Cultivating A Joyful Life | Content Where We Are

Cultivating A Joyful Life | Content Where We Are

First and foremost, before I really delve into the topic of this post, I’d like to clarify that I’m well aware that most people don’t live in cozy little outdoor patios like the one featured above. 😂💚 It merely serves to materialize the ‘home’ theme of Part One of my Cultivating A Joyful Life series, as well as keeping to the constant theme of these posts, which are gardens.

In the introduction that I wrote last week, I shared a beautiful way to think of our minds and our hearts, and that is by comparing them to a garden. The gardens that are well-cultivated, loved, and overall taken care are home to many beautiful plants and accents throughout! However, much against the gardener’s will, weeds still sprout up, good plants still die, etc, so it is essential that they are continuously cared for.

They cannot be cultivated to a certain point, then left to their own devices; just like with gardens, our hearts need daily (in some cases constant) care, or else everything gets bad quite suddenly. In abandoned gardens, flowers start to wilt, stems fade and begin turning brown, leaves slowly fall off the trees … in short, beautiful things cannot live if not taken care of.

I may be speaking of gardens, but in many ways, one can put his- or herself in this situation, as well. What happens when we stop actively putting aside bad behaviors? How does our life change when good habits that we were constantly nurturing are thrown to the side? Our positivity starts to wilt, happiness fades and turns to sorrow, and the joyful way we usually feel begins to crumble away. It’s a sad image, yet absolutely accurate; I’ve seen it happen – and felt it happen! – time and time again.

One of the utmost things that has been on my mind as of late have been earthly dwellings – or, put plainly, as you’d probably prefer 😂, our homes! 🏠 Many of us (myself included) become discontent with where we currently reside for all sorts of reasons. That’s what I’ll be attempting to tackle today – discontentment with where we live, and how we may come to be okay, happy, and just overall …

Content Where We Are

This is a fact of life that many of you probably already know: we easily (and often) become bored. Growing tired of anything in our lives that stays constant for too long is a frequent occurrence, and it is completely different for each and every person. We crave change, we desire new things, and, sometimes, we simply long for life to be a bit more interesting. I know that I personally love for things to be familiar, yet interesting; normal, yet different.

You see, I love for things to have a basic schedule and predictability, while still leaving room for creativity, for switching things around here and there when necessary. For example, I really enjoy going places, and I love that most when they’re different places. I like to get my schoolwork done on weekday mornings, but in a different order each day, depending on how much work I’m assigned. I thoroughly enjoy reading books, browsing blogs, and listening to music, and I enjoy those activities most when they are different books, blogs, and music. Do you see the growing pattern here?

I love predictable variation.

That may sound odd to you. In fact, it sounds odd to me. But I have realized while writing this post that it is an absolute truth in my life.

When it comes to where my family and I live, I strive to be happy with where we’re living. I decorate the bedroom I occupy to my utmost liking, and I learn to accept the little things that are wrong with the house itself (for there are always cons to the homes we find ourselves in). I’m usually quite fine with wherever we’re living. However, the moment I begin to feel unhappy with the location, I feel very trapped, sometimes afraid, and most certainly like I want to break free and move elsewhere – far away – to be anywhere but here.

When I look to the Lord for the healing balm that will soothe my aching soul, I always find three things that comfort me. Here they are:

  1. He cares for us so much. It may look like we’re stuck somewhere, whether it’s because we haven’t found a new place to move, or there are financial struggles, etc, but all things serve a good purpose (Romans 8:28). Find joy in the waiting! It definitely seems fruitless at times, but we are always being prepared for what is to come. That leads me to my second point:
  2. The dreams and plans that the Lord has for His children are far greater than we can ever imagine. It says so in His Word! (1 Corinthians 2:9) We often find this hard to believe, especially when we’re hurting, but please, if you will, take a moment to look back at the beautiful life you have. Can you see His hand at work? I always can in my own life. ❤ That leads me (again!) to my third point:
  3. This is not our eternal home! I tend to think that bad/upsetting living situations are a permanent thing, but guys. Everything is SO temporary! Not only are there beautiful opportunities and experiences waiting for us in our future, but we are also “looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:13 NLT, emphasis mine. That’s the first time I’ve read that particular translation of the verse, and it has me so excited right now for all that He has in store for us!

In conclusion, it’s hard to feel settled in the houses/apartments we live in sometimes – and that’s okay. At times, it’s important that we move, and in other situations, it is crucial that we wait. Look at your unique situation from every angle. For me personally, I know that my family and I will soon move out of the house we’ve lived in for two years, which I didn’t even know about when I started writing this post. ❤ The Lord’s blessings are everywhere!! (: xx (by the way, we don’t have a date or anything yet. This plan is tentative. ‘Soon’ will have to do for now. 💚)

How about you?

Are you finding the joy in where you live? What are YOUR favorite things about your current home? 🏠💜

Happy Wednesday, guys! I hope that you’re all having a beautiful, blessed week!

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Cultivating A Joyful Life | An Introduction

Cultivating A Joyful Life | An Introduction

Cultivate is one of my favorite words. It is a beautiful way to describe keeping and nurturing plant life, but the way I love to use it most is in an analogy.

Have you ever heard those inspirational quotes that refer to our hearts as a garden?

We each have a garden within us.

It’s the place where we keep all of our best memories – and our worst nightmares; a place where we grow positive attitude attributes – as well as traits we wish we didn’t have. In our gardens, we cultivate beautiful things that add joy, love, and peace to our lives … and in that same garden is an assortment of weeds, plants we wish weren’t there anymore, dusty stones in that cobblestone path that has been the main walkway in our hearts for years. It’s different for each and every person; not one garden looks the same, and that’s okay! For just like we differ as people, what we cultivate in our hearts, minds, and souls is different, too.

I often ponder what is in the garden of my own heart. Seldom have I mentioned it, but I absolutely love analogies, parables, metaphors, and everything else that’s nice (haha) – really, I love comparing things with one another by using verbal illustrations to show how, even though two things are completely different, they are, in essence, the same. Even though I have come up with few unique analogies myself, I take to heart each and every one I come across that touches me. I enjoy reading, seeing and hearing what others have come up with, and I also love the wisdom found through parables in the Bible.

Jesus’ favorite way to teach was through parables. There are many to be found in the four epistles (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and I love them all. Each one beautifully illustrates whatever point the Son of Man is making – which makes sense, for He has infinite knowledge, so He would be the One to come up with the perfect parable for each lesson, every single time, haha!

When I was pondering posts I’d enjoy writing last week, this was one of the title ideas that came to mind. That is, ‘Cultivating A Joyful Life.’ What exactly does that mean, you might wonder? I’m not even completely sure myself yet. But the aspects that I’ve thought over in the days since then have made extremely excited to write out this series, as it will be a great learning experience for me, and anyone else interested, as well.

Since April, I have been keeping up with my Making the Change series. At first, it was a weekly thing that I did, but now I do one at the end of most months. The day before I was going to make the first post public, I was really second-guessing myself on how well the series would be received. It was good for me to write that post, and I knew that it was quite possible that I could help others overcome whatever obstacles they’re facing … but I worried that people wouldn’t like me anymore because I would be revealing the fact that I was dealing with anger. Being so vulnerable and open frightened me, but I went ahead and posted it, and the response the series has gotten as a whole has blessed me so much!

Every one of you who has commented on the posts in my Making the Change series has truly added to my life and helped me to stay focused on fixing the behaviors that have bound me for too long. It hasn’t been easy at times, and I greatly appreciated everyone’s feedback, and hearing you guys’ stories blessed me, as well. ❤

This series, Cultivating A Joyful Life, will be in some ways similar to Making the Change, but instead of looking to fixing specific behaviors, it will focus more on better understanding ourselves, on how we can be joyful and at peace with who we are, where we are, and also who we are with.

It’s a work in progress, but this is only the beginning. I can’t wait to continue with this series!

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Making the Change ~ Monthly Wrap-Up (July-August 2017)

Making the Change ~ Monthly Wrap-Up (July-August 2017)

Hi guys! I hope that you are all having a beautiful Wednesday so far. xx I woke up feeling not so great today, as I have a cold right now, and I broke my fever upon waking. I’m planning to take it easy today and catch up on the posts I’ve missed reading.

On that note, I’m now back to blogging! Click here to read yesterday’s post on why I’m back a week early, if you’d like.

When planning ahead for what I’d blog about upon my return to blogging, I went back and forth between wanting to do a Making the Change wrap-up post, and deciding against it. As I’d planned to originally come back in the first week of August, it didn’t seem right to do this post on the first Wednesday of the month, as I’ve been posting them on the final Wednesdays of the month. As fate would have it (although I personally believe this is by the Lord’s guidance), I’m back a week earlier than planned. It’s still July. 😂 It’s the last Wednesday of the month. So, let’s get into this!

I have had lots of time recently to bond with my family. We’ve been playing games and having heartfelt conversations. I’ve also had more time spent in prayer, as my evenings as of late have been quite a bit quieter than they usually are, what with staying off of WordPress. Both of these paired together has caused me to notice that the Lord is calling me into a deeper relationship both with Him, as well as with each member of my family.

In June of 2016, I very much struggled to get used to having a new baby in the family, and this past April, my mom’s miscarriage really took a toll on my faith. I had drawn away from the Lord, sunken into myself, and crawled into a shell of what I thought was protection. When I realized that my self-inflicted hiding place was what was injuring the relationships and friendships I valued so much, the Lord was then able to lead me out.

He has taught me so much through what I continually thought was worthless pain. He continually uses each and every trouble I’ve ever found myself in for a good purpose – most especially for His glory. I am slowly finding it easier and easier to boast in my affliction, as Paul wrote in the Bible, for then the Lord’s grace may rest upon me.

I’m still a long way from where I want to be, but you know what? Maybe I’ll never get there … and maybe that’s okay. The Lord is directing and guiding my steps; He has my life in His hands. When I am willing, His strength is manifested in me, and I know that the changes I desire to see in my life will be here sooner than I realize. I’m taking it a day, a minute at a time, focusing on the good and forgiving myself for my downfalls.

It’s getting easier and easier to make this change. ❤

The Past Month: July 2017

Improvements: I’ve been finding as many things as I can to do with Samuel. Playing pretend, doing Wii games … I’m pretty sure this was mentioned in the last ‘improvements’ section of the last wrap-up post, but I’ve come even farther from there. He and I have played pretend every day for the last week – a huge improvement from where we were not too long ago.

Next Time: I need to further accept mine and Joshua’s differences. As we’re in such difference places of maturity and in our walks in life and with the Lord, it’s hard, and often weighs heavy on my heart.

The Upcoming Month: August 2017

Focuses:

  • Forgiveness. Letting go of the past, and exhibiting grace to future faults I would have once struggled to forgive.
  • Having a servant’s heart. I want to put my desires consistently behind me and instead look to what my family needs.
  • Thinking before I speak. It is important that I put more thought into what I say before letting things I don’t mean slip past my lips.

Quotes and Bible Verses to Inspire:

“Forgiveness is a process. A choice you have to make over and over, every day, until you’re free of hurt.”

“The highest calling we’ll ever have is to be a servant of the Lord.” – Christine Caine

“When someone does something wrong, don’t forget all the things they did right.”

“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.”

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with one another, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” – {derived from} Ephesians 4:2

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Thank you so much for reading, guys. I hope that you all have a blessed rest of the week! How about you?

What do YOU desire to focus on in August?

— Maggie