Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

Category: Motherhood (page 2 of 4)

P is for Perseverance

Happy Friday, y’all. This post is yet again coming to you from deep in the thick of potty training land. And can I confess something?

I’m so tired of poop.

Yes, poop.

Baby poop. Toddler poop. Dog poop.

No one talks about this in the plethora of mommy books out there. No one tells you that becoming a mom means you’re actually becoming a full-time janitor. Hallmark glosses right over this reality in their precious, glittery baby cards.

Perhaps it’s a matter of species survival. If everyone knew the full realities going in, the human race might just be in jeopardy … but, here I sit, mom to 3 precious littles and caretaker of all their poop (and, despite my tone, quite happy about it nevertheless!).

At any rate, this round of potty training makes three attempts at this gig. And maybe the third time is a charm, as I’m 3 weeks in and haven’t quit or had a nervous breakdown (yet). Trust me when I tell you this is a huge improvement over the last attempt, as you’ll remember if you’ve been reading for a while.

I’m sure you seasoned moms are shaking your heads and thinking just waitand I believe you that this whole parenting thing gets way harder—but to date, this is the hardest parenting milestone I’ve faced. Learning to smile, coo, roll, walk, run, etc. were all fun milestones that only required me to sit back and watch with pride as my child grew.

But this milestone takes work on my part as well: hard work, guidance, perseverance, and patience. And while it may sound dramatic, potty training has been a window into my soul, revealing truths about myself and how I approach the concept of perseverance when the going gets really tough, and there’s no way around it.

God’s been using the combination of motherhood and self-reflection to reveal a pattern in the way I approach perseverance: when the outcome is solely up to me, I have the grit and determination of a bulldog. But when the outcome relies on the actions and cooperation of others—like this potty training thing—I’m about as determined as a wilted flower.

In other words, I have serious trust issues and ultimately don’t trust that others can or will hold up their end of the “bargain” as doggedly as myself. This is obviously a problem, as we very rarely do life in a vacuum, all on our own. And, when we’re operating as if the outcome rises and falls on our shoulders, we’re destined to swing wildly between pride and insecurity, neither of which are decent options.

Being self-determined has served me well in some situations (like college and grad school pursuits) … but for most things in our lives, we are inextricably intertwined with others.

And God created us to be intertwined with others, to live in community and carry out the gospel in the context of relationships. Satan tells us to be self-reliant and untrusting. Our Father tells us to lean into one another:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2 NIV).

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17 NIV).

For me, it’s been a revelation that, far too often, I’m placing trust in myself versus trust in God and His good will and plan. And when I’m trusting in my feeble ability to “make it happen”? Well, it’s no wonder that I end up disappointed, frustrated, and lacking the joy with which God intends me to live. The variety of perseverance God calls us to is only possible when He is our singular source of power and focus.

Who knew poop could be so revealing?

The truth is, God is in the business of cultivating perseverance in His children. The Bible is full of references to endurance:

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:36 NIV).

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4 NIV).

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:11 NIV).

Whether it’s potty training, marriage, friendships, work, or any number of things, His desire is for us to trust in and rely on Him alone in the midst of hard circumstances that test our limits and bring us to our knees.

Not on ourselves.

Not on other people.

Not on some set of perfect, mythical circumstances.

What are you enduring today? Maybe you’re like me, and you find yourself taking the toddler-like “I can do it myself!” approach. Or maybe you feel completely overwhelmed by what you’ve been called to endure (I know that feeling too, dear friend).

My prayer for us both is that we might lean deeper, stronger, and more fully into Him Who is sovereign over all our circumstances. May we learn the lessons of faith He is trying to teach us as we wrestle with circumstances that stretch us thin or break our hearts. May we be counted among those who are blessed because of our perseverance.

And may we never, never, never give up.

Blessings,

Mere copy

Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

It was a beautiful fall day, and despite having a 3-week old and two difficult toddlers, a trip to the park followed by some light shopping sounded like a good idea. Chalk it up to post-baby hormones that leave you feeling overwhelmed one minute and like superwoman the next.

Per usual, it took about 15 minutes simply to undo the stroller, stuff all the bags underneath (you might have thought we intended to campout for several days), and unbuckle aforementioned toddlers. Nevertheless, there we were at the park, all four of us. And I was only sweating a little by this point.

But before I could give myself a nice pat on the back, the meltdown commenced … the meltdown to overshadow my son’s previous meltdowns. In front of two other moms from his preschool, no less.

#winning.

So I did what I’ve learned to do so well lately: pack it all up, scoop up my screaming child, and try to make it to the car before bursting into tears of frustration, embarrassment, and sheer fatigue.

Better days ahead … there are better days ahead, I hear it said from an endless source of people, so it must be true …

But what does it mean for these days, these sometimes grueling, painful, and long days? How are we to carry the joy of light-hearted days into the darkness of difficult ones?

I’ve written before about our struggles with Isaiah and his speech and sensory processing issues, all of which seem to have come to a head over these past 6 months. It’s been exhausting, particularly on top of the intense lack of sleep accompanying the arrival of a newborn.

I can think of few things more heavy than watching your child struggle—and not knowing what to do or how to help. These struggles have illuminated the fact that my children are a direct line straight into the center of my heart. When God needs my attention, nothing grabs it faster than circumstances impacting my babies.

In every trial and hard day with my son, I am challenged by my resolution to live in gratitude more fully, to speak with fluency the language of thanksgiving. To sing praises to God, even when my heart is heavy and hurting. As I’ve wrestled with these issues, I keep coming back to one particular scripture:

I will offer You a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the Name of the Lord (Psalm 116:17 NLT).

I can’t seem to stop meditating on that phrase, “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” and even finding comfort in it—because sometimes, giving thanks feels like a sacrifice.

Like when the news isn’t good or the bank account doesn’t add up or the loneliness is deafening or the anxiety is palpable.

Or when our mama hearts are heavy for our children. I think of my son, who always asks me to sing “Good Good Father” to him before bed (or “Good Good Good Father” as he calls it, precious thing). And the significance isn’t lost on me—singing those words over my son, when my aching heart is struggling to believe in God’s goodness…it’s a humbling and gracious reminder to sing those words over him:

You are perfect in all of your ways.

Even when those ways include doctors appointments and therapies and heartache and pain.

You are perfect in all of your ways.

Even when the way is hidden and scary and the future uncertain.

You are perfect in all of your ways, to us.

Yes, Lord, even when we want to snap our fingers and make it all better.

God isn’t going to let me forget His goodness or allow me to let go of hard-won faith—and He isn’t going to let you forget either!

sometimes-giving-thanks-feels-like-a-sacrificeIn these times when we’re feeling the weight of a heavy burden, I believe the key to navigating the churning waters is found in offering up a sacrifice of thanksgiving … to reach deep and squint to see beyond our circumstances and continue to trust. In our doubts, may we be like Job, who did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22 NIV). May praise ever be on our lips, even when it feels sacrificial and excruciating.

On the hardest of days, sometimes my sacrifice of thanksgiving is as small and meager as thanking Him for the rich color of falling leaves or the sparkling blue of an expansive sky. But I’m finding that recognizing these small, simple gifts opens the door of my heart, allowing Him to work in mysterious and beautiful ways.

What about you, dear reader—will you give thanks today, even if your heart is heavy? Will you offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving, no matter now small? I pray today that you and I find the courage and faith to raise up empty hands and offer up weary souls, to call on His Name and rest secure in His great love for us.

And even though the fire pops and cracks and threatens to burn right through us, may we offer up our sacrifices of thanksgiving to the One who loves and holds us in all things.

For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever (Psalm 117:2 NIV).

Blessings,

Mere copy

A Baby Story {And What I Learned About Waiting}

Well hello there, dear sweet readers, and Happy (Almost) New Year! It’s been a long time. Far too long.

Though it probably feels far longer to me than it’s actually been. The old saying “the days are long but the years are short” rings distinctively true with a newborn and two toddlers at home!

And can I tell you something? I’ve missed you. And I’ve missed this space—this space that has become such a part of me.

So today, I’m dusting off the cobwebs accumulating on my laptop and in my sleep-deprived brain and jumping “back on the horse” as they say. And can I tell you something else? It feels awkward to be in this space again.

Kind of like when I picked up a tennis racquet after taking time off. It felt clunky and heavy in my hands … so please, bear with me as my words feel clunky and jumbled in my tired mind (and I’ll thank you in advance for the grace you’ll show me as I attempt to write again!).

Life has been quite the circus since I last strung words together into sentences in this place … and after much waiting and many false alarms, our precious Anniston Sinclair made her debut on the morning of Friday, September 9th. I don’t normally share pictures here, but I can’t resist a sweet one from her newborn photo shoot!

carr-32

Anni’s birth itself was fast and furious. At 3 days overdue, I saw my doctor for my weekly check-in, where an out-of-the-blue high blood pressure reading greeted me. And my doctor, who is typically calm—almost to the point of nonchalance—looked me straight in the eye and told me to go to labor and delivery that night.

I could say I was scared and angry and unsure, but the truth? I was so ready to go. After welcoming both my other kiddos before their respective due dates, I found this whole “past due” thing for the birds.

So, I went home, had dinner with my family, put my sweet kiddos to bed, finished packing up my hospital bag, and off Aaron and I went.

It was late, quiet and still in the world. Driving under the cover of darkness and bold, twinkling stars made me giddy with excitement and anticipation. It gave me time to think and accept all that awaited me. In each labor, I’ve found there was a distinct “moment” in time where I surrendered my mind and my body to the arduous, beautiful, terrifying process of labor.

Let’s do this, I thought.

Of course, when you show up in any state other than just about to give birth, there’s a whole lot of waiting involved. So, we waited and walked the halls and cracked nervous jokes, and before we knew it, we were settled in. Once my very pregnant body got a taste of Pitocin, it was go time.

And six of the most intense, painful, incredible hours later (no epidural or pain meds, people!), we welcomed our sweet Anni into the world. Ok, twist my arm, here’s another picture:

carr-19


Anni’s birth may have been fast and furious, yet the weeks leading up to it were anything but. Weeks of prodromal labor left me physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. It’s one thing to be up all night snuggling and feeding your newborn…it’s quite another to suffer a few hours worth of contractions that leave you awake and hopeful, only to die out with a teasing “gotcha!”

The result was a maddening cycle of no sleep and false hope. It was a cycle that revealed just how bad I am at waiting.

I always imagine myself as a patient person until I’m required to actually practice patience.

Funny how that works.

Can you relate?

Waiting is such an important part of the faith walk—kind of annoyingly so! Sometimes, life feels like one long series of various waiting rooms. But truthfully, it’s in those waiting rooms where the good stuff happens: the change and character development and depth of faith that we so desire (but oh, if only it could come more easily, right?).

Shortly before Anni’s birth, one of my devotions discussed the importance of naming things in our lives (as written about by John Eldridge). The basic idea being:  what we call something has incredible power over how we actually react to it.

This principle smacked me upside my highly impatient head, as I realized I kept calling those final pregnancy weeks miserable, frustrating, and ridiculous. Not surprisingly, I went about those days with an attitude reflective of such names.

In retrospect, those days were anything but ridiculous—and while I may have been a little miserable and frustrated, in truth those days were sacred, full, and beautiful, as God worked the final stages of the miracle of Anni’s life inside my belly.

And in the “fullness of time” (see Galatians 4:4), she was born, and just like that, the waiting was over … and I learned a valuable lesson in the power of naming and its ability to shape my entire outlook (one I’m still working on incorporating!).

What about you—how have you characterized difficult seasons of waiting? What names have you given those seasons? I hope you’ve been better than I’ve been … but even if not, rest assured that grace, grace, and more grace abounds to us all in Him!

We just celebrated Christmas, the joyous birth of our Savior. And if we learned anything in this season of Advent, it’s that He was beyond well worth the wait. I can only imagine the choice names Mary could have bestowed upon her circumstances as she awaited the birth of God’s Son . . . but scripture indicates that Mary was a young woman of mature faith who treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19 NIV). May the same be said of you and me!

As we move into this new year, I challenge you—as I challenge myself—to begin paying attention to how you name circumstances in your life. May we resolve to view our lives through the lens of His sustaining grace, sufficiency, and loving sovereignty, no matter what waiting room in which we find ourselves.

Be blessed, dear reader—

 

Mere copy

 

 

Pregnant Pause

Well, dear readers, the time is drawing very close for this baby girl to arrive … thus, it’s also time for me to take a step back, close the computer for a bit, and focus on enjoying and surviving the intense, beautiful time that follows the arrival of a new baby.

I’ve written before about my struggle with accepting limitations, and a part of me senses those same old feelings creeping up now.

I want to be super woman: I want to keep writing every week, keep the household running, keep homemade meals on the table, keep my home clean, etc. etc. But after two experiences of attempting such an endeavor, I’m choosing to be wise and learn from the past … I simply can’t!

And that is perfectly fine.

I have so enjoyed this season of writing over the past year. It has been a short but fantastic season and time with the Lord—in the midst of the chaos of raising Irish twins, He provided time each week to meet with Him and organize a few mostly-coherent thoughts. It has been a stream of refreshment in the midst of the sometimes-parched land of mothering young children.

And now I have a little perspective—now I know the time for regular writing will come again. Schedules will eventually even out and align, a new routine will eventually be found, my brain cells will eventually recover from hormones and insomnia and sheer exhaustion …

But I’ve also learned that the tiny, precious cause of such hormones and insomnia and sheer exhaustion will pass as well—quickly, far too quickly, really.

And so I want to soak up every minute with this new baby—every minute of the thrilling, exhausting ride. I want to clear my plate and focus on my babies, my gracious and selfless family who will be here helping us stay sane, and whatever lessons the Lord has to teach me in this third round of new motherhood.

I have poured out, and now is a time for God to pour back in. I have spoken, and now is a time to listen.

Sometimes, we must put one dream on hold to attend to and fully enjoy another … writing will always be a dream and always be a part of my life. Yet these babies are also my dream come true—God’s promises fulfilled, in the flesh, in my weary arms and bursting heart. I recently saw a quote that read:

Don’t forget the days you prayed for the things you have now.

Such true and poignant words. Such a necessary reminder, as we each carry around in us remnants of our Israelite spiritual ancestors. We have inherited their restless, desert-wandering tendencies that sometimes render us seemingly incapable of remembering God’s provision and deliverance.

I don’t know about you, but I long to learn from their example. I long to have a thankful heart, and one with a sharp memory that will recall all of God’s promises fulfilled, even when my fallen self tends to forget.

So as I press “pause” on the blog, I am filled with a peace and steadiness, because I know the words of Psalm 138:8 are true:

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of Your hands (NIV).

This promise is true for you too, sweet reader—is there something in your life today to which you’re holding on with an iron grip?

Are you afraid to lay down a dream today? For a husband, a child, a calling, restored health, healed relationships, relief from seemingly unbearable circumstances?

Let me encourage you to lay it down—let go of that dream and take hold of your Savior’s Hand instead. He will hold your dreams. He will establish your ways.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite verses from the Psalms, one that I pray over this dream of writing … and I pray it speaks to your heart today and becomes a promise to which you too might hold:

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the works of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17 NIV).

I can’t thank you each enough for reading, commenting, and encouraging me over this past year as I’ve poured out my heart on the pages of this blog. Lord willing, “I’ll be back” as the good ‘ol movie quote goes …

But until then, grace and peace be with you, dear reader … we’ll chat in this space once again, one day.

In the meantime, be blessed!

Much love,

Mere copy

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

As we rapidly approach the arrival of baby girl, I’ve been thinking a lot about newborns. They are truly beautiful, miraculous creatures. Staring into the face of a brand new human easily evokes words such as “heavenly,” “divine,” and “perfect.” When holding the squishy, flawless body of a newborn, the words of Psalm 139 ring undeniably true:

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV).

But what about when that precious newborn arrives in an unexpectedly broken package, or when brokenness manifests as that child grows?

What about the toddler battling cancer?

Or the newborn baby girl fighting for her life against a devastating genetic disorder?

Or the young boy locked in the world of Autism?

Or the young girl fighting severe seizures and their aftershocks?

And what about the boy who, like my precious son, finds himself battling a speech delay and the cascade of difficulties that come with interrupted communication? As a parent, it’s devastatingly difficult to see your child suffer or struggle—to see a brokenness that you’d give all the world to mend.

And as a parent to one of such children, you know the difficult, oftentimes lonely road that accompanies the care of such a unique child. Having a child with a special need—regardless of where on the severity spectrum that need falls—sets you on an entirely different path than other parents.

Instead of scheduling numerous play dates, you are scheduling doctor’s appointments and therapies and procedures.

Instead of celebrating every typical milestone, you are celebrating a single new word or a new skill such as pointing or simply living and breathing to see another day.

For many of us, the long journey begins with the arduous, confusing, and scary task of simply trying to discern what is going on with our child—what is the issue? What is the deficit? A diagnosis brings with it a co-mingled response of welcomed relief and unimaginable fear … and probably a lot of tears shed along the way.

Over the past couple of months, we have been in the thick of such things, as further testing and evaluation of our son brought to light some additional issues—like sensory processing deficits—on top of his known speech delay. Over the summer, it’s felt as though the rough waves have knocked us down, back to square one … just when we were getting a handle on speech and forming a solid plan, this new diagnosis has seemingly put us back to the starting line.

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

I have been wrestling with the Lord over it all—wrestling hard. Why my son? Why this brokenness? Why the brokenness in the children of so many of my friends? The “why’s?” can threaten to consume at time, even making it sometimes difficult to see the fearfully and wonderfully amid the jagged pieces of the broken.

But can I remind you of something, fellow weary parent, in case you need to hear it today? Your child—“broken” as she may be—is absolutely, positively, and without a single doubt fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in a unique way by the loving Hands of our Father. And my son—“broken” as he may be, was created just the same.

Truthfully, every single one of us is broken in some way—broken, because this world is a fallen shell of God’s original, glorious creation. Broken, because of the sin that entered our world and thew everything off balance.

And I’m beginning to see that perhaps these precious children of ours, though it breaks our mama hearts to see them struggle in certain ways, are giving us the gift of awareness of this brokenness … a gift that is driving us fully, wholly to the feet of Jesus.

I’m the first to admit, being aware of our need and our brokenness certainly doesn’t feel like a gift at first blush … it feels painful, and isolating. It can seem unfair—cruel even—to be required to walk a different, harder path than others.

But it is indeed a gift, an invitation into deeper fellowship with our Creator—a fellowship not afforded by a seemingly “easy” life filled up with lesser things along a well-paved path.

Your child and mine is a blessing, not just because we love them with every cell and breath in our bodies, but because God is using their precious lives and struggles to lead us into deeper things and impact the lives of others for good. And I firmly believe that God has plans as unique and influential as the unique needs of our children.

This throbbing, heartsick world doesn’t need to see perfect—it needs to see God’s perfect redemption in the midst of brokenness, a brokenness in which we are all participants in some form or fashion.

Only God knows the impact and influence you and your child will have on this world, as you walk your path in total reliance on Him!

So from one tired mama to another, I hope this truth encourages you day. You are not alone. I am not alone. I know how hard some days are. I know there are waves of bitterness and sadness that threaten to sweep right over you.

At times, I don’t know how you’re going to do it, mama, and I don’t know how I’m going to do it … but what I do know is that we will do itbecause we have the arms of the Father to guide and carry us through.

We are safe and secure and victorious in Him. So lift up your beautiful, tear-stained face and know that there is grace for today. And that is all we need.

He will never fail to give us our daily bread. We need only run to Him, ask, and be filled.

Blessings,

Mere copy

 

 

 

 

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 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.

Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV

On Your Firstborn’s First Day of Preschool

Dear mamas, on your firstborn’s first day of preschool,

My heart is with each of you in this season of firsts. I understand the lump in your throat and the streak of panic that arises every now and then as you prepare to send your firstborn off … I understand because I, too, have that lump and that panic.

We are in a unique slice of time here. Moms who have yet to cross this threshold don’t understand, because when you’re in the middle of babyhood, it’s hard to imagine your life will be anything but nap schedules and feeding routines and reaching the first-year milestones on time.

And moms who have already crossed this threshold tend to gently roll their eyes and think yeah, just wait until the first day of first grade … Or middle school … or high school … or [fill in the blank].

Yes, it’s only preschool—two days a week for a handful of hours. Yes, there are many, many more milestones, large and looming, to come. But that does not negate the very real emotion and significance of this seemingly small step …

It was hard to imagine it 3 years ago, but this quiet, beautiful season is coming to an end—even if for only a few hours a week. Our schedules will once again delineate between weekdays and weekends. Federal holidays will once again take on meaning. And probably for the first time since you yourself were in school, you’ll be thinking and planning within the bounds of semesters.

For those of us stay-at-home moms, this is the first step of separating from our child. For 3 years or more, our sweet firstborns have been wholly in our care. From the moment he was born, you’ve been the one loving, caring, and tending to him. You’ve been the one planning and organizing her days, living out the divine in the routine, everyday tasks of mom life.

And now we hand a small slice of that teaching, guiding, and learning into the hands of someone else. We begin helping our child peek outside the nest and see the world beyond the soft, safe feathers of home.

So I think perhaps this day is so emotional, not because of what it means in and of itself, but because of the enormous change it signifies: it is the first, small step onto a big, long path. The long path of separation. The long path of becoming his own person; of finding her own way. Of being immersed in influences other than that of your own family unit. Of learning to navigate their little worlds, baby step by baby step, on their own.

And that is why I cry. That is why my heart feels as though it might collapse on itself. This protected, precious child I’ve had the privilege of caring for now has to walk into the world and begin learning how to live in it.

There is pain in that world. There is hurt. There are hard, hard lessons to be learned, even for 3-year-olds. I’m in my 30’s, and I’m still not crazy about sharing (especially when it comes to dessert). I’m a wife and a mother and it still hurts when someone says or does something unkind, even though my adult brain can process the hurt and/or understand its origin.

As moms, we would do anything to shield our children from all hurt, if only that was possible … but it isn’t possible, and it isn’t our job, either. No, it is our job to shepherd and guide them as they enter the world—to love them with all our strength and pray that God gives us the words and the wisdom to handle the hurdles ahead.

Yes, I’m sure elementary school will be harder than this. And middle school harder than elementary. And high school harder than middle, and so on … but it all starts here.

Today.

Right where you and I find ourselves—helping our firstborn babies step their toes into the water.

So go ahead and shed those tears, mama. I know I will. Go ahead and feel those fears. I will whisper a prayer for you and for me.

Let it all out, and take it to the One who knows just what it’s like to let go and release His firstborn to a fallen world. The One who has carried your heart all this time will be faithful to carry it still … even when it leaves your body and walks through the doors of preschool.

Blessings,

Mere copy

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,

Mere copy

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,

Mere copy

 

 

 

 

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!

 

That Time I Went to “Babies R Us” Looking Like a Hot Mess

Yes, that time—as in, that time just this week.

I took my tiny minions of the apocalypse children to Babies R Us this week, splotchy-face and puffy eyes and all, and I didn’t even care who saw me or how bad I looked.

Why?

Because I was so darn tired of the slamming doors.

So incredibly tired of my son opening and closing every single door, rummaging around upstairs while I sat helplessly trying to get my daughter to flipping pee in the potty.

Tired of him dragging the rocker over to his sink and overflowing water onto the floor. Of emptying all his drawers. Of eating lotion (the third time this week). Of squirting out the rest of his tube of blue toothpaste all over the carpet, right where I’d just managed to clean up the first half.

Tired of him raiding the refrigerator and stealthily cracking open a dozen new, organic eggs on the floor and licking them up while I was—you guessed it—sitting helplessly on the floor with my daughter, trying to get her to flipping pee in the potty.

Tired of him eating chocolate syrup and squirting bright yellow mustard and unrolling a roll of toilet paper while I looked and sounded like an idiot, waving my hands enthusiastically to a song about poo. About poo, people.

And you know what? The poo still ended up on the floor, as well as the pee, where my daughter and the dogs had a grand old time splashing and squealing in it while I was cleaning up aforementioned lotion, toothpaste, cracked eggs, chocolate syrup, etc. etc. etc. Toddlers 1; Mom, 0.

But let me tell you: my house is now more secure than Fort Knox. So we should be good until my kiddos figure out how to undo all these baby-proofing devices, at which point I imagine we’ll just move to padded walls and straight jackets.

If my exasperated tone hasn’t already given it away, we have been in the middle of potty training our daughter (though I feel it’s dishonest to call it “potty training,” as my idea of potty training is that your child’s waste actually goes in the potty and not anywhere and everywhere else). And, to say it has not gone well is kind of an understatement.

To say I’m more than a little crazy and losing what was left of my mind is not, in any form, hyperbole. Seriously.

My kids are amazing. They are smart and bubbling over with personality and life. They were sleeping through the night—12 hours—by 3 months of age and never regressed.

They are not, however, potty training prodigies. And so, after much wrestling and innumerable tears, we are pulling the plug for now. I know half of you get it, and the other half is saying oh, don’t give up!

But stepping back for now is what’s best for our family.

Because I’d like to stay married.

I’d also like to keep from researching toddler rescue programs (that’s a joke, people, no need to alert CPS!).

So for everyone’s sanity, we’ll press pause and revisit the issue when we don’t have an impending cross-country flight and preschool and the arrival of a new baby breathing down our necks.


If you’ve been reading along the month of May, you know we just finished up a series all about motherhood—specifically, how to thrive in this phase of young motherhood. I have to release an ironic laugh and confess that lately, I feel I’ve been doing anything but thriving in this thing called motherhood.

And oh, how ready the enemy is with his whispers and accusations—see, you have no business writing. You can’t even practice what you preach on a consistent basis! Who are you to say anything?

Anyone else feel me in this struggle? I’m amazed at how I always seem to forget that, once God shows us truth, Satan comes right along behind Him, doing his best to snatch it all up.

It also amazes me how our enemy can use pretty much anything as a weapon against us—even something as strange and seemingly innocuous as bodily functions. But yes indeed, pee and poo have brought me to my knees—a variation on the whole “bowing down to the porcelain throne” thing, if you will.

The whole experience has shoved me into confronting truths about myself that I’d rather not confront. I’ve always thought of myself as a determined, stick-to-it kind of person, and in many ways I am …

… but I’ve also seen up close and personal my lack of persevering grit. Within just the first 24-hours, I wanted to give up a few dozen times. I wanted to take it all back, pull out the diapers again, and pretend this is something that will magically take care of itself—without intense effort on my part—at some mythical, future date (hey, a girl can dream, right?).

It feels as though I’m being forced into running a marathon, be it potty training, discipline, cultivating relationships, or motherhood in general. And can we be clear about something else?

I don’t run marathons.

I don’t run marathons, and I don’t ever want to run marathons. But the hard truth I’m learning? It’s not really up to us.

Many of us are running marathons we never intended to run—difficult marriages, difficult jobs, difficult financial circumstances, strained family relationships, troubles with children, illness and disease, and a whole host of other possibilities.

Whatever you’re facing, the tough truth is that life on earth itself is a marathon. God’s Word is filled with race-themed metaphors:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV).

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).

As followers of Jesus, we are called to run the marathons we encounter—whether or not we consider ourselves marathoners or not! This thought could threaten to discourage those of us who, like myself, would rather sip fruity drinks on a beach than train for a race …

but, the really awesome, encouraging news is that we have a divine Trainer, and thus we are not alone.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, living and active in us, we are able to dig in, persevere, and keep going through whatever circumstances we face.

The critical question becomes: in whose strength are you running your marathon? Your own, or God’s? On our own, we’re not capable—we will hit a wall at some point. I’ve been smacked across the face lately with the reality of how much I’ve been depending on my own strength, without even realizing it! Independence and rebellion have a funny way of sneaking up on us (just ask Eve).

So I say to you, as I say to myself, stop trying to run life’s marathon in your own strength. Lay it all before the feet of our Heavenly Trainer, the one who promised that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26 NIV).

You may feel so very weary and at times think but I didn’t sign up for this. I’m with you—there are things in my life for which I certainly didn’t sign up for … but we can have victory. We can have the abundant life Jesus promised.

I don’t necessarily believe the idiom that “God will never give you more than you can handle,” but I certainly do believe that God will EQUIP us to handle whatever trials we encounter. And in doing so, our lives bring Him glory as we reap the benefit of all we’re promised in Him.

Hang tough, my fellow marathoner. Sip some water, take a moment to breathe, and regroup with your very own personal trainer, who just happens to be the God of the Universe.

The prize is ours for the taking.

Blessings,

Mere copy

 

 

 

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

card front redo

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

 

 

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2019 Oceans Deep

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑