29 March 2010

Your Hands

So let me start by apologizing for not blogging in the past like three weeks. Its been very hectic and crazy with Spring Break and midterms. But I'm on the downhill slide of this Spring semester (thankfully). I'm so very ready for a nice long summer break.
I talked with my academic adviser today and she informed me that if I take a Maymester, two Summer I classes, and three Summer II classes - that I can graduate in August. Pretty cool, huh? Well now I need to decide whether or not to pursue a summer graduation and move on to a career or to take it slow and enjoy spacing out my last 18 hours between Summer and Fall. Please be praying for this.
Spring Break was awesome! We went to the Wolf Creek Ski Resort in Pagosa Springs, CO. A really really long drive but the trip went very well and everyone came back in one piece. It was even pretty sweet cause Peyton and Larson from C.I.A. (Christians in Action) ended up going to the exact same place at the exact same time and we got to meet up and hang out. Very cool. Turns out - I'm still a pretty awesome snowboarder. And Aaron did so good! We went down a black diamond! Well.. it was mostly an accident.. but hey, it still happened! I'm so thankful that our family is able to do cool things like this. I can't wait till next year.

Alright now on to the good stuff -
These past several weeks have been full of great blessings and great hurdles. First, some blessings. Aaron encouraged me to read The Shack . I really liked the book at first but now, I'm starting to love it! It helped personalize our Lord so much for me. It provided excellent insight into the mind of God. It was beautiful. On another note, He has been so influential in Aaron's and my relationship. I'm reminded every day how lucky I am and how much fun it is to be with this wonderful person. I'm so honored and feel so overwhelmed at how much I love him.

Additionally, a new friend of mine whom we will call Darth Vader :) was baptized last night! She has such a beautiful heart and I'm so happy for her. I know God is going to use her to do great things! C.I.A. has also been a positive influence in my life. I thank God every day for Clint and Kelsey, and Blanca and Tony, and Ana and Mark, and all my new friends. I am so happy because I really feel like I'm a part of a group of people that love me and want to see me grow. Oooh aaaand I met my Adopt-O-Family on Sunday and I'm very excited to develop this new relationship. Blessings all around! :)

Conversely, not to say that God's involvement in my life is not a blessing, I'm still finding God challenging me to give complete trust and control to Him. You know that once you feel comfortable in one area of your life, that God's about to ask for more and then some. Well He's definitely been asking, but in this call to faith - I've learned so much about God. I've become so understanding of how God loves us. I've truly realized, in part because of the humanism that The Shack helped attribute to God, that God loves us unconditionally. And while this is something I've always known, I never really understood what that meant. God doesn't love us we love Him, if we do things that honor Him, or if we serve Him completely. God loves us even when we sin, when we break His heart.

Let me tell you something, if you ask to be more like Christ, God will break your heart. My eyes were opened to a situation where God called me to fully give Him control. And please forgive my ambiguity, I'm sure you can understand the sensitivity of this particular situation. But for the past several months I'd been trying to indirectly control the actions of someone very close to my heart. I assumed that I would be able to have some influence on this person and that I would be able to change their mind. But God has shown me that that is indeed not the case. God is the only one who has that power over us, and He doesn't need to use me in order to fulfill His will. (Keyword: HIS will, not my own. Remember Claire does not demand her own way.)

I was reminded that if I love this person, that I should resign myself of control of this issue and let God take care of it. If I love this person like I do, I need to respect their choices in life, even when I don't agree with them... even if they hurt my feelings and break my heart. This is how God loves. Every day His children lie to Him, cheat Him, and break His heart - but He doesn't turn away, He never leaves us, and He will never love us any less.

I made the choice to love this person wholeheartedly and I do not intend to recant my decision to respect their choices in life. Still, it's one thing to say this - it's another to live it. I realized yesterday that this person may very well spend the rest of their life doing something that hurts me and puts their own life and livelihood in jeopardy. And they may make the choice to do this at the expense of my emotions. Yesterday I questioned God's plan, I cried that I wasn't getting my way, and I felt horribly foolish for thinking God wouldn't hold me to my resolution. I know God will use every act to further His Kingdom, and that means that my own feelings and will are overtaken by a peace only a relationship with Jesus can bring.

It's a hard way to love someone, but it's the only way to truly love someone. The pain that this action causes me and the questions I have as to why this person does it really enlightened me to God's love for His children. I am so overwhelmed by the thought of it I don't think I've at all adequately put it into words. I don't think I can. But thankfully, when my heart is breaking, I know God is in control. I know He has a plan for this moment and a plan for my life. I'm honored to be apart of it.

I know that this is God calling out the sin in my life. I try to pretend that I have control and I seek to be filled through a feeling of security that is constantly failing me. I know I need to put my faith and trust in Jesus and He will be my security and my refuge. And I can have a peace about my life knowing that in spite of my disasters, God is in control. Jesus, I'm with you.

09 March 2010

In this storm

This past week God has been hard at work in my life. It's been rough and scary and I've been through a whole host of emotions but I feel so wonderful. God has really tested my faith in His plan and my trust in Him. I cant say that I know where He's calling me tomorrow but I know that right now its all in His loving and merciful hands. The biggest test of my faith was turning to God during a big storm that had been building up over the past couple of weeks. Well the storm hit very hard but I have to say that turning to prayer and surrounding myself with my brothers and sisters in Christ helped me keep focus. I am so honored to be surrounded by such a loving group of prayer warriors in CIA who lift me up. It seems as though I've found a family, especially a group of girls, and I'm so blessed. I hope that God can use me to bless their lives in even a fraction of the way that they have blessed mine.

So I've noticed a trend in the blogs that was completely unintentional where I like to post a song that pertains to the topic of the week or just has spoken to me lately. Well this week's song is Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns.

What is so powerful about this song is that it emphasizes being in such a turbulent period in your life where you don't know where to turn and having the faith to turn to God. It was exactly where I was at this week. Its important to recognize that we serve a King who gives AND takes away. And a beautiful woman of God pointed out to me a few days ago that if it is in God's plan to take something away from you, then you want Him to take it... even when your heart is broken and torn. It is such an inspiring promise to know that God has plans for you to prosper and will grant you the desires of your heart if you submit to Him and love Him with your whole heart. I am in awe that God so intricately wants to design our lives and takes care in every detail. And if it's in His plan to build me through these trials, then I praise Him for the storms He calls and say bring it on.

Additionally, I've been reading about Abraham in Genesis and God totally had me in mind when He wrote about asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son through whom God had promised to make many nations. Abraham had complete faith in God's plan and never questioned or bargained with Him. And by trusting that God knew what He was doing and loving the Lord above all else, God saw that Abraham's heart was right and called for him to stop the sacrifice. It was 100% God and by turning completely to Him during the trials and tests He presents to us we will be blessed as good and faithful servants.

And then to top it all off, God again had perfect timing. The lesson for Sunday's bible study was from Mark where Jesus calms the storm. How appropriate! And the breakout challenge was to identify the storm in your life and define why you're afraid of it and then determine what you think Jesus would say to you. It was wonderful to be able to share this story with my sisters of how He had brought this storm into my life and carried me through it.

I'm not going to pretend that this past week was easy potatoes.. but God proved Himself to me by showing me that when I turn to Him, even when it's hard to trust in His plan, that He will bless my life.

As Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn I will praise You in this storm

03 March 2010

Whatever You're Doing

"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."

God, whatever you're doing, I trust You. Please give me peace and wisdom during this time. Help me to hear Your voice. I have faith in Your plan for me. I pray that you will speak to Aaron and give him guidance. I thank you so much for the blessings in my life and am confident in Your Word.
I love you, daddy.