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The gift of contentment

Elaine Froese for Progressive Dairy Published on 27 November 2019
Wrapped present

Yesterday, I spent some time sucking water seepage out of our basement, the result of an early wet snow in October. This morning, I forced my way through partially frozen ground to retrieve the last few carrots.

This year is going down in the books as a tough one: late spring, wet crops, freezing harvest, deep silage tracks. We’ve seen hard times before. What mindset shift is going to serve your family well in the coming months? I vote for contentment.

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As part of the redecorating project of my flooded basement, I took an ancient (faded) mountain-print gold-framed picture to the glass guys and had a mirror put into the frame. The print had faded to blues, but the story behind the picture prompted me to “re-purpose” what other designers might label “junk.” This was my mother-in-law’s left-behind treasure from a catalogue purchase sometime in the 1960s. My mother-in-law came to this country as a young toddler with parents, siblings and a suitcase. She shared her life story with a thankful heart, content to share what she has with others in need – her health, her wealth, her wisdom and her cookies.

“When you have enough, the basics, it is good to be content,” is the gist of what Mom Froese believed. The “new” mirror reminds me of my beloved mother-in-law and her ability to be content.

I asked a few other farmers what they would say about contentment. One fellow had tears well up, as he awaits the surgeon’s report. Others just shrugged their shoulders and said, “It’s been a tough year … 50 years of work is now in jeopardy.”

Circumstances may be critical, yet God is still in control. Is this a key to being content no matter what life crisis tries to crush you?

Being content calls us to reflect and cherish a spiritual gift we can choose to open. We each have the chance to accept and open up a vital dynamic relationship with God for our lives, for the present and for our eternal well-being.

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In God’s word, the Bible, Paul writes to the Philippians about contentment: “… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:11-13. KJV.)

Wow … what a gift.

There might not be a new sofa in the design plan this year or the trip or patio stuff. The gifts may be letters of love, thankfulness and affirmation. It might be a cup of tea shared in a spirit of friendship and caring with our neighbour. You might want to make an ordinary day more extraordinary, even if you aren’t celebrating a birthday or anniversary.

Contentment to celebrate Christmas in a different way may move you to invite some non-family members to the dinner table and a special church service. Mom might re-arrange the furniture and dig to the back of the attic or closet for long-forgotten treasures that need new light and perspective. I like to spend some days “putzing,” where I dedicate the search of forgotten white glass collections, linens or art that can find a new place to bring beauty and energy to our home sanctuary.

Some gifts to the kids “coming home” may be a family heirloom or book that needs to be passed along to the next generation. Share the story that goes along with your treasure, and do some “letting go” in the process. When you are storing things as you clean, take a few extra moments to pack away the story that goes with the special clock, ornament or photo.

Someone said, “Clutter is energy constipation.” It is time to declutter our lives.

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What if we were content with a kitchen or farm shop that was “good enough” and spent our time, energy and financial resources helping others locally and globally who are strapped for time and resources?

“Relationships, not achievements or the acquisition of things, are what matters most in life,” says Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life.

I agree.

We can be content with what we have and not worry (Matthew 6:25-35). We can be content because God will never leave us, no matter how tough the situation is (Hebrews 13:5-6). Those of us who reverence the Lord will never lack any good thing (Psalm 34:9).

Here are some ideas on how to build relationships this winter season:

  • Tuck a love note and Bible verse into your loved one’s lunch bag.
  • Bake cookies together or deliver treats to a lonely person.
  • Go skating, sledding, trail riding, skiing or walking. Look up!
  • Share memories around a scrapbook, photo album or family history book.
  • Tell stories. Build an outdoor bonfire and roast wieners.
  • Laugh lots. Find a puzzle to work on.
  • Volunteer to be a 4-H leader.

You have many tools and resources in your home to be content. Recycle those decorating magazines, and volunteer at the local thrift shop. In New Zealand, they call them “OP Shops” which is short for opportunity shops. We have lots of opportunity to re-purpose our stuff and be content with what we have. It might also be a good idea to shut off HGTV to curb your “house envy” episodes.

Open the Good Book and be content in going God’s way.

What would it take for you to be more content? How much is enough?  end mark

Elaine Froese, CSP, CAFA loves to hear your stories. Call her at (866) 848-8311 or check out Elaine's website. Invite your farm advisers and suppliers to sign up for her e-newsletter on the website.

IMAGE: Getty image 

 

Elaine Froese
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