Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Discontentment Creeping In

Contentment is a big theme in our house.  We are always stressing with our children how it blesses God for us to have a heart that is content.  I love what Paul says in Philippians 4:12:  “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.”  Because we talk about this regularly, we don’t have picky eaters, there isn't much moping or complaining, and we have overall very happy children.  But without my even realizing it, a spirit of discontentment came over ME within the last several weeks.  I thought of it as “sadness” or “disappointment for my children” but finally I saw it for what it really was.

I guess it was two things that led to this attitude.  First, closing our pool down in October.  And second…..the Duggars.  Yep, that sweet-hearted, absolutely perfect family of 19 or 20, or however many kids they have now.  Our family’s main income source comes from real estate—my husband has been in the business for over 11 years now, and though it’s had it’s ups and downs, it’s always covered the bills.  But in the last few months business has been extremely slow and we’ve had to tighten our belt in every area.  So this meant  not visiting fun places with the kids all summer…..but what did I need with fun places when I had three brand new boys and the blessing of an in-ground swimming pool?  I can probably count on one hand the number of days over the summer and early Fall that we did NOT enjoy our pool.  And I felt that taking the kids places would be over-stimulating for them anyway….better to nestle down at home, spend quality time together, find a comfortable routine, etc.

Well…..now the pool is closed.  And we got rid of our satellite television.  Got a Roku box and Netflix and we are good to go.  The kids discovered the show “19 Kids and Counting” after hearing about it from my sister-in-law.  And they LOVE it!  It’s basically the only thing my girls and I watch now—episode by episode.  It’s hard to find a family more conservative than we are, but here we have it….and it’s a nice reinforcement to our children why we have some of the values we do, such as dressing modestly, home schooling, helping around the house, etc.

That is all well and good, and all 20 of them are really growing on me (they still only have 18 kids in the episodes we are watching).  But have you ever noticed how many places the Duggars GO?!  I mean, they rent hockey rinks and play “broom ball,” they go to creation museums, and ostrich farms, rock climbing, laser tag, camping, bowling, mining for gold, Washington DC, New York City, horseback riding….and on and on it goes.  My kids are always like, “Mommy, they go EVERYWHERE!” And little by little, I start thinking, “Hmmmm, it would be really nice if we could take our new boys to Stone Mountain…..or the zoo…..or horseback riding……or Lego Land…..or mining for gold…..or to the kangaroo preservation……or if we could rejoin Lifetime Fitness.”  And that little idea blossoms into a little “sadness” that we can’t afford to “go places” right now.  And that little “sadness” blossoms into “I just feel so disappointed that my kids have to stay home and “miss out” on the great activities that other children get to experience.”

Last night I couldn’t sleep after being woken up by my son in the middle of the night, so I finally got out of bed and started searching the Internet for some “cheap” family activities.  Haha—there isn’t anything cheap for nine people!  Let’s see—with discount tickets, we can all go to Stone Mountain for ONE day for $180 + tax.  Lego Land is a bit better at around $112 +tax.  Lifetime Fitness would now be $216 per month, or we could join the Gwinnett County Indoor pools for $480. For $250 we could all go and watch a two hour Medieval Times show with dinner.  I found out that the Kangaroo Conservation center is now closed to the public, so I don’t have to cry over that one...... It seems with the $25 per ticket prices, they just couldn’t get enough people to make it worth their while.  Atlanta has SO MANY fun activities unattainable for an average-income family of nine.  I didn’t even bother looking up the Coca Cola Factory or Aquarium.  The more prices I looked up, the more depressed I got.

But thankfully, the Holy Spirit got a hold of me.  I rebuked myself  and realized this is nothing more than a spirit of discontentment.  What do I have to complain about?  We have plenty of space in our home, a pool, an air hockey table, a pool table, a trampoline!!”  And if I want to go places, why not go to places that are FREE…..like a public playground or a state park….but here I am whining because I can’t take them to the expensive places. Why not drive to Amicalola Falls and walk up the FREE 604 steps to the top! (yes, I’m totally saying “yuck” to that one too) We have some awesome playgrounds close to our home….why not take the kids there instead of telling them to go play in the backyard.  We have like 50 bicycles taking up one-third of our front porch…..why not go out riding as a family instead of always making excuses as to why I can’t go and ride with them right now? Or just stay home, for goodness sake, and pull out some board games and play around the dining room table (something we have yet to do!) or make some gingerbread cookies….I mean, Fall started September 22nd and I keep reading the same gingerbread man story to my son and I keep asking him what he thinks is going to happen when we bake our own gingerbread man…..only, I still haven’t gotten around to baking one!!!

Well, you get the point….I had to smack that discontentment right out of my heart and repent and tell the Lord how thankful I am for ALL that he has RICHLY blessed us with.  Today, as soon as we finished our school work, we packed the kids into the van (that our church BLESSED us with, by the way!) and headed for a nearby park.  When we got there, it was closed for renovations, so we decided, instead, to go to a really HUGE playground just a little further away.  The kids LOVED this place!  They played for over three hours and when we left they asked if we could always come back to this playground because there are so many maze-like structures and so much to do. And while I was there I met two other home-school moms and struck up a conversation with them (something I NEVER do because I am too reserved to approach total strangers).  And do you know, one of the moms, after hearing about our adoptions, told me that just last night she and her husband were talking about adopting a child from foster care, but that they had major concerns about how it would affect their family.  All three of us were like, “Wow, God must have brought us together to have this conversation!”

So, thank you GOD!  I am back to having a Philippians 4:12 mindset and looking forward to the memories I can start making with my kids....at home....at the park....with family and friends....no costs necessary.  I am bound and determined to make gingerbread boy cookies the day after writing this post, so I hope someone will keep me accountable!! We are very excited to have my parents coming down here from PA for Thanksgiving......the kids adore their grandparents!  And we are also looking forward to going up there after Christmas to see the whole gang--especially my daughter and 8-month-old grand-daughter who is the most adorable baby girl in the world!  And my wonderful sister, whom my kids call Lor Lor....and her four kids....my precious niece and nephews.....can't wait to see them all!  There's just one tiny little extra thing that I'm hoping for....that there will be snow up in PA when we visit! Because I hate to admit this, but  if I have one more snow-less winter, I'm going to be struggling with that Philippians passage all over again!!!  But then again, there's always Snow Mountain......for "only" $28 per person.... for one day! LOL

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