Trust His Heart

For the past 6 summers, I have gone out to the beautiful state of Colorado for a week of camping with my church. This summer was no different PTL! But this week, as I sat and as I sang and as I served in the role of sponsor instead of student, amidst the majestic rocky mountains, I couldn’t help but reflect on how transfomative this place, these people, and those experiences were for me.

I am no longer the girl so consumed by self-image and self-consciousness to the point of excessive exercise and cut-throat calorie counting masked by sports and “healthiness.”

I am no longer the girl trapped by the expectations and pressures of being a “Preacher’s kid” and “Bible College President’s kid,” unable to embrace vulnerability, transparency, and honesty.

I am no longer the girl who recoiled from any thought of a life in ministry and stood at arms length from any possibility of following in the career choices of my family.

I have found so much freedom in Christ, and I am slowly but surely learning to receive God’s good grace for my many mistakes.

I still have so much room to grow and there are still so many areas of my life in need of more holiness.

I have so much to learn about patience and trust. Like God reallllllllllly wants to teach me those lol. I mean, they’re written on my arm in permanent ink for Pete’s sake, but gosh I need that reminder daily.

This summer has been so exhausting and spiritually dry for me. And I’m well aware that the season I’m about to enter is going to be a long and hard one. One of waiting. One of uncertainty.

But I’m so very thankful for a God who promises to fill my cup if I will just keep running towards Him.

I’m so thankful for a God who is my refuge and strength when I am fragile and weak.

I’m so thankful for a God who isn’t scared or threatened by my thoughts and fears.

God is too wise to be mistaken

God is too good to be unkind.

So when you don’t understand.

When you don’t see His plan.

When you can’t trace His hand.

Trust His heart.

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Satan Won’t Steal My Joy (nor will any other boy)

Let me tell you – I LOVE my jobs. I LOVE directing VBS at church. I LOVE being done with college (at least for now, haha!). And yet…I don’t want to stay in this season of life forever. My mom says I’m restless and always ready for what’s next, some might say I’m discontent or impatient, but I prefer to think of myself as hopeful for the future 😉

My journey into single-hood again comes with so many emotions – gratitude, joy, independence, loneliness, impatience, jealousy, etc. I could tell you that I’m just striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman and holding onto a hope of marriage and motherhood without worry of my future *picture girl dancing in field of flowers with sun rays streaming down and soft piano serenading* (lol NOPE) In reality, everyday I struggle to ignore the whispers of You were not enough for him, or No matter what you say or do, you don’t deserve their time and attention and words, or They left you because there’s something wrong with you...

For as long as I can remember, I have LOVED kids. I remember being so excited every time one of my younger siblings was born. I remember always wanting to help my mom bathe them, change them, feed them, rock them, and when I couldn’t do those things, I’d find my baby dolls and just do it beside her. I adored them and I idolized my mom.

This last week, I got to go to Indiana and take care of my little nephew while his younger brother made his arrival into the world. I cherished every moment! And when I got to meet baby brother for the first time, I thought my heart might explode with pride; they couldn’t get any cuter! And yet…there’s also a twinge of pain.

Each time one of my peers starts dating, gets engaged, married, and/or has a baby, I feel conflicted. I deeply love my friends. I could not be more thankful for my sister and her husband and my brother and his wife and the true friendships that I have found in them! And yet…I also can’t help but wonder when it’s going to be my turn, or if it ever will be. I know that marriage and motherhood are not a promise that God has made to every woman he created and yet I crave and desire it more than almost anything else. Love does not come without pain, and sometimes it hurts to love those that you also sometimes envy.

And yet… that’s not the whole story either. I am formidable. I am a force to be reckoned with. I fall and I get back up again. I cry myself to sleep when hormones are raging and everything seems to fall in around me, and I laugh in the face of fear when I remember who I am in HIM.

Some of the women that I look up to the most, are single. They push me, inspire me, and speak truth over me. They have helped me to recognize the strength that God has given me, they have helped me give life to other dreams that I have, and they have reminded me that I am made whole in Christ with or without a life partner.

It is, no doubt, daunting to think that I have purposefully placed myself in jobs and circles where there are little to no prospects for a romantic relationship much less simply even friendships with peers, and to know that I have chosen to step away from  a naturally like-minded community and the kinds of things that every other college age girl is doing.

And yet… man oh man, I can’t wait to love on kids, though not my own, who desperately need to know that they have a place to belong, they are deserving of love, they have an advocate fighting for their side, they can succeed, they can live an abundant life. And I can’t wait to speak into the lives of teenage girls, to tell them who they are and whose they are.

And so, I wait, and I step when God nudges, and I follow when God calls, and I give my ever-changing, restless heart to Him who does not change. I will cling to joy: audacious and unbridled joy, that looks for light in everything, even in my waiting (MHN). Satan won’t steal my joy (nor will any other boy)!

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:2-4

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35

Wildflowers

In May of this year, I will graduate from Ozark Christian College with my Associates of Arts in Christian Ministry degree. And as every high school and college student knows, there are countless questions asked and decisions to be made during the time leading up to graduation. What will you do? Where will you go? Who will you be? How will you do that? I have researched, I have interviewed, I have filled out applications, but all I have is one answer. 

I have finally decided, at 19 years old, what I want to be when I grow up…a wildflower.

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I have always loved flowers – the lilacs that grow outside my bedroom window right around the time of my birthday, the sweetest smelling knock-out roses that my mom grows in front of our porch at home, the sunflowers that grow along the ditches in some of my very favorite places in Colorado, the peonies that my Granny grew and that we took countless pictures by, the fall chrysanthemums sold at our local farmer’s market and the book my mom used to read to us about them, the random pressed flowers that hold so many memories from summer trips – and I think that there are lessons to be learned from them. I think that God has been using this part of his creation to say to me, “Clara, look. I made these, and I made you. Trust me; I know best.”

I want to be clothed with a beauty that reflects the image of my creator.

I want to be strengthened by Him so that I can with stand life’s seasons, holding tight to the knowledge that even in “winter” seasons that seem so lonely and wearying, that the sunshine will come again and this too shall pass. .

I want to share life with those around me, and when my petals are plucked I want them to know that rather than “he loves me not,” that HE LOVES THEM.

I want to be delicate in a way that shows a gentle and quiet spirit that is pleasing to Him.

I want to rest in the knowledge that I will always be cared and provided for by the One who made me.

I want to abide in the truth that my purpose is to simply be, that I was created for His pleasure, to glorify Him with my existence.

 

Matthew 6:25-33,  25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

 
I don’t have to have answers to all of the questions that I’ll be asked, and I don’t have to be afraid of the unknown. All I have to be is all that God says that I am. So I will praise Him, I will dwell with Him, I will follow Him, and I will be who He says that I am.

Listening

I wrote this piece about 5 months ago, towards the end of last school year. Freshman year at OCC was by no means easy. It was full of experiences and people and knowledge that stretched me, challenged me, grew me. Sometimes it was very painful. But it was all for good. And during the moments of reflection, when I took time to look back and think and process, I can only count my “happies,”the things that I am thankful for, because He is so so good to me. And so, I thought it was time to share this.

When I started working on this piece, it just came to me. I truly believe that the Spirit gave it to me and led me through it. He has been teaching me, guiding me, speaking to me, and leading me this past year and I am slowly but surely learning to listen and to respond.

When my heart yearned to know, to experience, and to hear something “big,” it seemed like there was nothing, yet I was reminded that just like God spoke to Elijah with a gentle whisper, that sometimes he speaks to us in the quiet too.

And so I’m learning to listen and to listen fully, with my eyes, with my ears, with my heart, and with my soul. It’s easy to say that I’m naturally quiet because I’m introverted, but I want to be quiet because I can hear Him better that way. I could say that I’m a good listener just because I don’t always have a lot of words to say, but I want to be a good listener because someone else has something good to say.

So, Lord, I’m listening…

Psalms‬ ‭33:1-9‬, 18-22

“Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him. Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy. For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.”

‭‭“But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.”

In the stillness, I have seen your heart
And in the quiet, I have heard you whisper who you are

You are good
You are provider
You are refuge
You are faithful
You are life
You are sustainer
You are good

And in the stillness, I have seen your hand move
And in the quiet, I’ve heard you whisper what you’ll do

You are good
You are provider
You are refuge
You are faithful
You are life
You are sustainer
You are good

And in the stillness, I have seen your patience
And in the quiet, I’ve heard you whisper to my soul

You are good
You are provider
You are refuge
You are faithful
You are life
You are sustainer
You are good

You made the mountains
You breathe the wind
You spoke the earth into motion
You hold us all in your hands
So we praise you, so we praise you, so we praise you

You are good
You are provider
You are refuge
You are faithful
You are life
You are sustainer
You are good

Soli Deo Gloria

MOVE

It’s only day 2 of week 3 at CIY Move in Anderson, Indiana but God is already MOVEing here. I am confident that he is moving in the students’ and leaders’ hearts and lives, though I have yet to see the product, yet I know that he is working in mine as well. To be completely honest, I have no idea what I’m doing as a Summer Rep for Ozark Christian College. I have no idea what I’m doing at Ozark Christian College. But for some reason that is greater than I understand, this is where God seems to want me to be.

For the past month at least, there’s been this seeming disconnect between my head and my heart, a cloud that seems to always follow me blocking the direct light, the ability I seem to have lost to be able to worship. It’s hard. My head knows truth. My mouth knows to pray and sing. My eyes read scripture. But my heart doesn’t connect. It doesn’t feel. And I don’t know why. When the emotions are running freely within me, I want to shut them off. But when they’re gone, I want them back. It’s a roller coaster ride of a life, and I don’t always enjoy it, but I suppose that since this is the way that I was made, that it is good. If there weren’t times when I lacked the intense feelings, then maybe I wouldn’t appreciate them once they’re gone again.

However, last night there was a spark in my heart. CIY is loud, big, intense and sometimes overwhelming. The Aaron Pelsue band who is here this week is particularly loud and flamboyant. But my older sister Lydia (she is also the very definition of flamboyant), who was an emcee with CIY for a summer or two, told me how much she loved them and that she told them that I would be here at the same time as them and that I needed to meet them. So, while working backstage during the loud, foggy, dark session, and with 20 seconds of insane courage, I introduced myself to Emily Pelsue and told her that I was Lydia’s little sister. Immediately she stopped, but down her mic, and gave me a big ol’ hug and expressed how glad she was to meet me, telling me how much she loved Lydia and our whole family, and introduced me to the rest of the band. It was a lot for an introvert whose head was about to give out from sensory and information overload. But it was also such an encouragement in that moment. God must’ve know that I needed it, even when I normally wouldn’t have thought so myself.

Fast forward to today. For the morning session I joined the Milford Christian Church youth group from Lamar, Missouri (which is the home of my Bunton Family). As the Aaron Pelsue Band came out for worship time, I was a little apprehensive of the lights and noise and smells similar to last night, but it was mixed with a little bit of excitement because of the connection with them from last night. As they played, God chipped away at my heart. The walls that have been keeping my head and heart from connecting began to crack. Their music is different. Their style is different. Their lyrics are their own, not the typical sunday morning setlist yet straight from the scriptures. And I was moved. And I wanted to cry.

Still the tears didn’t come like I wanted. I’m not all the way there again yet. But God… But God is working. But God is moving. But God is faithful. I just have to keep showing up. So here I am, Lord.

Rock Garden – Week 1

Well folks, week one of Summer Reps for OCC is officially over. My teammate Nick Maxwell and I spent our first week at Rock Garden Christian Camp in Pomona, Missouri. There were about 60 students plus several faculty. I was so blessed and encouraged by our time with these wonderful people. There were hard parts – adjusting to less sleep, high emotions, awkward conversations, and the unknown – but the goods most definitely out weighed the bads so here are my thankfuls:

  1. Beautiful campgrounds with good facilities.
  2. The tight-knit and incredibly welcoming “family” that the churches have.
  3. Stellar family group co-leaders from other colleges.
  4. Family group kids who genuinely cared about the things we were learning.
  5. Inspiring preaching and summer rep advising from Bob Witte.
  6. Good conversations about OCC with students and faculty.
  7. Fruitful conversations about Jesus and life with students and faculty.
  8. Lots of laughter from games, dad jokes, and skits.
  9. New traditions learned that will be interesting to compare with other camps.
  10. Christ’s name was praised and love was shown to and by all.

I was reminded that forgiveness comes before healing, that Jesus will always lead us to the cross, and that His strength will be made perfect in my weakness. As I have begun to memorize the book of Philippians this summer, there is not a single part that has not challenged and encouraged me. Philippians 1:3-11 has fit so well with this past week and will be the prayer of my heart for the people I met.

Father let your presence be made known through my presence this summer – here I am, Lord. Send me.Rock Garden

Pals

Pals – they’re the realest of the real, so here’s to a few of the people who made the first half of freshman year at OCC pretty okay and showed me more Jesus…

Lyd – Mom always said the best thing that she could give us was each other, and boy oh boy, she was right. Having built in best buds is pretty rad. Our Thursday biscuits and gravy breakfasts are my favoritest. You’re willing to do all the talking, but you’re willing to listen too. You care deeply. You speak truth. You know how to make me laugh more than almost anyone. You’re a real one.

Destiny – I can always count on you to pull me out of my room, or at least bring people to me.  Thanks for understanding (it helps that our personalities are basically the same, huh? lol) and for being so genuine.

Marci – Gosh, I wouldn’t have wanted to adventure to community groups with anyone else haha.  I’m thankful for our sleepover, car rescues, job searches, upper room carpooling, trip planning, and breakfast dates. Love ya

Lifegroup – Thankful for a safe place to talk and be heard, for adventures around Joplin, for yummy food and coffee, and for getting out of speeding tickets lol

Makenzie – I was a little nervous to room with someone I didn’t know very well, but I’m thankful for your peaceful presence, your humor, and your low maintenance and easy-going personality.

Courtney – At the beginning of the semester, I thought you were going to be the quietest person on our floor, but I was so glad to be wrong! You’ve been an encouragement and a joy; I love your sweet and sassy self.

Cherrell – Life’s tough, but with God we’re tougher. Thanks for your constant check-ups and thoughtfulness.

Goodman 3rd – Keep it real

Break was good. School’s better. Here’s to great pals, new memories, and more Jesus.

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