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December 31, 2012

Bitter Heart




On Saturday night, I felt like nothing around me was good enough. Our still-largely-undecorated-after-almost-two-years-in-it home wasn't good enough. My most-of-it-I've-had-since-college closet wasn't good enough. My Photoshop-less PC wasn't good enough. My MIL is coming into town for a few short days this week. We always want her to have a wonderful time, and I think both Tim and I are guilty of going into show-off mode during the few visits a year we get from family and friends. "We're not going to be able to do much of anything ..." I thought grumpily.

When I first got on the phone with Tim, I was short with him. After he worked his butt off for 12 hours, in flippin' freezing North Dakota, to support our little family -- to ensure that we keep all that we have -- I was short with him. Thankfully, with a few kind, supportive words, Tim was able to turn around the tone of our conversation, and we chatted for over an hour about my wonderful day with Maile.

But just an hour later, I caught myself trying to make a deal with God. "If we could have just this much more money ... I promise, I'll never complain again." Whoa.

The word grateful was laid on my heart. Was I grateful? Not. even. close.

That night, I told myself: "I am going to be grateful. I am going to thank God for, and in, everything. I am going to praise Him. Even when I don't feel like it."

How good do you feel when you praise God? For me, even taking a second to say thank you can help turn around my attitude. This is not to say that I won't ever complain again. As I'm sure you all know, that's laughable! But I would like to make a concerted effort to always give praise.

So, on Saturday night, I said, "Thank you, Lord, for these walls that give us shelter. For a wonderful home in a safe neighborhood, where Maile can grow up. Thank you for my clothing, especially for the coats that keep me warm through the winter. Though well-worn, they are much, much more than many could ever hope to have. Thank you for my computer, which allows me to communicate with my friends and family (however much I may want to throw it out the window sometimes)."

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

The next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others, or complaining, try this! Say thank you instead. It takes practice, but I promise that you will see a change in your heart.

Happy New Year's Eve! If you are celebrating tonight, please be safe. See you in 2013!

26 comments:

  1. Ooooh, I think we all struggle with this at some point. I've had my own share of "so THIS is your grand scheme????" moments, myself. I admire how real and honest you are, dear friend.

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    1. Thank you, sweet Ashley! I struggle with this more than I feel I *should.* Sometimes, I think the thought prevails that as Christians, these feelings should be banished from our mind. If you flip through the Bible, though, it seems to me that it is chock full of men and women experiencing this very thing ...

      Anyway, Happy New Year, dear one! I hope you have a lovely evening, whatever your plans.

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    1. Thank you, my friend. And back at ya.

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  3. it is so much easier to complain than give thanks. like you said, it takes practice to be grateful because it is so unnatural. I think that as moms, God is changing us so much everyday--it's really challenging--but really amazing!
    floral&fudge

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    1. Yes, I agree, Rachel! Especially as mothers, our hearts are ever-changing (often, by way of our children, whom God has given to us). I love your take on this.

      Happy New Year, sweet girl!

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  4. I love that Bible verse.
    Unfortunately, I'm a glass half empty person (awful, I know!) so it's much easier for me to complain than give thanks for what I do have.
    Thanks for this reminder!

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    1. Me too!

      Although he talked about a different verse, our pastor said yesterday, in his sermon, that sometimes the simplest truths, speak the loudest. It's such a simple verse, yet so very important!

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  5. Gah, i know that feeling so well! Awesome post!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Renee! I'm encouraged by the fact that I'm not alone in my feelings!

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  6. I really enjoyed your honest post friend! It reminded me of this pamphlet I read a few years ago on the importance of praising...

    "Many of God’s children are under severe trials; they are frequently tested. When the trials become severe and the warfare turns fierce, they are like Jehoshaphat. They are shut in by their trouble. One side is too strong, and the other side too weak; there is no comparison between the two. They are trapped inside the whirling wind. Their problems are too great and beyond their ability to overcome. At such times, it is easy for them to turn their attention to their problems; it is easy for their eyes to be set on their own difficulties. The more a man goes through trials, the easier it is for him to be bound by his problems. This becomes a great time of testing. The greatest test comes when he looks at himself or his environment. The more a man is tested, the more he tends to look at himself or his environment. But for those who know God, the more they are tested, the more they put their trust in the Lord. The more they are tested, the more they learn to praise. Therefore, we must learn not to set our eyes on ourselves. We must learn to set our eyes on the Lord. We should lift up our heads and tell the Lord, “You are above everything; I praise You!” Loud praises, praises that issue from the heart, and the praises that flow out of wounded feelings are the sacrifices of praise pleasing and acceptable to God. Once the sacrifice of praise ascends to God, the enemy, Satan, is defeated by the praise. The sacrifice of praise is very effective before God. Let your loftiest praises burst forth to God, and you will surely withstand and overcome. When you praise, you will find the way of victory opening wide before your eyes!"

    If you want to read the whole thing, here's the link: http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?id=0BCB01

    Thanks again for sharing, Katie! Wishing you and your family the best in this coming new year! :)

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    1. Oh, Weiya, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to write this out for me. These are amazing, profound words you shared, and I am absolutely going to read the whole thing ... The idea of the "sacrifice of praise" ... Wow.

      Happy New Year, dear one!

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  7. Definitely a true struggle I have! But I am always reminded at how blessed truly am, no matter my circumstances! I was JUST having a moment, and your post was my reminder today! Thank you!

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    1. Oh, thank you so much for sharing that with me, Nelly! I am constantly asking God, "How are you using me?" I think I forget that it isn't necessary for *us* to feel used, for that indeed to be happening!

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  8. Hi again! I guess you're my new pen pal.
    Great post. I struggle with this all too often. I really am fortunate and sometimes refuse to see it.

    Thanks for the suggestion about my photos. Definitely time to update my walls.

    Happy New Year

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    1. Happy New Year, Shelley! I'm so glad you got something out of this post.

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  9. Great post.
    Giving thanks is so important.
    Try a goal of one photo on the wall each week, or each month.
    The beauty in your home takes time.
    I bet it is already amazingly beautiful! I can feel it in your posts.
    Enjoy Daddy & Family time!!

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    1. Thank you!

      I like to the idea of small, achievable goals for our home. I get so overwhelmed by ALL there is to do, that I often neglect to see the smaller picture (this is actually something I've always struggled with).

      Happy New Year, again!

      PS - There is genuine warmth in your comments ... it is something I truly appreciate; they always put a smile on my face, both here and on Instagram. :)

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  10. I love how honest and open you are! Being so transparent like that, it's amazing. I love your writing, friend.
    And I must say you're not alone, I too have had moments where I ask God for material things, and I was so ungrateful for this life probably my entire 21 years of living it, which is so sad to say.
    Big hug friend! :)

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    1. A friend once told me, "If we don't thank God for the small things, what makes us think he's going to give us any more?" Why would He reward our ungrateful hearts? It really resonated with me, and I thought you might like that little quotation, too.

      <3

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  11. Ah lady, I love you!! We have much in common. I've been learning these lessons lately too (although I have not been learning them well, for I seem to have to learn them over and over and over again.) I so value your honesty, you are seriously an inspiration (I think i've told you this before!!!) So thankful for you and your online friendship. xo

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    1. I love you too, pretty mama!

      I confess that I have to learn these lessons over and over again, too. You are not alone in this!

      I always feel like I'm repeating myself commenting on your blog, too. Suffice it to say, I think we are kindred spirits!

      Love to you, my sweet friend!

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  12. I've been waiting for time to comment, agh, sorry this took so long.

    I could've written most of this myself. Your honesty is so relatable and refreshing! I think that my induction into motherhood brought so many new perspectives into my life, sometimes unfavorable ones. It always seemed like so and so had the new AWESOME stroller that I wanted...or could afford a new non-mom/non-college wardrobe. Time and time again, God used little reminders; such as a close friend suffering through a miscarriage or another friend nearly losing her home to foreclosure, and on-and-on.

    It is so hard not to compare, but that's when I realize that's not God speaking to me. He's not saying, look at what I've given everyone else...and not you. God gave us the ULTIMATE sacrifice, His son, to die for ME. There is nothing anyone else has that will compare to that.

    I am actually VERY thankful that I spent the money on some quality pieces while we were more comfortable, or else I'd really be that mom wearing nothing but too tight, too faded, and much too young clothing. My huge shout out and testament to God is through Chris' unemployment. We were devestated when he lost his lucrative job that finally allowed us to pay down college debt, purchase a decent used vehicle, and finally build our savings back up. However, my husband has been able to create incredible memories with our son (and now our daughter) being home with them. They get to experience story time, lots of time outdoors, learning experiences, much more time with family, and oh yea, better health! It was God's working especially in our little Caleb's life who suffered so many colds/ear infections/etc in his first year from day care...who has only have two colds in one year! What a blessing to our little guy who was once on acid reflux medicine, two inhalers, advil, and an antibiotic all at once. God has also used this to show me time and time again, He is MORE than big enough. I had no idea where the money would come from, we were more than maxed, then a refund would come, or a family friend would gift us money..and time and time again, He would remind me that His plan was much bigger and better than me. To sit back and know that HE IS GOD! After 11 months of unemployment, Chris is still looking, but do you know what, on my meager less than stellar salary, we have not paid ONE bill late, NOT ONE. We have had gas in the car and groceries in our home. We have access to wonderful doctors and all else. We are beyond blessed.

    I am with you, those thoughts begin to creep in. Then I'm reminded, that's just stuff. I really do look forward to the future with my two little miracles and my incredible hubby. I know that God has a path and a plan for us. We will fight for Him and rely on Him.

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    1. Ohhhhhh, sweet Tiffany, thank you so much for sharing this testament here. Tim and I went through a similar season of unemployment, and we experienced the exact same measures of God's faithfulness. We even received a pay adjustment from the Army, a few years after Tim was discharged! It was $.03 more than my graduate school tuition bill for that quarter. It really is amazing how the Lord takes care of us, EVEN when Satan tries to creep in our minds!

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