Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

Category: Life (page 1 of 2)

Waiting to Arrive

Hello there, readers! It might be mid-February, but since this is my first post of the new year, let me wish you a Happy New Year anyway. How are those resolutions coming?

Clearly, my writing resolutions aren’t going according to plan.

In spite of the abysmal statistics surrounding resolutions, if you’re like me, you still love goal setting and planning. If you’re like a lot of other people, your eyes instinctively roll at the thought of a resolution.

But whatever camp in which you find yourself, I believe every one of us dreams of a better future—of arriving in a better spot this time next year. Perhaps you, like me, have been dreaming up resolutions long before you were ever impressed to make (and break!) them.

When I was a little girl, I dreamt of becoming a famous, wildly successful professional tennis player. With the likes of Andre Agassi and Jennifer Capriati plastered to my bedroom walls, I’d drift off to sleep with dreamy thoughts of winning, crushing my opponent, and—most importantly—obtaining a lasting sense of accomplishment and purpose.

Through the years, the “dream scenario” has changed—but whatever the dream, whatever the decade, the final outcome remained the same: me, living with a steadfast sense of peace, purpose, and what can only be described as a “soul ahhh.” I’m standing somewhere picturesque with a fictitious wind machine perfectly blowing my hair as my soul whispers, I have arrived.

This sounds silly, I know, but perhaps you can relate?

Maybe you thought if you just scored that perfect job, you’d feel at peace. Or if you could just get married, then your world would settle. Or if you could just fit into those “size whatever” jeans, then your soul could be at ease. At that point, the wind machine would only be a bonus.

In most recent years, I confess this is precisely how I thought about motherhood. I listened, dreamy-eyed, to the mythical description of a “love like no other,” and the deep sense of purpose and belonging I heard mothers speak of, and I couldn’t help but think now that I am a mother, I have arrived.

Well, in the words of Dwight Schrute, false.

Motherhood is indeed a high and holy calling. And it is indeed full of a love like no other. But it is not the thing that ultimately has or will or can satisfy my hungry, longing soul.

We can resolve and plan to our heart’s delight, but there is no earthly person, place, or thing that will ultimately satisfy our resolution-hungry souls.

There is no mythical place in which we can “arrive” and finally find the peace and purpose for which we’re longing.

Perhaps on the surface, this sounds disappointing; and yet, it’s excellent news for each of us, because the truth is, we don’t have to wait to arrive, because we have already arrived!

Our Creator God knew from the start there existed no earthly achievement big enough to fill the ache in our hearts, so He sent us Jesus. Because of what Christ has done for us, we don’t have to wait to experience a “soul ahhh.” Because of Jesus, we are promised abundant, full life right now (see John 10:10).

Today.

You don’t have to wait until you’ve lost 15 pounds, found the perfect job, married the perfect partner, had the perfect children, or built the perfect home.

In Christ, we have everything we need right now:

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV, emphasis added).

What an incredible promise. How often do we think we can “abound in every good work” only once certain external goals have been achieved? Or how often do we delay the good work we could be doing now in the hopes of first becoming some utopian version of ourselves?

You and I can begin living out the promise of 2 Corinthians 9:8 today.

You don’t have to abandon that resolution or those goals you’ve set—but you don’t have to wait until they are fulfilled before living a life of abundance, peace, and purpose.

So dear one, what are you waiting for? This year, let your resolution-driven soul be the thing that drives you closer to your Heavenly Father and the rich, abundant life available in Him.

Celebrating When Your Heart is Heavy

Merry-Almost-Christmas, dear readers!

I say this every year, but I honestly don’t know how we’ve flipped through yet another calendar year … time flies when you’re having fun (and even when you’re not!).

I’m guessing you, like me, love this season of Advent. The parties, the gatherings, the giving of gifts, the creating of “magic” for our kiddos. Taking a break from the routines of school and work. Spending extra time with friends and family.

It is, as the song goes, “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Except, what about when it isn’t?

In this season, we’re encouraged to reflect back on the year … but sometimes those reflections cause us to wince in painful remembrance.

In this season, we’re told to be filled with joy … but sometimes the heavy things we’re carrying make joy feel unreachable.

Broken friendships. Broken marriages. Loved ones suffering from illness.

Financial pressures highlighted by this season of giving and receiving, adding even more pressure to bulging credit cards and empty bank accounts.

A struggling child. A prodigal child. A heart longing for a child.

Any number of things threaten to weigh us down and burden our hearts. The season of joy can make the heaviness feel that much heavier.

But dear reader, you want to hear the really good news? If your heart is heavy, you’re a living, breathing example of the true reason for the season.

Christmas isn’t simply about traditions and parties and gift giving. It’s about Jesus coming to walk in our shoes, coming to lift our heaviness right onto His own shoulders, coming to give us a hope that cannot be shaken.

It’s about the first flickering of the One true light breaking through the thick, sticky darkness of life on this earth:

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5 ESV)

We don’t often—if ever—discuss darkness during the Christmas season (it doesn’t exactly fit with the Hallmark narrative!). But God wasn’t afraid of our darkness and pain, and He willingly stepped into it in order to show us the way out. This truth offers a far greater hope and joy than our traditions ever could!

Don’t get me wrong, traditions are great, and they absolutely have a special place in this season. So decorate your home to your heart’s delight. Bake and ice a dozen different types of Christmas cookies (I’ll gladly try them out for you!). Make that elf on the shelf do Cirque de Soleil, if that’s your jam.

Just remember, this season is about saving. It’s about grace. It’s about Jesus entering into our pain in the most humble and breathtaking of ways. It’s about the healing you and I need, a healing that cannot be found in Christmas music and twinkling lights.

Our pain is a holy, sacred reminder of our great need for Jesus, for our Savior.

So if your heart is heavy this holiday, you are not alone. You have a Savior who longs to walk with you and carry that heaviness for you.

Indeed, if your heart is heavy, you are primed to experience the most authentic and full joy this season can bring. And it is my fervent prayer that you and I will come to know and walk in that joy in the weeks ahead.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the governments shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

 

Blessings,

 

 

Hide & Seek

Earlier this spring, I had the chance to hear Dr. Temple Grandin speak at the University of Georgia. Granted, she spoke to the veterinary school about animal behavior. But, as the mama to a son with Autism, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to see this incredible woman in person.

I listened, strangely captivated, as Dr. Grandin discussed everything from cattle behavior to how fear manifests itself in animals.

She spoke at length about sheep, a topic that piqued my interest, given all the parallels the scripture draws between us and this adorable (yet somewhat intellectually challenged!) breed:

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever (Psalm 79:13a ESV).

 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way (Isaiah 53:6a ESV).

 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1 Peter 2:25 ESV).

One particular fact Dr. Grandin presented simply jumped out at me, and it’s been rattling around in my mind ever since:

Sheep hide the fact that they are in pain.

So much so, that if you need to know exactly where or how a sheep is injured, you have to stealthily catch it on hidden video!

This statement struck me between the eyes, as it seemed like yet another powerful example of how we humans mimic sheep. Because truthfully, how often do we talk honestly about our pain? We, like sheep, are masters of disguise, going to great lengths to hide our pain.

We hide behind a busy life or career.

We hide behind nice clothes and a forced smile.

We hide behind the paper-thin facade of an “I’ve got it all together” life.

And in our age of technology, we’ve become especially adept at hiding our pain behind shiny, filtered photos of “perfect moments.” Nevermind the fact that oftentimes, those moments are equally preceded and followed by less-than-shiny real life moments.

We hide our pain in a feeble attempt at self-preservation … yet the unfortunate truth is, pain that is hidden has no means for a healthy resolution. We limp along, working hard to cover and conceal.

What’s worse, pain in the hands of our enemy can be used to take us out. We put ourselves at great risk for becoming that unfortunate sheep at the back of the pack, moments away from being overtaken by the hungry predator.

This is a disconcerting reality. And yet, hope abounds—because pain, in the hands of our ever-redeeming God, can become a weapon against our enemy.

Dear reader, Jesus came so that you and I might be free (see Galatians 5:1).

Free from the need to hide our pain.

Free from the need to cover and cake over our scars with layers of lies.

Free from the empty life of pretending everything is fine all the time. I may not know you personally, but I know it’s not. Because life in this broken world is messy, difficult, and just plain distressing at times. We are, none of us, immune from this reality.

The honest sharing of our pain paves the way for us to find healing. And our decision to walk in authenticity can also pave the way for others to do likewise. What’s more, this opening up of our broken places gives glory to our Father—our Good Shepherd—as we reflect back all the ways His saving grace is touching and restoring our wounded hearts.

Not everyone is called to blog or write or speak publicly about his or her pain, but each one of us needs a safe person or small community with whom we can honestly be open about the state of our hearts.

Sweet reader, is there something you’re hiding today? From one needy soul to another, may I encourage you to seek out that safe place, and be willing to take the risk of speaking honestly about your pain.

The loving Shepherd and Overseer of your soul longs to draw you into an authentic, whole, abundant life, one full of fellowship with Him and with others.

You and I were never meant to carry our burdens alone. You and I were never meant to hide.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2 ESV).

Today, I pray that you and I alike would find the courage to move toward healing by refusing to hide any longer. Freedom awaits, dear one.

Blessings,

 

For Those With a Heavy Heart This Mother’s Day

In case your social media feed didn’t give it away or the dozens of men pouring over cards last minute at Target didn’t clue you in, it’s Mother’s Day.

I’m generally a sucker for most holidays, because who doesn’t like to celebrate life and all its various milestones and relationships? Plus, I have the best mother on the planet (sorry everyone else!), so it’s my joy to celebrate the incredible woman and rock she is to our family.

And even though this is my fifth Mother’s Day as a mother myself, I still look around at the chaos and the cribs and the toys and these three precious kiddos and think wow, I can’t believe they are mine!

But for many, this holiday brings a deep sadness. I think of our neighbors, who just lost their young daughter-in-law to cancer and now face the prospect of helping their son and 4-year-old grandchild navigate new, difficult waters in the absence of “mama.”

I think of those who have lost their moms and struggle deeply with the gaping hole created by such a loss.

Today especially, I think of a dear friend who longs to be celebrated on this day with a baby in belly or arms. Today, my heart is with all of you whose hearts are heavy with the desire of motherhood.

For years, this holiday caused a deep ache in my own heart, as I longed and waited to wear the title of “mother” and celebrate this day with my own child. And while God has answered that longing of my heart—and I’m incredibly grateful and thankful—becoming a mother has not been “the answer” to the ultimate longing of my heart. Because the truth?

My heart still aches. It aches in a different way now, but it does nonetheless.

It aches with the weight of a special needs child and the burden of navigating a path for him in this world that is oftentimes cruel to those who are different.

It aches with the burden of raising strong, confident daughters in the midst of our sex-obsessed, porn-saturated culture that screams at them daily, you are only as good as your body, your face, your beauty.

It aches with the sheer magnitude of what it means to raise little children to be strong, self-sufficient, whole, and wholesome members of this world.

I share all of this simply to say, if your heart is aching on this Mother’s Day, I understand. And you are so not alone.

In these manufactured holidays, it’s all too easy to fall into your sadness and think if only I was a mother! Then I would be:

 Happy

Peaceful

Fulfilled

Whole

But this is simply not true—it’s a crafty lie that feels impossibly true, but it’s a lie intended to keep your head down and your heart defeated.

The truth for you, and for me, and for every one of us, is that nothing on this earth can fully satisfy the deepest longing of our desperately longing hearts.

I know, and I mean, I know—that when your arms are empty, clinging to the truth that Jesus is enough seems a hard, outrageous choice. So today, I simply whisper a prayer over your heavy heart, and I ask God to make His Word come alive in you:

For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things (Psalm 107:9 NIV, emphasis added).

Good things.

May you see them, experience them, press on in relentless faith, believing that they are up ahead and waiting for you.

And whatever the boat in which you find yourself this Mother’s Day, may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your heart and soul and mind, dear reader.

Blessings,

What To Do When You’re Not Living Your Best Life

Hello, my dear readers—and bless your sweet souls for reading my sporadic, inconsistent posts. Remember the days I wrote regularly every week? Perhaps one day I’ll return to that…

But for now, words are few and far between. In part, it’s a season of life issue. Mothering three children four and under—and one with special needs—is exhausting. There’s simply only so much time in a day or week to devote to things other than keeping my tribe alive.

And yet in part—perhaps in larger part—it’s a season of heart issue.

November marks 6 months since we packed up our California life and headed back East. To say the past ½ year has been a roller coaster is…well…putting it mildly. I wouldn’t exactly describe these past 6 months as “living my best life.”

No, a far more accurate description would be Survivor. Or something along the lines of The Hunger Games.

And I don’t know about you, but I detest the feeling of living in survival mode … most especially when it comes to my faith.

I’ve been in a season of doubt—a season of struggling and wrestling with God over things I can’t make sense of, no matter how hard I try. It’s an arduous task, reconciling the God we know and love with pain … it’s an even more arduous task when we’re reconciling that God with our own pain.

Many times I’ve sat down to write, only to close the laptop in discouragement, knowing the doubt and mistrust with which I’m struggling. Y’all know me well enough to know that I’m not interested in writing (or reading!) empty words about the faith journey … I want to write something that’s genuine.

But you know what God has been so patiently, graciously showing me? Our struggle doesn’t have to stop our faith. Like Job, like Jacob, like so many other Biblical characters, we can keep walking the path with God while we wrestle with our doubts and fears.

Sometimes trusting God and His sovereignty comes in an instant, but oftentimes it comes after days, weeks, even months of struggling through it—and that’s OK!

The most important point is that we continue to wrestle it out with Him. That we keep placing our trust and hope in what we know in our heads to be true of God, even when that truth hasn’t found its way into our hearts just yet.

A recent devotion I read recounted the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah, and I continue to be struck by Abraham’s display of steadfast faith. If anyone had reason to suspect God might be cruel or lacking in goodness, it was Abraham.

God promised something amazing—the miracle gift of a son after a lifetime of childlessness (see Genesis 15). But then Abraham had to wait, wait, wait some more for the realization of this gift. And then, after enjoying several years of fatherhood, God asked Abraham to sacrifice this long-awaited, much-adored son. My mom brain yells what???

And yet, Abraham never faltered. He trusted God and believed He would provide—even if that provision came in the wild form of raising Isaac from the dead! (see Hebrews 11:19).

That is some crazy awesome faith. And I find myself asking how?

It’s simple, really: Abraham knew God. He walked with Him. He talked with Him. Over and over, Genesis tells us that Abraham “called upon the name of the Lord” (see Genesis 12:8 ESV).

Abraham’s faith was the natural outflow of his personal relationship with the God of the universe. He’d been enjoying a front-row seat to the character of God and thus knew that God is good. That He can be trusted. That He is faithful. Even when our circumstances have us feeling like we’re taking crazy pills.

Abraham’s ancient faith speaks volumes to us today—if a man who walked and talked with God trusted Him enough to sacrifice his beloved only son, then we can trust Him as well.

Even when it’s a struggle.

Perhaps you too find yourself living in a bit of survival mode. Maybe your faith has taken a hit or you’re wrestling with God over the pain in your life. So what can we do when we’re not living our best life?

First, know this is a season.

Seasons, by definition, don’t last forever. And every season has its purpose, its place, and its blessings. Search for the blessings. I’m the first to admit that oftentimes, wrinkle-faced squinting is required to discover something definable as a blessing … but I promise you, the blessings are there. Even in darkness (see Isaiah 45:3).

Second, try to focus on what you can learn and do in this intense season.

God uses everything in our lives; there’s not a scrap of material that goes unnoticed or without purpose. Ask yourself the hard question: what is God possibly trying to teach me?

Do I need to realize and accept my lack of power to control outcomes?

Am I controlled by fear?

Am I allowing anger or bitterness to take root in my heart?

Jeremiah 29:13 says, You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (ESV, emphasis added). We would all do well to ask ourselves what may be stopping us from seeking Him with our whole heart.

Lastly, and most importantly—keep going in faith.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other, step by step, moment by moment, day by day. You don’t have to have it all figured out to follow Him. We don’t have to have a nice, neat explanation to remain faithful (though of course, that would be nice!).

We can simply cling, sometimes in ugly desperation, to the promises of His word.

I’ve been camped out in the Psalms almost constantly for months now, and to me this is the perfect place to turn when you’re in need of rest and comfort from your Heavenly Father. In particular, I love the word of Psalm 92:12-15—

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him (ESV, emphasis added).

Isn’t that a beautiful promise and the very definition of living one’s best life? Flourishing in Him. This is God’s heart towards you and me … we must hold firm to the truth of such words, even when our eyes fail to see their reality.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful quote from Elizabeth Elliot who, when speaking of handling our pain, said:

Lift up your hands, denoting your love, your acceptance, your thanksgiving and your trust that the Lord will make of this situation something redemptive and good.

Keep clinging, dear one. Keep wrestling. Lift it all up to the One who can and will bring it all together for good, one glorious day.

Blessings,

When God Has Other Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

Don’t you love this promise from the book of Jeremiah? It’s an oft-quoted, embroidered, and framed verse, and for good reason. Who doesn’t love the assurance of prosperity, hope, and a future? And while yes, these words were specifically spoken to the children of Israel while in exile from Jerusalem, they shine a revealing light into God’s heart for all of His children.

In high school, I remember carefully taping a pink notecard inside my locker, these precious words scribbled on it in innocent adolescent handwriting. And when it was time to head to college, many of the graduation cards I received made note of this promise, reminding me of what “big things” God surely had in store.

In those days, I had no reason to doubt such wonderful words—would God’s plans include medical school or law school? What perfect, magical husband would He send me? How amazing and world-changing would our children be?

Yes, in those days, it was as if God didn’t need to remind me that He is the keeper of those plans, for surely they will line up with what I have already planned out in my own mind!

As I look back now with the vantage of time and deeper maturity, I wonder if God smiled at my bubbly naiveté—and winced a little at knowing that soon enough I would begin to learn the simple yet difficult truth about His plans …

… they are rarely, if ever, the ones I have in mind.

This month, Aaron and I celebrated our 12th anniversary. I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage, as I tend to do this time of year.  And truthfully, reflecting on these years leaves me with a mix of joy and sadness.

Make no mistake, God has done great things for us. My heart swells with thanksgiving at how He has taken care of me each step of the way.

He has performed miracles, provided strength in the weakest of times, given refreshment in the driest of deserts, acted as shelter in the most blistering of fires. There have been good, good things. But these years have not escaped the sting of intense pain.

Heartaches that my college-self never could have imagined.

Conflict. Betrayal. Infertility. Loneliness. Autism.

No, for these things I never planned, nor did I imagine God would either. In the midst of uncertainty and fear, the words of Jeremiah’s lifeline promise can feel like a heavy weight. In churning waters, it becomes all too easy to hang our heads and conclude these words must apply to someone other than me.

But dear reader, do you know that nothing could be further from the truth? The enemy loves to send out his sinister whispers, suggesting that we land just shy of every good thing God purposes for His people. Don’t fall for this lie.

When our doubt is the loudest, we must hold onto truth the fiercest.

Time and again lately, God is teaching me that it all boils down to a simple, sometimes excruciatingly difficult choice: do I really trust Him? And will I choose to trust Him?

When the words of Jeremiah 29:11 seem impossible in the context of our circumstances, will we decide to place our hand in His and keep on trusting anyway?

Personally, the simple, loaded question of why trips me up more than anything. It’s a heavy question to ask sometimes, right? I think of my son and his autism and the manifestation of that diagnosis in his little life … and I brace for the day his big brown eyes look into mine and ask why, mom? Why did this happen to me?

I don’t know, my love—I don’t know the specifics and the intricate details of why…but what do I know? Everything that happens to us will ultimately weave its way into a tapestry created for God’s glory and our very best.

Perhaps today you are struggling with your own why?

Why cancer? Or divorce? Or job loss? Or infertility? Why this pain?

I believe it is in these darkest of places that God intended to whisper the words of Jeremiah 29:11. The nation of Israel certainly wasn’t heading off to college with the world at her fingertips, bright shiny future laid out ahead.

No, God gave Jeremiah these words at a time when His chosen people found themselves exiled, cut off from Jerusalem—living in a foreign land, facing a future they’d never imagined.

When the dark comes, when the pain comes, dear reader, choose trust. He is longing for us to believe, to trust Him enough to set aside our doubts and cling to His promises. They are enough.

He is enough.

 

Blessings,

Summer School: A Lesson in God’s Sovereignty

Hello readers! It’s been a while, I know. August is nearly halfway through, and school is back in session—can anyone tell me how that happened?!

Our summer has gone a bit like the opener to A Tale of Two Cities. Living in the South again and in close proximity to family and friends has been glorious and indeed the best of times.

On the other hand, living all summer out of suitcases in cramped, temporary housing with 3 restless, displaced children has not been so glorious.

Yes, for me, this summer has been a time of pruning and refining and waiting. I don’t remember signing up for this “summer course” in faith building … but apparently, God had a lot to teach me about His sovereignty and provision, and a house was the perfect teaching tool.

That’s right, a house.

Shortly before our California home went on the market in March, I had one of those “aha” moments with God. See, when we sold our home in Atlanta back in 2012, we got a bit raked over the coals. It was an unpleasant experience that left me never wanting to sell a house again!

So as we faced the prospect of selling our home, all my fears and negative emotions came roaring back. All the nail-biting “what ifs.”

What if the house doesn’t sell?

What if we have to keep dropping the price lower and lower?

What if we end up carrying two mortgages?

In the middle of my spiraling doomsday narrative, the Holy Spirit whispered—well, kind of shouted—will you just trust Me in this? Will you just rest and agree to let Me work?

I took a few deep breaths and let those words resonate. All out of excuses and fear, I gladly said yes, Lord. Yes, I will simply trust You and Your timing and Your goodness, from start to finish. It was a wonderful and comforting moment of closeness with Him!

A couple of months later, we received and accepted a great offer—and on the last day in our home, no less. Overjoyed, my heart rejoiced at this glorious provision, so poetic and perfect! The words of Romans 8:28 played in my head as I easily saw how well all these things worked together for our good.

In my mind, I already began crafting this blog post. God said to trust Him, and I did, and then **poof** a few weeks later, look how it all turned out! So pretty, so perfect, so wonderfully.

If only.

At 3 weeks into our contract, I received a phone call from our real estate agent that sent me reeling. Our buyers had to back out. We suddenly found ourselves on the losing end of a domino of failed contingencies.

I wish I could tell you that I immediately rested on my faith and trusted in the good word God whispered to me at the start, but I sure didn’t.

The disappointing news sent me spiraling down the path of struggle for the next many, many weeks. I experienced intense frustration, disappointment, and anger. How could everything slip through our fingers when it was nearly a done deal? Why??

I watched as house after house in our neighborhood slipped into escrow. We waited and waited and waited while showings trickled in, here and there. We held open houses. We dropped the price. We heard lots of crickets.

Day after day, I beat my wings against the question of why, exhausting myself like a caged bird. In my bitter frustration, I couldn’t see any possible reason why this contract falling through was for our good. My circumstances no longer fit the narrative of Romans 8:28 as I thought they should, and it.drove.me.crazy.

After many days and weeks and rounds of wrestling it out with God—all while reading a phenomenal book on God’s sovereignty—my Heavenly Father graciously revealed what was really eating at me so badly, why I couldn’t just trust and rest in Him.

This struggle to sell our home directly threatened and pierced the heart of my idolatrous desire for comfort and security. It revealed my mistaken, deep desire for the gift over the Giver.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been crafting an idol out of the desire for comfort and security in my circumstances. Unknowingly and meticulously, I’ve been carving my own golden calf (see Exodus 32).

And in His goodness, God removed that idol this summer. Through the months of confined and uncomfortable living conditions and uncertain and stressful financial concerns with selling our home, He allowed me to see my idol worship for what it really is—destructive, sinful, and faith destroying.

As David cried in Psalm 119:71, it is good for me that I was afflicted (ESV), so my heart now echoes the same cry, for I needed rescuing from my idolatry far more than I needed my house sold.

I needed to know the words of Philippians 4:19 deep into the marrow of my bones, which reads—

 And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (ESV).

 I needed to know the true meaning of God’s sovereignty and learn to trust His providence, both in good news and in bad.

Dear reader, do you know these truths in the deepest, truest parts of your heart? Perhaps you, like me, would readily say yes …and yet, when the rubber hits the road, you discover how much more you have to learn about this life of faith.

God’s sovereignty is never exercised apart from His goodness—even when things don’t look good to our flawed, near-sighted eyes. We can be certain that His dealings with us—whether painful or joyful, happy or sorrowful—will indeed work out for His glory and our ultimate good. The promise of Romans 8:28 will never fail, even when we fail to see its truth.

Perhaps you find yourself struggling through a situation today. Maybe a relationship. Or a job. Or a financial burden. Or a hunger you simply can’t seem to satisfy.

Dear one, let your deep need drive you to your knees before Jesus every morning, and throughout your day—as many moments as it takes until the truth of His provision and goodness settles and lands secure in the foundation of your heart.

Find a promise in scripture to which you can cling in your time of testing. For me, it was whispering the promise, He will provide, multiple times during each day.

Your Savior is inviting you into deeper communion with Him! Lean in, jump in with both feet—and be amazed at all the good things He has in store for you.

Blessings,

I Hate Moving {Part 2 of “I Hate Goodbyes”!}

Hello, my dear, sweet readers! I hope y’all are having a great summer (and now that I’m officially back in Georgia, I’ll be using “y’all” a lot).

It’s been over two months since I wrote about saying goodbye to California and how awful goodbyes are … so this post can be considered a follow-up or “part 2” of that post, because you know what?

Saying “hello” kind of sinks too!

This is simply a reiteration of what y’all already know: moving is hard.

The past two months have been a blur of boxes, suitcases, hotels, and plenty of tears and temper tantrums (and not just the kids, ha!).

Our California house went under contract just before we moved, and everything was set to close last month—but then it all fell through at the last minute.

Our house here won’t finish construction until the beginning of end of August, so until then we are living in a tiny basement apartment with plenty of challenges and not nearly enough space for these kiddos. Add to that, Anni is now crawling and cruising and pulling up on everything, so that’s added a fun new element of parental anxiety and stress!

Our kiddos are having a tough time adjusting, especially our son, considering the overarching goal of those with autism is to keep the world the same (we’ve pretty much blown that goal out of the water!).

We’ve all been through stomach bugs and summer colds and our first bought with hand-foot-mouth disease, which—as it turns out—is just as lovely as the name suggests.

There’s been physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion as we wait, wait, wait for so many things to come through in this season of virtual free fall. My faith has been more than a little tested since embarking on this new adventure, and it doesn’t look like things will ease up anytime soon!


Moving opens the door to a highly vulnerable time, and it’s a vulnerability I truly dislike … like the shaky, clumsy feeling of finding my way around a new grocery store. Or the necessity of being glued to the GPS to go anywhere. Or the “fish out of water” feeling of readjusting to the South when I still feel like a Californian at heart.

The unfortunate truth for my change-resistant heart, however, is that God loves moves and often uses them as a means for gaining direct, lightning-fast access to our hearts. Think Abraham, Daniel, and Moses. And then there’s David, who didn’t simply have to move, he had to flee from his life of service at the palace to escape the wrath of King Saul (see Samuel 20). But these moves were critical to God’s providential plan in their lives and necessary to bring about His will.

Transition is a painful process, but so very, very crucial to our spiritual growth and transformation. It prepares us for what’s next, if we let it. The thought God keeps bringing me back to, over and over, is simple and yet difficult at the same time:

Stop resisting God’s teaching in your transition.

The change and upheaval and vulnerability stirred up in a move is oftentimes God’s way of saying hey, look up here! Look at me! There’s something I’m trying to teach you …and I’m going to press in until you get it! My own experience reminds me of this clip from “The Three Amigos” (one of the best movies of all time):

If you’re anything like me, sometimes it’s as though God is forced to relate to me in this manner, when I’m so focused on what’s at the end of my nose versus the good and sovereign path He has laid out ahead.

If you find yourself experiencing a move or change of some kind today, I want to encourage you to not allow the pain of transition to wear down your faith.

When Moses prepared to pass the baton of leadership off to Joshua, he spoke the following beautiful, divinely inspired words:

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV).

Today, these words still ring true for you and for me. What a glorious promise, that we are not alone in the uncertainty and discomfort of transition. Life may feel out of control, but our God is always and forever in control!

May we cling ever tighter to Him in the midst of our chaos and be willing to hear and absorb the truth He longs to impress on our hearts.

Many blessings, y’all–

I Hate Goodbyes

Y’all.

This is likely my final post for a while—at least until we can get to Georgia and begin to find our new normal. And that’s really good for everyone, as I know y’all aren’t interested in reading whatever jumbled up words my overloaded brain might eke out!

This week has been the proverbial “calm before the storm” of next week, though it’s been anything but calm. We have squeezed every last minute out of every last day, and we’re all exhausted.

There have been so many goodbyes—to people, places, and things. So many “lasts” that my heart is entirely overwhelmed by the emotion of it all! I can’t stand goodbyes, and these have been particularly difficult. I can’t fully put into words what these past 5 years have been to me.

We arrived in California in the middle of a drought—but the parched, thirsty soil wasn’t the only thing suffering from lack of refreshment.

My desiccated marriage needed nurturing.

My empty body ached for children.

My thirsty heart longed for the beautiful connection of Christian fellowship.

My shriveled faith needed the floodgates of refreshment.

Upon arriving in this spacious place (see Psalm 18:19), God wasted no time in addressing these deep needs and desires of my heart. As the rain and snow fell over the years, moving this beautiful state out of drought, so too God began to rescue us from our own dearth. He began furiously writing the next chapter in our lives, pouring out blessing upon blessing, refreshment, and rest.

Slowly but surely, the bud of new, vernal life began peeking through the withered weeds.

A marriage put on the path toward restoration and joy.

The gift of three babies in just over three years (still blows my mind!!)

Friends who became like family.

A faith tested and hammered and strengthened and deepened.

As hard as these goodbyes are, they are a beautiful reminder of all the answered prayer in these years of our California dreamin’. God used the distance from Georgia to California as a means of pushing Aaron and me into greater reliance on each other, community with the body of Christ, and most importantly, into greater reliance on Him. There’s a fantastic line in a Ben Rector song that reads:

This isn’t easy

This isn’t clear.

And you don’t need Jesus till you’re here.

Those lyrics ring so true when I think of the past 5 years—and I know they will continue to ring true as we enter the next chapter.

In our man-made comfort bubble, we’re blinded to our deep need for Jesus … but in His goodness and love for us, He’s willing to pop that bubble and bring us into something better, something real. Something that blesses us, blesses others, and ultimately brings Him glory.

And while it’s painful and unpleasant when that bubble bursts and we’re thrust out of our comfort zones, I’ve learned that this is when life truly gets good.

That’s what this West Coast journey has been for us—leaving the familiar and journeying into unfamiliar, character-building, faith-testing territory. And though there have been plenty of difficulties and tears, I wouldn’t trade the experiences and the heart-changes and the relationships for the world.

So, with tears in my eyes, let me say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all you beautiful people we’ve met along the way: the friends, neighbors, co-workers, therapists, doctors, teachers, and all my fellow warrior mamas.

You became our family, and we will always carry you in our hearts. Thank you for being the Hands and Feet of Jesus to us in a time we so desperately needed it.

You’ll always have a place to visit in the good old South. Let’s sit on the front porch, sip sweet tea, and reminisce on the glistening waters of Lake Tahoe, the divinely earthy smell of wine county, and the picture perfect green of these rolling hills we’ve been blessed to call home for a season.

Much love & many blessings—

 

 

 

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things (Psalm 107:8-9 NIV).

 

Back to Basics

Hello there, dear readers—I can’t believe it’s been such a long time since I last wrote. It would seem that life has simply gotten the better of me lately.

Between traveling, attempting to sell our current home, building our new home, and preparing for the big move (and the gazillions of details involved!), I’ve fallen behind in most every other area.

All these details are overwhelming, yes, but in truth, we’ve been dealing with the emotional overwhelm of something much bigger, much greater—much more difficult to write, much less speak about … after several months of testing and evaluation, last month we received an official diagnosis for our sweet son: autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Those words, those heavy words, catch in my throat and my fingers as I type. It feels as though I’m writing about someone else’s life … surely not mine. Surely not my son!

I feel as though I’ve been stumbling around in a bad dream for the past month, trying desperately to shake myself awake and out of this reality—trying to shake off the painful weight of those three words … but to no avail.

The truth is, I’m grieving. Grieving the heaviness that those words bring. Grieving the reality that will not be ours, and the future that will be. I am a crier by nature, but these past several weeks? Well, I believe my own tears could have ended the years-long drought we’ve been experiencing here in California.

In the middle of this emotional sandstorm, I’ve found my faith taking a hit. The enemy has come at me with every possible lie and doubt in his sinister playbook.

Fighting the good fight of faith can be utterly exhausting.

I love the flowery, “Holy Spirit high” faith; the bible study lessons that give me warm fuzzies; the sweet quotes that make for a lovely set of notecards.

But this rubber-meets-road faith is a lot harder. I liken it to a final exam after a taxing graduate school class …

Do you really believe I’m good to You?

Do you really believe I see you and your son and have a good plan?

Will you praise Me in the middle of all the uncertainty & pain?

These are such important lessons, so absolutely key to the life of faith—so much so that our Father isn’t going to let us off easy. He wants us to know that we know that we know He is good.

He wants us to know and absorb and live and breathe the words of His promises, such as that found in Isaiah 43:2-4—

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior … you are precious and honored in my sight, and … I love you.

We recently traveled back to Georgia to find a new home, and that trip became such a living example of these ancient words. In detail after detail, God provided for us in remarkable ways—a beautiful home, a wonderful community, a great school for Isaiah, the resources we will need to help him, and a million other details.

That trip, which came right on the heels of the diagnosis, was a love letter to our family—it was our Father’s way of saying I’m still here. I’m still good. I still have you in the palm of My HandYou may be passing through the waters and the rivers and the fire, but I’m there every step of the way, blessing and loving you in it all.

Dear reader, the goodness of God is not manifest in the goodness of our circumstances. No, the goodness of God is manifest in the unshakeable, unbreakable, undeniable presence of a good, good God in the midst of our circumstances—be they good or bad.

God continues to hammer out the truth of that lesson in my heart—my heart that is still susceptible to the lie that God must not be good, because my circumstances are not good.

Can you relate today? Are you experiencing pain that’s causing you to question God, His goodness, and basically everything in the universe?? If so, I’m sorry. I understand that pain—and may I gently invite you to join me in getting “back to basics”?

In this season, that’s what God is asking of me. So I am focusing on going back to the basics of living out faith by:

  1. Meditating on the truth of God’s Word and His promises so as to renew my mind daily (Romans 12:2)
  2. Reading encouraging books and devotionals so as to think on uplifting things (Philippians 4:8)
  3. Giving thanks in a purposeful, measured way by writing down the gifts in each day, no matter how small (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

When our faith is shaken, we must hang onto what we know. It is a time for holding steadfast and surrendering our “control”—not a time to try and answer every question and fear we have (guilty!). It is a time to exercise quiet, childlike faith—not a time to try and discern the mind and will of God (guilty again!).

Will you join me? Let’s journey to the very center of God’s heart and there find the rest, peace, and joy we so desperately need … one day at a time … one whispered prayer after another … one sacrifice of praise upon another, until we see beauty fashioned from the piles of ashes and tears.

Blessings,

 

 

 

 

A friend put me onto this song, and it’s amazing!! I hope it ministers to you as it does to me.

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