Thursday, December 22, 2011


It's almost Christmas!! I'm so excited. I love everything about this season- from October to December I'm in Heaven!! Although I love Easter dearly, I feel very close to Jesus around Christmas.
We should feel this way every day, I know, but at Christmas I feel like just the reminder that Jesus went through the same things as me and walked on this earth's dirt comforts me. a lot.

Jesus blesses each of us, I believe, with little encounters to remind us of Him. I wish we could just see Him now, but these gifts He gives us can be pretty sweet. So I have a story to share.
My family and I were at the airport, and this girl came up to us- just dying to say hi. She was in a wheelchair, and someone I presumed to be her brother told us-as she came up excusing herself profusely-that she just really wanted to say hi.
So she introduced herself, and then as we told her our names she just kept shaking her head and telling us how much she loved us, and how much she was praying for us. And she meant it! It wasn't just an ' oh, I'll be praying for you...'. It was an 'oh! I love you! I just LOVE you! And I'll be praying for you because I love you.'

How often do you get that from a stranger?? Not often enough is my guess. I was touched by dear Bridget, to say the least. I've been thinking about her these last few weeks, as I promised to pray for her, too. She embodied Jesus' love- unashamedly and freely giving it to all. It blessed my heart to meet her.
After we met her, Mom and Dad told me what her parents had told them. Bridget had been a junior in college when she was in a car accident. She suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury.
My first thought was sadness. Even as a freshman in high school, I have dreams. I know she probably had big dreams and goals, too. How would I have felt if that had happened to me? Life really is so fragile. But I remembered this Bible verse as I thought of her recently...

 "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. " Jeremiah 29:11

 Hope. A future. The life Bridget lives today may not be what she imagined when she was my age, but her life is in perfect alignment with God's vision. And it is beautiful. I know my family isn't the only one she has touched, and my prayer is that she will continue to be able to touch many more. She is following God's perfect plan, and is living proof that Jeremiah 29:11 is true. God does NOT mean to harm us. He gives us a future. As hard to see as that may have been for Bridget's family after that accident, it is clear that He has a perfect plan for her and that He is using her in amazing ways to bring people to Him.
Isn't it comforting to know this is true for each of us? Whether we minister from a hut in Africa, a classroom at home, or a wheelchair at the airport, God has a plan for us. And it is perfect.
May you rest without worry for the year 2012 as you enjoy this Christmas. Your Blogger,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

These are the faces...

 Dear Readers,
 I don't know if you have heard of the international adoption ministry 'Reece's Rainbow'. But it is a beautiful organization started to bring home precious babies with Down Syndrome. It also has 'other angels' with a variety of disabilities- ranging from Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, or Osteoimperfecta to Fetal Alchohol Syndrome, Autism, Deafness, Blindness, etc.  I have seen and heard a lot about them, and while my brother was in surgery looked them up in depth. I looked into the eyes of probably hundreds of children- all living in either an orphanage, nursing home, or mental institution. These kids have no hope- and how could they? They spend their lives drugged and tied down to a crib. Their only interaction is when they are fed and diapered. 'Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world!' That song is so true- and for every one of these sweet kids. That same Jesus who loves those kids calls us to care for the widows and ORPHANS. So what are we doing for these precious ones?
  I'm going to be featuring one orphan a month. I ask you to pray with me for him, and to make donations to his adoption grant fund if you are able. One orphan. Once a month. That is the least we can do! And maybe..just're the next featured child's mama. It's not fair that these kids' future looks like this- they live in a 'baby house' until they are 5 or 6, and then they are sent to a mental institution where they get no interaction and are next to grown adults sucking their thumbs and rocking back and forth. Most die within their first year there. That's no future.

 Please look at these pictures. It will hurt. You will fall in love with each one.  I cried as I went through them. But please know- this could be you. Or your daughter. Or your son.  And God never gets to look away from their pain- so neither should we. Let yourself cry and please let your heart be touched.

Poor Kolina has nothing to smile about.

This is Lauren, waving and saying "Hi Mama! I'm here waiting for you!"
(She has a kind of common dwarfism that I forget the medical name!)

Dear Marcia has Spina Bifida and is waiting for a forever family.
Are you her mama?
Dmitry has already stolen my heart! Has he stolen yours?

This little boy belongs to God!

Here is a loved child of the King.

Have you ever seen such beautiful eyes?

Isn't Diane a little babydoll? She actually has 'babydoll syndrome'.
Are you going to bring this brown eyed beauty home?

Kyle has already been transferred to a mental institution and
is going to be bedridden for the rest of his short life if someone doesn't
rescue him.
Sweet Sophia dreams of a mommy and daddy...
I'm in love with dear Tara!
This sweetie has Cerebral Palsy and is facing imminent transfer
to a mental institution. Is Olga your daughter?

These are the faces of neglect and abandonment. They are the faces of hopelessness. And they are the faces of those who we need to be fighting for. The faces of people who need us. Please don't forget these faces...
     Prayers work! Let's pray these babies home! Your blogger,

Monday, December 12, 2011

The joy not just of the season, but in your heart!


From the day of his (Jesus) birth, the forces of darkness began plotting against the Babe in the manger. Why? Because the adversary and his wicked hoards knew that this was the Child who would ultimately crush Satan and bring an end to wickedness in this world. God is so grieved over evil, that he sent his only Son to die in order that righteousness and peace, truth and love would prevail... in order that we might escape the clutches of hell and be welcomed into heaven. God permits what he hates to accomplish that which he loves.

Celebrate the defeat of darkness by singing this verse today from the Christmas carol, "Joy to the World": No more let sin or sorrow reign, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings known far as the curse is found!

God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day: to save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray, O tidings of comfort and joy!    
 From Joni Eareckson Tada

Dear Readers,
 It's the most wonderful time of the year.....there'll be much mistletoe (ing) and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near! You all know the words. This season is filled with warmth, joy, family, and the celebration of Christ's birth. Of GOD coming down to earth to save US. Wow.
  Now, I've been working on this post for a while. I am having a very hard time deciding if I should write about how for those in orphanages, nursing homes, hospitals, the homeless, etc. this Christmas season still hurts. And sometimes it causes even more hurt. Or, I could just focus on the pure JOY of this season. And as I type that up, I think I will focus on the joy. Because anyone can walk out the door and find suffering every morning. I think the biggest trick is to find joy amidst your suffering.
   I think everyone has their own traditions that bring the most joy. Even if they're little things they still hold so much meaning! For example, one of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to go through and watch all of our Christmas cartoons and holiday specials. My family does this year after year, and it is so much fun! I also love making batches and batches of goodies for neighbors, and I have been bugging my mom to make sugar cookies and oatmeal lace cookies since September! Those two are my favorite and they are a lot of fun to make. We have a huge stock of red and green sprinkles ready, ha! 

For anyone who has ever had to spend a holiday away from home, you know how hard it is.
No matter where you are, you will always miss those small little details that make Christmas so special. That is a big reason why those in hospitals need your love and prayers especially during this season. Can you imagine Christmas dinner at the Ronald McDonald House while your child is on chemotherapy or critically ill?? Many families face that this Christmas.

This weekend my friend, Breana, and I got to help with Ballet Academy of AZ's Holiday Festival!
It was fun- I love my little ballerinas!!

This is from last Christmas. What does a thirteen year old do with her new camera? :)


Family time is my favorite part!
Excuse the man in the back...this was on our way home from our Thanksgiving trip to MS.
See- we LOVE getting ready for Christmas as soon as we can! We were all wearing Christmas shirts. :)

Sorry for having to use so many recycled pictures...our computer is messed up and it won't hold my pictures!
But there will be more Christmas to come, I promise! Now, please don't think I'm trying to give the impression that my life is perfect. I hate it when blogs look like that. But I wanted to share a little of the JOY of Christmas today. And these bring me joy! I hope they brought you some, too, as you enjoy the cold weather and hug your family today! Your blogger,

Okay- I have a prayer request! I want to start always including prayer requests in my posts, so feel free to comment and leave one and I will include it in my next post! But my brother, Mason, is having surgery today. It's been so encouraging to see all the comments of prayers on Facebook! I just wanted to mention it on here. :) Thank y'all!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Road trip!!!

 Dear Readers,
 We are at Grammie's house in Tupelo! Yes, we made it safely. Through AZ's mountains and plateaus, then New Mexico and the millions of Indian art bill boards ( I DO mean millions!), to Texas, the never ending (it seemed) Oklahoma, Arkansas,  and a little dip into Tennessee, we finally arrived to Mississippi! I have to tell you- it was a lot of fun. I love road trips, and even if I left home with a less than thankful heart, God used this trip for amazing things and left me feeling very thankful! Let me give a few examples...and a picture or two...
  My mom is amazing at contenting kiddos. I guess her camp counselor comes out, and there was not one whine for most all of the trip. We sang Christmas songs the whole drive- seriously, I think we clocked hours! Miles! Days! Ha my throat is so sore...but it was worth every minute! As we sang 'Away in a Manger', we were driving through Texas. It was dark, so we couldn't see the   ranches we were passing.
 But all of a sudden we were hit with the smell of cows- big time. And it became so real to us- Jesus wasn't born in a cleaned out, white washed stable. Our King came into the world in a filthy barn, with cows and their manure all around Him. He was laid down to rest in a manger- where slops had been set earlier that day, and lay down on straw- which the animals used for bathroom tissue! Now I am a huge animal lover, and I actually do like the smell of cows and horses for all the pleasant memories they bring up. But I wouldn't exactly want my baby- or my precious King- to have to lay down next to it.
  But that was just a beautiful reminder of all He gave for me- for all of you! He didn't come into this world as He should have, and He didn't leave it as He should have. He was ridiculed and shamed the whole way.
 And yet He did it all for US. Isn't that something BIG to be thankful for this Thanksgiving?

  Another blessing was just being with my family. This isn't exactly something anyone gets to do often, with busy schedules, etc. So just being with them was a blessing! Even if we were in a cramped car, or sharing a one bathroom hotel room, I felt so blessed to be near these amazing people I call mine. Even if I don't always show it (I can be grumpy, after all!) I love them SO much and they are my favorite people in the world. God blessed me too abundantly with them.
And don't you all think I'm going to go into a big adoption rant now? About how you all should offer this blessing to a child aching for it somewhere in God's Kingdom?

Well...I would, but think that's up to God this Thanksgiving! What do you feel called to do? I just ask that you remember them and pray for them at your table this year.

Your thankful Blogger,
 Claire  ~Pictures at bottom!~

Mom and I had braiding lessons in the car! She made it a ridiculously fun trip.
The boys who had to go cross country without braiding lessons and hours of Christmas carols, bless their hearts.

In Texas!

Sorry it was blurry- taking pictures in a jolting car was a challenge!

A very foggy drive through Texas...what a beautiful reminder that God is with us!

Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed learning all about Christmases past! Did you know that striped ornaments originated in the 1940s due to lack of paint from the war?

Cracker Barrel was so much fun- on my list of places we HAD to stop for! hehe

Mom and Dad even made our short hotel visits an adventure!

Another Uhaul picture...possibly about to cross the Mississippi!

Fun car ride! Where's Benjamin?

Dad and Mason cross the Mississippi river! I love this bridge!!

The fall foliage and winter trees made me smile. What a blessing from God that we got to enjoy them.

We cheered when we crossed into Tennessee! Mainly because it was my first state line picture- I had tried and tried and missed them all. :(

It was a LOONG drive, but I really enjoyed being with the best family on earth!

P.S---the Egg  bowl is coming up, my friends! GO BULLDOGS!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blessings in different packages

Dear Readers,
Happy Thanksgiving!! This is a time to praise the Lord, as my favorite variation of the sign points out. (you begin to sign thank you with both hands, but then point them to Heaven. :))
However- this year has been harder to get into the thanksgiving mood. I have almost skipped the holiday completely in my gingerbread patterned pjs, Christmas cookie baking, and listening to Christmas music all day! Ha

But seriously, y'all- it's not that I'm not thankful. I am! Every time I wake up to my amazing family, I feel thankful. Every time I read my Bible I'm thankful for it and the sacrifice my Jesus made. Every time I am given amazing opportunities (like loving on my favorite kiddos in ballet, volunteer projects, and a mission trip to Argentina!!) I feel beyond blessed. But being thankful and in the mood for Thanksgiving are two completely different things in my opinion. Am I ready to miss all of our favorite traditions this year as we spend our holiday in MS? No. Am I ever grateful to have a grandma who loves me and wants to spend Thanksgiving with me? YES! You see--two different things.

But as we celebrate this season, please remember to pray for those who may not have as many reasons to be thankful. Whether they don't have money for a big meal, or if they have no one to celebrate with, or if they are spending this holiday in a nursing home or orphanage. We are called to take care of the widows and orphans, dear ones. What better time to do it than this week? And I will be praying for each of you as you balance family, friends, etc.
There's always a beautiful blessing in everything. Even if you can't have a big turkey, or if you have no family near, or if everyone you know comes to celebrate with you!
My mom pointed this out to me when I felt like I failed miserably in my missions interview last night. She reminded me about Paul, and how he prayed to NOT have an adequate tongue. For then people would not be impressed with him- they would be impressed in God. So I guess even that was a blessing!!
So no matter what form your blessings take this next week, my hope is that we will each find a beautiful blessing and hope to be thankful for.
Gobble gobble! Your Blogger,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A walk down memory lane

Dear Readers,
 I Find it kind of sad that I have stayed away from my blog for the mere reason of not having access to my pictures. Our computers are broken and can't handle my load of 1,000 or so pictures per upload. So, I just haven't blogged! But here I am, driven here out of pure guilt. I'm sorry!!
  So much has been going on...but a wonderful blessing has been the cool sweater weather! I love fall, truly, I do! And every morning Cate and I have gotten to enjoy it by playing in her new swing set and playhouse. It brings back lovely Minnesota memories just to be up there, and I am desperate to give her the same sweet swinging memories that I have with Mason. So we spend our mornings up there with Mom and American Girld Dolls. And I did take me Bible Study with me last time so I could get a bit of studying in! What a sweet gift.
  Memories bring such sweet flavor to life, don't they? I tend to like to dwell on the past more than the future, and sometimes even the present! I revel in historical fiction books, could spend days in my Mom's closet going through our old family pictures and her old jewelry. I raid Grammie's house every time we're home. I break all of her closets and leave with a pocket full of pictures and wonderful new stories and Granddaddy Mason and his amazing family.
 Pictures, family videos, stories, they're all just so sweet! I can't wait to get to Heaven and hear all these Bible stories I so love from my Jesus. Won't THAT be lovely???
  So, since I don't have new pictures, here are some old ones!! They are making me smile.
My blog's old look!

2009 Cate!

Little May-May

Papa and Cate share a moment of laughs



Pope- I mean, Pilgrim Lenny!

Laura Ingalls and Tinker Bell

Our house- pre move in!!

      CHRISTMAS!!!~last year

I love Mexico. I miss Mexico. I want to go back to Mexico. God loves the people of Mexico!

         There you have it! Snippets of our life from 2009 to now. Hehe that was fun!! Love Your Blogger,