beauty from ashes

sometimes the Lord utterly crushes me with His sweetness and revelations. currently. my heart is realing. in so many ways I cannot even begin to understand. I feel like every day He is revealing new things to me and showing me how He has been preparing and loving me through it all. I could literally talk about this for dayzz. I want to talk about this current call. well. some of the back story. of the Lord’s faithfulness and the way He has been preparing my heart and weaving things together that only He could do.

so this summer at camp the Lord put the book of Esther on my heart. okay. I haven’t ever read the entire thing. I mean I know the story. but I haven’t read it. the other day I looked up the meaning of the name Esther, just out of curiosity. it means “star” of course it does. why wouldn’t it. that is a huge part of my relationship with the Lord, the stars. so of course that would be the meaning. in addition, her Hebrew name means “compassion.” hmm. okay, Jesus. point taken. I also just found a song on my computer called Esther about the Lord loving and healing brokenness and seeks out abused and forgotten. And about loving the invisible and making beauty from the ashes. I’ve probably had this song on my computer since 2008. classic. as I continue to learn more and just read little snippets about Esther, a clear theme of leadership and boldness are rising. so that is also very interesting. very. I bought a bible study about Esther, and will begin that today. so. get ready to hear a lot about Esther.

second. last October, the tenth to be exact, I went to a Kari Jobe concert and literally experienced the Lord’s love and the Holy Spirit in a completely new and radical way. I would probably say one of the biggest messages I took away from that night was the Lord’s immense, unconditional, all covering, consuming love. that night I also bought a penny bracelet. I thought it was cool and different. and I liked the message. to raise awareness about human trafficking victims.

third. also this summer at camp, the Lord really tied my heart to Mary Magdalene. just learning about her and her brokenness and sinfulness but complete devotion to Jesus. also, learning about Jesus’ love for her and how special she was to Jesus. I could literally talk about that for days. and I will later. don’t worry. anyway. while at camp one night, one of my sweet friends shared with me a word from the Lord that she was going to share with another one of friends at camp. she said, “the answer is great love; Luke 7:47” when she told me that, my instant reaction was “does the seventh chapter of Luke even have 47 verses? that seems fake, and not right” oh me of little faith….so we went back to the cabin to look up if that verse even existed. well it does.

“So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.*But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” – Luke 7:47

in fact, it s direct quote from Jesus. perfect. well, I thought that was great. the verse is real. let’s tell our friend. cool. it took me a while to realize this was a verse about Mary Magdalene. when she washed Jesus’s feet with perfume and tears and dried them with her hair and kissed them. devotion, I’m telling ya. and as I have been processing so many of the Lord’s revelations, I am learning the insane and immense power in that verse and the intentionality of the Lord to introduce me to it.

the Lord continues to shower me in a great love. since last October, he has been pouring out lavishly on me, a great love. but He has also called me into a great love. challenged me to love Him with everything I have. and, the kicker, called me to love others with a great love. this verse translates into a million stories of my life. billion, probz.

He is connecting for me the night I experienced His radical, great love, and the night I bought a penny bracelet. like only He could do. I am excited for this next journey He is calling me to. He is CONSTANTLY revealing more and more to me about what He is doing and how He is preparing my heart. and, the craziest part to me, how He has been preparing my heart FOR YEARS.

I can see how He is connecting me to some of His strongest women, Mary, His mother, Mary Magdalene, and Esther. what a power team. can’t wait to share more….

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.