Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New website!!!

Hey friends! I have switched to wordpress and am now blogging at www.stephanieclayton.org Please visit me there!

Blessings! Stephanie

Saturday, July 23, 2011


She Speaks. Dreams in my heart, I stepped forward. Would they pick me? Would I be worthy? Would they tell me it’s my turn?

Aesthetically beautiful proposal in hand about absolutely nothing God called me towards. In the past few months my writing drifted. Washing further out to sea…further away from my calling.

Struggling night and day to keep swimming and reformulating the message God gifted me with into a twisted attempt at appealing to a wider audience. Neglecting everyone and everything God gifted me with along the way. I set my own course.

Tonight, Ann Voskamp spoke about gifts. What have I done with my gifts? The question rips at my heart.

Squandered, I squandered the gifts. Passing up the very blessings God has placed directly in front of me for something different.

We don’t write to publish. We don’t speak to have our face on a poster. It’s the hand of Jesus. We write, we speak as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Sisters, I ask forgiveness.

James 5:16 says this, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

I neglected responsibilities to my blog sisters and my bible study sisters. I humbly ask forgiveness. Praying God molds me more to the shape of His hand.

God healed me from many things, yet “striving”, the need to “accomplish”, He did not deliver me until I was willing to ask. Tonight, I stand under the word of God, delivered.

Thank you Jesus for deliverance. Thank you Jesus for forgiveness. We are not only “picked”, but loved, treasured, gifted by God. Thank you Jesus.

I would be honored to pray with you my dearest sisters. No matter what we face, we come open handed to the cross, laying it all down. If there is something I can pray over you today, please let me know by leaving a comment. It is my privilege to pray for you, standing humbly before the Lord knowing that everything we have, everything, is a gift from Him. His and only His. Glory in the Highest TO YOU LORD.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Some things just need to die...

Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. Psalms 126:5-6

Gardening is not my thing. I always have good intentions, and I love picking out flowers. But the actual work part of it, it’s just not my thing. I don’t like getting my fingernails all dingy, and I really don’t like finding worms in the dirt. Although I love a beautiful garden, I would rather someone else plant and maintain it. Good thing I married a former lawn guy, right?

Psalms 126:6 says that those who go out weeping carrying seed to sew will return singing songs of joy. Well, I can assure you that if I am going into my garden to sew some seed, I am probably whiney weeping because I don’t want to do the work! But as the rest of the verse tells us, we have to do the work to get the harvest!
I want to pull your thoughts to another verse as well, Isaiah 53:4. The Message states it like this, “We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried-our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!” Talk about carrying some sorrow. I can barely carry the bondage of my own sin, and yet He carried the world.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful visuals I carry around is that of Jesus praying in the Garden before His crucifixion, overcome with sorrow. I just imagine Him there prostrate before the Father, begging for some relief from the great pain. He would bear the sin of the world, my sin, and yet He knew this cup of suffering had to pass, so He carried it. He did the work. He sewed the ultimate seed.

He went out weeping, carrying my sin, covered with my shame, and yet He had a seed to sew. A seed of forgiveness that would change my life…all of our lives…forever.
When the time came, He bore my shame at the cross, and I bear it no more. And I fall down on my knees holding my sheaves up to Him, knowing that they are all because of Jesus.

And yet I find myself still stinging with sorrow at times. Prone to guilt, I often carry around my sin longer than I need to. Having repented at the cross, I still carry the guilt.

How about you? Do you found yourself still going out weeping with your seed over past sin and regret? If you do, might I offer you a thought?

Your sin died at the cross. So why do you continue to try and revive it? Some things just need to die. Your sin, your false guilt, it needs to die. Guilt is not from God, conviction is, but not guilt. You are forgiven sister. And while your sin died at the cross, you did not. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior you are raised to walk in new life. It is time to return from the fields of sorrow and guilt singing songs of joy, and carrying the sheaves of blessing with you. Your life has been redeemed from the pit dear sister, and I know you may not “feel” it. But SEW WHAT!!!! You go out and you SEW anyways, knowing that sheaves of blessing WILL come because OUR God, the God we serve, HE IS FAITHFUL!!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

His compassions never fail...

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22 NIV

So, currently I am helping with Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Study using Wendy Blight’s Hidden Joy In a Dark Corner. The chapter this week is about quiet time, it is amazing, and I am convicted. Can I just confess that through the past few weeks I have not spent needed time in quiet time, too consumed with my book proposal? I know, it is so silly that in writing a book about how great our God is that I wouldn’t spend needed time with God, but it happens, so I confess.

And I just want to say that I am in love this morning. I am in love with the mercy of the Lord. He truly never leaves or abandons, it is only us that walk away, and when we return to Him, well, He is ever so faithful in His promises.

So, today, I want to do something a bit different. I want to show you how I spent quiet time this morning, unpacking Lamentations 3:22. I hope it speaks to you as much as it spoke to me.

The first of this verse states “because of the Lord’s great love”. In my study bible it shows me that this great love that is spoken of is a covenant love, a love that is faithful to promises. The same love that brought the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt, a love that delivers.

And the verse goes on to say that we are not consumed, that “His compassions never fail”.

Alright, now here is where I am going to get tough with the Word of God. Last night we studied Exodus at church, in particular the part where Moses is up on the mountain for 40 days and during this time the Israelites craft and begin worshiping a golden calf. If you read a bit further you find that Moses goes down the mountain, and eventually calls all the people that are for the Lord to Him, and of those that don’t come, many are slaughtered. Wow huh, that’s not a pretty story you can wrap up with a bow, or is it?

The compassions of the Lord never fail. I think we are so quick to take in the loving and compassionate nature of the Lord, but it is much more difficult to accept the concept of His judgment. However, my pastor had an amazing point last night, He NEVER passes judgment without first offering mercy. Time and time again in the Bible, the Lord will judge with a harsh hand, but He NEVER does it without offering mercy at first. It is only those who do not accept His mercy that are dealt with in a harsh manner. This brings us to the ultimate truth, that with Christ, it was finished. He was the final one and only sacrificial lamb, and God offers us unending mercy through Christ should we choose to accept Him.

So, this morning the Lord offers me mercy, I have not been spending enough quiet time. He calls me in to spend time with Him, and because I am obedient, He shows His mercy and meets me right where I am at. His compassion is never ending, His love never fails. He keeps His promises, and in the end He will separate those that have accepted Him from those that do not, plain and simple. But we can rest assured that the moment we put our faithfulness in Him, that NO MATTER WHAT, He forgives, His love never fails, and He doesn’t ever leave or abandon us. The love of the Father for His children is unmistakable, He loves you dear sister, even in your trials, He loves you, and you can choose to find peace and rest in Him.

Friday, July 15, 2011

He is enough for ALL that is you...ALL that is me...

So my blog has been a little blank lately. One reason, I went on vacation this week, which was FANTASTIC! The other reason is that I am working like crazy to polish and finish my book proposal for She Speaks.

And it is here in this place, that I find my heart a bit heavy. From reading the writings of fellow She Speaks sojourners, I notice that we all seem to be in a place of deep digging into our calling. Kind of being pushed to the next level as we prepare for the conference.

Each of us will be stepping off of that airplane, or out of that car, or van, or bus with hopes and dreams. Dreams not our own, because if they were just ours, we would have given up a long time ago…but dreams that God has placed into our hearts. Deep desires, bleeding stories, and jars of tears all coming together into one place hoping for fresh revival on our war weary souls.

Each of us in a place of daring to hope, all of us knowing in our heart of hearts that His love and grace and mercy don’t run out. That He is enough for ALL of us.

And not ALL of us in the sense of the numbers of women, but ALL of us in the sense of our own us-ness. He is enough to fill up ALL of us: the parts of us that want, the parts of us that need, the parts of us that hurt, the parts of us that desire, the parts that are teary eyed, and the parts that are in pain…yes dear…He is enough for ALL of us in all of our own us-ness.

And tonight He gives me, He gives us, this from His Word:

“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over), He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t EVER walk out and fail to return.”
Lamentations 3:22-31 The Message

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tangled up forgiveness freedom

Forgiveness. It has always sounded a bit trite to me - that forgiveness is for you, not to person you are forgiving. I have reminded myself of this thought many times. But, it just seems to lay there on the surface, never really moving into my soul. So you can imagine my thought as we began the journey along this chapter about forgiveness. ”Oh great”, I thought, “here we go…forgiveness…blah blah blah”.

Only…this time it was different. Wendy, and the words God has given her…they blew me out of the water. As I read through the chapter, one short sentence captivated me, “Forgiveness set her free”.

Forgiveness and freedom are stuck together like gum in your hair. They get all tangled up, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t separate them. There are too many strands that are binding them together.

What would be the point of Christ dying on the cross to forgive our sins, if it did not lead to freedom? They cannot be separated. His death equaled our life. His suffering equaled our freedom. It is impossible to live in bondage when you fully accept the truth of Christ’s love and forgiveness.

But what about when it comes to us forgiving other people?

You see, our forgiveness came with a price tag, the death of God’s one and only son. It was only dismissed because He paid the price. Now that just doesn’t make sense economically, the one who owed nothing paid the price for the one who owed everything. If anyone should have paid the price for sin, it was us, but we did not.

If anyone should have paid the price for Wendy’s rape, it was her rapist. But here’s the thing, God paid the price for her rapist as well. As much as it stings, his price has been paid, just as her price has been paid. And ultimately it’s up to us to accept the offering of forgiveness that He gives us.

Christ did not die out of something that He owed us. He did not owe anyone anything…but he loved us, so he set us free.

You do not owe the one who hurt you anything.

You do not owe God anything, the price He paid for your sin can never be repaid no matter what you do…it cannot be bought or earned.

But…you can spend years trapped in bondage of unforgiveness refusing to follow the example Christ has set for you and staking a claim in your own freedom but refusing to believe it is offered to anyone else. The problem with this arises when you realize that you are also refusing to let yourself go free.

The freedom message of the cross does not choose sides, it floods everyone. There is no wrong or right when it comes to forgiveness, it is love, it just is. It is because it needs to be. It chooses no exclusions, because true love unconditional love, covers all sin.

So how then do you forgive when your heart doesn’t feel the love? When all your heart feels is anger and hate? You choose to let go of the anger. You choose to let the punishment come when judgment comes, knowing that Christ has forgiven you, that you have been blessed with freedom, and that this freedom gift is not to be hoarded, no matter what the circumstances. You offer up your forgiveness as a peace offering you your Lord, not because it gets you into heaven, because it keeps you from living in your own private hell. Forgiveness, it really isn’t just for you, it is for everyone, it is what washes us clean, and it is entangled hopelessly to our freedom.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Perfect, so no one else has to be

This might just be the most gut wrenchingly honest posts I have ever written. I struggle with perfectionism, but not in its traditional form. No, my grammar doesn’t have to be right, nor my spelling, nor my sentence structure when it comes to writing. My house doesn’t have to be clean, and my car could be considered a bio-hazard. But when it comes to living my life, I want to do it perfect, so that no one else has to be.

Following the date rape, I acted perfect, I never told anyone, I was perfect, so no one else had to be. I would save myself, and I would save them as well.

Got married, had two kids, a boy and a girl, perfect, so no one else had to be.

I got depressed, I went to counseling, and I was the perfect counselee, so my counselor wouldn’t have to deal with the messy parts, perfect client, so she didn’t have to be.

In my healing, I had to start this blog, I had to do something good with it, I had to do it perfectly so no one else had to be.

In writing this book, I can’t even sit down and map out the structure, because every time I do, I delete the entire thing, it wasn’t perfect, and I have believed that it has to be.

I have been broken, and open about my brokenness, but I would not be telling the truth if I said that I did it all out of the desire to help others. Some of it was out of knowing that to not admit my brokenness would break me further, so I made myself perfectly broken, so that no one would have to “help” me. I would make myself the most perfectly broken person the world had ever known.

My biggest fear is needing help, and yet that is exactly what this process of writing, healing, humbling, crying, falling has caused me to be. Broken, finally acknowledging that I need my Jesus, not just because He looks good to have around, but because he was broken so I didn’t have to be.

And yet for the first time, I think I am realizing, for reals this time, that Christ was perfect, so I didn’t have to be.

I just may have the subject and title of that book yet, a perfectionists struggle who was perfect so no one else had to be, until she finally realized that there is only one who is perfect, so she doesn’t have to be.

This blog post is not perfect, my book proposal will not be perfect, but I will write it, and I will write it from the gut wrenchingly honest viewpoint of my struggle with perfectionism, and it will not be perfect, because it doesn’t have to be.

Jesus thank you for loving me unperfected. I need you so bad. Thank you for letting me literally fall down off of my bike tonight so that you could speak to my heart. Thank you Jesus. I love you.