Why The Cottage of Content?

Twenty-five years ago, I came across a pretty blue and white plate with a poem on it.  It said:

As I was wandering oer the green

Not knowing where I went

By chance I saw a pleasant scene

The cottage of content.

Pictured was a quaint English lane winding to a charming cottage.  Somehow, this little plate captured my powerful desire to create a safe place for my family; a place where we might rest from the world’s troubles, sort out who we are and get our priorities in order with lots of love and wisdom.

I hoped that if I could give this to my family, then they would be prepared to go out into the world to contribute, learn well and love well.   At least that was my hope.  I squared my shoulders, dream in hand, and brought that little plate right up to the counter and made it mine.

My pursuit of the cottage of content almost did me in sometimes, especially during the difficult times, and really, looking back it all feels difficult.  I went to bed night after night feeling like I wasn’t a good mother. I struggled with a fractured marriage and asked myself thousands of times, “Is this marriage going to work or not?”  In the most stressful years we left our longtime church, my health deteriorated, and eventually my marriage ended in divorce.  I wondered if I’d ever have a career and be able to support myself and my family.  I so wanted an older, wiser woman to talk with, someone with an understanding heart and wisdom because she’d been there and knew when to listen and when to speak the truth.

Then about two years ago, one of my three sisters discovered we’re related to a now deceased Christian author who was quite popular back in the 1940’s and 50’s.  As I read some of her fiction, I kept wishing she had written something to future generations, woman to woman.  And then it dawned on me.  “Wake up!  This is your turn!  Go give what you missed out on while you still can!”  This was quite an emphatic thought.

Yet, in the way that I’m so good at, I quieted it down.  The thing is this – the idyllic dream of the cottage of content has been shattered and replaced, redefined and refined more times than I can count.  Oh, what painful lessons I’ve learned and am still learning.  Besides, young women today are so much savvier than I ever was.  And, I reasoned, I’m too busy, really, much too busy right now because I’m remarried and that career finally happened.  Lastly, I told myself, “Maybe someday.”  And with that the idea obediently stopped bugging me, for a while.

Recently the idea started whispering again, quite insistently.  I’ve been noticing the need for women of all ages to have someone they can trust who will listen well and speak truth.  Then my youngest daughter began to press me to write, of all things, a blog.  She elaborated on the need younger women have for sound advice from older women.  I sat up straighter as she gave voice to the same words I’d once thought.  That insistent idea bravely got louder and practically shouted at me, “Well, are you going to step up or not?  You think all those trials and tribulations were meant for you alone?  Get to work!”  Yikes!

So, here’s my first post of my first blog and I just offer it up and open wide the door to the cottage of content. It’s not perfect in here, but love and kindness rule.  I’m an unabashed follower of Jesus Christ.  He is the source of any safety and peace you may feel here.  You see, it’s my heart that is content, and that’s the door I’m opening.  I try to guard it carefully so it’s safe for me and all who enter in.  I share openly and honestly, and sometimes it’s rather messy, but there’s a whole lot of grace here, too.  Consider this a safe place to rest for a while, feel a warm compassionate shoulder next to yours, a place to perchance glean wisdom from lessons learned.  All so that you may go on your way having been loved well, ready to love well.

The plate that started it all!

The plate that started it all!

Welcome!

Jill Cristao

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