year four

Four years ago Josh and I knelt across from each other at an altar in the Denver Colorado Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  At the ceremony there were no photographers, no string quartet, no printed programs. We were dressed in white and surrounded by most of our dearest family and friends. We sat in the holiest of places, the air charged with the presence of unseen angels. We looked each other in the eyes and made promises to each other and to God. We chose to be sealed as husband and wife forever. That day was beautiful.

The years following that first day of marriage have seen both laughter and tears. Contentment in marriage isn't a constant, unfortunately. It comes in moments of grace from heaven, moments to be imprinted on our souls as a confirmation that yes, you chose this life and it is good. A contented marriage is won from work and love and sacrifice and more love again.

Contentment in marriage is a divine blessing, a rest for the soul and an anchor for the heart. This life of mine with Mr. Wilson is far from perfect, but I love it and I love him.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


spooky reading update

I'd like to interrupt the regularly scheduled 31-days series for a quick update on my spooky reading.

I had slated Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice for this month, and last night I decided to quit reading it. I don't quit books often, but this one is not only slow going as far as narration style goes, but the brand of creepy didn't jive well with me. I like a good creepy book: Dracula and Something Wicked This Way Comes are both excellent reads with a significant creepy factor. But the creepiness in the Rice novel made me feel icky more than intrigued. So I quit.

We don't have much time left in the month--if you can believe that!--but I decided to dive into The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, a lovely little novella that I'm hoping will make me laugh and smile. And I think I'll try and get through a Wilkie Collins novel by the end of the month. Wilkie Collins is a mystery writer from the 19th century, and I've really enjoyed what I've read of him. His books are actually free in the Kindle store, so I just downloaded The Haunted Hotel on to my iPad.

If you decide to forge ahead and continue reading Interview with the Vampire I'd love to know what you think about it. And if you want to switch gears with me and try out some Wilkie Collins, let me know what you pick!

Happy reading!

what productive discontent looks like

{simplyfreshdesigns.com--this may have been in their now-on-hiatus Etsy shop, so I'm using this image purely for graphics, not as a printable. Thanks for respecting others' property.}

We need discontent. And yes, we've talked about this. Yes, we all have seasons of discontent throughout our lives. So what do we do with them? 

We get to work.

Unhappy at your job? Either make your job work, or find a new one. Discontent in your home? Identify the source and find a solution. Stuck in a toxic relationship, romantic or otherwise? Change it. The thing about discontent is that it can suck us in and keep us there if we let it. Yes, discontent has a time and place, but sometimes it will want more than it deserves. And we need to fight it. Work your brain, your body, your spirit. 

Discontent can be a trigger to let you know when something in your life is off-kilter. Last spring, I had a weird month, a really weird month. I felt completely unlike myself, and I eventually hit the point where I told my husband, "I'm not happy, and I don't know why." That was my trigger that said, Something isn't right. So I researched and searched every cranny of my brain to figure out why I felt the way I did, and soon enough I found the problem: hormones. My pharmacy had switched my generic brand of birth control because of an availability issue, and while I was informed of it, I hadn't made much note of it. I felt every light go on in my mind when I discovered the root of my discontent: pesky hormones. I promptly called my doctor and found a pharmacy that could get the brand I was used to. Discontent: taken care of.

Now, not every period of discontent in our lives will be as straightforward as my birth control example. My point, however, is clear: use discontent as the impetus for change. Use it productively, and don't succumb to the doldrums. Get to work

***I should note here that mental illness is exempt from this work-solves-all-your-problems mentality. Some brands of discontent are rooted in brain chemistry and should be treated appropriately. Obtaining appropriate treatment from health care professionals is certainly a part of contented living.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


a heart like the Savior's

The more I study contented living, the more I realize that learning to be content--and discontent--is all part of a grander endeavor to become like Jesus Christ. Much of what a contented heart comes down to is trust in God's plan for our lives.

Living contentedly means knowing that God will guide us and direct us, that even amid the storms in our lives, peace is there if we but seek it. We may not have control over what happens in our lives, but we can control our hearts. We can choose who we become and we can act accordingly. 

Contented living is about choosing and trusting and seeking, moving forward and letting go all at once. And while I can't seem to articulate precisely how that makes our hearts like our Redeemer's, I know that it does. Contented living is in so many ways Christlike living.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


Helen Keller on contented living

{This image designed by Holly, exclusively for this blog. It's optimized to print as a 4x6}

Perhaps contented living has as much to do with hope as it does about peace. Thoughts?

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


FMF: long

During this series, I'll be participating in Kate Motaung's Five-Minute Fridays. She issues a one-word prompt to inspire five minutes of writing. These short posts may not be anything spectacular, because the purpose is to write and post, without over thinking (or even that much editing). So we'll let this be what it is, and I'll see what I can do about tying in each prompt into my theme of living contentedly.


How easy it is to wish for something different, to yearn for better days. I'll look back on certain periods in my life and marvel at how beautifully simple they were, and sometimes I wish to go back to those days even if just for a little bit. 

Some days I long to be taken care of by someone else, to yield up my boss-of-the-house role for a time. Yesterday was an especially trying day as far as motherhood goes, and I ended up collapsing on the couch feeling both mentally and emotionally battered. It was just so hard. I wanted out.

Yes, I know those moments of wanting out do pass, that ultimately I wouldn't really want to be anywhere else. But sometimes you do. And maybe we would do well to let those moments of discontent ride their course as well as we allow the whole seasons of discontent. I went to sleep last night already feeling exhausted by tomorrow's demands of toddlerhood. But I woke up today, perhaps not feeling as content as I prefer, but feeling better, better enough to face another day. 

Sometimes we long for easier times, for happier and simpler moments. And that's okay, as long as we eventually buckle up and face what's given us.


This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


gratitude list 02

:: dark chocolate
:: Diet Dr. Pepper
:: children's Tylenol
:: sunny fall days
:: new jeans
:: a new dessert cookbook
:: phone calls with my Number One (that's my sister Emily, in case you didn't know)
:: my sewing blog

I don't even have the energy to go searching for images for this post, because as the first three items on my gratitude may indicate, it's been a long couple of days over here. You know when you can't make your toddler happy no matter what you try? That's when you really need a gratitude list. And dark chocolate. Obviously.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


seasons of discontent

Last year when I was talking about gracious living, it seemed like an absolute mentality. Either you were gracious, or you weren't. And even when your life hits a rough patch, you can still always choose to be gracious. Contented living is different. It's foolish to say that we all need to be content all the time. That's not how we're made. Living contentedly is a fluctuating endeavor, one that ebbs and flows just as surely as we breathe in and out.

We will all experience seasons of discontent in our lives, and that's okay. When they happen, we needn't feel the urge to rush through them. The six months leading up to my move to Oregon were intense: my grandmother had died, I'd graduated college, I'd worked a challenging internship, I moved states, I got married, and I had started a new job. Most of these things were actually good things, but all compounded together, they made for a monumental adjustment. Discontent was a natural part of my transition. I see now that I needed it, because if I thought I had to be happy all the time, then I could have seriously hindered my progression.

What are the seasons of discontent in your life? Maybe it was a new job, or leaving an old one. Perhaps you weathered discontent when you had a baby, or maybe when you lost one. You could have moved homes, or maybe you were stuck in a home you'd rather leave. Maybe your marriage went going through a rough patch, or you could have been yearning for companionship that you have yet to find. 

We can't hurry through discontented seasons, because in reality we need them. And sometimes periods in our lives can't be rushed, however much we'd like them to be. Take grieving, for example. When you've lost one you love--a brother, a son, a wife, a mother--the pain is all-consuming. To say that grief is discontented is to put it lightly. But you can't rush it. And just because you're discontent and grieving doesn't mean that something is wrong with you. It means you're human. You're beautifully human, and you live a beautiful life full of things both glorious and heartbreaking. None of us could ever be content if we didn't know how to work through the discontent.

Discontent can change us, and it can change us in good ways. When we find ourselves face to face with a discontented season, don't automatically reject it. Work with it, figure it out, and allow your heart and soul to grow. 

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


barriers to a contented life

What can stop us from living contentedly? Well . . . many things. Maybe most things. Things like

:: marriage
:: singlehood
:: divorce
:: widowhood
:: being a stay-at-home mom
:: being a working mom
:: being an empty nester
:: being a parent, period
:: being unable to have children
:: not having enough money
:: relying on your money for happiness
:: unemployment
:: working a job that drains you, and not in a good way
:: living an unhealthy lifestyle
:: becoming obsessed with a healthy lifestyle
:: not having enough time
:: having too much time

And the list can go on and on and on and on. I've said it before: discontent is easy to find. And conversely, contenting living is simple in theory, but highly disciplined in practice.

So where does this leave us? In the throes of discontent? Maybe. But this awakening also leaves us a reminder of our own power as people who can choose and change. If you want to lead a contented life, start now. Because you can.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


why "fixing" discontent is actually treating only the symptom

Several years ago I heard anger described as a "secondary emotion." When you're angry, you're actually feeling a primary emotion that's causing your ill temper. That's really stuck with me. Now when I feel angry I try to identify what it is I'm actually upset about: am I disappointed? frustrated? anxious? uncertain? tired? Only once you nail down the real problem can you make any progress in finding resolution.

Discontent is no different. If you're feeling unsettled and unhappy, there's a reason for it. Maybe it's something big like the job you have or discord in a key relationship; or maybe it's something as simple as disappointment at a canceled trip or even out-of-whack hormones. 

The key to understanding discontent is to realize that you actually are in control of how you feel and how you live. Don't drown in discontentment! Find the problem, and fix it! And if you can't fix it, find a way to work with it. The glorious thing about contented living is that it doesn't discriminate--you really can be content in any circumstance. And as I type those words I realize how easy it is to say something like that, and how difficult it is to make that happen.

Yes, sometimes we find ourselves in situations and periods that we can't see a way out of. Sometimes, for a period, discontent is inevitable. Yet, discontent need never defeat us. And that's a topic for a whole different post. So.

In those moments when you're swept over with waves of discontent, stop and listen and seek. Just as your doctor examines your symptoms to find a diagnosis, take stock of your life and find those areas that need fixing, or even removal. Let that discontent alert you to the real issues, because when you can fix the actual problems, contented living is not far behind.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.
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