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On Contentment & Tomato Sandwiches

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Sweet home Alabama. Friday afternoon we traveled to my grandparents’ farm in Leeds, Alabama. It’s just a few miles north of Birmingham, but it is the epitome of small town living. The pastures are all grown up now, trees covering where my Papaw’s beloved cows used to graze. The garden beyond the apple and pear trees is just a plot of grass now, but the memories are all there, verdant as ever. While we were chasing fireflies Friday night, I told Matt, “The air just smells different here.”

Since we will outgrow our current dining room table come November, my sweet Mamaw is giving us hers, the one she and Papaw bought when my mom was just a little girl. The same table I used to set up my grocery store on using the veggies from Mamaw’s garden and Papaw’s old scales. Saturday night we were eating dinner and talking about our favorite foods. Lydia told Mamaw how much she loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Mamaw told us there were only four things she needed in her cupboard–peanut butter, mayo, ketchup and mustard. We laughed about how Papaw used to eat tomato sandwiches–two slices of white bread slathered with mayo and a tomato fresh from the garden–every single day in the summer.

Some might call it living a simple life. But I think it’s living a content life. My grandparents have lived through the Depression and war. They know that stuff can be gone in an instant but that love never fails. It seems my generation wants everything our grandparents and parents had, but we want it now. There is an old cross stitch sampler hanging in my grandparents’ dining room stitched with the words, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We want to rush ahead and have today’s bread and tomorrow’s and next year’s too. And then we decide we aren’t happy with just bread. We want steak and dessert and maybe a shrimp cocktail too. And just like the Israelites complaining about the manna, we stare our miracle and provision in the face and stomp our feet and demand more.

We aren’t good judges at what we can handle. We think we are, but we aren’t. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. That’s who we are, surrounded by blessing after blessing and complaining that it isn’t enough. But my grandparents have shown me a different way. They have lived a different life. A life that says thank you for fireflies and tomato sandwiches. A life with hearts content, hearts grateful for this daily bread.

Four generations on the farm. I hope I give to my girls the legacy they’ve given me.

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