Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Leopardess

I am always asking Aslan why I can't return to Narnia by the same way I came the first time. I am always wishing that I could have the same adventure again.

But He draws me away each time and reminds me that nothing is ever the same. Ever.

But there is, however, always a theme. God knows that I love stories and themes and strands that overlap and connect with each other.

My first adventure [I suppose I have had many, but by my first I mean my time spent in Thailand] was all about walking with the feet of a hobbit.
From a lovely place called Pinterest
I took my copy of The Hobbit with me, and I literally dug into the adventure in a new way. I made it my own. I became Bilbo. I felt exactly like him: lost, surrounded by an unknown race of people, continuously missing the comforts of home, feeling completely inadequate for this adventure that I'd rashly jumped into. 

Courtesy of Pinterest
Somehow, God had deemed me perfect for the time in Thailand, and I ended up having a blast, meeting tons of new people, and learning things about myself that I never would have otherwise. And, hey, I'm still alive ;)

This time I am calling my "second adventure." I'm strapped into a place I never thought I'd be, surrounded by mountains taller than anything I've ever seen. I live in Colorado.

I brought The Hobbit with me again this time, thinking how much it had comforted me on my last adventure (always with the appropriate lines of, "how dearly Bilbo missed his hobbit-hole" and whatnot). But the funny thing is that - although I definitely feel like a Bilbo again - that theme, that story, doesn't really apply in this situation.

Through various coincidences, I have come to view myself as having a Narnia adventure. And not only that, but I am a leopardess, walking these snowy paths.

Lauren and I, besties for lifeeee
I have these rad snowboard boots that are covered in leopard-print. I have slipper-boots and now a neck-gator to match. I've never been much for animal prints; they usually say flashy and gaudy and, occasionally, slutty. To be honest, I don't know why I am suddenly obsessed with leopard stuff.

As weird as it sounds, I think it's a God thing.

Because I'm starting to see that He wants me to be a Leopardess here: wild, crazy, different, unafraid to show my colors, true to what I have been created to be.

He's teaching me to run madly, chasing His voice. To be untamed in a world full of cages and chains. To proclaim freedom on this earth. [Don't ask me how that came from leopard-print boots. I'm pretty sure I couldn't make that up.]

I can no longer cling to home. To safety. To a place that I can call my own. I am a drifter, a wanderer, a follower of Christ. There's no turning back now.

My life is one great tangle of crazy coincidences these days. The people I've met, the things I've done, the clothes I've bought, even right down to the food I've's all been full of blessings and surprises. And I'm starting to see a theme here: Lauren and I are here to love. We are here to be shooting stars playing in the sky. Wild cats frolicking in the snow and fighting for what we believe in.

Free, bold.
Jesus freaks.

I believe in God, and that is why this tangle of threads is not a coincidence. It is a purposeful plan. He sweeps me off my feet with His timing...His gifts...His lessons.

Here I stand, Lord, praying that You are using me, even when I cannot see the plan. Even when I lose track of who You have asked me to be. I am the painting, You are Painter. I will let myself become that picture. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

No High like the Most High

Let's face it, we all get high. We all have our things that make us deliriously happy or pleased or relaxed. Maybe it's our favorite TV show that we just have to curl up and watch alone. Maybe it's a beer at the end of a hard day's work. Maybe it's Pinterest. Or chocolate. Driving fast.

For me, it's food. I let food get the better of me nearly every two hours. Novels are another thing that rock my world.

My point is, we get all up in the faces of people on drugs, but coffee is pretty darn addictive, too, and so is everything else on the planet. We humans like being consumed by things. We naturally become addicted. Think about it: anything can become an addiction.

It's interesting to think about this, when everyone around me is spending their free time getting drunk or *ahem* high on marijuana. Definitely something I'm not used to dealing with/being around.

How am I supposed to act? React?

Honestly, God tells us to love. God tells us not to judge. [He also says pretty clearly that getting drunk is sinful.] But we're all sinners. I'm a sinner. And I shouldn't look down on the people here because they happen to smoke weed. I'm not any better than they are if I don't smoke weed.

Although, let's be honest here, I'd like to think that I am.  

I'm not condoning drugs by any means. All I'm asking is that we take a step back and look at the whole picture. What did Jesus do when He was on earth? He spent time with the lowest people on earth, spent time loving them.

And me? I can choose to get on high on the Most High, my Father. 

Just thoughts. What do you think about all of this?

What's weird is that I am in this cool place. This place that is beyond my former imaginings and strikes me speechless. It's perfect in so many ways, and imperfect in a million others, and I can't get over the feeling's my home.

But amidst those feelings of joy and beauty and awe, I am prickled with discontent. Jealousy. Disappointment. Inadequacy. None of which are coming from God. Yet I listen to these voices as if they are my own, and I agree with them.

Let me tell you something. I live at the foot of a real live mountain (more than one, actually). I live in a college-dorm-style room with one of my bestest friends in the world, and she makes me laugh every day of my life. I get to shred in powdery snow for fun and as a job. I meet new people every day and I spend a few hours enjoying sunshine on my face. 

This place is amazing. I have no reason to complain. Yet I do. A little messed up, don't you think?

What have you found yourself complaining about lately? What blessings do you need to stop and be thankful for?

{There's no high like the Most High, guys}

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shredder Girl, Episode 4: maybe I should stop writing long titles like this...

There are some things that you just can't describe. The first time you hear birds chirp in the spring. The smell of home after a long journey away. The way it feels to ride a rollercoaster. So many things in life that just seem to be beyond words.

Riding a mountain is one of those things. People keep asking me what makes Colorado different, or why it's so amazing so far. Honestly, I can give them reasons, but I can't actually describe it. The word I keep using is breathless.

I've probably used that word over 20 times since moving here. But I seriously do feel breathless - partially because of the high altitude, which makes even walking downstairs become a breathless moment, and partially because of the fact that this place is so beyond what I could ever imagine.

But God is speaking to me through the awe and the breathlessness. He's showing me that it's good that I realize my own weakness. That I need to be humble.

Have you ever watched Inception? It's an amazing movie that kind of rips apart your idea of dreams, time, and...ideas. One of those movies that you can't zone out while you watch it or you'll miss everything. I kind of adore those types of movies, the ones that make you cock your head and go, "Wait...what?"

Anyway, I did have a point in bringing up that movie. There's a scene in the movie that just keeps coming to me. Every time I look at the mountains and I can't breathe because they're real. Every time I realize that I work and live on this mountain and there's no way I deserve it, and no way I'm a good enough rider to be here. Each time, this line just hits me like a well-placed piece of bacon:

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."

And I smile when I think of it because it's like words straight from God. He's the one who put me here. He's saying, "Stop thinking about your weaknesses. I am strong. That is all you need to know. I put you here to play, laugh, enjoy, and work - in My name. Don't be afraid to dream bigger than you ever have before."

I also laugh when these words come to mind, because the scene in the movie is one where Joseph Gordon-Levitt is shooting at bad guys with a little machine gun (or something), and Tom Hardy, broad and masculine, steps up with a rocket launcher and snidely remarks, "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."

So if you're struggling in the pits or living high off the hog (don't make fun of my usage of cliches), remember that God has plans bigger than even your imagination can see. His plans, thoughts, words, and ways are so much higher and bigger and crazier than ours! Don't trap yourself by your own boundaries; be freed to follow this crazy God of ours.

Isaiah 55:8-9
Psalm 61:2

Don't be afraid to let yourself be breathless...even if that means risking your life. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Last of the Autumn Thoughts

A post I wrote a few weeks ago, before leaving Ohio...

I'd rather die like Christ than live like me.
I'd rather live as one without a name than live my life trying to become a name.

It is warm out, despite the wind that rushes to my heart. Yet there's a chilly expectancy in the air. The cold is not far behind. Winter is near.

Fire burns. Just look outside, where the trees are being slowly eaten up by fiery and brilliant colors. Isn't it glorious to watch? Have you ever thought that all this beauty and impossible color combinations are the signs of an intense death? These leaves have such a short life. From buds in the spring, to a short season of young and green, and finally to crunchy dead fibers in the fall.

Somehow it is perfect, though, the way the leaves go out with a bang.

We rejoice each autumn season to see the leaves die (er, to get pumpkin spice lattes and wear scarves again...).

Maybe we should mirror this happiness in dead leaves with a joy in Christ's death. In our own deaths to this world. How glorious it is to die, for everything I thought I owned to fade away, wither, perish beneath the light of the Son. To wrap myself in His glorious light and never return to the garments of the dark.

This autumn has been different than the ones before it. Instead of a flash of lightning and a forest fire that devours the leaves, this year's flame started out small. It grew slowly, crackling leaves into bright colors.

But the leaves refused to die.

They stuck around, their color deepening. A slow death. Red turned to auburn. Yellow turned to gold.

A true test by fire.

Oh, Father, may you test me in the same way. Burn away my lusts and desires till all that's left is a heart willing to do Your will. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shredder Girl, Episode 3: Arrival of the Fittest

Seriously though. Guess who the fittest happens to be.

Not us.

Everyone here is chill. And amazing. Okay, I take back the amazing part. Because I'm not sure about Colorado people yet. They're interesting, to be sure. But I feel like everyone here can out-shred us (or at least me) any day, on any board.

I am not going to survive unless I gain some serious snowboarding skill.

We arrived last night, breathless at the craziness and beauty of this journey. But now a slice of reality is on the menu, not least of which is the idea of money.

Paying for you own toilet paper really sets you down a few notches, let me tell you.

I will never, ever take a jar of peanut butter or a refrigerator or toothpaste for granted ever again (and you can remind me of this statement when I look like I'm getting a little too proud, okay?). Grocery shopping is no longer fun. It is a maze of outrageous prices and food that I will never eat again.

Just kidding. It's not that awful. I still don't like paying for stupid things like toilet paper and silverware, though. Maybe it would be cheaper to invest in a bidet...

The mountain is waiting right outside our door and tomorrow...we ride! I am so pumped. And also completely terrified out of my mind because I dont' know how to snowboard on a mountain. I don't know what I'm doing. Plus, I'll be riding a brand-spanking-new board, which is bound to give me a few swerves.

But I made it here.
I'm supposed to be here.
And God is faithful.

I miss everyone back home and I'm not sure how I feel about things here. But it's exciting and demands a bit of awe, this place.

Welcome to adulthood, Caitlin. Welcome to the world of opportunities - and choices.

A few notes about where we are:
1. The room is narrow and cramped. But we turned the two beds into bunk beds, success!
2. Jet lag combined with altitude changes is turning me into lead weight.
3. The people here are either riding or chilling. What else is there to do?
4. I haven't seen the drugs yet. Who knows when that will spring at me. Because yeah, they're legal here.
5. Rugs and bright blankets make a room home. I love my roomie's style <3 p="">6. There's a bunch of movies and books and board games available to borrow from the front desk.
7. We get a free "Thanksgiving" dinner tomorrow night.
8. Laundry. More money. Quarters, anyone?
9. We've already met 3 people from Ohio.
10. So far, no one seems to be talking weird. Bummer. I was hoping to learn knew lingo.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Shredder Girl, Episode 2: Ready...Set...

Exactly 8 months ago to the day, I was stepping on a plane that would take me to Bangkok, Thailand (we had to stop at Chicago and Seoul, South Korea first, but we eventually made it). It was a cold, drearily rainy morning and we had to drive all the way to Cleveland to catch our flight. And hopping on a plane to Thailand came with a heck of a lot of prerequisites, let me tell you.

But somehow I managed to pack, prepare, and survive the 20-hour flight and arrived, breathless and terrified, on a piece of land that was utterly unfamiliar to me.

It seems like so long ago now. The friends I made there seem worlds away. The crazy thing is, my Thailand cohort, Bethany, is back in Thailand right now as we speak. She moved there - for a year. I have a feeling she may never call America home again. Thailand completely captured her heart.

But while Bangkok serenaded all of my senses to the max, it didn't speak to me like a homeland. Instead it spoke to me of a forever foreign and breathtaking land. A place of beauty and kindness, riveting views and astonishing people, and of course, the heat that suffocates as it caresses. I loved it. only inspired me to see more. To travel again and again and again and again.

Apparently my great thirst for travel is already to be assuaged, for tomorrow I step out on yet another grand journey with this God of mine. He stretched out His hand and offered me another plane trip (only this one not quite as far away). Another temporary move to a new, thrilling place.

C O L O R A D O .

I barely breathe the word, letting its syllables slide off my tongue and linger in the air, where they expand into slides of sunbeams and fluttering snowflakes and ponds that mirror the incredible beauty of majestic mountains.

God has asked me to move there for 6 months. And I get to snowboard while I'm at it.

I can hardly believe it! It doesn't seem real! Even though my bags are packed - FINALLY (and don't get me started on the outcome of all that backbreaking labor) - my mind just can't wrap itself around the fact that this is actually me.

And you know what? A part of me doesn't want to go. That part is scared of stepping onto unknown ground, of losing my footing (yet again) and free-falling into God's hands. It's scared of losing things and comfortable jobs and, most of all, people.

Saying goodbye has never been easy for me.

I have been so blessed. I am being so blessed. This crazy God that I am trying to love but only succeeding in betraying, this God who adores His creation and lavishes His love and mercy upon it, this God who is everywhere and knows everything and is beyond what I can understand...this God whom I barely know has already done so much for me.

Besides giving my dreams of travel literal wings with which to take flight and surrounding me with people who love me, He also did something that blows my mind even more.

My Creator died for me.

And somehow that huge cosmic idea of God dying for me and then choosing to spend His time and energy on loving me just blows my mind so much but I still turn around and look at the fake glitz of earth and think that that's where the good stuff is. I see good things in my life and what do I do? I claim them as my rights. They are my reward. I deserve them.

Ha. Puny little Caitlin thinks that she deserves something. Isn't that sweet? Dear immortal that dreams, you deserve nothing from this world. Even less do you deserve something from your Maker.

I am breathless.
I am weightless.

How can there be life better than this? I know that God exists. I know that He loves me.

And I am learning to know Him.

From the hills of Ohio (and soon the mountains of Colorado!),
~Caitlin Marie 

I'll spread my wings
And I'll learn how to fly
Though it's not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change

And breakaway...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Struggle Bus

I just want to tell people, "Hey, what you're seeing here isn't the whole story. This girl who laughs and plays all day and slips into a novel after work...she has an evil twin that rarely comes out to play. But she's there." Sometimes I just don't understand why people think it's so easy to come into my life and they want to be my friends. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends. Forever. With all I've got. But I wonder sometimes if they know what they're looking at when they see me.

For the past month or so, I've been saying that I'm on the struggle bus. It's kind of a joke between me and myself (talk about an inside joke). I've been on the struggle bus so long that I furthered the joke: I'm now the driver of the Struggle Bus. It's a means of travel, and if you want to come along for the ride, just let me know.

Being on the struggle bus for me means that I somehow manage to scramble through life, get things done, and be social -- only at an awkwardly slow pace. That usual involves many setbacks. 

I don't know why it seems to be a theme in my life right now. But it's pretty entertaining. Because really, it helps me laugh at myself. And laugh at the mud puddles and crappy French fries and broken power lines in this world. 

That moment when I'm carrying a hot tray of bread and I drop a baguette on the floor. Or I go to say, "Have a nice day," to a customer and it comes out, "Have won-goo-nice da...night..." and they basically walked away before I got past the word have. Trying to do laundry and getting interrupted and finishing it a whopping three days later.

It's the little things in life.

Picking up a random book at a bookstore and absolutely loving it, but then running out of time to read it and knowing that I don't have time to read it before I move and it's too expensive to buy. Staring at a roomful of stuff and knowing that I need to pack it but being unable to get myself to do so.

All of this stuff is petty, really. I think it's stemming from the spiritual chasm running through my core right now. I seem to be going forward (if forward is the right word), and I know that my relationship with God is getting stronger and stronger every day.

But the thing that keeps getting me is this: I constantly love the darkness and crave the light. Constantly.

It makes me sick inside to realize this about myself. And to know that I am deeply, irrevocably lost in this without a way out. I cannot physically escape this state. If God doesn't come down and change this within me, I will be stuck in it forever.

I feel like I am going forward deeper into the light.

But almost every day I run into a wall of darkness and I slip right through it and into the other side almost effortlessly.

And I listen to Demons by Imagine Dragons on repeat...

Does anyone feel this chasm? Does anyone know how to heal it? Because so far bandaids aren't working, and I'm starting to wonder if I'm not letting God heal it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Names. We all have one. One that our parents gave us. One that we get just by having parents. Nicknames that follow us around. Names we wish people would forget were associated with us. Words that aren't even names, but ones that somehow seem to stick to us, things like hard-working, drop-dead gorgeous, lazy, a party-er, flirtatious, quiet, and a million others adjectives both good and bad. We judge others by their names and then we add more names to them.

Basically, the whole world is constantly identifying others while at the same time seeking to proclaim their own identity. Every single person in the world has an identity. Is it self-made, or just a picture that others have painted for you?


We tend to figure out our identity in a very backward way. The things we wear, the way we look, our bodies and our expressions and our physical traits...these things paint a picture of us. But that is entirely opposite of how identity is really determined.

Our identity is determined by who we are on the inside. This body is flesh, and flesh only. Made from the dust of the earth. Polished with some soap and a dash of brightly colored fabrics. That identity bleeds into our physical appearance in little ways.

But these bodies that we live in? They are passing shadows, faint glimmers of beauty, fragile as a dandelion gone to seed.
Photo found on Google images
Sometimes it is hard for me to remember that. My flesh is so strong. Its desires pull at me, jerking me back and forth all over the board. I listen to my flesh because...I think that it is me. I think that my blond hair and grey/blue/green eyes are mine. I think that my skinny little body is all mine to own and keep forever. I even kind of like my feet (don't tell anyone). 

For me to say "no" to my body -- when it's hungry or thirsty, tired or fidgety, weak or strong -- seems like a preposterous idea. Why would I even want to do that? 

I am asking God to show me the difference. The difference between me (my soul) and my body (the fleshly cage in which I live). 

I watched The Host for the first time tonight. I read the book a few months ago and it blew me away with its intense insight into the battle between soul and body. I posted about it here.

From The Host; picture from Pinterest

The movie was, of course, not nearly as good as the book. (I'm pretty sure that that's my favorite line. Get used to hearing it.)

But again, I was struck by the way souls and bodies were shown as completely separate concepts. Which, they are! How crazy is it that I know this to be true and yet I don't live it as truth. I don't act like I believe it.

From The Host; picture from Pinterest
The world is beautiful and there is magic in it. But the bigger magic is found within us. God chose to make us "in His image" -- we are a miracle fashioned by His very words to be like Him.

And then He did something even crazier. He died so that we might die to our flesh in Him. That our souls might have power over our flesh. And that He might take His Spirit (the very Spirit of God!) and anoint us with Him, as a present. We have the Holy Spirit living within.

My flesh fights this Spirit with its whole being.

It is a war of the very deepest kind.

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." ~Romans 13:14

"Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." ~ Romans 5:16-17