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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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.

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. 

 

C E L E B R A T E

To be honest, I’ve been trying to write this blog for a while, and can’t seem to find words to write it.

W R I T E R ‘ S B L O C K.

I don’t think it’s because I don’t have words, I think it’s because I’m in a process of learning to actually BELIEVE the words. But I felt like Jesus told me to write about it today, so I am. Sorry if it’s rambley or shambley (two words I don’t think are real), or if it doesn’t make much sense… I’m working on it, okay? Let’s just walk through this together.

I woke up this morning and Jesus, very clearly, told me to do what I wanted to do today. Which is actually pretty funny, because for the last 6-7 months, I haven’t been able to pinpoint a sliver of what I would prefer “to do.” So, I did what I used to enjoy doing..I sat at a quiet coffee shop in my hometown called “Fresh.”

Got to the counter. Had not a clue what I wanted to drink.
“Cait, what did you used to like?” I asked myself. My answer, chai tea latte with vanilla.

I sat in the coziest chair I could find and unpacked my books, Bible, journal, colored pens, and headphones. Then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks or an elephant on an air plane, the urge to just weep came over me. But I couldn’t weep, I was in public. So tears streamed down my face in the most graceful way I knew how. Again, I was at a loss. Although random tears in random places are more common to me than uncommon the last few months, these tears carried some weight. So I started chatting it up with my main man, Jesus.

It was there, in Fresh, sipping on my chai tea latte with  vanilla, cuddled up in the white rocking chair, that I unloaded what my heart has been holding onto for months. I’m not so sure why it happened today, but Jesus does. I think today was the first day that I was able to feel the pain and choose joy, choose celebration.

After about an hour and a half of spilling my guts to Jesus (discussing my future husband, my current diet, my upcoming trip to Greece, my discontentment, my disappointment, and my desire to be able to celebrate people fully, even in the midst of my pain), I did something that I’ve been terrified to do for a while: I let Jesus talk.

It was there, with my chai tea latte with vanilla, in the white rocking chair that I felt Jesus whisper:

“There’s room for you.”

I wasn’t so sure what it meant, so I sat and waited. Soaking in the truth that there’s room for me. Where? Not sure. Jesus, faithfully, continued.

“There’s room for you to be fully you, to laugh really loud, to cry deeply, to be where you are, how you are. I paid for your spot, I made it big enough. The boundary lines have fallen for you in pleasant places.”

It was in that moment that I realized I was carrying the weight of pain, disappointment, and discontentedness because I didn’t believe that there was room for me in Jesus’ heart. In my pride, I thought I was making room for others to be healed by not letting go of my garbage. How prideful. Jesus makes the room. He makes my friends hearts big enough to listen to me and to cry with me. He makes my family’s home big enough to house me for free. He makes my time long enough to get healed. He makes his love big enough to make me whole.

Jesus then said: “Go buy you some flowers. We are celebrating YOU, today.”

So just like that… my day of “do what you want” turned into “do what you want because I want you to feel seen and celebrated.”

He’s really good, y’all. He knows our hearts better than we do. And by golly, if Jesus tells you to buy yourself pink daisies, buy the daisies. There’s probably a part of your heart that needs it.

My heart needed to grieve and be seen, today. So obviously, I celebrated. 🙂

Messy Burgers

I sat in the line at the good ol’ Whataburger in Waco, Texas (for those non-Texans that read my blog: Whataburger is the staple fast food place of Texas), waiting for a meal that I ordered that was a little too big and a little bit too much money for what I had to spend. But after the month I’ve had, I did not really care. I sat in my car, cool air brushing my face, worship music drifting slowly into the background of my mind, and my mind racing with every situation going on in my life right now. The anxiety in my mind and deep sadness in my heart was probably canceling out any “Glory to God” that was being played over my speakers, but it made me feel better about myself. Don’t lie, you’ve done the same thing before.

Anyways, the car in front of me was taking exceptionally long this particular day and I just wanted to get home. I pulled up, debit card in hand, ready to pay entirely too much for my honey bbq chicken strip sandwich, fries, and drink that I would not even finish. I gave a half hearted smile to the girl at the window. She flung the biggest “Hello!” my way and asked, “Ma’am, did you happen to know the lady in front of you? Because she paid for your meal.” My response was “Are you serious?” followed by a flood of tears. Not the reaction she was looking for, but she continued treating me with an abundance of kindness. I cried all the way home and heard Jesus whisper to my heart over and over again: “Cait, there is grace upon grace upon grace for you.”

You see, “messy” is a kind word to describe the ongoing 2 year season I’m currently battling. Jesus has taught me SO much, but it has not been pretty or graceful. However, God began this last week teaching me about grace very, very practically. I’ve been living in this lie that messy seasons have to be pretty, graceful, kind, gentle, and incredibly quick and painless. But that’s not the definition of messy, or the expectation we should have on processes with God. Sure, there are the quick, painless, fun, pretty lessons that we get in life (Praise God!) But if we are honest, if I’m honest, sometimes it feels like life just stays messy. However, God has taught me that messy lives are what grace is for.

Grace cleans up our messes, cleans our hands, and whispers to our hearts, “You can do it.”

I have encountered the grace of God more in the last 2 weeks than I feel like I have in years. I know that’s not necessarily true, because HELLO, I need grace more than anyone. But I think that I’m just more aware of it. My eyes towards people’s situations have been softened. My heart towards myself has been softened. I think, if anything, because God has been so blatantly obvious about his grace towards me, I am seeing ways to extend grace to people.

I just know that where I am at in life, I am literally unable to do just about anything well, wholeheartedly, or joyfully…even though I try so hard every day. I cannot earn God’s approval at all…I cannot even fool myself into thinking I can do anything to earn the love of God. For the first time in my life, I am grasping the idea that failure invites grace, that wounds crave grace, and that Jesus willing gives an abundance of grace for me to make it.

Grace sets me up to win.

I hit the jackpot with that free Whataburger the other night. Jesus celebrated with me, and I went to bed feeling really really loved. I guess what the wrap up to this post is is this: Buy people Whataburger..you never know what they’re walking through, embrace grace–hug it like a teddy bear in the middle of a thunderstorm, and walk with people through the mess. It really is worth it.

There’s grace to make it, today.
No matter where you’re at in life.
Jesus is for you, cheering you on every step of the way.

grace, grace little heart.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” -Romans 6:14

“But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9

G R A C E.

We all want it. Some of people know how desperately they need it, others do not really see how desperate humanity is for it. This complex word with such simplistic meaning. Sometimes overused and overextended, used to justify sinful actions and really bad habits. This word that so often helps people, like me, fall asleep at night. This word. It is weighty. Powerful. True. This word holds a story that’s far greater than I could ever truly fathom with my human mind. Yet, its accessible. It’s freely given. I get to live surrounded in it.

U N M E R I T E D F A V O R .

Grace. No matter how you flip the coin, grace is unmerited favor. Undeserved. Unable to be earned. Fully accessed through Jesus’ body on the cross.

I’m learning how to receive grace. I’m also learning how to receive the love of God. I struggle, battle, fight, have WWIII occur in my heart on a regular basis because I believe the lie that I can do something to earn the grace and love of God. In reality, Jesus did everything I ever needed to have full access to both of those things. But I’m learning that I need grace A LOT more than I ever thought I did.

Grace to fall on my face.
Grace to ask too many questions at my new job.
Grace to eat too many chocolate sprinkle donuts.
Grace to get frustrated with Cooper (my cutie little puppy).
Grace to cry for no reason.
Grace to learn how to be thankful.
Grace to be really hurt and really wounded.
Grace to heal.
Grace to not have it all together.
Grace to laugh until I cry.

That is the season of life I’m in. Life is too big for my little heart to handle. It’s not all bad, but it’s definitely not all easy. I’m learning that, for the rest of my life, my heart will be being molded to look more like Jesus. That has been my prayer.

“God, would you make me tender to your leading? Would you teach me how to trust your gracious heart? Would you solidify in my heart that I cannot earn your affection? Teach me, Lord, how to be abandoned in obedience and covered in grace. Show me how to walk with you and like you, Jesus.”

Grace to burn everything I cook.
Grace to get lost.
Grace to not set an alarm.
Grace to hug my boyfriend too tight.
Grace to not know how to accurately describe how I feel.
Grace to be insecure.
Grace to be overwhelmed.
Grace to figure out the hard stuff.
Grace to dream the biggest dreams.

That’s my prayer for you. That you, dear reader, would walk in the grace that has been bought at a high price for you.  That you would not be so hard on yourself; that you would draw near to Jesus, receiving his grace. Would you not be satisfied with playing it safe, but would you risk, take the leap of faith, jump too high, run too fast and experience the overwhelming grace of God in your own life.

I desperately need grace.
I need favor from God that I did nothing to earn.
Because ultimately, my life amounts to nothing if I do not have Jesus, and that’s what grace REALLY is, a person named Jesus.

twenty-three things about 23.

Well folks: I’m the big two-three.
23 years old, or 23 years young. Either way you flip the coin, my life has been an ongoing story for 23 years as of this past Friday.

I wish I could say I was more excited for this year than I am.
21-legal to drink and do whatever else.
22-you can sing Taylor Swift’s 22 song and it actually apply to you.
23-you’re a year older….WOO.

Another year older.

I recently started working at a hearing aid clinic. VERY different from my old job, but oddly similar. I’m still helping people and still getting to have contact with them…but they’re in a different age category. Instead of 2 years-21 years, I’m servicing 50-110 years. These people have lived quite the lives and in the process, most of them have become rather hard.

They’re bodies are so fragile, yet their hearts are like concrete, and with it being September, I have had thoughts of getting old running through my head.

Another year older.

In my thinking, I’ve started analyzing the elderly heart. Why does it get hard? What has it lived through? What does it feel like? In my pondering, I began applying the observations to my own life, thus the title of this blog: “twenty-three things about 23.” In this list, you’ll notice my observations of the elderly heart applied to my own and also desires of things I want in my 101 year old heart one day (yes, I saw a 101 year old patient come through the door today.)

  1. I want to love deeply. I want to look back on my life and say that I gave my heart away, trusting Jesus to keep it safe, and that I loved people with a depth that they could not grasp, yet they knew it changed them. I want to fall in love, I want to fight to stay in love, and most importantly, I want to celebrate love…not stay wounded by broken hearts.
  2. I want to love Jesus more at the end of my life than I did when I was 8 years old. I want my life to be a reflection of the grace freely given to me.
  3. I want to live fully abandoned to the plans and purposes of God…not hindering myself because of fear or selling myself short because the plans do not make sense…I want “yes God” stamped on my heart until my last day.
  4. I want to laugh frequently and deeply.
  5. I want to make friends and live in community.
  6. I want to have a legacy. One that pours into the lives of her children and others so wholeheartedly and in such a holy way that generations are changed.
  7. I want to keep up with technology and the latest news.
  8. I want to be thankful for where I’ve been and where I am going.
  9. I want to be able to celebrate on the mountain tops of life and in the valleys. Never becoming bitter or angry towards Jesus.
  10. I don’t want my life to be my own. I forever want to surrender my life to Jesus…in the morning and at night and every moment in between.
  11. I never want to hate the nations because of things that they’ve done or wars they’ve fought. I want to love people, and fight courageously for their salvation.
  12. I want to travel A LOT. I do not want to stay in one place forever, sure I want to settle down one day, but I want to explore and see and learn about other cultures.
  13. I never want to look down upon the generations below me. I want to honor them for the example they set for me to learn from, and teach them from the mistakes and the wins that I had in my life.
  14. I want to continue to desire to be hugged and touched. Bear hugs, hand holds, cheek kisses. The sweet stuff.
  15. I want to feed my holy imagination with dreams from heaven.
  16. I want to say “I’m sorry” frequently.
  17. I want to live in the Middle East.
  18. I want to risk it all…move over seas, buy my kids that Christmas present, give too much money to the homeless lady on the street…I do not want to withhold anything for selfish gain.
  19. I never want to stop learning.
  20. I want to have fun hobbies: knitting, hammocking, taking care of a pet sloth..(hey, a girl can dream)
  21. I hope to be a great story teller so when young 23 year olds ask me about my life I can give them incredible stories they will never forget.
  22. I want to stay passionate and full of zeal.

    and finally…..

  23. I never want to lose my wonder. I want to stand in awe of Jesus and of life. Standing with my jaw dropped and heart open to receive new revelations and wisdom from heaven.

I want to be a woman of wonder. Captivated by Jesus. Arrested by grace.
That is what I think my 23rd year of life is for me.
A  Y E A R  O F  W O N D E R. 

Wonder at the process and the product.
Wonder in the wilderness and in the harvest.
Wonder in the messy and the put together.

I’m thankful.
I’m expectant.
I’m held.

No Turning Back

I have decided to follow Jesus. 
I do not say that lightly.
I say it because, for the first time in my entire life, I actually have had to decide to follow Jesus.
In the midst of my life, in the midst of changing seasons, He is unable to be anything but himself.

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Currently, I’m wrapping up the hardest academic semester of my college career and bracing myself to be home and to finish grad school applications. It’s funny getting caught up in the midst of life..I have learned so much about being 100% present in my life and at the same time learning what it looks like to be completely dependent on Jesus. So you are about to get bombarded with one of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned–ever.

I graduate from college in May. All year I have been praying about what to do after graduation–do I go to Grad School or do I do a discipleship training school at my church in Waco? On top of choosing between the two of those, I may not even get accepted to grad school. Everything has been so up in the air and it feels like I have been sitting in the middle of a hurricane. It has been so good. As I have been not only trying to be fully present in day to day activities and relationships, I have had to be present in making sure to pray through the next big decisions in my life. In that process, Jesus spoke words to me that have forever changed me:

“Would you be satisfied everyday if you woke up with the
tangible presence of Jesus walking with you?
Would you be satisfied being broke?
Would you be satisfied living in another country?
Would you be satisfied going against social norms?
Would you be satisfied to burn at the stake?
Would you be satisfied to give up everything to follow me
if you had the One Thing you could not lose standing beside you?”

Honestly, I had to take a step back and think about that. That honest question came from months of praying this verse out of Psalm 17:15: “As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.” I’ve been praying for months to be satisfied with Jesus. To wake up in the morning, be with Jesus, and for the rest of the day be satisfied. Obviously thats been a struggle and will continue to be something I pray for until I am in heaven, BUT for the season I am entering–I can honestly say, that I am satisfied to follow Jesus, to cry with  Jesus, to allow Jesus to lead me. I refuse to give up anything that God has called me to for the approval of man. I refuse to compromise walking in the fullness of Jesus to make my life make sense here on Earth.

As  I came to the realization that my life was figured out long before I decided it needed to be figured out and that my satisfaction to follow Jesus was beginning to show itself, another realization came–God is unable to be anything but himself. I’ve hear that time and time again. But really. He is unable to be, do, say, see, feel, or act upon anything that is against His divine, perfect, Holy Holy Holy, character. Therefore, in taking up my cross to follow Him, he will continue to be faithful. He will continue to be a chain breaker. He will continue to save me. He will continue to reveal the fresh revelations of his holiness. And I get to partner with him. I get to walk with him and follow him. And I will get to see heaven on earth, simply because I am, whole heartedly, saying yes to Jesus.