Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Rain in... London?

I feel like I should stop being surprised when I wake up and it is below 50 degrees, raining and just miserable looking outside. It is London. Jet Lag is still on my tail and woke me up just after 7am this morning- but it made for a relaxing morning of calm reading before the big day of my pseudo brother- Kyle's graduation! Congratulations on graduation (outside) on the coldest day in June with the longest graduation ceremony I think I have EVER been too! It was only 6 hours later, plenty of nice British and American new friendships, Champagne on the soggy lawn, surrounded by TASIS (The American School in Switzerland- London) graduates, pictures and memories... that I realized I was so numb from the weather and beyond cold that I was finally able to have a conversation without my lips chattering. In all though, it was a wonderful ceremony, Ky-guy got the highest award the school gives (who's surprised) and we all cried.... Congratulations!

But as I was de-thawing back home in Ascot... my big passed on to me Gwyneth Paltrow's website and it seemed to make everything better... check out and I hope you are as delighted as I was...

Hopefully pictures to come!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

badmiton in ascot...

June in London is beautiful... at least it was yesterday! Arriving after noon, I made my way from Heathrow to the Wyper Resident's tucked away in Ascot outside the city. It was a gorgeous summer day in Surrey- one that all Englishmen and women stop what they are doing to sit outside and simply soak up every ounce of sunlight that covers their body. Life shuts down as the sun comes out. It is that very afternoon that I learned how to play English Badminton in the backyard- a game I quickly became addicted too!

Today was a different story however... the sunshine was only a hint in our imagination as the typical, dreary, English countryside was splashed with the ever so horrible liquid sunshine- as the Scot's would say. Luckily, it never rained, but it made us exchange our swimsuits and tans for TOMS and jeans. Quiet the change. However, it was a nice change to the Texan... I embraced the cool weather and opportunity for a fleece in exchange for the Texas summer weather I so happily left!

We kept today simply- in all efforts to battle Jet Lag- I slept over 12 hours and stayed up past 10pm last night...quite the accomplishment! Yet somehow today I still felt dragging as we shopped the high streets of Windsor and scaled the castle walls with guards looking on...

But in the end, I am simply enjoying my summer home and other family.. it is good to be in Ascot. The Ascot Royal races start in a little over a week- no doubt we will be entertained with royal and fashion alike!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Oi!! Hello from Brazil!

Sweet family and friends- there are not enough words to describe the joy of the Lord in this journey to Brazil. It was absolutely incredible to see Gods’ beauty and the grace wherever we went and I cannot thank you enough for your support and prayers along every step of this trip. It is such a blessing to share in this mission with you.

Your prayers and support were a testimony of God’s faithfulness and love.

Where do I even begin? God’s beauty was more than I could even begin to grasp in Brazil. The joy alone in looking at each child was unforgettable. The skies- the morning sunrises on the Amazon River and the evening sunsets will forever be engraved in my heart- they were absolutely majestic and I still feel speechless when I look back at pictures. The simplicity of the turquoise houses along the calm water or the seemingly ordinary beauty of the extraordinary nature was absolutely unreal… God’s handwork is so apparent in the simple surroundings and laughter of the children of the Amazon.

My favorite part about this journey was the simplicity of our single-minded purpose everyday: one effort to serve others and to love without hesitation for the Lord. To be accepted and wanted by these sweet Brazilian people was so humbling, as it was to see the Lord walk before us, protect us and provide for us. These incredible people were so thankful for all that we did- from the smiles of the older women hanging out the open windows watching us play with the dozens of children trying to hold your hands or hug your waist. Their love is so passionate- they cherished a smile, a nod, a hug and it was incredible to be in such a thankful environment and surrounding.

Let me tell you about it…

Our trip started off at 4am on Saturday, March 17th, and we traveled from Dallas to Atlanta and got into Manaus around midnight on Saturday. Manaus in a large city that is in the northwest area of Brazil, right on the Amazon River and that is where we started our journey! We were met by our 8 college age Brazilian translators at the airport and took a short drive to a dimly lit harbor where our large, three level, open aired boat sat waiting for us!

Nineteen college age students literally transformed into nineteen 5 year-olds at Christmas, as our big eyes led the way of running on the dock and playing on the boat. After settling in, meeting the wonderful crew and touring the boat, we finally climbed into out hammocks at about 3am to finally close our eyes- not quite able to anticipate what we would wake up to.

What felt like days later of rocking, wonderful hammock sleep, I woke up to the hum of the boat cruising along the river and cool, breeze washing over me. As I peeked out of my cocoon, I just sat up in awe. We were on the Amazon River- I was literally wondering if I was watching Jurassic Park pass by and the only thing keeping me from the wild, untamed green shores was a wooden rail. It was incredible. The first day we spent 18 hours traveling up the river to get to our first village. That time on the boat was just incredibly peaceful- we were so unconnected from the world and we could just sit and focus on the Lord, His purpose, His Word and spending time in conversations and encouragement. I still crave that unconnected feeling of daily surrender and focus…

Each day was fairly similar in terms of the sizes of village we went to and the ministry in which we engaged. One of our teams did vacation bible school (VBS) and anywhere from 50 to 200 kids would come out to play games, learn the Truth of the gospel, hug and love on us. As nutty college students, always enjoying a good laugh at the sacrifice of our own teammates, we quickly taught the kids the game “Capture the American”- a situation that looked like a teammate, not on the VBS team, walking past the kid area and we would yell their name, wave at them and as they waved back their smile would turn to terror as 80 kids looked at us, looked at them, then fully sprinted toward our “American” In hopes of capturing them, which typically looked like tackling and squealing with delight of victory! I’m not sure who enjoyed “Capture the American” more, the kids or us!!

Other ministry teams include a women’s ministry group who would cut hair and paint nails. We also had a photography team who would take family portraits around the village then head back to the boat to print them off and come back and give them to the families. Just seeing the smiles come across these mother’s faces when they would see their family was the most humbling thing- to serve them and give them something that was literally priceless to them- something that they would cherish for years, if not their whole life.

One of the most unique ministries was the evangelism team, we would go deep into the villages, walk into the houses and just sit and share the Truth with people- anyone who would listen. It was humbling as an American, because people will listen to you simply for that fact alone. It was incredible to just stand on the streets and tell people of the Truth of God, to sit and answer questions, to pray with people or to simply plant a seed in someone for eternity. And lastly, we had medical teams, one that would give eyeglasses to people and another that, with the help of our Houston based Oral Surgeon, Warner, would pull teeth- sometimes whole mouths of teeth!!

Each day stated early with the sunrise and ended late in the night with laughter coming from all parts of the boat. This trip was filled with more joy, laughter, encouraging conversations than I could have anticipated. Our translators were incredible and we quickly came to love each and everyone of them- we truly were blessed to grow so close to them and so thankful for their servant like hearts- without them we would have been lost.

Besides sleeping in hammocks, running around the boat barefoot, loving on the crew without sharing the same language, late night alligator hunts, numerous daily outdoor showers on the back of the boat, the nights spent on the front of the boat looking at God’s splendor through only star light, reflecting on the days and the children we fell in love with and the praises to God that we would sing shamelessly into the black, Amazon sky… The journey through Brazil was a beautiful, passion filled and peaceful adventure of serving the Lord in everything that we did, relying on Him for all of our strength and having one purpose each day that was so clear- all these things made it hard to fly back to the schedules, meetings, busyness and fast paced world waiting for me in Dallas.

But I come back with a spirit of joy to apply the passion God showed me in Brazil and make it my daily journey here in Dallas. As one of my best friends has said with missions- it is a process of coming back and learning how to allow your feet to bridge the gap between Brazil and Dallas. It is a journey of finding contentment in the everyday, whether in Dallas or Brazil, and learning to live a life of love in all that you set your heart to. God used you and this journey to open my eyes and heart to show me His immense love.

Thank you for sharing in my journey- for supporting me and loving me. I am so thankful for each and every one of you, for your prayers and letters of encouragement. I will always have a passion for the children of Brazil and their love that is simply the heartbeat of their life.

This photo is just a glimpse into that love and joy that is seen in those children and their smiles- thank you for this opportunity and for placing me in the midst of their joy to see God’s love. I have been blessed by this journey and I pray that in some beautiful way you have been too. Feel free to go to my blog- to see more photos and videos. I am always passionate about this and I would love to talk and share more stories anytime!!

By Grace- Ciao!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A taste of Brazil...

Their beauty is infectious...

Its a process of bridging the gap- as one of by best friends said- it's an everyday challenge of bringing together my heart that is in Brazil and feet that stand in Dallas...

It is hard to justify with words the experience of Brazil... God is good.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Off to Brazil!!

Sweet family and friends- I cannot thank you enough for your prayers, financial support and encouragement. I am completely in awe of your support and love! The trip is more than I can imagine and I cannot wait to be down there, loving on kiddo's and running around the amazon!

We will be blogging while we are down there- check the ONE28 blogspot (the group I am going with) at but done worry I will fill you ALL in when we get back!! Between the documentary that we are making and the thousands of pictures that I will now doubt take.... it will be a well remembered trip!!

I look forward to tell each and every one of you all about this amazing trip and what the Lord does!! Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thoughts for Brazil...

“Love has to do with showing a dying soul the life giving beauty of the glory of God- especially His Grace.” - John Piper

Sweet Family and Friends…

I am truly excited to share with you the news of an upcoming mission to the Amazon River Basin which I will be going on this coming spring. The mission trip will take place from March 7th – 15th during my last college spring break and it is led through a ministry called Amazon Outreach, a non- denominational, non-profit mission organization formed to unite both North and South Americans in spreading the Word of Jesus Christ to the Amazon Basin in Brazil.

Their goal is to see people healed physically and spiritually, while at the same time strengthening and planting new churches along the Amazon River. It is being sponsored through Watermark Community Church in Dallas and SMU’s college ministry, ONE28.

Our time in Brazil will be spent living on a boat that will travel along the Amazon River to different villages each day. We will spend our time ministering in these remote villages, teaching vacation Bible schools, working in men’s and women’s ministries, evangelism and construction.

I truly feel that the Lord desires to bless this trip and the hearts of those that we will encounter through the love and messages that we will be blessed to share. First and foremost, I would truly love your support through prayers about this trip for the lives we will encounter; for the safety of those traveling; as well as for all of hearts that may be changed.

So I would love to talk to you personally about this trip- to share with you my passion and what I believe can be gained from this trip with prayer. I am asking you to be a part of something that is bigger than Claire, bigger than Watermark Church, and bigger than Amazon Outreach- through your prayers, or support or both; to be a part of coming along side me in offering Christ’s love in changing people’s lives for His Kingdom.

I would like to get commitments from at least 30 prayer partners to be praying daily for me, the team and the individuals we will encounter, as well as any financial gifts, which you desire to give. If you can be a prayer partner that week, send me an e-mail, so I can keep you appraised. If you feel led to offer financial support, please mail it to me directly, either in Fredericksburg or Dallas, before February 1st, made out to Amazon Outreach. They require me to raise $3,100 to participate on the trip.

The checks will be completely tax-deductible, but I warn you, you will be subject to updates and photos, maybe even some home movies when I return…and be sure to check in here regularly for as many updates and photo's as I can!!

I truly appreciate your consideration of prayer and support- you have been such a blessing to my life, my walk and my faith. I would love for you to be a part of this last college trip and the blessing of serving others. Please contact me if you have any questions; I’m looking forward to talking to you more about what the Lord just might be doing around the next bend in the river!

In Him,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

ONE's Challenge

According to ONE, poverty fighting programs make up less than one percent of the entire U.S. budget. Yet for that modest investment in the developing world, we've helped deliver life-saving AIDS medicine to 3 million people, been an important part of the effort to put 41 million children in schools across developing world, and hung anti-malaria bed nets across Africa. These efforts are saving millions of lives and helping the world's poorest people break free from crippling poverty and will be more important than ever as the effects of any global economic slowdown are sure to be magnified in already struggling countries. 

As ONE, we are coming together, as Democratic and Republican, men and women, young and old, Americans from all walks of life- the gaol is to come together to form a powerful constituency that needs to be heard. Adding your name to the petition and reminding Senators Obama and McCain that in these weeks before the elections, we will be watching to make sure that they keep their poverty-fighting commitments...

Check this website to sign your own name...

Friday, July 18, 2008

the fourth of july

By 9 am, a cool summer breeze sweeps over the 12 blocks of people lining main-street awaiting the day's celebrations. People have already taken to their color coordinated chairs which wonderfully enough match their visors and their children's outfits. Hoards of red, white and blue locals and visitors alike pour up from the side streets up to the blocked off main road to see what this parade, this day, this town is all about.

It's the July 4th and its great to be home. 

 Family and friends pour up from the side streets to THE Fredericksburg main-street, the same main-street that can shut down traffic for over two hours  and 12 blocks without anyone thinking twice about it. That's what makes Fredericksburg, well Fredericksburg. Who knows how many people are here to partake in this holiday and celebration- but to them it's
 new, charming and oh so lovely... but to the rest of us, it's simply wonderful and it's home. 

Visitors and locals alike are seen wearing red, white and blue shirts, multi-colored beads (which naturally I added to my look) and firework headbands (which naturally I regretted not having)- as they walk up and down main-street with coffee in hand and some with bandana clad dogs happily following close by.
 Some just completely put their heart, effort and absolute craft ability into their children's "look"- but I can only laugh at them and say this in love, because I was that kid.... that kid covered in ever red, white and blue piece of clothing we owned, the flag sticker tattoo's just covering my cheeks and little smile and of course my bike completely wrapped in patriotic ribbon... oh yes, I was that kid. 

Policeman on bike stroll up and down the street greeting locals; dog's trot with no leash  and no agenda; and people live through their laughter and their smile. It's once again the wonderful reminder that I live in a small town and no matter where I go, no matter how far away I travel and no matter how long I am gone - this will always be home. Home is where my friends are family and where my best memories come from. No matter how touristy and laid back this small town feels, Fredericksburg will always be the place that compares to none other- it's just not like any other place. 

Fredericksburg is where I grew up and where the people are who have influenced my life tremendously. It's where 12 years of memories, challenges and growth are rooted - it's home and today is just another day of celebration, watermelon football in the lake, afternoon naps, Texas BBQ, live music and without a doubt an entertaining firework show- Welcome to Fredericksburg, it's July 4th in this small Texas town!

Friday, June 13, 2008

quote of the day

"If I had my life to live over again, I'd dare to make more mistakes the next time." 
- Nadine Stai

“I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It's seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It's seeing what other people don't see. And pursuing that vision.”
-Howard Schultz

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, June 12, 2008

the canvas of life... what will make you paint?

"Travel can make you a poet. Travel can be spiritual. By venturing far from home and looking back you assumed you were self- evident and god-given. It rearranges your cultural furniture. By traveling you learn about yourself. 

But without capturing your thoughts on paper, the lessons of traveling are like shooting stars you just missed. Your journey is a facet of your broader life. Journaling thoughtfully relates your travel experiences to your life in general. If your life is a canvas, traveling brings new color."

Rick Steves obviously spends his life dedicated to finding new places around the world and discovering the new in old ones. This article I read once, quoting him, stuck with me as fascinating and bright. It is true- travel changes you. It opens your mind to new cultures and new sights that the mind alone can't even create. How can you not be effected by something so radical and changing- the obvious that each country has something different to offer. Each place- each city, each park, each country, each person, each continent- all bring something new to the table and paints an even grander picture of the whole thing. Travel is an open door that will forever change you the moment you take the chance to step through it. 

quote of the day

"It's never too late to be what you might have been."
- George Eliot, novelist
From the Foundation for a Better Life

Monday, December 17, 2007

paris is a moveable feast...

I have spent the last four months of my life living in Paris…. It is a bit surreal.

It’s unreal to look back at the challenges I have faced, the incredible opportunities placed before me, the growth that occurred and the intangible knowledge that I will walk away with.

The simplest moments I have had in Paris are the moments that will forever be engraved in my mind. The smells of fresh croissants from the boulangeries as I first step out of the metro each morning; the brightness of the sunshine on a beautiful day that causes me to squint with happiness amidst the freezing weather; or the satisfaction of walking for three hours after classes- with no purpose and no destination- just walking because I can.

Each day in Paris has been incredible- it really has and I feel obligated to suck every ounce of life out of the sun soaked boulevards. Because of this “treasured” guilt, I truly can walk away from this city feeling like I saw nearly everything I wanted to see- and far more than I thought possible and probable.

My little black book of Paris- a journal guide that once was clean, untouched and perfect… now looks like a wreck! But it is a wreck of treasured memories- full of pages torn from use, others covered in the remnants of a café and others still so concealed in scribble and notes that who knows what was once originally under it. The pages tell a story- they show a new discovery, or a new café open late, or a unique boutique that a deep spirited friend would drool over- each page holding a piece of a memory made at some point or another.

I have an unset schedule each day- classes each morning, setting off my days in Paris – and as lunch curls around, right when the skies are most incredible, when you stop and look around and wonder how the clouds could be so beautiful- I start to walk. My afternoons are always changing and always evolving with new walks and changing sights.

If I could step in and give a piece of advice for people who have never been to Paris- or for people who want to come to Paris, not as a tourist but as a traveler- I would say one thing- walk. Walk everywhere! It’s is amazing that it took me nearly two months here to realize how small this city is and how incredible it is to get lost on the back streets hidden with small boutiques and cozy restaurants.

That has been my favorite thing about Paris- the fact that I can take a new route everyday to the same destination- only to constantly find new café’s or markets. I love the “wide eye syndrome” that I seem to have as I explore this city that never stops. I constantly get excited to find new restaurants and patisseries, boutiques and bookstores, and coffee shops and cafes. I love the organic shapes that the Paris streets seem to take, turning at unexpected corners and moving through the city telling a story and involving as many people as possible.

 I can’t think of words worthy to describe these last four months, to realistically paint this picture of what I have been blessed to experience… everything from surreal, growth, opportunity, challenge, faith, love and discovery are just a few that come to mind, but hardly break the tip of the iceberg!

As I look at my last days in Paris- amidst exams and packing- and I stand in awe of how fast my time has gone by. Just yesterday it seems … I flew out of the States not knowing what to expect, I walked along the beaches in Normandy, I soaked up the sun in the French Riviera, I experienced an unforgettable Budapest pub crawl, I saw the true colors of fall painted in Prague, I cheered on France’s rugby team with 80,000 fans on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower, I had an unforgettable Thanksgiving in London and a flashback to the 80’s, I had the opportunity to understand that Belgium chocolate really is the best… and I had the chance to live in one of the most amazing cities in the world. But now I’m biased…

As much as I have loved this experience, it is hard to compare it to the people, the community, the relationships and the familiarity waiting for me back in the States! I can’t thank you all enough for patiently walking through this semester with me, for encouraging me and making the effort to keep me included and apart of your life! It means more to me than you know!

Earnest Hemmingway once wrote… “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young person, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” And I would have to agree…