Heaven Shouting and Dream Catching

At the beginning of 2016, I sat in a coffee shop across from one of the best people I know and wrote down a list of dreams and goals for the year. January has a way of creeping up and making one feel like a superhero, like the cares and hurts of the last year dissolve on the first day of the month. Although that ideal way of thinking isn’t always true, it sure feels good to feel as though you are starting fresh.

January 1st, the possibilities are endless. As least that is how it’s always felt for me. January 2nd, 3rd, and 4th carry the hype of “let’s do this thing” as well. But as March rolls around, the hype and build up of the goals have a tendency of coming to a slow halt. That diet and exercise routine that you had planned to do the whole year all of a sudden gets pushed to the back burner, the organization of every room in your house starts slowly gathering the clutter into new corners and shelves that you didn’t even know existed, the hopeful heart starts clinging desperately to hope in the midst of disappointment, hoping to God it doesn’t all slide downhill. The cycle happens every year and for those of us “checklist people” we pray that our goals can be checked off in full. Done. Completed. Bring it on next year.

My “bring it on next year” moment started in that coffee shop. I made a checklist of dreams and goals of my 2016. [Backstory: 2015 was full of sadness and just hard, hard things, so 2016 looked like the promise land] I’ll give you a tiny glimpse into my list:

1. Get into grad school.
2. Hold a sloth
3. Enjoy waking up in the morning again.
4. Travel to the Middle East with someone I love.

Now, obviously, those were the vague ones. I made some very specific goals and had some very specific dreams. I felt as though all were possible and that God really “owed me one.” After the seemingly hellish year I’ve had, I sat in that coffee shop with an entitled attitude.. one of..”surely I’ve paid my dues, I’ve done the work, and now is my time to get the pat on the back from God.” Well, I’m learning that entitlement is the absolute worst and that in the middle of my entitlement, God decided to teach me a tender lesson.

Fast forward to today… I’m smack in the middle of the month of July and ever since March 1, 2016 I have marked off 15 of my 25 goals and dreams as dead, impossible to happen, “pray for 2017 to get here quick because my list is deteriorating quickly”. And for my little checklist heart…I don’t want to settle for petting a sloth instead of holding one or going overseas and going in a completely different way than I planned. That’s not how it was supposed to happen.

That’s not how it was supposed to happen. 

I sit with tears in my eyes as I write this: because this phrase (^) has popped up in multiple conversations with me in the last 4 ½ months. My expectation of 2016 was to have every dream come true, to laugh a whole lot more than I cried, and to sing a more whole and healthy “Hallelujah!” Instead, I’m a lot more broken, I’ve cried more than I’ve laughed, and I have screamed at the heavens saying “GOD THAT’S NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN!!!” My hallelujah has been tear-filled, anger-filled, desperation-filled, and weary-filled and I feel like I’m clawing at the Lord begging him to come through. And you know?….I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have started viewing myself as a child (which I should do anyways with God..but that’s another issue for another day, haha.) I saw a really cool instagram post the other day that put to words what I’ve been feeling. The post talked about babies and their relational connections…babies, when they are born, don’t know who they are apart from their parents. In their minds they are attached to their mom and dad. I really believe that’s what God has been doing in my own heart this year. Teaching me how to burrow deep in his love, to have an identity anchored and secured in everything he is. Apart from him I can do nothing. I am his and he is mine. Something else that instagram post said was “I don’t care to outgrow this stage, where I am his and he is mine.” That has been my prayer. I really don’t have any other choice than to be dependent on everything Jesus is.

I need him, desperately.
So Jesus, please never let me grow up, even if that looks like shattering my expectations and causing dreams to die…it’s worth it. To abide in your love is my greatest joy and my deepest desires fulfilled.

(If you’re faithful to reading my blog and are getting sick of the “blah” posts, I really am sorry. I just try to write on walking with God. This is where I’m at in life and while I wish I could give you some feel good post, my life, currently is more of a sandpaper against your front row of teeth and my feel good posts are Jesus just being Jesus in the midst of the absurdity that is my life. He’s really good and really faithful and I am really expectant for that feel good post. It’s coming, I promise 🙂 )

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beauty from ashes.

Easter. My favorite holiday. Why? One word:

J e s u s.

The story of Jesus breaks through the darkest of nights, heals hearts, sets captives free, and allows people in this crooked world to be and feel deeply and truly loved by the King of the Universe. Today, Easter 2015, I’ve decided to tell a little of my story: to brag on Jesus a little bit–to look back over the course of my short 22 years and be deeply thankful. But most importantly, to look at the cross and be undone.

Undone. 
When I look at the history I have with God it can be summed up pretty well:

Mommy & Daddy, Caitlin & Calli.
Happy family.
^^ That was my life growing up. That happy family went to church every Sunday and lived comfortably and happily. I’ve never had a day in my life where I question if my family loves me. Its truly a happy family.

But growing up, I always had head knowledge being thrown my way. I memorized Bible verse after Bible verse and knew all of the Sunday School stories, but I didn’t even hear the Gospel until 3rd grade.

“A: admit we all have sinned.
B: believe that Jesus died and rose again.
C: commit your life to him!
Call upon the Lord you will be saved!”

That song ^^. That song is the song that made it all click for me. Sitting at Vacation Bible School the summer going into fourth grade, I gave my life to Jesus. But: it….all…..stopped…..there. 
I was saved.
But was it really enough for me to be sold out for Jesus? I guess so.
That was all I really knew–I was saved. I was a Christian. Jesus loves me this I know…for the Bible tells me so.

It wasn’t enough. Simply being saved wasn’t enough for me to actually love Jesus more and more every day.
I didn’t know that Jesus was crazy in love with me or that he wanted to be my friend. I didn’t know that he knew my every thought, feeling, and action and still chose me every day.

Junior High-High School: 

I didn’t have a close friendship-walking with him every day-relationship with God so I assumed he didn’t want one with me. After all, “if God really loved me…”

“I wouldn’t get made fun of.”
“The boys wouldn’t tell me I was ugly.”
“I would be really good at everything.”
“I would ACTUALLY be pretty.”

I felt like the God I gave my life to had made a massive mistake…that he didn’t actually choose me before the foundations of the earth or that he knit me together in my mother’s womb…I felt overlooked, under appreciated, and unloved.

So I found “love” elsewhere.
Enter the sound of breaking hearts.
Emotional abuse.
Guy after guy after guy leaving me feeling worthless.
Depression.
Suicidal thoughts.
Rebellion.
Addiction.

Oh how that “love” left me empty.
Summer going into college: 

“God actually loves me.
Sin and all, He loves me.”

Going into college I gave God one month to prove that he was worth following.
Day one through year one:

Welcome week.
A girl named Sarah.
Lots of love and pursuit.
Rocked by God.
Discipleship.
Brokenness.
Healing.

God came through. In my mess, he broke through.
I haven’t been the same since my first day at Baylor University.
I fell in love with Jesus in college. I learned that he actually wants to be my best friend. I learned that He’s a really good daddy, that he cares about the intimate details of my life. He’s worth it. Every bit of my life, he’s worthy of.

He’s still healing me and teaching me and cleansing me. But its good. Walking with Jesus is my favorite thing and will be my favorite thing for all of eternity.

If it wasn’t for God, sending Jesus, born of a virgin, fully God and fully man {God with a bod} to walk the earth perfectly. If it wasn’t for Jesus dying on the cross and suffering punishment he didn’t deserve. If it wasn’t for Jesus kicking death’s butt and rising again, I wouldn’t be here today. I couldn’t stand full of hope, today.

The gospel is for me.
But if you’re reading this and you’ve never heard the story of Jesus or you haven’t ever heard of being friends with him…it’s for you too.

If you have questions, or just want to talk: contact me. I’d love to chat.

Happy Easter. Jesus is alive and so am I!
May we never lose our wonder.

Today I’m thankful for the cross. That because of the cross I can walk the mountain of life and be fully alive and fully loved.

You are loved and delighted in, by someone who died to love and delight in you.

terrible twos.

The temper tantrum had kicked into full gear…there was snot, there were tears, and there was lots and lots of screaming. If you don’t know me, “Hi, I’m Caitlin, I’m going to be your son/or daughter’s **insert whatever name you would like here” speech therapist, I am so excited to get to know you and your family and get to hang out with your child.” With this particular little boy, we were past the introductory phase and well into the “testing Ms. Caitlin’s limits” phase. I would like to say this is a fun time in the therapy process, but it’s not. Now, back to this two year old temper tantrum…I will call him John for security sake.

“John, it really doesn’t help you to cry in the corner, come play please.” *weeping, yelling* I proceeded to play with the cars we had in the room on the little mat that we play a game on. *Silence* I could feel John’s gaze on me from across the room. Now, John doesn’t really talk and so he comes to speech therapy and my job is to make him talk, over the course of the last few months, he’s been making progress and so he knows he can talk and I know he can talk–enter in “testing Ms. Caitlin’s limits” phase. As his eyes lock with mine, he runs over and tries to snatch a car right out of my hand without saying a word. “No, John. What do you need to say to get your car?” *Silence* His big blue eyes stared back at me, after about 5 seconds they turned to puppy dog eyes and I said “Say, car, please” His response was unlike any other response I have ever seen from him before. “NO!” He yelled and ran to a chair that was in the room and flipped it over and threw himself on the ground. Kicking and screaming, I realized this moment was becoming a teachable moment for John and for Ms. Caitlin. My patience was running low and he was just getting tired, poor little guy. I went across the room and said “John, you have to come close to Ms. Caitlin for her to help you get all of the toys you want. If you are screaming and yelling and far away she can’t help you. Can you come be nice? Ms. Caitlin loves you and wants you to be the best you can be.” In that moment, the presence of God fell in that room. Maybe not for John, because honestly, I don’t think he probably understood what I was saying, but Ms. Caitlin’s heart needed that. He didn’t calm down. He yelled and screamed and cried for another 5 minutes before I ended the session 5 minutes early and carried him out like a sack of potatoes to his mother. But, I needed the gentle presence of God to fall in a room with a defiant two year old to reach my hard heart that day.

You see, God has me in this process that feels like I’m walking through the Sahara desert on the hottest day of the year…except that day is every day. I don’t ever know which way is up or down from day to day and my life is pretty much laid bare. I feel like I’m more of a sinner every day, but I’m learning that when you start pressing up to the glory of God and asking him to search you and know you consistently, He is faithful to do that! Refinement is hard, but good. But that day with John, I realized that spiritually I am walking through my terrible twos… temper tantrums, getting spanked all the time, running around like a chicken with my head cut off, shoes on the wrong feet, jumping off of stuff, doing stupid things, being stinking cute sometimes and God just scooping me up and being like “I just love you, today.” But the terrible twos are hard. Sometimes you feel like you can’t communicate what you feel like, everyone feels bigger than you, you poop your pants and make a mess and other people have to clean it up…and thats what I feel like a lot of times now. I frustrate people in the process, I hurt people’s feelings, and most days I’m convinced people don’t really even want to be around me. So if you are one of the people in my life who I have hurt in this deeply refining process, I repent…I repent for hurting you, for screaming at you and crying in your face, for not using my words clearly and for making a mess for you to clean up. Thanks for giving me grace. In this season, I’m learning how to receive grace. How to just sit in the grace of God. How to be a mess, an absolute wreck and be like “Lord, I have absolutely no words to say but I’m going to come close to you and let you help me.”

That’s what God has been speaking: “Come close.” He reminded me of Moses in Exodus 33 and 34. When Moses would go meet with God he received clarity and direction, but also got to see the glory of God and encounter the pure character of God. I desperately need that in this place that I’m in. I need to experience my Father in the fullness of who he is. I need to know who he is to me, that I can trust him, laugh with him, cry with him. Moses’ face was radiant when he would leave the tent of meeting. I want to be that way: A woman who comes close to God and leaves radiant–even in my toddler years.

He’s a good daddy.
He’s a kind daddy.
I’m a toddler again. Learning how to walk in the Heavenly places again…look out, World, I’m coming for ya!

Welcome Home–Stay Awhile.

Growing up, I was always the little girl that would leave slumber parties early because she couldn’t make it through the night without missing her parents. So without fail, my parents would get a phone call at 1 in the morning, me crying, begging them to come get me. My whole life I have loved being home; Part of that is because I am an introvert by nature..places that are comfortable and I can get to a quiet place are where I am drawn. The other part of that was because I love my family. But recently, God taught me something about myself that connected back to by childhood days. 

“I am one who knows where home is.” 

^^That truth came early one morning as I was sitting at my home in Waco, Texas. Every morning I ask God what he says or thinks about me and that morning I got that small phrase. What? Normally I’m powerful, or beautiful, or worthy…this day I stood confused, but eager to figure out what that meant. 

As I asked questions regarding that truth, given by God, I was taught that “home” for me, as a believer, is snuggled up in the presence of God. 

I am one who knows where home is.

Another person who knew where home was is Moses. One of my favorite passages comes from Exodus 33. I’ll give you some verses that gives the general idea of this chapter (GO READ IT YOURSELF, anyways;)) 

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, “I will give it to your descendants.” (vs 1)

“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. (vs 7)

“As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (vs 9-11a)

“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (vs 14-15)

Moses did not want to function outside of the presence of God because without the presence of God, he lost direction, peace, and favor. In learning about myself, I have had my eyes opened, once again, to how much I cannot do without Jesus. I am so broken and so weak…that’s part of being human; but as I sit in the presence of God, I am empowered, healed, restored, loved. In abiding in God, I have found the safest place, the most secure foundation, the most intimate relationship. In finding my home in God, it doesn’t matter if I am half way across the world or sitting in my childhood house, I will always be “Home.” 

People always say “Home is where the heart is,” and I have learned that “Home is where Jesus is.”

So as a challenge to us all, let’s be a people who go home daily, who dwell, who abide. 
Let us love God with all we have and let us be loved back by Him.
Let us be a people who know where home is.