This week we’ve had the huge privilege of my mom and brother visiting! We had so much fun with them, and the kids especially were over the moon.
They left at 5:30 this morning, though, and I couldn’t get back to sleep, so here I am sharing some of the best photos of their visit over a hot cup of coffee.
(P.S. It’s R A I N I N G which never happens in San Diego which therefore equals extra cozy!)
Yesterday we went to Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, a beautiful park on the wild California coast. Even though it was blustery and about to start raining, the scenery took our breaths away. I remarked that it reminded me of our honeymoon down Highway 101, and then Gil said — for the first time ever — “Honey… moo!”
On another note… I had a conversation with someone recently about contentment vs. striving for more. My friend said — aptly, I thought — that if you’ve got a Honda and you’re content and happy with your Honda, what does that mean about hoping to own a Lexus one day? Does that mean you never want anything more than your Honda? You have a Honda and that’s all you’ll ever want? Or are you falsely thankful… like you’re just pretending to be thankful for your Honda when you’d really like a Lexus?
It’s a tricky question. We do want to be thankful for all God has given, but we also know He wants us to work hard and that wealth is a gift from God. There is nothing wrong with any kind of car, it’s just how we view and use these things that matters. How do we remain thankful today while working hard for tomorrow?
One thing that has helped me and Elliott, I think, is to set life goals and discuss what our priorities are. Elliott has read various books (like this one by Dave Ramsey) and then sat me down to discuss where we want to be in five, 10, and 20 years. What are our goals as a family? What will we regret never doing in this life?
For us, our goals involve traveling and living overseas, being close to family, writing books, having a home that is welcoming to visitors, and one day having some kind of farm of our own. Our ultimate, overarching goal is to glorify and enjoy God, even if that messes up all our other plans. I’ve shared a longer and more specific list of our life and family priorities here.
As I talked to my friend, I realized that these life goals help Elliott and me to have tunnel vision in some ways. In GOOD ways! Because we know what we want in life, it makes a lot of other decisions about what we DON’T want very easy.
For instance, our car. We needed to buy a car when we moved to California. We wanted and knew we would be getting a lot of guests, and we wanted to drive them around without always needing a rental car. So we decided to get a gently used minivan, and we chose the safest one on the market.
However, once we chose that particular minivan, we had a host of other decisions to make. Did we want a DVD player? Leather seats? A back-up camera? A built-in GPS? And on and on!
We went back and reviewed our goals. We wanted a minivan for the extra space, not for the other luxuries. We don’t want our kids to watch TV in the car. We don’t want a fancy car at this stage in our lives. It didn’t match up with our life goals and priorities. So we chose the basic minivan. And we really, really like it!
Another example is our house, which you can read more about here.
Tunnel vision is a good thing sometimes. It helps you block out the extra noise, the flashing lights, the bling, the fun distractions that keep you from your ultimate goals and dreams. These dreams help you to budget and to plan ahead.
But they also help you to enjoy what is happening RIGHT NOW. I can sit with my visiting family in our house and praise God because of His goodness in giving us these things for which we’ve hoped and dreamed. I can thank God for the children He’s given us. I can thank God for the travel we’ve already been able to enjoy. Of course I hope for more of ALL of these things ;), but setting manageable goals for our hopes and dreams gives enormous, my-cup-overflows contentment right this very moment!
Of course we are not perfect and get distracted all the time by all kinds of things: pretty things on blogs, authors who make millions, friends who are traveling overseas while we’re “stuck here,” and so on.
But when we come home, sit around our dinner table together, and bow our heads to pray, there is a prevailing sense of contentment. Contentment because we are living the life we want to live right now, not tomorrow or when we have a million dollars or when we retire. We have chosen these things in life AND we have been richly blessed.
And then we snuggle up together against the cold of the world and thank God for His goodness!