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an addiction to more

Well, the holiday season is upon us. Today is red cup day at starbucks {the beloved seasonal unveiling of my favorite: eggnog latte, along with peppermint mochas, gingerbread lattes and that yummy cranberry bliss bar}, Christmas ornaments now fill the aisles at target, and soon enough we’ll start playing the holiday station on pandora.

But before I indulge in Christmas cheer, I feel so strangely adamant this year about pausing in November to let gratitude transform my heart.

give-thanks

I was chatting with my blog-friend Ashley about our mutual desired to stop striving, to enjoy these moments and to be confident in our own gifts and circumstances rather than constantly measuring ourselves up against others. After long emails back and forth we came to this conclusion: If comparison is the thief of joy, then gratitude is the way to get it back.

I’ve rolled those words over and over in my mind and they feel like truth. The reality though is that sometimes knowing something to be true in my head and believing it to be true in my heart are two separate things.

Myquellyn and her husband spoke at Allume last weekend and said something profoundly simple: a person’s behavior is a direct indicator of his beliefs.

So here I sit, sometimes thankful and content, but most of the time not. Most of the time, if I’m truly being honest, I’m surrounded by too many blessings to count, but all I focus on is what’s next, where I’m lacking, striving and stressing and feeling discontent and filling my life up with more in an attempt to be satisfied. I call it an addiction to more. More stuff. More projects. More clothes or shoes or pillows whatever it is that momentarily brings joy. My behavior reveals the ugly truth that in my life, the fight between comparison and gratitude: comparison wins. I may know in my head that gratitude is right and good, but my life is showing something different.

I know I’m not alone; it’s an age-old problem of looking everywhere for purpose, meaning, value and ultimately coming up empty-handed. I know it’s dumb. I know it’s ugly. But it’s where I sit. Discontent. Selfish. On to the next thing before the first is finished. Bigger and better and more.

The Jesus answer is that nothing in this world will ever satisfy – He is the only one who can fill our hunger for more and quench our thirst for meaning. True and lasting joy can be found in Him alone. I know this to be true, I really do. And I know it is the cure for my addiction to more. But maybe I don’t fully believe it. Because if I did, I think my soul would be much more at peace.

I want my heart to be filled with thankfulness. I want my life to be marked by a quiet confidence that only comes through truly understanding and accepting God’s luxurious gift of grace.  But sometimes that addiction to more screams louder and – ugh! – I listen.

So how do I fix this? What’s the solution? How do you take a girl who just loves the temporary joy of more and teach her that she’s going about it so backwards?

I’ve been thinking for weeks about what type of ‘gratitude challenge’ I can do. I wanted to have a cute little organized month of activities or printables that you could do with me. I’ve prayed often and talked with my very wise best friend and the answer for how to change my heart has eluded me.

I don’t have a resolution or a bow to tie this post up with.  Maybe I have to just be okay with that. I start the month of November with a heart that longs for change and soul that aches for peace. May I be so bold to believe that these next four weeks will be a time of deep refining.

If you find yourself in the same place, I welcome you to join me. I’m not yet sure what you’re joining in on, but I think just the acknowledgement and desire is the first place to start.

Let the journey to lives filled with gratefulness begin …

78 Responses to an addiction to more

  1. Jamie November 18, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Hi Emily!
    I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and behold! I think I found my answer. There are these sermons that I usually listen to, but haven’t in while. I came back to them last night and awaiting me was this
    http://whchurch.org/sermons-media/sermon/lab-rats-no-longer

    It was such a blessing. Here is the idea I took from it: when you’re hungry, you look for anything to fill you up, when you’re filled with Jesus, you realize that everything else that is not Him, is pretty much waste. This gets deeper though, so I wont elaborate; I hope everyone checks it out.
    By the way, I am not a member of this church (wish i could be though; its miles and miles away from my state)
    Anyway, hope this helps!

  2. AmyNicole November 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Thank you, Emily for sharing. It’s so simple and yet such a difficult lesson I struggle with every day. Struggle to stop and be still and stop trying to fill my life with things so my life has meaning, when I come up empty and feel depleted and THEN remember Him. And HE gives my life meaning, and nothing I scramble around to try to do will fix that. I have to SUBMIT.

    I’m in! Here’s to a real “CHANGING” of the season…

  3. Lisa November 6, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    So, I’m not sure if anyone has gone this direction in their comments yet, but one of the tried and true ways in the tradition of contemplative Christian spirituality to break the hold that “more” has on our hearts is to fast. Because it puts us face to face with our mortality (since death ultimately strips us of everything in this present life), fasting effectively forces us to ask the questions of who we are and why we matter and what a “full” life is. And answering those questions can bring amazing clarity and a renewed determination to focus on only those things that matter. The fast that I am experimenting with right now is Sabbath (fasting from productivity in favor of connection with God and others one day out of seven). Still LOTS of “mind renewal” needed, but some changes have begun. Thank you for your courageous honesty and determination to let us see the working out of your faith (Phil. 2:12-13).

  4. Janet November 6, 2013 at 3:08 am #

    The need for more has been on my heart too, and I just realized yesterday how much strain it puts on my marriage. My husband is dumbfounded when I purchase yet another pair of shoes, another magazine, more pillows, picture frames just-in-case-I-need-them, more kin knacks that just get stored, etc. Thank you for your courage to bring up this topic, and to want to find lasting relief. I’ll be reading regularly to see where this journey takes you… I hope I have the strength to follow the same path.

  5. Katie November 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Emily,

    I so relate to how you feel! There is such a balance between enjoying God’s gifts and His amazing creation and also dying to ourselves daily and looking to the eternal. So much of it has to do with our perspective. That’s why it is helpful for me to get out of my comfort zone and spend time with the less fortunate. This is not something I do as often as I should, but being with the poor, needy, and broken really puts everything in perspective. Suddenly, the light fixture I was obsessing over loses its significance and all I can think about is that single mom who has 5 grown boys to feed. Another thing I have to do is preach the Gospel to myself daily. When I look to Jesus, I’m not focused on myself. That is a battle in itself, so I pray that I can die to myself and live for Him daily. He is so good! It’s all about Him, but our default mode is self- me, me, me. I really love the book by Tim Keller, Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. You can read it in one sitting and it is so good!

  6. Lynn November 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    Wonderful post….thank you for sharing.

  7. Amy November 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    This is one of the best blog posts I have ever read. Thank you for your honesty…in it I found wonderful encouragement.

  8. MyPeaceOfFood November 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    I don’t know why this post makes me so sad; my heart goes out to you. Perhaps I don’t feel *exactly* the same way because I never feel like “more” is possible. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum, in a sense — I am always worried I will have less. I don’t have the money for MORE. I don’t have the time for MORE. So instead of filling my mind with thoughts of MORE, I fill it with the worry of LESS. In that, we are alike. And again — gratitude is the answer. You are so right. All the blessings that surround me, and I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    I do think it helps to be painfully aware and stupidly distracted by all the beauty in the world around you. Right now, in Chicago, the trees are going BONKERS they’re so orange and red and yellow. My kids and the way the smile at me and laugh at my silly jokes? It’s BANANAS! The art of life in the roses that dried up on my dining room table and the stacks of tantalizing recipes I have to go through for Thanksgiving please me to no end. That’s it — in that moment, typing that to you, I was not focused on medical expenses or Christmas gifts.

    That was just a moment, yes, so they’re always fleeting and fleeing, but we have to just keep pumping it back in. ALWAYS inject some God into the drive to school or the work day or the radio station. It helps. It opens eyes. It certainly brings peace.

  9. Robin November 4, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    Don’t beat yourself up on this one. The Lord knows that we are broken. He does not expect us to be fixed overnight. It is a PROCESS and just the realization that we are broken and any small effort to become whole are pleasing to God. You are broken AND wonderful at the same time. xo

  10. Shannon [Our Home Notebook] November 4, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    Thanks for sharing your heart on this. I totally understand where you’re coming from. I can so easily get there too and now know its gratitude that brings me back. I loved 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp on counting our gifts, no matter what happens in life. It’s a good read. Thanks for the reminder on what’s really important.

  11. Jen Spadaro November 4, 2013 at 5:40 am #

    The world pulls us in with her glitz and glamour and she’s filled with fast moving entertainment, shes exciting. But the more we spend time in the world, striving to be a part of it, to be successful in it the more we lose our sight on our Heavenly Father. And when we compare- how is that loving each other? We know in our hearts that our behavior wouldnt please Him, thats why I think we feel so guilty about it. Im at a different place in my journey than you, so its easy for me to remember how unsatisfed I was before I met Jesus, it wasnt all that long ago. I dont know the right thing to fix your heart. Only you can find that out with His help. But I can honesly say that I think its a very very good sign that you can tell something isnt right. Hes whispering to your heart. Good luck. I know youll figure it out. xoxo

  12. Jess Williams November 3, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    You are not alone (as you can clearly tell by all of these loving comments) I feel everything you wrote. Can’t wait to see what you come up with, count me in!

  13. paige November 3, 2013 at 4:13 am #

    this is why i just love you…and have for quite a while.
    thank you for sharing your heart & being such a LIGHT for HIM> HE is using your willingness to be transparent in countless ways for the kingdom!
    & thank you for sharing your heart even if those around us headed straight to the bar ( HAHAHA!)

  14. Crystal Stewart November 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Such a great post! Thank you!

  15. Summer Hogan November 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    Emily,
    Thanks for your post! It was great meeting you at Allume! It is amazing how many people and blogger’s focuses have shifted or re-focused after that amazing conference! I am doing something similar on my blog. God, through Allume, made me realize that my priorities were not as aligned in Him as they should be so I have postponed the design/DIY portion of my blog to write about simplifying, being happy with the blessings I have and getting rid of the excess (in the words of Jeff Shinbarger). What I am trying to say is…I’m in!!!
    Thanks!
    Summer

  16. Tricia November 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    A friend and I had a conversation very similar to you and your friend. Knowing something in my head and transferring that to my heart. Thanks for your honesty and reality that so many of us are living and often don’t realize it. The temporary joy we find in things, doing, etc. It doesn’t compare to the permanent joy we have in Jesus. I’m looking forward to walking this journey with you as I’m there as well. I’m reading the book “one thousand gifts” by Ann Voskamp for the second time and it’s just so true that we forget to find Thanksgiving in everything. If you haven’t read it, it sounds like a book fitting for such a season as this!

  17. Laurie November 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Thank you for your beautiful honesty Emily! I am with you in your struggle. It is a really hard thing to be in this world but not of this world… to care about beautifying our homes because we are called to bring beauty to them…we are made to create beauty… but yet to hold their beauty loosely…it is a real struggle for me too not to focus too much on finding cute things to the degree that it becomes a distraction from my TRUE focus. Reading verses of Christ’s love for me really helps me to be content with exactly where He has me and also serving others esp with my children…it reminds me of what really counts in this life:LOVE

  18. Kristin Del Mul November 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    I haven’t read all the comments so maybe someone has already said something similar but I heard something at my church’s moms group just this last Friday that seems to fit what you are talking about and it really spoke to me.

    The title of the topic was, “Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude.” The speaker spoke of “weeds” that choke out our gratitude and comparing ourselves to others leads to discontentment which is a huge choker of gratitude. She shared though, that we are all one-of-a-kind, unique creations of our Heavenly Father and a one-of-a-kind can’t be compared to anything else because there isn’t another ones like it anywhere. That was just such a mind-blowing thought for me. I can’t compare myself to anyone else because I am a unique creation. I am not meant to be like anyone else. What God has given me is unique to me and not anyone else! Isn’t that a really neat thought?

  19. Tracey Jane November 2, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    Thank you for sharing! This is a wonderful post. I’m in, too.

  20. Erin November 2, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    I’m in. My prayer of late has been Jesus change me. I can’t even start with all the ways I need him too. This is a good place to start!

  21. Teresa November 2, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    I think that it is very easy to get hurried along into the more, more, faster state of mind. The thing that has helped me re-focus is to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Seek out all of the beautiful little “jewels” that our Heavenly Father has sprinkled liberally in our lives – especially those in our Families! I’m including here a link to my daughter (-in-law, but mostly in heart) ‘s blog entry she recently made – I think you’ll enjoy it! I hope it brings your heart some of the peace that filled mine as I read it! http://littlewomenandamom.com/settling in

  22. Duana November 2, 2013 at 7:24 am #

    It is so great to hear this being stirred in so many hearts. I am looking forward to starting my next Bible study with http://www.goodmorninggirls.org on Gratitude. My husband and I are also planning on doing the challenge from Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: an experimental mutiny against excess. It will be encouraging to see and read what God is doing through this time in your life and so many others. Blessings

    • Chirs November 4, 2013 at 5:10 am #

      I am 61 and still struggle with this. Yes, He is the way. Gratitude and showing love to others, blessing them…it is the way to joy and peace in your life. I think all we can do is recognize it and then do our best to do more of it !

  23. Clare November 2, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    Ahh, computer freak out (accidentally submitted post without finishing)!

    Continue steadfastly in PRAYER, being watchful in it with THANKSGIVING. -Colossians 4:2 (emphasis added)

    There is no special formula or list you can make for experiencing gratitude. It is a discipline like so much of the Christian life. I like how Paul calls us here to continue steadfastly. We must persevere in prayer. We must also be watchful in our prayers with thanksgiving. What a beautiful image! As we go about our days, we must be on the lookout for God’s many blessings and grace toward us.

    Praying for you in this season of life!

  24. Clare November 2, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    Emily, thanks for your humility and transparency in this! What you are experiencing is so common to man (especially us women) . His Word speaks clearly to us that THANKSGIVING coupled with prayer is essential in resting in His peace.

    …do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by PRAYER and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 (emphasis added)

    Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it dwith thanksgiving.

  25. Amy November 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    me too, :(

    Just bought a rug, thought it would pull my den “together”, instead I spent all day rearranging furniture to make my house look like all the beautiful pictures I constantly feed my brain, and I came up very short and very sad. Maybe I just need a few new throw pillows? (wish that last part was a joke, but I seriously believed, right up until I read your post, that pillows were the answer)

    No answers, just comfort that I am not the only one, just wish your post had included a short story about a new rug…and a few well chosen throw pillows.

  26. Melissa Risenhoover November 1, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Ironically everything you wrote about is the reason my family and I have taken on a minimalist lifestyle. It’s amazing the things God can show you and the hope you have in each day and the future when you’re not surrounded and overwhelmed by wanting more. :) loved your post. It confirmed so much for me.

  27. Kelly November 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    Thank you for posting!! Out of all of the blogs I read I truly appreciate your honesty and openness and likeness to serve Jesus more fully!! We’re all in this together!

  28. Gretchen November 1, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Oh how I am RIGHT where you are. My heart is YEARNING to find peace in Him and Him alone. I suggest you kick us all off with a month of Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts. I have the book and devotional and oh yeah, the app but have never started. I think we should count our gifts for 30 days and just see what happens to us all. Thank you for your openness. There are so many of us wearing that same pair of shoes!! Love ya!

  29. Teresa R November 1, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    I’m in. We take so much for granted and are not thankful nearly enough.

  30. Meg Smith November 1, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Love the belief/behavior idea. My husband calls it the root/fruit connection. See Luke 6 – what your roots are in, so goes the fruit!

  31. Erin November 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    I am reading ‘Grace for the Good Girl’ by Emily Freeman right now with a group of moms from my church and it is shifting and changing my perspectives in so many ways. Striving, trying, comparing, and doing have been exhausting — learning to rest in Christ and being led by His spirit (though it is going to take a lot of practice!) is refreshing. :) I would highly recommend her book.

  32. Melissa November 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    Sign me up

  33. Sara Z November 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Thank you. I have recently moved (with my hubby and kids) to a VERY small town far away from my hometown and everything (and everyone) I hold dear. Discontentment has been my daily song, which in turn tells my husband and kids that they are not enough. I have been feeling pulled back into thankfulness as a rememdy to the spoiled minsdet that I should be able to have all of my loves (my family, my friends, my church, Target…;) to be truly happy and enjoy every moment. God blesses us in so many ways that we grow accustomed to it and forget to turn our hearts back to Him in praise and thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing your heart and your struggle, for reminding us all that we are not alone in our struggles, and that God is faithful and good.
    It’s going to be a good month.

  34. Cathy Johnson November 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    A beautifully written post. I’m all in!!

  35. Amy November 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Very nicely written. I often feel the same way. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? I haven’t found the solution. For awhile I was reading the bible everyday and that helped me to be more grateful, but with a newborn and a new routine, I have gotten out of the habit. Best wishes to all to focus less on the world and more on what we have.

  36. Jill Baum November 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    I read a book a couple of years ago that changed my life. It’s called Simplicity Parenting by Kim Jon Payne. It speaks of just this subject. What your going through is a 20 and 30’s phase. I am in my late 40’s (with a surprise 5 year old!) and I have finally outgrown the need for more. My inlaws were tragically killed in an accident 2 years ago and I had to go through their home and dispose of everything. I pictured someone coming into my house and doing the same. You really realize what you need and what is just stuff. I gutted my own house. Unfortunately the mall is no longer fun for me (more useless stuff that will end up in Goodwill next year). I stay away from discount stores that promote more useless stuff.

    When you have little you have less to clean and less choices to make. It truly simplifies your family’s life and makes everything so much easier. I am a crafter/sewist so I have to seriously curb my desire to make many things. I now only buy fabric with a project in mind. I sew to make gifts for people because I want to.

    Read the book and rejoice that you will finally be released from the grip of STUFF!

  37. Lauren@SimplyLKJ November 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Emily, my CBS group is in the midst of the study of Roman’s…you hit it all on the head. I would encourage you to read through it this month. Paul sets the record straight for us. It is not that you don’t fully believe, it is that the devil is trying his best to sway you otherwise. I find myself struggling with this daily. Overwhelmed with what I do have, wanting to simplify, only to see what other’s are doing (through blogs, pinterest, etc) and feel like I need more! It is a vicious cycle I am hoping to break this year. I encouraged the moms of those I teach (2’s one day a week for Bible time) to put the brakes on for one day…and I plan to join them! Halloween was not 24 hours ago, Thanksgiving almost 4 weeks away, Christmas 2 months…however, we have all jumped ahead and it might as well be January 1.

  38. jodie November 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Absolutely loved this post. Thank you for keeping it real and honest. Looking forward to this month’s posts!

  39. hope November 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Amen. I’m in.

  40. Angela November 1, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Beautiful, honest, true.

    I read 1,000 gifts and loved it. I would also add, run to His Word: “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4 NKJV)

    When Jesus speaks to me, nothing else matters and I am filled with joy and gratitude. Thank you for your honest words, we live there together.

  41. Ashleigh November 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Oh me, oh my! This has been so heavy on my heart lately as well. God and I had a big heart-to-heart conversation about this a few weeks ago, and I shared my heart for everyone to read. I’m so glad to know Jesus is working in all of us! Such a comfort to know He cares so much!

  42. Coco November 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Thank you for this post! Any time the Enemy can capitalize on my insecurities, dissatisfaction, or doubts, he will! He doesn’t care what I’m focused on, as long as it isn’t GOD. I try to respond (when I don’t give in!) by reading His Word, meditating on it, singing hymns or spiritual songs…and sometimes that’s so hard to do! I think we get something out of every negative behavior we continue to engage in. For me, that is the comfortable, self-indulgent, self-righteous feeling I have whenever I compare my talents, looks, brains – whatever – to another. It makes it easy for me to not even try. You know how it is: “What’s the point? I’ll never be as good or smart or pretty or creative as her, so why even try?” The temptation is for me to not do anything unless I know from the beginning that it will be perfect. Perfectionism! Grrr!

  43. Margaret November 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    I’m in the very same place but you put so much more eloquently than I could have. I so want and pray to be the woman who wants less and is more satisfied with all the gifts around her. And then I see the next thing….click the Pay Now button and done! Where did that desire for simple and less go in that moment? I am surrounded by stuff and only want to be filled to the brim with his grace.
    I am a constant contradiction to myself.

  44. Beth November 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Thank you Emily for bringing a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. I felt every sentence of your post today. At 47 years old I thought I would be over the comparison phase of life, but I realize as you so gently put, it isn’t a phase if you don’t move on to another place eventually. I want that place to be gratitude and peace. Only then does that feeling of well-being wash over me. Thank you for your honesty and your beauty. I accept your challenge, but as Holly so eloquently stated the answers are not in ourselves, but in God’s word and the application of that word. Keep up your good work, speaking the truth in love to a world that so desperately needs to hear it!

  45. Tina November 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    I feel like I used to have the same issue, but I have “grown out of it.” The only “more” I want today is more time with friends and family, more walks with my dogs, more education about things I have been curious to know, more laughter, more meditation/prayer sessions, more, more, MORE time with my husband and two college-aged kids. I am finally at the stage in life where I want things to be stripped down and minimal. Just a small wardrobe of high quality clothing, for example; a social life filled with people I really love and admire, not one that consists of going to places to be “seen.” Forget about crows feet, weight gain, memory loss, grey hair, varicose veins…the real signs of aging are patience, acceptance, wisdom and self-love. It takes a long time to get to this point. And it may be gone tomorrow, but I will join you in trying to stay in the moment and be conscious of all my blessings, which are many!

  46. Annie November 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    I’m in. Thank you.

  47. Debby November 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    You said it for me, too, Emily. At 62, a believer for 38 years, I didn’t imagine struggling with things like this – still. For gratitude, and many other things, it’s the DAILY-NESS. Every day. Like making beds, washing dishes, dusting. I imagined a time would come when all of the daily stuff, including my walk of faith, would become easier. More naturally. Some of it does. Some-times. I thought age – maturity – would be an advantage. A bible study leader shared several times in the last year that getting older comes with its own challenges, and sometimes it is more difficult to live this life. Hmmmm. I had to think about that. And I think she might be right. With less energy, less patience, body functions functioning differently, slower response time, and on and on. – I think she’s right. Wow! Not the plan I had in mind. Sometimes when I’m shocked and horrified (again) at my response to things, it dawns on me that though I am surprised, my heavenly Father is not. And I smile. I’m surprised, but He isn’t. It’s a little disappointing He’s not surprised. But mostly comforting that He knows me, warts and all – and loves me still. Not really an answer, but when I park there awhile, it helps. God is not beating me down. He is coaching me up, encouraging me on. Telling me how much He loves me and what wonderful plans He has for me, even at 62. Hope for another day. His goodness and mercy endure forever.

  48. Jamie November 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Emily,
    I have been longing, too! I feel such frustration with myself that I cannot focus on HIM longer. I tell myself that He is full of grace and is happy with my desire to focus on Him. So why am I not happy? I am grateful, yes, but still full of angst. I recently moved and today I worked on my office. I hung my antique chalkboard next to my desk and wrote “Be Thankful” in large, scripty letters. I randomly wrote things I am grateful for. When my youngest arrived home, I invited him to write on it as well. I just sat down at my desk and busted out laughing at his silliness :) Maybe that is all it is – those moments of thankfulness and laughter. Joy. Sharing joy with our family and being uncomplicated.

    Thanks for sharing – I will join!

  49. Alicia November 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    I love your post. I love your blog and it being Christ centered. It truly is. I usually sit back and never comment. I just keep my thoughts to myself all the time.

    But I was impressed to say something this time. I still feel a little funny, or better expressed, exposed, even though I’m in the comforts of my own home. I have had this battle or realization myself in the past. I too searched for the answer in the books of God. (I say books because I am a Mormon and we have The Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible. But I’m not here to convert or challenge. We are all Christ centered people and that is what matters most.) I was drawn to the story of Moses and the ten commandments. If you remember the first set of Commandments were broken. The Lord did not give them to the people because they could not live the law. He then made a second set, the Ten Commandments we know today. (Okay here is where my religion comes in. Again I’m not here to convert you just a different point of view.) We believe that the first set of commandments were a higher law. To strive for perfection. Now taking that thought and applying it to your post.

    My heart was transformed to strive for perfection in my own. Not to compare or gain more but perfection in my own ability. Only God and I know if I truly in my heart have done the best to my ability. We should always strive for our own perfection in all aspects, including fun and crafts. To become more like Jesus Christ, perfect in all areas of life.

    I sometimes think, If He were here today, with pinterrest, internet, & blogging, would He too print out activities for the children, make cute crafts from a followed blog with them, and prepare delicious meals found on the net to share with everyone? I don’t have the answer, nobody dose. But I’m sure it would have been perfect. Not over kill, but not leaving you feeling like you had missed out on the…fill in the blank. Leaving you with the perfect contentment.

    Striving for perfection – a higher law.

    I hope this make sense and leaves you with a sense of peace. That is the prayer in my heart for you and all who read this. Thank you for your continued lovely posts in all aspects! I truly enjoy them.

  50. tiffany November 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I so so so relate to this – October was a hard – hard – hard month for me. And I so despartately want something to change! Just this morning while I was curling my hair,I thought – can I just simply be done and DECIDE to not have a hard time?? Could it be that easy? I don’t know – but I truly believe that gratitude is great place to start. Choose joy over feeling loney, unworthly, and all the other negative things I think about myself.

    Maybe its making one small change a day – and those small changes can become a breath of growing and being in the moment – with each breath we draw closer to Him — contented peace and always wanting more – that’s want I want. (that’s from a song by Casting Crows :)

    Thank you Emily – you are wonderful!!
    xoxo

  51. Erika November 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Sign me up!!

  52. Val Frania November 1, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    I appreciate your comments. Being content is definitely the way to peace. It’s OK to want to strive to do better and having things is not wrong, as long as they are not held up as being more important than what really matters, a walk with our Savior minute by minute, all through our day. I hope you find peace. It’s a great place to live.

  53. Nicole November 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    At the Hillsong conference two weeks ago I caught in casual conversation these words “Lack of gratitude is the cause of ego”. This was so simply said but profound. Reminds me of your conclusion at the top of your letter today.

    Heb. 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

    By our gratitude we encourage those around us keeping them from sin.

    Just a thought I’ve been having lately.

  54. Holly November 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    I relate. And I really think the answer is time in the Word rather than on trying to find ways to cultivate a thankful heart. You can’t will yourself to change or find anything else that will change your heart but Jesus. I know you already do spend time in the Word, so I would do that and pray for a heart of thankfulness. And the Lord will always answer that prayer.

    • Jamie November 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      I have loved this post; been waiting for this sub-consciously, I think. And yeah, I do believe the answer is in Him.
      Blessings :-)

  55. Audrey November 1, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    Beautifully written post…a great challenge for all of us.

  56. Shalene November 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Emily, I hear your heart, and I am there with you, in the deep places that God has the grace to reveal to me. The striving for more exhausts me … the disease of comparison can beat me down. I so badly WANT to be filled up with HIM that I desire nothing else! But I struggle with getting there.

  57. Lorri November 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Oh goodness this spoke to my heart! I’m joining in.

  58. Gwendolyn November 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    I totally understand. I’ve been thinking about what really takes up my time and money, that at the end of the day is just silly stuff. I’ve decided to declare this No-thrift November. When I drop my son off at school I tend to go look for stuff. Stuff I don’t need, stuff that makes me happy to find but just for a while until I realize it needs work or I don’t have anywhere to put it.

    So I’m hoping to spend this month focusing on what I’ve got and not searching out the next best thing. Great timing. I really appreciate you sharing your heart, Emily!

  59. Emily November 1, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    I’ll add to the chorus of “me, too”. Maybe we need to think less about “what” and more about “how”. Maybe we need to be more purposeful. I heard a great talk from Roy Spence (you can Google him and some of his talks are on YouTube) wherein he closed with this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdyTXBT5CQE. He says that this is what purpose sounds like:
    * Everybody has to know the words to the song;
    * You have to listen to one another;
    * You step up when it’s your turn;
    * It sounds AWESOME when you sing together; and
    * It helps when you have an awesome song to sing.

    The song makes me cry every time I hear it. And, it reminds me that we are what we look for. If you are looking for and are purposeful about being grateful, that’s what you’ll find…a grateful heart.

  60. Kate November 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    I am so thankful for this post! I have been struggling with the same feelings, but find it difficult to admit to myself, let alone the rest of the world. Count me in on the journey to living a grateful life!

  61. Catherine November 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    I have been struggling with this very thing and thinking about it extensively as well. I am in.

  62. Laurel November 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Dear Emily…

    What a timely and thought-provoking post. I am 62 years old, blessed beyond measure, mildly creative, comfortable in my own skin and know Jesus as my Savior. But I likewise have this plague of being addicted to “more”. Even when the “more” is seemly worthwhile or harmless. When I was younger it probably wasn’t as much of a problem because our finances kept the addiction at bay. But now that we are older and financially secure the only limits this addiction has is the number of boxes that will fit on my front porch! And yes, it has definitely robbed me of peace and order in my home and joy in my heart.

    Thank you for having the courage to embark on this journey. I look forward to making progress in this area. It would be a wonderful gift to give to Christ this Christmas!

  63. Nester November 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    yes, this.

    I’m in.

  64. Rachel Serene November 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Oh how I love you, Emily! You are speaking my language, sister. I too, have been pondering my trouble with comparison lately. We recently moved into a wonderful modern french country home. I believe it was God’s gift designed just for us and couldn’t be more thrilled the day we closed. At first, I couldn’t get over it. The first several days here were like pure bliss: “The walls, the floors, oh the view!”. But with each passing week, I have started to notice what the house doesn’t have. Like a coat closet or open concept design for example. And though I was trying to fight it and focus on what I was thankful for (even starting a thankful journal)… over the past few months, the comparison voice has won. “But her house is bigger”, “At least so and so has a master bathroom” etc. And though I still adore my home, my own thoughts have tarnished it’s beauty. And I’m sad for that because I know what it took to get us here and it was nothing less than an amazing miracle-story from God. And I know He was SO thrilled to prepare this place for us. I know He had it in mind long before we ever knew it was possible. Just for us. And I have stomped on that blessing.
    Just this morning, I had renewed energy to quit listening to all those voices in my head. To just be OK in the silence, even in the silence of my own brain. That is often where my comparison starts. I get one thought and it just doesn’t stop and before long I’m an unthankful grump.
    I’m working on it. We all are. Thanks for your beautiful example and praise God for His grace that doesn’t fault us when we fail but continues to nudge us closer to Him.

  65. Heather November 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    LOVED this post! Thank you! I struggle with this as well. I am on board :)

  66. kristin M November 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    I hear you…….like i hear my own soul giving me these same messages. I am grateful for you.

  67. Mycah November 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Emily,

    I’m not sure if you know Lara Casey, editor in chief of Southern Weddings Magazine (along with so many other things), but she did a post on her blog a few months ago about doing a contentment challenge – a fasting from the unnecessary “stuff” we continue to fill our lives with — clothes, shoes, accessories, home decor, etc. http://laracasey.com/2013/09/09/contentment-challenge/ You do not make any unnecessary purchases for a 3 month period (or however long you decide you want to fast for) and in this time you focus on your relationship with God and how he serves as your sustenance rather than “stuff.” I have been doing this challenge for the last 2 months and I can honestly say it’s been life changing. Just like you, I struggle with comparing myself with others and always wanting to be on to the next bigger and better thing. The contentment challenge has taught me to be grateful for everything the Lord has given me, to be more resourceful and to go to God when I feel weak and let Him be my strength, instead of heading to Target to spend a bunch of money on stuff I don’t need. I’ve also completely rearranged my finances during this period and put giving financially to the Lord as my priority, rather than on the back burner. I just wanted to share this with you in case this might be what you’re looking for. I encourage you to give it a try to see how He can change this area of your life.

  68. Jenny November 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    This is why I love your blog so much!! You are transparent & vulnerable & REAL! We need more real people in this world!! God has gifted you incredibly & you are using those gifts to bless others & to Glorify HIM!!! Love it!!
    Your current words were my words/thoughts/actions until a few months ago. My small group read & discussed Ann VosKamps book this summer & we are in the process of allowing the TRUTH that she spoke of to continually sink into our daily lives. Being truly thankful in all things is transforming & allows one to see the world in an entirely new way!
    Also, Willow Creek Community Church (Bill Hybels & team) is currently doing a sermon series entitled “Satisfied?”. You may find it beneficial to watch/listen online, it’s fabulous! Blessings to you on this journey to find deep gratitude! :)

  69. Stacey November 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Count me in! Thanks for sharing

  70. Susan November 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Emily, I CAN relate – it is a striving. I wrote this to several blogging friends this morning. For me the striving was/is different but nevertheless striving is striving:

    Sister bloggers and lovers of Jesus Christ! This morning about 4:30 Spirit began prompting me to pray for many sundry things and each of you came to mind – I have already dropped most of you a personal message regarding that. I have in the past struggled with “why” I blog – but have finally came to peace that I do it because “I have to”. I have no visions of fame or fortune for my blogsite and I don’t get into “how to make money with your blog” or statistics or how many people “like” it or comment or whatever. I blog because my mouth is the pen of a ready writer. Period. The end. Saying that, I do let my mind wander and wonder why it is that someone as ordinary as Ann Voskamp can begin counting blessings and wham, she is a #1 book seller! I have a hard enough time READING her nevermind, writing like her! LOL! She is a blessing to me. The Lord reminded me that it rains on the just and unjust – and I said back to him, let it rain on ME, pitiful ME! (this was during my time of striving). And yet, my writing always comes back to this. IF my words and message can serve as the Balm of Gilead for even one sister out there who is struggling, then the writing has served GOD’s purpose. It is HIS GIFT of grace for someone who desperately needs to drink from His streams in their desert. This morning as I prayed I shared my heart with my Lord and told Him above all and over anything else, and I venture to think each one of you would agree, no matter the number of readers or comments or likes or re-tweets, *I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in Truth* THIS is the true cry of my heart. I feel so led to share this with all of you – I believe my Father told me to and I learned a very long time ago to do what He tells me to do! Be blessed. Don’t strive. Rest in Him and His perfect plan for YOUR life. It’s really the only road for peace. xo

  71. Amy November 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Yes, I’ve been starting to feel this call into gratitude as well. This post makes me hate I missed Myquellyn’s session. I’ll be chewing on that little nugget today.

  72. Chaney November 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    AMEN sister! I’ve been thinking about this very topic so much today and how I can be more intentionally grateful this month and not jump ahead to holiday decorating, Christmas shopping, etc, etc. It’s hard, right? One thing I’m planning to do is write out one thing I’m grateful for every day and clip it onto this little ribbon garland. I think I need visual and tangible reminders of things I’m thankful for (i.e. God’s goodness in my life!). Thanks for this post – you really wrote the words I was thinking about in my head!

  73. Nickki November 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Oops, I meant 1000 gifts! Sorry.

  74. Nickki November 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Emily,

    Have you ever read Ann Voskamp’s !000 Gifts book? It is a great place to start to train your heart to be more grateful. And it is easy to get your kids involved making their own lists. It is a life changing challenge!

    • Amanda November 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      I just finished 1,000 Gifts and loved it. There is even a fun app that helps you keep track ol your gifts using photos and text. Really neat!!

  75. Jess November 1, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    emily, I’ve been following your blog for a while now and you’ve become one of my fast favorites. thank you for your honesty and vulnerability here. i think you handle what you do here and the influence that you have with such care and intention and effort to point beyond yourself. i just wanted to say, “me too” to your post and to thank you for sharing your wisdom about gratitude as the way to get back.