Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Cozy Chronicles: the practice of being content (part 1)

 




Happy Saturday, friends! I was reading a book this week and was inspired to start a new series here on my blog—I'm calling it The Cozy Chronicles, because being cozy isn't just in one particular season. We can do little things everyday to make our homes into the havens that we desire—and it all starts with the practice of being content. Here are a few things that I have learned over the last couple of decades. 


1. Live within your means


Todd and I have been married since we were a very young 19 years of age. It's no wonder why we were poor! We were young, we worked full time jobs, and we didn't need much but a car, food, a place to live, and each other. That being said, we did struggle. We decided to get a credit card to help us out from time to time, but of course it didn't go that way, and we ran the bill all the way up to the limit. When we realized how bad that was for our credit and for our finances in the long run, we cut the card up, paid if off, and lived credit card free until about eight years ago. We now have one credit card and we only use it when we purchase something on Amazon, or for Christmas, and we pay it off at the end of every single month. It's been nice to have on hand for emergencies, too, but we now also have an emergency only savings account. Just that one small act of paying off the balance each month has taken me from having zero credit (which is way worse than bad credit) to have the best credit score ever.


How did we go for so long without credit cards? We lived within our means. If we couldn't pay for something right away, we decided we did not need whatever it was we thought we did. We didn't take extravagant vacations, which is why we camped for so long. We also vacationed with Todd's parents each year, so before we started camping, we went to Hot Springs, Arkansas each year when the boys were little. Later on in time we started taking them to Branson, Missouri each year, but if you ask them, they never knew what they were missing by not going to the beach three times a year. We filled in the other breaks and gaps in their school year with camping, which was our most favorite thing ever. Our favorite memories come from our many years of camping with them! I feel like I should share about that someday, but I'll carry on with the rest of this post.


We didn't shop for things we couldn't afford, and we lived reasonable lives. We didn't (still don't and don't want to) have the biggest, nicest house, and our home decor style is "lived in, comfortable, and cozy" and definitely not "stuffy, brand new, and fancy". We didn't eat out much, we did not buy new cars, I cooked all the time, and I shopped for groceries that were on sale or that went a long way. I didn't work outside of our home for many years, and we decided it was worth the scraping by so that I could be at home with the boys. I wouldn't trade that time at home with them for all the money the world has to offer! We learned that stuff does not equal being happy or content, but that true contentment can only come from Jesus. When He is at the very center of our lives, our whole world revolves around Him, and we don't try to just "fit Him in" when or where the time allows. We taught the boys this when they were very little, so they were raised going to church (almost) every time the doors were open. We still do this today, Todd and me, but so do our sons. I'm so thankful to the Lord for this, which leads me to the second practice. 


2. Comparison is the thief of joy, so be thankful


It's impossible to be envious of others when you practice being thankful regularly! To help myself remember this, I use an actual gratitude journal, but it could be a regular journal, a note on your phone, or a page of notebook paper in your Bible. 



The Bible talks about this over and over; I love this verse below from 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Oddly enough, in my Bible reading this week, the teacher and podcaster Tara Leigh Cobble said this: "Remembering God is directly connected to our gratitude and thanksgiving." We had just read some chapters from Psalm, and that was one of the takeaways that she mentioned that day. 


Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.



Because it's impossible to be thankful and to complain (or grumble or be negative in your thinking) at the same time, this leads to the next practice.


3. Be positive in your thinking! 


Have you ever been with someone who complains incessantly? I'm sure we all have, and that type of person is not fun to be around. We all have things to be grumpy about, don't we? While it is good to talk about things with the ones we love most, I think that we need to be careful in doing that kind of thing too much. The more we complain, the easier it is to complain. The opposite is also true: the more we think positively, the easier that becomes. 


4. Make everyday special.  


You have all heard me say how I always have things that I look forward to, and this is how. I try to make everyday special! Here are some things that fill my cup, so to speak:


  • waking up early
  • spending quality time with Jesus in prayer and in reading His word
  • being quiet after a busy morning or day of talking to people in the bookstore 
  • listening to worship music
  • playing with our dogs

None of these things cost a dime, and yet when I do them, they make my days special. 


5. Lastly, to practice being content, enjoy the simple pleasures in life.


Here are a few of my simple pleasures in life:


  • tidy & clean spaces 
  • an orderly/organized home that smells good when I walk in
  • lighting a candle 
  • reading
  • listening to music all the time (I have so many different genres of music that I love)
  • flowers (either real of faux)
  • spending time outside with my dogs when the weather is nice
  • reading outside on a sunny day
  • floating in a pool on a hot and sunny day
  • singing & choir practice
  • faithfully attending church services each week
  • writing in my journal
  • dating my husband
  • laughing with Todd


I'll wrap this post up with one of my very favorite songs, the song Jireh, by Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music. Before you listen, here's a little background information about the name of the song.


In the original language, the word(s)  "Jehovah Jireh" (YHWH-Yireh) translate(s) into meaning "the LORD will provide". A story about this takes place in the book of Genesis, in chapter 22 verse 14, when Abraham was about to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice of worship to God; before Abraham could lay a hand on him, God provided for Abraham a ram in a bush to offer up instead of Isaac. This story is a foreshadowing of Christ and how later on in time, God would provide His own Son to be sacrificed for our sins. 


The reason I share this song and mention all of this background information is because true contentment only comes from the Lord. He provides for us daily, and we can rest knowing that. He is so very good to us! 



I know many of you practice being content on a regular basis; what does that look like in your own life? I'd love to hear from you! I'll be adding to these chronicles in the future, so stay tuned for more. I think this is my third bonus post of the week, and I have one more coming that is scheduled to post later this afternoon in honor of Mother's day tomorrow. 🤣 I don't even know who I am anymore. To say that the Lord is inspiring me to write a lot lately is the understatement of the year. 


I hope you're enjoying your weekend! I'll see you back here later today and then again on Monday. Love to all!


Jenn 🖤

16 comments:

  1. I loved this. I think gratitude is key and I find it helpful to write it down too. Spending time in nature is something else that helps me with contentment. The beauty and majesty of creation reminds me God is big. Have a nice weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Joyce! It does help to write out things that we're grateful for. I agree about nature! I see Him everywhere; He created such a beautiful world for us to live in.

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  2. You are on a writing streak...and I love it. I agree with the comment "The more you complain, the easier it is to complain more." Anything we do becomes a habit, and that includes our attitude/feelings. I loved hearing about how you were content when the times were lean! Happy Mother's Day (again)!

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    1. Thanks, my friend! I like that you said how everything can become a habit. It's so true! Happy Mother's day to you, my friend!

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  3. I love this bonus post! Comparison truly is the thief of joy. I have been learning and continually learning all the time about parallel emotions in life, which I will probably write more about next week. Mindset is huge! Enjoy your Saturday!

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    1. Thanks, Marilyn! Isn't that so true in life? I love that about the parallel emotions: I am experiencing a tiny bit of that with a situation in life right now and am feeling both excitement and dread, joy and sorrow. I'll probably write about that next week, too. I look forward to reading your post soon! Happy Mother's day to you, my friend! Lots of love. xoxo

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  4. I love how relatable your blog is - definitely my favorite!

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    1. Julie, that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said! Thank you for that, my friend!

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  5. Yes, to all those things. Life is a gift that many take for granted. If people would just stop and realize how lucky they are they would enjoy life so much more, appreciate other and overall be much happier.

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  6. These are all excellent guidelines for life. Too many of the young people today have to have something NOW even though they probably can't afford it and, in hindsight, most likely didn't need it but we are in the instant gratification generation. I've found that if you save for something, it's so much more enjoyable because you worked for it. As for comparison, the grass is not greener on the other side as the saying goes, it's just different grass!

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    1. Thank you, Pamela! You are so right. I see it in the some of the people who come around because our sons hang out with them on occasion. It's just different grass...I love that!

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  7. Ahh! My fella and I had a credit card once, ran up the debt and it took us years to pay it off once we cut the card up. We are debt free now and live within our means and we are happier for it.
    Yes! I know someone who complains all of the time and they just drain my energy when I am with them. They are hard work especially when I like to see the positive in everything.
    I loved reading this blog post!
    Happy Mother's Day for tomorrow! x

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    1. Kim, you get it! It was a great lesson for us to learn. I'm thankful for it, honestly, because it changed the way I think about money. I think most people fall into one of two groups: those who give life, and those who suck the life out of those around them. Thanks for that! Happy Mother's day to you too, my friend!

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  8. Great post Jennifer! I love your thoughts on being content and thankful. Hubby and I learned the credit card lesson too. We now pay it off every month and that makes all the difference. Contentment and thankfulness and knowing from whom they come makes our life so much richer. Looking at the ocean or up at the sky are 2 of the things in nature that make me think of God and that He created all of this for our enjoyment. Thank you my friend for your words of wisdom! Keep on writing for Him, as you are a great source of encouragement.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy! That was a hard lesson for us, but it's one we never forgot. You are so right about being in nature, that is something I love too. I appreciate your words of encouragement!

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