dreams & the sun.

i am sitting at the magnolia silos this morning. well afternoon now. i decided to come at noon. and i have been sitting in the sun. and it is glorious. but hot. i’ll get back to that.

i needed to be reminded of some of my dreams and plan them out. dream them up and write down the things the Holy Spirit has put on my heart. and what better place in waco than the silos.

i love the silos for a couple of reasons.

i love that it is a dream. a dream in the heart of one woman. who with the support and encouragement of her husband became the dream of a family. and soon the dream of the city. and now the dream of a nation. and even the globe!

but it was always God’s dream.

sitting on this lawn feels powerful and momentous. i feel the potential and kinetic energy that runs through this place. and it is sweet.

i love that this was dreamed and created by a couple. a family. it wasn’t a massive corporation. it was a dream in a heart that God opened doors for. when i sit here, i know i am sitting in a dream. a dream come true. that i am sure this couple thought at one time was impossible.

it reminds me that God is trustworthy. He is good. He has good plans.

when i sit out here on a summer afternoon, not only am i sweating bullets, but i see so many families playing! my biggest dream of all! and i wonder if when the couple started, they new how powerful this would be for families. and for dreamers.

and i wonder the same thing about myself. do i realize how impactful my dreams will be for families? for dreamers? for my own family? for my own dreams?

i would imagine that this couple could never have imagined all that this is today when they started. even when they bought the land. it was old and abandoned and basically left for dead.

but maybe the ground help onto hope. that something better could come from it one day.

and it only took one person, the right person, to see the vision and potential that was still hidden in its bones.

as i sit here in the hot hot sun. i am reminded of something i said the other day leaving mass. as i walked out of the church, the sun was shining and it was so sweet and warm. and i said, without thinking

“mmm. the warmth of the sun is healing me heart”

instantly, i felt the prophetic weight of that statement. i felt a call to spend more time in the sun. and the Son. letting the warmth heal my heart.

to be in the sun requires you to be seen. to be exposed. to come out of hiding.

how prophetic is that!!!! it is incredible. and it is true.

being out here. sitting in the sun. sweating. it is kinda painful because it is so hot. but it is so sweet. and i feel the healing and the mending. this is something i couldn’t have in my dark apartment.

sometimes being seen by the Son can be painful. when we have grown so accustomed to the dark and being hidden. stepping out into the light can hurt.

but man. being here is worth it. i was missing so much in the dark.

there are special vitamins in the sun. nourishment.

there are special vitamins in the Son. nourishment.

i have previously been someone who did not like to be outside. i was afraid of the mess. the dirt. the performance that might be required with a sport or activity. out of fear of messing up or missing the mark, i stayed on the side lines. or even worse, stayed inside.

but as i am growing in the Father, i am finding so much joy in being outside. i am finding life and perspective and lessons and warmth and healing and growth.

and i am beginning to understand why the devil tried to convince me to stay inside.

there is a special blessing and peace that comes with being outside and being close to things that God himself breathed life in. and still commands.

i am seeing family, i am seeing providence. i am seeing joy. i am seeing love. i am seeing community. i am seeing the wind. i am seeing life.

which is what the devil has been trying to steal from me all these years. he has been after my life. and so he cut off anything that resembled life. and offered fear to my heart as an exchange for the possibility of finding life. what a shitty trade.

i am so grateful to have found life in Jesus. i am so grateful to have been found  by Jesus. i am grateful to pursue life. i am grateful to be alive. and I’m grateful to be outside.

UPDATE: i wrote this this morning at the silos, (there was no wifi to publish) and while i was there, i looked up on the roof and i saw some people up there, but i couldn’t make out their faces. but i knew they were important. because not everyone can go up there. and we stared at each other for a bit, ya know when you can tell someone is looking at you?

anywayyy! come to find out! it was some of the members from the band Housefires and Bethel! some of my favorites!

but we wouldn’t have seen each other if i was hiding. if i wasn’t out in the sun, we wouldn’t have see each other.

and i could really feel a sweet lesson in this:

when you take a step out, and trust, and allow yourself to be seen, you are seen by some prettyy important people. whether you realize it or not. because they are out in the sun, too. they can’t see you from your apartment.

fear will tell you to stay in, because what are the odds that they will be there? and even if they are there, they might not be space for you?

but faith says, try it out! if it doesn’t work, let’s do something different. if they aren’t there, so what!

i am very grateful that i gave it a try. it was sweet & healing.

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a year in review: twenty-three things i learned.

well. the rest of the world is reviewing 2016 (and hard-core hating on it, i might add) but i am looking back on it and am literally amazed at all that happened in 2016. personally. two major moves. started a new job. quit a new job. started grad school in one city. continued grad school in a different city. moved to my first apartment. pulled more all-nighters in five months than in three & half years of undergrad. experienced more grace than i can imagine. watched provision in action. started one hundred books that i have yet to finish. completed multiple bible studies. and literally learned so much this entire year.

as i am looking forward, there are definitely some moments from 2016 that i want to shake off, but there are more lessons that i want to carry with me. mostly about myself.

  1. i am creative. i need to create. painting. drawing. mainly painting.
  2. i love hosting people. i love creating a safe, welcoming, warm environment for others to rest.
  3. i am strong. like really strong.
  4. silence is incredible. hard. deafening. scary. fruitful. spacious.
  5. i have really great handwriting. and my calligraphy skills are growing.
  6. i am not a “neat & tidy” person. i’m not a slob, but i do not need things to be spotless. and that’s okay.
  7. i hate to take out the trash. it’s the worst.
  8. second worst, doing dishes.
  9. it might look like i live out of my car for a while. that’s also okay.
  10. living in the will of God is unlike anything else.
  11. He is in the waiting.
  12. prophecy is an incredible gift & not scary.
  13. la croix water gets better after the first four or five. it actually tastes pretty good.
  14. gluten is basically the enemy.
  15. sugar is the second enemy.
  16. i’m like not a child anymore. except for when i use like in sentences.
  17. i buy way too much shampoo.
  18. i am a sucker for pretty packaging.
  19. if you actually use your nalgene or camelback, you won’t get dehydrated.
  20. grown ups need permission to act and play like children.
  21. everyone has experienced trauma. let’s break the stigma.
  22. roasting vegetables will revolutionize your world.
  23. you can never have too many command strips.

stopping at twenty-three feels appropriate.

there were many tears this year. but more laughs. many hard nights. but more victories. many worries. but more provision. i am so grateful for everything 2016 has taught me. and it’s been a lot. but i am really looking forward to what is coming up.

the boulder.

wilderness, part 3.

Okay, so mid-hike, one of the guys in my group, and actually from my school, was struggling. I could tell he was having a hard time with the altitude. He was dragging his bag and his step. So I saw him having a hard time and offered to help. i asked if he wanted me to carry his backpack for him. He gratefully said yes.

So I felt helpful. Helping my fellow brother through this struggle and journey he was on. I kept going, carrying both his backpack and mine. All the way up the mountain. The bags definitely started getting heavy. But I kept going. Because I needed to help him. And I needed to get to the top. They were starting to hurt my shoulders, but I figured that would happen. So I kept going. I finally reached the top and was able to sit and reflect.

As I was sitting down, I suddenly remembered seeing that fellow group member put something in his bag earlier that day. I literally ripped open the backpack to find exactly what I had suspected would be in the bag…

a 6 pound boulder!!!!!

He had picked it up earlier on and decided he wanted to keep it! In his backpack! As he hiked!! Except he did not tell me that when I offered and carried his backpack for him. I was so mad. I wanted to throw his bag down the rock. WHO DOES THAT?! You were obviously struggling to carry the backpack and hike, so throw out the boulder!

But then I realized. This is real life. There are so many times we offer to help people, or we do not offer to help people, and we have no idea of the weight they’re carrying. Whether it looks to be pretty light, like a backpack, it could really be hiding a 6 pound boulder in it. The more I thought about this, the more I felt challenged to really tune in to people around me. It is so easy to just put blinders on and only focus on my own hike. To keep my eye on the prize, graduation, grad school, a real job. But there are so many people around me who are carrying small backpacks with big boulders in them, and they need a friend. Even if it’s not to carry the backpack, but just to walk along side them. I feel really challenged to pay more attention to people struggling with their backpacks. And even their boulders.

majestic.

wilderness, part 2.

So let me explain a little more about this Wilderness Retreat. It was the definition of last minute. I had wanted to do a retreat with the team members from the retreat group I work with on campus and had mentioned something to our campus minister. He suggested we go on this Wilderness Retreat that was already being held by Catholic Relief Services and Campus Ministers in the city. In two weeks. So I told the team, and by the literal grace of God was able to get the majority of them to be able to go to this retreat. I was really looking forward to it because we are a retreat team that puts on retreats for others. So this was going to be a chance for us to be retreatants and reflect and grow. Finally.

Great. Cool. Got everything I needed.

Our campus minister asked me if I would mind doing a reflection while at the retreat. Of course I agreed. I love being a part of a retreat, any way I can, even if it is something as small as reading a little reflection.

So we get there. This morning. At the butt-crack of dawn. Coffee in hand, ready to explore the “wilderness,” in our charter bus, mind you. Okay, so we’re there. We are about to get off the bus, and the adult leader goes “Where is Claire?” So I raise my hand, and he says great, he wants to talk to me in a minute. Okay, cool, he is going to tell me about the little reflection I will be reading. Then a sister comes up to me (still on the bus) and says “Oh, you’re Claire, right? They said a Claire was on the team.” That was the first time I heard my name and the words “the team” in the same sentence. But I figured she was just generalizing. No biggie.

We get off the bus, and the adult leader calls the team to gather around him. And I did that weird shuffle where you stand not exactly with the group, but close enough to hear if they need you. Yeah, they needed me. He called out for me again, “Where is Claire?” I’m here. I joined the circle. He then proceeded to saying that I was to be partnered with another team leader and we would be group facilitators. For the whole retreat. And on top of that, the boy facilitator would lead the hike, and I would lead the spiritual reflection and discussion!!!!! PAUSE.

He wanted me to lead the spiritual discussion and reflection for #1 a retreat I was supposed to be attending, not presenting #2 a retreat I have spent ZERO time prepping for or growing with the other team members #3 a retreat where i have spent no time growing in the theme and message #4 a retreat who’s theme is about the environment and taking care of the earth (AKA I DO NOT RECYCLE AND THAT’S BASICALLY ALL I KNOW ABOUT PROTECTING THE EARTH). Resume.

So I am a team leader for a retreat I know nothing about, cool. Got it. Moving on. At least I don’t have to lead the path or trail. Cause, let’s be real, the only path I know is the one to Free People at the mall. We start on our trail, and before you know it, our guy guide, is literally no where to be found. Gone. Soo. There’s that. So now I’m basically alone in my struggle up a mountain with a group of campus ministers that I’ve literally never met and am supposed to lead in spiritual reflection. Thankfully, and I do mean thankfully, there was multiple ways to climb the mountain. So, it wasn’t so do or die. Thankfully, everyone did and no one died. Celebrating the small victories.

When we got up there. When I got up there, (half my group was waiting on me…oops) I was really taken aback. There was so much to take in. Seriously. It was so vast. And I was struck by how majestic is all was. How royal everything was. How this land was His kingdom. How all of the trees, stone, grass, cactus, birds, all of creation, knew HIs name. Being at the top, there was so much wind! There was nothing to block it, I mean, your on top of a huge mountain! But the wind. Even the wind knows His name. And knows His voice. He can calm the wind with a whisper.

Because He is the King.

The King of Kings. The Lord of Lords. And He sees me. He saw me. On the top of the mountain. The mountain He created. That is a part of His endless kingdom. A kingdom He invites me to be a part of. A kingdom He asks me share with everyone I meet. The skies echoed His glory and the mountains stood firm in His majesty.

be kingdom.

I have never really understood when people talked about the Kingdom of God here on Earth. To me, I have always kept them separate. To me, the Kingdom of God was in Heaven, and we are here on Earth. Black and white. Matter of fact. I mean, I understand that we are called to live God’s will out on Earth, but I didn’t really understand that being the kingdom. For me, the Kingdom of God would come when He came.

I get it now. Or at least, I am starting to get it.

I am starting to understand that we are called to live in the kind of love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion and absolute adoration that is experienced in Heaven, here on Earth. We are called to be a representation of that Kingdom. We are called to go forth and spread that Kingdom to others.

I think it took me understanding true worship to understand this call to Be Kingdom. In experiences of worship, there is nothing else I want to do other than sit at the feet of Jesus and tell Him how wonderful He is. It is in those times, that I am overflowing with His love and peace. But I can’t leave that love and peace in that moment of worship. I have to bring it with me outside of the church. I have to spread that love. So that others might feel the overwhelming presence of Christ.

I am in so inspired to spread God’s kingdom. I am so inspired to activate the Kingdom of God on Earth. And in the same breath, I am so challenged. It has not been easy. It will not be easy. But God gives an uncomprehendable energy. He gives a peace that surpasses understanding. I am being called to live a life of kingdom. To be in sync with the Angels and Saints in Heaven that can do nothing else but sing of God’s great glory. And that’s what I want to do. I want to be such a representation of kingdom, that people want to join in with me. Because it was what our hearts were made to do. Last year, I found a new love and appreciation for worship. God totally broke the mold I had constructed. I want Him to keep breaking it.

I want to Be Kingdom.