Toilet Seats and Contentment

TOILET SEATS AND CONTENTMENT

It was good for me to be afflicted.  —Psalm 119:71 NIV

Who would have ever thought purchasing a toilet seat would be the highlight of a shopping trip?

One year with escalating gas prices, a faltering economy, and a sharp drop in my freelance editing, my husband and I trimmed the budget and put into practice the two dozen ways to tighten our belts I had formulated.

During that year, I learned:

Wants are not needs. Like TV or satellite service. Like potato chips and ice cream. We not only saved the fifty dollars a month we were paying for the satellite service, we also shaved fifteen dollars a month from the electric bill by not turning on the TV as much. We watched DVDs on Friday and Saturday evenings and went to bed early, which also helped to save on the electric bill because we turned off the lights early. Unfortunately, cutting the potato chips and ice cream didn’t impact my weight loss hopes.

Living on less isn’t a hardship. It means less clutter, less stress, less money going out. Turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees, putting on a sweatshirt, and using a small heater in the room where I worked helped to save on the heating bill. I cancelled my gym membership. Walking and doing some old-fashioned exercises kept me in shape just as well as driving twelve miles to town to work out and cost nothing but time—much less time than it took to drive to town and back.

I really love gardening. Especially now that I’m freezing and canning for only two, not five. We expanded the garden, adding beans, squash, lettuce, and more tomato and pepper plants. I experienced once again the joy and satisfaction of seeing sparkling, colorful jars on my pantry shelves and stacks of vegetables in my freezer.

Staying focused on what we have—not on what we don’t have—increases the contentment level. “New” doesn’t always mean “better.” Throwing out something with years of good use left is wasteful and expensive, especially when that something is a vehicle. We ran our 1997 Explorer until we could afford to replace it. Sure, we had to get the transmission replaced and the alternator rebuilt, but that was a lot less expensive than a monthly loan payment.

The good life is really the simple life. Too often this truth gets buried under the advertisements bombarding us daily, under too much modern philosophy and not enough old-fashioned common sense. Making do with what you have until you can afford to replace it is simple common sense. So is using the cash you have, not the credit limit you have, to live on. I used a toilet seat with a broken hinge for months before replacing it. Hence the joy when I finally got a new one.

Blessings galore surround me, if only I open my eyes. For too long, the things I wanted but didn’t have blocked the view of the blessings.

Yes, affliction can be good. It brings us back to where we need to be: trusting in the grace and goodness of God.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21–23).

 Read and reflect on Matthew 6:19–33.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Other Shoe

Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? –Psalm 44:23 NIV

A man checked into a hotel room and was told to be as quiet as possible because the guest in the next room was a light sleeper. As he pulled off his shoes, he accidentally dropped one on the floor, making a loud thunk! He carefully slipped off the other shoe and crawled into bed. An hour later, he was awakened by someone pounding on the wall and a shout from the light sleeper next door: “For heavens sake, drop the other shoe!”

Have you ever waited for the other shoe to drop? “Trouble comes in threes,” you’ve heard, and you’ve already been slammed with two. “What else could go wrong?” you ask, but don’t really want to know. So you spend your days and nights anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

A Facebook friend, suffering from shingles and enduring cortisone shots, said that she “felt the question hovering over me, looking for a place to land.”

Been there? Done that? Haven’t we all.

In times like these, we wonder where God is. We’ve prayed and prayed and prayed, yet not even a whisper of an answer comes from heaven. Not even a “Wait.” God is silent, and we don’t know why.

Psalm 44 addresses this scenario. The psalmist goes from feeling blessed to abandoned, and he doesn’t think it’s fair.

While in the context of this psalm, he’s speaking for the nation of Israel, we, as individuals, can identify with the situation and his feelings: “You blessed us” (vv. 1–8). “You abandoned us” (vv. 9–16). “It isn’t fair because we didn’t do anything wrong” (vv. 17–22).

Like the psalmist, we have a choice. We can stay in our pit of self-pity, feeling betrayed, rejected, and abandoned, or we can accept God’s sovereignty and, like the psalmist, still pray, “Help me!” (vv. 23–26).

My Facebook friend chose not to wait for the other shoe to drop, but “to live by faith not fear.”

When read this psalm in my Quiet Time Bible one morning, I was challenged to “ask God to help you to understand His ways and grant you His peace when you are waiting for His voice.”

How can I ask Him for understanding, when my finite mind cannot wrap around God and His ways? As A. W. Tozer wrote, “God in His person and attributes fills heaven and earth exactly as the ocean fills a bucket which is submerged in its depths.”

But, even though I cannot even begin to understand—am I supposed to?—I trust that He has a plan and a purpose for my pain. I do not pray for patience as I wait for His answer. Instead, I pray for strength for the wait and His grace to sustain me as I wait.

He hears.  He will answer. Of that I have no doubt—even when the other shoe drops.

In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice. In the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation (Psalm  5:3). Thank You for the hope I have in You. Blessed assurance! Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 44.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.