A Lesson in Contentment from a Little Golden Book

Welcome  Do you remember those great Little Golden Books from your childhood? Oh, they were some of my very favorite books, I read them over and over again. The Pokey Little Puppy, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, The Tawny Scrawny Lion, Tootles the Train, and so many more! When my daughter was a baby, I was sure to buy her some of my favorite classics from this group of books. Of course, I read to her often, and even though she is 11 now, I can’t bear to part with these little books. It’s like a trip down memory lane. That, and the fact that I feel I learned some valuable lessons from these books along the way.  Today I’m going to share a little from one of my favorites, and it’s two-for-Tuesday, so we get two PIE recipes today!  Thanks for stopping by!

Food For Thought  I love the Little Golden Book, Scuffy the Tugboat, by Gertrude Crampton, originally written in 1946.  Not only did I get to hear this story when I was young, but I also had the privilege of reading it to my little brother, and then 20 years after that, reading it to my daughter.  I certainly have some special memories tied to this book, but it’s not just sentimental memories that make this book one of my favorites.  It’s the fact that I have actually learned a valuable life lesson from this simple children’s story.

Let me start by giving you the gist of the story, in case you are unfamiliar.  The story opens with a little toy tugboat sitting in the toy store, expressing its frustration and sadness at his current placement in the store.  He says, “A toy store is no place for a red painted tugboat.  I was meant for bigger things.”  The tugboat is purchased by a little boy, who then takes it home to play with in the bathtub.  Again, Scuffy is upset, saying, “A tub is no place for a red painted tugboat.  I was meant for bigger things.”  Basically, Scuffy cannot be content with small places or small tasks, such as amusing this little boy in the tub.  Take note of that word content.  Scuffy is almost certain that there is a more important assignment waiting for him out in the world.  As the story moves on, the little boy takes Scuffy to a creek to play and again Scuffy is dissatisfied, always saying, “I was meant for bigger things.”  This sounds so familiar with me and my life!

Well, as so many of us often do when we are discontent, Scuffy took matters into his own hands, and sailed on to a bigger creek, then river, then bigger river.  On and on Scuffy travels thinking he’s really becoming something special.  Finally, Scuffy find himself at the mouth of the biggest river, leading right out into a vast ocean.  Many adventures work to humble Scuffy along the way, but none are quite as frightening as this vast ocean.  You’ve heard of a little fish in a big pond?  Well, here we have a little toy tugboat in a great big ocean!  Instead of saying this is the life for a tugboat, he only wishes to find the little boy and his father again.  Spoiler alert…the little boy and his father do rescue Scuffy just in time, before he is lost in the vast sea.  Once he is home and sailing in the bathtub again, Scuffy says, “This is the place for a red-painted tugboat and this is the life for me!”

I recall uttering some similar words, “I was meant for bigger things!”  Every time I feel discontent, restless, or envious, that’s basically what I’m saying…I should get something bigger or better!  I remember saying this when I was teaching.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like teaching little kids, I loved that part of my job.  But when I started spending more time doing clerical-type duties and data entry, I felt that teaching wasn’t about the kids anymore.  My passion was for teaching, not these other time-consuming tasks that kept me from performing my original passion very well.  That’s when the “meant for bigger things” started taking over my thoughts.  Before long, “I was meant for bigger things” turned into I was meant for a more important job, a bigger house, more money, nicer car, full social calendar, perfect family photos, longer vacations.  You get the idea.  But it was all about contentment.  So, just like Scuffy chasing his next bigger body of water, I was chasing more things, more acceptance from peers, more of what the world says is bigger and more important. 

Just recently, even though I’ve left my teaching job and have less interest in material wealth, I found myself declaring I was meant for bigger things, yet again.  This time it was with my writing and my ministry goals.  I was aspiring to be like the big-name authors in the field of spiritual writing.  I was striving to break into the world of household names that women of faith utter while sharing that amazing book “you just have to read.”  But here’s my reality:  I’m just a little tugboat/author about to sail straight into the big sea of Christian writers.  And I might just sink…because this isn’t the place for me.

I don’t know that for sure, yet, since I have to let God’s timing play out the situation.  But I do know that Scuffy found himself frightened and scared when he ended up outside the place that was meant for him.  That may be what I have to experience before I realize that we aren’t all meant for the bigger things.  Some of us are meant to serve closer to home.  Some of us are called to work with smaller numbers in smaller markets.  Some of us may have just that one person we are meant to reach.  But like Scuffy at the end of his story, I want to be content where I am now.  I want to say, “This is the place for me.  This is the life for me.”  I want to be grateful for this home, this season, and this calling that I have right now.

Do you sometimes find yourself declaring you were meant for bigger things?  Are you content with the assignment you’ve been given right now?  Where ever the river of life may take you, trust that you have a special task at hand, whether big or small.  I know I’m still working on this, but I want to be content and happy now.  I don’t want to wait for peace and joy when I get the “bigger things.”

Today’s Scripture  Philippians 4:12 (NIV)  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Today’s Recipes  We had a get-together at our home over the weekend for some of my husband’s family.  Many people in our families are watching sugars so I wanted to be sure to have some desserts that could be enjoyed by everyone.  I have a Reduced-Sugar Banana Pudding Mousse Pie and a No-Sugar-Added Apple Pie for you today.

Banana Pudding Mousse Pie
Do you enjoy banana pudding? How about no-bake cheesecake desserts? This is a combination of both classic desserts in one easy, lower sugar pie.


Reduced-Sugar Banana Pudding Mousse Pie (A No-Bake Dessert!)

  • 1 8-inch graham cracker pie crust, store-bought or homemade (If making yourself, you can control the sugar content, but I used a pre-made crust this time.)
  • 2 medium bananas (You may want to toss your banana slices with a sprinkle of lemon juice to prevent browning, but not too much!)
  • 1 pkg sugar-free instant banana pudding (I used Jell-O brand)
  • 1 pkg sugar-free instant cheesecake flavor pudding (I used Jell-O brand)
  • 2 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar-free whipped topping
  • graham cracker crumbs or crushed Golden Graham cereal, for garnish

Cut one banana in slices and layer on bottom of graham cracker crust.  Mix banana pudding with 1 1/2 cups milk.  Allow to thicken for 3-5 minutes.  Pour this pudding over the first layer of banana slices.  Cut second banana in slices and layer over pudding mixture.  Mix cheesecake pudding with 1 cup skim milk.  Fold in whipped topping until a mousse-like consistency is achieved.  Pour the cheesecake mousse over the second banana layer.  Top with crushed graham crackers or cereal for garnish, if desired.  Refrigerate 3-4 hours to set.


No-Sugar-Added Apple Pie
Slightly tart apples and a good dose of cinnamon flavor without added sugar makes a friendly pie.


No-Sugar-Added Apple Pie

  • 1 pkg refrigerator pie crust (contains 2 crusts)
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples
  • 1 lemon, for zest and juice
  • 2 TBS Baking Spice or Apple Pie Spice, or a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 TBS butter, diced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place first pie crust in bottom of 8-inch pie plate.  Core, peel, and slice apples and place in large mixing bowl.  Zest lemon and add to apples.  Juice half the lemon and add to apples, along with baking spice and flour.  Mix apples well and let stand for 5-10 minutes.  Dump apple mixture into pie crust, dotting with deiced butter.  Place second pie crust on top of apples, crimping edges of crusts together.  Using a knife or fork, make 6-8 slits in top of pie to allow for escaping steam.  Place strips of aluminum foil around pie crust edges to prevent over-browning (I forgot this step over the weekend!)  Place pie on rimmed baking sheet, in case of spillage.  Bake at 425 for 40-50 minutes.  Allow to stand 15-20 minutes before cutting.