Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

Month: July 2016

Great Expectations

Lately, not much in life is going quite as expected.

Case in point, I spent several hours in Labor & Delivery triage one morning this week, where our baby girl and I were monitored to ensure I wasn’t going into preterm labor. We are all thrilled to meet her, but she needs to stay put for another several weeks! Waking up that day, I wondered what I would do with the kiddos all morning—options such as pool or park made their way to my mental list.

Spending time at the hospital and having my husband rearrange his day to take care of the kiddos did not.

It’s just the latest example in a string of circumstances that aren’t mirroring what I expected or planned—and as any of you mamas out there know, the need to “nest” and plan and control things skyrockets with the approach of a new baby. Indeed, I find the sweet term “nesting” to be synonymous with “trying to doing everything in my hormonal power to control circumstances in preparation for circumstances over which I have no control.”

Or something to that effect.

In moments of self-reflection, I’m amazed at just how many expectations I place on all kinds of things—and very often without even realizing it! I’m not always aware of the “plan” I have until things go off plan, and I’m left feeling disappointed, confused, or frustrated.

Can you relate? Oftentimes, many of our biggest messes find their genesis in the unmet expectations we place on people and things. When we’re each carrying around our own agendas, its no wonder life can feel so full of conflict and disappointments!

It seems that creating expectations is a part of our very DNA—a highly human and normal thing to do. God is acutely aware of this, for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14 NIV). And in His goodness and compassion, He provided the outlet for all our expectations by sending us Jesus.

I believe God’s heart for us is that we would take our expectations—every single one—and bring them to the feet of Jesus, placing them all in the cool shadow of the cross.

God’s Word and His promises are the only thing upon which we can place our expectations and know with certainty that we won’t face disappointment. The things of this world will leave us in a near perpetual state of let down, but in Him we are promised an enduring hope [that] does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5:5 NIV).

I don’t know about you, but my little organizing and planning heart loves that I can continue forming expectations—just as long as I file them in the proper place:

I can expect to never be left alone (see John 14:18).

I can expect that all things—good and bad—will be used and redeemed for my ultimate good and God’s ultimate glory (see Romans 8:28).

I can expect that God has a plan and is making a way, even when the path up ahead seems muddied and too difficult (see Jeremiah 29:11).

I can expect the consistency and steadiness of character from God that I so very much crave in this fickle world (see Hebrews 13:8).

Are you finding yourself disappointed and frustrated these days? Then let me encourage you to dig into God’s word, and find a promise or two that speaks to your weary heart. Find that promise, write it on a notecard, and let the whisper of those life-giving words be ever on your lips.

Ask Him for help in transferring your expectations from the people and things of this world to the arms of Jesus alone. I find myself needing to pray this prayer on a daily basis.

Stepping out in total reliance on the promises of God is a lot like watching baby birds learning to fly. It’s terrifying as all get out, and at first it seems like a really dumb idea … but then, like some kind of supernatural magic, those little birds leave the nest and soar.

And so will you.

“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

~ William Carey

Blessings,

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Cultivating Community: Lessons in the Mess

Happy Monday, readers! As we near the end of July, I’m excited to bring you words of encouragement from my friend and blogger Julie Loos. Julie manages a busy home of five children and writes openly and honestly about the messes of our everyday lives–so she was a perfect fit for this summer’s theme!

As you read her words, I hope you will be encouraged to bring all the messy corners of your heart to Christ and let Him cleanse and restore you. Blessings!


What Are the Best Lessons God Teaches in the Mess?

by Julie Loos

Do you seem to be stuck in a perpetual mess? I’m not talking about the clutter in your house or your car. Those are messes you can roll up your sleeves and get to work on with the vacuum and Formula 409®. If you’re a mom, you might be able to see a sparkling clean area for about an eye blink.

The mess I’m talking about is in the inside.

The debris that ebbs and flows daily. Some days you can conquer it, but other days it just wants to spew itself all over your insides. You can’t break free from it.

My clutter is anxiety. I didn’t know it personally until a few years ago. It took a hold of me quickly, and it seems to be taking a long time to rid itself of me. I am sick of it, and I’d dose myself in any cleaning product if it would promise to leave me.

For years I searched and clawed for answers and potions to rid myself of it. I hated its ugly influence on my life. I couldn’t get away from it. It was starting to take me under.

What’s your clutter? Anxiety, depression, or addiction? Maybe something different, but nevertheless it has its tentacles in you and your insides?

Are you weary and overwhelmed and just plain old sick of it? Are you scrambling for something to give you your old life back, or even take you to a new life?

When I was in the midst of this strangling time, I wanted it to be different. What I’ve come to understand is the mess made me re-evaluate myself. I needed some inner heart cleaning. It had to be done one heart string at a time. It was painful and yucky work, and I didn’t want to do it.

To become the best me, each heart string needed His work.

Here are five things I’ve learned during messy seasons:

I’m not enough

So many times, I think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps. I keep things to myself because I don’t need anyone’s help. Can I let you in on a little secret? We all are dealing with issues. The best healing happens when we share. God is enough. He will always be enough. He promises to give us strength, and His power overcomes our weakness. Walking hand in hand with God changes me, fills me, and allows me to spill my gifts onto others. I become overflowing with Him.

John 15:5 (NLT) Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

CC_Mess

Original image from pixabay.com

You need to walk through this season, not sweep it under a rug

It’s not fun, and it’s painful, but healing can only happen when you walk through it. I have learned so much about myself. I have seen what parts of me need work. Only from being on my knees in total dependence on God have I seen where I need His work to help me. Strength happens when we strive through and instead of suppress.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Christian living is more than going to church or saying religious clichés

During this season, my faith was tested. Was God my all-in-all or not? I had to trust in God and my faith because it’s all I had. I couldn’t see healing, but I knew it was coming. I put my Bible knowledge into practice.

James 1:22 (NLT) But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Admitting your weakness is not a bad thing…it’s the best thing

I was afraid to show others how broken I was, but God has done amazing things since I began unmasking my mess. My relationship with God has been strengthened, my dependence on him has increased, and the wall surrounding me has come down. There is encouragement in sharing with others and understanding that we all struggle.

II Corinthians 12:9-11 (NLT) Each time he said, My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God will never leave me

 When I was in the throes of anxiety, I felt alone. Many prayers were sent heavenward from my mouth, and it seemed like they were falling on deaf ears. God hears them all. I might feel alone, but my feelings lie to me. God is always present whether I believe it or feel it.

John 14:18 (NLT) No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

 * * *

Fear can keep us from His fullness.

CC_Mess2I didn’t want to be “less” anymore, but His best; therefore, I’m accepting my brokenness and using my mess for His message.

This journey won’t be easy, and many days it will be one step forward and two steps back. But, I can promise you that healing is coming. It might not be the healing you imagine, but God won’t leave you stuck. He will bring you a type of healing that will surpass your way of healing.

As your heartstrings are made new, you will begin to look more like Christ. Your heartstrings couldn’t have been so exposed without this mess.

Your sister in Christ,

Julie


Julijulie headshot 100x100e Loos is the mom of 5 kids and has been happily married to Greg for 17 years. She loves to read, eat chocolate, drink iced tea and spend time writing in the midst of messes.

You can find her blog at unmaskingthemess.com or follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/unmaskingthemess/.

You can also connect with Julie via Twitter @juliealoos and on Instagram at juliealoos.

 

When You Can’t Fight Your Battles

At nearly 8 months pregnant, I am feeling the slow down in every cell of my body. I’ve reached that point where even basic things—like simply getting out of bed—now require ninja-like stealth maneuvers (tuck and roll comes to mind).

I’m also in the thick of so-called “pregnancy brain,” so-called because it’s real. Every resource in the body is directed to growing and nourishing this new life, leaving very little oxygen available to make its way to the brain.

This can result in frantically looking for your keys when they’re right there in your hand, calling your children by your pet’s names, or putting cereal in the refrigerator (or sometimes a combination of all three!).

Needless to say, I feel fragile most days—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m tired. I’m worn down and hyper-aware of my growing limitations. Sometimes, it takes a rally of strength just to get up, sip coffee, and open God’s Word in the morning.

Can you relate? Maybe you’re not rearranging your insides to accommodate a growing baby, but perhaps you find yourself in a similar season of fatigue and vulnerability. Any number of circumstances can drain the “fight” right out of us: relational conflict, physical illness, financial pressure, job-related stress … the list could go on and on.

Such trials empty us of the energy needed to join God and fight our enemy on a daily basis; before long, we can begin feeling a bit like that poor wildebeest at the back of the pack, flailing wildly to escape the predator’s hungry grasp.

We’ve all watched enough National Geographic to know how that story ends … and quite similarly, we have an enemy who is ever vigilant and never tires of pursuing our destruction and separation from God. That thought could threaten to overwhelm us if it weren’t for this most excellent news:

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4 NIV, emphasis added).

Yes, our enemy is fierce and vigilant, but our God is more fierce and more vigilant. We grow weary and tired, but our God never does. He is always “on.” He is always ready to fight for us:

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV).

Such words are a balm to my exhausted self in this season of weakness.

Dear reader, are you tired? Have you lost your “fight” in the swirling sea of taxing circumstances?

Then let God fight your battles for you.

You and I are not alone in this fight. When the Israelites prepared to cross the Red Sea and escape certain death at the hands of the Egyptians, God spoke a most beautiful promise to them through Moses:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14 NIV).

And I firmly believe God whispers the same promise to you and me today. You and I need only to be still, to sink into the inexhaustible strength of Jesus, and to embrace the treasures waiting for us in this vulnerable space.

Your fatigue and mine is a gateway into more complete reliance on God and a deeper rest than we’ve ever known.

Let us not fear being brought to the place of full surrender, for who knows what gifts await at the utter end of ourselves? For when we are weak, then we are strong in Him.

Oh, that God would open up the floodgates of His energy today and fill our storehouses to overflowing!

Blessings,

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Just a Crib

These days, life is best summed up in one word: transition.

My body is transitioning as baby #3 grows and prepares to make her arrival. Our guest room is transitioning to a nursery for said baby girl. And most recently, we transitioned our son from a nursery to a bona fide “big boy” room, one full of furniture that will likely last him until he’s ready to leave our home (oh, banish the thought!).

And let me tell you something: I cried taking that crib apart. Cried like a baby (no pun intended). Emptying those baby dresser drawers took my breath away, especially when I came across one of the tiny bracelets that adorned his ankle during our hospital stay.

My chest has never been so tight with sentiment. Weren’t we just picking this furniture out? Weren’t we just setting up this sweet baby’s crib?

The intense, raw emotion of it all took me by surprise—after all, it’s just a crib, right?

Then again, it’s so much more than that. It’s a crib I dreamt of buying for years. It’s a crib I stood and prayed over many a late night as I watched Isaiah sleep and dream. It’s a crib that held our son’s tiny, precious body for all this time as we’ve watched him grow from infant to toddler in what feels like overnight.

It is a physical representation of one of the happiest seasons of my life.

Yes, it is merely a piece of furniture, but it carries the divine stamp of my loving Heavenly Father—a Father who caught all my tears during the excruciating months of longing, waiting, and heartache as we faced infertility. That crib, simple as it is, represents answered prayer.

The book of Joshua recounts another beautiful example of answered prayer. After 40 years of desert wandering, the Lord led Israel across the Jordan River and into the long-awaited Promised Land. Once safely on the other side, He commanded each tribe of Israel to gather a stone from the middle of the Jordan to serve as a sign:

In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord … These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever (Joshua 4:6-7 NIV).

You would think after such a miraculous occurrence, Israel would need no help in remembering what God did … but past behavior revealed just how in need they were of such a memorial. And if we’re honest, we too are just as needy for memorials in our lives.

The unfortunate truth is, we are far too quick to forget God’s past goodness to us whenever we’re facing a new trial. Our Creator God knows us, and He knows our human frailty. In His wisdom He directed the people to construct a physical structure to remind them of a spiritual victory … forever.

My son’s crib is more than mere wood and nails—it is a “memorial stone,” a tangible piece of evidence highlighting the intangible, glorious faithfulness of God. The pictures and memories of it will indeed always serve as a memorial of God’s goodness to our family.

What about you—are you setting up memorial stones? Or are you allowing the harsh flood waters of life to sweep right over the evidence of God’s goodness to you? Like the Israelites, it’s all too easy for us to enter a new trial and quickly forget God’s past faithfulness. Let’s not make the same mistake!

Today, may you and I join with the Psalmist and sing of the Lord’s great love forever (Psalm 89:1 NIV). May we boldly step into the Jordan of our past and dig out a few memorial stones. And each time we run our hands over those smooth, lovely stones, may the evidence of God’s goodness strengthen and encourage us for all our days to come.

Blessings,

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Roses & Reality

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the entertainment of “reality” T.V. every now and then. On a recent episode of “The Bachelorette,” however, I found myself shaking my head and uttering the chosen term of Southerners, bless her heart.

Our lovely Bachelorette found herself on a date, waxing poetically about how true love means always feeling the “heat” for your partner. The fire should never die down. The affection should never waiver.

Oh, honey.

This reality T.V. sound bite was about as far from reality as one can get. When you’re single, this sounds cynical—but any married person can tell you, life itself simply does not lend itself to endless romantic helicopter rides, trips to exotic locations, and gourmet meals that neither of you had to prepare or clean up.

Sprinkle in some newborn sleep deprivation or a toddler circus show or a teenager or two, and that “fire” may seem like a distant memory. Add some financial pressure or a sick family member or a job loss, and you may be left wondering if there ever was any heat to begin with.

No, God did not design love and marriage to be an endless parade of roses, dream dates, and cloud 9 emotions … the truth?

He designed it to be something even better.

Something real. Something solid. Something, if done by His model, that provides a “soft place to fall,” as the saying goes. A way of living that reflects the gospel story in our everyday lives.

But we have a problem, of course: most everything in our culture undermines God’s beautiful design and intention of marriage. Seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a mockery being made of this divine institution.

With reality television, movies, and magazines defining “love” for us, is it any wonder we’re seeing marriages sputter, crashing and burning at every turn? Even as believers, it’s easy for us to lose sight of God’s reality for marriage in the midst of culture’s definition of “reality.”

Now I’m the first to admit, I am certainly no authority on marriage. I’ve been married nearly 11 years, the vast majority of which has been full of trials, difficulty, and pain. I’ve wanted to quit more than once. I’ve run out of steam on more than one occasion.

But through it all, God has been working to refine us, sustain us, and draw us closer to Himself, all the while holding our marriage together when we simply couldn’t do so ourselves. If you find yourself in a season of struggle, take heart that He is able to do the same for you!

Today, my desire is simply to redirect us to some basic truths about love—real, solid truth from God’s Word to which we can cling when we’re wanting to let go. Knowing and meditating on the pure, unchanging Word of God is the only way we can combat the lies hurled at us by this world and live out God’s good design.

My heart is so burdened for marriages and families, so I pray that God will use these words to breathe life and hope into you today!

God is Pro-Marriage

I know this seems obvious, considering He was the one Who created the institution, but I think it bears repeating. Marriage has been bruised and battered over the years. As a result, it’s all too easy for us to forget its importance and significance to God.

After creating Adam, the Lord said in Genesis 2:18, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him (NIV). So He created Eve, the perfect partner for Adam … and just like that, the first partnership of marriage began.

This was His perfect, ultimate design: full-on intimacy, teamwork, fellowship, and joy. Sin entered the picture and forever flawed that design, but God’s intentions have always remained the same.

And God’s heart desires that marriages last. The words of Malachi 2:16 say:

“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel (NIV).

This does not negate the truth that there are indeed times divorce is warranted … even so, it’s not His heart that families be torn apart. If you’ve been through or are going through a divorce, His loving heart grieves right alongside with you. And the most excellent news is that He can redeem anything and any situation! How very thankful I am for that redemption.

The bottom line is, God is for your marriage and mine. In a world that makes us doubt the validity and usefulness of marriage, never forget that our Creator’s desire is for your family to go the distance and thrive.

Lasting Love Isn’t In Us

If we’re doing marriage in our own strength and drawing solely from our own well of love, we’re dead in the water. Like our Bachelorette, we will only last so long as the naturally occurring “fire” lasts.

The love required to sustain a marriage through the years of ups, downs, heartaches, and joys comes solely from the Holy Spirit working and moving in us. He is the Source of lasting, abiding love.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus says:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (NIV).

To love like God, we must draw from His well of love. We are only able to love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

The God Who gave His life for us can imbue us with that same Agape love for our spouses—even long after the fire has died down and life has kicked in!

 God Alone is Our Anchor & Foundation

At the end of the day, no matter how wonderful or difficult your marriage may be, God is our sole anchor and foundation in this life. No spouse can meet the deepest needs in us, those needs that only His Divine love can meet.

God is pro-marriage, and He can enable us to love our spouses for a lifetime—but He never intended for marriage to be “the thing” that brings us the lasting, soul-satisfying joy that only He can provide.

If our hope is in our spouse (or our children, our friends, our jobs, etc.), we are destined for disappointment. Others will fail us, and we will fail others—but our Father will never fail us:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness … The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him (Lamentations 3:22-23, 25 NIV).

Marriage is a beautiful gift, something to be treasured. Something to fight for. Something worth pursuing and tending to—but may we not forget that our deepest need, our strongest craving, is for Him and Him alone. He is our source of hope.

Is your marriage struggling today? Do you look around and think, this isn’t what I had in mind? Take heart, dear reader, for God is bigger than your circumstances and bigger than your pain.

Spend some time this week meditating on what God has to say about love. Ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him to fill you with that supernatural love for your spouse. He is faithful to give it!

As we discussed a few weeks ago, your story isn’t over yet … so hold on tightly to Him and live today in the grace He lavishes on you, His dearly loved child.

Blessings,

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P.S. – this is one of my favorite songs about love. Take a listen if you have time!

https://youtu.be/_CmB5I1EgMo

 

 

Dependence Day

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard the saying, “parenting is not for the faint of heart.” But I never quite knew what to make of that saying before I had children. In truth, parenting didn’t seem as scary or difficult as people made it out to be …

… well, God certainly has a sense of humor, as I now find myself neck deep in the throes of parenting, disciplining, and teaching two of the strongest-willed children on this planet. The fact that God chose me to be the mother of such precious, iron-willed humans boggles my mind. It really only makes sense in the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9, when the Lord told Paul, My power is made perfect in weakness (NIV).

Weakness indeed.

Recently, I had an experience that made me want to disappear from the planet and use one of those “Men in Black” gadgets to scrub the memory of everyone around me.

On a beautiful morning, my mom and I decided to take the kiddos to the farmer’s market. What could be more relaxing than strolling the booths of mouth-watering just-picked strawberries and rows of delectable tomatoes, squash, and lettuces?

Well, within about 5 minutes, we had major meltdown on our hands. My son broke out of the stroller and began grabbing hunks of broccoli and berries from a table, even after I repeatedly told him to stop.

My daughter, indignant that her brother escaped the confines of the 5-point harness, began screaming as only she can, bursting the eardrums of all those around us and garnering the kind of attention you make it your mission to avoid.

As the hot California sun bore down on my head, a mix of sweat and tears began rolling. My children refused to obey and refused to calm down. If people’s looks could kill, I would have been dead a dozen times over. Helpless and exasperated, we scrapped the trip, put those screaming children back into the car, and headed for home, where they forced my hand into some serious discipline.

I felt utterly humiliated, embarrassed, and incompetent. Here I was, round and pregnant with baby #3 while the two I already have wreaked havoc and blatantly disobeyed my orders.

We’ll mark that under the category of mothering fail.

I cried to my mom about how incredibly tired I was of going places and being embarrassed by their behavior. If you’re a parent, I’m willing to bet your children have also left you feeling embarrassed or helpless a time or two. The feeling of humiliation and judgment sticks to your skin like the thick, humid air of the South.

It plain old stinks.

But God has been teaching me, as only He can, about the treasures and lessons to be learned in the sometimes humiliating midst of this crazy hard thing called parenting.

With each tantrum and meltdown, God has revealed hidden plaques of pride stuck to my heart—stuck so tightly, apparently, that it’s taking the searing heat of disciplining my strong-willed children to melt it off.

It is a pride born out of a stiff-necked, flesh nature desire for independence and control. I stand amazed at the stubbornness of my children, yet all the while a part of my own heart wants nothing more than to be in control and independent, just like them.

Once again, the seemingly simple act of raising children is revealing my endless need for dependence on God like never before! In my own strength, I am weak. In my own wisdom, I am lost.

In these moments, how grateful I am for the life-giving words of the Psalmist:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV).

Just like Eve long before us, the enemy entices us to think that somehow, we can do it better without God—somehow, our own will could be better than that of our loving, helping Creator. But try as we might, there’s simply no escaping the truth—as believers, our freedom is won through total dependence on God and His resources.

Whether it be in parenting, relationships, work, or any other facet of our lives, we must get serious about living out the words of Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (NIV).

What about you? Is there an area of your life in which you’re attempting to function and thrive independently of God’s strength and wisdom? If so, I’m willing to bet that, if you’re honest, it’s not really working for you—just as it’s not really working for me.

Let the words of Hebrews 4:16 settle deep into your core:

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (NIV).

Sweet reader, whatever your struggle is today, you’re not alone in it. You and I serve a God who is Holy and Sovereign, yet at the same time invites us to sink into the comfort and strength of His arms. It is in dependence on those arms that we will find what we need to handle our strong-willed children or taxing job or difficult marriage.

When you find yourself lost and confused as to the next step—how to discipline that child, how to proceed in that relationship, whether or not to take that job—run to the One who knows the answer to all your most difficult questions. As James 1:5 tells us,

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (NIV).

I don’t know about you, but this is a promise to which I’m clinging whole-heartedly these days, as I’m learning to depend more wholly and fully on Him in the fire of life’s trials.

What circumstance is leaving you humbled, confused, or defeated today? Let me be so bold as to ask you to do the same thing I believe God is asking of me:

Be willing.

Be willing to be humbled or in need of help from friends or family. Be willing to accept grace, which I find oftentimes harder than extending it. And be willing to embrace your need for dependence on Him. There is so much freedom waiting just on the other side of laying it all down …

… A funny thing happened later that morning—once the kids settled down, my mom in her wisdom suggested we put them back in the car and try again at the farmer’s market. Those sticky plaques of pride in me balked at first, unwilling to risk further embarrassment. But at her gentle urging, I decided to exhale and be willing to go and let it be what it would be.

And wouldn’t you know? My children behaved like the sweet ones they truly are, and I felt a little flicker of hope at this evidence of progress. It is thrilling to watch your little ones learn to trust and obey—and in similar fashion, I imagine God greatly rejoices when we respond in obedience to and reliance on Him.

Be willing, dear one. And when the fireworks pop and sparkle this weekend as we celebrate our national independence, I pray that your heart and mine will pop and sparkle just as vibrantly at the freedom to be found in spiritual dependence on our Creator.

Blessings,

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This post is a part of this summer’s series Finding Meaning in the MessAll summer, we’ll be diving into the faith lessons we canSummertimeTheme learn in the midst of our everyday lives. God can teach us through all kinds of trials, big or small–let’s commit to drawing nearer to Him and hearing His voice!

 

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