Wrestling with Contentment

Over and over again people tell me they are waiting for God to do something significant in their lives and most of them are usually dreaming and hoping for something specific. It breaks my heart when they do not see how God is already working through the everyday circumstances of their lives and all they need to do is join in.

We sometimes look and pray so hard for God to do something big through our lives that we do not see what He is currently doing through the people and circumstances around us. I have come to realize in my own life that God was preparing me for what I am doing now and I can only assume He is still preparing me for what He wants me to do in the future.

I also had a dream and prayed hard for it. It was to work in ministry full time. I was tired of working for the perpetual business dollar. However, no matter how many jobs I applied for in the church and with other nonprofits, I could not seem to get an interview. I ended up working at the Star Tribune for twelve years and those who knew me best were the first to say I did not fit in.

I kept busy by working through eight jobs during those twelve years and focused on doing the best work possible. While I continued to pray, all I could do was live my values, serve unconditionally and wait for that ministry opportunity. When I became discouraged or frustrated during times of inequities, I reminded myself to focus on doing the job as if I were serving God — not man (Colossians 3:23). I painfully had to make decisions based on my values instead of what would help me gain favor in other people’s eyes or get that next promotion.

I remember one instance when I was applying for a supervisory position but the hiring manager was confused when I told him I had a servant leadership managerial style. Needless to say, I did not get the job.

On November 30, 1993, I wrote in my journal: “I need to be content in whatever situation I am in rather than always looking for God’s Will in something else. Instead of looking elsewhere, I need to look around at what I’ve already got. Where I am now IS God’s Will. God put me here.”

In the meantime, to ease that discontented feeling, God provided ways for me to serve Him in the church and on overseas mission trips. Although I did not realize it at the time, God used those years of experience in business and volunteer work to prepare me for the job I have now. He even provided a situation where I could finish my Bachelor’s degree and the only thing I had to pay for were my books.

It was June 2007 when the Star Tribune offered their first voluntary buy-outs. I did not accept it at first but woke up the following Sunday to the realization that God had provided the opportunity for me to get out of the trap I had been in. I did not recognize it at first because I had assumed it would come in the form of a new job offer. This open door required me to step out in faith. It meant that I had to quit my current job before acquiring another one.

One week after accepting the buy-out, I received an interview at Northwestern College and within one month, I was working at KTIS meeting with donors, listening to their stories, getting their feedback, answering their questions and making sure their needs are met. God had been waiting for me to let go and then He provided the opportunity.

I, like most people, knew I had finally landed my dream job. It is much easier now that my work matches my values and I can openly live out my faith. Only months after I had started, when I ran across former Star Tribune colleagues, they commented that I looked happier and they could tell that I had finally found the place that was “a good fit for me.” At the same time, I soon found that there are expectations and responsibilities that come with full time ministry. Now, more than ever, I need to strengthen my knowledge of the scriptures. In other words, I need to read more and serve deeper than I ever had before. However, this is not rigorous work. It is who I am so it fits my life and I can live it 24/7.

Every person I meet and every concert I attend challenges me in my faith and understanding. For instance, here are photos from “The Story” Christmas concert this past year with Stephen Curtis Chapman, Newsboys, Selah and Natalie Grant. This is one of those times when pictures cannot begin to describe how inspirational it was.



When I think about my previous post regarding simplicity and this subject of contentment, I cannot help but think about the people I have met during the foreign mission trips I participated in during the past 10 years. I have personally seen that our ability to provide for our own basic needs and buy those things that make us comfortable (give us temporary happiness), are among America’s biggest distractions that keep us from seeking and depending on God’s activity in our lives. In third world countries, they depend on God for their basic needs. In most situations, it is their next meal. But yet, they have a faith that is so strong it has brought me to tears on several occasions. They want to be like us but I want to be like them!

It is time for me to write about my life changing mission trips to the Philippines, Mexico and Africa. I will begin those with my next post.

A Journey through Chaos

It started out simple and what I thought was harmless. I told myself: “As long as I am home with my kids, why not do daycare and earn some extra money to make life a little easier? Besides,” I reasoned, “I would also be providing playmates for my kids.”

Then, after about four years of doing daycare, I decided I needed just a little more money and some adult interaction. So, I decided to sell Tupperware “just a couple nights a week.” I figured I would do paperwork during the day when all the kids were in school and hold a couple parties in the evenings. However, little did I realize that I would end up working around the clock – doing daycare and paperwork during the day and running the kids around to activities and doing more Tupperware parties at night than I had expected. I, of course, was following the carrot – the more parties I held, the more money I made. I got caught in a trap and lost my way. I was working so hard that I even earned a free van.

I finally came to a point in my journal where I said: “all I do now is fight for time, complain, worry about what people are going to do, and cringe every time the phone rings. I’m suffocating. I need to get out of the hole I’ve been sucked into.” I desperately wanted time to sit and talk with my husband and read to my children at night. I finally realized that I had to simplify my life. I quit Tupperware and started meditating on:

1) Trusting God to provide and learning to not worry so much (Matthew 6:25-34)
2) Watching out for greed and having to buy stuff I did not need (Luke 12:15)
3) Focusing on what is important. In the long run, I knew I would never feel as though I had enough money and I knew money would never satisfy me (Matthew 6:19-24)

One month later, I wrote: “I am so thankful for the time I have with my children now that I’m not doing parties, recruiting, training and interviewing. Simplicity took a load off my shoulders. It gave me freedom from worry and anxiety – my beliefs and values are finally in line with what I am doing.”

Because of these principles, we never moved out of our starter home into a bigger house. Therefore, we were able to build equity and were not affected by the housing collapse. Since we had the equity and have always wanted a cabin on a lake in Northern Minnesota, we decided to look at what was available and see if God would provide. We found the most affordable area and called a realtor. It took only two weekends of riding around with the realtor to find the perfect place for us. Since it did not have electricity, it was the only property we looked at, in our price range, that already had a cabin on it. It was exactly the adventurous getaway we were looking for. Having a place like this was a step toward simplification for us. I knew from visits to my grandmother’s cabin as a child that sitting in the middle of nature with no city noise or TV blaring would be relaxing and a great reminder of the important basics of life. Time and time again, I am in awe that God provided this place where we can detoxify from the stresses of life and sit back and marvel as His creation. This picture gives a small glimpse into its tranquility:

Over time, I came to realize that God provided during those times when I trusted Him and when I was not busy getting in the way. I have learned that I make better decisions when I stop, pray and wait for clear direction. As I outlined in my History posts, God has always provided what I “needed.” I may not see it right away but it becomes clear later down the road. Hindsight has also shown me that what I wanted is not always what I needed.

This wasn’t the end of my struggle to find simplicity. However, it was a great start because I had identified and acknowledged the fact that it was a problem so I can now face it head-on whenever busyness once again tries to invade what is more important.

Now that I have identified my worth in God and the need to trust that He will provide, next week I will talk about my journey towards contentment.

Still Waters.

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