Although we have only lived in this neighborhood for about four years, it has always felt like “home” to me. I know that is because I grew up in a neighborhood just like this (which is probably one of the reasons we like the area so well!), with a lake across the road and woods behind our house. We have a large Maple tree in our front yard, and a medium-size pine tree right outside the front door. There are modest little cottages and huge, gorgeous homes all around the lake. Most of our neighbors live here year ’round, but some only come out on the weekends in the summer. But the ones who are here all the time are great neighbors!
My most favorite times of the year are spring and fall . . . . and on a sunshiny spring morning, it is such a gift to be able to open up the doors and windows to hear the birds chirping and watch all of the activity in our cozy lakeside neighborhood. Before it gets too hot outside, we love to go out and putter around in the garden or plant flowers. This weekend I am hoping to get the window boxes filled and a few of our other planters loaded up with bright blooming plants. The girls love to play on the swingset while Daddy is mowing the lawn and I am raking or trimming.
It is peaceful and quiet in our neighborhood, and we feel safe letting the girls cross the street by themselves to hang out down at the beach with some of the other neighborhood kids. The neighbors all watch out for one another and keep an eye on all the kids. In some ways it feels like a big family around here! The other day I got a phone call from the high school. It was the teenage girl from across the street asking me if I could come pick her up from school because she didn’t feel well and she couldn’t get her dad to answer his phone. I looked out the window and saw that he was tilling up his garden, so I told her that I could come and get her or I could see if her Dad wanted to stop tilling the garden to come into town.
I walked across the road and when he saw me coming over he turned off the tiller. I told him that Katie had called and I could go pick her up . . . . but he was almost finished so he decided he’d take that trip to the school. It all worked out fine, as it usually does in a neighborhood like this, but it just reminded me of how blessed we are to live in our quiet neighborhood, in our humble little cottage by the lake.
At our ladies Bible study last night we talked about how we often struggle with contentment – that we frequently are so focused on what we don’t have that we miss the joy and blessing of what is right in front of us. This is something that is a challenge to all of us at some time in our lives; economic realities prevent us from having all of the “stuff” that we think will make us happy, or other disappointments in life leave us feeling sad and discouraged.
Sometimes it seems, after we have worked so hard to accomplish a goal, that no one notices. If our life has corners of unresolved conflict with loved ones or broken relationships that we wish could be healed, we struggle to understand why, and we invest a great deal of emotional energy trying to figure it out and “fix” it. How can we move beyond our focus on all that we don’t have, and find contentment with what we do have and where we are at this moment in time?
The conclusion last night at Bible study is to remember that “God is near” – always and forever – and He alone is our source of contentment. The practical outworking of that can also include actively choosing to look around and really see the blessings that are right in front of us. Of course, that will not immediately change our circumstances, but it will change our attitudes. And that will make a big difference in our ability to move beyond the place of disappointment and discouragement to experience and treasure the blessings of this day and this moment. Today I wanted to focus on the beauty that is all around me; the peaceful, joyful little world that is right here in my neighborhood; and the gifts of springtime, sunshine, and my little cottage by the lake.
Are there still things in life that make me sad? Of course. Are there still things that I wish were different? Every moment of every day. But when I focus on the good stuff, it leaves way less time and energy to fret about the not-so-good stuff. Not to say it’s easy – but give it a try! Look around and share some of your favorite things, and let’s celebrate together that we don’t need to stay in that place of disappointment forever. God is good! God is always good! He is near and wants to give you the blessings of this moment.
Trust Him to open your eyes to the blessings all around you in the midst of your circumstances, and see if you can’t find a few our YOUR favorite things right around the corner. Then share them in a blog post and leave a link at the “Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop” at Katherine’s Corner. I would love to stop by and read about some of your favorite things! Have a great Thursday, Nina