not have them look too boxy — and it’s nice and snugly warm. It’s a good staple coat and I’m glad to have it!

We are having a soup night tonight with a dear friend and we are quite excited about it! We’ve been anticipating it all week and the weather is just right for a cozy night of sitting around the table with bowls of hot soup, slices of crusty bread topped with cheese, and a glass of wine. For dessert we are going to use some of the orchard apples we picked last weekend to make this apple tart from the Pioneer Woman. It’s fall in a bite when you drizzle caramel sauce over it and, if you so desire, you can always nestle it next to a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Speaking of my top two favorite podcasts, the other is Journeywomen. It is just so good, you guys. Truly, I am so grateful for the podcasts Hunter and her team put out every week. What a gift! Every episode I am challenged, encouraged, spurred on, and just filled with reminders of good our God is and what profound grace He has shown to us! This past weeks episode on The Will of God with Jen Wilkin was fantastic. I have learned so much from Jen’s writing and speaking over the past several years and, more than anything else, she encourages me to be ever pursuing a greater knowledge of God and His Word, and I am so grateful for her example.

I don’t have quite as many favorite things or everyday joys to share with you all today, friends, but to be honest, this mama is tired. So it’s off to bed for me! Share with me anything that’s a favorite thing for you this week, if you’d like to. I always enjoy that. And I hope that you all have a simply lovely October weekend!