His Grace Is Sufficient For You

Identity: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. – Oxford English Dictionary

As we get older, we identify ourselves in so many ways. For example, we state:

  • “I do _____ for a living”
  • “I attend ________ University”
  • “I am _________’s partner/spouse”
  • “I am apart of _____________ club/church/neighborhood”

For anyone starting out in a new transition of life, it’s easy to feel that you are insufficient in where you are. You also may feel lost at what steps need to be taken to get from where you are to where you want to be.

In starting a new school, changing to a new major, working at a new job, getting into a new relationship, or even in moving to a new city, there are many areas of each where you will not have all the knowledge you need to succeed at first. You must learn as you go and run the race of endurance.

Growth is such an important factor in transition seasons, but our growth can begin to turn into doubt and lack of motivation when we let the devil feed our minds. One of the easiest ways to sink into the self-doubt when it comes to feeling insufficient or less than is comparison. When we take our gaze off our identity and purpose and start to focus more on someone else’s abilities and achievements, we fall into this mindset of thinking that we lack capability to achieve any of our dreams or goals.

During my first semester of social work classes after changing my major, I really struggled with a few of the main core classes for my major. Everything about social work was new to me. Going from engineering, where you focus on math and science to then social work, where your main focuses are writing papers and learning theories, it was a major shift in my academic learning.

Of course, I did enjoy what I was learning. I felt I was where I needed to be because of my passions and interests. But my grades really began to discourage me when I received papers and tests back that did not meet up to my expectations or pressures of myself. I also compared my grades to others around me. I wondered, “How do they already know so much more about this topic than I do when we just started this new class a week ago?” I remember that I begin questioning my decision of changing my career path. And I also began questioning God. I didn’t understand why God would put this career path on my heart when I was not excelling at it.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

I read this verse again the other day when I was hit back with that feeling of insufficiency again. What Paul is stating here is that we will go through times of uncertainty, of challenges, and times where we feel that we lack the capability, capacity, or strength to do something. We will get into those moments of self-doubt or comparison where we believe that we are not equip or called to a task. Or that someone else is better equipped or called to do the job instead. However, in those moments, inside of walking away, giving up, or moving on, we need to continue to press forward because when God is with us, He is going to provide all the necessities for us to be sufficient.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

On our own, we are insufficient. Everything we are, all the gifts and wisdom we have received, it has all come from God. Without Him, we are only going to be as capable of doing something as we see fit to do it. However, when we are obedient and choose to walk in life with God’s power and strength right beside us, He is going to lead us to do some amazing things for His kingdom.

“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

When we gaze our eyes on Jesus and the path set before us, we are less likely to fall into self-doubt and discouragement with contentment. I think it is important to seek counsel from others who have gone through similar seasons like the ones you are going through. However, keep in mind that the people around you may not be in the same stage of growth as you are. Depending on the life experiences that people have walked through, God has uniquely provided various wisdom and knowledge to each person, in order that we may help one another and build one another up. That’s one of the wonderful gifts of community.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Mark 13:31

At the end of the day, others will notice that we do have many labels in which we can identify as. Although others may see parts of our lives on the outsides with these labels, that does not mean they truly know our whole story. Thankfully, we have a Creator that fully knows each of us and loves us unconditionally. Unlike all the other labels or identities we may go by, the most important identity we have is being a follower of Christ because that identity lasts forever.

With love,

Claire

2022: Word of the Year

Similar to many people, I enjoy choosing a word at the beginning of the new year to help me set my intentions and goals for the year to come. I started doing this just within the past few year, and it truly has been something that I love doing now. I enjoy watching how the meaning of the word I chose can begin to have different meanings throughout the year and grow me in ways that I did not see coming.

The word that I chose last year was “horizon”. I ended up writing a blog post about the meaning of that word later in the spring of this past year when I was starting to notice more and more of God’s wisdom and knowledge behind that one word for me.

For the new year, the word that I have decided on is “abundant”. For the past few days, I have been reflecting over various words, going back and forth, and finally deciding on this word for a few different reasons. After reflecting over this past year, I feel that I made a lot of progress in some aspects of my life, such as my career, education, communication with friends, and willingness to go where I was being led. However, there were areas of my life that needed improvement on, such has having a negative mindset, overthinking, being too focused on my “bubble” of life, and not having enough energy, time, or headspace to give to other people around me.

The word “abundant” means “more than enough” (Cambridge Dictionary). Whenever we hear the word abundant, we might first think about the quantity of something or how something is measured. However, I personally want to focus my attention more on the quality of my life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10

Jesus tells us that through Him, we can have life and have it abundantly. He offers us eternal life, but He also has gone before us to show us what a life with Jesus can look like. By looking through the story of Jesus’ life, we can understand that having an abundant life is focused on continually moving closer to God, obeying God’s will for our lives, and pouring out love, wisdom, and life into others.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6

Since we are all sinners, we will have difficult times and trials where we fall short. But that is also what our abundant life is full of as well. It is not just the times were we are in a season of growth and progress. It is this consistent process of learning, enduring, trying, failing, and persevering through life and this broken world, with our eyes fixed on Jesus. We want to aim for this wholeness that Jesus embodies because he truly is our answer for an abundant life.

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'” – John 6:35

I believe that to live abundantly, you must be filled to where you are not only able to care for your needs, but also the needs of others. In my daily life, there can be many times where I am spreading myself too thin or not having enough energy, motivation, or headspace to focus on anything other than my surroundings, current life situations, and circumstances. One of my goals for the new year is to give more of my time and energy to people in my close circle and the people around me. However, I know that I must be filled and have “more than enough” energy, time, and focus for not only myself but for other people too, where I can be a generous and helpful friend to others.

“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” – Ephesians 3:17-20

I’ve also noticed within my own mindset, I can tend to focus much more of my time and energy on the negative daily situations that are not going “my way” instead of the moments of peace, joy, and gratitude within life. This also occurs with focusing more on what I do not have in my life instead of focusing on what I do. I am hoping in this everyday intention of abundance that I can stay present in noticing how I do have more than enough of what I truly need at the current time in my life.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

Honestly, I feel like the desire for an abundant mindset in life requires a lot of self-control and discipline, which can look a little intimidating. However, I am thankful for learning recently that the small daily habits that we do in our lives can help in preparation for certain life-giving and life-changing desires, such as this one. I am praying that by filling myself up in ways physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I can truly start mindfully living a more abundant life and noticing little changes in the quality of my life.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

I am not sure what this previous year has looked life for you. Maybe, it has flown by or felt like 5 years to you. You might have experienced a lot of changes, loss, or heartbreak. You might have tried many new things this year, such as a new hobby or started a new job. You also may be really excited for the new year or very fearful of what disastrous events might come soon.

No matter what you may be feeling towards the new year, I am praying that God will give you the eyes and ears to notice some extraordinary work that He is doing in your life. I pray that He will speak to you, guide you, and grow you all in His perfect timing. I pray that this new year with bring you many great memories, no matter how big or small they might be. Lastly, I pray that God will fill you with joy, peace, and hope as we go into the next day, the next week, and the next year.

With love,

Claire

The Reality of Rest

Merry (almost) Christmas! It feels so strange to me that 2022 is right around the corner!

If you’ve read some of my past blogs around January, you know that I try to reset and evaluate my lifestyle around this time of year. It has been super helpful for me to spend time intentionally reflecting on the past year so that I can make a “game plan” for the new year. I wanted to share a quick goal that has been on my mind since I went to Chick-fil-A this past week, and I hope it will encourage you to think about some beneficial lifestyle changes you might want to make too.

The other day, I stopped by Chick-fil-A to grab some breakfast before heading home. When I got home, I noticed the normal saying on the bag that says, “Served fresh Monday-Saturday”. Now, I am pretty positive that this saying has been on their bags for the past 2 years (maybe more), but it really stuck out to me that day.

For those of you that do not know, Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. The reasoning is that the founder of the restaurant, Truett Cathy, was a Christian, and he felt that it was important for the employees to have a day of rest.

“Closing our business on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is our way of honoring God and showing our loyalty to Him.” – Truett Cathy; Eat Mor Chikin, Inspire More People

Now, logically, we might be thinking that if a restaurant is closed on a particular day, it would be losing lots of income, and other restaurants would be at a better advantage on this day. While this is true, Chick-fil-A is not at an extreme loss for being closed on Sundays. It is still one of the most profitable fast-food chains in the United States. Almost every time that I visit a Chick-fil-A restaurant, the place is normally busy but quick to serve everyone. It is also helpful to its employees by preventing burnout in the workplace every week.

Within our own individual lives, I think it is super important to have a day of rest, also known as a Sabbath day. This can look different for everyone, but it is really easy to get caught up in the busyness and chaotic cycle of life if we do not plan our Sabbath day intentionally. Typically, my excuses for not setting aside a certain day for resting and recharging are because “I don’t have time” or “I have too much to do”. While these excuses are not always true, finding motivation and energy to rest can be difficult. Even to the point where I am attempting to rest, but not actually resting (we’ll talk about this in a minute). The truth is that we have to focus on our time management and self-control when it comes to intentionally resting.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. – Genesis 2:1-3

In the book of Genesis, the Bible tells us that God spent six days creating the earth. Each day He created certain aspects of the world. However, on the seventh day, He rested from His work. God wanted us to know that He rested so that we can rest too. He managed His time each day to create what He needed to for the week, and then, He had a day of rest from His work.

I think time management is a very challenging aspect of our lives to control and set a routine in. Sometimes, we do get caught up in the busyness and chaos of all that needs to be done. However, if we continuously pour ourselves out to the world, our jobs, our education, and our community, we eventually will run ourselves dry. We must set boundaries and prioritize our needs while managing the roles and responsibilities that we have daily.

So, how exactly do we do that?

  1. You need to know what helps YOU rest from your week and recharge yourself for the week to come. Everyone is different when it comes to rest. Some people can recharge themselves by watching tv and sitting on the couch for a whole day. Others might need to get out and go for a hike to fully reset their mindset for the week. Try different activities and hobbies out to see what truly works best for you.
  2. Setting boundaries with tasks that tend to wear your energy out is also important. For my day of rest, I try to not answer any work emails or spend hours of my time on social media. I try to put my phone down for most of the day if necessary. I also have set tasks that I want to do for the day to help me reset, such as going to the gym, reading a book, catching up with a friend, or taking a walk. Some of these tasks might not be recharging or beneficial to you, like going to the gym. That might wear you out even more. For me, exercising tends to help me feel better physically and mentally. It’s giving me time to work out my stress from the week, and it gives me a better mentality for the rest of my day.
  3. Plan it and commit to it. I am starting to make Saturdays my Sabbath day. You can do the same day every week or mix it up. BUT, I want to encourage you to intentionally set out a day to rest and recharge. Plan out your week to have a day of rest, or even a half-day if that is all you can do with your schedule. Plan out your month or plan it out week-by-week if that works better for you.
  4. Don’t focus so much on resting but be present in it. Occasionally, it can be difficult for me to actually rest. What I mean by this is I tend to think about all the things I need to do for the week while I am trying to rest my mind. OR I try to rest but feel that I need to be productive in my resting. I think our brains can get into the habit of constantly going all the time, to where it is uncomfortable for us to just be present and still. If this happens to you, try tasks that get your mind off work or chores you need to do around the house. Listen to a podcast, read a book, or meditate. Again, you have to find what works for you and your mindset for that particular day.

We serve a powerful God, who made it known to us that resting is important. We can intentionally prioritize our schedules and our times of rest in order to move forward and fulfill our purposes in the world around us. I don’t know about you, but I am so looking forward to a good break over the holidays. Since moving to a new city recently, I have felt stuck in a season of adjusting and transitioning, which can be exhausting some days. I truly hope that this holiday season, you can find joy and rest in the moments spent with friends and family as well as the peaceful and still moments too.

With love,

Claire

The Horizon

When I first arrived in Ghana, everything was unfamiliar to me, as it usually is when you are in a new place. Eventually, during my stay, I learned the route to work, got familiar with the cultural norms, and felt very welcomed by the people. However, it still did not feel like my home to me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the friends I made there. I loved the culture and how welcoming everyone was. I loved how each day was different, and I loved the work I was doing over there. But while there were many things I had in common with the Ghanaians, there were a lot of things that I was very new to and almost seemed alien to me.

Since being home, I have realized that the place that I call “home” is not my true home. This place is where I have grown up, but it’s not my eternal home.

The definition of a home is “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household”. I am a member of my family, but I won’t always live where I do, currently, for the rest of my life. One day in the future, I will live somewhere else, and I will be part of another household.

However, my permanent home is already promised to me. I will permanently live on the new Earth with my Father. I may not be physically living in my permanent home right now, but I already belong to my Father’s household. I am a child of His.

We have a lot of desires on this earth. We want to be wealthy, have a nice car, have a boyfriend/girlfriend, get married, have a great job, be known, be liked, etc. I grew up with all those desires at some point. However, over the past few months, my desires have started changing.

When I was in Ghana, there were many times where I desired to be back in my house in Madison. I missed my family, my dog, my friends, air conditioning, fried chicken, sweater weather, etc. I would text friends and family on most days. I would call my mom at least once a day, sometimes more. I would schedule a Facetime date with my parents and friends on the weekends. I tried to also stay up to date with the news going on back home.

I did all these things to stay connected with life back in Mississippi. However, do I do enough of these things with my eternal home, my forever home?

Do I spend intentional time with Jesus three times a day? No.

Do I miss my home? Sometimes, but sometimes I enjoy it here because of “insert any desire I listed above”.

Do I schedule time for studying God’s Word? Not consistently.

My mom had sent me a package during my trip, and she gave me some Mississippi postcards to give to my friends that I had met in Ghana. I loved this idea. It also reminded me of how I wanted to share my home with my friends who I met there.

One of my greatest desires is to be home now. My eternal home. I know that that day might be far in the future, but I know that that is going to be an extraordinary day. The greatest adventure yet. However, another desire of mine is to share bits and pieces of my home with others around me. I want to show that what kind of love Jesus shows me. I want to show them what my home is like. I want to teach them what it’s like to know my Father, and how they can find that home too.

The desires I listed earlier are all wonderful blessings that we might have in this life. However, nothing will fulfill us as Jesus can. Even if you have everything you want, you still won’t find satisfaction without Christ. We won’t be here long, but we have the choice to spend forever with the One who has always loved you, knows you fully, and deeply wants to spend forever with you too.

It’s like a horizon: “the line at which the earth’s surface and the sky appear to meet”. While we physically live on this earth, we can meet with Jesus and focus our hearts on our eternal home.

With love,

Claire