His Faithfulness Walks Beside Me

At the beginning of my fall semester of graduate school, I knew I was interested in completing my field placement internationally. I felt like it was something that God had placed on my heart for a while, and the opportunity presented itself as well with my university. However, COVID made the decision-making and planning process quite lengthy.

In a non-COVID world, we would have gotten the final decision about the placement around October and prepared everything right then and there. With the uncertainty of COVID and how it is affecting every country differently, I didn’t get the final approval to go until the middle of December. And even then, I still didn’t believe it was going to happen. I remember thinking “It’s not going to be a real thing until we land and get to our house in Ghana.”

Even though I still had that kind of feeling, I could see the affirmation and the Lord’s fulfillment in the process. I spent my fall semester living in Tuscaloosa, and with COVID, I did not really get out much. I got very comfortable with living on my own and being socially distant from others. However, there were many times where I wanted to be surrounded by a community in person, instead of online.

During the semester, I saw how God was preparing me for this internship and also just growing me for future purposes to come. Every obstacle that was thrown at me with preparing for this trip, God said, “I am greater than those small worries”. He fulfilled everything that needed to be done for me to go.

Throughout my time here so far, I have seen the evidence of God around me. Not only has God continuously protected me and guided me through this journey, but He has placed kind-hearted people around me to navigate my way as well. In most of the cars and vans I have been in, Ghanaians have Christian worship music or a sermon playing. I have also had some conversations about the gospel with others so far.

In life, I think we tend to question God’s power and comfort. If we aren’t seeing any answers or clarity, we doubt that God is with us. However, His Spirit is always with us. You can’t always see it, but we have a promise that it lives in us as Christians.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Proverbs 3:5-6 has always meant a lot to me. I haven’t always been able to see the path that God wanted me to take in life. I also haven’t always fully trusted Him when taking those steps on the path. Sometimes, I even went with my own path, but I have tried to learn over the years how to just follow and trust the steps that are placed before me.

I used to have this mindset that when I went to a different country to work, I had to do all these great things to be useful. I thought I had to fix peoples’ issues and give back to them in a major way. But, I think being a servant can also mean to just be a light to others in the ordinary. Like just having a conversation with someone and learning about their lifestyle. Or learning what your similarities and differences are.

I know for me, I put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to serving. I picture my impact in a very different way than the Lord does. However, I think the things that look little to us are still very significant to God. He doesn’t care so much about what kind of work you are doing, just your willingness to actually do it when He asks and provides for you. That goes for life in Ghana, life in the United States, and life anywhere else on this earth.

I think God takes us on many different journeys in life, to some unfamiliar areas physically and mentally. No matter where He has you placed physically, it is neither lesser nor greater than the person next to you. I used to think differently about that, but I am learning that we all have different journeys, purposes, and points in our lives. And no matter what those different moments look like to a societal standard, doing the work, putting the effort in, and having the willingness to keep going every day is significant and purposeful. He cares about your heart, not your paycheck, your rating, or your accomplishments.

Focus your attention more on the way you love than on your accomplishments in life. We love because He first loved us. Without love, life would look very different. We also wouldn’t have the gift of eternal life offered to us. Let love lead you and guide you as you take the steps that God has placed before you.

With love,

Claire

Scars and Healing

At the end of May, I got a pretty awful cut on my leg. I fell down on some concrete and from my knee to my ankle was badly beat up. I still have a scar on my knee that is still healing, but my leg looks a lot better than it did.

I remember over the summer though, I wanted my leg to heal quickly. Every time I went out wearing shorts (which is pretty much every day in Mississippi summer weather), you could tell something was wrong with my leg. You could tell I either failed or had gotten injured by some accident.

I think there are a lot of different aspects of scars and healing. Most often, we want the healing process to be quick, and we want the scar to not be noticeable after a while. We sometimes don’t want to remember the accident that even happened, and we want the pain to go away as well.

We all have scars whether they are physically noticeable or kept hidden internally. We’ve all been hurt either by a physical object or another person. And we’ve all hurt someone at some point in our life, with either our words or actions.

“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” – James 3:2

I think we get scars in life for many reasons. A major reason is to grow our character. Scars can shape us, teach us, and bring positive changes to our character. Another reason is to learn the process of healing. What that looks like, how we can heal with God by our side, and how we can move forward. But, I don’t think scars are supposed to be stared at for too long.

Sometimes, when we are hurt or we have sinned, we might think about it over and over again. We might relive the moment or relive the feelings attached to the event. We might also begin to feel guilt, shame, and grief over these scars or actions. I think it is important that we recognize when we have messed up or when we are hurt, but do not let these hurts or mistakes weigh us down too much to where we miss the grace, mercy, and goodness of God.

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:3-4

Jesus already paid the greatest debt that you owe Him with His death on the cross. Yes, we need to ask for His forgiveness of our sins, but we also need to forgive ourselves and forgive others. Maybe some of the scars you had, you caused on your own, either by not paying attention or doing something reckless. Maybe some of the scars came because of what other people did or said to you. Either way, forgiveness is key for healing. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you will forget what happened, but you are choosing to forgive the actions and to move forward with the wisdom you gained from the experience.

For my knee, I still remember what happened and how I got the scar. I just wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking. But, I pay more attention now to where my feet are going and my surroundings.

If you are in the process of healing, either by an illness, a physical injury, or an internal scar, remember that the healing process may not be a quick one. Take it day by day. Get help if you need to from your family, close friends, or professionals who can help. We aren’t meant to live in pain, guilt, or shame forever. It’s only a temporary state, but remember what you learn through the healing process. And remember God’s goodness, mercy, and love towards you as well.     

With love,

Claire

One Word for the Year

If I am ever asked to describe 2020 in one word, I think I would struggle to pick one right off the bat. How do you describe a year that has been unlike anything you’ve ever experienced? How do you describe a year that has been somewhat beautiful but also devastating? How would you describe 2020 in one word?

Just like any year, we’ve all experienced many different seasons and changes within 2020. I think this time around though, we’ve had more time to reflect on the year. When I think back to what my life looked like in January of the year, I remember feeling very anxious, overwhelmed, and somewhat lost. I didn’t know what this year was going to look like. I thought I needed to have a game plan for the year and know exactly how I wanted my life to play out. I thought I needed to fix myself in a lot of ways but didn’t know how or where to start. I felt busy, tensed, and pressurized.

I spent a few moments this morning reflecting on this past year. For me, the way I view this year is in multiple different seasons. Looking back at my journal, I had to break this year up into four different parts. This helps me to understand where I have grown and what areas of my life still need some shifting.

To answer the original question of this post, I think I would describe this year as complex. According to Google, the definition of complex is “consisting of many different and connected parts“.

I think this word could be used to describe many different years in our lives. But, the reason I chose it for 2020, is because I am starting to see how God used all the parts of this year to shift my attention, focus, and mindset back on Him.

When I look back on this year, I can see that many different struggles, months, and seasons contained different parts of my story, my growing, and my becoming. I can also see how the events around the world greatly affected my personal life and how it is related to my story as well. Most of all though, I see how I struggled with things at the beginning of the year that I don’t struggle with anymore, or at least not as much, mainly because God has shifted my view and perspective on things.

Certain things have to happen in your life in a certain way to have a certain outcome that God can later use for His Kingdom.

I’m not sure what ways or outcomes this year has brought you. But, I believe that this year was not wasted time. Some things might not have gone the way you thought. Heck, things might not be going the way you thought as you are reading this. However, God’s love is still evident even here.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. – Romans 8:27-29

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:37-39

Our Creator has always had a plan. His plan is still in process for this year as well. He is working all things out for your good. Even the things that are tough, hurtful, and difficult to overcome.

The beauty of this life is that we don’t have to have all the answers and know all the ways things will work out. Because our God already knows. He already won the victory when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. We already have freedom and an inheritance waiting in heaven.

Remember this, life can be beautiful. Life can be tough. Life can seem like it will last forever. However, this life is only temporary.

We’re able to take this life day by day. We don’t have to do this life alone either. We can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us, shape us, and grow us in this lifetime. We can lean on one another and learn from one another as we go through life as well.

I want to challenge you to take some time either today or this week and reflect on this past year. Remember the different parts and challenges it brought. Remember the different emotions you might have been feeling and the different events that took place and those that didn’t happen as you thought they would. Think about how you felt and what you struggle with at the beginning of the year, and if any of those feelings or challenges have changed for you.

I hope this challenge will help you to see the growth you’ve made over the past year. I also hope it will encourage you to set some new goals for the month of December or going into the new year.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

With love,

Claire

Fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL

Hi friends! Today we are wrapping up our Fruit of the Spirit blog series with self-control. I am excited to share this blog post with you and even more excited for what is to come in the future 🙂 alrighty, let’s jump in.

WHAT IS SELF-CONTROL:

There is not a very clear definition for the meaning of self-control in the Bible, but in Proverbs 25:28, we are given a picture of what life looks like without self-control.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. – Proverbs 25:28

When I think of this verse, I picture this image of people easily coming into a city, offering their opinions of how things should change within the city, and not many people are there to defend it. For us, I think realistically that can look like Satan entering our minds and twisting our emotions for us to act in the way Satan wants us to. Self-control for me is being intentional and mindful about your decisions, your words, and your actions.

GOOD INTENTIONS, BAD DECISIONS:

Growing up, I had this motto (and I still use it), “always do the right thing”. Over the years, I have been able to acknowledge that just because I have good intentions going into a situation does not mean that I am not sinning.

So picture this: I go to school. My friend, Sally Sue, comes up to me. She starts being really mean, calling me a bunch of bad names, and just tears me down. Say this just really upsets me. I go to the bathroom, I’m really emotional, and my friend Alice comes in. She asks what’s going on, is everything okay. In my mind, I’m thinking “okay Claire, tell Alice what’s going on because once you get it off your chest, you’re gonna be able to go back out and love on people and not let this ruin your day”.

So I tell Alice what happened. BUT I talk about the situation with my opinion, my feelings, and my emotions. Technically, this makes me feel better and I can calm down, but by calling Sally Sue rude and mean, I just gossiped about her to a friend. Who then might say what I said to someone else. See where I’m going?

I think in life we can be so focused on what’s in front of us, but forget to check our blind spot. When you’re in a car, if you are only focused on the road in front of you and don’t check your blind spot, you might hit a car when changing lanes. Your intentions were good because you were focusing on the road in front of you, trying to pay attention and not cause a wreck. But you forgot to check the blind spot.

We can have great intentions on making good decisions, but if we don’t check if our decisions are aligning with God’s word, then we can still fall into sin.

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. – Proverbs 16:2-4

The way we see it might look pure to us, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a sin.

LEARN TO USE CONTROL:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. – Titus 2:11-14

I think an important reason to study God’s word is to learn wisdom from Him. He wants us to live a holy and upright life. He wants us to understand what breaks His heart. By studying and memorizing scripture, we are able to be equipped with the word and take it with us in life.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:17

If you go into a battle without a weapon and say “I don’t need it, I’m gonna win the war without it”, you might lose the war because you weren’t prepared and equipped for the battle. God wants us to use His word as our sword for battle. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus fought back with scripture. It’s important to take the time to memorize and understand the power of God’s word.

I want to challenge you today by memorizing one of the verses mentioned in this blog post. Remember, self-control is about controlling our desires, our feelings, and our emotions, which can easily be tempted by Satan. I hope this week you are able to look at your blind spot in situations and use God’s word to help you make your decisions.

With love,

Claire