the lord of the blogs: return of the blog

Okay, the title really has absolutely nothing to do with the rest. I just made myself chuckle with it as I was brainstorming titles, so I kept it.

Today, I’m going to tell you a story, and to be honest, I didn’t really get any permission to share this. But, hopefully that’s okay and I’ll try keep it pretty anonymous. But I just have to tell you because it’s been on my mind.

So, sometime last year, my boyfriend got a job. At a company (is this anonymous enough? teehee). He enjoyed the work and got along with his boss. He’d tell me how nice she was and that she liked to chat with him a lot. Sooner or later, they got on the topic of me and he told her about me and stuff that I do – acting, singing, writing, whatever else I do on this planet (I don’t really know myself). They soon realized that his boss actually knew me because her daughter and I participated in the same summer theatre camps when we were in high school, and because they go to Flatirons and I used to go there and be on the worship team there (more on that some other time). That part isn’t too crazy, since it’s Boulder and it’s a pretty small town/city/thing.

Now, I can’t remember exactly how this went down, which might make this story more boring. But basically, one day, Frank’s boss told him about how her daughter had struggled through her first year of college (she’s now a sophomore or junior, I believe). And they had tried everything to make it better for her. Her mom even started putting up inspirational quotes and things on their fridge to encourage her daughter to keep persevering through the hard stuff. As she searched the internet, she stumbled across my blog, read a post I’d written quite some time ago that had some encouraging words in it (stuff that I wrote during my struggle with the first few years of college), was so moved by it that she printed it off, and put it on her fridge for her and her daughter to read. So, someone randomly searched for encouragement on the internet, found my blog, printed off my post, and put it on their fridge. And then that same person was my boyfriend’s boss for a season. How insane is that?!

This happened a while ago, but the story resurfaced in my brain recently, because I’ve been so doubtful of my writing skills, my ability to share anything worth reading, all that stuff. I have felt useless in this space, unable to share any wisdom. I’ve been in the midst of a season of bitterness, and all I’ve wanted to do is vent to the internet about my problems, but I’ve tried to refrain from that, just because it’s not very helpful to the healing process. So, my blog dried up and went MIA for a while, and I thought I’d pretty much given up on it.

But when I think about that story, I just feel like I need to keep doing this. Not for fame or glory, but just because someone, somewhere might find something on here and print it off and put it on their fridge, or even just bookmark it, or even just think about it for an hour. And that is worth it.

So, here I am. I’m back. I only have this semester (or possibly one-ish more) of college left, so I might as well get some more use out of this website name as long as I can, right?

Look for more posts soon. Message or email me if you’d like me to write or address any certain topics! ❤

-Claire

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“you must get this a lot…”

Recently, I was talking to my therapist — yes, therapist. Yes, I go to counseling. No, I’m not crazy (at least I don’t think I am). No, I’m not ashamed that I do this. I actually would recommend that most people try counseling at some point; it’s incredibly helpful. Anyway, we were discussing my ongoing struggle with self-confidence.

She asked me straight up, “Why do you think you have such an issue believing that you are just as cool and valued as you believe all other people are?” (sidenote: therapist or otherwise, make sure you have people in your life who will ask the straight-up kinds of questions. Clear questions often produce the clear answers you’re seeking)

I thought for a minute and then the lightbulb over my head lit up, and the cute little lightbulb sound effect went off. Bing!

“Ohh,” I said. “I think I know. It’s because words and feedback are so incredibly valuable to me, and so often I hear praise from people about other people. When I talk to people, they’ll beautifully rave about other people in their life, which is awesome! It’s great to speak highly of others. But it’s also sort of detrimental. Because I hear and hold onto cool things about those others, but feel a lack of positive feedback directed at me about me, it makes me feel less worthy and valued. I think that phrase ‘You must get this a lot’ is a bunch of crap because we definitely don’t hear compliments about ourselves a lot anymore, at least not to our faces.”

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but I doubt I am (sidenote: this post is definitely not meant to be a personal cry of desperation to receive more compliments from you all). I don’t know what it is about our culture. Maybe it’s because we often assume that everybody else already recognizes and believes in their own strengths, talents, and beauty so they don’t need to be reminded that they’re great. Or we believe if we do not yet have confidence in ourselves, we have to go on this epic, solo mission-journey to find it, without anyone else’s help and if we receive or accept feedback and compliments, we won’t ever achieve our mandatory, individualistic confidence. Or possibly it’s because we fear planting seeds of arrogance, so we don’t accept compliments directed at us and we don’t easily hand them out to others.

I think we assume a lot of things about each other – I certainly assume people understand my way of thinking, when they often are not even remotely on the same page. We may assume a little too much that people already know their own strengths and good qualities. In reality, I think everyone is hearing how cool everybody else is and feels the weight of a lack of praise and feedback about themselves. “I hear you talking so highly of that person over there, but…what do you think about me? Am I doing okay too?” Sometimes I want to ask that question; sometimes I just need someone to tell me that they think I’m doing okay. We could all use a little more love to our own faces, right? Why are we so good at directly giving “constructive criticism” but not loving compliments?

So, attempting that whole “be the change you wish to see” mentality, my goal is to become better at directly complimenting people when I notice something I admire. It takes a lot more courage and vulnerability to do that than to talk about somebody’s strengths to someone else, but I think it’s worth it. It’s worse to not let someone know what you like about them. It reminds me of that one episode of The Office where right after offending her in front of a group of people, Michael confides to the cameraman that he thinks Pam is a wonderful artist, but he would never say that to her face. Let’s take some wisdom from the great Michael Scott… and do the exact opposite of that. What’s stopping us from looking someone in the eye and telling them what we love about them, or what they’re excelling at, or just how wonderful they are?

And for some reason, it feels like compliments themselves have gotten a bad reputation, like if you tell someone they’re cool one too many times, then poof! They’ve become a terrible, horrible narcissist. I really don’t think it works that way, people. I actually think that lack of self-confidence correlates with a lack of direct, genuine, positive feedback from our communities and loved ones. We think not depending on anyone else will boost our self-esteem, but I actually think it’s hurting us all. We need that feedback — as human beings, we crave that, whether we recognize it or not. It creates this intimacy that we greatly desire. Sadly, in our individualistic, community-is-slowly-depleting, “It’s scary to look someone in the eye and share a loving thought, and vulnerability equates to weakness” society where we all keep each other at arm’s length, we cut off the opportunity to grow together through the intimate act of sharing positive feedback about one another with one another. We’re really great at putting our friends and family and acquaintances on display for others, raving about them when they’re not around. And we’re really good at conversing with people when we’re talking about how great other people are. Why can’t we tell everyone directly how cool they are, how funny they are, what you love about them?

Can we be brave enough to give a genuine compliment straight to someone? Then maybe the phrase “You must get this a lot” will become more true — and that’s not a bad thing at all, but would just be a testament to the natural recipe for love and confidence.

part 2

Part 2

I wrote that previous, unfinished excerpt on June 21st, and I just came back to it today, August 7th. I have not really figured out how to wrap up a blog post about something that’s still so continuously affecting me, always staying in my brain.

And there are many, many other things to add to this plate of life right now. I could list them all out, decorated with the tiniest, most delicious little details. Anne Lamott recently told me […indirectly through a book, but whatever, we’re besties…] that I own everything that’s happened to me and I need to tell my stories. If people wanted me to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.

So I’m remembering this as I write down thoughts, reactions, feelings, and stories from the last few months, but I’m also remembering the beautiful melody of grace as I choose what to share with the world and what to write down on paper to throw in the fire of letting go.

This summer could be summed up in one metaphor: rock climbing. I do not really like rock climbing; as someone with the desire for upper body strength but who’s lacking the motivation to see that dream through, you can imagine this activity is rather strenuous. I honestly haven’t even gone rock climbing in years. At Outdoor Lab in sixth grade — when I was in my heaviest and most hamster-cheek phase of life –, I got harnessed up to the climbing wall and barely made it ten feet off the ground before I began having a panic attack about dying. Sweat was dripping down my chubby face, hair plastered to my forehead underneath a too-big safety helmet, and I glanced behind me in desperation for the nice harness man to help me down.

“Uhm, I’m sorry, but I can’t do this! Can I come down?” I shouted.

He kept calmly replying stupid and unhelpful things like, “You’re okay.” and “You can do it!” and “Don’t worry, I’ve got you! I’m not letting go.”

I started crying and he brought me down. He gave me a nice little side hug and told me I did a great job. If I hadn’t still been in a combination of crying, hyperventilating, and sweating profusely, I probably would’ve said something other than “Thanks” but I left it at that.

I think that was the peak of my rock climbing days; I may have gone once or twice after that but probably didn’t make it fifteen feet off the ground.

Anyway, this summer was rock climbing. Because I didn’t really like it, but when I look back on it, it really wasn’t the worst. And I wish I’d tapped into my potential for strength more because I could’ve gone a lot farther than I did.

But, I did okay. I think. I let time do its little healing-power thing, and I stopped pushing God away after a little bout of anger and shame. I began to read again and spend time alone again, things I found I couldn’t stand to do for about a five month span of time.

And I started digging into every little detail of life, scavenging for lessons and epiphanies in every second of my days – which some people may call crazy, but I don’t really know.

Just now, there was a little spider crawling on my book and Writer-Claire, unleashing her frenzy of circumlocution and deep intellectual thought, was like “HEY A CUTE LIL SPIDER! HE HAS A STORY TO TELL! SHARE IT WITH THE WOOORLD!” and I started attempting to figure out how I could write a whole essay/blog post/short story/novella/novel/thesis about this practically microscopic creature.

Anyway.

Have I mentioned I like Anne Lamott? And that she’s personally speaking to me right now through her book “Traveling Mercies”? Well, she is. And she writes this on page 75:
“Life does not seem to present itself to me for my convenience, to box itself up nicely so I can write about it with wisdom and a point to make before putting it on a shelf somewhere. Now, in my early forties, I understand just enough about life to understand that I do not understand much of anything.”

When I read this, I could hear Anne – though I haven’t the slightest idea what her speaking voice sounds like, but I’m going to guess that it’s a lovely mix between an Americanized Cate Blanchett and a mewing kitten. I could hear her say, “Claire. This is what it’s all about. You’ve got to stop scrounging the bits of life around you, looking obsessively for wisdom that’s not even yours to give to people who aren’t even your people. You’re never going to find that anyway, a perfect little present of just the perfect little nuggets of wisdom. Just live. Say thank you, and keep on living. And write about that real stuff; that’s the stuff that people want to hear, little lady.”

So. This summer was like rock climbing, and Annie Lamott told me to keep living life (and writing about it), and John Eldredge reminded me of the scandalous, playful, and fierce personality of my God, and things are okay. I just read a poem that says, “The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.” I think the spring and summer of 2015 was the season that my heart broke open. Is yours like that? You may not see or feel your broken-open heart on a daily basis, but I think you’ll find this to be recognizable and familiar in all those open-heart people when times call for that sort of thing.

I still remember names right before I fall asleep: Esther, Sharon, Rashida, Irene, Joseph, Abote, Doreen.

My brain still doesn’t really know what to do with all that I saw and experienced in Uganda. And I think that’s okay. There doesn’t have to be this big, overarching summary or lesson or moral or takeaway. It can just be this: I went to Uganda and it was one of the many things in this past season of life that busted me open, wrecked me well and good.

This wasn’t “The Summer of Uganda;” it was a summer where I experienced a tiny piece of Africa, and I learned what it looks like to have a hurting heart that’s filled with a lot of emotions but completely doused in a sweet glaze of love. I don’t mean to say I’m really good at loving people, and I don’t mean to make love sound disgusting or totally tacky like a bundt cake dessert at a 90s Christmas party; I just know that I think I’m starting to understand this balance of feeling my feelings no matter what they are, but still recognizing that love is present and it’s not going anywhere, and it makes everything just a bit sweeter, a bit more comforting.

diary of a mzungu: part 1

Part 1 – June 21

This is a little story about Africa, and it’s also not about Africa.

This is a little story of a girl sitting in a bright red dress with a big turquoise chunky necklace on and curled hair, face plastered in makeup today — and that same girl who was a mosquito net princess, perfumed in bug spray and burnt by the African sun, just a few weeks ago.

It’s a story of how that girl’s heart was cracked open a few weeks ago, and how she hasn’t been able to pick up the pieces and stitch it back together yet. Maybe she never will, and maybe that’s the point of the story. But I’m not sure yet.

I don’t want to be cliché and say that nine days in Africa changed my entire being. But I also don’t want to brush it off and say it didn’t. The point is that something changed, and I can’t quite figure out what or how, but I feel like on more than one night there, God set to work fixing my eyes to see things differently from now on.

Ask me to coffee to hear about my trip, and I promise you we will end up talking about something else the majority of our get-together. Because I’m still in a boat fishing for words to describe what I saw and felt, smelled and tasted. And I’m not winning with finding the words, at least not yet. I don’t know how long it will take to be able to honestly answer, “How was your trip?” but for now, all I can say is, “It was great and pretty overwhelming; I’m still processing it.”

And today, I added another sentence to the short-answer story – “I miss it a lot.”

Because it hit me this morning how much I miss it. I miss the green and the humidity, and the clouds (trust me, you ain’t seen clouds till you’ve seen ’em in Africa). I miss the food and eating lunch with the kids. I miss having my hair braided by six little pairs of hands all at once, and I miss kids running at me, ready to play. I think seeing kids running towards you with big grins on their faces is the best depiction of what it will be like when Jesus welcomes us into heaven. He’ll look over and see us with great recognition, and start running toward us and he won’t stop running until he practically tackles us and we fall into his arms. The kids grab you in a way that says, “You’re here. I knew you’d come see me. I’ve been waiting for you.” And I think Jesus will say things very similar.

I was baptized again in an African rainstorm. My first baptism was pretty awesome – my sister-in-law baptized me in a hotel swimming pool, surrounded by family. It was a peaceful and joyous ceremony, carefully planned and thought over for years. This time, it was a spontaneous reaction to the feeling that I just needed more Jesus. More and more and more. So I ran out into the rain and asked for more.

Some of the memories and the names are fading, and things come in flashes.

And the week I got back, emotionally wrecked Claire got physically wrecked in a car accident. A wet road and old tires do not mix well, let me tell you. It was a scary moment because I was watching the road the entire time – I wasn’t distracted, I wasn’t texting, I wasn’t even daydreaming. I was alert and fully aware that my brakes were not stopping my car, that I did everything right but everything still went wrong. That’s life sometimes. It wrecks you even when you feel most prepared.

So then my weeks back have been filled with insurance policies and phone calls to strangers and chiropractor appointments and shuffling cars around in the family and a few tears — okay, maybe more than a few. Because this was just a reminder that life can feel really overwhelming.

But I went and saw this awesome movie about emotions, and was reminded that this life is such a mix of feelings, a watercolor painting that only looks beautiful and complete once every color has been added.

to sunshine.

Dear Friend,

Lately I’ve been dealing with something that I didn’t really think I had a problem with. Call that arrogance or ignorance, I don’t really know, but I just never thought that anger and the art of letting it go was a battle I’d be in the front lines of. Or at least, I never imagined it to look like this. I thought I had more patience, for myself and for others. I always talk about my life being drenched in grace, for myself and for others. Nice talk, Claire. “You’ve still got a long way to go in that, little one,” says my Savior.

I keep repeating to myself: open palms, open palms, open palms. God named this year for me. God named this life for me. Take the gifts, give thanks, keep them near but hold them loosely; and when it’s time for the gift to be passed on, let it go.

I didn’t realize it in the moment — isn’t that funny how you hardly ever do? It takes looking back to find the blessings and the lessons in the storms that have passed. But now I realize that a late Friday night in April was the first big moment in 2015 of utilizing this act of open palms, and learning the dance of throwing this anger and hurt to the stars and saying, “Can you please hold this for me, Father? It’s too heavy, I can’t do it with my own hands.”

In less than a week, I start the long journey over to Uganda.

Specifically to the Musana Community. Musana means “sunshine” and I cannot help but think how perfect it is that here in Colorado, it’s been rainy and cloudy and overcast and eighty shades of gloomy. Peaceful, sure, but also depressing. And in 6 days and 20 hours, I’ll be on my way to see the sunshine.

And something about picturing those hundreds of smiling little faces in the bright sunshine is literally tearing down my walls of anger and bitterness, hurt and the lies that have been stewing in my head for several weeks: You’re not good enough, Claire. Not good enough. Never good enough. Never enough.

The cure for a bitter heart, a confused heart, a hurting heart? I believe it goes a little something like this: hundreds and hundreds of sweet kids wearing neon-colored VBS t-shirts. Ugandan mangos and avocados. Sweat and dirt and running around until your legs feel like they will fall off. Long skirts and sunburns. Sunshine. Airplane rides with some of the coolest people you know. Waking up early and running through the lushness of Uganda. Bartering for artwork. Meeting new people. Stepping outside of yourself and fully jumping into appreciating the lives of others. Singing at the top of your lungs next to kiddos who are doing the same. Endearingly being called “mzungu” (white person). Laughing and crying and singing and shrieking with no fear, shame, embarrassment, regret.

How do you know, Claire? You’ve never even been there. And how do you know that all this silly stuff will help? That’s dumb.

I already know this without even experiencing it yet. Because these are the stories I’ve been told, and to praise God for the smallest of things is to find joy and peace in every moment. We serve a bubbly God, a whimsical God, a funny God, a joyful God. Our Savior loves silly moments, still moments, beautiful moments. Our Savior just loves moments, because that is when he gets us.

My heart is healing from a whirlwind month; and my heart is still harboring hurt. I know both are true. But I also know that Jesus has prepared an incredible week at Musana for my team and the community there, and he is going to renew a lot of hearts and minds during this time, mine included. And I believe that this trip can be a transition point, the start of a new chapter, for a lot of lives. It doesn’t only have to impact us for the week and maybe the week after we get back; it can impact the way we live for the rest of our lives. And that’s pretty darn exciting.

To sunshine!

come with me: confessions of VBS, mission trip support, and dealing with depression

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Dear friend,

Thanks for being here today, for taking a bit of your day to read this.

I’ve recently posted on Facebook and Instagram about my upcoming trip across the world, but I wanted to blog about it as well; it feels a little more personal, as personal as I can get through computer and phone screens. And this is about to get pretty personal, probably the most intimate and vulnerable post about myself that I will throw out onto the Internet. This is definitely not going to be a typical mission trip support letter. Hang with me, okay?

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A little backstory:
Last spring, my second semester of college,  I applied for a very similar trip to Uganda; instead of a Vacation Bible School program, the team was focused on helping train the Ugandan teachers, and spending time with the kids at Musana. It sounded like the most incredible trip and immediately I felt I needed to apply. I also felt like I was absolutely going to be picked to go; why wouldn’t I? I was ready, wasn’t I? I’m great with kids – although I hadn’t really spent a lot of time around lots kids in a while. I had nice, eloquent answers to the online essay questions – although I stumbled in my verbal answers during the interview process. I think it was revealed to the leaders that I was not really in a great place personally, emotionally, and spiritually. Never did Jesus turn his back on me, and never did I want to stop running after him, but I was tired. Last spring, I was tired and unmotivated. It was a season of losing focus, of not knowing or understanding myself and how to handle difficulty, of being a little lost. I wasn’t working very hard with anything, and nothing quite ignited my heart like it used to be ignited by so many things. For some reason, though, I wanted to go on this trip more than anything — and perhaps my intentions weren’t as good as I thought they were. The afternoon that I received the email that said I was not chosen for this particular trip but encouraged me to apply for future trips, I was sitting in my mass communication lecture and I immediately started crying — I am not really a crier, but this time I cried hard. I packed up my things and walked out of class. I cried all the way back to my dorm room – a 15-minute walk. I cried a lot that day.

I cried because, of course, I was completely devastated to not be chosen to go on the trip. But I think I was also finally allowing myself to release all of this bottled up emotion I’d had stored up for the entirety of the semester. So many questions were continuously bouncing through my head: What if I leave this school? What if I stay? How can I feel better? Why do I feel this way? Why do they make me feel so bad about myself? What if…what if…what if…why…why…why… So many thoughts, too little motivation to sift through it all and help myself out of the hole I’d fallen into.

That was then. A whole year ago. A lot happens in a year. And I think that you just had a thousand memories flash through your head as you read that sentence, because that’s also what happens to me every time I think that: a lot happens in a year. It would take five more blog posts to really dive deeper into that season of my life, but I’ll save that for another time. The point is that there isn’t really a magic cure for feeling down like that. It takes time, it takes grace, it takes patience, it takes loving and allowing yourself to be loved, it takes consistency, and basically, it takes Jesus. And it takes the acceptance of the reality that the feelings might not ever fully go away, and that’s hard but true; but if you are able to live with that while still holding onto the hope and grace of Jesus, I believe it’s possible to be okay. That’s really all I’ve got for you on the subject of dealing with depression.

And as everyone who’s dealt with a season of depression or “the blues” or feeling down or whatever you want to call it can tell you, not all the problems or feelings go away as things start to change and shift and get significantly better. There are occasionally moments that hit you in a way that you feel like you’re still that old self, the one who fell in the hole. But it’s also the absolute truth for me to say that I’m in a much better place than I was last spring, and even last fall, and even 2014 as a whole. 2015 shines a bit brighter than last year already. Don’t get me wrong; 2014 held so many blessings and wonderful opportunities. But when you see them through a dark lens, it all seems a bit dimmer. I’m so thankful to not be stuck behind that lens. I’m thankful to have that season behind me and be able to tell others, “Yeah, I dealt with that. I’ve been there. I’ve felt that way. Me too. But hold on; have faith. Your time is not over, and there are beautiful things ahead.”

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So, here we are in the spring of 2015 and I applied for another trip to Uganda, this time on a VBS team. I felt excited to apply again, but this time, I was holding the opportunity of going to Uganda a little looser; I didn’t want to tie the fate of my happiness to whether or not I would go on this trip.

I’m not going to lie to you, I have terrible memories of Vacation Bible School. It was my least favorite part of my childhood summers, however many we spent doing that. It was partly due to the church we went to – the giant auditorium, and the dark church gymnasium filled with hundreds of screaming kids who just wanted to go home will forever be engrained in my head. The small snacks (this girl was one hungry child; one package of fruit snacks and ten goldfish did not cut it!), the cheesy videos, the onstage skits that I couldn’t see because of all the kids sitting on their knees in front of me, being herded around by strange adults. The whole thing feels chaotic in my head; I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as I remember, but certainly it was not fun nor did it really help me learn about my Savior — except for one thing. One song that I remember first learning at VBS one summer, one piece of the lyrics that stayed with me. “Waves of mercy, waves of grace, everywhere I look I see your face.” This has become an anthem of my life; every day I am hit with the constant waves of his grace and I cannot go anywhere without seeing him and how he works in and through everything. Maybe VBS wasn’t so bad after all. But….it definitely could have been better. And I think that all has to do with the intention of the program. What’s the focus? What is the most important thing about this – keeping the kids busy, shuffling them around from activity to activity, making sure the day goes by as fast as possible? Or is it about developing relationships, sharing those few hours together, engaging in fun and whimsical ways to remind the kids (and the leaders!) how much they are loved?

You already know the outcome of my application: I was picked to go to Uganda this summer from May 27th through June 8th. And I am positive that the VBS experience for these kids has been and will be much, much better than my own as a child. I’ve been placed in the group working on the daily Bible story, and the Intro/Conclusion skits. I was told by one of the leaders of our team that the Ugandan people are pretty unfamiliar with the idea of taking a script and bringing it to life, performing and acting it out to create a made-up scenario. When she said this to me, I couldn’t help but smile because this is what I’ve been doing for years – bringing written words to life onstage. It made sense why I was chosen for this team — not to say that I’m the only person who can do this, but I can contribute my skills and talents to make the 2015 Musana VBS experience an incredible one.

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Have you ever heard the phrase “I’m in love with places I’ve never been and people I’ve never met”? This is how I feel about Uganda and the kids at Musana. I have not met them yet; I have not been there yet. But I already feel my heart being tugged by them in ways that I didn’t know it could be by total strangers. It’s hard to fully explain in words, and I don’t want to sound self-indulgent, but truly, truly, I am in love with these kids already before I’ve ever laid eyes on them in person. And I cannot wait to see the way God uses me to love these kids, and how he uses these kids to break open my heart — because we all need that every once in a while, for God to break open our hardened hearts and for him to remind us of what is good and true. And I fully believe there is hardly a better way for God to do that than through children.

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Here comes me being even more vulnerable on the internet: this trip is not cheap. The $2900 each of the team members need to raise covers the airfare, food, and lodging while we are there. That number looks incredibly intimidating as I write it out, but I feel so much peace about the financial part of this trip. I don’t have to be scared of a number, but I do need to reach out to others in love and faith and ask for support. This is a really hard thing for me to do; I don’t really like asking for help – I usually feel bad or guilty for doing so. But this trip can impact so many more people than just those who are going on it, and that is what excites me about sharing it with you all. I want to ask you to come with me on my journey to Uganda this summer — whether that is through reading updates or seeing pictures that I may post, or if that is through prayers for me and the team and the people at the Musana Community Development, or if that is through a donation to my trip, or any other form of encouragement. I am grateful for any and all of these ways of support, and I am thrilled to get to share this with all of you.

If you’d like to support financially, you can donate online at:

https://www.servicereef.com/events/flatirons-community-church-2/musana-vbs-team-2015/donate

(make sure to select my name, Claire Wood, from the “Donation preference” menu)

You can also send a check or cash with my name in the memo line or on an attached note to:

Flatirons Community Church
355 W South Boulder Rd
Lafayette, CO 80026
Attn: Missions

Again, any sort of support is incredibly appreciated, and I hope that you all will come with me on this trip. Thank you for reading this very long post and for allowing me to share some of my story with you.

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If you want to read more about Musana, you can go to their website: http://www.musana.org/

If you have questions or comments or concerns or anything else, please contact me through Facebook, through my blog, through Instagram, through email (claire.wood.826@gmail.com), through phone, or whatever else!

Thank you all so much. I’m thankful for every one of you.

-Claire

P.S. All photos were taken by my wonderful sister Blakesley when she went to Uganda a few years ago. She’s incredible!

Starting somewhere.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the idea of blogs. “Hello, Internet! Here I am, in all of my self-righteousness! Listen to what I have to say! I’m going to tell you everything that’s happening in my life and you better comment or share so other people can know about my life too!”

Well, that’s how it comes across sometimes. Other times, it’s a really great tool for sharing ideas, spreading *important* information, and overall entertainment. I follow several blogs, written by people I actually know in real life and by people I’ve never and probably won’t ever meet in this life. Each blog that I follow serves its purpose and I enjoy the information I get from them. They aren’t self-indulgent; the bloggers know not to do this, that’s how they got popular.

With that being said, I have a confession: I’ve wanted to start a blog of my own for about a year and a half now. But something was holding me back. I was waiting for this giant epiphany to hit me about what the theme of my blog would be. Food, health, faith, crafts, art, creative nonfiction, photography, personal stories….the possibilities are endless. How the heck could I start a blog without a theme? That seemed like a sin of blogging; you can’t just START a blog with no idea where you’re headed.

Guess what?

 

I just did. Ha.

Just kidding – I actually do have some ideas for things I’d like to write about and photos I’d like to post. But really, who can plan that far ahead? #notme

Okay, now I’m rambling about something that has no importance.

I guess the point of my opening post is that blogs have their place in today’s society. The two keys are: to do things worth writing about, and to write things worth reading about. So begins my mission.

[conviction] — firmly held belief or opinion; beliefs, opinions, views, thoughts, persuasions, ideas, positions, stances.

This definition of the word “conviction,” while less common than the other definition of declaring someone guilty, is striking to me. I like that we use the same word for both things – both a strongly held stance, and finding someone guilty for their offenses in a court of law. The first definition, the one about beliefs, seems positive, while obviously the latter is more negative; it’s kind of like they balance each other out a little bit. Or something. Maybe I’m getting too deep for a first post.

 

[convictions of a college girl] – this is my blog because I’m in college and I have lots of convictions. One of those convictions is the fact that I am still finding my opinions on a lot of things. The title is cheesy, I know; but as a good friend just said to me, cheese is an important part of a balanced diet. So eat it up, folks!

 

  1. I like lists
  2. Colorado is my home.
  3. I have these random obsessions;; like food styling and photography, and calligraphy, and song lyrics, and crocodiles, and mudskippers, and coffee, and reading while on the elliptical
  4. I am filled to the brim with dichotomies – like 1) being okay with bearing my soul to complete strangers and giant crowds but being scared to death of getting real and vulnerable with people I love. Or 2) writing in mostly poetic language, but then getting angry when other people do that because it’s cheesy. Or 3) loving food and hating myself after eating too much. Or 4) Finding crying a beautiful and healthy thing and yet hardly ever being able to do it myself, and when the tears come, trying to suppress them and blink them away. Or 5) Being inspired by the lives of all the people I follow on Instagram from all over the world while I sit on my couch for hours. Or 6) Being interested in so many things that I don’t even know where to start so I never begin.
  5. Jesus is an amazing guy that I’m getting to know more and more every day. He already knows everything about me, which is pretty awesome; I don’t have to impress him with my knowledge of cooking or musical theatre. And he’s not expecting me to memorize the entire Bible or never do anything bad ever again. He wanted me to let him join me on my ride of life, and I wanted to follow him wholeheartedly. It worked out well.
  6. Fascinated by coffee, I am (I hate starting sentences with “I” so I try to avoid it when possible, even if that means sounding like Yoda). Someday I will know how to pour a perfect latte. I look forward to that day. And one day I’ll make my own latte flavors. Almond rosemary is my latest idea; I need to try it sometime.
  7. I secretly want to write a book, but who doesn’t, if they could?
  8. I have this thing about listening. It’s kind of a super genuinely stunning quality that humans may or may not be slowly losing. I feel like my purpose [or part of it] is to encourage people to be better listeners (I say this as I’m listing off things about me; ha. But something I’m learning is that talking about yourself does not always equate narcissism, but it often leads to it. But I don’t have to feel guilty over sharing who I am).
  9. I like telling stories and writing songs, but sometimes I’m afraid–
  10. Scratch that. Most of the time I am afraid. Super afraid. Like way anxious-ridden afraid. I’m afraid of what people think of me at every moment of every day. How they scrutinize everything from my outfit to my figure, to the words that spill of out my head that I either transfer to written words, that come tumbling out of my mouth. This is something I work on daily, like everyone else does with their own struggles. And guess what? We could all help each other out with our problems, instead of digging them out of each other, holding them in the air and shouting “I found her flaws! Everyone look at her insecurities!”
  11. I have issues. Sometimes I think way too much. I think we all do. But I just wanted to remind everyone. You’re welcome for your daily reminder.
  12. I like people.
  13. I used to hate listening to live versions of songs because I preferred the perfect, edited studio recordings. But now I like live versions because these, like life, are full of little voice cracks, mistakes, pitch issues, rhythm problems, and little stops and starts. And life is raw and real and in-the-moment. So I like my music that way now too.

 

So, here I am, in all of my glory. Blogs are weird; blogs can be self-indulgent; blogs can take over one’s life. I don’t want that to be this. I just want this to be a place that I can share my heart with you, dear reader, cheesiness and all. Because my heart is dripping with cheese. And then hidden beneath all that cheese is some truth and some conviction that I want to give to you, place in your hands and let you do what you want with it. So begins the journey; I’ve gotta start somewhere, it might as well be right now on a Friday night, in my bedroom, as I listen to my dog snore on my bed. Welcome to my world; thanks for stepping in the door!