Category Archives: Integrity

6 Month Check-Up.

Posted by Jenni Clayville.

Calendar_0The Clayville Family life is run by google calendar. It’s the best thing since the internet was born by Al Gore. It’s the only thing that allows all of us to run in all different directions but always end up on the same page.

Genius!

I guess it also helps that I am an organizer. I find peace in organizing. I find joy in shelves, baskets, storage containers, label makers, and spread sheets. I believe these things are from God. And God is good.

One of the ways I take advantage of these systems is in how I make appointments. I just came back from my 6-month dental cleaning and check-up. My teeth feel smooth and squeaky clean. I love the dentist. I love them so much that I schedule my appointments two at a time. Yes. I’m on the books for the following year so that I KNOW I don’t have to wait for a space to “clear up” or end up on a waiting list. It’s not just the dentist that I do this with. It’s ALL my appointments.

But really, the biggest reason is so that can make sure I am intentional about my health. Life gets busy. I know myself. If it’s not on my calendar, it’s very possible that 4 years flies by before I realize I haven’t “checked in” and that’s how diseases find their way in and fester. Without intentional scheduling, I will fail to doing something, seeing someone, following through with a promise, etc. I want to be good on my word. Which brings me to what I really want to say…

I need to be as adamant about relationships (making a point to spend time with people, checking in, following through, being consistent, etc.) with friends, ministry leaders, and those that serve within my ministries. They matter more than a dental appointment. They are my community…and at times…my lifeline. They are imperative for my mental, emotional and spiritual health. So often, as leaders, we get caught up in our own world and write off these relationships with a “Oh… they’ll understand how busy this season is. I’ll see them in a couple of weeks.” and the next thing you know, FOUR years goes by.

We can’t do that. People are not our means to an end. People are what God gave us to reflect His relationship with us.

Make time. Today, tomorrow and next week. Make time now.

How do YOU make sure you don’t fall behind in the time you invest in people?

Together Is…

As church leaders, it’s not uncommon for us to “divide and conquer” in different ministries and departments within the church.

Brian and I have been on multiple mission trips in our single and married lives. But until two weeks ago, we have never been on a mission trip TOGETHER.

geography-of-moldovaOn February 10th, Brian and I (with a team of others from our church as well as all over the United States) travelled to Chisinau, Moldova. Most don’t know that Moldova is the epicenter of human trafficking in Eastern Europe. In fact, most people don’t even know where Moldova is… or that it’s even an existing country (that happens to be nicely nestled between Romania & Ukraine). However… this is not what this post is about. If you’d like to read more about our purpose in going there, you can CLICK HERE.

I want to focus more about how Brian and I have NEVER been on a mission trip together till now.

It’s the “divide and conquer” mentality we all have. Our efforts are duplicated if we can separate and work in different areas. While I agree there is a time and purpose of that… I’ve come to realize that it can be quite detrimental to our marriage and our families when we don’t take the time to do life and ministry TOGETHER.

Brandi, just went on a mission trip with her husband, Pete. In fact, they took the whole family. Lori and Jud also just went to visit one of their campuses in Australia together. I LOVE how intentional they were about being together in these seasons. Do they go on these trips together all the time? No. That’s just not real life. But they made the decision to make this a priority at some point.

I made a decision 5 years ago to never go on a mixed gender mission trip without Brian ever again. Some of you know, my affair sprouted out of a mission trip. I’m not saying that the mission trip caused my affair. It was simply a vehicle for inappropriate behavior to happen. We all get that “camp high” from life changing experiences when we are taken out of our “normal life”. And when we experience that with friends of the opposite gender, it can sometimes change your heart in an instant. I am obviously not immune.

The consequences of my choices and my new boundaries was I didn’t go on any mission trips for 5 years. Last year was my first Moldova mission trip since THAT last one and it was with ALL WOMEN. It was beautiful… but that can’t always happen. So this year, Brian and I journeyed out together.

Clayville's MissionIt wasn’t easy. We had to work out a lot of details with our kids, their schedules, finances, and time… but in the end, it was all SO worth it.

My husband and I got to experience something beautiful and hopeful together. He got to see a piece of my heart and experience my deep, deep love for the people of Moldova with his very own being. I didn’t have to find the words to explain what I experienced because he was there too. We even got to take a quick jaunt through the UK together. If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is.

I’m not implying that you have to take every single mission trip with your spouse. All I’m saying is BE INTENTIONAL with ministering TOGETHER. Duplication and growing a ministry is NEVER more important that the health of your marriage. NEVER. Because together is…

How are you intentional about your marriage when it comes to ministry?

Marriage Bloopers. Part 5

This is the last of our Marriage Bloopers Series.

Jenni & Brian Clayville“Blooper” is such a cute word. It’s an “oops”. And it can seem like no big deal. But when we continue to blooper without changing for healthy and the better, the oops/blooper can become a moral failure.

I did that.

We all love to be acknowledged. We want to matter. We want to be worthy and count for something. And let’s be honest… there is NO WAY to be 100% prepared for what marriage is going to be. We grow up reading about the princess meeting the prince, love at first sight and happily ever after. Instead, we are greeted with conflict that naturally arises between two people who lose all their personal space and have been raised in two fairly different families.

A shift happens once we say “I do!”

Bills.
Crisis.
Debt.
Conflict without proper resources to work it out.
Focusing on unmet expectations.
Forgetting to say “I love you.”
Becoming glorified roommates.

The “blooper” I’m gonna talk about is much more than a “blooper”. It was a moral failure. In July of 2006, I chose to step into an affair that changed the course of my life forever.

I don’t want to focus on the affair today though. We can… another day… or you can ask me questions. I’m quite open about it and will talk about whatever you’d like to talk about… but let’s talk about the root of the issue. The affair was the result of a plethora of bloopers that went unchecked… and my affair was simply one possible manifestation of the many that could have happened in the course of malfunction I chose.

In the wake of our three year battle with infertility, my heart needed attention and love. Instead of communicating with Brian in a deep and honest way that I was broken and empty, I made myself believe I would be fine and it would get better… tomorrow. Instead of confiding in a friend that I felt alone, I continued to act as if I had it all together.

It’s amazing how lonely one can feel in a full room of people.

In my failure to partake in true community and communication, I had no other option than to choose darkness and secrecy. In my quest to find my place of belonging, I chose the most heartbreaking rejection instead. My biggest blooper ever… choosing to hide.

Don’t let your fears lead you to isolation. Don’t allow your bloopers to define who you are. Saying “That’s just who I am” and “I’m fine” is no longer a good enough. Be who God has called you to be: Blooper-free!

And for those of us who have bloopered beyond what we think is repairable… I can tell you this: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). You matter. You were bought with a price. Grace resides in what seems to be the most graceless situations. There IS a tomorrow. We are in this together… so don’t give up.

What have you learned from YOUR bloopers?

You can catch the previous Blooper posts here:
Part 1 – By Cindy Beall
Part 2 – By Jenni Clayville
Part 3 – By Trisha Davis
Part 4 – By Cindy Beall

Marriage Bloopers. Part 2

Posted by Jenni Clayville.

Brian & Jenni ClayvilleThis year marks Brian and my 13th year as man and wife. Lucky number 13.

It’s funny… Brian and I rarely fight anymore. We have conversations. We have disagreements. We have dialogue… but we don’t really fight.

In the first few years of our marriage, we fought. Like Cindy & Chris… we fought. And when I say “we fought”, what I really mean is Brian would avoid conflict, and I would push for it. We didn’t know it at the time, but what I wanted was to encourage dialogue to work through an issue and what Brian was avoiding was anything that resembled a disagreement. Not a good combination.

One day, I was trying to talk through a situation (God knows what now…) and Brian barely even looked at me. He didn’t want to start a fight so he kept his eyes glued on the tv. All I could see was how disengaged he was. I mistook his desire for peace as a sign of him not caring. So instead of putting him at ease, I pushed the issue more. I nagged. I sighed. I gave him the silent treatment while I cleaned the kitchen… loudly. However… I only grew more and more furious in his silence.

I noticed our brand new beautiful toaster oven had crumbs sitting on the bottom. I had asked him “a MILLION” times to use the tray included in the oven when toasting to help alleviate a mess. As I tried to clean it in my fury, I realized how little control I had. I wanted to talk. I wanted his attention. I wanted a clean toaster… but I was obviously not approachable at the time.

Next thing you know, I’m hurling my beautiful brand new toaster oven with all my might down to the ground. I hated this toaster oven and all it’s fake beauty. I picked it up just to hurl it down again.

My husband, who was previously trying to avoid any drama, could no longer ignore me.

I was in tears. Hysterical. Literally over bread crumbs.

Before I could pick up the oven again to smash it some more, Brian grabbed me and pulled me into his chest. I’m 5’2″ and he’s 6′ tall. When he chooses to hold me, he HOLDS me.

He didn’t yell at me or call me crazy (though I’m pretty sure I was certifiable at that moment), but he held me tight and said nothing. There was nothing that could be said. He just held me. And loved me.

I wish I figured it out then (of course it took me till after a much BIGGER blooper)… but if I had simply said “Babe… I need you to turn that off so we can talk” that day, I would probably still have a toaster oven. Imagine… actually trying to communicate instead of trying to manipulate a situation.

Because I couldn’t control the situation and because I didn’t know how to TRULY communicate, I threw an adult sized tantrum. I assumed a lot that day. I assumed my husband didn’t care. I assumed I was alone. I didn’t have his best interest in mind either. I was out to win. Win what? I don’t know. Obviously nothing that mattered.

Instead of throwing my obvious lack of sanity in my face, my husband held me. He showed me he wasn’t going anywhere. He didn’t engage in my crazy and he didn’t elevate the dramatics of the situation. He calmed them. He was the one who acted like a grown-up and communicated without words.

Isn’t it interesting how we try to avoid the hard work of communication? Why can’t they just read our minds? A marriage takes work… and the first part is learning to understand and hear each other.

How do you communicate effectively? Tell us!

In other news… I’ve never gotten another toaster oven.

Manipulation?

Posted by Tiffany Cooper

My children have developed a new skill, manipulation.  Here’s how it goes:

Child #1:  Do you want to play house with me?

Child #2:  Not now.

Child #1:  Well, if you don’t play house with me now I won’t play with you ever again. (Said in a calm “I’ve got the control” tone.)

I was a little shocked at first because I didn’t teach them to be manipulative, they figured it out on their own.   At the core, their motive was selfishness.  I stood in the kitchen thinking about this when my heart was struck with the realization that I have moments when I do the same thing in my relationship with the Lord.  Sure, it doesn’t happen often but trying to push my weight around with God once is one time too many.

Example: Lord, you know that I love you.  You know that I have committed my life to you and have dedicated my life to the full-time call of ministry.  And Lord, sometimes this requires more sacrifice than I imagined.  But I am more than willing to press forward if I can have “that thing” I feel I deserve. Because Lord, I know you want me to have the desires of my heart. (Said in a calm “I’ve got the control” tone.) 🙂

Although it physically pains me to admit these thoughts, not only to you but to myself, they have gone through my mind.  Imagine me trying to manipulate God!  Sure, I didn’t set out to intentionally manipulate Him but that was the result.

My Perceived Sacrifice + God Fulfilling My Request = The Pay Off

I now feel quite immature thinking about my momentary manipulation/selfishness.  After all, everything I am, everything I have and everything I am to become is from God.  I am nothing without Him.  It is the highest privilege to serve Him and His call in ministry.

Am I alone ladies? Do you play momentary games with God?  How do you eliminate these types of thoughts?