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.

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. 

part three: sweet presence.

His presence is unbelievably sweet.

His love is so rich. His love is so overwhelming. His love is unconditional. His love is so big. His love is so high. His love is so wide. He is love. He is love. He is love. God is Love.” 1 John 4:8

A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to go to a Kari Job concert. And I can honestly say, my heart was rocked. God is so amazing. There aren’t even words.  I feel like I just gave Him a little bit of myself, a little bit of my heart, and He blew me out of the water. He poured His love down on me. I had never felt the presence of Christ so near. So tangible. And in His presence, there is nothing but love. My heart was overwhelmed by the love He continued to pour out on me. The Holy Spirit was overflowing out of me.

His sweet, sweet love. We are so undeserving. I am so undeserving. But that doesn’t matter to Him. He loves me because I am His. He loves you because you are His. That is reason enough for Him. All the other stuff, that’s just in the way of His sweet love, His sweet presence. His presence cast all that out. In His presence, there is no room for fear, regret, self-hate, despair, loneliness or sadness. There is only love. His love.

He loves us enough to let us experience that. He loves us enough to fight for us. As fast as I can run, He’s faster. He doesn’t give up. He doesn’t leave. He is love. And He stands there waiting. Waiting for us. Waiting.

He is so in love with us. He is so in love with us. He is pursuing us. He never stops. He is so in love with us. His love is all consuming. He goes out of His way to meet us where we’re at. He is a God of Joy. He is a God of love. Mindblowing, heart stopping, beautiful, perfect love. That’s MY God. He has never failed. He shows up everytime. And He’s mine. And He’s yours. And He wants to keep showing us with His love. His inspiring, unconditional love. He longs to fill us up with His love, so we can love others with His heart.

His heart is so beautiful, so perfect, so romantic, so just, so thoughtful. I want His heart. I want to know His heart better.

He asked me to make Him my groom. Well, that was the best date I have ever been on. He is so amazing. He is such a good listener. He hears the whispers of my heart. And he answers, out of love. He has these wild plans that are so much better than my own. I need to learn to trust him. I need to learn to let go. I am working on it. His love makes it so much easier…to be continued….

God, You are so good. You are so faithful. You are so majestic. You are so romantic. You are winning my heart. Teach me how to trust you. I love you. I love you. I love you. 

multiplied.

original post date 5/15/14

multiplied. multiplied. multiplied.

This is literally all I can think about. It has become an obsession.

Obviously. I have been slacking lately. As in, majorly. I have been seriously lacking. I got overwhelmed. With school. With work. With people. With feelings. It all just took me over. I let everything slide. But the semester is over (FINALLY!!!) and I have moved into my new apartment.

So I finally have some space, emotionally and physically, to think about everything.

I have been so uninspired lately. I could feel it coming over me. Usually, I can hunker down and get through life. This time, I just laid down. I let the sadness and stress and depression in. I gave in. It has been dark. I just have not been able to get up out of the funk. And then…

I heard this song on the radio.

At the end of the semester, I had decided to take on a position with the retreat team through my campus ministry. I had began to think about themes and lessons and discussions; just different things I wanted to work on and develop over the summer. I am excited to share some of those ideas throughout this summer. Anyway, I was still processing everything and trying to come up with a core theme. And then it happened. This song played. And I was done.

Every single word was a direct message to my heart. I have been obsessed with the idea of mercy, lately. It blows my mind that we get to serve SUCH a merciful God. Mercy that we do not deserve.

“God of Mercy, sweet love of mine, I have surrendered to Your design”

He is a God so full of mercy and love, He waits for us to surrender to HIS unimaginable plan for us

“Your love is like radiant diamonds, we cannot contain”

My pray this year has been that I can be a light in this world to others.I want people to see me and know that there is something different about me, and I want that to be the Light of Christ.

“Your love will surely come find us

Even when our lives are dark and scary, our God comes and finds us. That makes my heart ache. I cannot understand that. He searches for us. He meets us where we are.

“These Hallelujahs be multiplied

Multiplied. We are called to multiply. In more ways than one. I think for me, this was an invitation to multiply my love for Christ. On a personal level. Yes, we are called to multiply, with children. We are called to multiply and spread the good news of the Gospel. But this song, at this moment,was telling me to multiply my love.

With everything the past few months have brought, it has been dark. It has been easy to be angry. I have felt every forgotten. I know better, I do. But that does not mean I won’t feel forgotten from time to time. I’ve been angry at God, pissed I think is the correct word.  It has been far to easy for me to forget the blessings God has given me. It has been easy for me to take everything for granted. It has been easy to feel entitled, and let me tell ya, I surreeeee have felt entitled.

I forget God has given me radiant diamonds.

I forgot His design is better than my own.

forgot that He was right there the whole time, He had come to find me.

I forgot to send my hallelujahs. I was not multiplying.

I was not forgotten, I had forgotten. Big difference.

This idea of multiplying has become my theme for the summer. I have to start small. I have to start with me. I have to start multiplying my love for my Merciful God. And then, watch out everyone else!