Tuesday, December 19, 2006


As I was driving through town today, picking up the last of my Christmas presents (yay!), I was thinking about the Christmas Tour of Homes. I thought about how when I clicked on the different links, I would find myself in someone else's house, looking at their Christmas trees, decorations, and furniture.

I would notice that so-and-so had a matching sofa set with a beautiful coordinating rug. And so-and-so has such pretty hardwood floors that look freshly polished. And so-and-so really has a sense for decorating; everything looks just like a magazine spread.

And that feeling of inadequacy comes creeping up. Where did that come from? I know, Lord, you have given us so very much. We are so blessed. I know that.

It's the same feeling I had last time I came home from my sister's house. It's beautiful. Everything in her house matches. Not a picture frame or candle holder that doesn't coordinate finds its way onto the shelves. She is so talented at organizing and decorating.

Our house? Well, it's a mismatch of hand-me-down furniture, new furniture, well-used furniture. Pretty much anything anyone gives us finds its way onto the shelves, tables, and countertops. (I definitely inherited the packrat gene from my mother and grandmother; it skipped my sister.) I can't say that our house has a style per say.

I think about my friend whose house is spotless at all times. Even with two kids. Her carpets don't have stains. Dishes don't sit in her sink. The beds are always made. Even when I stop by at a moments notice--nary a speck of dust to be found.

And I feel inadequate as a housekeeper and "stylist" for this home.

Driving around with all this floating through my head, my thoughts traveled back a few years to when I had a group of girls from Students for Christ at my house overnight. I used to teach in a large urban high school where most of the kids were on free and reduced lunch. Broken families were the norm. 15-year-olds getting pregnant was not uncommon. Gangs and drugs were rampant.

The girls wanted a "Ladies Night" retreat sort-of-thing, and instead of paying to stay in a hotel, I offered to let them come to my house.

I didn't think anything of it.

Our house is not huge. It's a normal, modest, one-story house in the suburbs. It's just the right size for us, except the yard is a little small for the dogs. It has three bedrooms, a couple of living areas, and an average size kitchen.

I dream of something bigger. A large island kitchen. Hardwood floors that stretch through the house. Clean carpets. Matching furniture that's comfortable and practical. A bigger yard. The list goes on.

Do you know what I overhead that night the girls stayed at my house?

"This is my dream house!"

I was stopped dead in my tracks. Her dream house? Don't people normally say that about big, fancy mansions with marble and tile and a pool?

Not when you've lived in an apartment all your life with your whole family (extended family, probably) and never had your own space. Not when you share your small bedroom with more than one other person.

I was humbled then and again today when I remembered those words.

Lord, help me to be satisfied with what you have given me. It is more than enough. You are more than enough for me. Thank you for humbling me once again.

I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:4-8


momrn2 said...

What a wonderful reminder! Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

I have been feeling these same things lately. I think part of it is the season, but that is no excuse. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

Dave & Lisa said...

I really liked this post. And I have to say, your house has been MY dream house ever since you moved there!! I don't think Dave and I will ever have a house like yours. Honestly, I don't know if we'll ever have a house at all! It would be nice, but that's just not where we are... and probably not where we'll be for a quite a while.

I would love to have a guest bed, a desk, a few more chairs, things like that. We're still sitting on the floor to use our computer... but I guess our excuse is that we're still in that "newlywed phase" just trying to pay off his debt. As much as I wish that home furnishings were a little higher up on our budget priority list, they just aren't. And in the grand scheme of things, in eternity, I know that won't matter at all, though sometimes here I think it's important and I start to feel discontent.

I could relate to what you're saying about dreaming of something bigger, even though my dreams are still not even as big as the house you're living in now. ;-)

I remember that night with the girls, too, and their reactions. It's good to keep that in perspective! :-)

I love you,

Anonymous said...

I think it is amazing how easily we can become dissatisfied with all of the things we have and forget how truly blessed we are.

I know that I am definitely guilty!!

We live in an apartment that perfectly satisfies our needs...we have plenty of space for the two of us and it is a great apartment...but...I seem to have the hardest time "waiting for the house."

Thanks for the great post!! It is so important for us to have those reminders of the things (or the Person) that we truly need!

Debi said...

This is a great post...so transparent...and something most of us have struggled with from time to time. You know, when we've done the BooMama Home Tours I've always thought your home so pretty....I love the colors you've used in the rooms of your home. I too have sisters who have beautiful homes and furnishings....mine is quite modest compared to theirs'...old, very small, and a hodge podge of furniture. Most of the lovely things I have have been given to me.
I always thought this would be our starter home and that we would move on to bigger and better, but it never happened.
Sometimes, and especially at this time of year when you get all those newsletters recounting everyone's evident success, I think I should be further along in my own "success."
And, unfortunately, many people, if they witnessed my lifestyle, would too, because they wouldn't take the time to look beyond the surface.
And that is one thing I've learned from my experience....to look at the person, not what they have or don't have.
We raised three girls in an 1100 square foot home with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, and we all survived. It has been a humbling journey, but I know the Lord's economy is nothing like my own and what is important to Him is, not what I have, but who I am.
"......for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." Luke 12:15b
Hopefully, I am becoming who He wants me to be....for that is TRUE SUCCESS.
And if He ever wants to give me a more "beautiful" home....well, that's okay too :)
I know one thing, I wouldn't trade the times I've had with my daughters around the coffee table in our small living room [we didn't have a family room] for anything. Sometimes smaller spaces cause you, out of necessity, to build closer relationships.
Thanks for sharing your heart...I know He is pleased with your conclusions!

The Best Family said...

Jennifer - This post really touched me because this is something that I struggle with continually!! We are in the same situation as you... a decent house with lots of hand-me-down mismathced furniture, but we most definately have more than all that we need... why is it that I want more? Will "it" ever be enough? This past summer, my husband and I went thru a rocky spot in our marriage, and if you had asked me the week before this all happened, I would have told you that our marriage was rock solid. I had no idea what had been going on right under my nose... I think it was a huge wake up call to me that no matter how much we have, we have nothing with out our powerful God in our hearts. I would have traded in all of my personal belongings, all of my money at that point to have trust back in my marriage... Since then we have put many pieces back together, and now things are even better than before... I have a whole new since of contentment that I never had before. I am not proud to say that is what it took for me to get there, but it is such an incredible feeling to realized how truly blessed I am...
Sorry for the novel comment... I know we have not been in touch for several years, but thru your blog, I feel like I know you so well all over again... I love it! Anyways, thanks for a touching post...

Anonymous said...

Jenn, you're honesty was refreshing and beautiful! I know I sure go through periods of this. Thanks for showing the right perspective.

Jenna said...

Jenn-- Your post brought tears to my eyes, because I SO struggle with that exact same thing -- a rented house, hand-me-down furniture, no budget for my expensive "Pottery Barn" dreams... But (like you) the Lord has faithfully been teaching me to be grateful for and enjoy what I have. And to be content, for I have the most fulfilling things -- an amazing Savior, eternal life, a beloved husband, precious son, wonderful mom (Debi) and family. Ah, yes...Those people (not temporal things!) are what are truly precious to me! Thanks for your post -- it made me realize just how much I really have. :)

Anonymous said...

I really liked this post! It reminds me of the apostle Paul and the struggles and trials of his life...what did he learn from all of it...to be content in all things. That is the key...but we all struggle with discontentment at times,me especially. It is all about attitude. It is wonderful to know that His grace is sufficient for my struggles. I can rest in that!

God bless!


Anonymous said...

what an amazing and honest post. and what an experience to have those girls in your house and to make you feel grateful for all that surrounds you. I know it is a struggle held by many, including myself, so thank you for humbling us all.

jettybetty said...

Several years ago, I had a similar experience--with someone thinking our house was a *dream* house--it still impacts me--because I was so caught up middle class America--I had no idea--after all we live in the smallest house in our neighborhood!
I join with the others to thank you for your transparency--this is an excellent post!

Lindsey @ enjoythejourney said...

You hit the nail on the head. It is more about being thankful for what we do have, being content. I try and remember that we are to be content in all things; full or hungry, with or without, we are content because we have Jesus.

(By the way, I got some serious countertop envy during the tour of homes)

Anonymous said...

I thought I already commented on here but have been having trouble signing in with the new blogger, so I will try again. You make a good point of there will always be someone with a better house, better furniture, better neighborhood but there will also always be people looking at you and thinking I wish I had her house, her furniture, her neighborhood too. In a few years your son's friends will always want to play at his house because it is comfortable and full of love. They will not be interested in all the furniture matching or it being spotless.

Rachel Anne said...

This Christmas has been a humbling time for me...realizing how much I do wish for "more" when I already have so much. I appreciate your honest words and the beautiful scripture to remind me that HE is more than enough.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Some days I feel the same way. Look at this website www.missionmakeover. I need some encouragement daily as I work with teens.

Lisa said...

I heard something years ago that has resonated with me ever since:

Comparison is the beginning of discontent.

How true that has proved in my own experience! Particularly for women. We compare ourselves, find ourselves different and see it as lack. Comparison may beget discontent, but I think contentment begins with gratitude.

Stumbled upon your site while cruising blog-world and look forward to perusing more carefully...


Anonymous said...

Your words resonated deeply here. Let's crawl up on Jesus' lap together.
He only sees our beauty...which is only the reflection of His.

You are so loved, Jenn...

Reflecting Him

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