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. 

 

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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 🙂 )

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. 🙂

 

f a l l i n g : a p a r t

H A P P Y : T W E N T Y : F I F T E E N

How sweet the new year is. I always love this time of year because it’s cold and fresh.
Fresh slates.
Fresh vision.
Fresh spirits.
However, this year has started off slightly different than every other year. I think part of the difference is because I’m in a completely different place in life than I have ever been before. I’m a grown up (or so I feel); my life consists of my job, budgeting, being fully invested in church, grocery shopping, sleeping, and repeat. So far 2015 has not been my friend and if you’re reading this, I’m warning you, if you like things to be filtered and sugar coated STOP READING, NOW.

You see, my life has slowly begun crumbling underneath me. God, in two weeks, quickly brought me to the end of myself. If you have never been to the end of yourself, it’s a very hard and humbling place to be. But, it’s also sweet and intimate. I am absolutely incapable of doing anything by myself. I’ve had many prophetic words spoken over me that speak of me “laying on an operation table, helpless, but being changed in deep places” and “being a baby getting my diaper changed, being delighted in by my Father.” It would be a lie if I wrote this long thing of how this hard place in my life is up, because it’s not. I still struggle to get out of bed in the morning and to even make me food to eat. However, I woke up a few days ago with a tiny seed of hope in my heart, that hope sprung from a place of looking back over the last 4 years of my life and being deeply thankful for the altar of remembrance I have built while walking with God. {{in Biblical times, people would build altars of remembrance in places that God did especially powerful things, so when future generations passed by, they would remember what God had done there.}}

Back to my hope seed: it’s still sitting in the dark. Fully covered by soil. No roots even breaking the outer shell. That seed is my life. Dark. Lonely. Messy. But that hope seed is being watered with the Living Water. Oh, the presence of God. Places that I feel like I am utterly drowning, I firmly believe are places that are just being watered in order for a FRESH, NEW hope to abound in my life. Isaiah 43:19 says: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”

That verse gives me hope. Hope never equals easy, but it does equal the promise that God will come through for me. Something new is coming for me. Even though I clearly don’t see it now and I actually struggle to even survive a day, I rest in the truth that God has always come through for me in the past and he will clearly come through for me in the present and ten years down the road, HE WILL COME THROUGH FOR ME.

So today I sit. I sit with eyes filled with tears, a heart full of ache, but a spirit with a hope seed–a spirit groaning and longing for a fresh touch from God; and He will come like the rain. In this season, IT WILL RAIN. But until the rain comes, I cling to the hope that never disappoints, and I rest in the arms of my Daddy.

Secure.
Weak.
Broken.
Hopeful.

It is well.

“God never promised us a rose garden.” 

Those are the wise words of my 91 year old, Jesus loving, grandmother.
It’s true.
Following Jesus isn’t easy.
From the beginning of time it hasn’t been easy.

I am learning the deep truth of those words from my grandmother.
God never promised me a rose garden.
BUT, (yes, there is a but) I am promised a whole lot of things:

1. God will never leave or forsake me.
2. God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, and his ways are not my ways.
3. He leads me beside still waters.
4. He has magnificant plans for my life.

Those few promises are what make this life worth living…those and the fact that I am loved extravagantly by the king of the UNIVERSE.

You see, I’ve been following God my whole life. I grew up in church and knew all the “Christian” answers. It wasn’t until college, after I had literally been to hell and back throughout high school, that I realized what it really looked like to follow Jesus. The last three years I’ve been learning what it looks like to have a relationship with God. There have been some really rough times, and some really good times. There have been times where I just didn’t want to follow Jesus ever again, and over the last two years…I have come to the incredibly solid realization that I cannot imagine myself NOT following Jesus for the rest of my life. The last year of my life has been one marked with learning how to trust God and consistently say “yes,” over and over again. My last blog post talked about sowing and reaping. I’m learning how to reap. This last week, however, reaping has looked differently. This last week has been one of struggling just to keep my head above water and make it through. Today. Today has been extremely difficult. I’m learning that reaping what I have sown can hurt.

{{For example: Roses are attached to this vine..but if you want to make a pretty flower arrangement, you have to pull the rose off…you have the pretty result..but the thorns on the stem can make it painful to get that rose.}}

That’s how its been for me the last three days. In saying ‘yes’ to God in the big things, I had just assumed that saying yes would, in turn, work out in my favor. But I have had door after door shut in my face over the last 3 months: some, I prayed to be shut, others I prayed to be flung wide. I’ve had one door in particular shut in my face today and it took me by surprise. Low blow to the gut. It literally took my breath away and I couldn’t help but scream out to God in anger…”GOD WHY?!”

Vulnerability moment: I was mad, hurt, angry, sad, confused. I still am to a point. But in the process of driving home, eyes filled with tears I realized: I have been believing the lie that God always gives me the short end of the stick; That in order to follow God, I always have to choose the hardest way possible. So as I was crying, Jesus so graciously and kindly spent time with me and tended to my weary, broken spirit.
In that moment I realized something:

JESUS DOESN’T HAVE SHORT STICKS.
He’s not capable of having short sticks.
He has perfect sticks, made of gold..glistening on every side.

I have said yes to Jesus, not for what he gives me, but because of the cross he carried for me.
I have said yes to Jesus, not for the ease or convenience, but because he’s been faithful time and time again.
I have said yes to Jesus, and no matter what…there is no turning back.
He has always been good.
He will always be good.
And even so, today, he is still SO INCREDIBLY good.

It is well.
Today and every day.

 

Lost in the Mix

Have you ever just felt lost? Not lost as in no sense of direction and no clue as to where you are, but lost as in not seen, not heard, not ideal. Lost. It’s been a word that has come up into my vocabulary a lot in the last week and a half. I’ve been wandering around, feeling like I am back in junior high again–feeling insecure, lonely, and different. I absolutely hate feeling that way. I hate the feeling of believing the lies of the enemy. So I am not going to start now.  But to give background, let’s flash back to junior high:

In sixth through eighth grade, I was lost. I had no clue about social norms, fashion sense, makeup, or boys..the “normal” things that junior high girls should know about. I could read books faster than just about anyone and I was pretty athletic, but that’s about it. I was innocent, and didn’t pick up on the hint that everyone was “growing up.” As girls began caking their faces in makeup, having boyfriends, and wearing more form fitting clothes, there I was: basketball shorts, no makeup, a tshirt, and hair slicked back into a ponytail/bun depending on the day.  I remember feeling like I never quite fit in: I vividly remember the feeling of “lost.” My self esteem was low and my sweet, young, heart was broken each time I felt the slightest idea that I wasn’t wanted. I trudged through those days and am now here: more redeemed than ever before.

I guess the last week and a half my mind and heart have taken a trip back to junior high. I’ve been walking into social situations with one of two feelings:

1. Feeling like I stick out like a sore thumb.
2. Feeling like I am over-looked and not important.

Of course, now I can decipher that BOTH of those feelings are lies but I can’t help but get frustrated with myself: I should be done with these stupid lies, these stupid feelings of inadequacy…But man oh man has God been so faithful (as He always is) in this whole process. God has shown me that I have so much to learn, that I have so much I have no idea about and He has been so nice at gently guiding and directing me. He has made it clear that I am not lost in the mix..I am not overlooked and not seen..instead I am quite the opposite….

God has been giving me this picture of cookie dough….the baker makes the dough and it’s simple dough at first. But, in order to make the best kind of cookies-CHOCOLATE CHIP- the chocolate chips need to be added to the dough. So the baker dumps in the bag of chips and kneads them into the dough. I keep watching the chocolate chips, in this illustration and they disappear in the dough..but they haven’t disappeared all together. They are still there…some show at some times and others show at other times…but they are all still present, and all still needed to make a whole batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies.  God has shown me that I am the chocolate chips. I am vital to the world around me. I have a place, I have a job, and I must be present where He has placed me. You don’t receive the fullness of chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips…although parts of my life feel unseen, they are still there, they are still needed, and still sweeter than ever. The parts of my life where I feel as though need to be tucked away because they don’t fit social norms are simply chocolate chips that are needed to make my life (the cookie dough) sweeter. I am slowly learning that the baker in my life, who is Jesus, knows what He is doing…I am lacking nothing because His recipe is perfect…His recipe was perfected when He died on the cross for me–Therefore, I will press into Jesus when the going gets tough, I will choose Jesus in the joyful dancing, I will follow Jesus in the quiet places-the secret places, I will love Jesus when I feel unseen, and I will praise Jesus for the work He is doing in my life…Because it is BIG, and it is GOOD. Just like God himself.

I am blessed.
I love cookies.
I am growing.