Thursday, July 26, 2012

Practicing Contentment

My granddad has Alzehimers and is quickly deteriorating.  My mom and dad just went to visit him a few days ago and he didn’t even recognize them.  Apparently he is confined to a wheel chair almost all the time now because of his frailty.  This breaks my heart, but I can only imagine what it must feel like for his own children to see him in this state. I can’t imagine, nor do I want to, a day when my own mother or father doesn’t even know who I am.

The reality of this disease, and of so many other diseases like the breast cancer my friend is dealing with which I spoke of briefly in the last post, is that it sobers us.  It weighs heavy on our hearts when people we love suffer.  Or even when we hear about the unimaginable suffering happening around the world. 

Which brings me to what’s been on my heart a lot lately: practicing contentment.  I’ve really been struggling with being content lately.  Content with what I do have.  Being thankful for all the blessings in my life.  I can be a pretty upbeat, hopeful person, but I also have an immense capacity to complain, focus on the negative, and wish for difference circumstances. 

Like wishing the ants would just go away.  For good.  And stop crawling around in my dirty laundry. Or brand new trail mix. (The fumigation did absolutely nothing and the ants were back in full force after a day).  
Sorting through the trail mix to weed out the ants.
Or like wishing Kate would stop getting sick every month – this last time she had a four day virus with temperatures up to 104.   
Day four of the virus... thought she was better but while downtown San Jose her temp spiked again.  So glad she's finally better!
Or like wishing this cultural adjustment would just speed up and I’d be able to speak amazing Spanish and stop feeling so stupid all the time even though I’ve lived here for almost 10 months!  There always seems to be something I can find to complain about.

And then I get an email from my mom about my granddad falling apart. And it puts everything in perspective.

Life is too short.  Too fragile.  Too precious to complain all the time.  So I’m making a conscious effort to practice contentment.  And to actually open my eyes, strip off the wool, and SEE the amazing things all around me and in my life.

Here are some of the things I’m seeing:

Loving, Supporting Family(ies)
            We have had so many visitors just in the past two months – Maggie, my mom, and now Joe’s parents.  It is a great blessing to have so much family come and visit us.  Many missionaries don’t get to see their family very often so we are so thankful for their visits.

My mom helping Kate paint.
Joe's dad Bruce and his friend Mark who worked for four days at the Project fixing windows.
My mother in law Anita taping and painting the trim.
Bruce and Joe playing futbol with the workers during lunch.
Grandma and Grandpa hiking down a rather precariously steep trail with Kate.  We turned around shortly after.

Kate and Grandma in the topiary gardens of Zacero.
These guys are just a hoot.
Bruce living it up on the Sky Trck zip line in Arenal.
 Kate Estella
            She is beautiful, strong, funny, creative, independent, lovely…

Oh that double chin.
She took this of herself.  Obviously.
In her new rainbow sunhat and sorta matching pants.
 Sunsets, Sand, Beautiful Tropical Plants
          Kate and I took a 'picture walk' where we took lots of pictures of the beautiful tropical leaves and plants all around us.  Even just being aware of the simple things like this - the beauty of a flower or a sunset - can help us be more content. 

            We saw two sloths in two days while up at Volcan Arenal.  One was a three toed sloth, climbing in a tree.  The other one was a two-toed sloth, sleeping in a tree during a rain storm just 10 feet above our heads.  I LOVE sloths and get over their cute little faces... even if I couldn't quite capture it on camera.

            I have an amazing husband who is my best friend.  We get in fights sometimes, sure.  He annoys me sometimes, yes.  I surely annoy him, probably a lot.  But he is devoted to me and to Kate and does so much for our family.  We celebrate our 11th anniversary tomorrow.  Happy Anniversary Joe!  You never fail to make me laugh.

Joe about to blow out his birthday candles (Kate and I made him a surprise cake.)

This is who I sit across from every day in Spanish class.  His big hair makes him smarter.
I mean, really?
Joe on his actual birthday, the 22nd.  We got to go on a zip line together with his dad.

It's pretty cool to wear your helmet crooked I guess.
Donning Kate's new rainbow sunhat.
 So... it's actually kind of embarrassing to see all the blessings in my life and know that I still manage to complain about things on a daily basis.  

What are the things in your life that you complain about?  What are the things that you can focus on instead, see, be aware of, that can help you be more content?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

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