Note: I wrote the majority of this post last week after struggling with envy and covetousness (yeah that's a word) a lot lately. I'm ready for Blake to be done with school so we can finally have two full incomes. But I know that the investment in his education we are making now will pay off in the long-run. "Short-term sacrifices for long-term success" is our mantra. Anyway, Dr. McKee's message yesterday was about finances and his words couldn't have been more timely. So, I wanted to finish this post and share it with you because God obviously laid it on my heart for many reasons. I hope it is as encouraging to someone else as it was to me.
My mom has always joked that my middle name is "Want". When we would walk through a store (any store - grocery store, department store, shoe store...), I would say "I want that!" at least half a dozen times, if not more. I have always wanted things and I will most like always want things.
Everybody knows Blake is working on his PhD so it's safe to assume you also know we have to live on a super tight budget. We have enough to pay our bills, go out to eat on occasion, and do the things we need to do and some of the things we want to do. But as I get older (and especially now that we have a baby), my desire for more stuff just grows. I'm nearly 30 and yet I still feel like I'm living the life of a college student. Living in a small apartment, driving a compact car, and shopping for clothes at the consignment store (which, actually, I prefer!!).
It's hard not to look at other people's lives and wish we were already "there". We will be "there" (meaning: earning two full-time incomes) in just a few years, but it's the waiting in between that is really hard. Having to sacrifice now so we can have later is tough.
But God keeps reminding me of Paul's words, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12)
That puts it all into perspective.
Blake and I aren't starving, our apartment (though small) is in a nice area and we like living there, and we both have working cars. We have a healthy baby and the support we need to raise her. We are both gainfully employed in jobs we both love. Things could be a lot worse.
And then I think about the little things.
Like how our rent covers pest control. I've visited houses in Tuscaloosa where there are more bugs than people. Roaches running rampant in the middle of the day and the residents don't even notice it anymore.
Or how I can walk, talk, and breathe all on my own. Oh, how so many people are denied those basic skills either from disease, physical impairment, or trauma.
What about how I have enough money in the bank for emergencies? Blake and I keep are fortunate enough to be able to keep an emergency fund. What is a crisis to others is already covered for us.
Oh, and let's not forget that I have the freedom to worship God openly, I don't live in fear of being mistreated for being a woman, and the water we drink has been deconaminated of diseases and bacteria.
I mean, I know all of that sounds so basic and so normal and a little cheesy. But the fact is, those things aren't normal for many people. Across the world, across the country, across town - people are experiencing life in a completely different way than me. I have so much to be grateful for, I just have to open my eyes to see it.
The way to combat envy and covetousness is to be content. The way to be content is to be thankful. And the way to be thankful is to divert my eyes from what I do not have and focus on what I do have. A few months ago, I posted a list of things for which I am thankful. It was little mundane things (and some big things), but it was a great reminder to me of all the things in my life that are good. Here's a new list of little things that I've been thankful for lately. I hope you come up with your own list and start thanking God for them regularly. Now, these things are small things because it's easy to see and be thankful for the big things. I mean, obviously, I'm grateful for Maleah. :) But that's easy. I want to look in the nooks and crannies of my life and be thankful for all God has given me.
1. Technology - I can share pictures and videos of Maleah with Blake's family in an instant and they get to be a part of her daily life even though they are far away.
2. The fact that there wasn't a black widow spider or roach in my house shoes this morning. No, seriously. This is something I thank God for regularly!!!!!
3. Keurig K-Cups - Usually I use a reusable filter and regular coffee b/c the K-Cups are so expensive. But I've allowed myself to buy the K-Cups because measuring out coffee into a tiny reusable Keurig filter on very little sleep doesn't sound like a good time to me.
4. Ruzzle - 'Cause I like word games and I like beating Blake at word games.
5. The Harlem Shake - I can't get enough of it.
6. Justin Timberlake on Jimmy Fallon EVERY NIGHT THIS WEEK. 'Nuff said.
7. Scripture songs (like Seeds of Faith: Seeds Family Worship) - I can't tell you how many Bible verses I have memorized thanks to songs like these! I love singing them to Maleah.
8. Snapfish coupons - I made a photo album of my mom's wedding for FREE (just had to pay shipping) and had our 2012 photo album printed at half price! Yippee!
9. The dry erase board I keep on our fridge - I write our weekly dinner menu & grocery list on there... otherwise I'd be a hot mess come dinner time.
10. Vacuuming - Yep, vacuuming. Nothing brings me more domestic joy than a freshly vacuumed living room. And with a new baby and lots of visitors, I've been doing a lot of vacuuming. It's my zen garden. :)
Runners up for The List: microwavable sanitizing bags for bottle parts, a husband who helps with chores and baby duty (that's a biggie, but I have to mention it!), colorful Sharpies, coffee, sweet tea, Coke, any caffeinated beverage, a cute hair cut, fresh rain and sunshine, the fact that our upstairs neighbors got rid of their dog/miniature horse, SPRING BREAK (another biggie!), and Dr. Scholl's arch support inserts.
See how much I have to be thankful for!?!?
It's hard to complain when I remember all the little things that make my life a happy one. I hope you take some time today and really think about and thank God for the good things in your life. You won't be able to do it without a smile coming to your face!
Blessings! You already have them. You just need to count them.