Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shredder Girl, Episode 1


I'm kind of in the freak-out stage right now. That point where it's starting to get close enough that it's real inside my head, so close that I can see the mountains and taste difference in the air...but also close enough that I realize that this move is going to be hard, and different, and it's something that I can't prepare for, even if I go to great lengths to ready myself for it.

That's scary.

I'm throwing myself off the proverbial cliff. Going to Colorado scares me. But the excitement for it is greater than any fear. And isn't that the whole point? How exciting would life be if there was no risk or pain or unknowns?

I remember when I rode my first roller coaster with one of my bestest friends, Lauren. We were so pumped to be riding something that big. We sat in the seats like nothing would hold us back. And then the coaster starting click          click                    clicking     up the first hill. As we got higher and higher and closer to the top, we were struck with absolute terror.

We started saying things like, "Why are we doing this?!" and "I don't ever want to do this again." We even accused each other of making the other one do it. Funny how fear turns us into the biggest blamers ever, eh?

But then suddenly we reached the peak of the coaster and we couldn't think of anything except that steep drop into nothingness. We screamed. And screamed. And kept screaming.

And somewhere along the way, during the loop-de-loops and the force-field spins and the crazy speed that made our eyelids peel back, we realized that we were having the most fun of our lives.

How does that even work? Does it honestly make sense to ride roller coasters and have that fear in your stomach, and yet enjoy it?

I don't really know. But I think that that's kind of how life is. And now Lauren and I are stepping onto another roller coaster together. We're going to live together (!!!) in Colorado while being snowboard instructors at a resort on a mountain. How cool is that?!

We're buckled into the seats (our plane tickets are bought, our stuff is being packed, we've set an end date for our Ohio jobs). Now we're clicking our way to the top of this coaster. And it's scary and beyond amazing. 

This chick, Lauren, that I'm going with...she's an amazing, gorgeous, Godly woman, and we have been friends for years. Since we were like 8 or something. We've been skiing and snowboarding together for ages, too. There was one season out at Snow Trails where we both had a red hoodie that we loved to wear on the slopes. I liked hers better, and she liked mine better - naturally - so we decided to switch.

I still have that hoodie. It has VAIL, COLORADO written on it, and it meant a lot to me about our friendship, so I saved it. Yesterday I attempted a few sewing projects, and I turned that hoodie into a drawstring backpack. I'm taking it out to CO with me ^_^

 Then a pocket on one of my hoodies was coming loose, so I decided to mend it...and I went all random and turned the mend into a heart. Sometimes I just love sewing. (And then there's days when nothing could induce me to touch a needle and thread...)

Then ^^^ I posted it them both Instagram. Because I had to. (you can follow me @ caitlin1001)

So what's your roller coaster these days? What's your latest adventure? Has God ever sent you somewhere crazy? Have you ever skied or boarded before?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

a simple "thank you" would suffice

I have led a very easy life, to be perfectly honest with you. I'm not the one who's been through the fire and come out on the other side praising God. I'm not an example of how to plow through when the going gets rough. For me, "rough" has been reverse culture shock coming back from Thailand. Learning how to love my family. Trying to figure out used-car problems.

They're not exactly existential crisis moments.

My greatest dilemmas have been over what job to take and how to earn money for my travels. I have wonderful family members who never cease to take care of me and make me smile. I have devoted friends who stick around when I least expect them to stay (they never leave me alone, I'm telling ya -- haha). I have always had some manner of spending money, some means of transportation at the ready, always have had plenty of food and space in which to live.

I have an abundance. 

Instead of resting in this blessing and letting it fill me with thankfulness and trying to find the best ways to use this to bless others, I felt ashamed of it. I thought that my lack of dark experiences and troubling circumstances made me an incredibly shallow person.

But I realized that that just isn't true. Being surrounded by pleasant things does not make one joyful, just as being around unpleasant things does not make one bitter. Though both resulting conditions can easily be the case.

How we act in any circumstance declares who we are. The circumstance itself does not necessarily lend the label. 

Crazy, isn't it, how we label ourselves and others by what they have been through. Yes, those circumstances change us and in a way they make us who we are. But that isn't our identity.

"The clothes don't make the man." I'm sure you've heard it before. Who we are inside tends to show through in how we dress and what we say...not the other way around. Funny, isn't it, how what we believe has crazier consequences than we think it does..

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT."
Psalm 23:1

What a strange power there is in those last few words: I shall not want. This idea of God leading me and giving me literally everything I need to survive has far-reaching consequences. I shall not want for more food. I shall not want for a different car. I shall not want to be a different person with different circumstances. I shall not want beyond what I already possess.

Instead of constantly pursuing other things, I should be able to look around and go, "I have God." What or who can compare? I wonder if God just shakes His head at my flighty ways and endless desires. I sometimes think that He says, ever so gently (and rather ironically), "A simple 'thank You' would suffice, My daughter."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Decayed Soul

        The mask.
        The ploy.
                          The lie.
             The fanciful whim.
 The act of utter rebellion.

                How they terrify me. And how they fascinate me, too. They make me shudder – in fear – and recoil – in disgust – and take notice – in inquisitiveness. But you do not fear something that you cannot imagine. You do not fear something that has no root dangling in truth. These things wrought in the darkness are twisted versions of the light.
                And they are symbols, exaggerated versions, of what we really are inside.
                It is hideous to picture the soul in all of its worst moments. The mouth snarling in rage, the eyes darkened with hate, the selfish hands pleading innocent, the lazy frame waxing to nothingness, the pages and pages we could fill will all the human failures and diseases and sins.
                But what it is even more hideous is to think of these things as being not only possible but real. For Christ has made it clear that we are born into sin. That means that our souls are being eaten alive with sin. That means that though we may not all be murderers, thieves, and adulterers, we have all had thoughts to do those things…and that is just the same.
             You may not be following me. It is all concept, trailing thoughts, strange emotions rising to the surface when night coats the world and only the stars can see what is below. All revolving around a movie I just watched. 
              But haven't you felt it before?? Oh the depths of wickedness! How deep the darkness becomes! When once the feet tread upon that path, it winds swiftly to their demise.
              I am trembling at the thought. How very near the edge I could be. I shy away at the sight of this supremely ugly vision, my very insides cringing away from this ghastly business.

  We have all been seduced by the Music of the Night.
  We all wear the face of one unchanged by our deeds.
  We dare not paint a Portrait of ourselves, even for ourselves to look at.
This sounds horrible. Worse than horrible. Isn’t this depressing? Isn’t it completely detrimental to think of this, to let myself be drawn aside to look at the darkness?

Perhaps it is.

Yet I want to understand something, something I thought that perhaps I could never grasp. Growing up in a homeschooling, Christian home, there were a lot of things I didn’t see. Much of the world that I never knew. I was protected…innocent. I always thought of myself as a Christian – long before I even knew what that meant.

So when I grew (quite recently) to understand the riches of grace in God, the freedom in Christ, the beauty in the relationship with Him, I felt as if all I knew was rose petals and sugar water. I didn’t know what I was being saved from…only that this was better than anything I’d tasted before.

For me to look the darkness square in the eyes and see how easily I am that – could be that – is horrific. And I’ve never seen it before. Death has nothing to do with breathing our last breath. Death has everything to do with decay, inside and out.

This sudden and terrifying realization of darkness and sin and a life full of death is…I can’t quite say what it is. It’s not what I expected. I’m sure it won’t be the last time that I look past the flesh we wear and see a glimpse of soul that is darker than a pit.

Yet swirling past and in and out of this darkness is truth. Truth that my heart can grasp like a lifeline, rest upon like a rock in a desert of swirling sands:

The darkness is not to be feared.

Fear is not something that the light knows.

Rather, darkness fears the light, and draws away from it.

So, my soul, do not despair. Look into this darkness and see the hollowness of its eyes and remind it that it is only a shadow leftover from the light. That is has power, oh yes, but that there is a greater power, a power that I - even I, a nobody fluttering around in the midst of earth - I have access to.

"Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, thought he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ " John 11:25-26

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Maker's Language

Isn't it crazy to think that we can't really describe or explain God? And that He is so above us that we can't actually communicate with Him in our language? Instead the

Yet He -- God of the universe, Maker of you and me -- has condescended to make Himself known to us in our own language with our own language because He wrote our language.

But all that aside, there really are no human words with which to correctly describe Him. We cannot explain Him or label Him for His very being and existence are far, far above us.

O glorious thought!
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts." ~Isaiah 55:9
And what are we left with, then? What language shall we fellow Christians speak to one another? Ah. That is another piece of what sets us apart from the rest of the world. We speak a language that others cannot understand. Because our language is God's. His language is love and peace and joy -- all things that we cannot explain or describe. Our very existence as creatures born again with new spiritual natures is a mystery. Yet He chooses to proclaim Himself to us, to expound mysteries to us, to enfold us in a truth that is hidden from those not His children.

God, teach me to speak Your language. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Friendship (is) in the Rapids

Sometimes we have to do things that are hard.

I'm kind of having a "duh" moment, in case you were wondering. But it's late, so I think I am entitled to a few less-than-intellectual realizations. 

Friendships should not be taken for granted. Any relationship, in fact, should not reach the point where it seems to be a permanent fixture in your life and thus does not need as much constant attention. ERROR MESSAGE. Faulty reasoning is at play!

If you rent a car, or a microwave, or even a pair of socks, you know that their presence is temporary, and you treat them as such. You use them a lot for just what they were made for. You try to keep them clean and presentable so that when you return them you don't have to pay extra fees. But for the most part, you use them and ignore them and kind of enjoy them.

But when you save and save and save and SAVE to buy your own car, you are so excited to finally own it that you treat it like gold. You love on it. You clean it. You take care of it. You probably talk to it like it's a friend. It changes from a temporary side-item to something worth so much more. Why? Because you put time and effort into owning it. You chose it. You "earned" it.

In the very same way, any relationship that makes it past the acquaintance we-watch-movies-together-occasionally stage deserves attention and deserves to be made into something of worth. Okay, it's not exactly the same as the car example, because once you have a really good friend you don't "own" them.

But the point I'm trying to knock into my head is this: the more something is in my life, the more attention I should pay to it.

Instead, I start seeing people as fixtures in my life and I'm just swimming through them, doing whatever I please, not realizing that if I care (and I do) I need to make it clear to them and myself that I care. That they are not taken for granted.

Oof. I thought getting past the less-than-true-friends stage meant pushing into more tranquil waters. Ha! That's only the beginning of the rapids! Yet, like Pocohontas, I think that I'd always choose the narrower, wilder path of the river. Because you can't find safety by looking for it.

In fact, I'm not sure that you can find safety at all...

Do you really want to find it?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tozer and My Daily [grain-free] Bread, #2

More Tozer. Like I said, I marked almost every page in the book, so if you don't want to hear about Tozer, wait a week or two till I'm done sharing. But if you're willing to stick, this guy is amazing. I don't know why I never read his stuff before. He's starting to get near C.S. Lewis on my list (and I love C.S. Lewis, let me tell you).

In this part of the book, Tozer talks about a man who was a deacon in a church for 26 years and then is born again -- after being a deacon for all those years. Obviously the amount of churches and "Christians" we have in this world (*cough*inAmerica*cough*) are not a testament to our faith in God. Rather it is a testament to our great religious tendencies.

Kind of depressing, isn't it? Living with Christians who don't know Christ.

Anyway, here's how Tozer describes why the man was suddenly "saved" and talks about how the man had memorized the Word.

"Thank God, he did memorize the texts, and all the truth he knew now suddenly bloomed in the light. That is why I believe we ought to memorize Scripture. That is why we ought to get to know the Word, why we ought to fill our minds with the great hymns and songs of the church. They will mean little to us until the Holy Spirit comes. But when He comes He will have fuel to use. Fire without fuel will not burn, but fuel without fire is dead. And the Holy Spirit will not come on a church where there is no biblical body of truth."

He goes on to say that this is our "preparation" for the Holy Spirit. God has promised His Helper for us, but that does not mean we all receive it at the same time. We are to be prepared for the Holy Spirit to come and make His home within us!

"But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him...Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" 1 Corinthians 6:17, 19

Now I want you to think about something for a minute. Think about the promises of God. Not just the ones that promise blessings, a good future, hope, and wonderful peace...but the ones that tell us who we are.
  • We are children of God. You are a son or a daughter of God! Talk about position.
  • If we are children, then we are also heirs to the kingdom 
  • And heirs to eternal life
  • He has given us His Spirit (the Holy Spirit is God Himself) to live within us and empower us to have the fullness of Christ 
  • We get to have communion with the Father always, through the mediator-ship of His Son. The very One who paid the price for our sins is the One who brings us as new creatures to the Father. 

Are you in awe yet? I am! All of these truths keep breaking over me like 100-foot waves. How could I ever escape these beautiful and terrifying implications of God? God, who has chosen to be in my life, has chosen to pay attention to my lowly existence. 

But there are more. Push past everything you've ever heard and open your Bible and pretend that you're reading it for the first time. Shout out each word. Chew each phrase like it's a piece of steak. Remind yourself that this stuff is real. And it's true. 

Because God loves you and has chosen you and at that point what is there to be afraid of? What do you have to lose, or gain?