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

Fruit of the Spirit: FAITHFULNESS

WHAT IS FAITHFULNESS:

Faithfulness means to be full of faith. It is a way in which we can show God our trust, loyalty, and obedience to Him. In Hebrews chapter 11, the author talks much about what faith is and reminds us of many people in the Bible who walked with faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. – Hebrews 11:1-3

We cannot always see how God’s plans are going to come to us or how they will play out. We cannot always see that God is working for us, even when it feels like everything is going wrong. However, by having faith, we can trust and have confidence that God is working all things out for our good. He is trying to teach us, guide us, and fulfill His plans through us.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. – Hebrews 11:6-7

When God told Noah to build an ark because the Lord was going to flood the earth, he did. Even though Noah could not see the future that God had in store, he still trusted and obeyed God. He did exactly what was told of him.

HOW IS GOD FAITHFUL:

I think God is faithful in an abundance of ways to us. A lot of the time, God is faithful to you and others around you in different ways and circumstances. Maybe, you prayed for your purpose to be shown to you, and God fulfilled it and rewarded you with a job. Maybe you dealt with some difficult circumstances in life or got your heartbroken. God might have shown His faithfulness to you by offering you time to heal and giving you friends and family members to help you get through those times.

His faithfulness might be shown to us in different ways, but overall, God is faithful. We all are unified by many faithful actions God has already done as well. A major example is that God was faithful by sending His Son to sacrifice Himself and die so that we may have eternal life with Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17

The Lord promised that a Messiah would eventually come to save God’s people long ago. Eventually, Jesus was born and shed His blood for our sins, so that we may live and walk with Him. God wanted you to be apart of His kingdom, so He fulfilled that promise He made long ago and made a way for that to happen.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

WALK BY FAITH:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:5-8

I can’t give you one simple and easy answer to the question of how to live by faith. But I can tell you that a life with faith means walking, trusting, obeying, and approaching God with confidence in who He says He is and what He says He will do.

Walking by faith is not just about believing in God though. It says in the book of James that even the demons believed. A life full of faith calls for us to not only believe in God but to live out our lives faithfully, by our actions and our words.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. – James 2:18-26

Set your heart and mind on God’s word, His character, and His love. Remind yourself of the moments in your life where God showed His faithfulness to you. Reflect on how Jesus obeyed and walked by faith in His Father. Learn from those in the Bible, like Noah, Abraham, and Rahab, who have each shown us their faith. Allow this to not only let you see God’s promises become fulfilled but also let your mind and heart be reminded that we can walk by faith as well.

With love,

Claire