Finding Rest

Before I left in January to come to Ghana, I had a few things to check on regarding my health. First, I had to get a few of the required vaccinations done promptly. I also needed to get a physical done (more for my own peace of mind), as well as get medications and resources that were not going to be easily accessible in Ghana.

While I expected my body to have some difficulty adjusting the first few weeks in Ghana, I did not expect my body to still be having issues by week six.

This past Monday, I made it home after work and was very dehydrated. I drank three bottles of water, took a cool shower, and cooled off under the fan for a few hours. However, as time went on, I still didn’t feel great. I was very feverish, felt achy, had a horrible headache, and was super tired. I thought it was best to go get a malaria test done, so I went to a 24-hour pharmacy nearby my house. Sadly, they were not able to test me at the time, but I did get the medication needed if I started to feel worse later in the night.

The next morning, I went to get malaria tested and a full blood count done as well. I still didn’t feel great, but I also didn’t feel any worse. My symptoms in the morning were actually completely different.

Thankfully, the malaria test and the typhoid test both came back negative. My labs looked okay except my white blood cell count was lower than normal. This worried me a little because those bad boys are supposed to help you fight infections, like COVID. I decided to go home for the rest of the day and tried to get some rest.

Later that night, my host family and I decided that I should get COVID tested to make sure that was not the case either. I made plans to go to Accra on Wednesday and get a test done. I went the next morning, and thankfully, the COVID test came back negative as well. I took the rest of Wednesday and Thursday off from work so that I could try to get back to normal and not make anything worse.

With all the adjustments to the weather, food, transportation, walking, and sweating, I was not being mindful of the fact that my body might have difficulty adjusting to it all, especially all at once. I’m also the type of person that doesn’t know I have reached my limit until I have gone over my limit. And while I did not have anything too severe like malaria or COVID, I’m also not invincible either. It’s important to always take care of your health and take the necessary steps of getting well again before stretching yourself too thin.

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2

Our bodies are very significant. If they weren’t, God wouldn’t have created medications, doctors, vaccines, or health care facilities for us to stay healthy throughout our lives.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for me, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24

While God wants us to trust Him always, He also wants us to use common sense and good judgment so that we take care of ourselves in the ways that we need to.

To be honest, on the days where I was just at home resting, I was a little disappointed. I felt like a wimp for not being able to go to work and for “needing” the days off. I thought that it didn’t do me any good to be at home.

Maybe, I wasn’t being very productive at home other than resting, but I was getting my body ready for what is to come. I was refueling and refreshing myself to serve God much more in the future. Those days of rest were important and much needed.

And on the seventh day, God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it, God rested from all His work that He had done in creation. – Genesis 2:2-3

Even God needed a day of rest. He could have created the Earth in less than a week and not taken a day off at all. However, He purposely set aside a day of rest because He knew it was important. And, that day was considered holy. It was not any less or any greater than the other days.

Find rest when you need to. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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

Fruit of the Spirit: PEACE

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PEACE THIS WEEK! I think we could all use a little peace in our lives right about now, don’t you think?

We live in such a chaotic and uncertain world. Because of this, it leads to us spending a lot of our time and energy on worrying and staying busy. But because of Jesus, we can have peace with us at all times, even when life feels shaky.

WHAT IS PEACE:

To be honest, I think we all have a different meaning of peace. Some might think peace is a sense of being calm or being content. Others might say it is silence, tranquility, or security.

I think when we hear the word “peace”, we also each picture something in our minds. Something that brings us peace, makes us feel calm and provides a sense of comfort. For you, it might be an object or a place. Maybe a memory where you felt at peace.

When I hear the word “peace”, I immediately think of the ocean. The sound of the waves and the view of the water always seems to calm me and gives me comfort. I think the reason I have always pictured the ocean as my “image of peace” is because I tend to reflect on when Jesus was able to calm the storm that appeared to Him and His disciples.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” – Mark 4:35-41

See, the disciples were not expecting a great storm to come and disrupt them. They were not prepared for the storm. They did not know what to do and they also did not know what was going to happen next. Would the storm sink their boat or would Jesus help them?

Fear and uncertainty can cause us to lose our peace quickly if we are not prepared for those things. It’s like when you get a test for a class and nothing you studied for is even on it. I don’t know about you but that can cause me to freak out real quick.

HOW DO WE FIND PEACE:

I think “finding peace” is something everyone wants to find. But I think we have to understand that peace is not something the world can give us. Not long-lasting peace.

The world can give us temporary happiness and temporary comfort, but the kind of peace you truly desire to find is only found in God alone.

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

Because of Christ, Jesus has given us peace. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. The Spirit has great power, and because of that power, we can have peace with us at all times. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

However, I think in the world we live in, many things can cause us to lose peace in moments of our lives. Worry, fear, doubt, and frustration can come to the surface, and peace seems very far away in those moments.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

If we continue to keep our minds on who God is and what He wants for us, we can come back to that peace. Sometimes, you might have to ask God for peace. Other times, peace might seem very near to you. Either way, peace is a lot like the other fruits. It can be challenging to have it, but once you do, the Spirit can do incredible things, not only inside of you but also around you.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:6

LIVING WITH PEACE:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18

Peace can restore relationships and bring loved ones together. Jesus calls us to live peacefully with one another. Sometimes, this can be difficult, but if we focus on how Jesus lived with the people around Him, it gives you a better sense of how to do so. Jesus also lived with His mindset on the Spirit. Because of that, He was able to not only have peace but become peace.

Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. – 1 Peter 3:11

By turning away from evil and focusing our attention back on God, we can continue to live a life full of peace. Maybe a realistic way to do this is by doing a self-reflection of your life at this very moment. What are the things or who are the people that are helping you grow more in your faith and become more at peace? What are the things or people who are affecting you negatively or turning you away from God and towards sin? Sometimes, those reflections can be painful and require work to change your lifestyle, but they are beneficial. Those self-reflections allow us to be more mindful of our relationship with the Lord and where we want that relationship to be.

This week, I am praying God will bring comfort and peace into whatever situations you might be facing. I pray that you can celebrate the good blessings that God has given you and remember His faithfulness during this season in your life. 

Stay safe,

Claire

Morning Thoughts

I’ve had a hate/love relationship with this quarantine life. There’s been some bad things that have come from this such as unemployment, death, frustration, and confusion. Life lately in the world seems very upsetting and uncertain. However, there has been some good that has come from this season so far.

For me personally, this quarantine life has allowed me to slow down and take a step back from busy life. I have been able to reflect on my life and notice some small changes that needed to be made for my own wellbeing. I am thankful for this season because of that.

I’ve learn a lot over the past 90 days that this season has been going on. I’ve learned how to cook new things. I’ve learned some new TikTok dances. I’ve learned how to take care of myself better, in different aspects. But most of all, I’ve learned how to truly focus on the present moment.

I found a quote that I’ve really been holding onto for the past few days:

“Today I am at peace and my mind will no longer over-analyze the past or stress about the unknown ahead. I am present in the moments in front of my eyes.” – Jennae Cecelia

I think our mind can go into thoughts about the past and the future most of the time. We think about past situations and say “did I do this right” or “I should have done this instead”. We think about the future and say “is this going to work out” or “what’s coming up next”. However, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking just about the present. Noticing the small things around you like the wind and the warmth of the sun. Noticing the beauty of the Earth and that the One who created it, created you too.

I think it’s important to make sure you are spiritually, physically, and mentally staying healthy. And sometimes, that requires you to learn some new things. Learn how to exercise in ways that are enjoyable for you. Learn how to eat healthier. Learn how to spend more time with Jesus on a daily basis. Plan out that time. Learn how to shift your thoughts and your perspective on things. Take a break from social media. Take a break from checking in on everyone, and just check in with yourself. 

We extend a lot of grace to people because Jesus extends so much grace to us. But start giving yourself grace. You are still learning day by day how to handle this life you are given. How to try and do the right things. That doesn’t come over night. But day by day you will see the progress you are making.

I really just wanted to write out my thoughts today and wanted to share what I’ve been learning during this time with you. Hope this helps anyone who is struggling during this time or just feels exhausted/stressed/confused.

Stay safe everyone.

With Love,

Claire