Too much and Not enough All at Once: about making room this Christmas season

I wanted to write a political piece about race and culture and how to fix it all, but…. I’m tired. And I’m too realistic to pretend that I can pull out a single solution from the complex and intricate tangle of thread that all of racism is.

Another time. I promise.

Instead, I want to write about …
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A Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 7- Prayer for Respecting the Marriage Vows

This is the last day of my week-long fasting and prayer for marriages. The Lord has put these specific requests and prayers on my heart, and I have learned a great deal from being obedient to His calling to me. … Continue reading

My Life Verse

marriage counslingWe sat in the stranger-Pastor’s office. Me feeling like a giant cloud was hanging over us both, ready to be burst open at any moment, raining down all the blame, and him feeling… well I didn’t know for sure. But I was almost certain that his head was full of all the ways I was screwing up, was a crazy wife, and with reasons to leave me. I knew they were all there, just bubbling at the surface, waiting for the time to just explode and leave me with the aftermath to wade in until I could find some kind of self-pity pool to sit down in and cry about it.

Our first marriage counseling session seemed to be the best place for all of this to come out into the open.

…but to my surprise, no such downpour occurred.

It turns out that marriage counseling is not a place they make you go to before your relationship falls apart.

It turns out, I have a very loving husband who wants to not just be “okay”, like I keep asking him if we are, but more than just “okay”… He wants us to be thriving.

This, I recognize, is far beyond my own understanding. How can I trust that a mere mortal will love me and cherish me until I die when I know myself to be so unlovable and sinful? How can He or I know what will happen in the path ahead? What if something happens and he just can’t do it anymore? What if I’m just too much? What if even God can’t do anything with me? Where’s the guarantee?

It is times like these when my sinful, yes, sinful insecurities rise up from the deepest, darkest places of my doubtful heart and I start to want to control the situation–whatever the situation might be. I am looking for ways that I (me myself) can get a grip on my life, and I forget to trust the God who controls all, knows all, sees all, and has the master plan.

I believe that God created the Bible, through the hands of others, to be the manual for our lives. He had us as individuals in mind when He wrote it. I know He knew me and knew my struggles, sins, hurts, loves, and desires when He wrote this:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heat and lean not on your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

This is my Life Verse.

In this verse, the Lord admonishes me to trust Him, something I have struggled to do all my life. He tells me that He never advises me to trust myself, men, institutions, medicine, formulas, or experiences; He advises me to trust Him. His desire is for me to lean on and into Him, not to rely on myself. For, as I well know, when I rely on my own knowledge, I am confused, anxious, and insecure of the future.

Instead of looking for ways to control the situation or searching for my place in society or people’s lives, God urges me to acknowledge His existence in the world. He implores me to acknowledge His hand on my life and the lives of others. If I keep my eyes on God, He promises that He will make my path straight, regardless of if I know where it leads or what is on the way.

The Lord God wrote the Bible with each of us in mind. He knew what verses we were going to read at what time and He placed them there to guide us, encourage us, and be a light to our lives.

This verse is my verse. It will be a light to my darkness when sinful anxiety and fear threaten to crowd out my joy.

What is your life verse?  How does this verse encourage and uplift you? How is God speaking to you personally through His word?

What happens when our dreams fade…

Sunday Scripture

What happens when our dreams fade… into different dreams?

I have always found comfort in verse 4 of Psalm 37: “Seek first the Lord your God and He will give you the desires of your heart”.

It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Seek God, and he’ll make our dreams come true. That’s what my translation was.

And it’s true. God does give us so much, and many times He blesses us so that we can actually make our dreams a reality. However, I have found that this scripture has come to mean something very different to me in real-life application.

Before I committed my life to Christ, I wanted to be an actor.

God had blessed me with incredible opportunity and talent in this area, and so I figured that I had the “go ahead” from Him on this “desire of my heart”. So I devoted my first four years of college to refining my acting skills, learning how to act professionally and still make a paycheck, practice auditioning as an art form in itself as well as a way to land gigs, and building my resume.

Then I met the Lord Jesus Christ.

And slowly, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, my dream of becoming an actor just up and died.

I found that by the end of that same year I became a Christian, I had lost a tremendous amount of my desire to act. I didn’t even really care for it anymore and when I looked into what the future might hold for me, acting was not on my top priorities any longer.

But… I had always wanted to be an actor. Even as a little kid, God had blessed me with a flair for the dramatics; I would recreate and act out Disney movies with my friends and family constantly. Dress up and performance was my thing. It always was.

All of the sudden I didn’t really know what to do with myself. All of my friends who where my “acting friends” suddenly seemed like strangers; we no longer had anything to talk about or connect on. My professors and directors didn’t know what to do with me either and I was acutely aware of the disappointment I was causing those who previously knew me.

My dream was fading. It was dying. But why?

The answer is oddly simple. My dream of becoming an actor was indeed the desire of my heart, but the reason why I was not granted this desire (nor did I wanted to be granted it) was because I had never really gone after the first part of that verse….

“Seek first the Lord your God…”

Nope. Hadn’t done that until I really truly gave my life to Christ.

As soon as I became a Christian, God began to change and mold my heart, and in doing so, he altered the desires of my heart.

I no longer wanted to be an actor because it wasn’t what I was seeking first anymore; my priorities had changed, and so my dreams changed to include and become God’s dreams.

This is what truly happens when we seek God: His desires for us become our own desires because we are growing to become more and more like the men and women He intended we be.

If you are walking with Christ and seeking Him in all you do, you invite Him to change you. And He will.

Perhaps my new interpretation will be this: “If you follow Jesus, you’re dreams might fade, but rest assured that they will be replaced with a plan that is beyond your wildest dreams.”

How is God changing your heart’s desires? How have your dreams changed since you have come to know and mature in Christ?

Sunday Scriptures: Why Adam’s Rib?

Sunday Scripture

It was a normal Saturday morning: I was making the coffee and boiling the eggs for breakfast. The kitten was wining about not having any milk to drink and I was still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes enough to be forgetful of her. Steam screamed from the orange bauble-kettle and I turned off the burner to scoop Folgers into the French press, sprinkling the pile of dark grounds with a dash of orangy-brown cinnamon and pouring the steaming water up to the brim. After pealing the eggs and dousing them in black pepper, I sat down, opened up my Bible, and began to read. Not soon after taking my first bite of yolk-soaked toast, I was hit with this mind-shattering verse:

“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” 1 Corinthians 11:8-9

Now ladies, how do we feel about this?

As a newlywed, I have been learning quite a lot about my role as a wife, and let me tell you, it has not been an easy route; nor, I imagine, will it continue to be for quite some time. And perhaps it might have been a bit harder at first because of this fact: Men were not created for women. They were not created to serve them, respect them, love them, provide for them, or make them feel beautiful. They just weren’t. If they were, Adam would have been the second human, created to serve his wife Eve.

Instead, Eve was created for her man. She was to be his “help meet”. Meaning, she was a gift to Adam because she was completely designed to give him his every need. She was made from him and for him to be a helper, an encourager, a lover, and a team mate.

You all know the way it went, right? Eve was actually created from Adam’s rib. She actually was made from him. She is that much a part of him, and now, even though a wife is not cut from her husband’s side, she is still to come along side him (very much like a rib), and help him in the calling God has on his life.

Now, at first I thought that this meant women were below men, unequal and inferior to men. And to be honest, I had a little bit of a hard time swallowing this. Who of us ladies wouldn’t?

But this is not the case.

We were designed to be our husband’s help meet. So, we were created by God with a special man in mind for us. And when God created that man, he had us in mind as that man’s special helper. We were created, not to serve all men, but to serve and help and love and reverence one man: our husband.

Cover of "Adam's Rib"

Some of you may think: “Well Claire, this still seems like women get the short end of the stick!”

But it’s not true. We have the privilege of serving our husbands because, just like the Holy Spirit serves the Father and the Son and yet is still part of who God is, so we are in our marriages.

We are one with our husband. “The two shall become one flesh”— and so we are a part of him in a sense. Our natural design already is to nurture, encourage, love, defer to, and reverence. And when we do all of those very natural things for our counter part, our other half, our partner heir in the Kingdom, we make our husbands cherish us, love us, and value us as part of himself (his rib- if you will).

When we truly understand this scripture, we might read it as this: “For the Father is of the Son, but Christ is of God. Neither is the Father created for the Holy Spirit, but rather, the Holy Spirit was created for God.”

The only way, wives, we will ever see the beauty of the way God truly designed marriage to be, is if we start thinking of it as a reflection of God.

…However, I imagine some of you were like me that morning, utterly astounded and pretty much hacking up your breakfast when you read this kind of language. So….what does it mean to you?

How have you ladies seen this verse to be true in your lives? How has God been reflected in your marriage?