Content Amidst the Chaos

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100th post! February 2, 2011

Filed under: babies,family size,Our home — jps23 @ 12:25 am

It’s fitting that tonight I was going to blog about learning to become content.  It’s the name of the blog, and with this being the 100th post (according to my dashboard because otherwise, that’s just one more thing for me to keep up with!), it’s quite appropriate that it highlights when I arrived at that place of true contentment.

We are still on our baby journey in these posts.  There is so much back story that many of you don’t know, that if you did, I feel like you might understand why we keep having babies.  I know that ultimately it doesn’t matter if you understand that, but knowing God’s role in it all can be a benefit to all those reading this, even if you don’t decide to take this journey.  This is about trust and contentment, which I think can apply in anything you do.

So, after the miscarriage and Coleman’s illness, there weren’t any other major life catastrophe’s to speak of for some time.  However, as Andrew was added to the family (which was a horrific birth story, but I’ll save that for later), the 1,100 square foot house began feeling smaller and smaller.  I had a brilliant idea, though, an answer to our growing family’s need.  Let me explain a little to help you understand why we just didn’t run out and buy a bigger house.

We didn’t get a credit card until my senior year in college, which was also Adam’s year spent acquiring his Masters degree.  We did take out some student loans when we discovered the difficulty of juggling marriage, good grades, and jobs, but we were both attending on the HOPE grant, so we didn’t need that much.  We were a little foolish.  We went to out of town ball games and took a trip out of state here and there.  After all, Adam already had a commitment letter with a firm in Atlanta making A LOT of money.  We were going to be rich!  Add in a teacher’s salary, and we were going to be sitting pretty.  We also had to replace our car, and since I always wanted a truck, we went for it.  My parents cosigned, even though they advised us against buying new (What did they know? We had college degrees with sweet pay coming our way!)  Okay, maybe we were a lot foolish.  We did graduate into high paying jobs, and we somehow managed to spend, spend, spend.  We rented a house after a couple of months in an apartment that we eventually purchased.  It was a very modest brick ranch starter home in an established neighborhood.  But then we noticed that the credit card debt we had acquired wasn’t disappearing as quickly as we hoped (that’s hard to do when you are still spending and not focusing on paying it off- we had horrible financial habits early in our marriage).  So, we refinanced and paid off our credit cards with the equity, but we didn’t close the cards, and we continued to make stupid spending decisions.  Long story short, selling our house wasn’t an option.

So, I had another idea.  My grandmother’s house was double the size of ours, where she lived alone.  It made sense to me for her to allow us to move in the partially finished basement (the equivalent in sq footage to our house, almost) and let us fix up her house a little here and there as a form of payment.  Her health was deteriorating a little, so we would be there if anything should happen.  I wrote her a beautiful letter to give her time to consider my idea (she was the most beautiful letter-writer of them all), absolutely sure she would see the reason and logic in my proposal.  I had sketched floor plans with ideas for improving the house and making it work for our family for when she decided to move into something smaller.  I was so excited!  Then she called me one day and said, “Oh honey, you are so sweet to think of me, but I just plan on dying in this house, and I don’t want to live with anybody at this point in my life.  But you sure are sweet to think of me.”

I wasn’t content.  I was desperate!  I couldn’t understand how she couldn’t see the logic in my thinking!  I began living each day saying, “If only we had a bigger house…”  But we didn’t.  There we were, almost eight people in 1,100 sq feet.  You do that math on that one.  Never mind, I’ll do it for you.  That was approximately 150 sq feet for each body in our house (including the baby on the way) and all their stuff.  We were beginning to homeschool, and with me being the creative and crafty type, I had craft, scrapbooking, and school supplies everywhere!  It was insane.

So I had another brilliant idea.  We’ll just move to Mom and Dad’s lake house a little over an hour away and clear out our house, make repairs, and put it up for sale by owner, since we couldn’t part with any money in whatever deal we could come up with.  This idea was CRAZY.  There are no two ways about it, but it was all I had.  Remember?  I was desperate.  I was teaching preschool at our church and pregnant, and Adam was working, and driving both cars was just stupid, so we would get up at 4:30 so we could leave by 6:00 to sit in horrendous traffic to get to the southside of town on the days I had to work.  It was miserable!!!  And guess what?  Nothing got done to the house because I was so tired at the end of the day, entertaining five little people in even less space than we had before and too nauseated to fix dinner, that I would beg Adam to come home and bring dinner almost every day.  So we came back home just before Joseph was to be born, and we tried to live in our house again.  Joseph came, we made adjustments to accommodate him, and we just pushed through.

Then one day, I was cleaning the bookshelves and putting books away, and I found the sketches from my dream about living in Grandma’s house.  I looked at them, told myself it was never going to happen, prayed for contentment, a way to find joy in my current circumstance and learn to accept that God has a bigger plan, and I threw them away.  Then and there I decided to be content.

Now let me say this, if you haven’t already figured this out.  I am typing this post from my grandmother’s house, that I now live in and have lived in for about a year and a half.  The story of how it all happened requires a post of its own (and I think I’ve actually shared a little of the story already), but it is evidence that being content is worth it.  I don’t remember a lot from the last year we lived in our house.  I look back at pictures and videos and wonder how we did it, but I think that God also protected me from being overwhelmed by it all.  My pastor said something in his sermon the other day that struck me and kind of relates to this: “If you are in Christ, and Christ is in you, then you can be content in all circumstances.”  That is what had happened.

So, while messy floors bother me, I am content.  While laundry piled a mile high is aggravating, I am content.  While the kids clothes don’t always match and I can’t stand the hair-do on one of my girls, I am content.  And while I could have spit out a post every other day like all these other amazing bloggers that I follow, I haven’t, and I am content.  Happy 100th post to you.

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