Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

Author: Meredith Carr (page 1 of 10)

How to Come Down From the Mountain & Thrive

Have you ever had a “mountaintop experience”? Perhaps it was a fabulous vacation, or an encouraging spiritual retreat, or a moment of great personal joy and success.

Recently, I had my own mountaintop after attending the She Speaks conference in North Carolina. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I can confidently say the experience far exceeded any expectations I may have had.

The days were full of excellent teaching, soul-filling worship, and the most incredible Christian fellowship I’ve ever experienced. God did some amazing, healing things in my heart and gave me hope and a vision for what to do next, from a writing perspective.

It truly felt like a slice of Heaven … and then …

Monday morning came.

It always does, doesn’t it?

The dishes still pile up, the laundry still multiplies at a rate that defies all scientific principles, and—to my great dismay—in my absence, my children did not magically learn how to get along without fighting, whining, or crying. I was really hoping for that one!

It’s hard, isn’t it? This juxtaposition of mountain and valley. At times, it can feel almost cruel, to taste and see the mountain when we know our address leads us straight back to the valley.

My mind takes me to Luke 9:28-36, where we read about the Transfiguration. Jesus took three disciples (Peter, James, and John) and went up on the mountain to pray, where He was then glorified and acknowledged by God as His Chosen Son.

While there, Moses and Elijah joined Jesus in what was a beautiful image of His fulfillment of all the law (represented by Moses) and all the prophets (represented by Elijah). It was a truly glorious moment.

So glorious, in fact, it was enough to rouse Peter, James, and John from their heavy sleep—and upon seeing the awe-inspiring scene unfolding right in front of his eyes, Peter remarked:

“’Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said.” (Luke 9:33 ESV).

Don’t you just love Peter’s enthusiasm? He may not have known what he was saying—but he sure knew what he was seeing. The dazzling glory of God on that mountaintop created in Peter a deep desire to call it a day and stay right where they were.

And while we may chuckle at Peter’s passionate display, I find my heart echoing his cry after spending a few days on the mountaintop … it is good to be here. All is clear. All is peace. And I long to be done with the darkness of the valley.

Oswald Chambers captures this tension beautifully:

“When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, ‘Oh yes, I believe God can do it,’ but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief.”

The demon-possessed valley. It certainly feels that way, doesn’t it? After the mountaintop comes the reality of life, jobs, parenting, relational conflicts, illness, and any number of other trials.

We face the task of taking what we learned on the mountain and applying it to the fog-laden valley. It’s all too easy to forget the lessons learned, but I believe it’s possible for us to come down from that mountain and thrive right here in the middle of our valley realities.

Here are three practical things we can remember when we’re coming down from the mountaintop. May these encourage and strengthen you in your valley days:

Remember Where You Are Headed

There’s a reason the mountaintop experiences are so powerful and soul-filling—they reflect the reality of where we are headed!

Our hearts were created in the perfection of Eden (Genesis 1:27), and they are headed for an eternity in the perfection of God’s new Eden (Revelation 21). But for now, we are living a life “between two gardens,” as Lysa TerKeurst so beautifully puts it.

When the beauty of the mountain is fading in the midst of your return to everyday life, remember that there will come a day when you’ll never have to make that long, dreadful hike back into the valley.

Your valley days are numbered! Let this truth infuse you with strength to live each one of those valley days in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.

Remember the Work Jesus is Doing

Peter said it was “good” for them to be on the mountaintop—and while that may have been true in the moment, it was not good for them to stay on the mountain.

Jesus still had work to do—important, divine, soul-saving work. And so did Peter. And so do you.

Our God’s heart is that all people would come to know and love Him. As His children, it’s our job to share the good news of the gospel while we are here on earth and fulfill the plans God has for us.

We can thrive in the valley by remembering and valuing God’s ultimate good and His mission for us in the here and now—that we would go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

Remember the Gift of Perspective

One of the best things about being on the mountain is the ability to see above all the sticky, prickly weeds that trip us up and wear us down. If you’re like me, the small things of the daily grind tend to consume my mind all too often.

That unkind e-mail. That difficult conversation. Even that super long Starbucks line can throw me off when I don’t have my priorities straight.

On the mountain heights, we’re finally able to see above the mess and senseless stress of the valley and grab ahold of what really matters in this life—knowing God and fulfilling His will on this earth.

Instead of mourning the loss of the mountaintop, let it be for you a treasured experience that keeps your perspective in check. When your heart begins to waiver again at the small things, recall the glorious reality of what you saw on the mountain.

* * *

God is about bigger, greater things—and He’s calling us into that! May we walk into the valley with confidence, knowing we do not walk alone as we carry out His work on this earth.

With Grace,

A Prayer for the New School Year

Hello sweet readers, and how have we made it to August?? Wasn’t it just May and we were all losing our minds with the craziness that is end-of-school? Phew . . .

I hope your summer was full of sun, fun, and new memories made. As a child, summer equaled pure joy. As a mom, there is plenty of joy–but oh, there is plenty of hair-pulling!

As hard as it can be to let go of the lazy days of summer, I am ready for a new start, a new structure, and a little time to breathe deeply and sip coffee in silence (can I get an Amen?).

Even so, my heart is anxious as we approach the start of school. Our big kids are heading to kindergarten–their first taste of “real” school. Their first step in the long journey of finding their way outside of our home and into all that God has for their own lives (cue the mama tears!).

So as we begin a new year, I wanted to offer up some words of prayer over our babies. I have been praying these words over my children, my nieces and nephews, and children of my friends. And now I pray these words over you and your kiddos.

May we walk with confidence and joy into this new season, clinging ever-so-tightly to His goodness and provision!

With Grace,

 


A Prayer for the New School Year

Dear Heavenly Father,

As a new school year approaches, we thank and praise You for being the God who sees us (Genesis 16:13). You see our children and know all that lies ahead. We thank You that they do not walk alone as they walk into the classroom, but that You go with them always (Matthew 28:20).

Lord, we pray against fear and anxiety in their little hearts and ask that You would surround them with Your protective presence (Isaiah 41:10) and let Your peace reign in their hearts (Colossians 3:15).

We pray too for our hearts, that we would not let anxiety overwhelm, but instead bring You all our hopes, fears, and requests, that Your peace may rule in our hearts as well (Philippians 4:6-7).

Father, we ask that You would provide all they need, to thrive and flourish in this upcoming year—for You are the God who provides (Genesis 22:14).

We ask that You would protect their hearts, minds, spirits, and bodies in each day of this year, for You are the One who guards and protects their steps (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Father, we ask that You would bestow supernatural courage over their lives, as they face challenges, trials, heartaches, and difficult decisions. May they walk with a courage that comes from knowing You are God, and You are good (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Jesus, give them a heart that longs to know You more in this school year—a heart that trusts in Your good and unfailing plans for them (Psalm 138:8; Jeremiah 29:11). Draw their tender hearts to You, and may Your Word be the light that guides them (Psalm 119:105).

We ask that as parents, You would give us the wisdom we need to guide and parent them through everything this season holds (Proverbs 2:11). May we also be given the courage we need to love and lead them through trials as You would have us do (Psalm 34:19).

Father, thank You for loving our babies even more than we do—help us trust in Your heart of goodness toward us (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 145:9).

May all we do and say glorify Your name (Colossians 3:23) as You lead us in Your way everlasting—

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Facing A Shattered Dream?

If so, head on over to Proverbs 31 today, where I’m sharing some encouragement!

With Grace,

On Birthday Parties & Grief

I recently came across a powerful quote from C.S. Lewis, and its wisdom resonated deeply with me:

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

I read this on a day when grief felt overpowering—a day we attended a birthday party with our young autistic son.

You may be thinking, A child’s birthday party and grief? How in the world do these go together?

But sweet reader, for many of us with special needs children, birthday parties can be tantamount to torture. Where you see fun, we see landmines.

Loud noises, lots of children, all the sugar, new and overwhelming sensory stimuli—basically, all the things that can lead to a meltdown of epic proportions.

So when my precious son did indeed begin melting down in the highly acoustic lobby of the trampoline park, I was done. Some days, I feel strong and competent as a special needs mama. But that day, the curious and judgmental stares from parents pierced me.

Grief sunk my weary soul. I slipped off from my husband to wipe the tears stinging my eyes and attempt to compose myself before devolving into an “ugly cry.”

And while I could wipe away the tears, I could not wipe away the heavy weight of unmet expectations. I could powder over my Rudolph-red nose, but not the sting of disappointment.

Sometimes, the hardest dreams to let go of are the ones we don’t even realize we’re carrying. I can’t recall ever consciously dreaming about what birthday parties would look like with my children … and yet, expectations planted themselves deep in my heart nonetheless.

I wonder if you can relate? Maybe your dreams of a happy marriage have smashed into pieces against a wall of infidelity. Maybe you’re still waiting on the children your heart felt sure would come. Maybe illness prevents you from pursuing a dream you just knew came from God. Or maybe financial pressure has squeezed every last ounce of dreaming from your soul.

Every time we’re forced let go of a dream or an expectation, grief comes rushing in. And as C.S. Lewis so wisely observed, our grief gives way to fear. What will the future look like—in this job, this marriage, this illness? It isn’t going to look like I thought it would—so now what?

In the book of Genesis, we read about Joseph, a man who was well acquainted with the shattering of dreams and the agony of asking now what?

After dreaming he would be lifted high, he ended up tossed in a well by his own brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of assault, and sitting in a prison with no hope of ever escaping.

If anyone had reason to grieve the death of his dreams, it was Joseph. And yet, all along, those dreams never died. Only his expectations of how they would manifest.

We get to read the thrilling story of how, in the end, God did indeed elevate Joseph, and his brothers did indeed bow down to him (see Genesis 42). God paved the way to provide for the house of Jacob in the midst of famine, all of which ultimately let to the birth of the Nation of Israel. In this, we see a much bigger plan playing out:

“But Joseph said to [his brothers], ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.’”

Genesis 50:19-20 ESV, emphasis added

I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that Joseph had no idea what hung in the balance of his dreams. Like us, his dreams probably began and ended with himself. But God is about so much more—for you, for me, and for this world He created and loves.

Sweet reader, do you see a dream dying? Let me encourage you to grieve the loss. True healing begins with grief, so give yourself time and space to grieve the loss and feel the fear … but oh, sweet soul, then let go of your fear and disappointment.

Perhaps your dream is taking a different form than you originally thought. But as Joseph learned full well, dreams in the hands of our Lord are far more beautiful and powerful than we could ever imagine.

Today, my heart prays that we may both have the courage to trust God’s good and loving heart, even as we wait with no clue what the future may hold. There is so much more at stake in God’s sovereign plan for you and for me.

For me, birthday parties are simply one example in a long line of things that will likely not look like I thought they would as I mother my son.

But I know my God is working out something bigger and greater, a plan that reaches beyond my own life. The same is true for you today, too, sweet reader.

And that is something to celebrate indeed.

With Grace,

Coming Forth As Gold

My sweet, spunky middle child is, at 5 years of age, already a nature lover. She’ll hunt down and collect any number of “best friends” from our yard and then doggedly present me with a multitude of reasons why these critters should be allowed inside the house (that answer is always no).

So recently, my husband decided to foster this love of hers by purchasing a butterfly garden kit. Upon arrival, we found a literal cup of caterpillars, a butterfly habitat, and a few sparse but crucial instructions on what the heck to do with these things.

We all watched with excitement as the days passed. Our eyes witnessed these tiny caterpillars gorge themselves on whatever was in that cup, until they became thick, chubby little things that attached to the top of the cup, spinning themselves into delicate, crusty chrysalides.

I followed all the instructions. I checked all the boxes. I did everything the “right” way per the guidelines … but as the days passed and these chrysalides hung, a sense of dread settled in my gut.

They looked entirely and thoroughly dead.

There they hung, so quiet, so still. A few of them even turned a deep shade of dark gray, and I thought ok, those ones are most definitely dead.

As I watched them hang, wrapped in their own darkness, I felt convinced I’d made a mistake. I must have read the instructions wrong—how will I explain eight dead chrysalides to my children??

And that’s when the whisper of the Holy Spirit thundered into my heart: child, this is what you do with Me. I speak, you follow, and then you doubt My Word when things start looking bleak. I am doing a great work in you, and you must trust the process.

Can you relate? Maybe you feel like that chrysalis today. Locked up to faith, squished inside a cocoon of darkness, gingerly hanging by a thin thread.

Maybe you’re seeking a relationship with Jesus, doing your best to follow His Word, and yet nothing appears to be going according “to plan.”

Maybe you’re so desperate for change and new life, you can literally taste it on your tongue, even if it feels like a pipe dream.

And maybe it looks, for all the world, like there’s death in front of you. Your marriage. That friendship. Your job. That wayward child. The healing that won’t cooperate.

When the path in front of us rolls out stagnant and still, it’s so easy to wonder God, did I hear You right? Can I still trust You? Do You truly love me and have my best interest at heart? Do You even see me suspended here?

But in the stillness, in the silence, in the hanging upside down by a thin, woven thread, a miracle is underway.

In the secret, quiet places, so much is happening. Fresh life spins anew—indeed, our Creator is sculpting an entirely new creature.

And what our Father can do in nature, He can certainly do within our hearts. The new life we desire, the change we crave—it’s coming on the other side of dying to the old.

Job certainly knew something of dying to the old. After losing his health, wealth, and family, all looked lost for him (just ask his friends). But as he looked around at the darkness and death surrounding him, he clung to his God’s goodness:

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 (NIV).

And come forth as gold he did, with a truer understanding of God’s depth, goodness, and sovereignty. We have no idea what treasure, what beauty, awaits on the other side of the furnace.

To my great surprise, I watched in awe as those cakey, seemingly-dead chrysalides split apart. Pristine, beautiful life emerged. Even those dark gray ones—the ones that looked really dead—transformed into delicate, lovely butterflies.

One right after another, stillness gave way to fluttery, nascent life. Darkness turned to light. And we released them with joy and in celebration of my nature-loving daughter’s birthday.

Sweet reader, let us learn from our Father’s glorious creation. Sometimes, we have to endure the dark to make our way to the light. Sometimes, what looks for all the world like death, is actually the process of metamorphosis in our own hearts.

And let us remember that the change and new life for which we’re desperately aching can emerge in the blink of an eye, in the breaking of a shell.

Today, take heart in the truth that God is spinning new life in the secret places, just below where the eye can see.

Hang on. Just like those little chrysalides, hang on in faith, until you yourself emerge in brilliant new life: a living, breathing witness to God’s redemptive power.

In Him,

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:4 NIV

Can We Change The Way We Talk About Abortion?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave recently (which, good for you if you have, I’m jealous!), you’ve no doubt witnessed the emotionally charged, divisive debate surrounding abortion and the bills recently passed in Alabama and Georgia.

Y’all, I don’t know about you, but these are the times when I simply want to burn all social media to the ground. Log off, walk away from it, and pretend it’s 1998 again and I’m blissfully unaware of all the opinions.

Maybe you feel the same. Wherever you land on the pro-choice/pro-life debate, I’m sure your beliefs are strongly held (I know mine are). And it can be extremely difficult, hurtful, and relationship-straining to witness or participate in a debate about this issue. Even basic conversations can turn tense and ugly in the blink of an eye!

What I really want to talk about is not abortion itself—but rather, how we talk to one another about abortion. Because it is wearing my heart right out, grieving me to the core, and making me want to run and find that cave some of you have been living in.

Yes, my heart is grieved over the act of abortion. My heart longs for a world where such a thing ceases to exist because there is no need or desire for it. As a follower of Jesus, I value life and believe that our Creator God values life–women, men, children, babies–as a reflection of His very image (see Genesis 1:27).

But my heart is also deeply grieved over how deeply divided and nasty and polarizing our speech has become over this issue.

Everyday, I see memes, opinions, articles, posts, etc., full of hatred, pride, absolutism, and judgment. I’m sure you’ve seen it too.

We are screaming silently at each other from behind our computer screens. Your rights. My rights. Your body. My body. Your convictions. My convictions.

And we are not hearing one another above these screams. Not in the least. We come at each other, keyboards blazing, and wonder why the other side refuses to see our point of view. Meanwhile, the raging gulf between us only grows deeper and wider.

Friends, there has to be a better way. There has to be a way to hold conviction and respect in balance. When we approach this topic with legal ferocity, determined to “win” the debate, we ultimately end up with no winners at all. Babies lose. Women lose. Friendships lose. Relationships lose.

When did we lose the ability to respectfully disagree? When did we stop listening to each other? When did we start spewing shame at the opposing view?

Dear reader, I know abortion is an incredibly sensitive, hotly debated issue. The pain runs deep, the stories even deeper, and the convictions deeper still.

And while we can’t necessarily do something today to bring about immediate change on the issue of abortion—whatever side of the debate we’re on—we can absolutely, right now, change the way we talk about it with each other.

We can hold tightly to our beliefs and still love the person standing on the opposite side of the debate.

We can pray and act for the change we desire to see and still listen to the stories of others with a humble, open heart.

We can vote our convictions and still show respect for the voter who checks a different box.

As the debate ahead rages, may I gently challenge you—as I challenge myself—to pause before posting?

Pause, and examine your words through the filter of wisdom, which “possess[es] knowledge and discretion(Proverbs 8:12 NIV, emphasis added). I think our social media feeds could benefit by infusing a little discretion into these difficult conversations and debates.

So please—can we pretty, pretty please, change the way we talk about this issue? I’m not asking you to change your opinion. I know it is tightly held, as is my own.

May we soften our approach to one another as we swim these contentious waters. And may we make Colossians 3:12-14 our filter for every action and word:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone … And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:12-14, NIV (emphasis added)

Blessings,

Keeping A Light On In The Dark

I don’t know about you, but for me, end-of-school year brings with it a generous serving of mixed emotions, piled high and spilling over.

Crossing the finish line of another year evokes elation, exhaustion, nostalgia, sadness, and sweetness. When the endless obligations cease and the air quiets down once again, a time for reflection rushes in—whether welcomed or not.

For us, this year brimmed full with personal growth … and I know I don’t have to tell you that “personal growth” is a pretty, polished way of saying, we’ve been through the ringer and somehow we’re still standing and hopefully we learned a lot through the process.

Because isn’t that how it goes? I’ve yet to meet a person who experienced deep personal growth without the catalyst of pain moving things right along.

Oftentimes, it’s hard to even see the growth among the thick, prickly weeds.

I can look around and easily see the wreckage. The broken relationships, the dashed hopes, the things that turned out so differently than I’d expected or planned. These things block my path and cloud my mind, speaking the language of false truth into a fragile heart.

Sometimes, a school year can leave you feeling bruised.

Sometimes, a relationship drains your emotional reserves.

Sometimes, a season of hardship seems to drag on, far past its expiration date.

And sometimes, the light feels so very dim, as though the palpable darkness of fear and uncertainty threatens to swallow you up whole.

Perhaps you had a great year—your kids are thriving, your relationships are singing, and life is bee-bopping right along. This is an occasion to give praise and thanks to God!

But if it hasn’t been great—if you, like me, find yourself squinting to catch a glimpse of light in the murky world of “personal growth,” may I speak a word of comfort to your weary heart?

God is still working in the dark.

No matter how dim the light, no matter how challenging the season, our Father stands near, enfolding us in His trusted Hands.

In Psalm 139, David speaks to the Father’s nearness and the truth that no season or challenge or darkness can hide us from His eye:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? … If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Psalm 139:7, 11-12 (emphasis added)

What an incredible promise we can sink our teeth into. Just above the darkness pressing down thick and heavy, our Father sees it all in light. He sees all our pain and trial and growth as it truly is: carefully held in place by His sovereignty and ultimately woven together for our highest good (see Romans 8:28).

So hang on, dear reader. If you’re swimming in a season of darkness, hang on to the flickering light of His steadfast presence and love.

When you can’t see the way forward, trust that He sees, because all is light to Him. “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all  (1 John 1:5 NIV).

Focus on the simplicity of taking the next right step, trusting Him to illuminate the way as you walk.

And remember, always, the truth that seasons change. Your darkness will not always be dark. But in the darkness, there are lessons waiting to unfold and treasures ripe for unearthing (see Isaiah 45:3).

So while you wait and while you mine the shadowy places, let the light of His steadfast love illuminate the path forward—one small, faithful step at a time.

Be Blessed,

Hey Mama–It’s Ok To Feel Angry Sometimes

Hello, dear readers!

Today’s post is for all my hard-working and exhausted mamas out there—all of you staring down the end-of-school and making your massive “To Do” lists (and checking them twice…or every hour on the hour!).

I confess, the stress of this time of year gets to me. I’ve found myself short on patience more days than I care to admit. I’ve found myself low on grace and high on bedtime apologies. I’ve done the forbidden “wishing time away” by dreaming of a calmer day.

And I’ve threatened to bolt to Mexico if slapped with one more request for money, toys, gifts, or party food. Who’s coming with me?

Lest you forget, let me gently remind you: this motherhood gig is hard.

The unseen, unacknowledged, unrelenting work you do day in and day out is a high and holy calling. Those sweet “Pampers” commercials can sometimes lull us into forgetting just how challenging this work really is! And just how many emotions—like anger—it can stir up within us.

If you’re anything like me, the fatigue and monotony tempt me to forget the gravity of this work. And oh, how our enemy loves to divert our eyes towards others in a destructive game of comparison, whispering lies about the greater value of other people’s work.

But do you know what? Our work as moms actually mimics the work of Jesus like few other professions! In Mark 10, we read an account of how Jesus’ disciples were vying for praise and honor, arguing over who would sit at His side in Heaven.

And as Jesus so beautifully does, He turned the disciple’s values on their head, teaching them a lesson they—and we!—needed to hear:

“[W]hoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:43-45 NIV (emphasis added)

Jesus’ entire mission on this earth was to lay down His life for others. He calls us to follow Him by doing likewise, and that’s exactly what you are doing—every time you fill a sippy cup, fix a meal, rock a baby, read a story, take your kiddo to rehearsal, help with homework, bandage a boo boo, or meet any of their million and one needs.

So hear me, sweet mamas—laying down our lives is no easy task! It brings us face-to-face with the selfish parts of our own hearts, as well as our inner toddler because—let’s just all admit—we each have one. She may not stomp her feet and throw herself on the ground, but she sure wants to.

Today, offer yourself lots and lots of grace. Maybe you’re in a tough season where that baseline frustration and anger just simmers under the surface, bringing with it a heaping side of shame. But instead of allowing that shame to compound your frustration, try staring it straight in the face—it’s trying to tell you something.

If you’re willing, your anger can be a tool that reveals where your heart is most needing Jesus. Perhaps you can steal away for a few minutes and ask yourself these questions:

Am I lacking margin in a particular area? The old airplane metaphor is a tired one, but it rings true: you must put on your oxygen mask before you can help others. As moms, we may not have the time we’d like to invest in self-care and the things that fill our tanks, but it’s so important to create a little breathing room.

It may appear loving to entirely neglect yourself on behalf of your children … until the wheels come falling off because you’re entirely exhausted. Look for pockets of time you can use to practice not only self-care, but also soul-care by spending time in the Word and allowing God’s truth to cover your heart.

Am I believing lies about myself or my role as a mom? We’re often led to believe that motherhood is “the thing” that will fulfill us … and when it doesn’t (because it can’t!), it’s no wonder we’re left feeling irritable and disappointed.

Similarly, when we buy the lie that our work is less valuable because it’s largely unseen, we’re left wallowing in an ugly futility that paves the way to anger and frustration. Our enemy is so tricky in the lies he presents as truth, it’s no wonder we’re admonished to be alert and aware of his schemes (see 1 Peter 5:8) and to take captive our every thought (see 2 Corinthians 10:5).

Am I letting my inner toddler run the show? The truth is, sometimes we’re just battling our own selfish desires. I think of how often I talk with my children about learning to cope when they don’t get their way—and yet this is a skill I too am learning to embody. Thankfully, Jesus is greater than our fragile, fallible hearts (see 1 John 3:20), and He alone can provide the strength we need to walk through motherhood with patience and grace.

So today, stop and take a deep, slow breath. Remember that you are human, and it’s okay to feel angry. Reject the enemy’s anchor of shame, and let that anger help lead you out of the “ick” and into a deeper, sweeter fellowship with Jesus.

With Blessings & Solidarity,

~Meredith

“You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are!”

Psalm 16:5-6

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,

 

 

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