5 Ways to NOT Find Contentment

5 Ways to NOT Find Contentment

5 Ways to NOT Find Contentment


What do you think when I say “contentment”?





All of those can be fitting.  But those are end results.

How do we get there?  What path must I walk to be able to look around me, look inside myself and say, “Yes.  I have arrived.  I have peace.  Joy.  I am content where I am”?

Well, this post won’t answer that question.  I am here today to post caution signs.  I have walked many paths trying to get to contentment.  So. Many. Paths.  Attitudes that even strong Christians fall into.  And many lead in the wrong direction.

What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t warn those behind me, who are looking for contentment too?  So here goes.

5 ways to NOT find contentment:


1. Assume that a change in your circumstances will make you content.

This might be the one we admit to ourselves the most often.

“I’m just waiting on that promotion, then we’ll be able to live the life we want.”

“I’ll be happy when I have a house instead of an apartment.” (this was mine)

“My job wouldn’t be so bad, if this one guy that drives me crazy wasn’t there.”

But the truth is, there is always one more thing to complain about, isn’t there?  Honestly, can you think of a time when a circumstance that made you discontent changed in your favor, and there was nothing else to be discontent about?

It’s the human condition.  The grass is always greener.  There is always more to be had and a better situation to acquire.

But the boss of being content, the Apostle Paul, said he had learned to be content in any situation.  So a content heart can’t be tied to our circumstances.  Let that one sit with you a while…


2. Count on acquiring that one more material thing to satisfy you.

This one we don’t like to admit.  We all have our weakness.  Car stuff.  A new purse.  Shoes.  A great deal we “absolutely can’t” pass up.  Garage sale shopping.  (Oh yeah.  I went there.)

But if you are always pursuing and purchasing the next thing, how can your heart be thankful for what you already have?  “One more” is never satisfying.

Again, it’s the human condition.  (And there is a better way to feed the craving for more that we all have.  I’ll write about that later.)

The path of pursuing material things leads to discontentment, because there is always more to want.  How easily we (even in small ways) fall into the mental lie that “just one more” will satisfy.


3. Believe that if you were more like someone else, you would be happy with yourself.

Social media is the worst.  All the other stay-at-home moms post the happiest, lovliest moment of their days, and the news in your home is all dirty dishes, crayon on the walls and dressers, messy children, and that moment you lost it and yelled at your kids for being the street urchins they are.

Why can’t my life be more like hers?  Why does she seem to have it together, and I seem to be losing my mind? 

Surely, you think, if you were more like that mom, you could be at peace with who you are.  We can convince ourselves that there is something over there that we don’t have over here…and that will bring contentment.

The biggest bust to this myth is that the person you compare yourself to does the same thing.  She’s looking at another mom, and harboring jealousy and discontent in her heart about her own life.

Yup.  This path to contentment is a dead-end.  We are all driving in circles chasing other people’s lives.


4. Find someone worse off than you, so that you can be thankful for your life.

This is a sort of reverse comparison game, and maybe we don’t all do it.  But I know I have done it.  Mainly because I feel like I am always the one who’s “worse off.”

We don’t have enough money.

We lost another job.

I can’t buy all the home décor and make my home look like a magazine cover…like that other mom over there.

My depression is back…with a vengeance.

One more door of opportunity shut in our faces.

I’m good at feeling sorry for myself.  So if I can’t change my circumstances, I can find someone with worse circumstances.  Then I can be thankful I’m not them.

Okay, maybe this one’s not so bad, but I stand by my argument that it is not a path that leads to true contentment.  Keeping your eyes on other people will never fix the condition of your heart(There is a better place to focus your gaze…)


5. Follow your favorite spiritual leader’s “3 easy steps to have joy” perfectly.

Well, then.  Let’s get spiritual.  Many Christian books, studies, podcasts, etc. exist teaching you steps to peace, joy, your best life…  It’s a saturated market.  Pick one.

Surely, if you follow someone’s teachings in this area, you will achieve the desired results.

The problem is that the whole of Scripture presents joy as something that comes through trials, peace as something that can happen in the middle of a storm, and refreshing streams as appearing in the most unlikely wilderness.  There are no simple steps you can put into a formula and have it equal contentment.  God’s ways are not our ways when it comes to this.



Where are you stuck? What have you tried that has NOT led to the desired peace, contentment, and joy?

There is a better way.  You notice Who was not part of any of these paths?  God.  The Lord of our lives. And once we follow His path, all these things—circumstances, material things, other people’s lives, your own spiritual routines—they all fall into place.  A verse for thought until next time:

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

All. These. Things.  There is a better way.  And it’s simpler (and harder) than you think. And I will be writing about it. Stay tuned…



The BIGGEST Secret to Being Content

 The BIGGEST Secret to Being Content

The BIGGEST Secret to Being Content


Front porch says relax to me.

With a view—trees—space—


And I’m stuck with a 3 by 3 slab,

Facing apartment brick walls,

Grass that isn’t even mine—


And knowing the hole of an

Apartment behind me

Is musty—small—depressing.


So I sit on my 3 by 3,

My fresh air spot,

Mixed with smells from the neighbors—

In my own little corner

Of the world, so to speak,

Where my mind can unwind,

And I feel what I feel.

And tears fall free—at times—

I feel so deeply—


I don’t really like to cry

So much.

But I do.


And my red chairs

On my 3 by 3 slab

Are often a spot

Where I feel the difference…

Yes—I compare—

My front porch

To those of my friends.


I covet the life

I don’t have—

Here it is:


The root of my discontent.


I am not thankful for what I have

Because there is always

Something else to have.

How American of me!

To crave what’s being

Advertised to the hole in my soul—

How truly grotesque…


I say I am a follower of Christ—

I hear Him at night—

The conviction in my heart

About lies I believe

And what I’m not thankful for.

More tears…

Or just sleep.

Sleep is easy.


Then morning comes,

And I strive and fail






No matter what?

Is that even possible?


And then I read this1:

The same power that raised

Jesus Christ from the dead—

Can be working…




Could it be?

Have I found it?

The secret to being content?


It’s so simple, it’s scary.



More than scary—


It means that it’s not about me.

I can’t do anything

To fix what’s wrong with my heart.


It’s really—

And I’m not exaggerating—

The secret to everything.

The power of God,

Resurrection kind of power.

If it’s working in me…

How can I be





This is a problem.


I’ve got The Secret.


The same power

That raised Jesus Christ

From the dead—


And yet my 3 by 3 slab

Makes me sad.


The same power

That created the heavens

And the earth—


And my musty apartment

Puts my brain in a prison.


The same power

That put the Glorious Son

In the skin of a baby,

Knowing He would die

And be raised

And be seated again

At the Father’s right hand—


And I can’t see past

My petty anxiety

About my small life

And remember—


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full on His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.


There’s nothing for it

But to wake up again.

And claim Paul’s prayer2

As my own.


I wait—


To see Your power

Fixing my heart—my mind.


This is it.

This is how Paul had learned:

In any situation, to be content.3


The Secret.


There is nothing I can do

To grow a content heart

Within myself—

I have no power

To accomplish this goal.


I turn my eyes

                Upon Jesus…


1 Ephesians 1:19-20

2 Ephesians 1:15-21

3 Philippians 4:11

5 Things to Say When You Don’t Know What to Pray

 5 Things to Say When You Pray

5 Things to Say When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Sometimes, prayers just come natural.  Thank you for this.  Please help us with that.  In Jesus’ name…

But sometimes…life falls apart.  The ticking hours press on your soul.  Your heart goes numb, and words fall short.

2 years ago, I had a good habit of praying by my bedside in the morning, escaping the squawking children, milky cereal bowls, piles of school books ready for the day, and housework screaming to be attended to… Just to meet God in the secret, in the quiet place.

Except, when you’re a mommy, it’s hard to have a totally secret place.

Here I was, on my knees by my bed—made up with the new comforter picked out by my providing husband—beginning the day in earnest prayer.  My door cracked, and I am joined by a blessed four year old boy.  That sympathy my mother had noticed in him bubbled over his sweet face.  “Mommy?  You awaight?”  And that precious smile begged me to smile back to show my “alright-ness.”

5 Things to Say When You Don't Know What to Say


“I’m just praying. Do you want to pray with me?”

“Mm-hmm.”  He got down on his knees and planted his face in the comfy blankets.

Every sentence, thanking Jesus for His love, asking His guidance, was echoed as directly as was possible by my preschooler’s halting speech.  When I was done, I asked, “Do you want to pray anything, buddy?”

“I just prayed what you prayed.”  Big cheesy grin.  How could my proud mommy heart not swell?

More than that.  I felt an almost physical sensation of a kingdom investment made.   A seed the Holy Spirit had allowed me to plant in this young impressionable heart.  There are not words.  Prayer is important.

The only sentence he had changed in his prayer was this: “Make me the mommy I need to be.” His went, “Make me the boy I need to be.”  {Oh, Jesus, keep answering these!}

I have the habit of praying every day.  I’ve prayed for years and it comes naturally. But there are days… Something happens—life and this fallen world overwhelm me.  And I don’t know what to pray.  

My heart is numb. The words don’t come.  

What do you say when you don’t know what to pray?


Here are 5 things that I have learned to say when I don’t know what to pray.

1. “Speak to my heart.”

Remember this old hymn?  “Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus.  Speak that my soul may hear…”

This is my favorite.  Because when I am hurting so much that I don’t know what to pray, it’s not really me who needs to do the talking.  God knows what’s going on, and He doesn’t need me to spell out the details.  I am the one who needs to hear Him. I need Him to give me peace, to remind me of truth and His faithfulness, to give me wisdom for the situation.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

He’s waiting to give you generously what you need.


2. “Lord, I need You.”

Another hymn from my childhood.   “I need Thee ev’ry hour, Most Gracious Lord.  No tender heart like Thine, can peace afford.”

Sometimes there is nothing else to say, but to acknowledge our need for God.  May I suggest being on your knees, hands open?

Disclaimer: if you pray this prayer, on your knees, be prepared for God to show up.  He waits for us to stop trying in our own strength and look to Him.  He’s ready to answer.  Just say it.

The old hymn writers knew how to express beautiful, profound worship.


3. “Help my unbelief.”

 This is straight from Scripture.  Mark 9:24. Jesus walks into town, into a chaotic situation with a demon-possessed boy, a desperate father, disciples who are frustrated that they can’t cast out the demon, and a whole crowd, including scribes, arguing about it all.  When Jesus walks up, all the people turn their focus on Him—“amazed,” says Mark—as if they knew He’s the One Who could handle this.

The father of the boy speaks up and explains the situation.  Then—oh, how I relate to this prayer!—he says, “If you can do anything, have compassion and help us.”

Have you ever talked to God that way?  I confess that I have.

God, this is a really crazy, hard situation.  If You can do anything, please help us.

You know how dads use their “Dad voice” to command attention from the kids?  Well, I can just hear Jesus using His “God voice” when he responds, If you can?’ All things are possible for one who believes.”

The boy’s father desperately, but with more faith, cries out, “I believe. Help my unbelief!” 

If, in the middle of your situation, when you find yourself doubting what God can do, say this one.  Again, He’s waiting.  Just say it.


4. “God, You are good.”

 Because when we don’t know what to pray, it is often because the situation is bad.  We need the reminder that God is good.  Speaking truth in a crazy situation where your heart and mind are probably batting around a few lies–this is what keeps your eyes on Jesus and off the waves you are treading.

Insert here any truth about God that you need reminding of.  Here’s a few more from Scripture:

God, You are faithful. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

God, You mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

God, Your love is everlasting. (Psalm 136:1)

God, You are full of mercy and compassion. (James 5:11)

God, You number the hairs on my head, and You know my name. (Matthew 10:30; Nahum 1:7)

I encourage you to search for more of these treasures of praise in the Bible and have them ready.  Because you will need them someday.  Maybe today.


5. “Give me the words You want me to pray.”

When you don’t know what to pray, God does.  He knows what you need more than you do.  Again, He’s just waiting for us to ask for His help.  This is the kind of prayer He wants to answer.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26

Let the Spirit groan for you, and say these words.


Bonus: Pray a Psalm. 

Because David had this praying through the hard times thing down.  Use his words.  You can’t go wrong praying Scripture.  It’s already God-approved!  Plus, David gives you some beautiful, profound ways to express what you may need to express.

I have created a free beautiful printable of some of my favorite passages from Psalms to pray when I don’t know what to pray.  I’m sharing it as an instant download for you, if you want it:

Your instant download of Prayers from Psalms (NKJV) is here.


Please comment below with your favorite Scripture to pray or words to say when you don’t know what to pray.  Let’s encourage each other!

Seeking Him first,



PS ~ If these thoughts were just what you needed today, click below to print your own reminder of 5 Things to Say When You Don’t Know What to Pray:

Your free printable of 5 Things to Say When You Don’t Know What to Pray here.

Two books on prayer we love in our home:

Why I Hate Easter and Love Jesus

Hate Easter Love Jesus

Why I Hate Easter and Love Jesus

Before you judge, how many of you feel that way about Christmas?  I don’t mean good music like this, family favorite movies like this one, and the worshipful celebration of Jesus birth.  You know what I mean.  The stuff you have to buy for your kids, the decorations, the aisles and aisles of candy, the expectation of special items of clothing, the events, the planning….

You don’t have to be a socially anxious introvert like me to get overwhelmed and frustrated by it all.

This year Easter has become all that for me.  And several friends I see around me.

As a stay-at-home mom and wife, homeschool mom, and someone with a pathological inability to say “no” to anyone who asks me for help, I am always taking care of other people.  Yesterday, at the peak of Easter preparations, my heart stopped, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  And have someone take care of me.

I think mamas, especially of the stay-at-home and homeschool variety, are notorious for taking care of everybody but ourselves.  But that’s not my point.  (Perhaps another post tumbling around my brain…)  When I found myself in that moment…

Someone did take care of me.


He scooped my heart up in His loving arms, away from all the stuff that has nothing to do with His death and resurrection, away from the expectations I had for my day, and helped me turn my eyes upon Him.  Do you remember that hymn?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace

He had to remind me that Easter is, in fact, about how He already took care of me, better than anyone else ever could.

He died as my replacement, took the punishment for my sin.  No one else could do that.

He came back from the dead to prove He was powerful over sin and death.  No one else could do that.

He took care of me.  He took care of you.  

Are your eyes on Him this morning?  Are you caught up in the Easter details?  Turn your eyes on Jesus and let Him take care of you.  Remember what He did to take care of your soul, like no one else could.

There is none like You.

2 Problems That Pushed Me Over the Edge

2 Problems That Pushed Me Over the Edge

{what is a content heart?}

I have two big problems that I cannot ignore and that I have no control over.  But we’ll get to that in a moment.  First: Paul.

Paul is my hero.  “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”  Letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verse 11.  “I have learned…” How many of us believers on earth today, especially in American culture, can say that we have learned this?  A very few people I have crossed paths with in my journey seem to have come awfully close.

And I want what they have.

A content heart.  The capacity to say in any situation or circumstance, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Verse 13.  Very popular these days.  We like to say it.  It fills our hearts with hope, and rightly so.

But have we learned it?

“Sufficiency within.”  That is the meaning of the Greek word Paul uses that we translate content.  If we have the Holy Spirit within us…which is true if we are believers…then the Source of this sufficiency, this contentment, is already in us.

“…through Christ Who strengthens me.”

I am blowing my own mind, here.  Contentment is supposedly such an elusive thing…or is it?  But I count myself a believer, a follower of Jesus.  And that means…in Christ, I already have what I need to have a content heart.

So why don’t I?

It seems the answer is super simple.  “Let go, and let God” kind of stuff.  Done.  This is the shortest blog ever.  Everything you need to know in one post.

But the reality is, this walk with Christ is often messy, and pursuing holy things is often hard.

I have chosen to pursue this holy thing: a content heart.

This blog is my journey.  I want to share what God is teaching me—how He is growing a content heart within me.

Now, back to my problems…


2 Problems That Pushed Me Over the Edge

1. Circumstances: 

There is a consistent pattern in our life of having earthly things we depend on and hope for taken away.

I consider myself to be a Christian woman.  I often say we need to trust God no matter what.  Or at least acknowledge my ascent to the concept when my precious husband keeps saying it.  But there have been moments in this life that I have wanted to look God in the face and say, “Really? You’re taking that too? But I wanted….”  At this point, my heart reverts to a stomping toddler, clenching my dreams in my fists.

Sometimes, I honestly do feel justified in my response.  That was a good job we just lost.  That was a wonderful relationship with another family that just turned sour.  That was a dream we’d been striving for years to accomplish—gone in a moment.  We have gradually been led deeper into the valley we are walking, one thing after another taken away or denied.

In this valley, I have learned not to count on earthly blessings.  But…isn’t that…a good thing?

Clearly, I have a problem handling what is thrown at me.

What do I do if my circumstances never improve? 

This problem would not be as bad without the second problem.


2. Conviction

I’ve been living with the persistent pressing of the Holy Spirit against my soul to purge my complaining heart.

Yes.  This is a problem.

First of all, I like complaining and worrying!  (Wow.  Did I just say that out loud?  Again with the stomping toddler.)  The tears flow as I confess this.  My comfort zone is worry and discontent.  Which is probably one of the reasons I struggle with anxiety and depression (but that’s another post).  If something isn’t going wrong, I worry about when it will.

Tell me I’m not the only one.

Second, and more seriously, I’ve lived long enough and absorbed enough Scripture to know that what comes after conviction is hard.  If you take God seriously.

When I calm myself enough to look up from clenched fists and see His face—the Father taking a deep breath waiting for me—that is when it begins.  Surrender.  Of dreams, of desires, of comfort, of priorities…of complaining and worrying.

Conviction is a problem simply because it hurts.  It’s supposed to hurt.  Like a parent firmly reminding their child of serious consequences if they disobey.  That is uncomfortable.  And I have to choose:  am I going to surrender and let the Holy Spirit start changing me?

Or am I going to pretend I didn’t hear Him and hunker down in my comfort zone again?

Because letting God change you is not comfortable.  Pursuing holy things is often hard.

*deep breath*

I have chosen to take God seriously.  And He is already taking me seriously.  The very fact that I am publicly sharing my journey makes me more accountable for it.  God’s not letting me out of this one.

I have to confess, I don’t know what the inside of a content heart looks like.  But I have committed to this journey, and God has given me enough glimpses to know that this holy thing is what my heart truly wants.  To be able to say with Paul, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”

Pushed by circumstances and conviction, I step out in faith.

Here we go.  Welcome to my blog.

Let’s see what God does.