Content, Not Complacent

“Anything we haven’t experienced for ourselves sounds like a story.

All we can ever do is sift the evidence.”

from The Borrowers Afield



“Let’s say you have some complex idea that you try to convey to somebody else. How do you do that? Well, your brain spends a lot of time compressing a complex concept into words. And there’s a lot of loss, information loss that occurs when compressing a complex concept into words and then you say those words, those words are then interpreted, then they’re decompressed by the person who’s listening and they all at best get a very incomplete understanding of what you’re trying to convey. It’s very difficult to convey a complex concept with precision. Because you’ve got compression, decompression, you might (have) even not heard all the words correctly, and so communication is difficult.”  -E.M.

And the other party says, “There’s an interpretation factor too. You can choose to interpret certain series of words in different ways. They’re dependent on tone, social cues, facial expression, sarcasm. There’s lots of variables.”

(disclaimer: quoting one does not mean I agree or disagree, approve or disapprove of things such as their way of life, what they do etc etc.)


May. One of my favorites. Everything is turning green. There’s excitement of newness. Freshness. Life. I went to Nick’s Garden Center this past Saturday and it was packed. People waiting to find a parking spot. People swarming like bees in a hive. And wearing masks. As much as it gets too crowded or hard to go around, it was good to see all those people there coming for plants and flowers, people who want to garden or plant something. People out of their homes.

I got some herbs, wandered all the rest of the aisles. Told myself to “contain myself” from buying containers before I have the plants. Except for one. I ordered a false shamrock plant because I haven’t seen them in all the garden centers so far.  So there’s a little pot sitting waiting to be filled. My sister had shown me this plant and it looks like butterflies. And it’s purple which will definitely make my daughter happy. In fact this plant opens its leaves during the day and closes them at night so really, it’s so fascinating!

I am drawn to the ‘courtyard’ look and container gardening. Think stones, brick layouts with bistro chairs, potted trees and climbing vines. Ah vines. (A forever memorable sermon will always come to mind when it comes to vines.) So back to inspirations. I drew a quick sketch late at night for Peter so he could “see” what I’m talking about and we set out to complete it. Making our corner of the yard a little prettier. The hardest part about projects is the waiting. You want a courtyard look with trailing vines that cover the lattice? Guess what, it takes time for them to grow. I’m watching a morning glory that I planted from seed, and it’s like watching a baby. It came out! Yay. <– came out? not really garden talk haha. Anyway, bulbs of lights, fragrant jasmine, climbing plants. We still want to put in a climbing rose, and a lilac, and some bigger pots of citronella… Then we can build a deck. Because three little steps out the door are pretty ridiculous I have to say. I’m constantly warning my kids to watch their step before they push each other or step off backwards and fall into the rocks at the door.

You might wonder, Irina, didn’t you say you didn’t want to stay here? But here are my thoughts on that. It might be a tiny apartment. It might be a rental. It might be a temporary relocation. There are boundaries for all things in life. So whatever the boundary, that’s what you work within. A balcony garden. Oh I love little balcony gardens. They are so charming. Or container gardens. (I plan on doing more and more, I like the look, takes time…) Those can be moved, removed. And the biggest thing. We live wherever we are and make it home. It might be for a little while, it might be for a little longer…Home is where you are with your loved ones. So whatever location, whatever situation, we put up our photos, we decorate in our style. We rearrange our furniture. We make it “our cozy.” (My idea of cozy might be drastically different than another’s.) We don’t sit around waiting for something. We don’t know when that ‘something’ will happen. And so we can waste our life waiting…

It’s being content, not complacent. I worked for this huge corporation. You might have heard of it? McDonalds. Oh, not very fancy eh? Well I loved my job. I knew it wasn’t a forever thing. It wasn’t my career where I was going to go up the ladder. But I wiped those tables like I was going to eat at them. Not just the surface, but you know where little kids hands smear ketchup on the sides and backs of chairs. You get the picture. I loved the drive-thru where’d you see those “regulars.” There was this general and he’d be all stoic, expecting his order hanging out the drive through window with drink and straw all in. And the best was doing it as fast as you can (timed for seconds) and being happy and giving a real smile and making those people happy and seeing that even that stoic general was  human. Ah, there were emotions after all,  and stoicism softens, even if for a fraction of a second. And I would think, ‘tada, success!’ Grumble and hate the job, be like a robot, or give a real smile and make people happy. The sweetest was that when I came to tell the manager that I’d be leaving -she asked me not to go. I was content. But I couldn’t be complacent.

Content Not Complacent.

It’s like that in so many areas of life. Marriage. Relationships. Friendships (the real ones). Situations. Even our surroundings. Sometimes if you point out something about your house that you want to change, people can give you the funniest look. And you almost have to preface your idea by explaining that you are quite grateful and happy with what you have but you want to change things to better them. To make them more appealing for your own self.  That it’s not grumbling. Those prefaces and disclaimers. But when people don’t know you…


I run inside like a child, running to tell Peter I saw a hummingbird! I heard the sound of tiny motor and turned, scaring it away. Three times that day I heard and saw the little hummingbird. I sit and watch the bee open the snapdragon and crawl inside to feed. I get excited that the butterflies land on our oh so humble little flower box. Excited because my daughter has waited all winter, crying and missing the butterflies. Like a child. To remember what we were as children. To remember what did things look and feel like at that age?  My children remind me.

My child leaves a little note on my nightstand and it just pulls at my heart. “Dear mama I want to be like God help me.” It reminds me of my own prayer as a child. Older than my own child. Laying in bed, in awe and wonder at the endless stars, that go on forever and ever, wondering where do they end?  And praying, “I want to be perfect for you God.” Oh that word perfect. How far from perfect I am. And this Sunday, our pastor used the words, “…it will never be perfect but it will be sincere.” How exact. Far from perfect, far from “good” but sincere. Sincere.

How aware I am of all my failings, how aware I am of what I am as a human. How aware I am of those imperfections, weaknesses, and limitations. How almost too annoyingly aware. Even more so in becoming a parent. I listened to Paul Tripp’s, The Gospel For Mother’s Day on Instagram.  He says all these things that are so beautiful and all I can think of is ‘oh, the weight!’ Me, shaping a soul?! I believe it. But when reminded, I feel so much weight. Heavy weight. But then he says, “You’re not the Messiah of your children, you’re like your children. With them, you stand in need of a Messiah.” So many good things, reminders…Makes me want to be a better mother. So much more better.

“Tell yourself again, “I am not alone because my life has been invaded by Emmanuel, the Savior, the Lamb, the King, is with me, and He will give me His grace, and He does not judge me anymore based on my failure, my sin, and my weaknesses, because all of that’s been covered by the blood of Jesus. I can run to Him, and I can find mercy and grace in my time of need. Mercies that are wonderfully new every morning.” ”

Every morning. The King is with me.

Just like a child. Even now.

Not just words.


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