At the time of this writing, there is a loaf of bread rising in my new bread maker. Grace is playing with her favorite toy, jumping in and out of the box my bread maker came in, toy in mouth. Funny how that toy comes to life in her eyes. I’m sitting on the air mattress, and the fan is blowing on me–it’s much cooler today than it was yesterday. It has been downright balmy at times, but never unbearable, always cooling down at night.
It’s not the yeasty scent of fresh bread I smell, but the green, herbacious smell of the lawn being mowed. The scent is different here–pungent herbs with a woody note, rather than the green San Augustine grass smell I grew up with. I’ve always loved the smell of freshly mowed grass, and I think the scent here is even lovelier. Everything here is lovelier.
I know, at times, I make this place sound like a bit of heaven on earth. To us, it is. We have waited a very long time to get here. “I” have waited a very long time to get here. Not HERE…as in ‘location’…but to a place of contentment.
I have to share something with everyone who might believe I lead a ‘charmed’ life, or that I am ‘lucky,’ or that my grass over here is greener. Maybe there might be someone who thinks that the Lord has blessed me more than them…or that their life would be better if they could just live someplace like this.
I have been through a LOT in my life. I have made so many mistakes, it’s not even funny. Sometimes, I marvel that I am even alive. I have been to hell and back, and I bought my own ticket and paved the way! I’ve almost ‘bailed’ on life, family, my marriage, and even on the Lord…but He had His hand on my life, and had a purpose for everything that happened. When I’ve wandered down a rabbit trail, and even that time I veered off to Timbuktu, He has gently led me back on the right path…HIS path.
As hard as it might be to believe, I could be living here in this ‘little piece of heaven’ and be completely miserable right now, because contentment comes from the inside, and not from things on the outside (other people, places, things, etc.) I think that it’s practically impossible to be content if you are outside of God’s will-whatever His will is for YOU. Only you can find out what that is.
At one point in my life, I couldn’t take it anymore. Though there is more to the story than I’ll tell right now, I chucked it all and I left. I couldn’t stand things one more minute. (Go ahead and judge me if you must.) I headed for the only place I knew I could get answers and a solution to all of the current problems that were currently plaguing me, problems that had plagued my past and problems which were threatening to cut short my future…and that place was a church.
Someone recently suggested I was ‘out of God’s will’ during that time in my life. I immediately got defensive and told this person that I was NOT out of God’s will…that I would be dead if I hadn’t left. I was at a point of desperation and I was suicidal, and things were going from bad to worse on all sides. I didn’t feel like I could go on. To be sure, I wasn’t in the best place spiritually at that time in my life, and I had some serious personal problems.
I’ve thought a lot about it since that conversation. Was I out of God’s Will? Upon thinking about it, I really don’t know. It’s easy for other people to point fingers and give pat black and white answers, especially when it’s someone else’s life. What I DO know, is that the months that I spent at that church were the single most important time in my life. It was THE definitive turning point in my life where things started to change for me. I can honestly say that when I look back at my life, I think of it as ‘Before I spent time at that church,’ and ‘After I spent time at that church.’
Did I find all of the answers there? No. Were things perfect there? No. Were the people up there perfect? No. Was it some mega-church with a super anointed pastor with 600 Sunday school classes to choose from and a 50 piece orchestra? No. Was it God’s will for me to stay there forever? Absolutely not.
Contentment is found in the most unlikely circumstances. I’d headed for the church I knew, and unforeseen circumstances landed me at a church I wasn’t expecting. It was a small church, with a mostly black congregation. I was afraid to go there at first, but I knew I had no other choice. I also knew it was my only hope. I wasn’t going home. They took me in, regardless of my color, regardless of my background, and regardless of my reasons for being up there without my husband….not just the pastor and his wife, but the whole congregation. All of them loved me and prayed for me. They accepted me as I was. They showed me Who Jesus was and loved me like Jesus does. It didn’t matter what I’d done, what I was doing, or what I would do…they loved me right where I was at, just like I was, and they expected nothing at all from me. They didn’t tell me how I should be living my life, or where, nor did they point out what was wrong with me. Instead of people, I saw Jesus and for the first time in my life, I began to grasp how much He loves me. I began to want to love people like that, and I asked the Lord to help me.
When it was time to go home, the Lord let me know. I didn’t feel ready, but I went anyway. My learning continued when I got home. There was a whole lot I had to repent of, and a whole lot I had to give up, too. The more I gave up (my hopes, my wants, my desires, my needs), the more content I became. As I let the Lord teach me about contentment, and looked to Him to fill my needs, everything began to look different. I found that as I started putting my focus in life where it should be (for me, it was the Lord first, and then my husband,) contentment followed.
To be honest, the whole period of about 7 years since I came back, up until now, has been about teaching me how to be content where I was at, with what I had been given at the time.
I can honestly say that if I had to choose anywhere in the world I would like to live, it would be right where I am at; however, amidst all of the idyllic things I talk about here, and the beautiful pictures I post, here are the low down dirty dog details of this place: We’re sleeping on an air mattress. Most of our furniture and ‘comfort items’ are in storage. There is dirt all over the place that seems to multiply–it’s constantly falling down from the ceiling, in our bed and on the floor. There are bits of wallpaper stuck to the walls, and in one room, tar backing. The place has musty scent to it that we can’t quite seem to find the source of. There are years worth of mouse droppings all over the place that I’m constantly finding and cleaning up (we found a dead mouse in the attic the other day.) There is a constant supply of bugs, flies, especially wasps and dirt dobbers that find their way inside. When I turn on my Kindle light at night to read, tiny bugs swarm it. It’s sometimes hot and humid here. YES, it is. We have no air conditioning and it has been hot at times (though nothing like Houston.) I have no kitchen appliances, except for a mini-fridge and a camp stove (and now a bread maker.) When it rains really hard, the water coming from the tap turns brown and I have to take a dingy-colored bath. As much as I love the people around here, folks in the country have idiosyncrasies, just like they do anywhere else you go. It’s all about learning to appreciate the differences in people, the positives in life and being grateful for what you DO have.
Honestly, I really don’t think about or notice the above things. I’m focusing on all of the positives here. Truthfully, in my mind, the above things are very minor. I’m grateful to be able to be here and spend time with my husband who I love, who has time to actually relax with me (or even work with me) now, in a beautiful, peaceful, place of my dreams.
The secret to contentment is learning that your grass is never going to be green unless you keep it tended, watered, and mowed.
One book I read that made a big impact on me, which I highly recommend is a book by Linda Dillow, called, “Calm My Anxious Heart.” I also recommend, “Lord, I Want To Be Whole,” by Stormie O’Martian. These were both life changing books for me, as were the prayers, in “Power of a Praying Wife” and “Power of a Praying Woman.”