real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

learning contentment through godliness ~ grace in parenting part eight

Years ago, on a very blustery March afternoon, we experienced what no family wants to go through, a house fire. Though the first floor experienced mainly water damage, the upstairs and attic were completely destroyed, leaving us without a home for nearly 8 months. In only a matter of hours, we watched as half of our earthly goods were gone, along with hundreds of man hours of labor we had put into restoring our Victorian era home.

During the first few weeks after the fire, Clay and I spent endless hours sorting through the piles of rubble trying to record what we had lost and its financial worth. As I sat in a lawn chair with a clipboard and pen, Clay would bring me shovels full of the ashes, both of us trying to remember every single item we owned. One particularly poignant moment came when I found the remains of a cross stitch sampler I had been working on, the partially charred words still legible: “godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Contentment is certainly not an easy character trait to gain or maintain in our culture. Everything is new and improved and marketing is slick and flawless. Most of us struggle with attaining what author Lisa McMinn calls the “mellowness of heart,” the contentment that comes when we “trust that we belong not to ourselves but to God” and we are so open to Him that “our lives lean toward a posture of grace, thanksgiving, blessing and goodness.” I believe the secret to experiencing true contentment is found in that little verse I had painstakingly stitched, that contentment is found alongside godliness.

As a homeschooling mom, I can so easily be tempted by my own discontentment, the desire to possess what God has not chosen for me in my current state. Sometimes that temptation comes in the form of material possessions, not necessarily wrong items to possess, but even good things that I might not really need or can afford.

In our early days of homeschooling, there were few publishers who provided materials that were written with homeschoolers in mind. Most of us bought books and supplies from companies who wrote for and sold to Christian schools. Our needs were very simple because our options were so few! Then, as the homeschooling market grew, so did the number of suppliers, and resources seemed limitless. I would wander from convention hall vendor to yet another vendor, perusing an unending list of everything I never knew I had always wanted!

There is nothing wrong with material goods in and of themselves, but when we think we need more than food and clothing to experience contentment in the Lord, Scripture warns us that that should be a warning to us that we can become ensnared and can end up with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:3-10)

Another area of discontent I believe homeschooling parents struggle with is accepting the children God has given them for who they are. Repeatedly homeschoolers are told to expect great things from our children, that they are the future, that they will stand head and shoulders above children who weren’t educated at home. We begin to compare our children and their ability to be leaders by the world’s standards and we become discontent with how they are made, the qualities they have that might not make great leaders but qualities that the body of Christ desperately needs.

Having a child with learning disabilities has truly been a gift to me as a mother in the area of contentment because it has been a daily reminder of knowing that God gives us just the children He intends for us to have and that He alone will provide the grace to be content with His choices. Allowing myself to fall into the temptation of frustration in teaching a child who needs extra encouragement and attention could only serve to ensnare me and to no good end.

I can remember one Sunday morning when this same child was very concerned because the mom and several children from one family weren’t in church. He approached the dad and waited patiently as the man talked to every other person around him. Looking annoyed, he finally turned our direction, only to hear my son ask about their health, asking about each child by name. I was so moved by this picture, my son, who was so dismissed because of his speech impediments, using the gifts of love and compassion the Lord has given to him for the edification of the body!

In my own life I have discovered that lack of contentment and the various temptations it brings, especially as a parent, is truly the result of not seeking to follow after God with a whole heart, of not choosing to live thankfully, of refusing to pursue godliness, of denying the grace of God that He so willing pours out. Puritan pastor, Jeremiah Burroughs, puts it this way: “There is a compound of grace in contentment: there is faith, and there is humility, and love, almost all graces are compounded. It is an oil which has the ingredients of every kind of grace and therefore, though you cannot see the particular grace, yet in this oil you have it all.”

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” 2 Peter 1:3



  Anne wrote @

Wise words indeed, Karen. I can only imagine the sorrow as the things you held dear were lost to fire. Contentment, I think, is a difficult virtue to cultivate, but well worth the effort. I had a teacher once who used to say that “happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.” I’ve tried hard to remember that, but it can be so difficult. Especially in a culture that tries so hard to teach us that true contentment is found in consumerism.

Wonderful post!

  Deanne wrote @

“OUCH Hallelujah” as I once heard Joyce Meyer say…thank you for the “hard” words….Deanne

  Hillary wrote @

Beautiful words. I especially loved the tender tribute to your son.

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