Monday, January 2, 2012

A Fresh New Year and a Recipe for Contentment

How was your Christmas?
I hope it was lovely and that you all had the perfect day.
Ours was so joy filled, so wonderful.
I felt more content this Christmas than I ever have, and not because there were gifts piled under a warmly lit tree.
Not because I had a ham cooking and Anne Marie's rolls rising in the oven, a feast of plenty.
No, this year I barely had a plan, we rolled with the punches, and I didn't sweat over the little things.
It was pure bliss and we spent the day playing with new toys, reading new books, taking a walk, doing a puzzle...and eating way too much.
Half way through the day, the air filled with millions of tiny white flakes and covered everything in a sheet of white.

My Mom came by and while we watched the Grinch, she couldn't part with the puzzle.
It consumed her and it wasn't until after 11pm and I was asleep on the couch that she thought this might be a slight addiction:).

I was thankful, so thankful for our year and all that had happened, the good and the bad.
More than the gifts under the tree, and the refrigerator full of delicious food, I was thankful for a faith, for an incredible God who has blessed us with more than I could ask for.
A home, precious children, a loving husband.

Little things like the silence of a Christmas morning waiting for all possibilities, a wide eyed little boy with hair strewn, the smell of homegrown bacon and eggs, a hot cup of Christmas tea.

{Can you tell I was in love with pom-poms this Christmas?}

And now a fresh new year!
A clean slate ready for us to fill each new day with good things.
I love the new year and making plans... and for some reason, I always start deep cleaning my house and bringing bags and bags to Goodwill. 
Maybe it's the fact that we are in cozy quarters and cleaning out makes it feel spacious.

I also plan on cleaning out my life a little, too.
My biggest goal this year?
To be even more content with our lives, situation, and home.
It is truly the key to a life filled with joy.
I am still working on it...everyday...but it has become such a habit that I feel my life is more rewarding and joy filled than ever before. 
Even when things are super crazy...most of the time...that joy that fills my heart is there.

Christ is able to provide the strength we need to be content. Philippians 4:13

It all starts with contentment.
Being OK with things... right here... right now.
Thankful in the deepest way for what you have.

Here is what author Elizabeth Elliot says...

"I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Does the intellect balk at that? Can we say that there are things that happen to us that do not belong to our lovingly assigned "portion." ("This belongs to it, that does not")? Are some things, then, out of the control of the Almighty? Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are canceled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter. A quiet heart is content with what God gives."

I just ordered the book, Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow and I am so excited to read it.
She has some great quotes...

"Contentment is accepting God's sovereign control over all of life's circumstances."

"You will never really enjoy other people, you will never have stable emotions, you will never lead a life of godly contentment, you will never conquer jealousy and love others as you should until you thank God for making you the way He did." -Reverend James Hufstetler

Maybe this is your year to live life to its fullest.
Just as everything this moment.

Here is my personal recipe for contentment, a recipe that works for me and helps me get back on track when I slip.
I am not perfect, I falter sometimes and I have many things I still need to work on.
Stress....whew...that is a big one for me.
 But I can honestly and truly tell you that if you strive for contentment, your life opens to even more of God's blessings! 
The freedom you feel is irreplaceable. 

Here is my recipe that I have concocted through my own experiences and search for contentment:

1. Start everyday thanking God for what you have. Continue throughout the day.
When you feel that surge of discontentment...STOP...choose thankfulness and calm your heart.

2. Don't allow yourself to wish things had gone differently in the past. They didn't happen for a reason, so get over it and live NOW. 

3. Don't let negativity slip in. Instead, conscientiously CHOOSE to be positive.
No matter how bad things are, you can always find something good.

4. Try to not obsessively worry about the future. Pray, pray, pray and realize that God knows exactly what will happen. I am not saying that we need to sit and do nothing, but prepare in the best way possible, knowing that God is in control.

5. Don't compare yourself to others....their looks, what they have, their successes.
You have a special and prominent purpose in this life...unique and glorious.

6. It is OK to dream and let your creativity flow, but don't let those dreams make your reality seem less than desirable. I am not saying that you shouldn't pursue your ambitions in life...just that where you are right now is the PERFECT place to start! Be thankful that the Lord has blessed you with a creative mind!

7. Pray.
Be heart felt thankful for the blessings in your life.
Keep moving ahead!
Choose to be content and the joy and graces that follow are immense.
I believe it is the key to the fullest life:).

Happy New Year!
I wish you all the best in 2012:).
I am so thankful for all of my sweet friends out there.



Mary @ Neat and Tidy said...

Wow - what a great devotion to start my day! I can say amen to all these thoughts. I feel we can chose to be content or chose to wallow in self-pity.

I dearly love your blog and hope to go back and read all your previous posts. Everything is so nice here.

By the way, I pinned your picture of the tree with the pompom fringe; it's just plain cute.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I needed this! Do you mind if I print it out for my journal? xx

christan perona said...

I led a small group about 5 years ago that studied Calm My Anxious Heart. Thanks for reminding me about it. It's sitting on my shelf, and I think I need to dust it off and read it in 2012, too! :)

Sue said...

Mary of Neat and Tidy sent me over to read your blog. I'm so glad that she did. Contentment and simplify are my words for the new year. It is truly a blessing to be content and we really only find that when we rest in His presence.

I thank you so much for sharing this today. It touched my heart more than you'll ever know :)

In Christ,

lprofancik said...

Beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing.

Also, do you mind linking to the roll recipe that you mentioned? I couldn't find it.
Have a wonderful day!

Ironstone and Pine said...

Beautiful post Julia,those are some wonderful words to live by!Happy New Year!!~devon

Keep Home Simple said...

Fantastic Recipe! Thanks so much for sharing Julia! Happy New Year to you and your family!

Jacqueline said...

I love this post. Great recipe...I especially like #2. Happy New Year!

Valerie said...

Happy New Year, Julia! What a beautiful post to start off the new year!

Wishing you contentment and peace for 2012!


Tonya Gunn said...

How can we not be content when God gives us just what we need when we need it - just loved this post.
Happy New Year to you and your family - may it be peaceful and joy filled.

Laura & Family said...

I just wanted to thank you for this post. It was very real and honest and met me where I am as I start this new year. I appreciate that you infuse your walk with the Lord into your writing, it's encouraging to me. Thank you.

~ko said...

All time favorite recipe :) thank you for taking the time to write this post! Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family!

Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication said...

Thank you for that beautiful reminder and encouraging post! Everyone needs a little more contentment :)

Julia said...

Thank you all for your nice comments! Iprofanic...I linked to Anne Marie's book, Simply Christmas, which has the wonderful roll recipe in it!! They were delicious:).

~Julia said...

I am a lot older than you....and my first four are out of the nest, and life has taken away our home...which only means, I have even more reasons to be content. To learn like Paul to be content in all things. God has been speaking the same to me this thanks for the confirmation. In fact he even used some of your sources.

Thanks for the list...that is a great list!
Happy New Year

Sandra said...

Thank you for your list for's great! I plan on printing it out to keep as a reminder.

Christi said...


It is so nice to hear about your joy filled Christmas!

This is such a rich, and resourceful post! I know all of these things, but putting them into practice is an entirely different matter. I love how you have shown how to apply these truths in our lives.

So glad I have gotten to know you through your blog!

Happy New Year to you, too!


Holly said...

What a wonderful post and one that rings true for most of us. My devotional today, from "Jesus Calling" fit right in with this. I think we all yearn for a simpler life, where we can actaully find contentment. I think it gets lost in all the "junk" we have floating around in our lives.
I too, am chosing to try and be more content this year, more simplistic in my approach to everything, putting God first and giving Him the thanks He deserves.
Wishing you the greatest blessings in 2012

Kimberlee said...

Dear Julie, thank you for all of your gems of wisdom and God's truth and promises. Happy New Year to the whole family, Blessings upon you, Kimberlee

Amanda said...

I hope you know how good this is...

I had to come back, re-read it and comment.

so so moving.
full of inspiration.

A good message for me.

And every last word of it is true and real and spoken from your heart I can tell.

Thank you friend!

Gina said...

Great post. I just found you blog today and can't wait to look around. :)

Gumbo Lily said...

So, so good, Julia! We are on the "same page" so to speak as I wrote something similar to yours only you say it so well! Loved seeing your summer pictures sprinkled in with your Christmas pics.

Happy New Year!

Reginas Cottage said...

hello julia,
a great post!thanks for sharing.

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