Freshman Thoughts

Life is so full right now-full of countless new experiences, lessons, friendships, and new thoughts to be had in this new season. Some days I feel like I could burst with all the ‘newness’! There are definitely plenty of new challenges to face as well. They can feel big and frightening, and fight for my perspective in the midst of the joys. But when I quiet myself before Him, I’m ready to face whatever comes. When the sun comes up again on a new day I put on the strength that He gives.

I’m also thankful that I’m not alone in this season! I’m surrounded with dear friends to face the challenges and share the new joys with. When we get together we each have so much to say because we are all learning and experiencing so much. Our times are filled with laughter and talk of dreams about the future. What a gift!

So while I’m a little overwhelmed at times, I’m so thankful. I’m thankful for my Heavenly Father, family, and friends to walk with me on the beautiful journey.

In Him,

Laura

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Willow’s Growth

I was looking through an old journal last night and found a treasure!

For several years now I have been writing about a character named Willow. In my stories she is portrayed as a tree, but the analogy is that of a young girl facing challenges in her daily life. It was so special to come across this entry again as I find myself in the same circumstances. Hope you enjoy!

“Willow had seen many seasons, and had for the most part eagerly embraced them. She hid under her branches and held tightly when the rain and floods came… and at last, the cold winter winds seemed to visit her less and less. Willow felt as if her whole being was beginning to thaw.

Beauty everywhere was in bloom and coming back to life. Yet somehow, Willow felt afraid. She almost wished that winter wouldn’t end. For in winter, all she need do was stand. She had stood and took the harsh winter cold, and waited patiently as her roots soaked up the rain. But now, willow felt fear. Now, it was time to grow again. She wasn’t sure how to grow taller and bear new and beautiful leaves. Willow did not know what would make her stronger and help her become all that she had hoped to be.

But as the warmth of the sun shone on her, a joyful thought came with it! The sun was shining warm and bright as it had before, but she had never felt it this way. The way it moved across her with the passing day, the way it hit her that day was like never before. Willow had grown. It was then that she realized that she had grown and would grow, for it was what she was made to do. And with her roots in the ground and her face towards the sun, she would continue on.”

The Weight of Encouragement

Earlier today I spent some time studying at a coffee shop. I got up from my chair at one point, and while I was putting milk in my coffee made casual conversation with the older gentleman beside me. I went back to my seat and the man came and sat down a few chairs away from me with his newspaper. Finally, when he got up to leave, he came over to me and my rather ominous looking physics book and said,

“Well, I tell you, I’m getting tired just watching you.” He laughed and putting his hand on my shoulder said, “You’ll do just fine.I know. You’re a good young lady.” Giving me an affectionate Grandfatherly pat he concluded, “It was nice to meet you!”

All I could manage to do was smile and say, “Oh thank you! It was so nice to meet you too. Have a good day!”

He had no idea how much these simple words of encouragement would mean to me. I have struggled so much the last couple of weeks with feeling inadequate and unprepared. At times, these feelings have crept their way into almost every area of my life including school. When I stop to think, I know it isn’t true, but feelings will be feelings. And in the midst of this, little reminders like “you can do this”, and “you have what it takes”, carry so much weight with them. Meeting this man made me think of my Grandpa and how he encouraged me to try hard things, and believed I could do them-affirming me with love and gentleness.

It also makes me think of what my Heavenly Father said to me just this morning from His Word:

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” and

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

(In my own words) “I have prepared you for good works which I have ordained. You have all you need in Christ, because I have equipped you with My power and will give you grace (abundantly!) to do what I have called you to do in every area… even when that includes struggle and what feels like failure. And in the end, I will get the glory.”

Thank you God for gentle reminders that carry much weight; reminders of your promises and love for us. Friends, I hope this is an encouragement to you as well. Keep pressing in!

Enjoy the journey

 

 

 

Traveling Thoughts

Take a deep breath…In…out. Yes, it’s good to be alive.

Last month I took my first trip to Europe. When I was traveling, the world seemed so big and intimidating at first. And then I started to connect with people and places, and somehow, not knowing everything (or much of anything) became okay. I started to like the person I was there; free and growing in confidence, with the air of new places and the warmth of the sun making their mark on my face. Now, coming home, life is still so good. Yet strangely, mixed with the peacefulness and joy of home is a sense of struggle.                1)  Because I feel different because of what I’ve seen and the places I’ve been, and yet no one knows how it felt. (except for my brother who was with me and lives several states away). 2) Somehow it seems like the learning curve that comes with new places and experiences is easier to cope with than the constant demands, stress, drama, and relationships here at home. My fear is that if I fail here people will remember and judge me for it. If I mess up here, I’ll never live it down. The decisions in this season of life at home seem never to go away, and it would be easier to just run from them. But I can’t do that. Thankfully. Because these kind of decisions, the ones in the here and now, are the ones that forge a person’s character. They are the “real life” choices and actions. And that idea of perfection… yeah, it’s an illusion. I’m in the process of learning that it is okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to not know something and have to learn as long as I’m willing to. The truth is God is faithful and just as much involved in my life here as He was with me adventuring in Europe. I can be just as confident and free in Christ in “small town” Tyler TX. If not more so. I didn’t go all the way to Europe and back and travel around for 2 WEEKS to be afraid of people and their drama in Tyler!! 😉

And if I’m honest with myself, I know I am loved by many people at home whether I fail or succeed. And ultimately by my Heavenly Father. You know, really life is not all about ME anyway! Crazy right!? 😛

So, a note to self I keep as a reminder:

“Be confident, be humble. God put you there.”

Enjoy the journey,

Laura

A Love Dare

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Out of all the pins I have saved on Pinterest, this one has been the most re-pinned out of all of them. Why? Because so many people can relate to it. Let’s face it -it hurts to open up and then feel the sting of rejection. Or to build a relationship and then witness that change because of disagreements, misunderstandings, or simply the course of time. Loving anyone is a risk- to our own comfort and self-centeredness. Once you have been hurt in a relationship it seems to go against everything in you to want to invest again. And yet…somehow we crave it. We were made for relationship and community. The Lord said “let Us make man in *Our own image.*” And Jesus prayed for and urged his disciples to be in unity with one another and with the Lord, just as He had fellowship in the Trinity.

Most of us can probably relate to the words penned in this quote by C.S. Lewis. But what amazes me, is how much more our mighty God and Father relates to it. He sent His only Son Christ to earth to sacrifice everything, suffer pain, rejection, and death all for the glory of God and love for His creation. All for the sake of Love. He loved deeply, hurt badly, and in the end still said It. Is. Finished. He is our hope and example. He loves us perfectly and still pursues relationship with us even when we reject Him and place other things before Him. So, love God and love others. Do it graciously and with boldness, knowing that He has gone before you and will go with you. And find comfort that there is grace more than sufficient for our mistakes!

Enjoy your journey!

Laura

Do It Anyway (Fear)

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I think I’m learning something about myself…I’m afraid of lots of things. Okay,so maybe I’ve known that since forever, but at the same time, there have been many fears I have actually conquered.There have been many many times in my life when I have felt God calling me to step out-to trust Him and to overcome.So, if brave is not feeling afraid, I’m out.If brave means denying I have fear, well… I’m a very bad liar.But if brave is looking fear in the face and then choosing to look Up at my Savior and go ahead anyway, I can claim the identity of a brave conqueror.My kind of brave means often, I might be trembling,but I do it anyway. I’m so thankful that He calls me brave and beloved in Him.Now, if only I could learn to live that out more day by day.By the Father’s grace, redemption, and LOVE, I’m getting there.I’m growing in courage as I grow up in Him.

And I know you are too.Keep enjoying the journey!

 

 

In Him-Turn my eyes

“Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness to see
There’s a light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”
-Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

The mind set on the world can lead to such emptiness. The perspective set on the flesh drains life, while the perspective set on the LORD is life and peace.  We can’t see the whole picture from where we are now. I am trying to remind myself that it is better to look to the Lord and His promises than to look around or back at myself for answers.

In my joy and in my mourning, in my aching, and in my healing, let me turn. Through worries, fears, and sorrows, and through all things may I turn my eyes toward my faithful Savior. In Him is life, joy, and peace. In Him is everlasting, soul-satisfying love. In Him is the courage I need to face my tomorrows. Righteousness to cover my sins and redemption to work through my failures rests in Him.

Let us turn our eyes upon Jesus. And when we feel we can’t, let us cry out to Him to help lift our spirits, and He will!

Victorious Spirit through Christ,

Laura

 

“Tread Softly”

Old thoughts, new appreciation. 🙂  It’s encouraging to come across raw emotions and truths such as these sometimes. Looking back on my journey, things that seemed so big at the time never left His hands. And my old thoughts might even be helpful again as I am always learning… Hope they encourage you too!

Laura Clayton 2016

Tread softly young woman, lest you tread on fragile hearts.

If those hearts are tread upon, precious dreams may also be torn apart.

Tread softly young woman, there’s much to be learned, yet there is no class,

Yes, please remember it’s as if you tread on glass.

The older you grow, many people you will meet,

But step carefully, lest you leave a trail of scarred bare feet.

It’s true, you may be their first love, and they yours,

But, choose for yourself a very straight course.

Always look Up and press in,

And remember if you fall there’s a new place to begin.

In the arms of the Father, all wrongs are made right,

For every broken heart, there’s a promise of new light.

Tread softly young woman, the weight of hearts is not yours to bear, \

But rather a privilege for you to share.

 

 

Mistakes

Life is not about NOT making mistakes.”                                            

I love growing up with older brothers. They say things sometimes that are so simple, yet very profound. In between shooting me with rubber bands, throwing me over their shoulder, asking me girl questions, endless teasing, and making me laugh ‘till my sides hurt, they say things that quite honestly shake me up. When chocolate doesn’t fix the issue, and duct tape isn’t strong enough to mend the tare, guys can say some pretty cool things. The truth is, they have shown me that God fearing men speak truth into chaos even when it’s difficult. Those men are game changers. One of the things that my brother said to me recently hit me like that.

He said life is not about avoiding mistakes. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need Jesus. As funny as it might sound, it felt like a heavy brick was unloaded from the backpack of “good behavior” I carry around. Wait. Did he just tell me I was free to make mistakes? Yeah, I think he did. Did he just tell me I had a license to go wild and crazy? If you knew my brother the answer would be an immediate, NO.  I think what He was trying to point out to me first of all, is that my right standing before God and His love for me is not a product of my good decisions and behavior. It is because of Christ alone that I stand justified before God.  Second, I think his comment exposed a skewed emphasis and priority. If I am striving to chase after Jesus, and looking to Him to be my Lord, my Love, and my Righteousness, there isn’t a huge chance that I will jump off the deep end right away. When my eyes are fixed on Jesus, my will begins to align with His. And making decisions becomes about what will help me honor the Lord. Not about what will keep me from making a mistake, failing, or loosing approval. Lastly, one of the most comforting things to me is that even if I do sin or make a bad decision, it will be okay. To be broken and make mistakes is to be human. And nothing is wasted with God. He redeems. Just like a loving Father, He picks me up when I fall and doesn’t keep a record of my wrongs.

Thank the Lord for His truth and promises! Thank the Lord for giving me the siblings He did. The amazing thing is many ways they have been able to encourage me have been because of mistakes. They make mistakes too. They learn from them, repent, grow, and God works through them in some pretty mighty ways!

I think I’m beginning to be more and more thankful for the “tares” duct tape can’t fix in my life.

Enjoy your journey…even the mistakes.

Laura

 

“I have made mistakes, I continue to make them
The promises I’ve made, I continue to break them
And all the doubts I’ve faced, I continue to face them
But nothing is a waste if you learn from it

And the sun, it does not cause us to grow
It is the rain that will strengthen your soul
And it will make you whole”

“I have made mistakes”-The Oh Hellos