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For three of my elementary school years, my sis and I grew up in an apartment complex with a swimming pool.  We had never lived near a pool before so the concrete, chlorine-water-filled, rectangle was a heavenly oasis to us! I met one of my childhood best friends while living there and every summer we would spend hours together in the pool.  That simple swimming pool became a place where our young imaginations ran wild and free.

My friend’s grandmother (Grams) taught my sister and I how to swim the first summer we lived there.  Of course we started out in the shallow end and later moved to the deep end.  To us, the bottom of the pool was like reaching the bottom of the ocean.  For hours on end, we made up silly little girl pool games, and our most favorite was called “tea party.”

My sister, best friend, and I began playing tea party in the shallow end because we didn’t have enough skill or courage to play it in the deep end just yet.  We would all three stay above water and talk about the tea party we would have below, who would pour the tea, who would serve the cookies, etc.  Then after we had it all figured out, on the count of three we would all cross our legs, sitting Indian-style and sink to the bottom to sit and act out our tea party under three feet of water in the shallow end.  So in about 20 seconds we pretended this glorious scene of having a tea party with friends.  Our only frustration was that we floated to the top too quickly, couldn’t hold our breath longer, and had to end the tea party too soon.

Grams overheard one of us saying something like, “I wish we could stay under longer!” Her reply began to be, “You’ve got to go deeper!”  I remember her getting in the shallow end of the pool with us and teaching us how to slowly blow out through our noses while under water and how to hold our breath longer.  Within a week we had increased our time under water and our ability to sink a little deeper.

I still can hear Grams, “You’ve got to go deeper!”  Eventually we moved to the four feet section of the pool, then the five feet section, each time getting to have a longer tea party because we could sink down further.  Finally we tried a tea party in the eight feet section, and in our underwater world below, we had huge tea parties including swimming down to knock on the imaginary door, greet each other, sit for tea, pour, sip, stir, eat, and wave a very hasty good-bye as we swam to the top! What a blast and a huge accomplishment for a nine year old in the deep end!

Today, I am telling myself and you…..”You’ve got to go deeper!”
I want to enter 2014 with this mantra….”You’ve got to go deeper!”
I don’t want to settle for the shallow end of life, of love, of God!
I want to swim in the depths and learn the lessons of being ABLE to swim deeper.
So, hold your breath, learn to hold it a little longer, go from knee-deep to waist-deep, to the waters covering your head, until you can swim in the deep end!

I remember summer days of forgetting what the shallow end looked and felt like. I remember summer days of walking right past the three feet, four feet, and five feet markers on the pool’s edge and heading straight for the eight feet end!

My hope and prayer for myself and you for 2014 is that we risk and learn and swim deeper this coming year.