Ratchet, Remembering Cross

Simply writing because I think that Jesus deserves honor.
Writing because my history, penned along the lines of this simple blog help me remember.

Re-member.
Remember how good God is.
Remember what Jesus did.
Re-member my heart back together again.

Gazing backwards over the course of my most recent life at the biggest “But Jesus” moments. Those moments that would never have happened if Jesus hadn’t have come through. If he had never laid down his life. Resting in the holiness of this Easter holy week.

“The love of God, how rich and pure, how measureless and strong!”

You can hear the cackles of Iraqi, Syrian, and Congolese children drift across the air of Lesvos, Greece– making the atmosphere just a little lighter. Where grief and loss hang a little too close for comfort in refugee camps that are havens of safety to people who have fled some of the most horrific situations on the planet…BUT JESUS steps in, with nail scarred hands, tangley hair, eyes like fire and meets people where they are at: not trying to manipulate them to a place of healing or salvation, but simply introducing people to his heart. Because when Jesus hung on that cross, he did it because he knew who he was dying for… he knew us, every detail of our hearts and our lives– our pain and our victories, their pain and their celebrations. I can hear him saying: “I died to be a safe place for you, a place of refuge for you. I am your refuge and your strength, a very present help in trouble.”

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And as he hung, lungs collapsing from the gravity pulling downward, hands burning with rusty nails pierced through them, he hung as a banner of love over every pharisee and scribe, every disciple and friend, every simple citizen and every leper….he hung, full of grace and truth, as a tangible refuge for humanity.

“And the truest sign of grace was this, from wounded hands redemption fell down, liberating man.”

I can’t help but think of my life. More recently, I don’t brush my hair, my makeup looks a hot mess, I curse frequently, I process emotions more freely, and my life is more rough around the edges– sometimes when I get around churches I feel like I need to clean up or get my “ish” together in order to blend in and meet with God. But then I look at that man on the cross, that banner of love….

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BUT JESUS,

died for me at my worst, when the f-bomb flies freely out of my mouth.
died for me when the pain of heartbreak cripples me to my core and I can hardly breathe.
died when pimples cover my face and no amount of makeup can cover it up.
died for the moments that I wake up, screaming in pain and no amount of medicine can touch it…and no doctor can find the real solution.
died for the shame I carry because of cancelled dates and the failed dates and the multiple failed online dating profiles I’ve created.
died because he looked at the messiest Caitlin I could ever be and he said, “I love you and I can’t stand to live without you, so I’m buying you back with my blood.”

AND HE DID.

He took it all.

the shame and lust and lies.
the heartbreak, defeat, and disappointment.

He took it all.

“IT IS FINISHED.”

And it is.
Finished, I mean.

Even when it doesn’t all feel finished. Even when it doesn’t all feel healed and made whole. He’s a safe place. Safe to throw all of our unfinishedness upon and receive grace upon grace upon grace. Safe to throw all of our dead things on–dead dreams and goals and hopes.

He defeated death.
He died and then rose 3 days later.

He carries life in his very breath.
Life.
and love.
and hope.
and joy.

So when that heart shatters into a million pieces?
“It is finished.”
When you hate everything about who you are?
“It is finished.”
When your job is less than ideal?
“It is finished.”

We can cling to Jesus’ final words because he proved them to be true. He’s faithful and he’s true. And for every moment in our lives…there’s a BUT JESUS moment attached to it. He won.
I’m so thankful.
Thankful for the refuge I have in Jesus.
For the savior I have in Jesus.
For the friend I have in Jesus.

Oh, He’s good.
and he’s worthy.
Be still my heart.

“Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly–the best of everything, the highest honors– Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.” -Isaiah 53:12

 

 

 

 

 

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When life gives you Ramen.

I’ve been back from the Middle East about 3 weeks now, and my mind and heart are still reeling with memories of what happened there. My life is pretty funny now a days. Once again I’m in a transition period of life and, unlike last transition season, I am determined to NAIL this transition, kick its butt, do it well and do it surrendered. So, if you’d like to cheer me on, feel free to insert a custom made Caitlin cheer……right……H E R E. 🙂

Thank you. Thank you.

I’ve been trying to process and get a grip on what God did in the Middle East while I was there and it wasn’t until I heard this phrase from one of my best friends the other day that my heart was shaken to it’s core.

“Contentment is found in a bowl of ramen noodles.” 

What the heck, am I right? You’re probably asking yourself: “Caitlin, that phrase is absurd. Absolutely ridiculous.” You’re right. I thought the same thing too, until I discussed it.

How many times in life do we get ramen noodles instead of the gourmet spaghetti plate?
Or maybe it’s the off brand coke instead of actual Cocacola, or in my case: Dr. Thunder instead of Dr. Pepper?
To shoot straight to the heart strings (my heart strings): how many times do you find yourself single when all you want is to be married and you watch wedding after wedding and proposal after proposal happen and you never even catch the bouquet at the weddings you get to attend.

We all do it. I do it all the time. We get to a certain point in life that we think we will be content, and BAM discontentment sets in again. We are single. We want friends. We want to be married. We get that and we want more. More friends. Our own kids. More money. A bigger house.

Since when was Jesus not enough for our hearts? For my heart?

I’ve been horrible at being content since being back in the states. I desperately long for the day that I get the go ahead from God to move overseas. I long for the day when I can look into people’s eyes who live in the unreached areas of the world and speak the name of Jesus to them for the very first time. My heart longs for the culture, for the people, for the places. I even catch myself longing for the funny, but hard stuff that happens in other countries: not knowing where to buy groceries, not knowing the brands of makeup or even the cool stores, and not being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet. Those longings aren’t bad. The desires in my heart for the nations are God given ones. They’re holy. They’re right. BUT they’re holy and right when they are not my idols. When the thoughts of them bring my heart into alignment with anger or bitterness or discontentment…or they even fog my right view of God, they become bad.

I’ve been really struggling, the last few months, with anger. Anger that cripples me. It was not until this conversation about ramen noodles that I realized the root of my anger. D I S C O N T E N T M E N T.
I’ve been so unaware of the condition of my heart that I thought I was just always going to be angry. But when I realized that my heart was so discontent, I started treating it differently, asking God questions differently, thinking differently. Every time anger has come alive in my heart the last few days, I’ve asked “God, what am I discontent about?” It’s been incredible. So freeing. So good.

I’m learning that I can sit in Texas, longing to be in the Middle East, and be content with my present circumstances. I can get lukewarm coffee and really want hot coffee, but instead, be thankful for the coffee I can get so freely and drink it with a thankful heart. I’m learning that thankfulness really is the key in being content in ALL circumstances.

Philippians 4:11-14 (MSG) says:

“Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.”

So that’s just that. Paul was in the middle of a ramen noodle experience. In prison. Rough life. Yet Paul says “whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” I want to be that way. Hands full or hands empty, happy or sad, hungry belly or full belly, in America or the Middle East…fully alive and fully satisfied with the One who makes me who I am.

With Jesus, my life is complete and whole.
Even if I do not see it now: I am where I am, because Jesus is here.
My ramen is good. It is what my belly needs. It makes me full.

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Psalm 16:5-6