Monday, April 14, 2014

This is Home

I've missed this.

Drinking well-water straight from a faucet. Having my own quiet attic room to myself. Calling up friends and seeing their faces fifteen minutes after I hang up the phone. Driving down country roads, windows down, music just as loud as I want it to be.

Yeah, I've missed being home.

Home is where I feel the most comfortable...and yet I don't actually feel like I fit. There's faces and places that I'll not soon forget, but I'm a wanderer now, and that feeling won't soon disappear. Being a wanderer puts you on edge and sets you free; you're always waiting to dive into what's next, your thoughts always pulsing towards something else.

Being home should be stable and warm is. Mostly.

But it's also a reminder. A reminder that the people I left here aren't quite the same anymore. A reminder that reality does exist and "America, land of the free" happens to be adding more rules to the list.

It's a horrible thought that what I felt was a temporary, glorious lifestyle as a gypsy, can't stay that way. Either it has to be a permanent situation (living out of my suitcase, never really having a home), or my life has to start changing, and I need to "grow up" and get some real knowledge and a real job so I can pay for taxes. Obviously, none of that is very attractive to me. I've been doing quite well with my life, I thought. Spending 3-6 months in different places is not a bad deal.

Do I have to focus bills and taxes? Those things are exactly why I never went to the university I wanted to go to - money, debt, taxes. I get that everyone else on this planet is struggling for survival. I understand that the world operates on money that no one really has. I don't want that to tear me down, though. I don't want to focus on that. When I look around me, I don't see freedom. I see bondage.

And that's why I'm trying to create my own sort of freedom. I've chosen jobs and situations that don't put me in debt and that don't create bills for me. Honestly, the only thing I consistently pay for is my cell phone. Sure, I'm not at the top of the food chain, and it hasn't gotten me far. But look where I'm standing. I've gotten to travel. I've made so many friends. I am happy.

College isn't bad. Neither is a "normal" life. But I am so incredibly glad that my life has been anything but normal. That God has led me in all sorts of random ways to all sorts of places.

I suppose it comes down to that, doesn't it? That He hasn't led me to go back to school. He hasn't led me to seek out a successful life. And I'm okay with that.

Ah, home. Where raindrops are plentiful and snow in April isn't shocking. Where the people are mostly friendly and all of them want to leave the state. Where fast food restaurants thrive and everything else struggles to get by. Ohio holds the people I most care about.

I've missed this. I've only got two weeks to enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Adventures Never Cease

It's been a little while since I've written. It's like I've been too busy living or something to write. Funny how that works.

This adventure is almost over. I only have TWO WEEKS left in this beautiful place nestled between the mountains. Fourteen days of snow and mountain peaks and "seasonal friends" (I didn't even know that this was a thing until now) and snowboarding and rooming with my bestie and dorm life and teaching little rugrats how to enjoy the snow.

Only a little while longer existing in this place.

Only a little more time with these people who have become part of my life. And I may not see any of them again. Ever.

It's scary how fragile and fast life is. How much time I spend wishing things were different or stressing about how they are...when time is spinning me out of control and I can't hold on. I need more reminders of how important every second is.

My heart is full. I am incredibly sad to go. And yet I can also imagine the relief I will feel as I pack up the life I have here and return home, to familiar faces and places. My cozy attic-like bedroom. The green grass, abundant rainfall, and chirping birds of an Ohio spring. The goofiness and chaos and love that is my family. The friends that I've been horrible at communicating with while I've been here.

This winter season has represented a lot of firsts for me. First time in a dorm (college life without the homework, check). First tattoo (...yeah, I did it). First boyfriend (sheesh how that word still sends shivers up my spine; I have never liked how that word seems to throw one's perception of life out the window). The awe I feel every time I look around me at the mountains. The crazy fear as I launched myself off of a jump I wasn't ready for. The giddy joy I felt in shredding through fresh powder.

Sunburn and heartache and burning desire and dreams come true and snowflakes everywhere and a God who meets me in all of these places.

As I'm struggling with saying goodbye, this verse keeps popping out at me, reminding me that it is time to move forward.

"Don't remember the former things, and don't consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. It springs out now. Don't you know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19 

I'm gonna need those paths in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. After my short hiatus in Arizona, Virginia, and Ohio, I'll have to kiss vacation goodbye and jump into a job that I honestly don't feel qualified for.

This summer, starting in May, I'm going to be an Adventure Counselor at Lutheran Valley Retreat. It's a camp in the wilderness near Colorado Springs. And trust me, it will be all about God's beautiful creation. I'll be helping lead backpacking trips mostly, so lots of camping and hiking. Plus rock climbing (real rocks, real mountains - none of that wall climbing stuff) and ropes courses and horses and archery and...sorry, but it has been a lot for me to take in, too.

I won't have cell phone service. I may or may not have internet on the weekends. Feel free to reach me with snail mail, guys, cause otherwise you won't be hearing from me!

It's going to be the weirdest combination of full-on introvert time in the wilderness and constant, Caitlin-stretching time with kids and counselors alike.

Yep. I'm just trading this winter adventure for an even crazier summer one. And this time I won't have my amazing bestie Lauren to keep me sane.

I'm going it alone.

Thank you, God, for never leaving me. For sticking around so that even when I'm walking a lonely path, You're there promising me I'm never really alone. And for always teaching me the best and hardest lessons.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. 
I shall not. 
I will not.
I will follow where You lead. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

I am Yours

For I am Yours
And For I am Yours
And You are mine

What does this mean to me? How deep do these words penetrate? I know the words, I welcome their impossibly true presence in my life. But each profound facet of the meaning doesn't hit me yet. It comes at me day by day. When I least expect it, a piece of who He is clubs me over the head, and I am lost again in the revelation:

I am Yours
And You are mine

Someone asked a question this week that tore me up inside. He said, "I think Christians need to reevaluate why they are for God." I couldn't answer that for myself. I couldn't form an outcome. Nothing would come to mind. There was just a wall of confusion. Because how could I not be for God? After all this time, after all He's could I not? And then the other voice in my head kept asking, "Am I for God? Am I really?"

I don't know why this question has never been asked before.

But when my head finally cleared enough to give even a semblance of a reason, I came to this conclusion. Why am I for God? Because I need His love.

I cannot replicate it or find it somewhere else. I cannot run from it. I cannot discover it. His love has come into my life - I did not ask for it. It came and overwhelmed me and addicted me all at once.

I'll never be the same.

I am His.
He is mine.

So when little things tear my gaze away from who He is, that crazy love always chases me down and brings me to my knees. He never lets me stray far.

It's beautiful, this love.

Of course it's appropriate that I'm talking about love on Valentine's Day. I mean, naturally ;) I am so afraid that earthly loves are going to distract me from Him (they can and they do). I...I have never dived so deep into risking hurt before, with love. It scares me.

God has placed me here. Which is exactly why I know that I need not fear. His love casts out this fear and reminds me that everything, especially pain, is designed to draw me to Him.

I am more than okay with this.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Little Story for Big Thoughts

I just jotted something down this week. It stemmed from listening to a song called "Boy With A Coin" by Iron and Wine.

Here is the story, my friends. Please by all means comment. I need to get back into writing (I have been neglecting it, let me tell you) and feedback - critical or otherwise - helps me keep going. I don't want to leave words behind in the snowdust of snowboarding on a mountain...

Boy With A Coin

    If he'd found it on the street, that would make sense. If someone had handed it to him from a generous pocket, the situation would seem much more plausible. But as it was (or rather, is) the boy seems a bit thoughtless. Careless. Confused.
     His name is Benjamin. I tell you this not because it is important, but because I want you to see him as you would a friend, acquaintance. Someone who's face and name you know and care about, if only because he seems to genuine and innocent to let anything bad happen to him.
     Benjamin worked hard. Every day there was some new job for him to do. In a world where little boys had nothing to their name, his was the life of a drifter. From shop to shop he begged for work, scrounging a living. No one begrudged him this life, though; he worked as hard as any of the grown men. Daily he earned more than food. He earned respect.
    It was on one of his odd jobs that he tripped on a loose cobblestone and unearthed a large coin. At first he could hardly believe it. It covered the whole palm of his hand.
    It was not a penny or a dime or any other such worthless piece of metal. No, this was a day and age when metal in your pocket meant more than any piece of paper crumpled in your wallet. This coin could have bought a weeks' worth of meals – in the boy's case, many more than that, as he usually existed upon bread crusts. He could have done most anything with this treasure.
    The world opens to your hand when you have money. That's the way it works. We all know this.
    Maybe the boy knew, and did not understand.
     He crammed it into his pocket and left it there. His face was aglow but his heart could only stare. True dreams are not of money (though they may be of wealth); true dreams are of beautiful things. Of adventure and love and desire and ambition and achievement of great things. Dreams take us away when our feet are shackled to the floor.
     He walked and walked till he reached the pier. There the sea breeze lifted the hair from his forehead and tore some of the stench from his grimy clothes. The world seemed to open before him. The see filled his vision, the horizon seemed closer than before, music sprang up in his ears. Without looking at it, he pulled the coin from his pocket and rubbed it smooth and clean.
    He held it up above his head, watching the last rays of sunlight catch the gold color and turn it brilliantly orange and yellow.
    What was he to do with it?
He tossed it into the sea.
    And then he wished.
    His eyes were wide open and the sunset over the ocean reflected brilliantly in them. His fists were clenched. His heart was throbbing with the idea of his dream being realized. That was all he needed to do. He turned and walked away.


     A sailor watched from the edge of his master's ship. His eyes drew together, then widened, as the scene played out before him. As soon as the boy's back was turned he ran, eyes fixed on the tiny ripples in the water where the coin had sunk. Money was tight, and not only for poor little orphan boys. He leapt out over the water and at the last second curled his body into a dive, fingers outstretched for the prize.
    Later, the papers reported a drowning. No one ever knew that it was the sailor's feeble graspings for treasure had brought him to his death.


    I cannot tell you what the boy wished for. Then it will not come true, you know. He never told me (though I guessed and I am sure that I am right). All I can say is that his wish does not involve anything that we have mentioned already.
   What if he had saved the coin? He could certainly have made great progress towards his wish. Perhaps even achieved it wholly.
   What if he had shared the coin with another, and brightened their day? He could have brought joy and eased someone's hunger, supposedly. He could have even given it to the sailor and saved that man's reckless life.
   But he didn't do those things. Instead he wished big and he wished wholly. Everything in him wanted this to come true. And it didn't matter that he was throwing away his livelihood. He was gaining life. Life such as he wasn't sure he could get.
   But it was worth throwing all away to wish for it.

     Just a boy with a coin. And then a boy without a coin. And does it all matter? That all depends on whether you wish you had the coin or not. Or whether you think you know what he wished for. 

Tell me: what one wish is worth wishing with everything you own? Wishing beyond what you could ever hope to gain?

Tell me, please. Tell me what this story means.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Waves at My Feet

Rocking the boat.
Swimming upstream.
Going against the current.
Treading water.
Riding into a storm.

Oh, to be like You
Give all I have just to know You...

Every morning, there is something new. Another thought, another plan, another trouble...another wave crashing against my shore, pulling at my feet, drawing more grains of sand into the depths where I cannot see.

There's a ragin' sea right in front of me
Wants to pull me in, bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise if You want them to
I will follow You.
 I will follow You. 
I will follow You.

I've always loved the ocean. The sound is my therapy. The smell is intoxicating. I love standing with my toes at the edge of the line where sand and water meet, where foam collects and shells clump together, and I just let the waves lick gently at my toes. I love being on that edge. It is exhilarating for me to be at that point where you are half in and half out.

I feel the same at the edge of a cliff.

I feel the same as I stand at the cornice of a mountain.

I feel the same when I am starting anything new, teetering on the point of just-arrived and being thrown into I-live-here-now.

Who wouldn't want to stand there forever? Digging the view and knowing that you made it to that point, but never having to go any further?

But you're supposed to jump. That's how it works.

I have never jumped.

i have never jumped. 

God has recently convicted me of this sad truth: I have never, ever put myself (heart, soul, mind, and body) WHOLEHEARTEDLY into anything. I don't really know how to. I am not a person that is truly passionate. There are things I like, things that I care about. Yet I don't know how to sacrifice for those things. I don't know how to improve because I can't seem to get past a shallow understanding. Music, snowboarding, writing, reading, art, blogging, cooking...any number of things in my life that I love

I have labeled it many things. I go with the flow. I'm a dabbler. I have a split personality (not really. but kinda, yes). I know how to be a peacemaker (because I play both sides). I just have a lot of excuses for only going halfway through life. 

I went repelling. In case you don't know, that's where you are in a small harness and you're holding a rope and you "walk" (I use the term lightly, since in my opinion walking usually happens on horizontal, stable surfaces) - yeah, you walk straight off the edge of a rock/cliff...backwards. I know I'm using a lot of emphasis right now but I don't think it's too much because seriously. Walking backwards off a cliff is terrifying. Even if it's a small one. There's something in my brain that says, "This is a bad idea," and something in my stomach that goes, "I'm done for." It's why roller coasters still get us and thrill seekers exist. Our bodies crave and fear this insanity. 

Turn my eyes to see Your face
As all my fears surrender

Then I went to the top, basically, of a mountain. Not as high as you can go, but as high as I had ever gone before. And I stood there and looked around and went, "I'm at the edge of the world, and I'm about to jump off." Me and my snowboard leapt off the edge and tumbled into powder. It was amazing.

God's showing me something about waves in the ocean. Precipices unawares. Free-falling. He's telling me that, yes, it's okay to be still sometimes. But I need to be ready. Because at any moment, He could tell me to jump.

I normally make New Years' Resolutions. Every single year. It's one of my favorite things to do: curl up with my journal and look at the past year and scribble away all my new dreams. I make lists and plans and I basically decide to change my life. Does it ever really make a difference? If I'm being honest, no. But I like to do it anyway.

This year, I didn't do that. Something in me was just done pretending that I can change me without help. I don't need more lists to become the person I should be.

I need God.

I need Him.

So instead of a page full of resolutions, I just offered up a single, simple prayer: God, I'm ready. I'm all in. 

That's all I could say before I was choked with emotion. What if...oh, there are so many things He could ask of me. I am afraid. Afraid to live for Him and Him only.

But I want it.

I will fight to follow
I will fight for love
Throw my life forever
To the triumph of the Son

No matter where He takes me.

Songs referenced:
Let the Waters Rise by Mikeschair
Oceans by Hillsong United
Scandal of Grace by Hillsong United
Love is War by Hillsong United