Learning Contentment from the Birds

Three weeks ago I released a heavy burden that I had been carrying around for several months. The birds taught me about contentment that day, and the Holy Spirit placed His truth directly into my heart.

"'Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?'" - Matthew 6:26-27

Over the last several months, I’ve felt some serious stress surrounding my finances. I don’t talk about this kind of stuff openly because…well, as an online business owner, it kinda makes me feel like a fraud. But as a Christian, it’s these kinds of stories that I am meant to tell to share my story and encourage others.

MY ONLINE BUSINESS STORY: Cliff’s Notes Version

You see, I’ve been working online in some capacity for about 10 years, first as a blogger just for fun, then as a side hustle, then expanding to teach other bloggers what I had learned, and now I work for myself full-time. If you have ever owned your own business, you know that income can be very fluid – some months are better than others.

Back in December 2017, my best friend and I decided to combine our two online businesses to create one epic online business, and it’s honestly one of my favorite things ever. However, in order to dedicate myself to this business completely, I had to take a leap of faith and step down from an online job that provided me with steady part-time income.

TAKING A RISK

It was a tough decision, but I knew I needed that time back. I was contracted to work 25 hours/week for another company doing various blog and social media tasks, and while the work was easy, it was time consuming. My own business needed that part of me in order to grow.

Joining forces with Erin has been amazing, but it’s kind of like we’re starting over again. New website, new business name, new email newsletter, new services and courses…from scratch, for the most part.

Basically, that translates to a lean bank account while we work hard to grow and build this business.

For the past four months, every single month, my main source of stress has been my finances. I have still been able to pay myself regularly, and handle my business expenses. But I could see the balance dwindling, and I also see the tax bill I deferred until September looming in my future, taunting me and causing anxiety.

MONTHLY CHECK-INS & BURDENS

At the end of each month, I spend a few hours in quiet contemplation with my PowerSheets and my Bible. I pray over my business, my finances, my family, and anything else that I’m working on, and I set goals for the coming month.

"'Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?'" - Matthew 6:26-27

On this particular day, the weather was gorgeous – our first really beautiful day all year – so I decided to take my bible and PowerSheets out onto my back deck and enjoy the weather and the chirping birds while I set my goals.

If you’re not familiar with PowerSheets, there is a section each month to brain dump everything that is weighing on your heart and your mind and just get it all out. Then you are prompted to write either a word or a phrase that will be your focus word for the coming month.

As I wrote, for the fourth month in a row, I scribbled out “financial worry” onto my paper. I wrote about how I worry that our business won’t grow quick enough to support both myself and Erin. I wrote about how I worry that I won’t be able to pay my debt to the IRS, or pay for my daughter’s summer camp. I wrote about my fear over letting my husband down, the man who has believed in me and supported me throughout this entrepreneur journey.

THE BIRDS

After brain dumping all of these fears and worries, I paused, put my pen down, and watched the birds.

Over and over again, they would dive down to the hill in my backyard, hop around looking for sticks and grass they could use in their nest, then fly off to work on their home. Then they’d come back and grab another piece or two, and back to their nest again.

I looked at the blank space in my PowerSheets that was waiting for a focus word, and I wrote:

CONTENTMENT

No sooner did I cross that final “t” that I became filled with Holy Spirit, overwhelmed by His grace and sufficiency, and He spoke directly to my heart these verses:

‘Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?’” – Matthew 6:26-27

I broke down right there on my back deck and cried. Not just a little watering of the eyes, either. I sobbed, deep breaths filling my lungs as the Truth washed over me. And then I started to laugh through my tears.

"'Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?'" - Matthew 6:26-27

I wasn’t crying out of sadness. I was filled with the Truth that can only come from the Holy Spirit and I laughed while pouring tears of JOY!

For the first time since December, that weight and worry about my finances was completely gone, given over to God, laid at the foot of the cross for Him to bear for me. I felt peace, and yes….contentment.

That was Saturday, April 29, 2018. As I sit here and type this story, three weeks later, I still feel that overwhelming joy, peace, and contentment. And God has shown me things that weren’t even on my radar three weeks ago.

I’ve opened myself up to His will for my life. I have started tithing again, something I have been too afraid to do for the past few months. I’ve started creating again, and this time it’s products I can sell in partnership with another of my best friends, Connie, as we prepare to launch an online shop of pretty printables and planner stickers.

"'Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?'" - Matthew 6:26-27

Worry can consume us. When we make room for worry, we don’t leave room for God. Practicing contentment is something I have to do every single day, every hour of the day. I feel worry creep up on me over and over again, and I stop what I’m doing and pray, asking God to take it from me, to forgive me for getting in His way, and for contentment.

God has blessed me tremendously, and continues to do so. He put the pieces together that allowed me to quit my day job almost two years ago. He put me in front of people who wanted what I had to offer, who support my business, and want to see me succeed. He has allowed me to make the income I’ve had so far.

If it’s God’s will for me to continue on this path, I will continue. If it’s His will for me to go back to work, that’s what will happen. No matter what happens, it isn’t up to me, and that release feels so, so good! I’m content being content.

STRUGGLING WITH WORRY?

PRAY OVER THESE VERSES:

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6 HCSB

‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. ‘ 1 Peter 5:6-7

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful. ‘ John 14:27

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. ‘ Isaiah 41:10

MEET KIRSTEN

I'm Kirsten & I'm happy you're here! Sweet Tea & Saving Grace provides a space for women to enjoy encouragement and practical tips for living a more intentional and fulfilling life through Bible study, efficient use of time and space in their home, and finding joy in the simple things in life. Enjoy your time here & be blessed!

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