Welcome to my eclectic journey of my life and delights. This year my theme is surrendering my writing pen to the true author, Jesus Christ, while looking forward to the future, reflecting on the past and dancing through my journey.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Contentment - Can It Be?

Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty

On a recent visit to my mother-in-law's home, I pondered on contentment.  She will turn 96 in July, still lives on her own and has always lived debt-free, living without a list of wants.  What she has accomplished most Americans would say is just impossible...now really?

But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.1 Timothy 6:6-7

As I strolled through her house, I let my gaze wander around.  I entered this family 33 years ago at the young age of 17.  In all these years, very little has changed in this household.  The house was purchased for $15,000 dollars cash back in the 60's.  The new carpet was installed  prior to our wedding 31 years ago. My sister-in-law and I have painted, wallpapered and installed curtains.   My sister-in-law (age 70) continues to update with little accents - flowers, pictures and gifts for decor.  Meals have always been simple... I don't know if she owns a cookbook.  Entertainment decor and planned events have consisted of the guests chatting around the table.  No HGTV nor Martha Stewart here, and therefore, no sense of competition or inadequacies reside.

The swings in the backyard have given hours of play to eight grandchildren ranging from age 49 to 5 - six are ours, as well as three great-granddaughters.  Other than the seats being changed out through the years, the swings remain the same.  She has never felt that she needed to entertain her grandchildren with modern day updated toys or trips.  At one time, tin cans were placed in holes in the yard for Grandfather to putt golf balls into, which grandsons also enjoyed.  Simple, and yet such a diversion from their normal activities, these creative alternatives brought novel enjoyment.

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,"  Hebrews 13:5

The hall closet still contains the vintage toys enjoyed through the many decades by grandchildren and great-grands.

A new stove graces the very, very small kitchen. This is her newest purchase, yet rarely used these days.

Other than a new car every two years (always paid for in cash), meals eaten out (dining out is her delight), new clothes purchased seasonally, and a new smaller couch for her TV room....not much has been purchased through the years.  Their money was given and spent on their family for needs.

Everything is spotless and un-cluttered.  There isn't hoarding or dirtiness due to neglect.  The place echoes "this is fine with me" as I have never heard my mother-in-law talk about wanting anything.  She never dreamed of traveling,(doesn't own a passport) or a new larger home, fancy kitchen appliances, furniture or the newest house decor trend... all of which clutter my list of wants. Has she found "contentment"?

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  Philippians 4:11-12

My pondering has stayed with me as I continue to read Little House in the Ozarks . Through all the years, financial stress has never been something she endured. But then again, maybe that is because she became content so many years ago.  She celebrated marriage until her life-long husband made it to heaven before her.  She never grew a garden or clipped coupons and yet they built up a large enough savings to sustain her all these years.  His income was below average, yet all of their needs were met.  She now struggles with the new loss of her physical independence and will ask if her make-up looks right.  Other than that, I would say she continues to be content.  The only thing that she is dissatisfied with is not seeing her family....she never sees them enough.

This piece is preaching to me....may I have ears to hear.  An example of Godly contentment is laid before me to witness.

31 Joining in with more words:

Lorie said...

What a wonderful, awesome life. I think number one on my wish list is to be like your mother-in-law. It is a great thing to be able to recognize the gifts in life. Thanks for sharing this. Very inspirational.

⚜ ↁℯℬℬᴵℰ⚜ said...

What a wonderful post. My husbands grandparents are the same way. I envy them in the sense that they have a lived a very good life, and they traveled too, however, everything about them is simple! Our generation is so different, and it is actually sad because the kids today feel a sense of entitlement to things. We are trying hard to instill work ethics and appreciation.

Karen said...

What a beautifully written piece Janette! Contentment seems so elusive sometimes. But does it have to be? It seems that the more choices, conveniences, etc. we have the harder it is to be content. We are blessed beyond words & still we want more. I want to learn from your mother-in-law and other folks from her generation.

Rebecca said...

This is certainly an example of contentment to emulate. Why NOT? Why hide behind the excuses we make? The "exceptions" we allow ourselves? Has the "rubber band" of our lifestyle stretched SO far there is no getting it back to its original shape?

You have peppered this post with the truth of God's Word. It IS truth -- then, now, and forever.

Vee said...

Sounds as if she's learned the secret. I'm sure you'd know for certain if she hadn't. Who can ask for much more than a simple life well lived? Hope that you share this piece with her. It is a lovely tribute.

Debbie said...

WOW....this was soo good Janette, and such an eye opener. It is definitely the way my hubby's dad has always lived too. And now he is 84 years old and has ALWAYS been debt free, lived independently in his own COMPLETELY paid for home, drives a car that is an 89 and yet STILL has under 60,000 miles on it. Banks money EVERY month. It kills me. It seems as if each generation just gets worse. Kids today think they need to have EVERYTHING long before they even think of starting families, or even get married. Can you even imagine paying CASH for a house??? The constant need to acquire is sooo out of hand. Thanks for writing this....it has made me think. Have a wonderful day! HUGS

Sue Anne McKinney said...

Such a great post! My oldest, K, has been learning how to live in a small space and this is so good! How we have been seduced into thinking more is better, get more, give me more...etc.
I think you might like her blog, Janette. It's http://babygohean.blogspot.com/
She just converted their small office space at the top of the stairs into a nursery for M.
Have a great day!

Farm Girl said...

Very nice and what a wonderful woman to have in your life. As far as I can remember I have been praying for contentment. I am better at it than I was years ago but the galloping give-me's does over take me more often than I care to admit.
I think she has lived a wonderful life. So glad you shared about her today. It will make me ponder as I go for my walk this morning.

no spring chicken said...

Thank you, thank you. What is wrong with us. I spend way too much time cleaning, sorting, and shifting stuff! I know what it is that I strive for, and you painted just the picture I need... again... right now...

Very well thought out, and written for my benefit. ;)

Blessings, Debbie

Mary said...

may this linger in my heart, may i sit with it letting is sink deep into my heart and there do some changing.

thanks for this post my friend.


Sonja said...

ahhh... contentment. Why is that so hard for us sometimes? We get SO caught up in life!

Your mil has it figured out, and she lived her whole life that way... she gets a big Texas AMEN from me this morning. She is a real life hero!


Debbie said...

I love this post, Janette. I love the part about not watching Martha Stewart or HGTV so she doesn't feel a sense that she is lacking anything or any competitiveness. That's something that I notice for my own self, too. If I stay away from the mall, for example, I am MUCH more content.

The older I get, the better I get. I'm just NOT where I want to be.

Shanda said...

You are so blessed to have your mother, at that age, still with you. And to have the example set for you. What a wonderful legacy.

JillAileenJones said...

It is trying to keep up with those Joneses. lol!! It is hard keeping up with myself. haha
Really-as I read this I looked around my own home and thought, I don't have the best of everything but I really have more than I need and we have made decisions that weren't always the best that have cause us to have debt. Some we didn't have much of a choice (medical debt) but I wish we didn't have any.
I think it is sad too that our kids grow up thinking that they have to have what we have as soon as they move out of the house and it took us 30 years to get that far. I pray that I am teaching my children that a good life is not based on things-or what you have.
It is hard not to get caught up in it all-our needs and our wants get mixed up so easily-I pray daily that I would see and know the difference.
Great post.
Hugs-love ya

Ma said...

Contentment is such a wonderful thing:)

Cecilia Marie Pulliam said...

Great post! Great meassage, especially in this I want, want, society we live in. What a great role model you have in your mother-in-law, and thank you for sharing her with us.

Amy said...

Wonderful, so wonderful. I pray we can all strive to be like her. I would put money on it that she values God more than anything else. Just a thought. Thank you for your words.

Diana Ferguson said...

A beautiful post, Janette, to a very special lady!!

Sassy Granny ... said...

What fabulous wisdom has your MIL embraced! Hers was/is a generation ever-so-grateful for the simple things. I love their work ethic and industry. My own mother was much like you describe.

Me ... I doubt I have ANYTHING from even ten years ago. We've moved so much I've bought/sold more things that I could possibly remember.

But this I know: Hubby and I learned many years ago to live debt free. We continue to work on that. What a blessing!


Lea also known as "CiCi" said...

Well, this may well be your best post ever and you have had some really good ones! Just love how you interspersed the scriptures. What a testimony of contentment! Thanks for blessing me this day!

Hands to Work, Hearts to God said...

I remember a friend asking me how i was and I answered, "I am content," and that friend asked, "like a cow?" I guess we use the word very seldom now! It's an old-fashioned word summoning old-fashioned values! Patsy from

Garden Lady said...

What a wonderful post, to be content, that is my prayer. Gotten better as I have gotten older but such a long way to go. This was very inspirational, loved how you have included scripture

Jessica Heights said...

Wow, what a good example!

Kristen said...

I loved this!! This speaks right to the heart of many of the things I've been wrestling with lately.

Hope all is well with your family! Loved seeing the old pictures of the kids. That is just how I remember them back in our Shady Hollow days!

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

Godly contentment - not only a worthy goal, but a wonderful state of being, when I have occasionally landed there.

What a wonderful woman, who knows how to actually "live" there not just "visit". :)
Blessings to you - Marsha

A multi-dimensional life said...

Janette, this makes me think of my grandma and her humble, yet immaculate home that she cared for with love and I remember her in her snap duster (remember those?) and her clean, well groomed appearance. Humble means, but so very rich. I think we can all learn from earlier generations about contentment and about what really matters. That is peace.

Jo said...

Our parents didn't want as much as we want (but don't necessarily need) because there wasn't as much as there is now. We can't life without the mobile phone, iPods, computers, flat screen, fancy kitchens, new car.......our parents generation lived a simpler life without all these things. Secondly these items only last a short time really, but things bought by our parents lasted so much longer.

Crickit said...

It sounds like your mother in law is truly Content. Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if we were all like that? Her life, although simple shows a contented heart. This was a really good post. Thanks for reminding us all what the really important things in life are, and they are not "things".

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

What a wonderful post! I strive to be the same way. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes not. She's to be admired. What a great example she is!

Karen said...

This post is priceless! Numerous truths, love the one about no HGTV or Martha. This is ONE of the main reasons, soap operas, aren't welcome with me, such a false sense of true living. Fresh flowers everyday & no clothes on the living room couch. (come on girls!) Get real! I'll stop there ~ and not head to the bedroom. Just hate to see change though (hard for independence to be given up). Playing catch-up this afternoon on posts. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm saving this.
What a blessing to observe her life-thank you for providing us with an image of Godliness with contentment being great gain.
I've been asking God lately what should come next as I finish home school.
The desire to go out and earn and become "something" was ringing in my heart, yet, I also felt the Lord reminding me (and my husband) that we have enough and he wants me home and will do the providing.
Your mom is such a wonderful example of how that plays out through the years.
Blessings from Shirley in Virginia

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