closer.

wilderness, part 1.

I went on a Wilderness Retreat. I don’t even know why I thought it would be a good idea for me to go, I hate the wilderness, but I went. Joyfully and excitedly, I went to the wilderness. I would like to point out that the last “wilderness retreat” I went on was beyond miserable and I cried the whole time. So again I say, I really don’t know why I went on this retreat.

But I did.

The retreat was hosted at Enchanted Rock, aka, a huge cluster of massive land forms that crazy people climb. The entire week and bus ride leading up to this retreat, I knew it was at Enchanted Rock. I knew what people did at Enchanted Rock.

Hiked.

Somehow, I never really put two and two together…

When we got there, there were some other unexpected surprises that I learned about. But I’ll share those later. Cutting to the chase, or the climb, I should say.

We start out, embarking on this climb up a HUGE hill, I’d venture to call it a mini-mountain, and I am leading the group (I will definitely explain that later). As we start out, it’s pretty easy. It really is. The weather here has been pretty cold and rainy, and today was a gorgeous day. So it was so nice to be outside in the sun, jumping, climbing and running around. Plus, the beginning of the trail was pretty easy. Nothing outrageous. –feeling confident– So we keep going. Some of the boys run ahead, and I let them, I mean, we’re all headed to the same top. I stuck behind and started talking with some of the group who was taking their time. We were enjoying our walk. It was such a beautiful day. As we kept walking, the group kept getting separated, just because everyone was going at different paces. Not to mention, the trail was starting to get steep. But we kept on.

I got to a point where I was kinda by myself, in the middle of the “go-getter” group that had basically reached the top and the “give-me-a-second” group that was catching their breath at one of the mini plateaus. The altitude was really starting to get to me. I felt like I had baby lungs. It was so hard to get a good, deep breath. As I kept walking, I asked God to show me what this meant to Him. I asked Him what He wanted me to see, hear and learn from this. All while slightly gasping for air. I kept asking and kept asking with every step. Mainly to take my mind off the burning pain I was starting to feel in my legs and tight feeling in my chest. Even though everything was hurting, and I would take a break to stop and take a sip of water and catch my breath, I was still so drawn to the top of the mountain. I didn’t want to quit. I didn’t want to call it a day. The top looked so beautiful, and I just wanted to be up there. Even if it was physically, really painful to get there.

It was getting harder and harder to breath, and walk. But I kept asking.

What does this say about Your Heart? What does this say about who You are? What does this say about who I am? What do you want me to learn from this?

“closer”

That was all He said. But I knew what He was saying.

He said closer, and He meant to His heart. He meant to keep coming. To keep coming closer. To not be afraid. To get to know Him more. Even though it hurt, He was going to pull me closer. He was going to draw me in. Just like I was drawn to the top of the mountain, He was going to draw me to His heart. He was showing me how beautiful His heart was. He was showing me the beauty of everything around me on that hike, and it was just a bunch of rock and cactus! He was asking me to imagine how beautiful His heart is, His desires are, His love is.

And as if it wasn’t enough to just show me, He was telling me to come closer. To know it deeper. To know it better.

All Creation knows HIs name, and He knows my name. And He wants me to know His heart. Even closer.

closer

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because I said so.

This is literally one of the most annoying reasons my parents have ever given my in the history of my 20 years. I HATE when they say that. It is beyond frustrating. As in, still to this day, I get super irritated when I am met with “because I said so.”

In high school, it was the dreaded phrase. Other reasons and responses I could argue, but “because I said so” put an end to any further discussion on the matter at hand. And that was the point. It was used to shut me up (even though my mother would never admit to that.)

But leave it to God to take something epically annoying and turn it into something sweet and loving.

In a recent worship session/conversation with Him, I found myself reeling and confused by the amount of unconditional love and grace He was pouring out on me. I couldn’t wrap my head or heart around it. “Why God?” “How God?” “I don’t understand God” and then…

“Because I said so”

And that was that. That was the end of the questioning. That was the end of the doubting (for the time being, let’s be real, that is an every day journey). Just as my earthly parents had used that phrase to stop my interrogation, so had my Heavenly Father used it to put an end to my questioning. There is no argument with “because I said so.” That’s just it. And that’s why He used it. However, it has a little different meaning than when my mom or dad used it.

First of all, it was from a place of pure tenderness, gentleness, love and vulnerability. Not that my earthly parents don’t posses those things, but they are human.

Second, when He says something, the wind and waves obey (Matthew 8: 37). He spoke light into existence (Genesis 1:3). So when He says that, He means it. And that is so humbling.

In summary, when God says He loves you, He loves you. Even when you can’t understand why. He loves you. And He died for you. Because you’re worth it. And you’re worth it Because He says so.

You Go Before Me

**originally written at 6:54pm in Chuy’s Mexican Restaurant**

Well. Happy New Year. 19 days later….Sorry. I’ve been kinda busy. I say kinda because I haven’t been that busy. But there have been spurts of business (busy-ness; not business as in a corporation). But it’s been good.

So we’re starting a new year. I’m not big on resolutions. But I do predictions. So hopefully I’ll share those larter. There are so many things I want to share about my thoughts on this year.

1. This is a year of restoration.

2. This is a HUGE year for me.

3. This is the year I graduate.

4. This is the year I turn 21!

I’m excited to unpack these and share and grow as they happen.

All that being said, there is one major truth and idea I am starting the year with and holding onto:

“you go before me”

I’ve heard this said before. Many many many many times. In church. In songs. In scripture. But it hasn’t meant anything to me yet. Until now.

Like I shared, this is the year I graduate. From college. 2015. Can we take a moment to F R E A K  O U T ! ! ! ! I cannot believe this is real life. Seriously, Insane. But as graduation approaches, so does real life. And that is scary. I am looking at graduate programs and I am blown away. For a couple of reasons:

1. Social Work is awesome.

2. God is even more awesome.

3. I am absolutely doing what I am supposed to be doing.

4.  Grad school is expen$$ive

But amidst all this, I am excited for the new journey and next step. But Classic Claire, I am super worried. a) How will I pick one? b) How will I get in? c) How will I pay for one? d) Where will I live? e) What if I pick the wrong one? AHHH!

One of my top favorite programs is also suppperrr expensive. My parents told me that if I wanted to go there, I would have to get a huge scholarship. 70%. That’s crazy for me to think about. But as soon as my parents said that, I literally said: “Okay, God. You heard that. Challenge accepted. That’s your obstacle to overcome.” -Ballsy, right? And in that moment “You go before me” had never been so relevant.

He goes before me.

He makes the path. He is gonna pave my way to Grad school. I mean, obviously, I will work hard. But He is going to put that in me. The ability to work hard.He is going to get me there. He is the God of the impossible. And when I think of that. It makes me want to apply to the schools that seem impossible. Why not? Why stand in the way of God’s greatness? He goes before me. He prepares the way. He prepares me. He prepares my heart.

I have had so many tangible experiences lately where I step back and say, “Wow, God. You have literally been training me for this.” He is preparing me….

And that blows my mind! That God is timeless. That God is my future. That God is my present. That He is with me. That He will never leave me. (Deuteronomy 31:8) That God is preparing an amazing Grad school experience for me. That God is preparing and amazing husband for me. That is preparing and amazing future for me (Jeremiah 29:11). And even further, that God is preparing a place in Heaven for me (John 14:2-3). Because He thinks I am worth it. Because He loves me. So much so that he would go before me.That He will fight my battles. That He would prepare me.

All the struggles I have yet to face, God has already walked thru them.

Can we just talk about how infinite that is?

Sometimes I don’t know how to process what He tells me.

That is so personal. When He says “I’ve been there,” it’s because He literally has. Because He walked through it before me. He goes before me. As I enter this season of changes and new adventures, I am trusting that God goes before me.

God, thank you for blowing my mind. You’re magnificent.

raw.

well it’s decemeber 1st. As I write this at least. So I broke out the Christmas CD. One of my all time favorite Christmas songs was on the CD.

Breath of Heaven.

I have obviously memorized the song, it is one of my favorites. But it only gets played at Christmas time, so I forget about it. But as I sang the words I knew by heart today, a whole new wave of emotion came flowing with it.

I have been on a journey with Mary lately. Trying to grow closer to her heart, that I might learn more about being a strong and graceful woman, But as I sang the words to this song today, I was shaken. The words to this song are so raw. So authentic. Her prayer is amazing.

Pour over me Your holiness, for You are holy. 

Like woah. Woah. Woah. I have never prayed that before, That is such a cry for help, but still from a heart of worship.

And she asks

Do you wonder, as you watch my face, if a wiser one, should have had my place?

Can we talk about how real that is? How many times I ask myself or God if “this” or “that” is really what I should be doing? If He is sure that he wants me to do that? If I am worthy enough to do that? And then she says,

But I offer all I am, for the mercy of your plan. Help me be strong. 

Such abandon to His will. Like it blows my mind. I am so amazed at the faith this young girl possessed. She also talks about being alone, and how scary this journey is. But she asks for the Breath of Heaven to hold her together. For His holiness. Like WHAT?!? I don’t know that I would be asking for that. I feel like I would be freaking out. Actually, I know I would be freaking out. And it sounds like she was a little bit, too. But her faith. Her faith. God used that faith. He gave her the strength to hold onto that faith. Even as he watched her face. She is so beautiful. I wonder if she knew some girl would be writing about her thousands of years later, and how stunning she is.

That is the kind of faith I want. Even in her fear, she was praising God for His holiness and asking for His strength. During this Advent season, I want to strengthen my faith like Mary did. In her silent prayer.

Mary, precious mother of our Savior, pray for me that I know the strength you had as you carried the Prince of Peace. Pray for me that I have the boldness you had as you said yes and abandoned yourself to God’s plan. Pray for me that I have the awareness to go to God and ask for His strength and for His companionship, just like you did. Pray for me that my heart is prepared, more and more each day, for the plan God has for my life. 

light.

original post date: 2/7/2014

i can’t even fathom it sometimes.
Sometimes God puts us in seemingly impossible situations. Sometimes He puts ridiculously high mountains in front of us. And then does the unthinkable, He asks us to climb. But then He takes it a step further, He offers to carry us up the mountain when we can’t seem to find the strength to climb. This past weekend/week I feel like God has put a few mountains in front of me. I watched people I love hurt. I watched loss. I watched them cry. I hurt. I cried. I watched darkness close in around us. I watched as the darkness and pain got comfortable and prepared to stay with us for a long time. But in the midst of this darkness, I felt God tugging at my heart. I felt Him ask me to be a light. Before I had time to even think about it, my mouth just opened. Prayers and praise fell out. Even though I had no idea what to think or feel, I just called out to God. Tears falling down my face, the only words I knew in those moments were Jesus’ name. I rebuked Satan as he tried to come in a steal our joy and cried out that God hold us up and give us wisdom. Crying in the emergency room, the hospital waiting room, and the operating room I spoke God’s mercy and love over all of us. Thanking Him in advance for His plan, and His promise and His unending mercy and love. Those were some of the hardest prayers I have ever prayed. In the midst of some of the hardest days of my life, I watched love unfold. I watched as the doctors saved my friends life. I heard as they spoke of what a miracle it was she was alive. Their exact words were, “Someone in Heaven must have been looking out for you.” We all watched a miracle, not for our glory, but for God’s. Her life is a testimony to God and His love for his children. And on top of all this, He asked me to be a part of this. He used me to share His light. He asked me to share His love. He asked me to help reveal His power. This is a love story. A story of a Father who loves His children so much. He wants to share His light and love with all of them. I am so grateful in the face of this darkness He called me to be a light for Him.

mercy.

original post date: 1/26/2014

I am continuously blown away by God’s mercy.
The fact that we serve a God who unconditionally showers us with so much mercy is hard for me to wrap my head around. Our society teaches us to get even with others, to seek revenge. We even have a phrase, “Revenge is a ____.” You can fill it in accordingly. But that is not the God we serve. No, not even close. He shows unending mercy in the face of our greatest failings. He is a God who stands with open arms. Arms waiting to embrace you in love, forgiveness, and mercy. The fact that God can see me in my brokenness and still extend His hand in mercy, is truly mind blowing to me. This is a model that is hard for me to mimic. When hurt by others, my first instinct is often to retaliate. Being a girl means this retaliation might not happen right away, it could happen after a long and drawn out plan is formed. A plan that involves getting even at a minimum, but hopefully one-upping if possible. But when I take a step back and look at this through the eyes of Christ, it breaks my heart. This is not of God, obviously. Jesus came to add & multiple. It is the Devil’s plan to subtract & divided. By allowing this long, drawn out plan to take action, I am carrying out the mission of division. Instead, God calls us to live the life of addition, the life of mercy. By showing those in our lives mercy, we are a living testimony to God’s love.