Is it me against the world?

Anybody ever feel like you are the only person on the planet trying to do the right thing? Even though you know that’s not true you still wonder why you work so hard, so sacrificially even, while others continue to crap on you? Why even bother working that hard at doing the right thing…? A while ago I did a post on choices over at 47 Grove. When I was younger I had no problem with the concept of “thankless” good deeds. As an adult I’ve had more time and experience to see real messed up stuff happen. Maybe that’s why it is now sometimes harder to understand why you can do everything right and still get crapped on. Perseverance used to come a lot easier. I went so far as to look up the definition of the word “persevere”…. continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. One synonym given was literarily to “struggle on”. I guess “the struggle is real” is an actual thing.¬†Even if you have been around long enough to know doing the right thing means you’ll likely still get crapped on… it’s not until you’re actually IN the crap that things really get tough. You know it’s coming, and yet still when it hits you wonder why life is spinning.

I could be a beach bum. For the rest of my life! I love the sound of that career. I could sell art on the boardwalk. I could wear a bathing suit every day. I could even do a little ministry and pray for people along the beach, right? Doesn’t that sound a whole lot better right now? Costa Rica has nice beaches I’ve heard. Beach missions.

Hmmm… God doesn’t seem to have called me to a life of beach missions. Bummah. Instead I’m in the trenches of what many have called the “thankless ministry”. They call it youth ministry. In all actuality it’s more like babysitting, mentoring, coaching, life guarding, cleaning, driving, car pooling, feeding, reading, pick ups, nursing, juggling, praying, praying, and really praying that everyone turns out alright. Myself included. The beach sounds a lot easier though! Maybe someday. Possibly around retirement age. That’s okay.

I’m not the only one to have experienced an unwanted or seemingly undeserved ending to a really good / moral / or even evangelistic deed. I think of the many times in the Bible people who were in the middle of doing the right thing got crapped on. Paul and Silas were thrown in prison. Jesus’ disciples were arrested, tortured, murdered. Mary saw her miracle baby brutally killed in front of her own eyes. Let’s not even go Old Testament here. Daniel was thrown in a pit with vicious lions. Noah was mocked by his entire society. Let’s not even go there with Job or Jeremiah.

I guess I feel pretty stupid now. Many have experienced far harsher trials than my own. One thing I’m always telling my kids is that God always keeps His promises, and to remember that He promises this life will be hard and… the struggle is real. Dang, I knew saying that all the time would come back to bite me someday. Taking my¬†own advice.

We aren’t supposed to feel good after every right decision. We are supposed to feel right about every good decision. Sometimes you’ll be thrown for a loop. The ending won’t be what you wanted, could have guessed or even deserved. So let’s examine again why we do the right thing. First reason, because I’m called by the God who I love. After sacrificing for me I know that I can sacrifice for Him. I can do what He’s asked because I love Him and He is God. Second reason, because others will benefit from my right decision even if I don’t. Third reason, because someday I will be rewarded. Oh, and it will be a great great reward in heaven. God will bless me on earth as well according to how He sees fit. Fourth and final reason, because I trust Him. God knows what He’s doing. and I don’t need to question why. I just need to serve. I just need to make right choices. I just need to be faithful. I trust God for the rest. He knows what I need better than I do.

Guess what… it still sucks to get crapped on. Ha! Yeah, I know. So there are things you can do during those times. As you can see, I tend to blog a bit! It releases tension for me and provides a safe place to get all my thoughts out in the open. I often figure out a lesson God’s been trying to teach me after I read my own thoughts that I’ve poured out while writing. I also make sure I am resting, taking a sabbath each week, and caring for my health properly. I escape to the beach when I need to. I get some fresh air and clear my head. I do something I really enjoy for an afternoon if it’s well deserved. I call someone who I know understands or cares and just have a conversation with them. Even if it’s not extraordinarily deep it means something to have someone you care about talk to you on the phone for a bit. I take a deep breathe. I take a sip of my coffee. Eventually I find my way back to my prayer closet. I read my Bible. I ask God for wisdom. I try and move forward. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. There’s isn’t a better way. There isn’t a short cut. Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way.

It’s troubling sometimes the amount of hardship we can expect to come. Even still I reminded that God has given me all the¬†means to make it through. If I’m filled with the Holy Spirit and my God is for me… who can be against me?

While My Husband Sleeps… Thoughts for Today

Good evening, friends. These are my last thoughts before bed today. Apparently, they are interesting enough to share. ūüôā So. Ever wonder what you’re love language is with God? Today my intern Ana and I were doing some research (it’s Love Month at youth group) and we ended up creating a skit for our students to preform. The skit so happens to base five characters off each love language as described in Gary Chapman’s book. Yes, that really is what I did at work today. Subsequently, my husband asked me tonight “do you ever find yourself giving advice that you should really be taking yourself?”… and immediately I answered “I’m convinced that is how God speaks us sometimes, because otherwise we might not listen”. Now, am I really suggesting that God uses reverse¬†psychology¬†on us? Haha, I don’t know. I really have very little answers. Maybe you have found yourself in the position of regular “advice giver” like myself and my husband. For us it’s occupational hazard, maybe for you it’s simply that you are the least stupid friend someone has. Either way, have you ever asked yourself this question… “am I really living out the advice I just gave to [insert person’s name here]?”

Back to the love language thing. God and I have had a pretty serious relationship going on twenty years now. Sometimes I’m reminded that He really knows me… kinda freakish really! It’s startling how well God cares for me when I let him. God knows my personality (duh, He created me this way) and knows the way I need to be reminded when I should be doing better in my walk. When I’m giving someone else advice the pressure is off me, right? Uh, wrong. Somehow God ends up sneaking in something for me anyways. It’s a real subtle way of smacking me in the face for a much needed wake up call! Is that an oxymoronic statement? Subtle face smack? It’s some type of moron I’m sure. I’m thinking – aren’t I here to help some other person with the consequences of THEIR stupid¬†decision?? When I need challenging God often finds an unconventional and unexpected way to let me know. I love when¬†God speaks to me in ways He knows I’ll really take to heart. I don’t even realize until the moment is long past. It’s His way of loving me. He knows what I need to hear and in what fashion. This is something I like about our relationship! I also like that He knows my value and expects me to live up to it.

Thank you God for always taking care of me in every way possible. Even when I’m not giving You my all, I find a reminder that You’re there and want more of me. I want to serve You more because of it! Thank you Lord for making me better.

“No, the¬†Lord¬†is all I need.

    He takes care of me.
6 My share in life has been pleasant;
my part has been beautiful.

7 I praise the Lord because he advises me.
    Even at night, I feel his leading.
8 I keep the Lord before me always.
    Because he is close by my side,
    I will not be hurt.
9 So I rejoice and am glad.
    Even my body has hope,
10 because you will not leave me in the grave.
    You will not let your holy one rot.
11 You will teach me how to live a holy life.
    Being with you will fill me with joy;
¬†¬†¬†¬†at your right hand I will find pleasure forever.”

Psalm 16: 5 – 11

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 РI 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 =)

Currently listening to:

Listen to this song while reading my blog post:

How incredible meaningful and inspiring is this song? I am loving it. You may already know how I feel about B’s vocal talent… she’s out of this world! Many just see her as a Destiny’s Child or another famous face. Not so. Just listen to her pure¬†unadulterated¬†live¬†performance¬†in Wynn Las Vegas for the 2011 “I Am Yours… An Intimate¬†Performance”¬† and you’ll be done for! Lots of reasons why I love Queen B but one is because she just sings the kind of music she wants too! Her latest album entitled “4” is exactly that and she’s brilliant. It’s not a bunch of amped up radio hits – it’s talent and music! I appreciate the place she’s in right now! And… watch all of her¬†performances¬†while she’s¬†pregnant… like… Go lady B!

A short side note… Any particular reason why you want to write? Are you a writer? Just something I’m wondering… needing writing advice but I really don’t want to talk about it because then I sound like one of the “trying to be creative” types who like go to coffee houses and read my slam poetry with [an actual newfound love for] my woven beanie and do the hipster thing. I have¬†inspiration¬†I’m just lacking direction at this point. That’s why a blog is nice! You can just write whatever you’re thinking or feeling that day.

Has anyone else looked back over their life and really tracked the “most meaningful” moments? Have you had any truly profound moments? I certainly hope so! It’s interesting to go back and see what people, things, or events had certain effects on me that were lasting. Do you remember the first song that gave you goosebumps? Do you remember the first time your heart hurt? Do you remember the first time you felt truly inspired enough to move?

Now… on the flipside. How have your lived your life in terms of “others”. Yes! Someone other than you. What have you done? Have you inspired anyone to do anything positive? Let’s not even talk about God (which we obviously should, I’m just saying…)… what have you been doing lately? Has it been all about you? What YOU want? Where YOU’RE going? What YOU look like? How people¬†perceive¬†YOU? If so, it’s time for an awakening to what truly lasts and matters. You may be overdue for a little reality check, you American. You don’t have to live in such a shallow hole… it’s actually really freeing out here! I promise. How about you spend some quality time with me in the ghetto working with children and teenagers. You may find you’re blessed beyond measure to live where you live. Did you forget that? ¬†Or spend time with me in a third world country [like Nicaragua or Haiti] where they literally live on nothing and the average age of death is in your late 40’s or 50’s. You may find you’re life is really not difficult but you make it hard. How about you talk to someone who is 80 years old and find out that their life wasn’t that different from yours at one time. Every day average people that you ignore may have a crazy story. It’s not all about you! Don’t ignore! Open your eyes to an entire world!

A few scattered and meandering thoughts for you tonight.

And the world goes madly on…

Things I’m Thankful For:¬†

1. Cuddling with my husband. And the fact we’ve never had to do the “long distance relationship” thing. It’s unnatural. Props to the military wives and others who do it with grace and elegance. Unlike myself. Clark has been in California speaking at Biola Univerity since Tuesday… amazing opportunity for him, they flew him out! Amazingly alone feeling for me. Boo.

Doesn’t Clark look super sexy? Here he is speaking in front of thousands of students!

2. My Youth Staff & Band Kids.¬†CI family. Don’t honestly know what I’d do without my staff tonight. This week was so tough for me (emtionally speaking) running The Counter Influence by myself, but my staff had everything covered and really had my back. I’m beyond blessed that they even pray for me regularly! Thank God for them. Then, my kids were so brave and really became the lead worshippers tonight! They did a brilliant job leading worship – such talent – and I’m so proud!

My babies =) the student led worship team!

3. My new found love for beanies. Truth. They keep my head super warm whilst looking incredible stylish. Plus, it’s¬†definitely¬†hat season! Wicked freezing this week in New England! I’m so glad I live here… but it’s cold as the icicles hanging from Jack’s post-sunk Titanic nose. I’m surprised my hair hasn’t yet morphed into the white witch’s freezing dreads out here. Thanks beanie!

Hmm nice, right?

4. My new leggings. They have saved me this week. Check them out here and here. I know I talked about my beanie keeping me warm, but these leggings are magical. So maybe this is a bit over kill. But really. Pretty much at all times, my legs feel like they’re as close to the fire as FDR in a pre-war chat.

You jelly? You should be!

5. Chicken Piccata. Specifically the chicken piccata from Cheesecake factory. My cousin Deanna and I went to dinner on Thursday night ((She’s¬†definitely¬†another person I’m very thankful for!!)) and was able to soak in that delishhhh angel hair pasta… chicken… sauce… mmm!! If you haven’t had this dish yet, you’ve truly not been living. I’m very serious. I don’t care if I sound like the fat kid from Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. That was one smart kid… I feel SUPAH good after I eat it! Go. Now. Eat it now.

To. Freaking. Die. For.

 

Well, this concludes this episode of what Kim’s thankful for. From serious to epic to stupid to meaningful. I’m truly thankful for all these things!