Practicing Gratefulness

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you buy a new house, there is a constant battle that goes on in your mind with all of your new wants, and striving to be content with what you have. It’s a natural thing to want to furnish a home and set it up as cozy and comfortable as possible. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t start to idolize those desires. It’s been a fun process of deciding what’s most important to buy first and what things can wait.

Matt and I decided living room furniture was next on the list because we currently have one couch in our living room (that we dearly love) but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for guests to sit if we have them over. We’ve joked about having a BYOCC (Bring Your Own Camping Chair) policy if people want to sit anywhere but the floor or squished on the couch when they come over. So needless to say, we were so excited about saving up our money and buying new living room furniture.

Well……..we can dream right? Turns out our cars were feeling a little under the weather and needed to be taken care of. Unfortunately, they are rather needy cars and don’t settle for minor fixes. They require a lot of attention when they decide to stop working properly, leaving us with a major hole in our emergency fund. All that goes to say, the money that we thought was going to go towards new furniture has now been invested into our cars, so the BYOCC policy will have to remain in effect for a little while longer while we re-save.

SO, tonight I made a little chalkboard sign to remind us to be grateful. Because so often we can look at these circumstances and get really bummed out. So we needed a visual reminder to look on every day that we have been incredibly blessed.

To name a few things:

  • First and foremost, we have Jesus. The author and finisher of our faith who provides for our every single need.
  • Each other. God has blessed us with a wonderful marriage and a 2-year wedding anniversary coming around the corner.
  • Our family. We have the most incredible support system on both sides.
  • Our friends. God has given us lifelong friends that sharpen, encourage, and challenge us. As well as just making life fun.
  • Our church. We have an amazing church that preaches the Word and really lives like the Body of Christ.
  • A brand new house with a one year warranty on everything.
  • A vacation coming up that we’ve saved for for 6 months and is already completely paid for. Hallelujah.
  • The cars that we do have, no matter how problematic they may be, are both paid in full.
  • Food. We’re never without food or access to food.
  • Our health.
  • Our jobs and the fact that Matt’s on summer vacation!

AND about a billion more things. We are blessed. So when it comes down to it, gratitude really does turn what we have into enough. It changes our perspective and encourages us to use what God’s given us to be a blessing to others.

So tell me, what are you thankful for? How do you practically practice gratitude? I’d love to hear some of your ideas!

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Three Years Ago

May 29, 2010 has such a special place in my heart. It was the day that the love of my life proposed to me and asked for my hand in marriage. I had just come home from college, and his sister had just graduated from high school. He planned an entire day for us with the cover of it being a day out for Christina as his graduation gift to her.

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We went to Helen, GA for the day and went to breakfast, played putt putt, got ice cream, went hiking up Amicolola Falls, and then went back to a cabin to get ready for “dinner” with his parents. Little did I know that while I was getting ready, he was transforming the cabin into a romantic setting to pop the question, complete with candlelight, pictures of us throughout the years, roses, and soft music.

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I really was in shock. He had gone all out. I never expected his proposal to be so extravagant. But he definitely took my breath away and made tears flow quite uncontrollably. I immediately knew what was going on and I couldn’t have been happier. He led me over to the table where he knelt down in front of me and read to me from a journal. He told me he loved me for the very first time and then asked if I would marry him. I had no doubts in my mind what my answer would be and quickly said yes! He pulled out the most beautiful ring I had ever seen and finally put that rock on my hand!

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Prior to our arrival at the cabin, his parents had delivered my favorite Italian meal, chicken parmesan, and had it stored in the cabinets. I would love to say we had a romantic dinner after this point, but I was so excited that I couldn’t even eat. All I did was cry, stare at my ring, and take pictures!

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After we got past the initial shock and celebration, we straightened up the cabin and headed back to Woodstock where he had all of our family and friends at my house for a surprise engagement party. The night just kept getting better and better and it will forever be etched in my memory as one of the best days of my life.

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Saying yes to marry Matthew James Renney was the easiest decision I’ve ever made. Up to that point he had slowly pursued me over the course of two years, writing me letters while I was away at school, praying diligently over our relationship, guarding my heart and protecting my purity. He loved me like Jesus does and I knew that by marrying him we were walking in obedience to what God has called us to in the life: to partner together to be a visual picture of Christ and His love for the church, and the church’s submission to Christ in the most harmonious relationship known to man. We fail often, but I’ve never doubted saying yes to this man. Happy Engagement Day Anniversary sweetheart! I love you dearly.

Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Ya’ll. I just had one of the sweetest weekends I’ve had in a long time. Matt finished school on Friday and is now on summer vacation, which means, lots of husband time!! He still has a football workouts a couple of days a week, but all in all, I will be seeing him a WHOLE LOT more. We decided to kick off summer with a trip to my family’s cabin on Smith Lake in Alabama. My grandfather built this cabin with his own two hands about 48 years ago, making it an iconic memory in our family. In the 5 years of us knowing each other, Matt had still never been there. It was time. We headed out with my parents Friday afternoon for a 3 day weekend of rest and relaxation.

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Little did Matt and I know, but one of my brothers and his family came to surprise us at the lake! My parents found out that morning that they were coming and kept it a secret from us! It was such a fun surprise getting to spend the weekend with my nieces and nephew (and brother and sis-in-law!) who I dont’ get to see enough as it is. Living 500 miles apart makes it difficult but because of weekends like this past one, it doesn’t always feel so far! The only person missing was my other brother Jonathan. Next time, bro!

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I seriously enjoyed getting me some Avery time. This little girl is already 7 months old and growing like a weed! Also, the rolls. How can you not love the wonderful thing that is baby rolls??

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Saturday and Sunday we spent the majority of our time outside. Swimming, fishing, riding in the boat, cliff jumping, inner tubing, laying in the sun, and sitting around the campfire. It was good old fashioned fun free of schedules, TV, and computers (besides our phones, which I used to take all of these awesome-quality pictures.)

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Matt, sporting one of my grandfather’s old fishing hats.

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It took a while to get Rilynn to actually go in the big “pool” but once she did she seemed to enjoy it! As long as she had her floaties and her life jacket to keep her from going under.

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The lovely Smith family (with the exception of Avery who was snoozing away in the cabin).

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Terrible picture quality, but swimming with my dad at Smith Lake like old times had to be captured on camera!

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Like father like son, lounging in Big Bertha.

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Andrew was dying to go cliff jumping ever since we first started telling stories of the times we all cliff jumped last time we were at Smith Lake. When we took him to the first cliff, he decided it was a little too high for him. So we found about a 10 foot cliff that he conquered like a champ. And then….he worked up the courage to go back to the first cliff, as long as he could hold his daddy’s hand. He absolutely LOVED it and went back a second time to jump again!

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Matt and I jumping the mini-cliff. We both jumped the big one at separate times, but I jumped so fast we didn’t get a picture. I didn’t want to take the time to look down.

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Jason and Andrew jumping the massive cliff! I’m telling you, from the top, it looks like a much further way down.

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The boys had some brother bonding on Big Bertha. It didn’t last too long before Jason went tumbling off.

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Matt’s hat. Hahaha.

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I attempted to take a panoramic of the lake while we were on the boat. Rather difficult considering the waves we were hitting.

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I got to try my hand at driving the boat for the first time! Not as hard as I thought it would be, but I still think I’ll leave it up to the boys.

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One final view of our cabin at the lake and the pier! We can’t wait to go back again many more times this year!

It was a great Memorial Day weekend. My sis-in-law agreed that we should definitely make it an annual tradition to kick off summer. Sound good, fam??

For the Love of Coffee

When I was a sophomore in college at Liberty University, I started drinking coffee for the first time. Before then, I would occasionally drink the fancy drinks like consisting of solely sugary frappucinos. But once the reality of college set in, the research papers, intense finals, and hours of homework taking place in the middle of the night, I adapted my taste buds to the beautiful thing that is COFFEE. I’ve come a long way and can drink it any way you give it to me now, with the exception of black, because let’s be honest…I’ve got nothing to prove.

With that being said, when we bought our house, the very first thing I got finished as far as home projects go, was our brand spanking new COFFEE STATION! I got my inspiration via Pinterest (because who is creative on their own anymore?) and made this dream a reality.

My friend Chelsea and I painted the wall behind it a nice mocha accent color, and my handy-man father-in-law installed an outlet behind the cabinet. After that we were ready to put everything together!

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My sweet grandmother got us the Keurig as our housewarming gift and I started picking up all the other pieces of the station a little bit at a time!

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The wire shelf, the underneath baskets, and the decor came from the wonderful world of Hobby Lobby. The table came from Home Goods, and the canisters were found at IKEA! I absolutely LOVE how it turned out, and it was definitely worth the investment because we use it Every. Single. Day. I love how it completes our kitchen and acts as a nice transition area between the breakfast area and the living room. Perfect for easy access to coffee in the morning, and a nice cup of tea for lounging on the couch at night! If you’re thinking of creating a coffee station in your home, I highly recommend it! It’s probably going to be in every home of ours from now on. Mmmm….coffee 🙂

Want vs. Contentment

I like stuff. I like clothes, shoes, accessories and gadgets. And even more recently added to the list is HOME DECOR! I absolutely LOVE home stuff. Furniture, paint, organizing systems, wall art, throw pillows, etc. You name it, and it’s probably on my giant “Home Wish List” on my phone. I think I’ve always known this about myself, but with the purchase of our first home, the desire to accumulate all this “stuff” has hit me full force, almost to the point where I feel blindsided by it. I genuinely want my house to feel organized and welcoming, and in my worldly mind, I feel like the more I can buy/DIY to help me in that endeavor, the better!

But here’s my problem. I know that no matter how much I buy or paint or decorate, it’s not going to satisfy my desire for “more.” And that’s the battle I’ve been feeling recently. I know there is nothing wrong with having a beautiful home or with owning material possessions. But I know there IS a problem when I let those material possessions own me. As Christians, we know we are to be content because God has given us more than we could ever ask or imagine in His Son, Jesus. And we also know that God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Not to mention, we know that if the heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is gone, He will much more take care of our needs! (Matthew 6). But yet, we are still prone to worry and fret, even though our heavenly Father has NEVER neglected our needs.

Ergo, this battle of wanting more versus my striving for contentment ensues. So how do I combat these two opposing desires? One way for sure, is to practice gratefulness. The more I practice being thankful for all the things the Lord has given me and blessed me with that I do not deserve, the easier it becomes to let go of some of those material possessions because I realize how abundantly blessed I am. I have not mastered this. It is an ongoing battle. But I am grateful to God for bringing it to my attention that I may not be swept up in the “American Dream,” focusing on all the stuff and remembering all the riches that I have in Christ.

“But godliness is actually a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But htose who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:6-11)

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