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 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

Made To Love

Our lives are kind of like books. You don’t ever know what the endings going to look like, until you get to the last page. The story can be full of lots of good guys and bad ones. The main difference between our lives and books is that you can’t just jump to the end of the story before you get to chapter 2. You can’t read the last page to see how it all ends. You have to keep on reading the whole way through and no skipping.

When I became interested in social work, I was so amazed at how diverse all of creation is. Everyone is uniquely made. We have various jobs, different lifestyles, and a wide range of purposes to do on this earth. I think when you’re trying to figure out what you want your career life to look like in the future during your high school or college years, you can get weighed down by certain expectations that you put on yourself. You can feel lost in the process of it all, especially when you can’t see the full picture, yet.

But at the end of the day, I think love is the center of all of our purposes and stories. We were created in the image of God, and loving God and others is what we were created to do. God created Adam and Eve to have a relationship each with God and relationships with each other. We were created to be loved by our Creator, to love our Creator, and to love the rest of His creation.

Loving others, realistically, might look different in everyday life, for every single person. Teachers can love their students by educating them and supporting them. Doctors can show love by helping people get better and stay healthy. Musicians create songs about love and entertain in order for others to feel connected to the music and lyrics. Love is at the center, even if it isn’t completely noticeable at first.

While I have been in Ghana, I’ve learned that many people here want to go live in another place, like the United Kingdom or the United States. And while I will never understand the types of lives these people have grown up to live in full depth, I do know that in my life, it is better to focus on the things you have instead of the things you don’t.

While some things might be better in other places as far as materialistic things, no one place is perfect. Brokenness is everywhere. All of your problems won’t go away by moving to another place on the earth or having specific things.

Ever since sin came into the world, broken relationships have existed, causing corruption, violence, and disappointment all over the world. Temptation leads people to sin, and no one is perfect. We all have flaws, except for the One who fully knows us and deeply loves us. But despite the flaws that we have and the brokenness that we walk through, every single person should have the opportunity to live a life of understanding how they were made.

The mission really is to help people learn more about who God created them to be. That they are not only created in the image of God, but they have been given certain talents and abilities to make decisions and positively influence the world around them.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

I know that I can’t fix everything that’s wrong with the world. I know after I die, there will still be sin and brokenness on this earth because that’s the world we live in. But our lives on this earth are temporary. In Christ, we have been given a better country that is coming after this earth passes away. Our eternal home.

But according to His promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace. – 2 Peter 3:13-14

During my lifetime, I do not know what all the future holds, but I do know who holds that future. I do not know what each day will look like, but I do know how to live those days. I know that I can help people learn about the One who created them and learn how to have a relationship with Him. I can also learn and grow with those who already know Him. I can walk through this lifetime with them, so that we can live pleasing and glorifying lives for Our Creator. I know that I always have the opportunity to love, and that is the greatest thing I really can do in my life.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Love never ends. Everything will eventually pass away from this world, but love will remain. I can also continue to seek Heaven and help others do the same. I can help others focus on what they do have and not get dragged down by the brokenness in this world.

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. – Hebrews 13:14

As long as we love others, in whatever way that looks like, we are doing what we were created to do. You can love others anywhere and anytime.

There will always be some unknowns in the world. How long do you have to live? When will Christ return? We don’t have all the answers. But we are able to live the kind of life that when you see Christ, you know that you devoted this life to Him and to loving others around you, no matter how different those other people are from you.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. – Colossians 3:2-4

I’m trying to get better at living with the intention of loving those around me as best as I can. I’m hoping to start being more of a sister to everyone around me, not just the people that I get along with or the people that are similar to me. I’m not perfect and I won’t always do the right thing. I’m sure life will continue to throw some more twists and turns at me, but I know that no matter what this lifetime holds, there is a far greater life to come.

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