Creativity and Contentment – Making Your Home a Haven

Today we have a guest!  She is one of my favorite bloggers and she recently took a one year break from blogging and now she’s back with a brand new blog name (Grace Full Mama)  AND she’s going to be speaking at Relevant with me – which means I will see her in 2 short weeks!!  Hooray! 


Joy is the wife to a missionary pilot and they, along with their five kids, live in Indonesia.  Joy is a proud wife, blessed mommy, runner, homeschooler, reader, thinker, home-maker, lover of nature, and most of all, an undeserving recipient of amazing grace, and grateful daughter of God.  Joy’s heart is to encourage women to revel in their job as mommy and wife, and to see it as good and needed work.  She blogs at Grace Full Mama.

Joy writes:

You might think that missionaries don’t struggle with wanting material things or perhaps that we are “above” wanting things to look nice.

 Not so.

 I, just like the next girl, like pretty things.  As a child, I dreamed of a little farmhouse with a cute picket fence beckoning you to come to the porch and sit a while.

Fast forward to life in a tropical city.  My idea of a dream house never included gecko poop on the walls or pythons in the backyard.   I never dreamed of the mold in the corner of every cabinet, ants marching in at every stray crumb left on the counter, or my couches that are meant to be “outside” couches but, alas, are in my living room. 

 And I struggled (still do at times). And, I would sigh, and dream of a walk down Target aisles.  A trip to the craft store.  And wish that my life looked different.

Over several months God began teaching me contentment.  He brought this verse to me, the words of Paul,

 “… for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11


                        (printable on left found here and book here)

 He showed me that I can to be thankful for the gifts that I already have.  Focusing on all the gifts that are right around me.  Embracing the beauty that has been given to me, the beauty all around me, and using what I have to create more beauty in my home.

 And you know what comes of choosing contentment? Peace.  Love.  Joy.  And those are certainly things that help to make a home a haven!

And it frees me up to be more creative.  It has forced me to think outside the box, look for different ways to create.

 So, in an effort to see beauty, here are the things around my home that I have done to create beauty with what I have.  No, I am no decorator, but it is a space that is beautiful for my precious family and for those who visit, and that is what is important, isn’t it?! 



A while ago, a friend paid me a huge compliment.  She said that I am really good at decorating with the senses…. peaceful music, good smelling candles, and soft lighting.  I was thrilled, because that is exactly what I want for my home.  And they are 3 three things that are simple AND cheap! 


 Do I still struggle with contentment?  Sure I do, every time I look at my couches!  But, as I choose to embrace the things that the Lord has given me, I cannot help but be grateful; and that translates into a welcoming, peaceful home for all that enter.


How about you?  Do you ever struggle with being discontent?  And how does choosing contentment help with making your home a haven?

 **Thank you Joy so much for sharing these thoughts.  I asked Joy to write on contentment because long ago she wrote a post about her couches…that challenged me to the core.  I am SO glad her voice is back in blogland ;)!

Walk with the King!

*Visit Joy at




    1. LaToya,
      That is one of my very favorite books as well. There is a part in there where she talks about a missionary that made a commitment to never complain about anything not even the weather, among other things. That has been a BIG challenge for me, I am too quick to complain!
      Thanks for commenting!

  1. I have struggled with being content with our home, too. It’s the smallest on our street, and when we moved in, it had not been updated since… probably since it was built in 1971! Due to several difficult circumstances, we weren’t able to do any updated or anything at all until the past couple of years (we’ve lived in the house nearly 7 years).

    One thing I did that helped me be more content was prayer. I asked God to help me love our house. I’m asking Him to help me be a better steward of this home, to make it ours, to be creative in decorating, storage and making it welcoming.

    Bunny trail and then I’m done. I have frequently complained about the smallness and oldness of our house. Last Spring, I had some friends over and one commented, “Aimee, I think you have a nice house.” As we chatted, I felt about an inch tall because of the perspective she gave me. I felt bad for complaining about what I have, and my heart was changed. I might wish for new flooring or whatever, but I do try to always be thankful for the roof over our heads.

    1. Aimee,
      What great thoughts you have about praying to love your house. What a wise thing to do! 🙂 I think you are so smart to try to look for the positive like you are talking about. Way to go!! Thanks for commenting, it’s great to hear that I’m not the only one who has ever struggle with choosing contentment! 🙂

  2. Hmm, this is a really good reminder. It doesn’t matter how much we already own or how much God has blessed us with already, we still want more and better 🙂
    Thank you for your post, very inspiring!
    And I love the decoration things you made!!

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. You are so right, no matter where we are on the scale, we always want more! I guess that is sin in us, huh?!

  3. Your decorations are beautiful. Thank you so much for this post! It has both challenged and humbled me. I have so much to be grateful for, and I am guilty more often than I would care to admit of taking it for granted.I feel inspired more than ever to focus on making my home a haven with the things that are already here!

    1. April! I am so glad that my fallen, sin-laden words could encourage you today! 🙂 I’m always glad when my struggles can encourage others!! That way I feel that they aren’t in vain! Thanks for saying hello.

  4. Thanks Joy for sharing your heart. Being a missionary wife and mom in Japan, I too, have struggled with discontent and wishing for shopping spress to Walmart. But I am learning to abe content and learning to make do with what I have to make my home as warm and welcoming as it can be.
    Thanks for sharing.
    warmly, Susan

    1. Susan,
      I’m sure everyone must think we are crazy for dreaming of places like Target and Wal-Mart! 🙂 That makes me laugh! I think it is a journey, don’t you? One that I make big strides in only to find myself back feeling discontent again. It is a constant surrendering to the Lord thing for me.
      Thanks for saying hello from the same side of the world as me!! HUGS!

      1. Joy and Susan, I am smiling as I read this. As an MK living overseas, my sister and I would lay in bed awake at night talking for hours (HOURS!) about a trip to Target. We discussed in great detail all the things we would see and buy (we went especially crazy thinking about the shampoo aisle!). Then somewhere in the conversation it would turn to fast food and we would drive ourselves absolutely nuts thinking about just one bean burrito from Taco Bell. LOL. I’m right there with ya! 🙂

        1. Ha! Amy, ever since I found out I’m coming to the States all I can think about is Taco Bell and how I can bring some back for my family! It’s fun that we can all share this!
          Thanks for chiming in Amy!!

  5. Sometimes I struggle with discontentment as well, but God daily reminds me that this is a season and He is using it for His will. 🙂 Thanks for posting–will definitely check out your blog!

  6. I really enjoyed your decor, & loved the red church! My daughter Kristine Lien & her husband are going to Indonesia as missionaries next year, have you met?
    I have lived in FL for 4 yrs. And never put any pictures in one of the spare bedrooms. Kris helped me put up a “cowboy” bedroom with pictures of her kids in hats, one of my twin & I at 7 dressed like cowboys, & a beautiful carved horse head she gave me for my birthday.
    The funny thing is, there is a bedroom you see right as you enter our house, and it was decorated with all my lighthouse things just like in TX – very pretty then very boring!

    1. Cindy,
      Hello! I have not met Kristine yet, but we will have to get in touch! Your cowboy theme sounds really fun in your spare room! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story, and the red church was a print I downloaded for free online and had printed here! 🙂

  7. I always find something I am not happy with. I am in the process of learning to be happy with the GOOD things God gave me, and accept that nothing is always perfect. Overall, our home is a pretty much personalized space, decorated with items we made ourselves, including framing the kids drawings and doodles instead of paintings and posters we bought at a store. During a rainy day in summer, the kids and I made saltdough vases out of old jars. They look beautiful to go with the roses (which I dried after a few days) my hubby got for me for our anniversary. Greetings from Luxembourg (Europe)

    1. Natacha,
      Being thankful is such a learning process, isn’t it?! I certainly have not arrived!
      I love the way you describe your home and all the personal touches you have added. It sound so cozy and inviting and probably makes your kids feel wonderful that so much of what you have in your home was made by them. What a great idea!

    1. You are welcome! It is always hard for me to be vulnerable about my struggles, but I find that it frees so many people up to share as well. That is a wonderful thing. 🙂

  8. Contentment is the prayer for our daughters today at MODsquad!

    I love that you have the picture of the barn. A picture of what you wanted, but all around you is what God has graciously given and you are practicing contentment knowing that all His gifts are good and perfect for us where we are.

    (but now, I really want to see those couches 🙂

  9. I love this! I try to do the same thing. I too dream of a big farmhouse so we have room for our family, on some acreage so we can have a garden, and animals, BUT I am learning to be content with what I have, and thankful that it is sufficient for our family. 🙂 I also loved that you dreamed of going to Target (rather than some super expensive place!) lol! We must be kindred spirits! I LOVE that orange candle…orange it my favorite color, and it just brighten’s my spirit looking at it! I try to do the same thing in my home….it’s not always neat and tidy, like I’d like, but I’m learning and improving…but I try to make it an inviting, warm, and peaceful place, with the things I have. 🙂 Thanks so much for the encouragement and the reminder today!

  10. I’m a missionary mama of 5, too. 🙂

    I struggle with discontentment sometimes. Living in an unfinished village house can do that to ya. There have been days where all I wanted was a Yankee candle. Just one. And there have been days where I just didn’t want to live here anymore. Ever.

    But God sends help just when we need it!

    Thanks for writing this 🙂

  11. I find myself being discontent with my home daily. I’ve wanted to move out to the country since I met my husband. He grew up as a country boy, raised a cow and chickens, grew gardens, grew fresh fruit trees and fished right out of his pond. I long to have such a life. I knew when we moved into our home, it was not what I wanted, but settled. Now I find myself not liking my home and wanting to make changes to it, only to hope that it will make me like my home. Instead, I should be thankful for my house and all that I am lucky to have.

    Thank you for reminding us that we should be thankful for all of the gifts we do have. So many of us take these gifts for granted.

    Joy, you have a beautiful home! Although your groupings are simple, it is beautiful!! I wanted to see a closer look the print you have on the left, however the link does not work.

    Have a wonderful and blessed day!!

  12. This is something I REALLY struggled with when we were serving in the jungle. I can SOOO relate to the ants and the snakes and the spiders and cockroaches and frogs … wait, you didn’t mention those? I’m sure you know what I mean! And the couches? Oh yes! We’d use sheets to cover our couches, not just so they looked nicer but so that I wasn’t as fearful to sit on them! Until I learned to accept our material surroundings, being content with all that He had provided, I missed much of what He was trying to teach me, and I sacrificed much joy.

  13. A very timely post for me as I have been talking about this very subject with my best friend this week. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement.

  14. I struggle with contentment as well sometimes. When we moved into our current home, replacing the countertops with holes in the formica was on the to-do list. Brain surgery, a new furnace, water heater, refrigerator, and several years of private school later, and I still do not have new countertops. Yet, everyone’s first response when they see my kitchen is to ooh and ahh. Obviously, this is MY deficiency. I, too, pray that like Paul I may learn to be content in all circumstances.

  15. Thank you Joy! This is a really inspiring post. I too struggle with contentment. Our home is also old and need of quite some maintenance. I struggle with feelings of disappointment and shame sometimes because I wonder what the neighbours think, or I don’t feel comfortable inviting others here because I’m too focused on the shabbiness of things. Thank you for reminding me that its about the atmosphere in my home and not how new or pretty everything looks.

    Btw.. I too have THOSE kind of couches. I recently took some money I earned from a cake I catered and bought a nice piece of sheeting (its about the cheapest fabric there is) and I’m in the process of teaching myself how to make my own slipcovers. I’ll probably just tuck it nicely and tack it in place, but you should see the difference it made when I just tucked it in for effect! I didn’t expect it to be so nice, but I guess anything beats stained, torn and faded!

  16. I wholeheartedly agree! It’s something I am continually talking with the Lord about, and I am so glad for his unending grace when I have the wrong perspective or am not feeling content with what he has provided for us. And when we were home in the US this summer, I visited Target maybe two dozen times. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Joy!

  17. Joy, wow, I can relate so much. We live in (southern) east Asia, in the subtropics. Humidity, roaches and their poo-poo, mold, and ants– that’s what we have around here. I really know what you mean about wanting to browse Target and craft stores to get some cute and cheap things to decorate with! Oh, so easy it would be if I were back in my east Tennessee hometown– I could make our apartment look so cute on the cheap!! But here! Here you have to search really hard for something cheap and cute to decorate with and searching takes *time*. Another thing I don’t have! Sometimes I feel like I must be doing something wrong to not have time to decorate our apartment!! But you are right, I need to think outside the box and look at what we do have with which I can help beautify our living space. And contentment, what a beautiful thing in and of itself. I wish I could invite you over for a cold Coke Zero (no diet, but we do have zero!) so that we could sit and talk all of this over! 🙂 Thanks for sharing what God has shown you! Bless you sister!

  18. Yes, a lot of the time and my couches play a role in that too. They are 30 years old and the cats have ruined the ends of them. Your decor is beautiful and what a lovely compliment. That is exactly what I want folks to say when they come to my home, that it’s comfy and cozy. Being content is something I constantly strive for because we have been very blessed and don’t deserve it. This I know.

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  19. Oh and my other area of discontent is where I live and I struggle with it every year for most of the year. We live in the Pacific NW and the rain gets to me, badly and then add the allergies from the molds etc in and I am sick all the time. I know we’re not moving. I love the people where we live so I need to find a way to be content even in the rain and sicknesses….

  20. What a wonderful and inspiring post. I love reminders to be content, it is so easy for me to get caught up in feeling deprived and sorry for myself, when in reality I am very blessed and well provided for by the Lord and my dear hubby. Thank you so much for giving me perspective! ~April

  21. LOVE this reminder! We lived in a 2 bedroom trailer for 9 years… and by the end of our time had FOUR kids in one room… not much space for toys or baby items. I prayed for six years for a larger home and also for contentment where I was… (the contentment came and went) When he finally answered the larger home it was in a BIG way. Now we enjoy caretaking a property with ACRES of land for the kids to run around and a 3 bedroom home with finished basement!! Sometimes I catch myself being discontent with certain things… then kick myself when I think of all He has blessed me with!

    PS… I was hoping for a picture of the said couches!! 🙂

  22. Love this post – I too often struggle with contentment. My husband has lovingly made me aware of how this affects my family and in particular him – feeling like he can never provide enough or the things that I want. Going to see about getting the book someone recommended here.

    Love, love, love the canvas print of the red church barn and gate. Where did you find such a great picture? I love old barns and this is a great picture!

  23. This hit the spot. I have been so discontent just over the past 24 hours. Then I found out this morning that my friend’s husband lost his job. Again. Which made me realize that I need to get over myself. Does it matter that things in my life aren’t perfect? Nope. Nobody’s life is perfect. But at least one thing that’s been stable in my life is my husband’s job. So I can focus on that instead of all the other things in my life that I wish were different.

  24. Joy, once again, you are spot on! Your decorating is beautiful. I’m inspired to make something beautiful of the LEGOS everywhere! 🙂

    Contentment is a battle for everyone, everywhere. It discplaces our focus and prevents our praise. Thank you for sharing your struggles.

  25. What a wonderful post! It’s amazing how many of us ladies and even people in general can have an issue with contentment. I have found it affecting me as I blog hop and look at all the lovely homes, creativity of the ladies among other things. Often thinking it would be nice to have that, or do that, or have that kind of home or talent. Yet the Lord somehow gently reminds me of how blessed I am, how special He made me and how it is a sin to not be content with what He has given me and trusted me with. I don’t think many of us realize what these special lady missionaries and their families have to go through.

    Thanks for reminding me of all the blessings and how we must pray and lift up the missionaries who are forsaking so many things for the sake of the gospel. Let us pray for them daily.



  26. Wow, this really was a post special written for me. I really strugle with discontentment. I live in a small appartment with my hubby and three kids in a really dangerous neighbourhood. But my husband finished his study and is a pastor now. We are going to move in two months and we will get a nice house from the congregation that we’re gonna serve.
    Coming from a kind of rich family it was hard for me to live in such an ugly, small appartment, but the Lord really learned me a BIG lesson trough all of this. I know now that I have a gift of making a cosy home for my family with simple things and I’ve learned to reach out to the poor, the needy and the Lord has done great things in this building now.
    And I learned to paint old furniture in softpastelcoulours. I learned to sew a chaircover for my ugly chairs and now they are beautiful. I’m always burning candles, have soft music on, have many pillows and plaids, have softlighting and I love to decorate. And I really get much compliments about it, people even want me to decorate their home. The Lord learned me so much, to be content en to use my gift to make my home a haven. But sometimes when I look at others that buy anything new and beautiful, I really struggle with being content.

    Joy, thank you for being back in Blogland. I really love your blogposts and love the pictures of your decorations. You also have a gift, use it!!

    Your sister in Christ from the Netherlands,


  27. That is such a beautiful post! I loved the message of being content. I especially enjoyed the great pictures. One of my favorite things was the share of her idea and wish for a farmhouse, and then, the picture of the farm in her home. Our dreams do not have to leave us in order for us to be content with where we are right now. What an excellent message! I also appreciated her sobering look at missionary work, and life outside of the US. So often I have romanticised what it would be to give service, but after actually going to Uganda- sleeping with roaches, rats, on straw mats and trucking through mud- it is very different. It doesn’t make the work less important, actually moreso- if it was all sunshine and roses all of us would be doing it- but it isn’t- it is HARD WORK! What a truly inspirational woman, I am happy to read her blog!

  28. I loved this post on contentment. Discontent is an ugly little monster that rears its head up oh so often. I try to remember that discontent is not a problem with my material goods…it is a vertical problem, between my heart and my God. Thx for sharing, Joy!

  29. Prasie God for this post, for these words of peace and contentment that quiet the soul. I am currently in the process of moving into the mission field and these are some of my struggles {seems so silly but I am thankful I am not alone}.

    Thank you Joy… the Lord has spoken through you this morning.

    JOYfully in Him,

  30. I have a great desire to be content with whatever God designs for my life. Under the picture it says, you can find ” printable here and book here” . There is a link to the book but not the printable. Is this a mistake? Thanks!

  31. I use to dislike visiting my husband’s sister’s family because they had soooo many things and a nice house and ….,. It seemed that every time I left their home that I felt horrible and unhappy with our home. Then I started looking at more than the material things. I looked at their schedule – Boy they are busy, how do they see each other? I started thiking about their bills – and knew that we couldn’t afford what they had and then I realized that I had decided to stay at home because of my kids and that I wanted to teach them things, not the preschool. When I realized that I had the things that I wanted, I foudn it much easier to visit and I now leave with a little bit of excitement to get back to my simple life!

  32. Ah, Joy, thank you for sharing! This really spoke to my heart. I am working on my “One Thousand Gifts” journal while still slowly savoring the book. Not a quick read. Needs thoughtful reading. It really IS all about being thankful, LIVING in thankfulness.

  33. I struggle with discontent mostly in the fact that I want a child so badly and my husband wants to wait. I try to thank God every day for what he has blessed me with. It’s a difficult journey but I am trying. Btw, your decorating is beautiful and has inspired me to put a bit more effort into making my home nice. Thank you for the wonderful post.

  34. Joy- I’m so thankful you are blogging again! do you remember the name of the red church picture?
    Leanne in Indiana☺

  35. Courtney, I love what you have written. Your thoughts are so down to earth and helpful to me. I struggle with contentment and I appreciate how God speaks to you. Thanks.

  36. I struggle with this same issue. My husband and I moved into our dream home and I worked with a designer to make it perfect. Fast forward to today (ten years later) and we no longer have our dream home. I had to sell all of our belongings, including artwork, etc. We are living in a temporary dwelling that is quite small with a few hand me down pieces of furniture that were given to us. And yet, in the midst of it all, God has been teaching me so many lessons. I am learning to be content in ALL situations. Our time on this earth is only temporary as it isn’t our true home as believers in Jesus. But the peace that He has provided me has spoken volumes to my unsaved loved ones and for that it’s all worth it.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Blessings and love,

  37. I just found this today in my usual roundabout way, and am AMAZED I didn’t find it before! This is one of our recurring conversations, about being grateful for what we have. Thank you for sharing this – and for showing me I’m not alone in these feelings. Gratefulness is great, I’ve discovered!!!

  38. This is such a struggle for me, but I do feel better knowing that I am not alone in this struggle and there is hope for me to change! We have a small house that needs a lot of fixing up and I’m guilty of always seeing its flaws rather than its beauty. Just over a year ago, my sister in law and niece moved in to our little 3 bedroom 1 (tiny) bathroom home, and since then my biggest complaint is the constant clutter and chaos. Having to fit 2 homes into one…having to share your life after with another family after less than a year of being married…most of all, having to clean up the messes of others. it was hard enough learning to be joyful about cleaning up after my hubby..but other people? I didn’t sign up for that! Sadly I have been a very nagging, complaining, bitter woman this past year. My sister in law will be moving out in February and I am beyond excited to be able to get my house in order and make it into the haven I have dreamed of it being. One thing I have come to realize though, is that a huge part of creating a peaceful atmosphere is MY attitude! I deeply regret not using the past year to extend the Lord’s grace and compassion and welcome someone into my home with more loving arms. I hope someday if the Lord presents me with this opportunity again, I will react much more kindly. Thanks for this post!

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