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

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