A Day of Grace

Today was my first full day off in 13 days. Today is my last day off for 13 days. In the month of October, I will only have 2 days of not working. This schedule I keep is taking a toll on my heart, mind and soul. But today I paused. Today, I created space, and God showed up. God showed up in extraordinary friendships amidst an ordinary life.

I started the morning off with a new friend. New friendships are hard because you never know quite how much to share and what they will think. It was special this morning to hear, “Me too,” more than once. It was wonderful to be able to understand where this friend is at and know that there are other 20 somethings fighting for community just like I am. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s now what we thought it would be.

Naps on fall days are one of my favorite things. I had multiple hours of nothing to do, so I curled up in my bed, watched Netflix (Gilmore Girls of course) and took a nap. Solid alone time was much needed since I spend a majority of my day surrounded by people.

Afternoon coffee with one of my oldest and best friends was refreshing. This friend has seen tears in Wright Food Court, tears in the IMU, tears on our baptism day in Chicago, and joys every step of the way as well. A friend who has seen it all and still chooses to be my friend is the best kind of friend. There’s no false pretence, just grace.

Since I’ve left college, so much has changed, I feel like I different person some days, but then I sit down with old friends and I realize that I’m still here, fighting for the same things I’ve always wanted, still the same person I’ve always been. I’ve grown and changed, but I’m still me. I love hearing my friends dream about what they want to do with their lives, it reminds me just how great and mighty God is and what He is capable of doing.

A post-coffee workout on the treadmill and dinner with friends – old and new – rounded off the evening. And then, I got to talk with another best friend. You know they’re a good friend when they call you at 10:15 and let you talk and talk and they listen without judgment. I love that this friend will ask really honest questions and I trust her enough to give her the honest answers.

From start to finish today was a day of grace. There was nothing extra special, but in the midst of my ordinary life, God continues to remind me of His goodness. It’s not what I do, but who I am that matters. I’m thankful for a day to slow down and reflect on who He is and the grace He extends.


Monday Lovin’

After a jam-packed month of August, I forced myself to breathe this weekend. With clean sheets, freshly shaved legs and a rested soul, I feel ready to face the week with gratitude and enthusiasm. Instead of wanting to flip Monday morning off, I’m ready to greet her like a best friend because this Monday I’m lovin’…


1) Mexican food: Bakersfield lived up to all the hype. Margaritas, tacos and great time with friends was a perfect start to the weekend. A group of us met in downtown Indianapolis after work and re-connected. We’ve decided to make it at least a monthly tradition! What a great way to end a work week – wonderful food, tasty cocktails and beautiful friends.


2) Two of my best friends celebrated birthdays this weekend. Oh how thankful I am for each one of them! Waking up in the morning and saying a sweet prayer to Jesus for putting them in my life put a smile on my face all weekend long. These two women have reminded me of who Jesus is, even during the darkness, hardest seasons of my life. Even when life is tough, and not meeting my expectations, I’m reminded that God sees, knows and loves me because of friends like these two. I wish I could have celebrated with each of them on their special days.

3) The Needtobreathe Pandora radio station has been my soundtrack for the past couple weeks. It’s full of fun, upbeat songs and some great Christian artists. I’ve loved listening to it in the background as I’ve worked and on long runs. It’s always fun to hear new songs and new artists that I wouldn’t ordinarily stumble upon myself. I highly encourage taking a listen!

4) I’m a summer girl, so as everyone gets excited about fall – fall clothes, pumpkin spice lattes and cooler temperatures – I roll my eyes a little bit. But, the color chartreuse (read: mustard) is a dominant color in the J.Crew fall color palate and I could not be more excited. I cannot wait to purchase an Expedition Vest in this super fall color! While the thought of party tanks, chino shorts, sundresses and flip flops going back in the back of my closet makes me want to cry, I am excited for some new colors to add into my closet.

5) I celebrated one year at MLJ Adoptions last week! I’ve loved working for this company that believes that children belong in families and is passionate about finding families for children in need. Over the past year, I have learned so many valuable lessons about advocacy, poverty, international relations, families, parenting and God’s love. I am thankful for the special stories that God has invited be to witness – stories of strong, resilient children being given a chance to thrive in a loving family environment.


I’ve been hanging out in the Early Church with the Apostles this month. No, but really. I have not learned time travel, but in spending time the book of Acts I’m learning about these brave, bold men and women who were followers of The Way before Christianity was officially Christianity. Each person fits into the story in a special way, as if the story depends on him or her to play his or her role. And the dependence on the Holy Spirit is undeniable; I want to live more like the Early Church, open to the true power of the Risen Christ in my life, Him living in me and through me.

I usually camp out in the Pauline Epistles with Paul. I love me some Paul. Freedom, grace, love – these are a few of my favorite things. But right now, I’m captivated by Ananias. It’s Ananias who speaks to Saul, after Saul has encountered Christ, and Ananias says, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). This, seemingly small moment, is a bold act of obedience for Ananias; no one really knew if Saul could be trusted, or if the Holy Spirit was going to soften Saul’s heart. Saul could have ordered Ananias to be put to death, or even acted indifferent towards the words Ananias spoke. And yet, this act of obedience for Ananias changes history.

We don’t know much else about Ananias, but we do have lots of additional information about Saul, our friend Paul who, led by the Holy Spirit, authored about half of the New Testament. I’m blown away by Ananias though. His obedience means so much in light of we get to know on this side of history. Yes, in the vision, Ananias is told that Paul is going to be God’s “chosen instrument”, so he has some idea of what could happen, but God tells and Ananias obeys.

God uses this ordinary act of obedience to produce extraordinary results.

Not all acts of obedience are made equal. Sometimes it takes years or generations to see the fruit. Sometimes something that seems big doesn’t take a lot of thought or second-guessing. Sometimes obeying is the last thing we want to do. But we obey. After reading and thinking on Ananias’ radical obedience and the boldness of the Early Church, I want to obey better, in the small stuff and the big stuff. I want to live knowing that has created a special role for me in the building of His Kingdom, but I need to say yes, to be able to step into it. It may be a baby step, a seemingly unimportant conversation, or huge leap of faith, but as Ananias demonstrates, obedience leads to something extraordinary.

Gift Wrapping

Friday at MLJ, we had a gift exchange at our Christmas party. Everyone was invited to bring a gift and throughout the exchange, you could either pick an unopened gift or steal a gift from someone who had already picked. I was predictable and brought jewelry from J.Crew to give. When I purchased them, they came in a jewelry bag, a nice black box and then a small J.Crew bag. The J.Crew bag said J.Crew on it, obviously, but was nice enough to give as a gift bag. That was the plan. Until yesterday. We were talking around work about how if it was appropriate to not officially wrap our gift, but bring it in a nice gift bag that may give away where the gift was from. I was suddenly self-conscious about my nice J.Crew gift bag. Had I had extra time and didn’t work two jobs, I probably would have gone out and bought a different bag for my gift. I did not, and today everything went fine. No one commented on the packaging, they loved the bracelets. It’s silly to think I almost spent time, money and energy on packaging.

I’ve had three different conversations this week that have made me reflect on the way we wrap our testimonies – stories of what God is doing and has done in our lives – the same way that I felt the pressure to rewrap my gift exchange gift. I’ve had a version on this conversation three times this week. What is this fascination with making things look “good”? We want nice, neat before and after testimonies where the after is dramatically different from the before. I was addicted to porn, now I don’t even struggle, because of Jesus. I had an eating disorder, now I don’t struggle with control in any area of life, because of Jesus. I was never in a relationship where we weren’t having sex, now I don’t even struggle with purity, because of Jesus. If one of these is your story, I celebrate with you. God can deliver us out of those strongholds. It is a beautiful thing!

But what if you story is more like mine? Even once I found Jesus, I struggled to manufacture control of my life through eating. While I’ve seen victory, when things are tough, I’m still tempted to grasp for control in whatever way I can, sometimes wanting to go to unhealthy lengths with food or exercise. Is my story not a story of victory? Is God not at work in my life because I struggle? Do I need to re-wrap my story?

No. I see God to be so faithful in the struggle. It is in the struggle that I am reminded that dependency on God not self-sufficiency is the Christian life. I should be reminded everyday that the gift inside of the bag is the same –grace, freedom, life with Jesus – why should I re-wrap it? I want to embrace my brokenness because it brings me back to the cross. I want those who I do community with to feel safe to bring things into the light before they’re completely resolved. If I wanted to know everything that someone loves in their life, I don’t need to look further than their social media, but over coffee, the phone or a glass of wine, I want to know the real truth, without the pressure to re-wrap it.

Here’s to telling stories that aren’t quite complete yet. Here’s to celebrating the struggle because it makes us more like Christ. Here’s to living in freedom of not having to put our testimonies in better gift-wrapping.

Practicing Thankfulness

“You can either let it make you bitter or better.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard countless times over the course of my life. I’ve sat in some disappointment this summer, mourned some could-have-beens and cried more tears than I knew I could. As August winds down, I feel like a different person than I was in April and May. I wouldn’t say a better person, and I can’t put my finger on what exactly is different, but as I step into yet another transition, I’m different.

I had a conversation in passing at work in June with a co-worker that rocked me. She was sharing with me about the end of her marriage, and it struck me. I cried on the way home, humbled. It was that night that I decided that instead of being upset and cynical, I needed to choose to be thankful. Thankful for the no’s God had told me both professionally and personally. Thankful for the unsettling season I was currently in, and thankful for the ways I was confident the Lord would provide in such an unsettling season. Slowly I began to notice changes in myself.

Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:13-14). As I’ve started to learn, thankfulness prevents bitterness, discontentment and jealousy from taking root in my heart. Thankfulness reminds me who’s in charge… not me, but God – the same God who knows the ins and outs of my heart is working all things for my good. Even when my circumstances lead me to believe otherwise, I always have something to be thankful for.

Thankfulness very quickly turns into praise. No matter what I’m going through, I can praise God for His character and His faithfulness; they never change. There have been numerous mornings I’ve sat down this summer to journal and felt so in awe of God that I just thanked Him for everything. Even the yuck. I’ve started to see that when I thank God for the yuck, the yuck becomes less yucky.

I don’t think thankfulness is a lesson to learn, but instead a practice, not dissimilar from a spiritual discipline. Thankfulness and surrender are intertwined; in order to be fully surrendered to God, I need to acknowledge His goodness and His almighty power, which is impossible to do without being thankful. A thankful heart surrenders and obeys quicker than a bitter one. So if I want to obey God and be surrendered to God, then I must practice thankfulness, in all circumstances. I serve a great and mighty God, a God who refused to let my sin be the end of the story, so I will seek to practice thankfulness, even when it’s difficult.

How do you practice thankfulness?


I’ve been thinking a lot about timing recently. About how God’s timing is perfect, and yet I still don’t seem to trust it.

Story time: King David and King Solomon, both huge players in the Bible. During David’s reign, he fought a war, making protecting the kingdom his number one priority. Despite David’s mishaps, including committing adultery, fathering a child out of wedlock and then sending the woman’s husband to the front lines of the war to die, David finds favor from God. When the time arrives for David to die, the Lord calls Solomon, David’s son who was fathered out of wedlock, to take over the throne. Let me take a moment to point out, Solomon is the result of David’s sin. David’s selfishness and entitlement led to Solomon being born, and yet, the Lord used Solomon for His glory. If that doesn’t inspire hope, I don’t know what does.

Anyways, David dies and Solomon begins to rule. Almost immediately, Solomon receives instruction from the Lord to build a temple. Solomon writes to Hiram, a king of a neighboring kingdom,

“You know that because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the name of the lord his God until the Lord put his enemies under his feet. But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster. I intended, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God, as the Lord told my father David, when he said, “Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.”  (1Kings 5:3-5)

Despite David’s indiscretions, he loved God. Open up the book of Psalms, and you need not look any further. David wanted to build a temple for the Lord, but instead was stuck fighting a war. By the time Solomon comes into power, he can and does build a glorious temple that reflects the greatness of God. Building this temple took Solomon 7 years.

This story hit home for me when I studied it. David would have looked like a fool if he quit fighting the war to build a temple. Solomon would have looked like a fool if he went looking to fight instead of building a temple. They were uniquely qualified for what God gave them at the time.

I recently accepted a job in Indianapolis. I actually interviewed for the job the end of May and was not the first choice candidate and did not originally receive it. In the meantime, I’ve stayed at home, applied for countless other jobs, worked at J.Crew and rested, learned and healed. If I had gotten this job back in May, I finding somewhere to live would have been difficult, and I would have had no money, and still been so fragile. Instead, 6 weeks later, I can be confident that moving to Indianapolis and accepting this job has been all God and all God’s timing. The roommate situation fell into place, as did my chance to fulfill my management commitment to J.Crew. I keep resting, learning, healing and growing.

God’s timing was perfect in the biblical times, and it continues to be perfect today. I can choose to rest in His plan, purposes and His timing.

The Beauty of Trust

Yesterday I woke up, served at a food pantry, swung through the Chick Fil-A drive thru, had lunch with sweet Back2Back friends, crafted wedding gifts, made dinner for my family, watched some West Wing, went to Barnes and Noble with my dad and then my mom and I talked about our dreams. It was a beautiful day.

It’s been a beautiful summer.

Life did a number on me in April. I didn’t know how to get back up, let alone if I wanted to. And the hits kept coming. I was pissed at life, pissed at the world, and frankly, pissed at God. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was talking with a friend last week whose in a similar place as me, and I shared what I think God says to us in the midst of heart break, confusion and frustration. I think He stares me in the eyes and says, “Caitlin, I know you’re pissed, but do you trust Me? Do you trust that I’m good? I care more about your sanctification than your immediate happiness.” I reluctantly grumbled, “Yes, God, I trust You, or I at least want to.” And a funny thing happened, I started to want to stand up again. Before I knew it, I was walking on my own two feet. Some days I’m back to crawling, but mostly I walk.

When I started to trust God, like really trust Him, I started to see that He knew what was best all along. Each of the three summers I’ve spent in Cincinnati, none of my close friends from school have been here, but this summer, not one, but two of my best friends have been here. What a blessing. That’s been God’s hand in my summer. The relationships I developed last summer at Back2Back have only grown this summer as I spend time with my old co-workers. I’ve even been able to serve at a food pantry in inner city Cincinnati, and pray through what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the poor.

My sister called me at school after I didn’t get the job offer I wanted and she said that this summer would be a faith internship. She was right. Day by day the Lord grew my trust in Him. He showed up and showed off during what felt like a season of desperation in my young life.

This summer the Lord wanted me to learn how to trust in His goodness even when every part of my flesh was screaming not to.

This summer the Lord has shown me how He makes even the ordinary things beautiful even when I didn’t want to see beauty in my life.

I hope and pray that my trust in the Lord and His goodness only continues to grow.  I hope and pray that next time life knocks me down, I remember that I’ve been there before and that God is still good. I hope and pray that delight in the ordinary because God has made it beautiful.

Running a Long Distance

I’m very lucky to lead a house bible study with a sweet friend of mine. Wednesday nights are one of my favorite times of the week getting to go over to Phi Mu and teach others about Jesus and watch Him show up and teach me each week without fail. This semester we’ve been walking through the book of 1 John, line by line. Each week we’ve been asked tough questions, but I just pray that truth gets spoken. Last night, we were in chapter 4, which talks about God’s love and how God loved us first. My co-leader said something very insightful, “God didn’t wait for us to get our act together.” Wow. I’ve been letting than sink in for the last 12 hours. He didn’t wait for me to get my act together. Why? Because if He did, He’d still be waiting. Christianity isn’t the try-harder faith; it isn’t the check-list faith of things you have to accomplish, I am given victory because I admit I can’t achieve it on my own. Crazy backwards in this world that tells me that the harder I work, the more I will achieve. Jesus achieve it all and handed it over to be as a gift that I have to receive in faith.

I so easily fall into trying to get my act together. I watch others do it every day, but the reality is, we don’t have to. Hear that, we don’t have to get our acts together for God. Even when we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He ran a long distance into our sin, greeted us with a kiss and walked us home (Luke 15). For me, that sin I’m constantly reminded of is performing. I try to act that I’ve got it all together. The story of the prodigal son has hit me very hard this semester. I’ve heard it lots of times, and I can usually identity with the older brother, but lately the imagery of the younger son, the prodigal, has brought me to tear. The younger brother, as we know in the story that is told in Luke, takes his inheritance, wastes it, has a turning point when he realizes he wants to go home, to be his father’s servant, because he’s no longer worthy of being his son. Here’s the image that I can’t let go of: “But while he (the son) was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). The father, God, ran a long distance to meet his son. God runs a long distance to meet each of us. He doesn’t wait until we’ve got our acts together, He runs into the mess. Then, He is filled with compassion, throws his arms around us and kisses us. Whatever sin I’m struggling through, I can be sure that God is going to meet me in it, have compassion on me and bring back home. I don’t have to get my act together first. I don’t have to even get my act half-together. He travels the distance.

By Faith

I had a melt down in Ikea earlier this week. Like had shortness of breath and starting crying. Over a dresser. Let me tell you a secret, dressers don’t matter in the big scheme of my life. At all. But, the dresser was the last piece of furniture I needed before I went back to Bloomington, for my senior year, my last year at IU. That’s scary. For a 21 year old with no direction in her life, the idea of college ending is enough to induce a panic attack.

Post meltdown, I’ve calmed myself down a lot, but there’s still some anxiety. The thought of where am I going to be this time next year wouldn’t leave my head. I may be spending my last night at home (living here) tonight. And while I know I should be excited for my senior year, I can’t push the uncertainty out of my head. When I was a little baby freshman at IU, I had the stupid idea that by this time in my life, I would have some idea what I wanted to do with my life. Oh boy was I wrong. Three years later, I have some ideas, but nothing concrete.

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, the logical side of my brain tells me that I should figure it out. But then there’s the other side… I don’t know what I’ll call it, but it’s not very logical (this is probably the dominant side of my brain… I like feelings and people… not logic). As I was getting ready to head back to IU after Easter last spring, I was having a very hard time, but the Lord reminded me of something really cool. Hebrews 11 has long been one of my favorite chapters of the Bible; it talks about all the greats of Christianity – Abraham, Moses, Noah, Rahab and many others. The thing that’s striking about it, is that the author (who is unknown) starts a lot of the sentences the same.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  (Verse 3)

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. (Verse 4)

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death, he could not be found, because God had taken him away. (Verse 5)

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of righteousness that comes by faith. (Verse 7)

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country, he lived in tents so did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. (Verses 8 & 9)

I could keep going to verse 31, but for the sake of space, I’ll stop. As I re-read the words today, I got tears in my eyes. All of these people did what they did by faith. The first verse of the chapter defines faith, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we can not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Wow. This is the mindset and heart-set I want as I approach this year. I want to head back to Bloomington by faith and with faith that God is going to show up, not only this semester and this year, but with how to plan for next year and the next chapter of my life.  I hope that the Lord will reveal this to me, but more than that, I know He’s good. He hasn’t failed me yet.


I’m learning lots this summer. I’m also healing in places that I did not realize I needed to heal. I’m thankful for the Lord for this; I’ve also gotten very convicted about what I value in life. And if the way that I live is reflective of these values. So, as I start to prep for next school year & start to try on different things I want to do post-college life, I decided to write about what I value. I think it’s important to evaluate… which is different critiquing because I want to reflect and grow, not sit around and talk about all the things that are wrong with me and wrong with the way that I’m living. First and foremost, I value Jesus; His death on the cross, His spirit in me and the example He set for me. It is because of Him that I feel compelled to even talk about the other stuff. Because I want to be more like Him and be more changed by His love. So here we go…

I value honesty. And because I value honestly, I will tell you that I’ve watched a lot of Grey’s Anatomy this summer. A lot. Like 160 episodes. And I’m not ashamed of it. But on a more serious note, honesty and realness walk hand in hand for me. When I don’t know the answer, I will be honest and admit it, sometimes too quickly. The high value I place on honesty sometimes gets me in trouble because 1) I assume that people actually care what I really think and 2) I’m not always graceful in telling what I believe to be true. I’m working on both of those though, honestly.

I value growth. Even when it hurts. Which it usually does. Because it has to. I am a work in progress; I’ve seen that growth in my life looks like one step forward and two steps back, but at least I’ve taken that one step forward. We’re all constantly changing. It’s hard, but it’s good. I want my life to reflect Jesus more and more, but that requires me to die to myself and to be transformed into the image of Christ, which is growth. Growth in a person who loves herself less and loves Jesus more. I value growth in myself and I also value it in others. I give snaps for small steps of faith and get excited over the tiniest little thing that demonstrates growth.

I value stories. I’ll do almost anything for the sake of a story. One thing I’m sure of – God writes beautiful stories. He’s the best author. I love reading stories – real and made up – and I love listening to people tell their stories. Stories inspire me, they teach me and they force my eyes upward to God, the one who has carefully tangled all of our stories together from the beginning to the end.

I value truth and grace. While these should be two separate values, I have trouble living them out equally in my life, so I’ll keep them together now. I want to speak more truth and extend more grace. I value the truth that is spoken in the Bible and the grace that God demonstrated towards me & humanity in Christ’s brutal death on the cross. In my life, most of my problems come from a place of not valuing truth and grace enough because if I did, I’d fear and respect God more. And want to obey more. But hey, I’m learning and growing.

I value people. And their opinions. This goes hand in hand with valuing stories, but I love people so much that I want to spend my whole life fighting with them and alongside them. I believe that each person is created in God’s image and that there’s something good in each of us worth fighting for. I wish I was better at investing in and listening to people. Maybe if I stopped watching so much Grey’s Anatomy I would. I can’t wait for heaven where I’ll get to learn about people and spend eternity with them. If I can pry myself away from dancing with Jesus and asking Him lots and lots of questions.

I could keep going. I value freedom. I value family. I value friends. I value fitness. But I think this is my starting point. At this point in time these what I believe to be important in my life. The things I will fight for. I want to live in light of what I believe to be important. I want to walk closely with Jesus and have what He values become what I value. I pray that this be true of me, that I can value what God values above what the world does and because of that, He can be glorified.