Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

Category: Cultivating Community

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.

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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.

 

Cultivating Community: Not in Charge

Happy Monday, readers! Today, I’m excited to bring you words from fellow blogger and COMPEL sister, Kelsey Townsend-Remmelts. I have so enjoyed getting to know Kelsey through her writing and her story of grief, faith, hope, and love. She is a living example of how God can work redemption and bring incredible blessings, even  through our most painful and heartbreaking trials.

Today, Kelsey shares with us some thoughts on how we are not the ones “running the show,” no matter how much we think we are–plus, words of encouragement for how we can learn to embrace God’s sovereignty and will in our lives. I pray her words bless you today!


Not in Charge

By Kelsey Townsend-Remmelts

People  have always listened to me.

I am not being cocky or arrogant–it’s just that, ever since I was a little girl, I made decisions, gave instructions, and people tended to follow. I remember my mom describing me as the bossy one in the neighborhood. I was the youngest and smallest on our street, yet I would be the one to pick the games to play, assign who was on what team, and the kids listened and followed. It is a running joke in my family when I am described as bossy; I correct them and say, “No, I have leadership skills”.

All my life, I have been a take charge, make decisions, kind of gal. I saw it in my high school years when I was one of the captains of our drill team. I had a company of girls who I led in class and on the field.

I started in the corporate world at the ripe old age of nineteen and worked my way up the ranks to a manager position. I worked for and completed my degree while working full time for the same company.

I made decisions for my family (many times my husband was indecisive) and was looked at as the one in charge. As the saying goes, if Mama’s not happy, nobody is happy! Life went on like this…until my husband died.

All of the sudden, I could not decide on anything. Nothing mattered, and my confidence had been blown. When it came to family matters, I may have been the one to make the decisions, but I had a partner with whom I discussed and bounced the ideas around. Now it was solely on my shoulders, and I crumbled.

But God was there.

As I made my way through the messiness of grief, God was there to remind me that I am not in charge. When I fully surrendered to His will, a huge burden was lifted, and now I see the beauty and grace in His resolution. Here are three key lessons God taught me during that time:

Surrender

The night my husband died, I fully surrendered to God’s will. Yes, He gives us free will so we can make choices and decisions for our lives. BUT there are consequences to choices, and now I pray on decisions and consult my Father. When people ask me my opinions for decisions, I encourage them to pray on it as well. Sometimes decisions need time to rest and marinate before resulting in a final step. I ask for God’s wisdom and discernment in any major, life-changing, and permanent outcome which would affect my family and me.

Patience

This is a huge, daily challenge for me. God’s will is perfect in His timing. I have to surrender to His timetable and wait for guidance. God teaches me restraining to move on my will is part of the process in achieving His will. Patience is a virtue which I strive to practice daily.

Faith

In order to surrender and have patience, I need to completely trust God. It is not easy to fully surrender and have faith in whatever the outcome, especially if it is a devastating event or a painful lesson. Developing and deepening a personal relationship with God takes effort and time. As my faith grows, my need for control becomes less.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

Throughout this process, understanding and accepting I am not in control has been one of my biggest life lessons. Perhaps you and I share the same “being in charge” type of mentality. If so, I challenge you to surrender to who is in charge of it all and experience the freedom of following God’s lead. I have peace and comfort in understanding my role in His majestic plan.

Oh, and for the record: it’s okay for me every now and then to make the decision of where the family will be going out for dinner because Mama doesn’t want to cook. And believe me, it is not about being bossy but showing the leadership skills! Blessings!


Kelsey’s Bio

My perfect little world disintegrated fifteen and half years ago when my husband died suddenly, leaving me and three little ones behind.  BREATHE!!!  My journey involves grief, faith, hope, love, and continues to grow and mature.  I am awestruck at how God uses my pain to define, develop, and deepen my character.   What trials are you experiencing?  How can you move forward and discover your purpose?

God has been my strength, support, leader, listener, and matchmaker to bring another man in my life (my current husband of 10 years!).  I have asked God to show me how to serve him and his Kingdom.  In my 50th year on earth, it has been revealed to me to write about my experiences in grief, faith, hope, and love. I am amazed to see this unfold and excited to learn and fulfill my purpose. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband, three beautiful children, and 2 granddaughters who make me smile daily.  I volunteer for an awesome non-profit called Ragan’s Hope who supports families with critically ill or injured children.  In my spare time I love to read, write, and be a little crafty!

Website: https://amensistablog.wordpress.com/

Facebook: Amen Sista-Kelsey Remmelts

Twitter: @KRemmelts

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/remmtown

Cultivating Community: Choosing God’s Values Over the World’s

Happy Memorial Day, readers!

This month’s Cultivating Community post comes from Jennifer Moye, a COMPEL sister and fellow busy mom!

As parents, it’s all too easy for us to find ourselves sucked into the world’s way of thinking when it comes to our mothering and what it should look like. Today, Jen encourages us to keep our eyes focused on God and His ways, learning to be still and seek His approval above all else.

As we close out the month of May, I hope Jen’s words will encourage you to continue relying on our Great Helper as you daily undertake the task of raising your babies!


Keeping Up With the “Pinterest Mom”

by Jennifer Moye

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Before my eyes have adjusted to the light of 6 am, I hear the not so little voice of our 3 year old, “Where’s my juice cup!” It’s a statement, not a question by the way.

I’m hungry. Play with me. I’m bored. He hit me. I don’t like spaghetti. I hate this show. I love spaghetti. I don’t need a nap. Mom. Mom. MOOOOOM!!!!

Can you hear these voices? If so, you must be a mommy too! And while I love our three little boys with more than I knew my heart could hold, I am so tired.

The blog world is overflowing with articles and posts on how to be the perfect “Pinterest mom”. Everywhere I turn it seems like that put together mom is stalking me with her perfectly done makeup and hair. I am sure she lost all of her baby weight before she left the hospital and what? What is a c-section pouch? She has no idea.

Her children’s clothes all match, no stains in tow. And they all walk quietly in a line behind her like a bunch of little ducklings. You know this mom right? Well, I don’t even know what to say to her. I don’t hate her. I used to be jealous of her, but not anymore.

You see, God has been teaching me something in the midst of this mayhem we call motherhood. He is teaching me to be still. Still enough to enjoy what matters . . . not to this world but what matters to Him. God did not call us to be parents so we could show off how good we are at juggling. God called us to be parents so that He would be glorified through us and through our children.

Called. That is what we are—called by God Almighty and entrusted with His little children. Have you ever thought of it like that? They aren’t just ours, they are His first. Our calling is divine, and I would argue one of the most important callings we can have in this life.

When I start to get overwhelmed with the craziness of this life with kids, it is so important for me to stop and realize what really matters to God. I can run myself to the point of exhaustion in less than 24 hours trying to keep up with the demands this world and society put on a mother. These things are simply not what we are made for. We cannot serve two masters.

The first step in reigning in the chaos of parenting is deciding who it is we are trying to please:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).

What if we all agrees to choose God right now? I know it is hard. Comparison and guilt come at us from every direction, but right here in this moment, we must choose God. He is our Master. His opinion is the one that matters. This world will never be satisfied with us. This world is ruled by our enemy and wants everything opposite of what God wants for us.

So what does God value in our parenting? Scripture points to many things, but for today, I would like to share what God has been speaking to me lately.

If I were to get to the gates of Heaven and God asked me, “What have you done with the lives I entrusted you with?” what would I be able to say to Him? (By the way, this is not in the Bible anywhere. Just go with me for a moment.) How would I answer this question? What would He want to hear?

I sure don’t know all the answers, but I am very confident God would not be looking for an answer like, “We all got out the door on time”, or “Everyone matched today”, or even “I made it through Costco with all three kids and no one got hurt.” I think the answers God would want to hear would look more like love . . . grace . . . mercy . . . faith . . . worship.

Think about how our Heavenly Father parents us, as He is the perfect example for us to follow: He is quiet with us. He is loud with us. He sits with us in the floor and listens to our problems. He wakes with us in the middle of the night and comforts us without anger. He smiles at our obedience and gently guides us to His Word when we stray.

Most of all, He takes His time with us. He doesn’t rush us to learn life’s lessons, as He is patient and kind.

What if being a good mom looked more like dirty pants from playing in the sandbox and messy kitchens from family baking “experiences”? What if God thinks it is more important to spend time showing my kids love rather than rushing them through my day of errands? And what if I miss the joy of childhood because I am too busy trying to keep up with that exhausting super Pinterest mom?

I challenge you today to slow down, and get out of the crazy mom race. Be still for a bit and focus on the One who has called you to be a mother in the first place. He is your audience of One. In Him and for Him we should be raising our children, not for the approval of others. Life is hard enough without trying to be super-mom. I’d rather be found worthy in the eyes of my King than in the eye of anyone here on earth!

I will leave you with my favorite Psalm. One in which I find such strength and one that helps me to focus back on who He is and who I am not:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46).

mjennifer2Jennifer is wife to an Airman and mom to three rambunctious little boys. With excitement on a daily basis and grace around every corner, she believes we are meant to live this life in community with others and with the mercy to mess up and try again….and again.

Being a mom is hard, but it is also one of the greatest callings we can have in this life. Her ministry to women is relevant and heartfelt with her core passion being that we learn to glorify our God in our parenting, our marriage, and in our everyday lives.

Join Jennifer’s community online at:

www.jennifermoye.com

www.facebook.com/jennifermoye

www.twitter.com/jenmoyewrites

www.pinterest.com/jenmoyewrites


So this concludes May’s series, Ring of Fire: Surviving & Thriving in the Furnace of Young Motherhood. www.meredithhcarr.com-4What a great month it’s been! We’ve tackled some big issues and hopefully come away with a healthy dose of encouragement and strength in Him to keep on going. Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation–it’s so nice to know we aren’t alone in this journey of raising little ones!

A mama’s work is never done, but we serve a God who is able to meet us in each and every trial and need. As we move forward into a hot, busy summer, I pray God’s strength and love will settle on you like never before. Blessings!

Mere copy

 

 

Cultivating Community: Stillness in the Midst of Anxiety

Happy Monday, readers!

Today, I’m excited to bring you the first installment of a new monthly feature, Cultivating Community. I love sharing with y’all the words God puts on my heart, but I also want this blog to have the feel of a virtual community.

There are so many great writers with words God has laid on their hearts, and it makes me happy to share their words with you too. I believe we all benefit by sharing our stories and hearing the stories of others–so that’s a little of the heart and purpose behind Cultivating Community.

To get us started, I am happy to introduce Chelsey Coffey, one of my COMPEL “sisters.” She graciously agreed to contribute an article centered on this month’s theme, and I’m happy to share her thoughts with you today.

As we near the end of this month, I hope her words will encourage you as you seek to be still in the midst of all the things our enemy throws at us. Read and be blessed!


Being Still in the Midst of My Anxiety

by Chelsey Coffey

First of all, I want to say THANK YOU to Meredith for this opportunity to be featured on her blog. It is such a blessing to be asked to Guest Post. I wrote this piece to go along with the Oceans Deep theme of the month: Be Still.

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I was diagnosed with anxiety at the age of fifteen. When I turned eighteen, it got to the point where I was on and off different medications and was experiencing panic attacks on a regular basis. It was a constant, awful feeling of not knowing when it was going to hit next, feeling like I couldn’t breathe, and having no control.

When I was twenty-three, I gave my life to Christ. My anxiety did not magically disappear – I know God’s not a genie with a magic wand. But as I grew in my relationship with Him, He began to change my heart.

I realized He didn’t take away my anxiety because He wanted me to learn to rely completely on Him.

When I was in tears and sick to my stomach over the chaos that was my job, being a single parent, and my financial burdens – one day He said to me “Be Still.” Even in the midst of all this? Even in the middle of the craziness I have to face today? “Be still,” He said.

If you have ever suffered from anxiety or have been anxious, you know how it can consume you. You know how it gets to the point where you are out of control and you can’t “calm down” (no matter how many times someone tells you to).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7 NIV).

Is it possible to be still in the midst of my panic and cast all my anxiety on God?

image002_AnxietyI found it was possible with time and discipline. God loves me and wants more for my life than to be living in a constant, anxious state. I found that my God is bigger than my anxiety. I found that if I am completely still in His presence and rely completely on Him – it will go away.

God hasn’t taken away all of my anxiety. There are days where I am completely overwhelmed, and the anxiety takes control of me again. But when I remember His request for me to be still in His presence, I stop, and I wait. I wait for His loving arms to wrap around me in comfort. And although the problem that caused me anxiety hasn’t gone away, I know I can rest in His arms.

 

image004_BioHi I’m Chelsey! I am a Christ-Follower, wife, mother and writer. My husband and I are currently in the beginning stages of planting a church. In my spare time, I love to read. You can connect with me at my blog www.chelseycoffey.com, on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/chelcoffeypage, or via Twitter at www.twitter.com. I pray that God blesses you today!

 

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