Simple is Beautiful.

  As we rang in 2012, resolutions have (obviously) been a hot topic. We all want to improve, get better, have goals. A fresh start is wonderful, isn't it? And yes, I too have a whole list written out in my idea/inspiration notebook. Things like "workout every day", "read through the Bible in a year", finish this, start that. And while resolutions are motivational and inspiring, all these little goals? They can be overwhelming. I've decided to pursue these but to let my main focus be on just a few things. I'm going to strive most wholeheartedly to love God and love others. And after that, what is my new goal for 2012?

To simplify my life. To embrace the simple things and find beauty in them. To be content.

It is the sweet, simple things of life
         which are the real ones after all.

-Laura Ingalls Wilder

...and who can argue with that little doll from "Little House on the Prairie"?
 (actually, this quote was said when she was an older, wiser woman)

Finding beauty in simplicity is enthralling to me lately.
Being content with what I do have is on my heart.

"But godliness with contentment
is great gain."
-1 Timothy 6:6 
  As hard as it may be to believe this
(in our always-need-more culture) 

 Contentment is a gem

 But honestly, it's something I've always struggled with - from day 1 of my walk with the Lord...when I was just 7 years old. At that time, it was the newest American Girl doll. Remember those? Oh, I just had to have one. Her gorgeous blonde hair and that cute blue dress she wore? Almost too much to bear! I hung a poster on my wall from the catalog and daily wished for one, imagining what it would be like to add her to my little "family of dolls". A few years later, lo and behold -she was my birthday present! And as ecstatic as I was, I soon moved onto some new toy or thing I wanted. And the cycle continued.

  I've always looked ahead, not enjoying what gifts I do have, while sighing and moping around for what I don't have, what I want. I do it to this day. No, it's certainly not an American Girl doll anymore...(oh if only it were that simple!) It's bigger things, life things. Like relationships, money, material items, you name it. I find myself doing it all the time - looking past the blessings I do have and wishing I had something more. Thinking I would be truly happy if I just had this relationship, that car, this job. When all the time, the God of the Universe has seen fit to give me everything I need, everything He knows I need for this time in my life. Who am I to whine and complain? Yet I do.

  Maybe a gorgeous new 50-inch flatscreen would be nicer, but perhaps I should be content with my smaller, older TV. Maybe a new wardrobe from J.Crew would be perfect for the spring season, yet perhaps the closet full of lovely clothes I already own is enough. Maybe it would be nice to have a better paying job, but the one you have is exactly where the Lord has you. Perhaps being married to an amazing man would be wonderful, but you are single now for a reason. Maybe having a baby soon would be a dream come true, but the Lord has a bigger plan.

It's a hard lesson to learn. One I must daily work on. Something I have to pray through and fight. Contentment is something much talked about in Christian circles, specifically Christian women's circles, right? (I would know, spending 4 years of my life in an only-girls major at a Christian college!) I remember in some of our class prayer times, a weekly request from almost every girl was "Pray I am content in _______." I know it's a real struggle, something so easy to slip into... and I'm not trying to just say, "be content, girls - then you are godly." No, I understand it is so hard. But I believe God is our biggest cheerleader in contentment. He longs to reach down and quiet our hearts. Sometimes, in anxious moments when I am discontent, when I'm wishing things in my life were different, He reminds me:

"Be still and know that I AM GOD."

-Psalm 46:10

  It is one step at a time. Growing and learning contentment. And I am learning, it is as simple as taking each thing in every day, and enjoying it. Being present. Being thankful.

  Enjoying the smaller simple things, like this homemade cappuccino with whipped cream and the fresh, cool spring-like breeze blowing through my white cotton curtains. (I love California in the winter!) The sweet family you can laugh with. A new pair of $2 Forever 21 earrings that make your eyes sparkle. A song you have on replay because it makes you smile. The little joys and blessings. And most of all, let Him be our joy. Our ultimate satisfaction. Our greatest dream come true.

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless."

-Psalm 84:11

Knowing He will withhold NO GOOD THING from us when we trust Him.
 He is our Father, knowing what is best.

As one of my childhood mentors sang in a song to the Lord...over and over in a chorus,

"Nobody else but You,
oh Lord...
nobody else will do for me."

There is hope in this, girlfriends.

There is strength.

Knowing and trusting that if I don't have something today it must not be good for me.

And knowing, anything can happen tomorrow. I can smile in His sunshine today.

Smile with me, and trust?