28 February 2010

Boy Meets Girl Meets Uncertainty...

So this devotional thing has been wonderful thus far. I really like my Woman's Devotional and LOVE the Love Dare: Day By Day. They are both really insightful and have great ways to apply God's Word to daily life. This week, The Love Dare challenges us to live a life of love and truly be examples of Christs love for us. They had a really cool activity where you take 1 Cor 13:4-7 and replace the words "love" and "it" with your name. For me it reads:
"Claire is patient, Claire is kind.
Claire does not envy, does not boast.
Claire is not proud, is not rude.
Claire does not demand her own way.
Claire is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs.

Claire does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Claire always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Isnt that cool? Of course it will read differently for you. But it is such a tangible way to embody how we are supposed to lead Christlike lives. This devo was probably my favorite part of the entire week!

On another note, this Boy Meets Girl book is spurring a lot more questions than it is providing answers. Have any of you read this book? It seems so radical. Its causing Aaron and I to question our motives and our relationship. But when our love for each other is not in question, should we be worrying about it? I mean there are some really great points that Harris makes that make a lot of sense but I'm not sure I agree. Of course we are only on chapter two but the controversy seems to come from this idea that [in a nutshell] says that you shouldn't date/court until you're ready to consider marriage. Well personally, we know marriage is the ultimate goal but we have several other goals we'd like to meet in between that time. Does that mean it's wrong for us to be together?? Ahh I dont know. Thankfully Clint and Kelsey have come into our lives and hopefully they can shed some light on the situation. Anyone else, feel free to chime in.

Lastly, [this is a short one this week] PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be praying for Aaron's momma. She's having complications with treatment for her auto-immune disorder. It's a scary time for the entire family. God is the great physician and I know He still works miracles.

Well, Im off to study the Word, yo. :)
Thanks for reading. And please, prayers and input is MUCH appreciated!!

p.s. For the other ex-Cons... we sang this song in church and I would have cried had it not been my turn to write prayer requests. I loooove this song. It was so powerful to sing with yall. [Thanks for the vid Tour J]


So just a little follow up from earlier today. I got the chance to talk to Clint about my concerns over what this book is saying and he was quick to point out that no matter what, your goal should not be marriage or a career or a family, but Jesus. Our ultimate goal and purpose is to serve, love, and honor Christ in what we do. God will make a way and will use wherever we are at for the greater benefit of His kingdom.

I feel better about this. [Yea Clint it really does take the pressure off :) ] I know that giving up control and giving it all to God is all about doing my best to follow His Word and listen for guidance.

Yay. I'm happy. :)

22 February 2010


I am so excited because today is the day I start my new devotional! I began reading Jane Syswerda's book: The Women's Devotional Guide to the Bible: A One-Year Plan for Studying, Praying, and Responding to God's Word. Today I read the first three chapters in Genesis.

I cant help but realize what a loving God we serve. In His awesome splendor created this beautiful bountiful Earth and gave us the animals and plants and the land and sea and sky. He took such care and put so much love into making this beautiful world for us to live in. The Bible says repeatedly that God "planted" such and such for us. I don't know any gardeners but I do know that if I'm trying to grow and cultivate anything, that it takes a great deal of patience and love. What great care He must have put into making us and making this planet. It's just so cool and awesome to fathom how much He loves us. Even in our sin He was merciful and just. When Adam and Eve at from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, woman was punished with pain in childbirth and with being servant to her husband while man was punished with a life of scratching the ground for resources (which had been created to be abundantly fruitful). Additionally, man would die and return to the dust from which we were formed. But, graciously, God provided a way for us. He never said we would be unable to eat of the earth nor would we be without. He also never said we wouldn't walk with Him. (p.s. It is so awesome that God was just hanging out with Adam and Eve in the Garden.. walking and talking.. so close and intimate! Ahh I love it.) God is so amazing that even when we sin, He is loving and merciful when we are anything but deserving or worthy. He truly wants to be one with us. Not just be a part of our lives but be the reason why and be the cry of our hearts. He understands our desires and our needs and wants to provide for us and nurture us.

Another thing that really called to my heart about Genesis is the relationship between man and woman. God gave man a companion and a friend to share his life with. God could have just as easily created woman from the ground but instead woman was taken of man's flesh and was created to be man's helper. In this way, God was showing us that man and woman were designed to be together and through marriage, to become one. It's wonderful to know that God is preparing a husband for me and before I was even a thought in anyone's mind, that God had already laid out a plan for my life. To think that He has formed and cultivated an entire person just for me is astounding. What an incredible gift! to be blessed with someone. I like to think of it as God showing up on my birthday and being like "Hey Claire, so I got you a little something. I've been working on him for quite a while but I think you'll find him to be everything you've ever dreamed of..." And poof! there he is.. my future husband, my best friend, the man of my dreams.. tied up in a big red bow all for me!

Let me just take a sec to say WOW! And gush over this thought and over the wonder of our God!

... ... ... ... ...

On a similar note, this whole giving my current relationship to God is pretty scary. I feel like I dont know what to do but conversely wonder if I should be doing anything. How do you balance this idea of direction in a relationship while acknowledging that you have no control over its course? I mean certainly a godly couple has some idea of where God is taking them? But how do you know that its God and not you? I guess all I can do is pray that He will make it very clear and direct whatever direction He has planned for us. We are going to be starting a devotional together soon too. I'm just waiting on the books to come in. I also think we will be reading Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris. Those books came in the mail today. I'm looking forward to seeing how God uses these resources to point the way and to help us lead better lives and have a stronger relationship, if He wills it. It's all so exciting and anxious, I want to be in this whirlwind of feeling God's power over our relationship and I cant wait to get there. I know its going to take a lot of time and prayer but I really feel that He knows what Hes doing here.

Lastly, I wanted to say that I was really blessed this past week in that I met a whole bunch of new people and friends in Christ. Who would have thought that Zombies would lead me to a new spiritual family?? :) It was really nice to feel like a part of a fellowship again. When you've been gone from church for a while or have been going to a megachurch, that feeling of belonging is really missed. But these guys just really opened their hearts (and homes) and embraced Aaron and myself this past week. We went to their church and although it put me a little out of my comfort zone and the style of the service was foreign to me, I really felt good about being there. I am looking forward to developing closer relationships with this group and am very excited to see what God's going to do with it!

So, if you're reading this, please keep me in your prayers. Please pray for guidance as I begin these devotionals and dive back into Gods word. Pray for this new group of friends that God has led me to this week, that I may find a place that I can really call home. And also for God to bless this journey that Aaron and I are on. We have a lot of mixed feelings and emotions about it all and really want God to point the way in our relationship and in our individual lives. Additionally, please pray for Aaron's mom who is struggling with very rare health issues and is spending a lot of time in bed and at the doctors.

Finally, I hope God is continuing to show you all that you have been blessed with and that somehow something in this message about how He is working in my life can speak to yours.

The books I'm reading:

14 February 2010

Love Never Fails

I had a very interesting conversation with my best friend a couple days ago. He was worried that I was too dependent upon him. I almost instantly turned around and shot back at him for something he didn't even do wrong. Truth is... I was ashamed to really listen to what he was saying and face up to this idea that I sometimes seem like I'm not my own person.

I've always joked that I'm a serial monogamist because I've been in three consecutive long-term relationships since I was 14. Each time, I've created this identity of who I am as being that significant other's girlfriend. I feel like I take on this identity because I feel so lost as to who I am. I know that I'm smart and fun and a good friend... that I'm caring and energetic and loving and giving and all these wonderful things that God has made me but beyond that I dont really know what I'm striving for. My best friend and I talked about our separate goals and what we are aiming for at this point in our lives. As someone who pretty much plans for a living, it may surprise you to know I really havent thought much about my own short term goals. Long term is easy. I so wholeheartedly want to be a mom and a wife and to raise a healthy, loving, God focused family. But beyond graduating college and getting some type of job, there isn't much else. So until I'm in a position to be a wife and a mom.. I make it my day-to-day orientation to focus my priorities on my significant other (or significant otter :)(shout out to Jackie and Phil)).

Let me go on by saying that I am so blessed to be dating such a Godly man who I can share this part of my life with. He is so smart and really tunes into these opportunities to help support my walk with Christ. The conversation progressed into a realization that I need no other focus than to be a child of God. If I relinquish control of where I want my life to go and who I think I should be, God will shape me into the person He wants me to be and direct my life to where He wants it to go. Rather than waking up and wondering how I can show my boyfriend how much he means to me and how much I love him, I should think instead how can I honor God and show Him that I love Him.

It was very difficult being so honest and transparent in that conversation. Not because I was hesitant to be open with this man I love and trust, but because I was afraid to realize these truths about myself. I am so thankful that I do not need to have control of my life or make any attempt as to answer the question who I want to be in this world, but who I want to be in Christ.

In an unrelated conversation, my best friend and I decided fairly recently that we were going to give our relationship to God. Just try to fathom for yourselves saying that I have no control over the course of this relationship because I'm letting God take it where it needs to go. I am scared and uncertain but hopeful and at a strange peace in giving that control to God. I know and pray that God will use us to help each other grow. I have faith that if we keep focus on Him, as best as we can, that He will bless this relationship over its course. I know that God will break us up if it's His will and direct us each on to greater relationships and He will send us confirmation if it's His desire for us to stay together and build a healthy and Godly marriage. Please pray for God to work in our lives and for us to keep our focus on Him.

I am honored to add "girlfriend" to my identity as a child of God but I know that this is just a part of His greater plan for my life. More importantly, no love can replace that of our Savior and the more we try to fill our lives with the love and affection and acceptance of others without God, the emptier we become. The Bible teaches us that we need to use the example of His unconditional love for us and reflect it in our love for others. Not just love for our families, lovers, friends,.. but love for all of His little ones.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

08 February 2010

Uncomforable Situations

So it's been a couple days since the last blog. Friday and Saturday I was attempting to get all my stuff moved into my new house. For this, I was extraordinarily unprepared and still have a lot to do before this Thursday, when I have to be officially moved out. Still, I was listening for God. It can be very hard to appreciate your blessings when you are overwhelmed with the stress of life. But looking back I have to say I am so grateful. Not only for God's provision of a beautiful new place to call home and a roommate I like very much, but grateful also for Woody and Aaron and Phil and for their help with the move.

Sunday was a day full of odd little gifts. Jackie, Rebby, my wonderful boyfriend and I made the early morning trek out to Kingsville for my godson's dedication to the church. It was such a blessing to see Alyssa and Mike, they are wonderful parents and doing an awesome job raising him. I am so honored to be Noah's godmother, not to lie, I cried when Alyssa asked me because I was so excited. I'm still amazed at how big it is to be someones godmommy! I get to be apart of Noah's life for as long as I'm alive! I get to watch him grow up and be there when he becomes a big brother and starts Kindergarten and graduates and gets married and has kids of his own... Yikes just thinking about the commitment gives me goosebumps!

Most significantly, I have the responsibility of ensuring that Noah grows up knowing who God is, that He loves him, and that He wants to be a part of his life. I get to pray for him and be there for him if, Heaven forbid, something were to ever happen to Mike and Alyssa. I was so proud standing in front of that church, holding my godson, and promising to help raise him to know God.

I do have to admit, that the entire experience of participating in the ceremony really put me in an awkward situation. It's always unusual going to a new church for the first time. I have been blessed with the experience of touring with the Continental Singers while in High School, so I feel that maybe I am a bit more open minded when it comes to being accepting of new surroundings. Still, I felt very apologetic for my fellow attendees who had not been witnesses to the practice of being "Slain in the Spirit". It's not something I would regard a common practice here in the heavy Catholic/Baptist South. I'm not sure what the Bible says about it, but I know that as a member of the Methodist denomination, we don't practice it. It did not at all surprise me that it made others uncomfortable. To be honest, I was still uneasy about it but I decided to keep an open mind.

I believe that God takes you who you are, where you are, with what you have... and calls you to worship Him as you feel most comfortable. I'm telling you that this humble little church was aching for some musical direction, a drummer older than ten, and a parking lot.. but to God - the praises of that congregation fell beautiful on His ears. But it is hard to for non-believers to be receptive to God's love in uncomfortable situations. There was even a guy who chose to accept God that day but it almost seemed like the Pastor forgot about him during the prayer. He went off on tangents and with all the church members dancing around and the loud music and shouts to God, the guy kind of wandered awkwardly back to his seat in the pew.

It's situations like this where I really don't know what God is asking of me. I believe He wants us to wholeheartedly and whole-bodily yield to His awesome power. But if those practices of one church turn a non-believer off to our faith, what has it done?

Ahh lots of thoughts... blessings and love. Thank goodness He knows all... I dont think I could handle it!

04 February 2010

By Your Side

So God has blessed me with a wonderful, thoughtful, and godly boyfriend who, some time ago, decided that he was going to find a song for me. I wasn't really sure what he was talking about at the time but went along with it. Well, he ended up picking the song By Your Side from Tenth Avenue North. It's a beautiful piece of music that has beautiful lyrics to match.

If you've never heard the song, the lyrics to the second verse are:

"Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run"

You see, I was searching for love. I had been trying to find something to fill the void inside me and I kept trying to fill it with a strain of serial monogamy in past romantic relationships and failed long-term friendships. I felt very alone and was ignoring the unconditional Love of our Savior. Then He used a very hurtful experience to introduce me to my current boyfriend, a man who keeps God at the forefront of his life. I know I am a very lucky girl, but more so I am a very blessed child of the King who uses life's trials to bring us closer to Him.

I know that I do not deserve the mercies and love of our God any more than I deserve to have such a sweet and loving boyfriend. And yet, I praise Him daily for these gifts. I know that no matter what I do, I can neither run nor hide from our Father's love. He knows me, every part of me. He knew me before I was a thought, before I was someone else's dream and He knit me in my mother's womb.

He is always with us... holding us, guiding us, crying for us, and loving us. To this day I don't know why my best friend chose this song but it so clearly speaks to my heart. I know that this relationship is all a part of God's plan for my life, and He will never leave me.

God, thank you for using Aaron to help me grow closer to You. I ask that you watch over him. I look forward to seeing him become the man You designed him to be. Thank you for allowing me to share this part of his life with him. Please help us keep our relationship focused on You. Amen.

03 February 2010

Haz Llover

While walking to class this morning I found myself being very put off with today's weather. It's cold and wet and rainy. I couldn't wear my flip flops today (which I don almost daily) and I had to wear a sweater.. again, and it was utterly pointless to do my hair. Then it hit me that the rain is only gross because its an inconvenience. How selfish and unfair is it of me to take something that God decided to grace my day and this planet with and throw it away. So I decided for today's blog I would look up all kinds of good things rain does for us.

Typing in "What does rain do?" in Google comes up with some pretty snappy answers. A fellow blogger listed out five good things rain does in her life. And a kids website lists all the ways that water helps the earth. When I was on tour with the Continental Singers and was preparing for a performance in Costa Rica, we were having one of those days like today. There was a song that our Director taught us in Spanish. The lyrics are as follows:
Haz llover. Haz llover. Abre las puertas del cielo.
Let it rain. Let it rain. Open the flood gates of Heaven.
It was such a beautiful song and I found myself singing it in the car on the drive home today.

Here are some things the Bible says about rain:
Job 36:27-28 "He draws up the drops of water,which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
I love that the Bible uses the word abundant, reminding us that God consistently and without fail pours out his blessings over His children, supplying us time and again with more than we could ever need. Psalm 147:7-8 reminds us that we should be praising our Father for the rain. It is purpose is all a part of His plan for providing a planet that can sustain our existence.
Psalm 147:7-8 Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God with a harp. He covers the heavens with clouds,provides rain for the earth,and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.
And here in Hebrews we are taught that rain is sent as a blessing from God.
Hebrews 6:7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God.
Who am I to look upon Gods gifts and dismiss them as an inconvenience? God has so graciously blessed my life and has given me a beautiful home, surrounded me with loving friends, and has abundantly provided for me.

So here are my five good things I love about the rain:
5. I get to wear my sweater. Which I really do love doing. Plus it's one extra day I can wear the shirt I was going to wear today because no one saw me in it.
4. I don't have to worry about how I look today because everyone is wearing their rainy-day clothes and has rainy-day hair. Oh weather, the great equalizer.
3. One extra week till swimsuit season!
2. The rain dripping outside the window sounds beautiful! Its a perfect lullaby for the nap I sneaked in today. :) Also makes for an excellent cuddling excuse!!
1. God is blessing me and preparing the Earth!

Hey God, please help me appreciate your blessings every day and to recognize everything as a part of Your plan. Help me to look on the bright side and to use days like today to reflect what You are doing in my life. Thank You for all that You've done for me in spite of how little I deserve it. Please continue to make me stronger and help me to grow more like You! Amen.

02 February 2010

Dear Daddy

Daddy I feel so small
Yet, like a universe and its stars
turned inside out

I feel so lost
like a child who is afraid to take the road that leads home
because shes scared of where she's never been

I feel so transparent
pierced by eyes straight through and into
my broken beating heart

You knew me, you've been waiting for this
I know you have a way, but Im uncertain and fearful
knowing that I've lost control though I know I never had it

Break me down
Move me for your plan
Lead me blindly and faithfully
Still my heart
Bring peace to my thoughts
Be the Master of my desires
and the Lover of my soul

01 February 2010

Whatever He's Doing

I've always wanted to write a blog but I was never sure what I would write about or who would want to read it. Lately God has been speaking to my heart and calling me back to Him. I'll admit that for the past several years I have been trying to control my life and have been avoiding the realization and acceptance that my life is not my own. Still, amazingly, He has continued to bless my life and use those around me to help guide me and draw me closer to His love.

The title of this blog comes from a song by Sanctus Real. I really feel that the lyrics verbalize what is on my heart. I know God is working violently inside of me and I feel like I'm ready to surrender to whatever he's doing. I know I do not belong where I've built my life - and I'm giving it back to God. To be honest, I'm horribly scared and anxious to live out His plan. If you know me at all you know I have control issues. [Yes, I said it.. now let's move on..] But I trust that He will use this test to make me stronger and a better example of His love and the power and influence He can have in someones life. He's up to something bigger than all of us and I'm so excited to see what He's going to do and what He's begun.

I have been searching myself and am resolving to use this blog to open my heart and my life to God knowing that He will use it to speak to others. I ask that you pray for me and help keep me accountable to His word. And if God is speaking to you, please feel free to comment. I also would love nothing more than for you to share your story and your heart as well. I believe that God puts people in our lives to help teach us and to help us grow. We were never meant to keep our faith a secret, whether we feel we are strong or struggling. It's all a part of His plan.

So God, to whatever You're doing, I'm giving in. I'm so sorry for straying so far from You. You've always been home and I know You've always been there watching over me and loving me even when I wanted to pretend I didn't need You. Thank you for all of the wonderful friends You've placed in my life, help me to surround myself with a strong group of those who want to know You more. Thank you for my brother and sisters, help me to be an example to them. Thank you for two Godly parents who have not only shown me Your love but have reflected it in their love for each other. Thank you for blessing my life with a man who seeks Your heart, I ask that you continue to work within our relationship. Forgive me where I have wronged You, You've always been my first love. Give me the strength I need to put You first. Watch over me as I embark on this journey of becoming more like You. Amen.

Whatever You're Doing - Sanctus Real