Clervois Christmas & New Years Greetings!

Hello friends and family! You’re likely reading this because you got a holiday card in the mail from Clark & I! We loved putting it together and sending it to as many loved ones as we wanted we could afford! So, here’s a digital copy for those who haven’t yet seen it – this goes out to all of you LTB readers and friends!

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It reads “Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year! From Clark & Kimberly Clervois, Our Greetings at Learning to Breathe!”

These six photos we chose because each represents something that we either care about or want to share with you here. We will work from the first photo on the upper left hand corner (working counter-clockwise) to the last photo where I’m wearing the red plaid shirt!

Photo 1 Happy New Years 2012! This photo was taken on the very first day of the year! We began 2012 with Clark’s immediate family at his parent’s house located in the gorgeous Port Saint Lucie, Florida! Not a bad start to the year, right? Clark’s wonderful sister Jovi took this photo of us. I love how every year at midnight she makes a big deal when the ball drops – we have a lot of fun! We always take pictures and light sparklers in the back yard. Clark and I only get to see his parents (Bob & Carole) once a year for about a week at New Years so you can imagine how precious those days are for Clark especially. It’s good to have a relaxing “chill” time down in Florida to rest up before the next year hits. We sure are ready for our upcoming annual trip to Florida leaving next week! This will be the fifth year I’ve joined the Clervois family New Years holiday =)

Photo 2 Happy Easter! This photo was taken on (Greek) Easter Sunday at my Aunt Nancy’s house. My immediate family are all pastor’s (as you know if you are a regular LTB reader) so we are working on the real Easter! A week later when things have died down, we love to celebrate with my mom’s best friend and her daughter – my cousin – Deanna and her husband Matt. I’m very grateful for my Aunt Nancy and Deanna in our lives… they are family to us even if it’s not through bloog! I especially love my Aunt Nancy because she is by far one of the wisest women I’ve ever been in contact with and I’m glad she is my mom‘s best friend. My cousin Deanna also became a Youth Worker in our The Counter Influence youth group Clark and I lead. I was so happy when DD joined our team because she can bring a lot to the table and I know she will make a difference in the lives of our young people. You can also maybe tell by the photo it’s the last time you will see our “former selves” before diet season came and weight loss happened!

Photo 3Summer is coming! This photo was taken in our hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Clark and I moved here when we got married and have absolutely loved being apart of the Salem community. The lighthouse in the background you see is the historic Fort Pickering Lighthouse on Winter Island. This “hidden treasure” quickly became one of our favorites places to be in this city. Winter Island has a fascinating history that you can read about it online if you are History nerds like me and Clark! This location of Fort Pickering was the ONLY New England port NOT to be captured during the Revolutionary War! So cool. It’s a beautiful place to tour, walk, and take pictures now! We love adventuring to different historical landmarks on our day off every week. Another reason we love Salem – so much history! Salem has also become near and dear to our hearts because this past September Calvary launched our third daughter church called Remix Church where my sister and soon to be brother-in-law are both pastoring in the great city of Salem! Clark and I are so proud of Kendra and Sterling! Plus it’s nice to live only a mile from Sterling… which is also where he and Kendra will continue to live when they get married in June! Us sisters are happy about that =)

Photo 4, 5, 6 Fall has arrived and Happy Thanksgiving! The summer flew by. Being full time Youth Pastors keeps us extraordinarily busy during the summer months with camps, outreaches, missions trip, and more. I’ll mention more on that in a minute! These last three pictures were taken in Bridgton, Maine (right near Naples). If you are a regular on my blog you’ve seen the posts from our family’s Thanksgiving get-away to Maine! Being there was a huge blessing. A church family member loaned us the use of their condo on the lake knowing how much we all needed rest and relaxation! Clark and I first visited this lovely place for our TWO YEAR Anniversary in September… Can you believe we’ve been married two years?! It has really flown by and we’ve loved being married more each day. We really are enjoying each other’s company and hilarity. We again visited the lakeside condo with our family for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful time, especially enjoying my sister Kendra being home from Biola University for a week. Thank God for his provision and putting wonderful friends and church family members in our lives. God always meets our needs and takes care of us. Can you also tell in this last three pictures Clark is down 50lbs and I’m down 15lbs?! We worked hard to get there. Marriage makes you eat a lot of cookies… we finally picked up on that and are trying to eat and live healthier  We are getting there!

A few ministry (“Professional” if you will) highlights from 2012…

Our “kids” at the Ci Youth: Our students were once again named the top giving youth group to Speed the Light! We started a new small group system called “Crews” that has revolutionized our ministry and fostered much discipleship and growth. We saw many students come to know Jesus for the first time, get water baptized, join a ministry like worship or drama team, and receive a calling into ministry themselves. We feel incredibly blessed to Pastor the amazing, hilarious, and talented students of The Counter Influence. We also are extraordinarily grateful to work with an amazing volunteer youth staff who back us up in every way! We are proud to say 80% of our student body are in Sunday School on Sunday mornings! Our kids rocked out summer camp, a missions trip to Nicaragua, outreaches to places like Revere Beach, and our latest “Next Level” Fall Retreat. Our students continue to blow us away every chance they get… and they keep us VERY busy!

For Kim: In March I was able to fly to L.A. and attend Biola University’s “Missions Conference” week and was truly inspired by all they are doing for the Kingdom (you’ll see some of that come to fruition at Calvary for the Missions Convention in October 2013). I was able to

Clark and I this past July on Lake Nicaragua in front of a live volcano while on our SNEMN AIM Missions trip!

Clark and I this past July on Lake Nicaragua in front of a live volcano while on our SNEMN AIM Missions trip!

really settle into my role as AIM Coordinator in our Student Ministry department of Southern New England (Assemblies of God) Ministry Network – otherwise known as SNEMN. The end of last year into the beginning of this year I traveled to many different youth groups all over our district (MA, CT, RI) taking to students about missions and promoting our 2012 AIM Trip. In July, I lead a week long missions trip to Managua, Nicaragua (with Missionaries Ken and Kendra Doutt) with 27 SNEMN AIMer’s who were the light of the world! It was honestly one of the best missions trip of my life – God moved in INCREDIBLE ways! This year I got the opportunity to teach a Youth Ministry class at Zion Bible College and was a great first try! I would love to do more of that. I attended a Youth Ministry Symposium at Gordon College in the fall with three of our Crew Pastor’s – loved it. I got the opportunity to be a guest contributor on Question Your Doubts a blog by Dr. & Rev. Christina Powell (check out my post). Coming up for me in February 2013 I’ll be speaking a bit about our Crews and my experience with Youth Ministry in New England at the OPEN BOSTON Youth Ministry conference. Looking forward to the next year in ministry!

For Clark: Every week Pastor Clark continues to blow me away with his preaching and communciating God’s Word to our students. He is literally one of the best preachers in the world – not biased or anything ;-). Biola University seemed to agree and flew him out to speak in a chapel service this past November! He delivered the message God had put on his heart with passion challenging these college students to dig deeper in their faith and love for the Lord! This year Clark took an important role in the planning of our district summer camps this year as well, and he continues to serve as the Northeast Mass REP for our SNEMN Student Ministries department! He also continues to lead our youth group with wisdom and grace while leaning on the Lord and following His direction! Our Youth Ministry at Calvary Christian Church continues to grow and develop under Clark’s keen leadership. He’s now leading worship and training up a new generation of lead worshippers with our CI Youth Band! Clark is not only a gifted preacher, but a extremely talented musician  Our students love and respect him so much and I know they appreciate our leadership and role in their lives. Check out some of Pastor Clark’s video blogs to our students here or o straight to his first, second, third most recent video.

Hope you enjoyed learning about our year! The End =)

A Christmas Tradition

Letter_Well, today is December 1st after all! A wonderful snowy first of December day to start of the “advent” countdown (did you know I didn’t know it was called advent until like last year?) and also a fine day for our annual Christmas Party for the staff at Calvary. Growing up my sister and I always looked forward to the Staff Christmas party. My mother used to cook dinner for everyone and host in her own home! What a hostess! And with two small kids? Let’s just say me and my sister were to put to WORK! Still, Kendra and I loved the party and the people coming through. Growing up there were only two other pastor’s [other than my dad] and everyone felt like such close family. My parent’s are truly one in a million because they’ve been pastoring at the same church (quite successfully) for 25 Christmas’ now! Many of my Christmas memories and traditions come from being apart of my church and church family.

Now there’s almost 25 of us staff members & spouses/significant others and we all couldn’t possibly all fit in the parsonage [my parent’s house] comfortably enough to eat dinner together. So, now it’s our tradition to go out to dinner and then retreat back to the parsonage for dessert, coffee, tea, and Yankee Swap! Woohoo! I’m sure to many this is just another Christmas party, but to me it’s especially enjoyable because it’s become a part of my Christmas traditions every year. Of course now I’m coming to the party as a “guest”, a Pastor’s wife! Strange.

Anyways… we took some lovely pictures which you’ll see I posted below. I absolutely LOVE my parent’s house at Christmas because it’s so beautifully decorated! It just feels like home. My mother makes our house look wonderful and is so creative with her decorating. My mom also gave me a wreath to take home for our apartment that her beloved Sally used to hang up in her home. Sally was like a second mom to my Mom, so a surrogate grandmother or great aunt type figure to me. Passing things down seems like a lovely Christmas tradition as well. I love taking out my own Christmas ornaments and decorations that used to belong to my mother, grandmother, and even great grandmother!

I’ll keep it short and end there. It just doesn’t feel as festive to me without this party every year! Loves it.

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What a blessing to have such a wonderful Mommy!

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Happy Christmas from the Clervois’!

Myself, Becky, and Andraya - two of my greatest friends and also fellow Pastor's wives [well, almost for Dray!]

Myself, Becky, and Andraya – two of my greatest friends and also fellow Pastor’s wives [well, almost for Dray!]

Some of the office ladies and Pastor's wives =) Lovely!

Some of the office ladies and Pastor’s wives =) Lovely!

Our Yankee Swap was fun and gave us laughs as usual... I'm actually pretty please with both Clark and my dad's findings!

Our Yankee Swap was fun and gave us laughs as usual… I’m actually pretty pleased with both Clark and my dad’s findings!

Dray serves up some of her delicious little desserts!

Dray serves up some of her delicious little desserts!

Didn't my mother roll out a gorgeous spread?

Didn’t my mother roll out a gorgeous spread? This photo just does not do it justice!

Katie (another staffer) said "no one has beautiful things anymore"... how right she is! My mom has beautiful pieces!

Katie (another staffer) said “no one has beautiful things anymore”… how right she is! My mother has these gorgeous vintage pieces!

Even Henry the Giraffe (from Kenya) is dressed up for Christmas!

Even Henry the Giraffe (from Kenya) is dressed up for Christmas!

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Even down to the light fixtures – a gorgeous Christmas sight! Those are my mom’s handmade ornaments hanging from this wreath!

One of my favorite things Mom puts up for Christmas is this little village that lights up! So festive!

One of my favorite things Mom puts up for Christmas is this little Christmas village that lights up! So festive!

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And what’s Christmas without a manger scene!

Another thing I love about my parent's house during Christmas is that each window in the house and a single candle light. Just breath-taking! I'll take a picture from the outside to post soon!

Another thing I love about my parent’s house during Christmas is that each window in the house has a single candle light. Just breath-taking! I’ll take a picture from the outside to post soon!

And finally the wreath given to me for my own home! Looks beautiful and festive!

And finally the wreath given to me for my own home! Looks beautiful and festive!

Tis the season!

Tis the season!

I only hope that someday my house is as gorgeously decorated as my mother makes hers for the holidays. Can you believe I’m a grown up decorating my own house? This is me and Clark’s third married Christmas – how time flies! I am blessed this holiday season with wonderful memories, traditions, family and friends, and of course my amazing husband.

Thank you dear for always understanding how important these Christmas traditions and family nuances are to me. Not only that but thank you for always participating in these activities and truly enjoying them with me and our family – I love you!

This was the first Christmas day that we spent together, 2009

This was the first Christmas day that we spent together, 2009

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This is from 2010 =) Our first married Christmas!

Last year 2011 in our Christmas jammies =)

Last year 2011 in our Christmas jammies =)

Quite the Scandalous Thought

Here’s a scandalous thought for you… Do something for YOU! Do something for yourself. I will now describe what I do for myself and why. Be prepared!

Lately I’ve become extremely aware of how I have been living my life for the past two or three years. I’ve come into two important realizations. One – as an unpaid “volunteer” status worker [which a lot of people don’t realize] I am spending upwards of 55 hours a week working and over 70 hours a week during the summer. Two – every year around the fall, specifically November, I begin to feel extremely run down, exhausted, and a little burnt out. These are two things that have happened for a couple years – consistently – and I’m just now figuring out this pattern! I’m not quite sure what made me really understand and figure these things out… it’s only my own life! How did I not figure this out sooner?

Well, I see the importance of balance and maintaining a sense of control in your day to activities as to avoid going crazy! I’ve always [at least for the last five years or so] been very faithful to take a Biblically commanded sabbath day. I do not work, talk about work, or discuss ministry/work related topics on my day off. This is something that I must do in oder to keep my sabbath and honor the Lord with that time. I honor the Lord by keeping His command and by taking care of myself, my husband, and my family. This keeps me sane! Especially considering the history I come from with an “overly busy” ministry family [remember my definition of ‘overly busy’?], it’s therefore very important for me to make my day off a day of rest and true separation from work! It’s so funny to think that most non-vocational ministry adults usually get the weekend off – two and half days off! The vast majority of my friends get out of work friday evening and don’t have to go back to work until monday morning. Wow, imagine?! Pastors and ministry workers get one day, and sometimes when emergency happens not even one day a week is sacred. [Disclaimer here: Emergencies are granted, it’s a part of the job. I still love what I do, don’t worry! And don’t judge!]

I realized that even after Clark and I have been faithful in our day off’s for the last two years of marriage and two years of dating life… I still end up feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by the time the fall season hits. September and October are so busy and by November I’m totally pooped. I’m feeling absolutely no motivation to get back into the office. That’s where the “doing something for me” plan comes in.

Ever felt like you’re running late to something but you can’t figure out what? This is how busy I feel sometimes, can you relate?

Next year I definitely plan on taking some serious time off in fall, however, I don’t want to be feeling even more overwhelmed than this year if I can help it. Even if I take the stress down 10% that should be helpful, right?! In the past I had some sort of “head knowledge” of the importance of doing something for yourself, but historically in my line of work anything other than selfless dedication at any cost really doesn’t appear acceptable to anyone. Busyness is seen as accomplishment. Rest is seen as laziness. Many of you may see the correlation to modern society’s thoughts of busyness – Pastor’s have been doing it for years! I guess we’re ahead of the times. Yet sadly, this is why the rate of Pastor’s burning out and leaving the ministry every year is so high. The average youth pastorate is about nine months. I’m committed to not becoming a statistic. So let’s see… statistics [and experience] say that Pastor’s typically are overworked, underpaid, live high stress lives, and still have families and marriages to take care of. Statistics say that five years after Bible College graduation only 20% of those students are still in ministry. Twenty years after Bible College graduation only 5% of those students are still in ministry. Wow!

Basically, I use “blogging” as my outlet! This is what I do for myself. I enjoy blogging – it’s fun! I even believe I can help other people through the topics I discuss when blogging. Blogging is a great way to keep far away family members updated on your life. Blogging can become a bit time consuming [by some standards], but I don’t feel guilty about that because this is my “thing for myself”. Everyone needs something that they enjoy and do for their own appreciation and sanity! Enjoying this “fun” part of my life enables me to be better in my other areas of life. Blogging also requires me to think and write about my life including the things and people that matter to me… which never denies me a very self-aware existence. Self awareness [if you have nay soul at all] challenges you to become a better person, which for me means a better Christ follower, better wife, better friend, better mentor. So, all in all, doing this “thing for you” can even be seen as a thing you do for your loved ones, your children, your husband, your coworkers, etc. Think of this: wouldn’t they all want you to be the best you can be? The healthiest? The happiest? The bravest? Then, take care of yourself. I promise your life will become at worst slightly more manageable.

So, I blog. I take my day off extremely serious. I put the utmost importance on my weekly Thursday night date with my husband. I recognize family time on Monday night’s. I try to plan times for my friends to be together. I celebrate important life events like birthdays and anniversaries and I try to make holiday’s special [like my grandmother did for my mother]. Shouldn’t these be the basics? I put my trust in the Lord that He will give me rest and take care of the rest of my life. Did you know – it’s the Lord that takes care of your family? Not YOU?

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Why yes! I have a lovely new Header!

Hope you like 😉 Represents me a bit. Some of my favorite pictures of my favorite people. Kind of themed for the season too! I love a New England fall day. October is a wonderful month. In my family it’s quite a busy month; it’s missions month at our church and it’s the heart and soul of who we are. I also love all the October fall foliage, drinks, food, clothes, and photos!

Until next time… when I actually post a real entry =D

 

Life to the Full

Well, Bonnie has inspired me to blog more! So far today has been pretty balanced for me. Even though it was sooooo difficult to get up this morning (nyquil hang over) I at least was able to find my wonderful black yoga pants so I’m feeling comfortable today! Paired the yoga pants with an oversized men’s american eagle sweater… I’m looking bummish but don’t care! Plus I’m pretty sure this sweater is one of my student’s. It’s amazing the amount of clothes teenagers leave behind. It’s my sweater now! Totally my sweater. Then Clark and I drove to church where we’ll be working all day and night. BUT what I LOVE is that I got to my desk, prepared my tea, sat down, ate my coffeecakes, and then did my devo’s. Peaceful! Beautiful breakfast and reading of the Word. I swear any day that starts off like that will go well.

It’s one of those rainy weeks where you just want to sleep in, eat cookies, drink tea, and watch Dan In Real Life. I think the rain makes me a little more contemplative that usual. I would say that normally Clark is the “thinker” between the two of us, but this week I feel like it’s me! This could also be due to the Nyquil though… I’m a bit of addict. Anyways… I’ve been thinking about the next couple of years and how many of my friends are getting married! I’m in the stage of my life where all my friends are getting married and even having children. Sure, even I am married! No, I’m not having a child though. I have this one friend who I care about deeply, but I’m very afraid this friend is marrying the wrong person. We have a complicated relationship so I don’t feel like I can really voice my opinion about it again… it didn’t work out too great the first time I tried it earlier this year. Maybe I’m simple minded… but I honestly believe and have experienced for myself that when you trust in God to show you the “one” to marry and then get married in God’s timing, then you will be blessed! Of course, this is definitely what happened to me so some could say I’m bias… but let’s be real… I’m just reading what the Bible says!  It’s also been my experience that God keeps His promises. When I try to run my life according to ME… things don’t work out or they are just ‘good’ or mediocre. When I let God into every area in my life and become obedient to Him… miracles happen and life becomes extraordinary. Why don’t people want extraordinary? Maybe it’s because it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of faith and trust in God. It takes sacrifice. Regardless of all those things… wouldn’t you just rather be happy and experience “life to the full”???? Friends…. it really is that simple. It doesn’t matter your past, what you did, or what has been done to you… even the worst cases can still have hope in “life to the full” because God keeps His promises.

Another thing I’ve been thinking a little bit about…. family! My immediate family right now consists of six people and sometimes I wish we could just do Thanksgiving and Christmas among ourselves! Extended family members sometimes bring stress and I miss my sister so much that I just want the six of us to be together for as much time as physically possible. My dad, mom, Kendra, Sterling, Clark, and me! Ken and I are trying to get everyone to wear footie pajamas for Christmas. So far the men won’t comply. We’ve picked out EXCEPTIONAL footie pj’s though I will say. You can click on these links to see what we’ve picked out for Dad, Mom, Sterling, Clark, Kendra, and Kim. Beautiful!!!! Imagine six grown adults in footie pajamas sitting around the Christmas tree???? HILARIOUS!!

I can’t wait until we are all together for Christmas!