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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that all too familiar struggle

The thoughts of insecurity came flooding in; the thoughts about all the things I don’t like about myself, the thoughts about all the things I wonder if people think about me, the thoughts about all the things I wish I was better at. The thoughts of comparison quickly followed; the thoughts of wishing I looked more like _____, the thoughts of wishing I was as creative or as well-spoken or as witty as ______, the thoughts of wishing I had someone else’s opportunities. It was a rollercoaster of thoughts, full of loops and hard turns and sharp jerks to the side. All those thoughts hit me like a ton of bricks, seemingly out of nowhere.

I knew that wasn’t true, though. I knew all those thoughts sprang from a place where they had found roots somewhere in my heart. The circumstances of the social settings or the form of the picture that was taken or the conversation that took place may have been different than before, but the thoughts themselves were nothing new. I knew those thoughts very well. All the familiar thoughts, the well-known lies that I was tempted to believe, were back in full force and it was awful.

It had been a while since I had struggled this intensely and, frankly, that was one of the hardest parts. I was so discouraged by the constant barrage of thoughts, the minute by minute battle to get outside of myself, the tears that would insist on falling. I was tired of this. I was over every bit of hearing those same thoughts circle around in my head. I was weary of this path I had walked many times beforehand because I knew where it lead, I knew the emptiness of it, and I knew what was so much better.

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That last phrase there is where the shift happened. It happened because of the better thing. It happened because the better thing, the better Being shed light on the roots of this all too familiar struggle and reminded me again of what truly defines me. He showed me Himself. This struggle is what He died to save me from; the struggle of being absolutely gripped by the lies of sin. It doesn’t define me anymore. The constant barrage of thoughts doesn’t have to be where I stay, the minute by minute battle has been ultimately conquered by Him, the tears can truly turn into joy when I remember what is truest about me.

God is so kind to meet us in those low places, to open our eyes to the truth that is so beautiful and so good. On one day last week when this struggle was especially painful I left my Bible open on the kitchen island all day. It was opened to the Psalm I had read that morning, Psalm 116, and the verses that I read multiple times that day were 5-7:

“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.”

That last sentence, verse 7, was on repeat in my mind and out of my mouth that day; it was the prayer I prayed all day long. I wanted to know that rest again, the kind that rests because of what He has done, because of who He is, because of who I am in Him. He HAD dealt bountifully with me! I knew it to be fully true! Speaking those words of truth to myself, reminding myself of the evidences of His grace and goodness that truly abound in my life, began the shift of pulling my gaze off myself to something so much greater and more lovely. And then when I remembered that that greater and more lovely One made me His and that is the very definition of my worth!? That shatters every single lie that would say something different.

Trying to find my security in a picture, or a conversation, or someone else’s thoughts about me will always leave me wanting. No matter if the picture is a good one, or the joke well-timed, or the compliment is received, I will always always want more. It doesn’t satisfy and I have to keep reminding myself of this. Those insecure thoughts will return, ready to fight another day, but their roots in my heart have loosened some more, with healthier ones taking their place.

C.J. Mahaney writes, “Humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves, but thinking about ourselves less.” As I’m sitting here typing this my AK is listening to a song and the line that just played was, “Lift your eyes! We are His radiant bride!” That’s a rather beautiful picture, and that’s what we are. We are prized and treasured by our God. He doesn’t call us to think less of the very ones He created to be His clearest imitators, but He calls us to do that very thing: to imitate Him. To make much of Him and less of ourselves. I want that to be the truest thing about me.