How to Settle Your Soul {The Grove}

I love this time of year.

It’s a precious gap for our family, a pause between the travels of summer and the full swing of fall schedule.  It’s a time to put our home in order, the home that’s been steadily unraveling all year long.

I sigh with satisfaction when everything is in it’s place.  This is the only time of year when that even comes close to happening in our home, so I try to enjoy it.

A year ago, nothing had a place.  We had just moved back to China, and our new-to-us-home was an explosion of suitcases, dusty storage boxes (why did we store this junk??), and piles of the previous resident’s stuff.  I wanted to curl up and cry.  And I did.

I wanted desperately to wave a wand and make my home be settled.  I wanted structure and routine and home-cooked meals and to know how to get to the grocery store.

I hate not feeling settled.

That’s why if I know that a move is in our future, I dread it with a passion for months (or in some cases, years).  I have always wanted a permanent home.  Clearly, I chose the wrong profession.

Over the course of many years of moving, years of question marks concerning where exactly our long-term future will be, the Father has been circling me round and round three truths.  So I share them here with you today, thinking that perhaps, you all can relate.

1.  God has something for me in the transition.

A very wise person once told me this.  As much as I just want it to be over, as much as I just want to swing the pendulum from unsettled to settled, God has some life-transforming truth for me to learn when I’m smack in the middle of transition.  This has been true for every single transition of my life.  I can fight the transition or I can embrace it, move toward it with eyes and heart open to what he has for me this time.

This doesn’t take the stress and mess away, but it does help me breathe in the midst of it.

2.  The uncertainty of my living situation cannot dictate the state of my soul. 

My life can be in upheaval, my home can be in chaos, my future can be filled with question marks and yet there can always, always be abiding  security that is mine.  It is mine because of whose I am, because of who lives within my being.

But the choice is mine.  I choose whether this security reigns in me.  I chose whether fear and doubt get to crowd out that security.   I choose if I will let this security settle my soul.

The truth remains regardless.  I am his.  The greatest frustrations, the worst hardships, the hardest disappointments in the world could befall me, and I would still be his.  His joy, love, and peace would still be mine for the claiming.  His promise forever stands to work all things for the good of those who love him.  And I do, I love him so.

If I really believe his words to be true, that everything in my life will be worked for my good, for his definition of good, (which will far outshine my own definition) what then shall I fear?

Is this not the secret of being content in any and every circumstance?  That no trouble or hardship can ever separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus?

3.  Contentment seeps from the big to the small.

If I can truly grasp that I am his and he is mine, that this is all that truly matters in the whole grand scheme of everything, then that big picture truth will seep contentment into the dailies of my life.  If I am living for my eternal home with him in glory, then I can live with a transitory earthly home, (a home where tiles occasionally fall off the bathroom walls.)

It’s not about the permanence or quality of my home, it’s about the condition of my heart.  It’s about living and exuding the love relationship that is mine.  That love is enough.  That love makes everything enough.

That love is ultimately what settles the soul.

*****

What truth settles your soul?

Where are you at on the settled/unsettled spectrum?  Take a picture of what home is looking like for you and share it with us!  No cleaning, just snap the reality!

Here’s my little blue kitchen, enjoying normal, every day mess.

Kitchen1

Can’t wait to see what our settled and unsettled homes look like around the world!

And drumroll please!  Here’s the announcement for this week’s giveaway at Book Club!  The five randomly drawn winners are:  Kristen F., Lisa B., Beth E., Laura, and Elizabth S.  

Congrats, Ladies!!  You should have received an email from Amy with details.

Now, come share with us on the prompt “Settle.”  Here’s how:

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Photo Credit: Joelk75 via Compfight cc

28 Comments

  1. Jennifer August 28, 2014

    I think you have hit the nail right on the head in what you have said. Thank you. In so many ways I think the biggest issue is not being settled, but how we respond to actually not being settled. In some ways if we do actually feel too settled, we actually have another problem, every bit as big as being too unsettled, and not being able at a given point in time to cope with it well. I have been learning that maybe God actually doesn’t want me to feel too settled or too comfortable because then I don’t really need him, don’t really need to trust him.  But at the same time right now, despite a deep awareness of some things still to be dealt with appropriately (I have no idea how right now) I do feel in myself more settled at the school I have just moved back to after 3 years away, after what were some of the most challenging times I have known. Small blessings like the place I live (which I hope the photo shows a small part of) are great but perhaps not even the most important. But it is true that for the first time in a long long time I do have everything in its place and have kept it that way for a whole week… which for me is a small miracle.  Being physically settled is great, but the sense of being challenged and yet settled in many other ways is even better.

    1. M'Lynn August 28, 2014

      Yay!  Jennifer! Thanks for sharing! I’m so excited to see you’ve set up home there again (even though “there” is not the same as “there” was last time with the new building.) How fun that I have a sense of your place because I visited your new building last Spring. I think you need to show us a pic of your closet. hehe.

    2. Danielle Wheeler August 29, 2014

      Such a good point that being too settled can be a problem too!

      So glad you’re in a good place, counting the little blessings.  Your home is lovely!

       

       

      1. Jennifer August 29, 2014

        I think it is wonderful, even more so for being on a Chinese University campus.  It really does feel different to where I’ve lived here before.  I debated which angle to show on that main room because the kitchen was so good too.  As M’Lynn said so is the walk-in wardrobe in the main bedroom. It really is amazing and almost un-Chinese. I think at the heart seems to be a university which did actually think about what the foreigners living here might like and included some of those things in the decisions they made. But I think it is actually the view from my 8th floor window I have shared here which I really do appreciate the most. Just looking at it can be peaceful in challenging moments. Part of being settled I think is finding those places.

  2. M'Lynn August 28, 2014

    Home. I prayed for this window in my living room when we moved 2 years ago. We lived for four years in an apartment that had no window in the living room. In that apartment I painted two walls an incredibly bright shade of turquoise to deal with my lack of sunshine. I praise you, Jesus for my huge window!

    I did  not move a single thing. I was tempted to go find a tidy pic of the apartment instead of taking one of “right now.” haha. Can’t wait to see more pics today!

    1. Jennifer August 28, 2014

      M’Lynn,

      Light and windows are a wonderful thing. I think that is one of the things I love the most about my new place is windows and light… It is actually challenging to take a photo because of the light from the windows. I had to close the curtains to get my photo. I think what it shows is that it is learning to appreciate small things, like windows, that can help us to settle and cope with the challenges just that little bit easier.

    2. Danielle Wheeler August 29, 2014

      Yay for big windows! Sunlight is huge for me too.  And way to go on being brave and showing the reality of right now! 🙂

       

  3. mary gemmill August 29, 2014

    I LOVE your blog posts, but may I make a wee comment that might help other older ladies like me?

    I cannot read the pale type, only the headlines in bold….when your posts come by email I can read and enjoy them but when I want to pop over to read more, its very hard to see….and I so want to see what you have written.

     

    In loving affirmation of you as a Godly Christian writer.

    Mary G.

     

    1. Danielle Wheeler August 29, 2014

      Thanks, Mary, for letting me know.  We certainly want it to be easy to read!  We’ll see what we can do.

      Anyone else struggle to read the font? 

  4. Laura August 29, 2014

    My living room, office, dining room and part of my kitchen. And obviously I need to do a bit of straightening and cleaning. While the red carpet is not my favorite, the incredibly comfortable couches make up for it.

    “The uncertainty of my living situation cannot dictate the state of my soul.” I definitely needed that reminder today, thank you!

    1. Danielle Wheeler August 29, 2014

      Love getting this peak into your world!  Now I can picture where you’re writing from. 🙂

  5. Kelly August 29, 2014

    Yes, the danger in feeling too settled!  That convicts!  Here is my living room in all it’s “baby just went down for a nap” glory!!  Our massive house is a huge blessing, I LOVE to host!

    1. Danielle Wheeler August 29, 2014

      Ooh, I’m loving the trunk and the book shelves!  And so glad your hostess heart has a home that is made for that.

  6. Paula Troutman August 29, 2014

    Little things help you feel settled — like a real shower curtain rod — instead of the piece of garden hose we had for months! (in Lubango, Angola)

    1. Danielle Wheeler August 29, 2014

      A garden hose!  Now that’s genius.  But so glad you don’t have to live with it anymore.  Yes, it’s the little things.

  7. Grace L August 29, 2014

    Your sharing this morning, Danielle, got me thinking about what makes me feel settled when we get back to our home here in central China. We live in our own home here and there are so many rooms and spaces I would love to share. But as I stood in my kitchen this morning and looked around, I thought about the loaf of fresh, homemade bread, our coffee maker that makes the best coffee around, plus my newly planted little basil seedlings. We just got back from traveling to HK last week and these small touches make us know we are really home and settled. 

    Can we get feeling too settled? Yes, maybe… We are more at home here than anywhere else in the world. I think it’s wonderful when the place that God calls you to really becomes “home”, and the people around you are the ones you want to be with. 

    Anyone want a fresh slice of bread and a cuppa coffee? You are welcome to come visit! Thanks to everyone for sharing a bit of their lives.

    1. Danielle Wheeler August 30, 2014

       Absolutely love these small touches!  I planted my own basil seeds for the first time over two weeks ago.  And, yes.  To me it’s not just about the yummy basil, it says “home’ and “settled” and is the closest I get to a garden.  But so far, I’ve got nothing poking up through the dirt.  I’m beginning to lose hope.  How long did it take your little seedlings to grow?  

      Thanks for the warm invite!! 

      1. Grace L August 30, 2014

        Danielle, I have had trouble growing basil and oregano seedlings before and I wasn’t sure if it was bad dirt (with too many weeds) or bad seed. This time I picked up a little kit in Hong Kong with the pot, the special dirt and the seeds. Amazingly, those little seedlings sprouted in 5 days (unheard of, I think). Obviously the seeds were good, but so was the special dirt (kind of like a peat moss mixture). Not sure what to recommend, other than these wonderful little planting kits that just showed up in the supermarkets in HK. 

        Yes, I do love growing little plants in pots. It gives me a settled feeling, and it is so encouraging to see them sprout and grow. I smile every time I look at them in my kitchen.

        1. Danielle Wheeler August 30, 2014

           Thanks for the tip!  My dirt isn’t a peat moss mixture, so maybe that’s it.  And I found out my little helper (6 year old daughter) has been watering it whenever she feels like it… So that may be part of the problem.  😉  I’ll keep my eye out for kits!  

          1. Grace L September 1, 2014

            Just found the website for the kit I got – http://www.paris-garden.com. The company is based in HK. I bought the one in the “bio pot”. They are a bit pricey, but the seedlings sure did sprout quickly and are growing well. Have fun with indoor gardening…

  8. Lisa B. August 29, 2014

    “That’s a lot of life transition,” people keep telling me.  In the past few months I experienced a few unsettling transitions.  I moved from my home in eastern Congo, left my all-consuming and constantly chaotic job, married the love of my life, and landed in the USA for a year of marriage, school and rest for the sake of preparation.  All to be sent out again.

    I feel shaken up.  A bit (un)settled.  What is the new norm?  How do I settled into this period marked by waiting for the next change to come? 

    “What a great opportunity to be home for a year to settle into married life!”  Yes, we love settling into our new lives and our cute apartment (photo above).  And yet too often I focus on the fact that this safe and seemingly stable home is only for a whirlwind year filled with travel and support-raising.  

    Though I only have 3-4 years of overseas life under my belt, I am learning that a brief hiatus from the overseas field is synonymous with upheaval.  Instead of being at the heart of the ebb and flow of ever-changing relationships and circumstances that is expat life, we are the outsiders, inserting ourselves and interrupting the normal rhythms of the lives of friends and family, if only for a short season.  I love for the next chapter, to be settled in a home longer than a year.

    As I read other’s thoughts in response to this week’s prompt, I began to examine my unsettled heart.  I can intellectually know and trust that God is my fortress, but do I experience His soul-settling power?  Do I let Him sustain me? (Ps. 55:22)  Do I allow His right hand to uphold me? (Ps. 63:8)  Do I keep my eyes always on the Lord? (Ps. 16:8)

    This prompt reminded me of the song, “I Will Not Be Shaken.”  Here is a version of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThtbicW3Hwo.  The words of the bridge say: Our God will not be moved.  Our God will never change.  Our God will reign forevermore.  

    When I’m tempted to feel my life is anything but settled, I trust in the truth of a steadfast God.  I trust in a rock that is higher than I.

     

    1. Danielle Wheeler August 30, 2014

      Amen to the truth of a steadfast God! It IS one thing to know and trust intellectually (and even arrange one’s life plans accordingly), but it is quite another to actually experience his soul-settling power.  Praying that for you, for me, for all of us.  And hoping with you that your next chapter will be longer than a year.  Because, yes, temporary is hard.  

    2. Grace L August 30, 2014

      Hi Lisa. Congratulations on marrying the love of your life and preparing to go on the field together! What a joy! But yes, you are going through so many changes and life may not feel very settled. I loved the song you shared and my husband and I listened to it several times. We were married 13 years ago and our marriage pulled me off the field for a while as God began to direct us as a couple. We were traveling a lot around the states and back and forth to Asia as the Lord developed our work over here – together as a couple. One thing we have both learned is to find a settled place within ourselves as a couple, wherever we are – in the car, on a plane, as a guest in someone’s home. We would often say to each other as we would pull out of our driveway for another trek someplace, “We’re on the road again!” We still say that even here in Asia as we leave our home here to travel out to a big city. I only learned after marriage what the Bible really meant by saying “And the two shall become one flesh” – so amazing. Taking that truth along with “a threefold cord in not easily broken” means that the two of you, together with the Lord, have become a strong unit. What a wonderful place to ‘settle’ into. 

      1. Lisa B. September 2, 2014

        Thank you Grace for your encouraging words and for the reminder to also find stability in my marriage relationship. I shared your words with my husband and we are both encouraged. Be blessed!

  9. Laura August 30, 2014

    I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and comments this week!  So good to know I’m not alone, and to be encouraged by what God is teaching others.

    After almost 4 months of waiting for new cabinets in our termite infested kitchen, I’ve finally decided to accept it’s probably never going to happen.  So… I settled into our kitchen (finally!) today by re-arranging all of the most used items into the least infested cabinets and vice versa.  Yay for feeling settled in the midst of something unsettling!

    And if anyone has any good home remedies for termites… Please share 🙂

  10. Laura August 30, 2014

    oops… forgot the picture

  11. Andrea September 2, 2014

    After a hard first term with tons of Pruning and redemption, I am loving the transition from survive to thrive, and remembering your wise words “As much as I just want it to be over, as much as I just want to swing the pendulum from unsettled to settled, God has some life-transforming truth for me to learn when I’m smack in the middle of transition.”

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