Archive for July, 2011

God’s Calling for Our Lives

Sometimes, I feel afraid to live out my dreams. Everyone in this world that you run into, has an effect on you, whether you realize it or not. The people I am surrounded by make me feel so small, like I don’t even matter. I’ve always felt sincerely inadequate at some time in my life.

Loving God gives me purpose in life, but it doesn’t eliminate my feeling of alienation and inadequacy. I am trying to learn to be careful. This world can be very heartless and it will be quick to try to shut you up when you start talking about dreams.

People, left and right, will make you feel like your dreams and life are stupid because of what you want to do. I feel terrified everyday because I want to be on stage, playing music, worshipping God. Like a rockstar but I don’t have to be famous at all. I simply want to be on stage, worshipping God through the music I write.

People will tell me I can’t make money from that, or tell me I need a real job, but that’s what I want to do. Then later in life, when I’m a lot older, I feel called to preach. I am sure when I start really pursuing that, people will make me feel like my dreams are stupid at some point.

It also depends on who you surround yourself with. If you have loving, supportive friends, they will tell you to go on with your dreams. But there always seems to be some ‘realist’ who claims these dreams are unrealistic and unattainable.

I have sat in classrooms year after year trying to wrap my head around my dreams. I no doubt feel God nudging me in this direction, which is always important in deciding your goals in life.

But I feel so terrified sometimes that I try to imagine myself doing anything else: teaching in a school, working at a desk job, being a waitress, a nurse, fireman, vet, chef, anything else. But year after year, I turn back to music. Nothing else feels right besides singing and worshipping God right now. When I write music, I feel my happiest. There isn’t anything more satisfying than finishing a song and singing to Jesus.

Other people may act like writing music is so difficult, but it has always come so naturally to me. I hear rhythms and melodies in my head, I hear guitars playing, and I write them down. Poetic verses flow out effortlessly, and then I pick up my guitar and start creating music.

It’s healing for my soul, it’s freedom from this box called my life. I just want to scream how happy it makes me. Music and God, God and music. I write songs left and write, post them on YouTube, desperately try to find somewhere to play or a band to play with.

I say all of that to say this. In life, God will definitely call us to do certain things. They are not always what we expect. One time, when my mom was younger, she heard God told her that she was supposed to work with children, and she was like, “Ugh, I hate children!” I hope she doesn’t still feel the same way, seeing how I am… her child. I am guessing she was pretty young at the time, like me. But sometimes, God calls us to do things that we are naturally gifted at, like music, for me.

The point is, in this crazy mixed-up life, he will call us to do things that we love and things that we don’t really care for. But he has a reason for wanting us to do those things. Most of the time, we don’t understand why he wants what he want for us, at least not at the time. Over time, if we trust him and do what he asks us to do, it will be revealed to us. He will teach you things you never knew before, show you how to look at life from a different from perspective.

I have a friend named Meg who was working on pursuing architecture in school. But she felt God was wanting her to do something in English, instead. She told me that at first it was really odd, but the more she looked into it, the more she realized it made sense and how English was for her. If she just ignored his voice, she could have missed out on something fabulous. It’s interesting how people will resist God over and over and when they finally decide to listen to him, he *gasp* actually knew what he was talking about! Imagine that. 😀

I find it shocking that after my mom rejected her calling so many years ago, even today, she will sometimes talk about the idea of children’s books. She always wants me to pursue that because of my artistic skills, but she may have actually been writing those books her self if she would have listened.

The point is, when we listen to God, it feels like a huge risk, but it is the greatest investment you can ever make. I am learning in my walk with Christ that trust is so vital. He will take us to new levels and give us new and better understanding. He will help us live our lives to the fullest if we would only trust and obey him. We’ve got to stop making doing what we want the number one priority, and start making what he wants us to do number one.

He can make us happier than we can make ourselves. He created us, and understands us through and through; our every mechanism, our every heart beat, our every thought and our every feeling. He understands why we do everything that we do, better than we do. So why not trust him? We may only see one path on this map of our life, but he sees all the paths. And guess what? I can assure you that he knows how to get to every destination along the way.

At the end of the day, we cannot be bullied out of his plans for us by what the world says. They will say we are wrong, we are inadequate, and make us feel like failures if we let them. If we hold tight to Jesus and continue to have faith, we will see the beautiful reality of all his plans for us. The world wants to try to take that away from you. We cannot let our own arrogance or the arrogance of others get the best of us.

God is waiting for you to trust him.

New Song- “I Keep Dreaming”

On my knees
I sing a song
The words are right
But the feeling’s wrong
Another day
I’ve lost myself
But you reach in me
And break my shell

All these feelings
Echo of the wall
But you hear my screaming
Underneath it all
Your love grabs me
And knocks me down
You don’t speak now
But your presence is loud

Your heat burns
Through the feelings
It pierces me
And I start healing
Surrounding me
The warmth, it grows
Your perfect truth
Makes me explode

All these feelings
Echo of the wall
But you hear my screaming
Underneath it all
Your love grabs me
And knocks me down
You don’t speak now
But your presence is loud

This life is more than tying
Ugly truths together
With pretty lies
Stand with friends
In fears that we disguise
Wrap me in light
Expose the hurt inside
In all the darkness
Tell me what you find
Love divine moves across my mind
Makes me feel alive

Finally alive!
Finally alive!

Turn out the lights
And close my eyes
In the dark of night

On the edge of life
With drifting mind
And say goodnight

These are nightmares I keep dreaming
But you won’t let me keep sleeping
These are nightmares I keep dreaming
But you won’t let me keep sleeping

copyright Jennifer Clayton

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Youtube- here

Opening Up

I have a tendency to bottle things up inside. I am a partially introverted person, and if something is bothering me, I rarely let it show. I just thought this would be a post to really let out how frustrated I feel.

I love God with all my heart, and I always have since I have welcomed him into my life. But this life gets so unbearably difficult. Me and my friends go through so much. I deal with extreme depression sometimes, where it feels like everyone hates me, especially God.

Sometimes, I feel like he pushes me too hard, and he seems so scary sometimes. I feel like I don’t have control over my life and that I don’t know how to connect with him. I think these feelings just stem from my depression.

He really hurts me sometimes… or, I guess I shouldn’t say he hurts me, but that he lets me go on feeling hurt. When my heart is broken, I will pour out how I feel to him and he doesn’t stop the hurt. Sometimes, he does, but it takes a lot of patience.

I just find it hard to understand why he pushes me to the edge and forces me to be so patient all the time. I feel like I have to wait for him to move in everything. Letting him have that control isn’t a bad thing. But it’s hard being patient when you are in a lot of pain. Sometimes, I think about hurting myself, but I am sure that is part of my depression.

Anyway, the point of this post is because I wanted to stop feeling like I was hiding. I deal with problems, just like everyone else. It’s a very humbling feeling. Life can be fun, but it can be really difficult, too. The important
part about having faith in God is seeing beyond all the pain, beyond all the hurt, and understanding that no matter how bad it gets, He will give you strength to overcome the madness in the end.

It’s so easy to have faith when your world is perfect. It’s harder when your grandma passes away that you love so much; it’s harder when you deal with depression and suicide crosses your mind from time to time.

It’s hard when you watch your friends struggle and can’t seem to understand why they struggle. It’s hard when nothing in your world goes right, to still have faith in Christ. But it is necessary.

Think about it!

Jesus was perfect, He saved us all. But his life was certainly no walk in the park. People mocked him, beat him, spit on him, yelled at him, cursed him, they hurt the ones he loved. He only loved them with all his heart, and still, they plotted to kill him, and eventually succeeded.

With all of his horrible misfortunes, he could have looked at his life and screamed at the Father for putting him through it. He could have turned his back on us and ignored us because we are such a horrible people. But he didn’t. Think about the outcome of life, what it would be like, if he hadn’t suffered for us. He still had faith despite his misfortune.

People get the idea of faith wrong. Faith is not the absence of fear, but instead, it is choosing to trust in the midst of that fear. It’s realizing that life gets tough, but you don’t give up on God because of it, seeing how he did not give up on us.

Just because Jesus suffered didn’t mean that God didn’t have great plans for him. He was a most faithful servant and now he rules the world, the universe. God noticed when he tolerated all that pain for his sake, and he made him ruler over everything.

I know I feel broken down and left behind sometimes, but God notices when I suffer for him. He notices when I put on a brave face, despite my fears and stresses and problems, and still continue to love him.I get depressed, my life is a mess half of the time. I feel alienated and alone often. Some days, I wake up in so much pain I can’t even get out of bed. But I still find strength despite the madness, because I will be faithful to Jesus as he has been faithful to me.

Faith is not easy. That is why many people turn away from it. Trusting God in the midst of our problems is not easy, but still, it is necessary. I keep pushing on through my pain and discomfort because I have faith that God will see me through it in the end.

Don’t. give. up!

A Prayer

We should be careful to make sure that our prayers to God are not just words to fill empty space. I read A Prayer by Gary Block. It talked about how people sometimes pray to God, just using repetitive prayer to ask God for things.

Usually, these prayers are part of tradition. Like for example, at my house, we have a dinner prayer that typically goes “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food…” and you should already know the rest.

Sometimes the meanings get lost in all the repetition. We say the prayers because we feel like we should say them or just because we always say them before we eat. But we should say prayers for more than just that.

Why do you pray?

I pray to express my love for the Lord. To thank Him for blessing me with food, food that many others are not fortunate to have. I thank Him for my family and the relationships I have with my friends. I pray to express my joy of having His strength in my life.

When I pray, I take care to make sure that I am not just saying empty words. I pray as if I am His friend, and I am speaking to His heart, like a friend would speak to another friend.

Some people would argue that prayer doesn’t work. But I would say otherwise. I think the more we put our heart into it, the more we have faith that God will take care of us when we pray, the more intently He listens to our prayers.

Think about it! If we respect Him and love Him enough to pray sincerely, it makes sense that He would return that love back to us. Why would He listen to a prayer from an insincere heart? Why should He listen to an apathetic voice? Voices that seem distant in their love and attitude?

If I had a friend and they were insincere and fake, I would not waste my time on them. But if they really cared about me and took time to really talk to me, I would return the favor.

When I go to bed at night, I try to make sure my prayers are not mundane mantras that I say over and over again to no avail. I want to let God know what’s on my mind, on my heart. I ask Him for what I need and try to remain humble and ask for what others need, too.

That’s another important part of prayer: humility. Realizing that the needs of others sometimes should be put above our own needs. Instead of praying for more money or clothes, I might pray that my friend stops feeling sick or that my sister stops fighting with dad, or that someone in poverty might receive some grace from God and have their physical and emotional needs met.

It can be a battle, I know. But we must fight against meaningless prayers and be sure we are sincere with our words. Because I can assure you, God will return that sincerity. He may answer your prayers in big ways, or small ways that are barely noticeable, but that still make a difference. He could answer it soon after you ask, or months or even years after you ask. He could answer it in a way that you don’t expect Him to answer it, which is typically how He answers my prayers. However, one thing always remains the same: He is always willing to listen to a loving and caring heart.

Poetry Book Update

I am still working diligently on my poetry book about Jesus. I am naming it ‘Atypical Jesus’, because he truly is unique and different from everyone. I have come to love how he stands in stark contrast to the rest of this fallen world.

It’s about my tragic wreck of a life before I met Christ, how I surrendered my life to him, and then it’s about my tragic wreck of a life with him. 😀 That is to say that all my problems don’t suddenly disappear because I start to live for him. It doesn’t magically turn perfect. But in significant ways, it becomes easier.

It may appear the same to some, but I assure you that it is drastically different. Why? Because there is a huge difference between my strength and the strength of God, and I begin to rely on his strength. Life is still very hard on me, but I can cope with it a lot better.

I have found purpose in the everyday things I do, there is meaning for every breath I ever take. I don’t feel like I am wondering aimlessly. I am living out my dreams through him, and it’s a wonderful, breathtaking journey. Surprising and full of heart break along with fulfillment.

There is a huge difference in my poetry before I accepted Christ and after. The poems after are much more heartfelt and overflowing with love.

Annnyway, I thought I’d post a poem that I was working on.

Beyond the Horizon

I still want to help the world
Still have that little girl’s heart
Been sleeping and dreaming for so long
Tearing actual realities apart

Running through fields of orchids
Sunlight and dreams like gold
All these years chasing fairy-tales
Too magical for any human to hold
Only angels could understand
Only their ethereal touch could know

Running mad and wild
To a glowing horizon
If I could reach that place dividing earth and sky
That all of my dreams lie on

Reach that stretch beyond space and time
The line where the world bends
Where everything is thrown into slow motion
And even my breath stops short and ends

If I could reach that shimmering horizon
I know I could taste eternity
Just beyond it lies my Savior
Always watching over me
Pouring love into my bones
Giving strength effortlessly
Whispering truths into my heart
Oxygen for my dreams to breathe
Beyond this place and faithless people
His spirit always rings

Beyond the golden horizon
Time stops and all is still
Except for a passionate Jesus
And his fiery will

The will to love and be loved
The will to sacrifice, to die
The will to stare down creeping death
To look him in the eyes
To challenge him, take him on
And come out on the other side
Still strong and alive
I long to reach my Savior
On the other side
Beyond the horizon
That place dividing earth and sky

copyright Jennifer Clayton

The book really is coming along. I plan to have it done by the end of this year, and hopefully published early next year, before I turn 20. It will help me a lot that my mom self-publishes her own books, which makes a bit of the work easier for me.

I am currently trying to take my old poems and piece them together in a story for my life before Christ, which is very time consuming and slightly monotonous. I am also trying to work on writing new poems for my life with Christ.

The new section is called “Untitled”. I draw a picture to indicate each new chapter.

Every time I start a poem,
I open up word pad,
it says ‘Untitled’ at the top.
But the page is empty.
Nothing old, all new,
White page, fresh start, brand new.

Blank pages
I have a new muse
I’m
Finding the words
I’m
Writing a new story
A new poem
A new song
Untitled.

Hope you like. More updates soon!

New Song- “Remember This”

A song I wrote about my grandma, who recently passed away from brain cancer. In my life, I like to take all things tragic and find something beautiful in them. I hated losing my grandma, but through it, God taught me to live life more urgently for Him.

I held you close
And kissed you forehead
And I said,
“I love you, goodbye”
Looking in your eyes
You looked at me
And said, “bye sweetie”

One wish
Please help me remember this
One kiss
To help me reminisce
Hold on to a moment of bliss
All of your happiness
Without the sickness
Please help me remember it

In the hospital
Looking out the window
The hours stretch on
I don’t want you to go
Bible in my hands
A prayer in my head
So many ‘I love you’s’
Left unsaid
Granny, my dear friend
Cancer steals you from my hand

One wish
Please help me remember this
One kiss
To help me reminisce
Hold on to a moment of bliss
All of your happiness
Without the sickness
Please help me remember it

We passed the pretty neighborhoods
Your neighbors seemed okay
But your grass was wild and crazy
House fading away
House of memories
With friends, good times with family
Daycare children ran happily
Summer camp in backyard fields of green
I remember your face
Remember your joy
My soul rings empty
For the sound of your voice

And I wish I could tell you
How much I love you
I saw His love
In the things you would do
There’s not always tomorrow
To share His grace
He only gives us this moment
Today

The day comes
Like a thief in the night
There is barely time
To say goodbye
We have only today
To live this life
To know His love
So we can be alive

One wish, please help me remember this
That His love surpasses all sickness

One wish, please help me remember this
That His love surpasses all sickness

I touched your soft hair
And kissed your forehead
I could guess
You have found your peace again

copyright Jennifer Clayton

Peace be with you, Granny. I love you.

Like a Thief in the Night

My grandma just passed away recently. She was fighting a battle with brain cancer, which I believe she had over the last 5 or so years. The first time it came, they treated her and she was alright for awhile. We were so happy. Then, it came around again and she just got sicker and sicker.

We would go visit her in the hospital, taking time off of work to spend time with her. I remember we were just starting to go back to church again on a regular basis, but because of the cancer, we would leave Saturday to drive from South Carolina to North Carolina to visit her, and typically come back sometime Sunday. I felt bad because she was sick and I felt bad because we couldn’t go to church.

It was hard watching my mom cry when she found out the news. Granny was so sweet. She was cool because she always wanted the family to get together. She lived in North Carolina near other family members. We had family members in Virginia and family in South Carolina. So North Carolina was our where we would meet half way, always at her house.

We would get together for Christmas at Granny’s house. We’d get together for Easter and Thanksgiving there. There were cousins and uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers, mothers, fathers, and daughters. It was beautiful how we all would hold hands in a huge circle as someone said grace for Thanksgiving. How we would wake up on Christmas morning to open presents.

I remember how I always wanted to spend more time with her, but I would put it off. I wanted to talk to her and let her know how much I loved her, but I never felt like I really made time for that. It’s hard to look back and wish about all the things you could have done.

I wanted to talk to her about Jesus. I already believe she loved him, but I wanted to share our mutual love and talk to her about my experiences, and hear about hers. I wanted to let her know how much he loved her. I could tell she already knew, but I wanted her to know more, because she deserved that.

Sometimes I wondered if she had already accepted Christ or not. But she was so passionate and caring, it’s hard to think otherwise.

Anyway, I want to share with you the scary feeling of not knowing where your family or friends will end up after they die. Some people are sure that their loved ones already love God, by how they act and how they live through him. Some people are sure that their loved ones don’t love him, also by what they do and how they act.

“Now, brothers and sisters, we do not need to write you about times and dates. You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night. While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3a

The truth is, we all want to believe that we have all the time in the world to live our lives in the right way. We think that we have tomorrow to talk to this person or that person, or that we can take care of that problem next week. Then next thing you know, it is next week, and we are procrastinating again.

I am so guilty of this. I typically wait to the last minute and put things off, and then rush to get them done. The Bible says that the day the Lord comes will be like a thief in the night. It will take us by surprise, we won’t see it come it. People will guess at the time that he will come, but no one in earth knows. He will come to judge the world.

This spontaneity is also true for when people die. We honestly have no idea when someone will die. We like to think happy thoughts, that our friends and family will die at a good, old age. But statistics and history tell us differently. People die from car crashes, from overdosing and drugs, from suicide, from diseases and illnesses, such as cancer.

I expected my grandma to die in maybe mid to late 70’s, early 80’s. I didn’t think she would be taken from us at the age of 67. I could have sworn she had maybe 10 years left in her, because she was always so alive.

Big mistake making that assumption. I have a few regrets that I didn’t spend as much time with her that I would have liked to, talking to her about boys and God and love and life and happiness, sharing memories.

The fact is, we can’t choose when our loved ones will pass away, so all we can do is make the best of the time we have with them today. You shouldn’t put off calling your friend, making up with your brother; I shouldn’t put off calling my dad, being nicer to my sister. Anyone I know can be taken from me at any moment.

While I am upset that the Lord took my sweet Granny away from me a little too early, I am thankful for what he has taught me through the experience: that we don’t always have tomorrow. The fact that I didn’t get to share my love of Jesus with her puts a fear and an urgency in me to tell others about his love before it is too late. They don’t always have tomorrow, and neither do I. Something awful could happen to me tomorrow and today may be the last time I get to shine bright for the Lord.

He wants us to live with this sense of urgency, that we are here today and gone tomorrow. That we have such little breath in us, such little life in us. Each of us is only a few sentences in his gigantic book of life, so he wants us to be sure that what we say, what we contribute to the story, is something worth sharing. He wants us to have some fear in us, and not so it will cripple us, but to remind us that it’s dangerous to live passively.

Regret is not a good emotion to live with, and once someone is gone, you cannot get them back. He has reminded me to live life to the fullest, because the day comes

like a thief in the night.