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?

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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 =)

Two Week Blogging Hiatus =(

ello Blogging Friends! I meant to write last week that I’m going to be taking a two week blogging hiatus  Boo, I know. I’ve been at Fall Retreat with our teenagers this past week in New Hampshire and now today (in about an hour) Clark and I leave with our family to go on Thanksgiving vacation for about a week! Praise God! Unfortunately there’s no internet up where we will be in Maine. Plus, I’m going to try and write a bunch of blogs or at least come up with some ideas so I’m ahead of the game when I return!

As you can see… I have a lot to catch you up on! Here is a picture of the students verses staff basketball game we had at Fall Retreat! What a handful….

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!

My Recommendation for You!

One of my students who graduated this past year called me up the other day. She’s in college now and her professor gave an assignment to write a paper on someone who has influenced her life, made a difference, and set a Godly example. She called me. Wow, no words. Talk about emotional, humbling, unworthy, and joyous… I feel so honored! It’s also extremely refreshing and encouraging to see that what I do in youth ministry and with my life actually means something and is effective. I know it’s totally God using me 100% – so all the glory goes to Him – I really didn’t do much. I just stayed obedient and loved the Lord. That being said, they call youth ministry the “thankless ministry” because we often won’t see the entire results of our ministry until our students become adults years later. Us youth ministers don’t always get a “thank you” up front. I’ve been blessed to have experienced much appreciation, but that’s really not my point here at all.

When my [now former] student called, she asked me about my prayer life and how I keep in communication with the Lord. I told her a few things I do, but mainly talked about my constant awareness of God’s presence and how I speak to the Lord throughout my day as if He’s holding my hand every step of the way – because I know He is doing just that. Recently my husband choose this song to lead worship with, and it’s quickly become an anthem of sorts for me. Not only is this song powerful and dynamic, but the lyrics sound like they came straight out of my prayer life. This is now one of my favorite worship songs, and I was privileged enough to lead worship last night alongside my husband and sing this song with our teenagers to our God! Listen here…

Recently someone told me to just focus on one thing – being faithful to God… and everything else will happen exactly as it’s supposed to. He said “What would you lack if all you did was focus on being faithful?”. It’s a great thought… because our God is faithful and I know I would lack nothing! My Recommendation to you is this worship song to pray and worship to… and to remain faithful. That’s all! 

A to Z… of me!

Age: 23 (ug, I don’t know what I’m gunna do when I turn 24 or even 25!!!!!)
Bed size: Queen, but really need to switch to King. They cost a lot!
Chore you hate:  Folding clean laundry. I just like to smell the clean laundry.
Dogs: no no no, CATS. CATS!! Kittens preferably.
Essential start of your day: Uh, coffeecakes. And Starbucks. Extra Shot. 
Favorite color: Nice deep purple, and forresty green. Like olive forest green.
Gold or silver: Used to be silver ALL the way, but gold has grown on me.
Height: 5’11
Instruments I play (or have played): Voice, but used to play piano. Should probably pick that back up some time when I have someone else’s schedule and life! haha.
Job title: So many jobs…. Wife, Sister, Daughter, Jesus Follower, Mentor, Surrogate Mom to Teens, House cleaner, Cookie Baker, ah… I should stop listing…
Kids: No soonah, no latah….
Live: Salem, Mass…. lovin it!
Mom’s name: Jacquelyn! Jacquie for short.
Nickname: Kim, Kimmy, Kimma, Kimba, or the every popular “hey, clark’s wife”
Overnight hospital stays: Thankfully, none of my own! Until I have kids that it
Pet peeve: Uh, bad drivers. Women who go to Bible College and choose Youth Min major just to marry a hot youth pastor guy.
Quote from a movie: “Where the Lord closes the door, somewhere he opens a window” -The Sound of Music
Right or left handed: Riiiiiight
Siblings: Kendra, Jovi, Fab, Booths, Sterling, Autumn, Theresa, Kyla, Jenna, Lindsay, oh boy… I’m running out of room here
Time you wake up: Depends on the day! Preferably… late
Underwear: Uh…. really? Okay… ARIE UNDIES ❤
Vegetables you dislike: I only like three veggies, legit. They’re gross.
What makes you run late: Ummm…. haha, me? Or maybe something related to Youth ministry….
X-rays you’ve had done: Hmm… def teeth, knee, foot, and…. MRI but that’s it
Yummy food you make: oh Yes! Well, I BAKE these awesome Graham Cracker Brownies…. your world WILL be rocked.
Zoo animal: Defffffffff GIRAFFE ❤ the TALLEST species at Zoo. Like me in life.
~
I stole this little “about me” quiz from my good friend Bonnie’s blog! Thank you Bonnie… here is the link to her blog, one of my favorite blog titles ever… http://feelingbloggy-read.blogspot.com/