Where I Belong.

I am not really sure how to even begin writing today as my heart still feels like it is in my feet.

Last night, we all found out that Heaven gained a serious warrior last night, Spencer Hampton, as he lost his battle with cancer.

As I tossed and turned last night, I just prayed and prayed for a flood of peace to wash over Lindsay, Spencer’s wife, the Hampton and Styons’ family and all those who ever had the incredible privilege to spend a moment with Spencer. 

Music usually helps in some way or another so I turned on my ipod and put the song, “Where I Belong” by Building 429 on repeat.

The words say this: 

All I know is I’m not home yet.

This is not where I belong.

Take this world.

And give me Jesus.

This is not where I belong. 

 When the Earth shakes,

I wanna be found in You.

When the lights fade,

I wanna be found in You.

All I know is I’m not home yet.

This is not where I belong.

Take this world

And give me Jesus.

This is not where I belong.

The phrase, “All I know is I’m not home yet” rang over and over again in my head.

Spencer is home.

We were blessed to be able to borrow him and make memories with him for a while but He belongs in the arms of Jesus and it was time for him to go home.

While Spencer may have physically lost his health on this earth, his soul was flying. He was witnessing to people by simply opening his eyes in the morning as he faced each day with the strength and courage I know so many of us long to possess.

Spencer is home.

His body is repaired, whole and perfect.  He is probably organizing a game of football up there in the Heavens.  His mind is alert, steadfast and renewed.  His heart is fulfilled, complete and perfect.

 I know he is watching over us all, especially Lindsay, as we decide how we are going to handle the grief and the pain.  I have a good feeling that he wouldn’t want anything other than for us all to run to the arms of Jesus, because that is where He is too.

 Spencer is home.

Spencer taught us how to fight and fight hard. Throwing in the towel was simply not an option in any area of his life.

Spencer was a true example of living passionately and loving passionately.  He gave his all in each moment he was presented with and when his personal strength ended, God’s tapped in.

Spencer was a tangible reminder to us all that life here is short but it does not require a lot of time to make an incredible impact. 

I believe that although Spencer’s body was weak, he was the one carrying people to the feet of Jesus and saying, “Don’t worry about me, Jesus knows exactly what He is doing.”

Spencer is home.

Oh sweet Father, help us see life as Spencer saw it and as he sees it today sitting in your lap.  Lord, let us cling to you more tightly than ever as our hearts weep and break while dealing with this loss. 

I pray against what Satan would love for us to do, to shake our heads in frustration and ball up our fists in bitterness. I pray that we seek You immediately and intimately, that you reign us all in and remind us that Your love supersedes any human emotion we may be feeling right now. 

I thank You Jesus that you thought so highly of us to let us be a part of Spencer’s life and I pray that as we continue in our days forward, we yearn to live with the passion and strength he so fervently showed. 

Jesus, thank You that this is not goodbye and that our time with Spencer here was a mere introduction for we are promised eternal LIFE with you in your Kingdom.  Thank you that you allow us to call that home. 

Jesus, I pray we do not seek for understanding in mysteries that our beyond our comprehension but rather we seek for Your peace, which you freely offer to any heart that needs it. 

Jesus, thank you for Your sovereignty and sweetly taking Spencer up there safely where he feels free, whole and complete.  Thank you that you love us like you do and that we never face a battle without you father.

I pray for Lindsay and the Styons’ and Hampton family, that your floodgates of peace burst open and fill every area of their lives.  I pray for Your joy to fill their hearts and that their mourning turns into dancing.  Jesus, show them how much you love them and remind them that this is not goodbye because we all have the privilege of going home.

            In Jesus powerful name I pray, Amen.

Also, I started thinking and I am sure Spencer never loses a round of poker in Heaven 🙂

Against All Odds. 

Recognize & Retaliate.

I am not good enough.

I am not pretty enough.

I wish I had less freckles.

I am not tall enough.

I am too tall.

I am not strong enough.

I wish I had red hair.

I don’t like my body type.

I am not talented enough.

I am not adventurous enough.

I haven’t made a difference in anyone’s life because I am young.

I am too fat.

I am too scared to follow my dreams.

I am a failure.

Recognize any of these? Maybe you recognize a lot of them.

If you do, I want you to write it down on a piece of paper. Write: My thought: ________

Now, I want you to go through God’s 66 love letters to you and see what He says about that in His book.

He addresses every single topic in some form or manner so don’t give up. If you need help, consult google. He is a know-it-all.

Once you find what God says, I want you to write that under your thought. Write: The truth: _____________.

So you now have My thought: ________________
The truth: __________________

Do you see how different those are? Do you see what you’ve been willingly feeding yourself?

Put it on your mirror. Put it in your wallet. Put it in your car. Put it beside your computer.

Wherever you will see it, place it there.

Friends, we MUST stop feeding our minds with false statements. We must stop believing the lies that Satan tries so desperately to make us believe about ourselves. We must stop drinking from the contaminated well and fill ourselves with the living water, the truth.

Slowly but surely, your mind will change the way you see yourself in that particular way. Keep God’s truth at the forefront of your mind. Write it on the tablet of your heart.

This is the first step and we must take action.

John 8:32 says “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Claim His truth and replace those lies so you won’t be deceived any longer.

You. Are. Perfect. In. his. Eyes.

…write that down! It is the TRUTH!

It is time to recognize and retaliate. Recognize Satan’s lies and retaliate with the truth! Our God never loses, ever.

#Victorious. Can I get an Amen??!

Time to Tap in!

Do you really believe?

So, I was deeply challenged this morning.

I was listening to a sermon by Steven Furtick on the way to work and he was talking about what waiting on God means. He said that there were people in the audience who were praying to God for wisdom, for joy and for other things they thought they didn’t’ have or seemed out of reach.

I’m thinking: Well, I’ve been praying for wisdom and discernment to guide me on this job search.

He continues with explaining how we often think God is going to drop down some special force into our lives and everything is going to do a 360! And then, suddenly, we will be wise as a serpent and joyous as a schoolgirl!

However, when we do that, we are asking God for something WE ALREADY HAVE.

When we pray for these things or discuss them with God, He is yearning for us to realize that we already have all that we need in the Holy Spirit.

I’m thinking: Oh, wow. I have been so busy asking, I haven’t even thought about that. I never even looked through His book to realize I already have these qualities.

We just have to TAP into it!

Get this: We have everything we need already, we just have to realize it, tap into it, believe it’s there and begin using it!

The Holy Spirit is not some funny little term jesus coined just to make us feel special.

The Holy Spirit is the REAL DEAL.

We have the ability to move mountains and change the world.

We already possess all the joy that can be contained in this world in the depths of our heart.

We already are strong because of Him who lives inside of us!

The catch is if we really believe it.

Let me ask you this, do you really believe that you’re capable of doing the impossible?

Do you really believe that God fulfills His promises?

Do you really believe that you’re capable of being joyful?

You should believe you are. Because you are.

Do not just “sit and wait” for God to plop joy in your life! Or hang out in the waiting room until he shows up with the discernment for where your next stop is.

You already have all that you need in the present moment. The next step is simply walkin’ in that truth.

Come to Jesus. He loves to remind His children of the blessings He has placed in their lives and the gifts they possess.

Change your to-do list and add: Start believing.

It’s time to tap into what you already have! Hellurrrrrr, you ain’t got forever.

No Mistakes, Only Masterpieces.

So, I wanted to share something that someone shared with me and I feel like everyone needs to hear it.

Like a good song, you just HAVE to share it and pass it along, right?

So I had just had a hard week where nothing goes as planned and I wasn’t feeling confident in who I was or what I brought to the table.

 And someone said this to me:

“Cleere, you know how you love sunsets? You know how you always talk about how beautiful of an artist God is, right?

Well, think about this. Those are all just glimpses of His talent. He calls YOU His masterpiece! A masterpiece is an artist’s BEST work!

 So, when you’re looking at those sunsets, your maker is looking back at you and saying, ‘LOOK IN THE MIRROR!’

You are His most prized treasure.”

The person said it SO much better than this but I unfortunately didn’t write it down, so that’s a close rendition of it. Forget those quotation marks, I guess.

Anyway, I twirled that example around in my head all night.  I’m sure they had no idea how much that comment affected my day. 

Wow.

Driving today, I looked up and thought how incredible the sky looked! Clouds perfectly formed, the sun peeked just behind a fluffy, snow white one to provide us with a little bit of shade. And was reminded…

That same artist made me.

And guess what?

That same artist made you.

You are significant.

You are beautiful.

You are valuable.

You are sacred.

You are important.

You are hand-crafted.

You are perfectly made in His image.

You are a treasure that is meant to be treasured, by your own heart and those around you.

That’s who you are. You must know that!

And believe it.

And walk in it.

When we realize the true worth of the reflection in the mirror, we stop questioning our abilities and begin pursuing our dreams because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we ARE worthy.

You, my friend, are all of those things and more.

Smile, you beautiful/handsome thing, you!!! Your maker makes no mistakes, only masterpieces.

So, write it on a notecard. On your hand. Or your bathroom mirror. On your forehead if need be! – “Thank you Jesus for I am fearfully and WONDERFULLY made!” 🙂

Pressure makes Pearls.

Doesn’t life seem stressful sometimes?

Rhetorical question I am guessing. For everyone, really.

Life can be SO stressful.

See, I was going to try and write a blog post about something positive but let’s be real, not everyday presents you with circumstances that are easy to be positive in. It’s just the reality of life.

It can be…

Hard.

Trying.

Complicated.

Confusing.

Painful.

Exhausting.

Draining.

Draining, that’s what my day was yesterday. And the day before.

I mean, one thing after the fricken other! Every piece of technology I needed was messing up. My mom and I were clashing in every which way. I missed my friends. I was still trying to get used to where I was, who I was around and what I was doing.

But I was absolutely on the verge of a breakdown all day. And then it happened…my car got hit. Again. By a freaking grandma. With a flower sweater on. How do I get mad at her???

Well, I didn’t, but I just started bawling crying.

SERIOUSLY, GOD?!? I mean, COME ON! What’s next????

I was just waiting for the dominos to all come crashing down. At this point, what would it matter? Everything else had been going wrong already.

So, last night, I just cried. For a while. And then a little longer. And got it all out. And then decided to stop trying to figure it out myself and consult the man upstairs on what He might be trying to show me in the moment in my life.

Opened my Bible to a random page and guess what?

Song of Soloman. His love letter to me. That’s what He wanted me to read. So, I did.

I read and I read and I read. And something came over me- peace. The one He offers when you cradle yourself in His arms and relinquish control of what you thought you could handle alone.

And I realized, plain and simple, life isn’t easy. If it was fair, none of us would be alive! The very foundation of our lives is centered around the principle of unmerited favor when Jesus died on the cross for us. That certainly wasn’t fair, but thank goodness He did!

Some days just suck! That’s reality. But it’s what we take from those days, the lessons we learn, the perspective we decide to view it from that eventually shapes who we are.

Rick Warren says:
“God changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls and coal into diamonds, using time and pressure. He’s working on you too.”

If we never had the tough days, we wouldn’t know what the good ones feel like.

Time.

Pressure.

Difficulty.

Embrace them.

And if today is one of those “breakdown at any second” days for you? Maybe Jesus is reeling you in & wants your attention. Go remind yourself how great your God is ☺

Your very own treehouse.

Have you seen the show, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”?

If you’re in need of an intense, eyes are puffy the next morning cry, watch this show.

The point of the show is to adopt a family that does not have the resources for a new home, has been through severe hardships, financial struggles, life-changing circumstances or something of that nature and is in need of a better home.

Well the last one I watched, the kid loved tree houses. Like he LIVED for those things. But because of his family’s circumstances, he was never able to have a real treehouse.

Well, the Extreme Makeover team made his bedroom a TREEHOUSE! Like a slide and the whole shebang. If we are being honest here, I was jealous of this kid’s room!

It was the sweetest thing in the world to watch him walk into his room for the first time. Utter disbelief. Complete and total shock. His response: “Is this really mine?”

Me on the other end of the TV: “YES it’s yours Noah!!! Yes!!!!! Oh my gosh!!!!!  This is your treehouse bed!!!”…..I really said these things. Alone. In my living room.

Anyway, I mention this example because this is such a clear picture of how God is with us.

I was doing some reading this morning and in 1 King, Soloman asks the Lord for discernment, to be specific, he asked for “an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil.”

God’s response:

“Because you have asked this thing and not asked for riches for yourself nor have you asked for the life of your enemies…

HERE GOES…

“…I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.  I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.”

God could have just re-done Soloman’s room and given him a fresh coat of paint but instead he straight up planted a treehouse in the middle of his room! He blessed Him in abundance.

My friends, that is what Jesus LONGS to do for you. He wants to give you far more than you ask, exceed your expectations and bless you beyond your wildest imagination.

 Are you letting Him?

 Be reminded that we must also be like Soloman and ask for things that please the Lord, desires that further prove Jesus is our only idol.  We can’t ask for a million dollars and expect Jesus to give us something He knows will steal our focus, energy and joy and rob us of true contentment.

Be obedient. Listen to that small voice inside of you and do not be afraid to follow it!

God is the creator of Extreme Home Makeover. Your home = your heart. LET him transform you and you will be blessed with the coolest treehouse ever.

Extreme Heart. Makeover. That kinds works, doesn’t it?

Go on pinterest and get you some extravagant treehouse decorations, it’s happenin’.

Ain’t He Grand.

Recently moving to the Dallas area, traffic is no stranger to me. In fact, I have come to kinda like it (kinda) or maybe I just know it is inevitable so I have tried to think of a good way to pass that time.

On my way home from work yesterday, I started thinking about all the different seasons of my life and what I have gone through in each of them.
Warning: If you do this kind of self-reflection, you will absolutely realize that you were once more stupid than you are today. Hard to believe sometimes.

Anyway, although I have made a lot of mistakes, I started thinking about how GOOD God was to me during each of those situations.

He always delivered me from my strongholds.

He always stayed up late and talked to me when everyone else was too tired.

He always provided people in my life to encourage and support me.

He was faithful.

He was comforting.

He was encouraging.

He was gracious.

He was merciful.

He was caring.

He was loving.

He allowed me to laugh at my own mistakes and see the positive side of an undesirable circumstance. He allowed me to use it as inspiration in my writing. He allowed me to use my failures and hardships to relate to other people and be a source of strength for them.

He, not once, tried to make me feel guilty. HECK no! When you put Jesus in a situation, He removes the shackles, not the other way around.

He, in all of His grace, still allowed me to continue in my dreams despite my flaws. When my ability stopped, His kicked in.

And y’all, this is just a GLIMPSE of how good our father is! We can’t comprehend, fathom or imagine the glory and faithfulness He is capable of.

All I could say sitting in the front seat of my car looking over the Dallas interstate: Thank you. Oh my gosh, thank YOU JESUS.

I know that any good that I do or that comes from me is because He lives in me. Any bad is not of Him. He is what makes me useful, strong and disciplined.

The second I got home, my grandma asked: “What highway did you travel down this time?”

…Great question. I am not even sure I remember how I got from my office back home but my soul sure felt refreshed and I have a pretty good feeling of who took the wheel.

Thank You, Jesus. You are some kinda good to me.

Have you thanked Him today? If not, it’s time.

Rose Colored Glasses.

 

Have you heard the phrase “someone was obviously looking through rose colored glasses when they made that decision”? 

 
Maybe the president of a company decides to implement a new business strategy that has failed in the past with other businesses. 
 
Or a mother puts her child in rehab for a third time in hopes that maybe this time will be different. 
 
Or my math professor agreed to play country music before class started in hopes that my statistics grade would improve. 
 
Whatever the case, you get my point. Wearing “rose colored glasses” insinuates that someone is not seeing a situation clearly or dreaming a little too far-fetched. Maybe because past situations have shown otherwise or maybe it’s just that the situation seems risky, that failure is possible and the odds are not in your favor.
 
While I certainly agree that making wise decisions requires that we do look at the outcomes of those who have been in our same situation, I do not think we should assume that will be our result. And while I do think it is necessary to be realistic in order to be effective, I do not think reality knows everything. 
 
Yes, failure is possible, but isn’t it always? Yes, putting trust in someone or something is risky, but what is your alternative? Never making the “scary” decisions and always playing it safe?  That seems like it is failure in its own way, failure to give an opportunity, a person, a choice or whatever it may be the chance to prove others wrong.
 
Maybe that new business strategy does work and saves the company from bankruptcy. 
 
Maybe that child finally gets it and receives deliverance from a stronghold that has claimed his life for so long. 
 
Maybe I do get an A in statistics. 
 
Rose colored glasses do not always signify ignorance or inexperience. Maybe they mean having a greater belief in life in general. 
 
So, all I’m saying is don’t throw them away. Be wise but at the same time, don’t be scared to throw on your rose colored glasses and live a little.
 
Oh and I got an A in statistics! Better believe my professor and I heavily recommend rose colored frames. We got proof! 

Outstretched arms.

 

Have you ever had a person close to you begin to distance themselves from you? 

 
Or have you experienced a friend betray you and lie to you even though you were willing to accept them no matter the answer? 
 
Or possibly you have watched your parents be hurtful to one another, piercing each other with words, slowly breaking your heart to the point of physical pain? 
 
I’m not sure which one strikes a chord with your heart, maybe all of them seem strikingly familiar and almost painful to read. 
 
I felt this feeling recently where someone I deeply loved was distancing themselves from me and I wish I could explain the feeling I felt for those few hours. Yes, hours. It wasn’t all that long before they expressed their feelings to me and I felt at peace with the relationship again. But still, have you felt that way? 
 
As I struggled in this situation, I started to think about how God feels so often with us. We have moments of weakness where we think we do not need Him. We are self-reliant. We are capable of living without Him. We are successful because of our own abilities.
 
Right? … Yeahhhhhhh RIGHT! hahahaha to those thoughts is all I have to say! 
 
But in those moments of arrogance and ignorance, we turn our backs. We become lost children who run until we fall. We are bleeding. We are in pain. And then we are reminded, we simply can’t live without Him. 
 
Those hours while we were gone, He was still watching over us, loving us, consoling us and praying that we would turn back around and stop being so distant. And when we did? His arms were even wider than before. 
 
Are we this way with people in our own lives? Do we offer them the same grace when they turn their backs on us, separate us with distance or betray us with words? 
 
I know I do not always outstretch my arms like I should. Sometimes, I even shrink my wingspan a little bit, signaling to them that I was hurt by their absence and didn’t appreciate their betrayal. 
 
Oh man, Lord, how silly I am! How small my love must be if one trial makes me shrink my welcome for my friends and family. Jesus, help me to offer the same grace, patience and love to those in my life, no matter how distant they seem or how long they stay gone! 
 
And thank You for always giving me a bear hug when I turn my back on You. My small mind can not comprehend it but my hurting heart ALWAYS needs it. 
 
Have someone in your life that needs that outstretched, Jesus kinda bear hug? Don’t be stubborn, open your arms and welcome them back. 

Kicking the Bad Habits.

 

Okay, do me favor.
 
We are resorting back to middle school and starting with an exercise. 
 
Put your hands together and interlace your fingers. What thumb naturally goes on top? Take note of that. Now, repeat this exercise and put the other thumb on top. 
 
Feels weird, right? I did it and was shocked at how strange it felt. Usually when doing this exercise, people put the same thumb on top every single time. It’s just what they do. It’s a habit and one we often do not even realize we have formed. 
 
The reason I wanted you to do that exercise is because this is a perfect illustration of the truth that we have habits in our lives, and much like this one, we do not even realize their existence in our lives until someone points them out and challenges us to change our ways. 
 
John maxwell states in his book, “Putting your dream to the test”:  “if your habits don’t line up with your dream, then you need to either change your habits or change your dream.”
 
Woah. Heart check. 
 
But really, that hit me like a ton of bricks! The harsh reality is that actions speak volumes and determine where you go in life. Ask yourself that question: do your habits line up with your dream? If so, keep reading. If not, keep reading. 
 
If you don’t have a specific dream that comes to mind, think about how your habits affect your daily life. Maybe you don’t have a specific dream but I would venture to say that we all have the dream of making an impact and not wasting this life. So now ask yourself, are there any negative or unnecessary habits that are standing in your way of pleasing Jesus? 
 
If not, call me. I want to learn your secrets. If yes, then you are certainly not alone.
 
You see, habits don’t have to be necessarily “bad” or “evil” to be a hindrance in your life.  But if something is sucking time and energy from your life, it needs to be removed! It may not be “bad” but it is slowing up the plan for your life.  
 
It’s like knowing there is a bypass but willingly choosing the longer way around. Why the HECK would you do that? 
 
Habits are formed over time so YES, they are hard to break. They are often appealing in sight but do not offer the pleasure they promise. Others sap your time, energy and resources and still leave you feeling drained with no sense of internal rewards.
 
They’re hard to break. BUT I am encouraging you to assess the things in your life. The good and bad habits. Try to remove some of those roadblocks. Take one day at a time. Use the time you save from not doing those bad habits and add it to your good ones! 
 
Be aware that with progress, Satan has his eye on you and he would love more than anything to make you feel defeated. If you mess up, I’ll say I told you so. YOU’RE HUMAN! But know that the one living in you is a greater than the one living in this world. 
 
Just get ready and gear up because kicking a bad habit requires a battle. 
 
But whatever you do, keep going.
 
Just. Keep. Going.