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

 

 

 

 

 

BitterSpring

God has invited me to believe in Springtime, again. He’s invited me into this terrifying place that flowers will spring out of barren land and that leaves will burst forth off of bare naked, trembling twigs of trees. Believing that out of the same ground that the most heart wrenching, life stealing, ill-fitting, nasty things occurred on–that new life will spring forth. Something new will follow.

3 days before 2016 ended, I scoured my room. I had the most beautiful globe sitting on my bookshelf. A giant Omani flag hanging on my wall (I love the country of Oman, ask me about it. I’ll brag on the country all day.) Pictures perfectly framed and hanging, untouched since I moved home from Waco. Untouched. Dust settled. These were a few of my most treasured possessions. My Bible held Omani money that, every time I came across it, reminded me to pray for the country. Treasures. Treasures that held bitter heart ties and painful memories. Treasures that, if I was really honest and vulnerable with myself and you, held the only bit of comfort I could find in this season. Wrapped up in “this is not how it was supposed to happen, Jesus” and “let’s dwell in memories, Lord, because my reality sucks.”

I read a book, this last year, called Bittersweet. It says, “a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul.”

An invitation to “believe in Springtime”, again.
A call to daringly believe that if things come in pairs-that the sweet is coming to pair with the bitter. Bittersweet. “Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy.”

I ripped my flag down. Packed up a box of old pictures and letters, jewelry, my globe, clothes, anything that brought up a bitter sense of comfort, a sense of winter and not of spring and I got rid of it. I’d like to say I did it in some big bad girl way. I sobbed the whole way to give it to my friend. Because my friend had to be the one to do something with it.

**Sidenote: I don’t know what season of life you’re in, but find friends that aren’t afraid to get their hands messy with you. That link arms with you and do the things that you are absolutely incapable of doing and that will snatch a pretty globe out of your hands and not give it back to you no matter how many tears you shed, because they’re after your ultimate good, not your ultimate comfort.**

Afterwards, I realized that there was A LOT tied up in those things. Comfort. Hope. Emotions. When I got home I was face to face with blank space on my walls and in my book shelf and in my heart. Blank space.

Jesus always comes.
You see, 2016 was so bitter. The taste of it was so bitter that the mere taste of it causes immediate gagging. I mustered up the bravery to go through my journals to find Jesus’ faithfulness and write it down on paper hearts. 8 little paper hearts that reflect on ways of the faithfulness of a Father that never lets me down, that doesn’t let the little things go unnoticed.

I hung them up where my flag used to hang to take an instagram picture, when I heard the whisper of God say “leave them there, because I don’t leave you empty handed, beloved.”


Spring.
Flowers from barren land.
Paperhearts hanging on a wall that had been empty for a day.
Because that’s who Jesus is.

I believe 2017–no matter how hard or embarrassing or heartbreaking or good or joy filled or incredible or surprising or life changing–is a year of me believing in Spring again. In believing that Jesus is who he says he is.

“I believe that God is making all things new. I believe that Christ overcame death and that pattern is apparent all through life and history: life from death, water from a stone, redemption from failure, connection from alienation. I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.”  -Bittersweet

Happy new year, y’all! 🙂

*Quotes throughout this blogpost came from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. Go read it.

Holy Scrubs

I learned how to put on scrubs a few weeks ago. I learned what it feels like to breathe under a mask and what it smells like when medicine is coursing in and out of a 2 year old baby’s veins trying to keep him alive. “Oxygen levels falling,” I heard the nurse say.

“Beep, Beep, Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.”
It was a sound I have heard a million and one times on the ER television shows I watch. Flatline. No heartbeat. A lifeless baby laying before my eyes. A daddy, who is labeled a refugee, fearful of the coming minutes, lost in translation. Swahili is what is understood in his mind. English is what is being spoken. My friend, the interpreter, rapidly translating every word being spoken, a dad paralyzed by the reality that his baby is toe to toe with death.

A baby, body full of infection, born in Africa, with a broken heart. A hole in his heart. A body that consistently is against him unless this hole is fixed and it’s unfixable with an infection.

“He heals the brokenhearted and he binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

I drove that daddy home, after a few hours in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. He cried all the way back to his apartment. The moments were sacred. An entire family, lives torn apart from war and persecution and famine and drought come to land of the free and home of the brave to find themselves seated in a sterile, white walled hospital room staring at their intubated, broken-hearted, lifeless baby. Sacred moments. Holy moments where Jesus himself comes close to every single heart. Papa’s, Mama’s (who wasn’t there at the time, but you could feel her pain), Caitlin’s, Interpreter’s, Baby’s, Doctor’s, Nurse’s.

That baby’s broken heart was unavoidable. There was a gaping hole in it. Everyone had to acknowledge it because the baby needed to have it fixed. Should’ve had it fixed at birth (as to why he didn’t is another story for another day). But the point is, in that sterile, still hospital room we all sat. Staring at that baby. Hoping for a miracle.

The truth is. This week, that baby died. That two year old baby, took his last breath. His last, broken-hearted little breath. To be really honest, I’ve wrestled with it, a lot. When you hope for a miracle, when you hope for people to encounter the living God, when you hope to see the fullness of a two year old come back to a sense of normalcy…in a selfish sense of it all, I wanted to see a broken heart get healed. I wanted the baby to get all of the meds it needed, test healthy enough for the surgery, get the surgery, and get to see this little nugget have a battle scar and be strong, brave, and healthy.

Hope is a person named Jesus.

But I’m reminded that Jesus comes close. That he will always come close. I’ve been writing about hearts in my blog a lot over the last few months and I’m finally realizing why. Because broken hearts really are unavoidable. Broken emotions and habits and things in life are unavoidable and they need to be acknowledged in order to be healed. Jesus comes close to BIND or HEAL them. I’m not sure what unavoidable, painful thing you have in your life, but Jesus wants to come close to you. The process isn’t too long. It’s not too messy or too hard or too complex. He’s SO pleased with you.

It’s been sweet, this Christmas season, to be the messiest I’ve ever been. I’ve finally released myself to sit in the mess of grief and of confusion and all of the other things I’m currently carrying and just BE with Jesus. Because Christmas is the time to rest in remembering that the star-breather, the heart-creator, the dream-fullfiller covered himself in flesh with sweat glands and boogers and tangly hair just to get close to us so he could love us the best he could and save us the only way he knew how. So he laid, probably freezing cold in the middle of nowhere in some nasty manger because the Inn couldn’t make room for him, born to a teenage Mom who lost her reputation because she was an unmarried virgin…all to live a sinless life, to die on a cross to pay for my broken little heart–for that two year old’s broken little heart. For that daddy’s tears. For our jealousy and business and comparison and idolatry. He paid for it. He did all that just to be close to us. Just cause he loved us.

And I guess in the midst of the twinkly lights and the last minute shopping, I want to challenge us all to sit for a hot second and acknowledge that we really do have the greatest gift of all. We’ve got the presence and grace of God going before us and behind us, covering our tracks, making our crooked places straight and our rough places smooth. He’s too honest and too good to lead us astray and he’s the most joyful and hopeful One we’ve ever known. He’s Immanuel, God with us, forever.

Even in hospital rooms.
With backwards scrubs and shaky knees.

tbh; a little honesty for your Friday

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.

I woke up defeated and in the worst mood. I shoved that under the rug and tried to put on the “happy, thankful face” that we all attempt at Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until I snapped at my little sister for wearing an outfit that looked very similar to me that I realized something was really off. But what was it?

In the spring of this year, I experienced my first real broken heart. That phrase may make you feel uneasy, but this post isn’t necessarily going to be easy. You see, in the early days of Spring, just before “April showers bring May flowers” was actually relevant, when I still had to wear light sweaters over flowy, floral tops, I made a drive down I-35 that changed my life, probably forever. I honestly can’t remember details of the conversation, what I was wearing, or what the weather was like…but I can remember the exact parking spot where my car sat, the physical sound of broken dreams and my broken heart, and I can replay the reel of phrases that came spewing out of my mouth, trying everything in my power to change the situation, to change me as a person, and to avoid the heart break.

The ending of the story, I feel, is sometimes still trying to be written. There’s never a good way to end something that your heart is tied to. It seems to always be a little bit painful and little bit disappointing. For me, I’ve been grappling with the sting of rejection and utter disappointment that has accompanied my broken heart. To this day, I still find shards of my heart scattered all over the place.

Sometimes they’re found in my car as I drive down the highway, stuck in my head, talking to Jesus. Other times they’re found standing on the sidelines at a volleyball game, knowing that after the game, I may not have anyone to go hug or walk me to my car. Or sometimes those shards look a lot less graceful and a lot more hateful when they are found in curse words and anger that leaks into the day to day. Then there are days like today, where the familiarity of home and family brings those shards to the surface, making me fully aware that my little heart is still trying to make up a coping method to seal off the broken places from the world.

Sometimes it’s not the ending of that relationship that is tied to my broken heart, sometimes it’s my sweet grandmother, who has Dementia/Alzheimer’s. I walk into her house, sticky notes scattered here and there to remind her which way is up and down. My heart breaks.

Other times it’s sitting at work, enrolling a client in my program, when they pull out their facebook feed and it’s plastered with home videos of Al Qaeda beating and dragging different people in Afghanistan. My heart breaks.

I don’t know what your broken heart looks like, but I know that you’ve got one. We all do. Insecurity may steal your joy, or maybe it’s the failing grades at school, or the struggles you’ve discovered in your marriage or your ministry that you never expected. I don’t even know the degree to which your little heart is broken…it may be a little bit cracked or shattered all over the floor, with all of its’ insides laid bare. But something I do know is that Jesus LOVES that broken heart. Our broken hearts.

The question I’ve been asking Jesus a lot lately is, “How am I supposed to function like this, broken and scattered all over the place?” I’m still trying to figure out the full answer to that question, but I am learning that Jesus is holding my hand as I figure it out. Part of that “holding my hand” is that Jesus is really comfortable with just sitting with us where we are. He’s after our hearts, making us whole, making us well. Sometimes that process feels too slow, like months and months down the road I’m still waking up some mornings, feeling the weight of my shattered heart still beating within my chest. Thanks to the grace of some of my friends, I’ve been able to tangibly feel the love of Jesus in the midst of this healing time.

Some of my friends used to sit and give me every reason why things didn’t work, why they shouldn’t work, and how to move on quickly. Those times have since passed and now my sweet friends sit next to me, sometimes not saying anything, eyes full of tears, saying “I hurt for you, Cait and I love you so much.” In the months since my little heart shattered, I’ve learned how sit comfortably in the silence of pain and disappointment with Jesus, how to grieve and how to hurt WITH God, not instead of God. Sometimes we don’t need a quick fix, we need a deep healing of our hearts that only Jesus can give. That’s what I realized yesterday, on thanksgiving, I am really thankful for the ability to be healed by God and to be heard by God. It’s sweet.

So I guess I wrap this post up, abruptly, only because there’s not really a bow on the process yet…no happy ending, only the hope of Jesus that wraps me up tenderly and loves me well.

So to you, wherever you are at: There’s hope at the end of the tunnel. I pray, what my counselor prays over me every week, that you would be filled with the perfect love that casts out all fear, the peace that surpasses all understanding, self-love, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-acceptance and the joy of the Lord that is your strength.

To my bestie pals: thank you. Thank you for extending patience and grace and kindness and love, for fighting for me and extending consistent time to me, even in my flaky-ness. You guys are the real heroes. Big thanks J

And to my broken heart—you’re doing great! You’re strong, you’re capable, you’re doin’ the thing! I’m really proud of you and so is the Father.

When Life Gives You Ramen pt. 2

Well hello, again, sweet friend. The first post about ramen noodles was a hit, so I figured I’d make a part two post, partially because I know it would bless a few people, but majorly because I need to write a post on contentment…AGAIN. To be really vulnerable, I just still haven’t mastered it, and Jesus has convicted my heart the last 5 days to rewrite the original post. So, if you’d like to cheer me on in this tender post, feel free to insert a custom made Caitlin cheer…..right….. H E R E!

Thank you. Thank you.

I have, just recently, caught myself in the middle of, what I’d like to call, an “Obedience Crisis” with God. You know, one of those times in life where God very blatantly asks you to do something, walk through a hard process, love that hard person, etc..etc and when you do it it’s like someone stuffed a confetti gun with a hand grenade and instead of soft confetti, you get a war weapon blown straight through your life and your confidence….yall know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, just follow along for a few minutes. I’m reminded of the phrase my friend spoke a few summers ago.

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

If you haven’t read the part One of this post: take a break and click here —> When life gives you Ramen.

I’ve caught myself thinking a lot, over the last week, “I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, Lord..but obviously it’s something.” I obey, I lose. I disobey, I still lose. I rejoice in the midst of all of the shambles, and things stay shambley. I worship God, beg him to come close, and I’ve felt distant. I’ve watched people (side note: comparison is the thief of joy) and they see the shambles come into alignment, they see obedience produce the freshest, juiciest fruit, and they worship God faithfully and not only does he come close, but he brings crazy breakthrough. YAY GOD for being faithful, but seriously what am I doing wrong?

It’s a lot like watching that bride walk down the aisle and fly off to a beautiful honeymoon and you’ve gotta fly back, sicker than a dog, and muster up the courage to go to work or not. Or maybe it’s living in a run down apartment because your job doesn’t pay that well and you’re watching people buy mega mansions. In my case, I live in my parents house (which is so healthy for me, thanks mom and dad), and I feel like I’m being left behind my all of my friends. If I’m being really honest, am I really sure that God isn’t out for me?

We all do it. It’s like we search for the next best thing, for the next better thing..and it’s not long after we get the better ‘whatever it is’ and we see an instagram post that takes the wind out of our sails and plants a seed of resentment and disappointment at Jesus.

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

I’ve been seeing Jesus come through in crazy ways for me. I’ve labeled this current season of life, the season of unfinishedness. It feels as though every thing is attached to another thing and nothing feels like it will ever be finished. I also can deeply feel the unfinishedness of who I am and who Jesus made me to be. The other day, a friend texted me to check in on a situation, and I melted down. Curse words, destructive phrases, and spewing anger flowed from my heart to my keyboard to a text message to my sweet friend. I felt no conviction or regret until almost 24 hours later…I am so unfinished. As shame overtook my heart, I realized that my hope hasn’t been in Jesus himself, but in Jesus’ ability to come through for me. When situations haven’t gone my way, I’ve lost my ish over it. Some may pull the “rebellion” card, because I actually have felt quite rebellious toward the church, toward Jesus, and towards community…I’ve labeled it my “badass” card. Let me explain: If I can be tough enough, not show my emotions, and just be okay and look content all the time, I think I look as if I can conquer anything and that I am essentially untouchable.

Lets LOL at that for a hot second. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

But that “badass card” has led to many meltdowns and deep deep deep resentment and hatred towards situations and people. It’s not healthy. It’s not holy. It’s not God’s heart. So hear me when I say: “Your badass card pulls you farther away from Jesus and his heart and is one of the most destructive things in your relationship with him.”

You see, when we look around at our friends and our family and compare where we are with what they’re doing and what God is doing, we steal, not only the joy, but the celebration that should come with breakthrough from God. We also steal from ourselves, our view of how faithful God is changes, his character seemingly changes, and we hold him at a distance. But when we are unfinished, when we have sharp edges and mouths cursing like sailors, God doesn’t pull his “badass” card, he pulls us close. He snuggles with us. He brings us close to teach us that contentment is found snuggled tight in the arms of our Daddy.

So this blog post is ending with a list of things I’m thankful for…just because I believe thankfulness is one of the ways that Jesus pulls us close:

Coffeeshops with a sweet Dutch couple with thick accents.
Dirty chai tea latte’s.
Facetime.
Sunshine.
The ability to delete online dating accounts 5 minutes after they’re created (hahahaha! no, I’m not online dating, y’all…but I thought about it.)
Repentance
Bethel spontaneous worship youtube videos
Flannels
Migraine medicine
My job and my boss
My pals
Cooper (ruff ruff)
My family

I’m really thankful that God is not a man. He doesn’t react like us. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He gives us our bowls of ramen at the perfect time. Hot, steamy, and ready to eat.

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

The Hot-Mess Express

As I write, today, rain is slipping down my window pain as I make bets on which raindrop will make it to the bottom of the window first, I am still in my pjs, I did not make it to church this morning because I purposely didn’t set an alarm last night, makeup from yesterday is still caked on my face, and my hair is in a teased pony tail resting gently on the top of my head.

I am a hot mess.

I also did not actually wake up to do anything until 1 o’clock this afternoon. God is doing something in the peace of this Sunday. It’s like I can hear his heart beating.

*thump*
*thumpthump*
*t h u m p*

His heart is close and gentle, yet strong and fierce. It’s sometimes so bold that I feel like I need to cover my eyes and peak through the cracks of my fingers. I’m learning that once you get a glimpse of Jesus’ heart, you just can’t look away: it’s too beautiful.

*thumpthump*
*thump…..thump….t h u m p*

I can hear him whisper the same truths about my heart back to me. “I just can’t look away from your heart. It’s a full heart, carrying beauty that I put there.”

*thump*
*thump*
*thump*

I’ve been thinking a lot of the human heart, lately. Most of my friends are engaged, getting married, or getting incredibly close to that stage in their lives. So my teased pony tail and caked on make up? Yeah, they’re from a dear friend’s wedding yesterday. 🙂 My internal “hot mess-ness?” it comes from months back, a broken relationship, ignorant heart health practices, and bitterness and resentment at the desert with Jesus.

*thumpthump*

Heartbreak is a raw thing. It feels like a completely different animal–I would never wish it on my worst enemy. But Jesus. Isaiah 53:3 says that [Jesus] was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. It feels, most days, that no one really gets it. The random tears, the “espresso with a scoop of ice cream in it” cravings that come out of the blue, and the inability to break out of habit are a few things that have accompanied my season of heartbreak.

*thump*
*t h u m p*

Jesus whispers kindly, “I get it, beloved one. I am not unable to empathize with your weakness (Hebrews 4:15). I am with you in the mess. My plan is not to abandon ship and let the waves overtake your heart. I am with you. With you. Beside you.”

*thumpthumpthump*

In my opinion, heartbreak from relationships, disappointments, and missed goals aren’t talked about enough in our culture. I think the Church tries to shove it under the rug and cover it with the “Sure it hurts, but God is good and time heals all” line. But actually, God is good and he wants to heal us fully and I think that “band-aid line” causes more harm than good.

God doesn’t stoop down to entrust time to heal our wounds. Isaiah 53:5 says that BY HIS WOUNDS, we are healed. Jesus suffered to heal our wounds. To heal my heart.

*thumpthump*
*thump*
*thump….thump*

The Gospel has never been more real in my life. Over the last 6 ½ months, I’ve never felt weaker or more unsure of the character of God. But it’s in the thunder that’s rolling across the sky, today, that I can feel the beats of God’s heart, afresh.

I spend hours a month in counseling: celebrating the wins, grieving the losses, and learning how to process everything in between. Something that has rang so true in my sessions is that Jesus LOVES sitting with me and hearing my heart, just as I am learning how to sit with him and hear his.

Today, we sat in bed, me and Jesus and after some fist shaking, heartbreak processing, tears, and pinning wedding dresses on my hidden pinterest board (because I still want to get married one day, heeeelllllllo!), Jesus encouraged my heart:

His heart beats for me.
His heart enjoys me.
His heart LOVES me.

He hears my every thought about my future husband, about my dreams, and about my heartbreak. I just felt like today, in the midst of the *thumps* of his heart for us, to acknowledge that my heartbreak sucks, that wholeness is a process, and that we’ve got a gooooooood daddy who hears us and loves us in a way that we don’t even understand.

So for all of you out there reading: acknowledge your brokenness with Jesus, it doesn’t scare him away, celebrate all of the BIG things and every little thing in between. He loves walking with us. He died for that right.

Cling tight. Hold fast. The best is yet to come. 

 

An Open Letter to My Heart

Dear Little Heart,

I know it does not feel like this now, but the best is yet to come. In the middle of the loneliness and frustration, the best is coming. Within the loudest laughs and biggest celebrations, it can only get better from here. I know you ask “Will things ever get better?,” a lot, and they will. You just have to continually commit to following Jesus every step of the way.

You’ve been really tired, lately, little heart. Tired from the wear and tear of life. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not taking care of you. For not making your health my upmost priority. I’m sorry for trying to fit you into expectations of others and silly structures that you have no place in trying to mold to. I’m sorry for not properly dealing with grief and disappointment. You are valuable, little heart.

You are strong. The last year and half you have beaten strong and steady through tears, depression, breakthrough, hope, and laughter. You have provided what I need to survive. Thank you for not giving up when the pressure, anxiety, and excitement set in.

Oh, little heart. If only you could grasp the depth of the love which you are gently held. Jesus, gave it all to love you. There is grace for you. Grace to feel the depth of pain and gladness, joy and sorrow. I know that sometimes emotions hit you hard, but there is beauty in the process of sorting through them all. Thank you, oh heart, for feeling deeply..for not being afraid of emotions, but for standing strong and allowing Jesus to work through them.

I’m thankful for you. Thankful for your consistency. Thankful for the butterflies that I feel because of you when I’m on a date with Dustin or the flutter of excitement before going home to see my family. You are fun, heart.

Today is a new day. A day to draw a line in the sand. I vow, little heart, to begin taking care of you. I will do whatever it takes to get you healthy. To sort through your pain and your joy. I want to know you. I want to know what makes you  come alive and what stretches you. I want to know what you like and what makes you laugh, or what makes you mad and what makes you scream. I’ve forgotten who you are. I vow to know you, again. To know you well.

So here’s to the beginning, take two, a new season, whatever you’d like to call it, little heart. I’m your owner, Caitlin, it’s really nice to meet you. 🙂

 

Jesus Made Me a Farmer

Hi friends!
As always, it’s been a while. Life has been crazy, but so fun! My life really is one big adventure! A few quick facts about what has been going on.

1. I went on a mission trip over spring break called “Awaken” with my wicked awesome college ministry…I have never been more convinced of the goodness of God.

IMG_7792
2. I am coming to the end of my college career..I graduate in like a month or so!
3. I finally know what I am doing after college! I am doing this discipleship school at my church in waco and I AM SO EXCITED! 
4. I am going to Northwest Africa this summer!!! YIP YIP! 

With those facts, I am going to make them all connect to what this post really is all about. Over the past year and a half, God has been making me a farmer. That may sound weird, but its true. I’ve been learning how to sow, and more recently, how to reap.

A farmer is a hard worker–his livelihood depends on how hard he works..because if a farmer doesn’t work, he doesn’t get to experience the fruit to receive an income. When a farmer starts his crop season, he goes out in the blazing sun and “sows.” To sow means to scatter seed. Literally, throw seeds on the ground. No fruit. No income. No results. Just some seeds on the ground…if you are a farmer and don’t know that in a few months there will be fruit, income, and results, you may feel like your efforts are wasted and throw your hands up in the air in frustration because you are hot, sweaty, and tired…and YOU HAVE SEEN ZERO RESULTS.

But lets say that you didn’t give up. Lets say you waited patiently for a few months and you took care of your crops and watched them grow…you began to realize there was purpose in the process of growing up your seeds. Lets say that your plants grew well and you began realizing that if you had given up when you first threw those seeds you would have missed out on a fortune! Lets continue this idea to say that you walked back into your field to reap your crops. To reap means to gather. You finally got to gather every bit of fruit that grew. That is exciting!

That excitement is what I have been experiencing the last 2 months. I have been in a season of getting to reap abundantly. After about a year and a half of sowing seeds in every aspect of my life & feeling like I didn’t have a whole lot of feedback or results, I was on the verge of giving up. Tears had been shed, a battle had been fought, scars had been earned, and my heart had become weary. Coming into this last semester of my college career I really didn’t care what happened to my life…I just wanted to crawl into my bed and sleep for the rest of my life. I wanted to quit because I just didn’t feel like I was seeing fruit to any of my labor. Jesus continued to love me well in that place. As I would sit in the presence of God feeling insecure and exhausted, God continually made the promise “I will be faithful to you. I see you.” So I pressed on. It wasn’t easy, it was tough. BUT here I am today. Reaping abundantly. I’ve walked through processes of figuring out my future and getting answers, getting to dive deep into community, getting to walk in crazy amounts of intimacy with Jesus, and just feeling like every piece of my life is falling into place.

The other day I felt like God told me: “See Caitlin, saying yes to me is worth it. Carrying your cross is worth it.” It’s so true. Because if I can go on a mission trip over spring break and get to baptize one of the girls I disciple, if I can watch people get free from sins that have held them enslaved for years, if I can watch people give their lives to Jesus….it’s worth it.

So tonight, on Good Friday, I look at the cross that Jesus carried, the cross that Jesus was nailed to, the face of the One who took the sins of the world upon himself, and I am undone. If it wasn’t for this day 2000 years ago, I wouldn’t get to reap abundantly. It’s all because Jesus saw that I was worth it..that He sowed his perfect life upon this earth…all because He loved me enough to give me the opportunity to live freely and fully today.

I have become a farmer.
My crops are favored.
My fruit is good.

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ISAIAH 53

Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?
Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
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!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.
He was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
and like a sheep being sheared,
he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
or said one word that wasn’t true.
Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many “righteous ones,”
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
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 own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

 

 

 

The Silence is Deafening

Have you ever just walked through a season of life where everything hurts? Everyday you get out of bed and it feels like the world is out to get you, you feel like when you actually wake up and muster up the courage to do something with your day you fall flat on your face and seem to screw everything up. That’s been my life the last few weeks, the last few months. If I’m really honest, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of feeling empty all the time, sick of wanting to do nothing except for sit in starbucks and attempt and get a fresh feel for who God is. I’m tired: emotionally, physically, spiritually. To top it all off I start summer school on Tuesday. I’ve been learning a lot through this season, which is funny because the way in which I’ve been learning these new lessons is completely different from my preconceived notion of how I think that God should teach me (Imagine that!). God is funny like that..He is bigger than my ideas! He even tells us in scripture that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. So for that, I’m thankful. I’ve been really leaning on worship music lately, I don’t usually listen to secular music anyway, but in this seemingly all too familiar season of emptiness its been hard for me to find words to say how I feel so listening to other people’s words has really helped me. This song by Shane and Shane is one that has been on repeat because it not only is my prayer, but describes my heart condition–It’s called “Faith to Believe.” (I tried to find a video but it is so new there isn’t one out yet!)

Give me the faith to believe You
When I’m stuck here in my fear
Give me the strength to trust You
When my vision’s blurred by tears
Give me a hope for tomorrow
Cause today has gone so wrong
I’m on my knees
Give me the faith to believe

Even when I cannot see You
You’re still shining, You’re still shining
Even when I cannot hear You
You’re still calling out my name
Even when I cannot feel You
Your arms are open
Always holding on to me
Give me the faith to believe

You say You’ll never leave me
That Your love will conquer fear
You say Your day is coming
When You’ll wipe away my tears
Give me a hope for tomorrow
Cause today has gone so wrong
I’m on my knees
Give me the faith to believe

Won’t You give me the faith to see the invisible
Give me the faith to believe the impossible
Give me the faith to receive the incredible
Oh give me the faith to believe it
Oh give me the faith to believe it

Even when I cannot see You
You’re still shining, You’re still shining
Even when I cannot hear You
You’re still calling out my name
Even when I cannot feel You
Your arms are open
Always holding on to me

Throughout these last couple of weeks I mentioned God has been giving me new eyes to see the lessons He has to teach me. I’ve been really loving the sweetness and patience He so abundantly gives. I’ve felt like He has been silent through a lot of it but it wasn’t until the other day when I listened to a sermon that explained how most of the time God does His most intimate works in us when He is silent. He’s moving–always. Speaking? Maybe not. He spoke the world into place. God’s words form things. They form nations, they form DAY AND NIGHT. But in the creation story, when God created Adam, He was silent. He formed Adam. The one thing that God made to walk in relationship with Himself wasn’t spoke into being, it was formed. When Jesus was crucified, He was silent. He didn’t fight back. He didn’t accuse everyone of being liars or the government of being corrupt–Jesus redeemed me when He was silent. That fact held so much power in my heart. Yeah, I may be in a place where I feel like God is doing more of messing up my life than building anything incredible–but I know that I’m wrong. He’s building me into a beautiful, glorifying masterpiece that He intends on looking at and using Himself. So for God’s work in my life: I will wait. For His promises to come to pass: I will wait. For His will to be done: I will wait. For this season of emptiness to pass: I will wait. I will wait for all of this because it is worth it. I’ve given my life to the King who stooped low to serve me, love me, die for me. He is worthy.