Live Intentionally

One thing I have learned in Ghana is that time is not as big of a deal as we make it out to be in the United States. Back home, we are always trying to get everything done in a day, trying to rush through tasks and do the bare minimum. Trying to go through the motions and tick everything off of the checklist.

However, in Ghana, people are so focused on relationships rather than tasks. People allow others space and time to share thoughts and ideas. They also allow them the time to sit in silence and think too. It’s mainly a form of respect, but it’s also just a way of life.

God created us to live in a community with one another. He created us to love one another. I think a major way to show love to someone is to give them your time of day. To be intentional and fully give someone your undivided attention. Listen to them. Learn from them. Grow with them in this wild and messy life.

I think we try to respect people by making time for everyone. Fitting everyone in the schedule. However, wouldn’t it be better to do excellent jobs in a week rather than average jobs in a day. Shouldn’t we be intentional with how we manage our time in a way that is beneficial for the well-being of everyone?

I remember back to times where I just tried to get the bare minimum of information because I needed to check it off the list and be done. But I missed out on the opportunity to ask deeper questions. To really get to know someone. To really understand what that person might be going through or what was truly on their mind.

I get that time is important for structure. But it is also important for relationships and community. I think with COVID we have seen how difficult it can be to form relationships over phone/text instead of in person. Or how challenging it is to take classes online rather than in person. I think this is just another personal and relational thing.

The Bible talks a lot about Jesus’ time on Earth. It talks about the way He healed those around Him. The way He spoke to others. The way He spent His time with His close friends. Yet, it does not share much about the timing of His life. It doesn’t say that He only spoke to the women at the well for 15 minutes because He was late on meeting someone else.

Jesus was intentional and patient with those around Him. He gives us all the time in the day to speak with Him. He listens to us even when He already knows what we will tell Him. He gives us space to think. He gives us time to learn on our own, even though He wants us to learn with Him. All because He loves us.

“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:25-34

God created the earth in a timely manner. He didn’t just do it all in a day to say, “okay done”. He was intentional about creating the earth. The same way He is intentional about taking care of His creation. He takes care of the plants, the animals, and us. If we are to love others well, we need to be intentional in taking care of His creation too.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:8-9

The Lord is patient with us. He wants it all to be done in His timing, and sometimes, things take a lot of time. And that’s okay.

It’s important to make the most of every opportunity. Think about when you plan a trip. You want to do a bunch of different things, like visit the beach, go shopping, eat good food, etc. Well, that all takes time and planning. Yet, when we meet someone, we just ask the basics to be nice.

But what if we dove deeper into all the different aspects. “How is your family doing? How is your job going? What did you do over the weekend?”

I feel like to some degree we are hurting people by not giving them enough time or rushing them. And I get not enough time is in a day but there will never be enough time in a day. The same way that I am not fulfilled by any amount of money. There will always be some flaw cause that’s just life. It’s flawed.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. – Ephesians 5:15-17

We don’t know when our last day will be on Earth. We don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know the last time we might see someone.

I don’t know about you, but I want to spend my life intentionally listening, learning, and speaking with others. I want people to feel cared for because they are. I want people to feel important because they are. I want people to feel loved because they are. I want people to see Jesus through me.

And no. I won’t be perfect at it. I will still fall short, but I can live and make the most out of every opportunity for His glory.

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

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