elusive contentment

I had a Mr. Miyagi moment today. Technically, a Daniel-san moment. One where I realized, “Oh, hey. So, that’s why God allowed us to go through this, that, and the other thing for the past few years. Who knew that those seemingly pointless wax-on-wax-off drills were preparing us for Cambodia?”

For example.

When Gabe was battling anxiety and couldn’t work and we were drowning in medical debt, I would make multiple (like 10+) trips to the grocery story each week. Basically, any time we could scrape together $10 or $15 (or sometimes $2.85).

We didn’t have the luxury of buying enough stuff to last us more than one or two meals at a time (thank you, Jesus, that we never truly went hungry). A lot of times it was a matter of sell-something-on-Facebook, then turn around and buy-some-rice-&-veggies.

Bargain-shopping at multiple stores and making a bunch of little trips? Spending a huge chunk of our time “hunting and gathering” food? Such great preparation for living with a tiny fridge and fresh-picked produce that doesn’t last very long, and multiple (like 10+) trips to the market and store for food each week, like we do here in Cambodia.

I see what you did there, God. Just a little pre-field training in disguise. (I have many, many more examples of this. Hard stuff that didn’t really make sense until we moved here. Maybe I’ll compile them all in a single post one of these days.)

On a related note, I’m praying for contentment. Specifically in the area of things I can’t find in Cambodia and already miss. Things I’m making a running list of so that the first person to visit us can pack his/her suitcase full of things I think will make me happy. (but will probably not make me happy. okay, they probably will–at least until they’re gone or the newness wears off.)

Things like soft sheets & pillowcases, Lara bars, Archer Farms cherry pull-and-peel fruit strips, more banners, Chipotle. (and about 43 other random exciting things)

I don’t want to depend on things and food and stuff (especially things and food and stuff found only in the U.S. of A.) for my happiness. I want to be content with where I’m at, what I’ve got, HOW THINGS ARE. I mean, not in the complacent, never-gonna-change kind of way, but the “I’ve learned the secret to contentment in all circumstances” kind of way.

I want to fix my eyes & mind & heart on Jesus, not on entire Target aisles I can picture so clearly in my head.

Will you pray I can do that? (and I’ll pray for you too)

p.s. A HUGE thank-you to the 17 people who have given to help our friend get the dialysis she needs!! Please keep the love coming!

12 thoughts on “elusive contentment

  1. Sabrina Reinhart

    I know that right now when you’re in the middle of this it seems like you will always miss your favorite things. You will, but to a lesser degree as time passes. I missed many things about the US while living overseas, and as time passed they were just a fond memory. When we decided to move back stateside, I made a list of all the things I couldn’t wait to try again and give to my children. I honestly couldn’t believe the disappointment. One trip to Target – done and overwhelmed by the choices. The grocery? Frustrating with all the processed foods. Once we were home I realized they weren’t as great as my memory had led me to believe. Now I miss all my favorite things overseas.

  2. Joyce

    I remember when we first moved to the UK the food products I could not find, and convenience stores where you could buy ‘stuff’ were nowhere to be found, or were just different, those things were glaring in my mind. I would ask friends traveling over to bring me brown paper lunch bags for my highschooler and strawberry twizzlers and pickle relish and other things that I took for granted in America. As time went on though, we adapted-the kids too-and then we suffered the opposite effect. We’d come back to the US to visit and be completely overwhelmed just trying to buy mustard. There are 60 kinds here, not two : ) You will miss less and less as your new surroundings become more and more your home. While contentment might feel elusive now, I think it’s something you will learn with a little bit of time. The first three months in a new country are a steep learning curve, and then suddenly one day you’ll realize everything that felt so hard and so foreign feels less so. Our mantra became ‘it’s not better or worse, just different’. Also, I encourage you to record how you see the ways God prepared you for this journey. I recently found some notes I wrote about that very thing, and how it made my heart glad to read them now.

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      Thank you, friend! Yes, I KNOW the choices will be soooo overwhelming when we go back for a visit. Eeek!! And YES to recording the ways God has prepared us! I brought lots of journals with me, and I’m filling up more! xoxo

  3. Ruth C

    I will pray. That’s actually the exact thing I have asked God to show me these past few weeks. He’s led me to a few scriptures & spoken some things to my heart. I also feel like it’s still elusive, though, so you can pray for me too! 😀

  4. Chris Nielsen

    That feeling… I know that one 🙂

    Will pray! I had one of those moments yesterday where I realized God is actually actively listening, not like an email I write where he’ll get back to me, scary stuff, but in those moments it’s comforting because you know running to Him with what’s on your heart actually means something! Like there’s no better hands to put those things into. Wish I had that perspective all the time, but it’s no less true when I don’t see it that way!

    Do the same for us! We’re watching you and the Pounds and it’s making us wonder what we’re doing on this side of the world. 🙂

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      Have you bought your tickets yet? And when shall we pick you up at the airport? We would loooooove to spend a few days in Thailand with you, but our time & money will be taken up by language school. NEXT TIME!! (and, yes, we must talk about why you’re still in the U.S.–although I think God has his reasons)

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