In All Circumstances {The Grove: Content}

 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Philippians 4:11

This week we invited you to pause and soak in the contentment He offers us by jotting down the moments you noticed. Today we will share our lists and share in our contentment.

Kim’s List

—Family and neighbors gathered around our fire pit with s’mores and seasonal beverages.

—An unoccupied Saturday morning at home. Bread baked, laundry hung, a (very brief) moment of every family member working together to order the house.

—A quiet Sunday afternoon spent re-reading an old classic: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

—Accepting and returning a makeup hug.

—Five minutes marveling at wildlife pictures on Instagram with my sons before school.

—The moment of realization that a friendship is deepening.

—Browsing an independent bookstore.

—Wholeheartedly doing a helpful favor for a family in crisis.

—A family game of Clue.

—Hot breakfast on a cold morning: oatmeal from scratch with quality ingredients and yummy add-ins.


Danielle’s List

—When we left China, I grieved the loss of my rocking chair (where I rocked all three of my babies). Now with our surprise baby on the way, God has provided (for free!) a rocking chair very much like my old one, equally comfy with a matching gliding ottoman. It is a physical place to rest in His gracious and abundant provision for me.

—After years of making chicken or pork in a tiny Chinese oven for Thanksgiving dinner, I’m cooking my very first turkey. I sit in the paradox of missing the Chinese college students we would host for Thanksgiving and rejoicing that we get to be with family this year. Contentment is the thankful heart that exists in the middle of paradox.

—My favorite moments these days are when I’m tucking my kids in at bedtime. As I lay there with each of them, singing a song and a blessing over them in turn, they each put their hand on my belly. This is the time of day when their unborn sister likes to break out her dance moves. The kids eyes grow wide and their mouths pop open in wonder. It truly is a wonder.

—Fingers digging in and churning flowery pie crust. Crisp green apple peels falling away from tart white flesh. The scent of bubbling cinnamon sweetness. Wherever I am in the world, apple pie is home.

—A false alarm for an early delivery threw us into a scramble last weekend. Please, not yet! But now, now we’re ready. I breathe a sigh of contentment looking around my room. A baby bed set up and resting next to mine. Clothes and blankets washed and folded in drawers. Tiny diapers in a row. All is set and waiting, waiting . . .


Patty’s List

—A quiet heart in the midst of sweet conversations.

—Engaging discussions about real world problems with adult children.

—When your all-grown-up son calls to ask for a favorite family recipe.

—A nap with the warmth of the sun streaming through the window on a chilly day.

—Sunshine through autumn kissed trees.

—Receiving an unexpected message of encouragement from an old and dearly missed friend.

—Holding the hand of a good and kind man who wears the ring I gave him 35 years ago.


Amy’s List

—Eating yogurt in an airport restaurant reflecting on the ICOM conference.

—The joy of walking around a quiet home before anyone else arrives and thinking, “I’m home!”

—Discovering a new book to read and that feeling of “This may turn out to be one of the best reads of the year.”

—When the doctor says, “I’m calling in the prescription.” My soul exhales in anticipation of the medical situation abating.

—A text from a friend affirming my skills as a leader.

—Waiting for the kettle to boil. That minute feels so long, doesn’t it? I realize how much I enjoy a cup of tea.

—My connection group’s Skype call. We live in such different corners of the world, it’s a joy to set our lives next to each others and find points of connection, encouragement, and learning about other parts of the world.

—Wednesday morning brought an email from a family friend, “A golf ball sized lump was found on our adult son’s liver during a routine annual physical yesterday.” It’s shocking. Of course it is. I am not content with the news, but it brings an instant reminder to savor the small moments. To be present with those around. To know that when we gather for Thanksgiving and reflect on the year, we do with an awareness of loved ones who have died this year, loved ones who are facing hard times, loved ones who have joys to celebrate. We hold all together in the same space and are grateful for both God and other’s presence.

—And then I’ll put on the kettle and in the longest minute . . . be content.


How about you? Please share from your list!

This is The Grove. It’s where we gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art.  So join us in the comments.Link up your own blog posts related to “Content” so we can visit your blog. Click here for details and instructions.

Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesContent. You can add yours!


  1. Abigail S November 24, 2016

    SO good! I love what Danielle wrote: “Contentment is the thankful heart that exists in the middle of paradox.”! In this time of transitioning from a beloved city and team in China of 10 years to a new city and team, this resonates with me. Some of my list: a new visa that took days of running back and forth between offices,and ended with the police visa office ripping the visa they gave the day before out of my passport (I couldn’t watch), and putting a new one in and charging the right amount finally! Enjoying the beautiful summer-like weather in my last few weeks/days here, with local friends I’ll miss like crazy!

    1. Patty Stallings November 25, 2016

      Finding contentment and reasons to be grateful in the midst of transition is no small feat, Abigail. May you continue to find reasons to rejoice!

    2. Amy Young November 27, 2016

      Ripping a visa out of a passport? No :), I don’t think I could watch either :). Blessings and love as you prepare to leave . . . this life is not for the faint of heart, it is?!

  2. Elizabeth November 25, 2016

    First of all, SIGH! Love the rocker story, Danielle. Reminds me of many nights of nursing my own babies — I miss it. SO glad you can experience it all over again.

    Our family had a quiet Thanksgiving. It was MARVELOUS. Last year in the States was overwhelming, splitting time between large extended families. There’s a lot of “step” in our families so there are many people we simply don’t know or have close relationships with, which is not a super great combo for introverts like us. Then there’s all this expectation of food preparation, and later of Christmas shopping (I hate Christmas shopping). It can be exhausting. And we don’t like the commercializing effect it has on our kids, when life overseas is so much simpler. Sometimes Thanksgiving Day seems more about the food than the family. Everyone’s in a tizzy over the food that relationships and real conversations get skimmed or skipped over entirely, and that feels so empty and pointless to me.

    So we were happy about doing the holidays here this year. That said, my husband still deeply misses his mom and dad (they are both dead). It’s easier for me — we can skype my parents and do regularly. So we wanted to make T-Day extra special — for everyone. We have not historically taken off either American holidays or Khmer holidays — a practice we really need to remedy because it means we aren’t taking holidays unless we are out of town, and with our ministry positions, Saturdays and Sundays are often at least partial work days too. But we have such a big work load that we don’t take off on weekdays either, to make up for weekends.

    We know this needs to change! Our first step toward that change was this Thursday. We planned to do with our kids what we really enjoyed as a family. So we slept in and then went to the fancy Japanese mall for donuts and a game of bowling. We stopped by the bookstore (we are all inveterate bibliophiles), and then we went to our favorite cafe for sandwiches and PIE. I love pumpkin pie with coffee. Just a few years ago you couldn’t find canned pumpkin here, nor pumpkin pie in restaurants (for an “American” tasting pumpkin pie, the local pumpkin just doesn’t suffice). But now you CAN, and this place has superb pumpkin pie. I was in heaven. I enjoyed every teeny tiny slice that I took, to make it last longer. Then we went home and the kids watched Lord of the Rings with my husband, and for supper we ate homemade mac and cheese. Then the kids went to bed and we read books in bed. It was perfect, literally the most perfect Thanksgiving Day I’ve ever had. We did what we wanted, we did not do what we did not want (i.e. bake and cook everything ourselves), and we thoroughly enjoyed our 4 kids. We know with a 7th grader we don’t have forever left to enjoy all of them at home automatically, and we really enjoy them as people. So it was just a wonderful day. I am very very thankful for my Thanksgiving Day even though it was non-traditional! It may sound silly to gush so much, but it was very special to us (especially after a REALLY hard November).

    1. Patty Stallings November 25, 2016

      Elizabeth, your Thanksgiving Day sounds absolutely wonderful! I do hope you will make those kind of days a more frequent part of your rhythms as a family!

      1. Elizabeth November 29, 2016

        Me too, Patty, me too. (We are doing the same thing in a few weeks to watch Rogue One as a family and go ice skating at the fancy mall. Celebrate!)

    2. Amy Young November 27, 2016

      Your Thanksgiving last year sound like so many of mine in Beijing. I hate to say it, Thanksgiving was my least favorite holiday as usually 100 or so gathered — for many, it was the only holiday they would have outside of the US. For me, this meant I’d never have holidays with people I’d see in future years. For this semi-introverted person, awful :). Your day sounds like one your kids will remember when they are grown :). Sounds lovely!!! (and I’m so sorry Jonathan can’t be in contact with his parents. It’s just hard.)

      1. Elizabeth November 29, 2016

        Oh dear Amy, that does sound traumatizing!

  3. Rachel November 25, 2016

    We celebrated Thanksgiving in America, after 3yrs of celebrating it overseas, where I was always the one heading it up (and even making the turkey one yr) among others who didn’t grow up with the holiday.
    I have beautiful memories of those times.
    But I was also thankful to be here this time, where I could celebrate with others who care as much as I do about the specific foods and traditions!
    My specific thanks for my day yesterday:
    -Precious time with our Turkish neighbors who hosted us for breakfast. Since we’d lived in Albania, we can connect with these people very well! It was thee most refreshing thing I have done in a long time. It was balm for our lonely souls. And, they’re so lonely, too. Just soo thankful for this open door with them!
    -Enjoyable interactions with some awesome cousins. Lots of laughter, reconnecting. Sigh.
    -Wisdom, inspiration and prayers from my 2 great aunts. They look me in the eye and ask me how I’m really doing and I can see the Holy Spirit in them and they tell me what He says, and yeah, the one stopped right there, after my sharing of my fears and difficulty at my church since returning, and she laid hands on me (joined with my 2 sweet sisters on either side) and prayed with authority over me. WOW.
    -Nap time
    -Thanksgiving leftovers with a small group of my husband’s family, a family I felt very awkward with before going overseas. But with whom I feel 10x more in love with now, after growing so much during my time away and being confident in who I really am and feeling completely embraced by them. And they are hilarious. Pretty sure I’ll live 10 yrs longer bc of marrying into their family.
    And this became longer than I was expecting and if you’re still reading, I am grateful to you for taking the time!! God bless!

    1. Patty Stallings November 25, 2016

      Rachel, what a sweet day, full of meaningful relationships. So very much to be thankful for!

    2. Amy Young November 27, 2016

      Rachel, what I love about your day is the ways it touched on so many pieces of who you are and your story!

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