The Lesson Richard Taught Me

Richard is a man, who lives in a sewage ditch under a road, just north of Houston.  His name might not actually be Richard, but that’s what he told me, and I had no reason not to believe him. Until yesterday.  I met him on Saturday.  Our period of trust lasted all of 20 hours.  

Saturday afternoon, while I was with my family, we met Richard.  He walked up to us, and as soon as my mom had the chance to ask him if he needed anything, he said “I really want to go to church tomorrow, on Easter.”  We weren’t very close to our home or our church, so she said, “okay- well I’m sure there is a church around here that would be happy for you to join them tomorrow!”.  He didn’t seem content with that answer because he continued asking if anyone knew of a church he could go to on Easter.  

Finally, we offered to pick him up and bring him with us to our church Easter service.  He was happy. We made a plan to pick him up at 10AM in the same spot we met him.  He said he’d be there.  We felt good about ourselves.  

I’m sure you know where this story is headed.  We went to our meeting spot at 10AM on Sunday.  He wasn’t there.  We waited a little longer.  He wasn’t there.  We drove down to his “house” and my dad went to peek under the bridge to see if anyone had seen him.  There he was.  Asleep.  And not looking like he had any plans to move anytime soon.  

As we drove away, I felt angry; like I had been stood up.  I was hurt.  Why would he ask to go to church and then not show up?  Why would he choose to use drugs or alcohol the night before, knowing that we’d be coming to take him to church at 10AM?  How can someone be so selfish?  My anger continued to grow throughout the day.  

As much as I wish that Richard had been able to go to church yesterday, to celebrate Easter— God had other plans.  Had Richard been at our meeting spot at 10AM on Sunday, we would have picked him up, given him some food, let him take a shower, brought him to church and then brought him right back to where we got him.  I would have had a really great story to share with everyone and I would have gotten a lot of pats on my back.  I would have felt awesome about myself.  The story might have ended there, or it might not have.  But that’s not how the story went.

Richard didn’t show up.  

Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, death, so that the people He loves have a chance at life.  He laid down all that He had, so that His love could be offered.  Many people never accept that love.  Many people, that Jesus loves dearly (the same people that He died for) never receive the gift that He has offered them.  But that doesn’t mean He will ever stop offering it.  He will keep offering His gift— His life and His love— rejection after rejection; time and time again.   He died so that we’d have the chance at life.  

We aren’t called to create beautiful stories that bring tears to peoples eyes and give us satisfaction of a job well done.  Sure… we celebrate when God moves and we get to see Him transform lives.  Praise God when we get to be a part of that!  But many times- that’s not the way it goes.  Many times we will offer love that isn’t received.  And sometimes we might get stood up.  

But with Christ as our example, we continue to offer, we continue to love and we continue to sacrifice without regret— not so we can feel good about the things we’ve done, but so that there’s a chance that maybe, just maybe, someone will see Jesus.  


To every girl who’s ever lived… ever.

In May of 2012, I was in the midst of a major change in what I thought was my future.  It was also around that time that I read a book that altered the way I would see and approach life forever.  The book is called, Love Does, and it’s written by a man named Bob Goff.  Bob has a fresh perspective on the way we as Christ followers are called to live and shown to love.  Love Does has sold millions of copies and has placed itself on the New York Times best sellers list a number of times.  Inside this New York Times best seller book, is the cell phone number to the author, Mr. Bob Goff.  Well… back in May, I decided it’d be a good idea to get Bob’s perspective on the crisis I was going through.  So, I texted the number listed in the back of the book.  Our conversation went like this:  ”Hey Bob!  I’m kind of going through something.  Would you mind if I emailed you?”  to which he responded, “Of course!  Here’s my email address.”  His response to his email was the most encouraging, profound wisdom I’ve received.  I have it hung on my office wall and read it daily.  I want to share it with every girl (guys, you can read it too) as a reminder that you are worth more than you know.  Do not settle for less than incredible.  Don’t settle for anyone who isn’t willing to fight for you.  You have a Father who is willing and FIGHTS hard for you daily-  He is more than enough.  Rest in his perfect love and when a man comes along that is willing to fight for you and loves you well- you’ll know, because you’ve been loved well all along by the Father.  Here is Bob’s response:

Hi Caitlin,
Thanks so much for your note. Each relationship each of us has is so highly nuanced, it’s impossible to speak with any kind of certainty.  I’m certain of this though - you’ve really given this a lot of thought and you know what’s right.

I’m a guy so my perspective is limited by that.  If I were talking to my daughter though, I’d say that if they guy doesn’t want your relationship bad enough to go after it, then I’d let it go.  You can afford to be picky. 

Even though he’s a terrific guy, you’re even more terrific and my limited experience which has shaped my world view the that guy does whatever it takes to get the girl - anything.  That’s the one you want.

Maybe this is that guy.  If he is, you two are going to figure it out.  If he’s not, he’ll figure it out by not coming after you.

Be not afraid; keep loving people, including this terrific guy, well; and be picky!

Bob


Hope this note encourages you where ever you are.  You are worth more than you know.  Be patient and be picky.  There is someone who is dying to love you well- wait for that one.  It’ll be way worth it.  :-) 


The Gift I Bring

This past year, a few of my friends have given birth to baby boys.  When babies are born, friends and family flock to the hospital to oooh and ahhh over the new little alien lookalike.  So tiny, so delicate.  Moments after the babies birth, the hospital room is filled with flowers and gifts galore-  something special from everyone that loves that little baby.  

He heard a special baby boy was being born.  A King.  But what kind of gift do you bring a King?  Especially when you’re a poor boy, who can’t afford jewels or gold or designer whatevers.  He knew he needed to bring this baby the best he had.  Jesus deserved the most valuable gift this boy could bring.  So he played his drum for the baby.  He played it the best he could. He brought the best he had. 

This Christmas what are you bringing to Jesus?  What is the most valuable thing you’ve got?  What gift is fit for a King?  For me, the most valuable thing I have is my time.  In a day and age when we are always accessible and always on the move, time is precious. Christmas eve and Christmas, my time is Jesus’. That’s the gift I bring.  I will be present with my family and friends by turning my cell phone off and unplugging for a couple days.  Christmas is the time to celebrate with those we love the birth of the Savior of the world. It’s a time to bring our gifts and lay them at His feet, and stand in awe of Him… just like they did on that very first Christmas.

What is it that you’ll bring to the King this Christmas? 


On the 7th Day He Rested

Because I work at a church and Sundays are a workday, Mondays are supposed to be my Sabbath- my day of rest.  God tells us to rest-  and we say “Hang on.  I’m too busy.”  

God created us to function a certain way and to crave certain things.  Rest is one of those things that allows us to function properly.  Without it we become a mess in every facet of life.  The fruit of living in communion with God (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) become dehydrated and no longer full of life and health when we don’t intentionally take time to rest.  

But we’re busy.  I hate sitting still.  I like to have a plan and I like to do stuff.  My roommates know that I like to leave early and I get home late more often then not, because I get stir crazy if I sit at home too long.  But when Jesus tells me to rest and to spend some time simply being with Him,  I brush it off and say “I’m too busy”.  

We fill our lives with so much useless noise.  We all do it.  How many times do I really need to update my facebook status or check the newsfeed?  How many times have you gotten frustrated because nobody had tweeted since the last time you checked?  We create and involve ourselves in drama just to be invested in something emotionally.  Yep.  We’re busy.  But when we realize what’s happening we can see that our choice to be busy is slowing deteriorating and eating away at the proof of knowing Jesus.  Busyness is choking us.  Leaving us tired and weary.  

I read a blog by Don Miller and he suggests 3 things to help us learn to rest.  Maybe tomorrow try these.  I’m going to.  

1.  Moderate your relationship with technology. You will feel freedom when you stop letting technology have control over your life. You will realize that the world will not end if you miss your former college roommate’s Facebook status or are unaware of the trending topics on Twitter. You will encourage others to stop staring at their screens if you practice it around them. Rest awaits!

2.  Practice Silence.  If you’re not careful, your day will pass with every minute filled with noise. Whether you know it or not, there is already a lot of noise in your own heart and mind – oftentimes the radio in the car, television at home or constant buzzing/beeping/chirping of your phone perpetuate a sense of stress. Where you can, choose silence, even if for a few moments in the car to begin with. Quiet your environment and you will begin to feel the quiet in your heart. Don’t be afraid of the silence. Listen for God. He’s there, but we’ve made it such a noisy world that it’s difficult to hear the whisper of the Divine.

3.  Take Walks.  Yes, it’s getting cold outside (hopefully). No, you don’t have time to do it. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes in your day, leave your phone at your desk and step outside for fresh air. Begin walking. You don’t need any destination – in fact, it’s better if you don’t have one. Look around you. Slow down. Breathe. Repeat tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.


Reputation vs. Character

Post from Donmilleris.com  (Donald Miller) 

John Wooden said “Your reputation is who people think you are, your character is who you really are.”

So, what would it look like for us to have great character in 2012 and stop working on our reputation? Who really cares what people think?

I learned this lesson several years ago. I ran into a person who worked endlessly on their reputation but had terrible character. When their character was revealed (which happens in intimacy) they were a complete let down. The truth is, they wouldn’t have been a let down at all if they would have been themselves.

People don’t judge who we are, they judge who we’ve led them to believe we are.The more time and effort we put into making ourselves look great, the longer and harder the fall when the truth comes out. And eventually the truth comes out.

What I took from that relationship was difficult, but it’s something we have to face in our early twenties, usually, and that’s there’s a difference between our reputation and our character. Since then, I’ve decided not to work very hard on my reputation. Or at least I hope that’s true. I air most of my dirty laundry, so nobody will judge me. People only judge those who claim to be better than others, more holy, more righteous more moral. When I’m ethical, I just look good. When somebody who works on their reputation isn’t ethical, they find themselves in social court. Working on our reputation is just a dumb move.

Here are some other reasons to have good character and not worry about our reputations:

1. God rewards character, not reputation. To care about your reputation means you care more about public opinion than the opinion of God. I notice that some of my friends who work endlessly on their reputations never really advance in life, love or their careers. People who work on their reputation “have their reward in full” meaning that God has no interest in rewarding them, but they will get people to be impressed by them and that’s about all they are going to get. This is the essence of “worldliness” even though it is wearing religious clothes. The worldly person gets their pleasure and redemption and religion from the world, a person who knows God doesn’t work for an human audience. Who cares what they think, honestly. Just do the right thing because it’s the right thing and let God reward you.

2. If you present yourself as better than you are, you can’t have intimacy. People who lie about who they really are are socially bankrupt, lonely, and have a string of bad relationships. Why? Because they can’t let people know them. They are too busy trying to win in some kind of “game.” Screw the game. Make friends. Settle for being medium great. You’re heart will thank you.

3. Tell the truth. There’s nothing more healing than living in the truth and presenting yourself as who you really are. It’s easier to sleep at night.

4. When you work on your character, you’re working on the stuff that happens when nobody is looking. This is infinitely more difficult than misleading and deceiving people. But it’s the stuff that really sets you apart. It’s the stuff God rewards.

What would your life look like if you stopped working on your reputation and started working on your character?


three words.

Can’t.

Never.

Won’t. 

So definitive.  So concrete.  So lame.  You want to see a fire come alive?  Say one of those words to me.  Most likely, you’ll be sorry you did. 

I recently had a friend tell me he would “NEVER” watch Never Say Never; the Justin Bieber movie.  I like the Biebs, but I’m no die-hard fan.  I enjoyed the movie, but I’ve seen better. But when my friend said he’d NEVER watch it & NEVER give it a try, a passion for this well-filmed documentary arose inside of me.  The quest to defeat this statement began.  

What is it about these words that build the rage within me?  I think it’s because we’ve cognitively made a decision to close ourselves off to possibilities.  When we claim “I can’t…” or “I’ll never…” or “I won’t…”, we eliminate the possibility of being surprised.  Reduces our ability to grow as a person; Spiritually, mentally and emotionally.  It keeps us in a box from becoming the person we were meant to be.  

I’m not saying that claiming the promise of NEVER watching Never Say Never will do a ton of damage on our growth, but this mindset and this way of reaction becomes a habit.  If we’re not careful, we will only allow ourselves to say “I can”, “I will”, and “I’ll try” to things that we already know and already fit into our mold.  

With illegal activities being the exception, do yourself a favor and next time you have the urge to say one of those three little words “Can’t. Never. Won’t.” give it a try and allow yourself to be surprised.  Some of life’s richest blessings come when you’re least expecting them!  


Crushing Fear

You know those movie scenes where everything goes in slow motion and you can feel it in the pit of your stomach that something bad is about to happen?  Well, that didn’t happen for me.  In fact, it went so fast I didn’t know what had just happened. 

I play softball on a Special Olympics team.  This makes me sound way cooler than I actually am, which is why this is how I start the story.  I’m definitely not a skilled softball player so I’m still trying to figure out why they recruited me to be a partner on their team, but I love it and have a blast every time our team gets together so I’m not going to be the one to argue with their draft pick.  I was a cheerleader growing up.  I played soccer for a while and I like sports, but the only sport I have any real training in is cheerleading.  Throw me on a softball team and things get ridiculous.

I like to run and I have an attention span of ant so I usually try to be put in the outfield because the ball rarely comes out there.  Plus, if you make the big catches you’re the hero of the day. Who doesn’t like to be a hero? 

This particular Saturday practice, I was playing left field.  Some days “playing left field” is translation for “I was picking the daisies in the outfield”.  This was one of those days.  One of the dads went up to bat and I knew he could hit the ball, so I perked up a bit and paid attention.  I even scooted back a bit.  I was ready.  He swings and gets a hit.  A great hit.  Flew all the way to outer space, and then gravity pulled it back to earth.  I was going to catch this ball. I was right there.  I watched it fall.  I had my glove up.  I could hear the crowd going crazy.

As the ball was falling, it aligned perfectly with the sun and got lost somewhere in its rays.  I had no idea where it went but I’m a stubborn sinner and a lover of myself, so that didn’t stop me from my chance of stardom.  I kept my head and arm up ready to make the catch.  Before I knew it, I made the catch… technically.

My face made the catch. 

Actually, my mouth. 

One tooth was completely knocked out, along with part of my jaw bone and my permanent retainer that was attached to 5 other teeth.  Another tooth was broken to the gum line.  My lip was split and immediately swollen to the size of the softball that hit me.  Can we talk about battle wounds? Honestly, at this point I had no idea what to do.  Having missing teeth was a new world for me.  My team was so sweet and concerned- which on this particular team looked a lot like a very upset riot; other than the one player who told me to rinse my mouth out with water and I’d be fine. 

You never know what you would do in a situation like this until it’s you.  I always said I would be the one to freak out and probably pass out from fear and blood or whatever.  These are the moments that I really think God embraces.  We aren’t playing games anymore. This is the real deal.  It’s when you make the statement of what is important to you?  It happened in a split second,  and instantly I heard God say, “I am still here.  You are more than okay.” 

Down two teeth with blood pouring down my face and I had more peace than I had when I went to practice that morning. 

I tried to console my team by letting them take pictures of me for Facebook and made jokes about the new teeth I’d get; hoping for gold ones with dollar signs engraved.  Doctor and dentist appointment after appointment I kept hearing the same thing.  They’d tell me how much of a trooper I was, or how tough I am; how my attitude about losing some teeth is unbelievable.  These were some of my favorite and least favorite comments.  I’m not tough.  I’m weak.  I’m a baby and a whiner. And this is why they were my favorite comments.  I got to get out of the way and be living proof of the joy Christ promises to those who know Him.  My face will probably be as good as new within a few months, but I can be confident that I already have and will always have something far greater than a perfect mouth.  I would choose a few missing teeth and $12,000 worth of dental bills over and over again, if it meant I could know the peace and joy He delivers like I know now. 

We are blessed when we know Christ.  We can ‘be not afraid’ because we have nothing to lose.  Okay, yes, we could lose some teeth, but when that happens you know that His love is better. It might have taken a ball to hit my face at a high speed to get my attention, but I can assure you that every time I brush my teeth from here on out I will hear Him say, “I am still here.  You are more than okay.” And His peace will crush all fear.  


Kalos

Kalos (pronounced kay-loss) is the greek word for beautiful.  But it’s more than what you and I know as beautiful. The greeks had words that the english language can’t perfectly translate and this is one of those words.  Kalos means:  beautiful to look at (this is the beautiful we know), good, genuine, precious, able, as one ought to be, praiseworthy, noble, beautiful by reason of purity of the heart and life, morally good, honorable, comforting and confirming.  

So. Much. More.

As I read through this list of words I notice that this is a list of what we strive for; a list of who we strive to be.  We work hard to achieve this status.  We are wearing ourselves out and driving ourselves and everyone around us CRAZY.  Seriously crazy.  We are letting this list get between us and our relationships.  We let this list tell us that we won’t be good enough- and beauty is unachievable.  

When all along… the beautiful reality is that because we are His, we are kalos.  No need to fight for it, it’s been offered to us through Jesus dying on the cross and the Spirit coming to dwell inside us.  It’s something we can rejoice about and be glad in.  We no longer have to fight for kalos but we can embrace it, allowing glory to be given back to God!  

Here’s why I’m writing all of this.  My heart is breaking.  Girls and women alike, all ages, are sacrificing so much to be ‘beautiful’.  They are believing lies that they cannot be who they are to reach this status.  They are going to extremes because nothing is ever good enough.  We have 10 million women in the U.S. alone who struggle with eating disorders.  Young girls enter into sex trafficking many times because they believe it’s the only way to feel beautiful.  Society has convinced us that beauty is something we work hard to achieve, when Christ tells us that through Him it’s who we already are.  

If a generation of girls knew and believed that they are kalos, imagine the power of that beauty. It would be radical.  What if our eyes drifted from always looking at ourselves and instead sought Jesus leading us towards loving others.  Christ would be glorified and praised!  March 22nd-23rd, 2013 Rebelbase Student Ministries and Faithbridge Student Ministries are partnering together for Kalos Weekend.  Held at the Rebelbase Student Center in The Woodlands, TX- Jr High and High School girls will be told the truth of who they are and they will be given avenues to celebrate their freedom. Our hope and prayer for this weekend is that these young girls will understand that beauty isn’t achieved, it’s theirs to take.  We are praying for radical heart transformations and renewal. 

Please pray with us as the planning continues for this weekend.  If you have any thoughts or ideas please feel free to share.  We’d love for you to hop on board during these exciting times!  


Turn Here.

I like telling the story of my past two months.  Life took a sharp turn… an unexpected sharp left.  After spending the past few days driving a van full of students in a (easy to flip) 15-passenger van, I have come to realize that unexpected turns can be scary.  Unexpected sharp turns can be terrifying.   An unexpected sharp turn was exactly the experience of the past couple months.  Terrifying.  But once you make it through the sharp turn, praises resound.  And what a thrill it was… and story you have!  

God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn:

When you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes, when you avoid sin’s highway, when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse.

For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness.  It is your focus- from dusk to dawn.

Psalm 1:1-2

As you are driving down the road looking for the restaurant you’ve made reservations at, you look over to the left and realize you’re about to pass it.  You make a split second decision and whip the wheel to the left so that you don’t miss the entrance.  Thankfully, no cars are coming.  As your car making that quick turn, you and your passengers can’t help but brace yourselves.  You grab the arm rest, the steering wheel, the door, whatever.   You hold on for dear life.  

When life sets you on an unexpected turn the same thing is in motion.  This thing, whatever it may be, could send you spinning out of control in a million directions.  So we hold tight to the Word of God…  to trust in the promises of our Savior… to focus on and not let your eyes wander from His Love- all day and all night long.  To believe that He will fill you & bless you at every turn He has for you.

When my life took a sudden turn, things that once seemed certain were confused and lost.  My sure future became uncertain.  It was easy to talk bitterly out of anger, listen to people who like to stir up trouble,  make judgments, and sit in my own self-pity.  But that left me hopeless.  And it definitely didn’t leave me happy. 

The good news is that we’ve been called to something greater!  Psalm 1 says that our lives will take turns.  But when these whirlwinds come, refusing the worldly way of dealing with them-  we grab hold to something constant.  When my eyes shifted from studying the problems around me to experiencing God’s love and the purpose He has for me, things changed.  I can be joyful within disappointment, failure and pain because God is at work and sometimes things get messy when the story gets good.  

We can rest easy and be glad today because we are His Beloved.  When we whisper His name, His face lights up & His heart melts- because that’s what love does.  Sometimes the ride gets a little crazy, but that’s when we cling even tighter and His smile gets even brighter.  Instead of fearing the uncertainties of life’s sudden turns we can embrace them and look forward to the direction they’ll lead us… and hopefully, that’s towards His Kingdom!  


creepin.

The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us.  We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor- the one true Son of the Father- evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth.  John 1:14

I’m sitting here at Panera Bread at 8:30 in the morning.  Not because I’m meeting anyone here, or because I had a craving for a Breakfast Power Sandwich (although those are muy bueno).  I need to go to the bank to deposit our rent check, but they don’t open until 9 and I can’t sleep past 7, so here we are.  At Panera Bread.  

When I go in public places I always grab a table that has my back to the wall and I can see the rest of the room from where I’m sitting.  I do it for two reasons.  1) Safety.  I can bolt if I see something shady happening.  Side note: I hate when people sneak up on me.  So don’t do it.   2)  People watching.   Typically when I go to these places, nothing shady ever happens.  So, I end up just sitting, watching, and creating scenarios of who these people are and what their life is like.  (creepily enough- I think someone else is doing it to me right now… so clearly I’m doing a bunch of weird things so their made up story is better).  

As I type, there is what appears to be a newly dating couple having breakfast together.  My fave.  The awkward tension.  The trying to say the right things, laugh the right amount, seem the perfect amount of interested in what the other person is saying, using their table manners.  Trying to be the “perfect” breakfast date. The thing is though, if I were on that date I’d be frustrated.  I wouldn’t think it was perfect because they were trying too dang hard.  But if they weren’t trying, I wouldn’t be happy either because it would seem like they didn’t care.  Maybe I’m too picky and that’s the problem.  But really, I think it’s that we can’t figure out the “perfect balance”.  You shouldn’t have to try super hard to care about the person you’re on a date with.  So I guess we can figure it out- the balance should be to care naturally; but we have a hard time finding the balance and residing there.   

To say that the Son of God was evidenced in Jesus because of his PERFECT BALANCE between grace and truth is huge.  How do you balance grace- ‘unmerited favor’-  and truth- ‘in accordance with fact or reality’?   Until this point, until Jesus, the world didn’t know that the two could exist together.  And PERFECTLY?? Flawlessly.  Never once was there an exception to the rule.  The disciples and people of Jesus’ day saw His grace through His love and His relationships.  They saw truth through His actions and His words.  They identified the undeniable splendor of God through His perfect balance of grace and truth.  

Finding balance is hard.  Balancing time with friends, family, work, alone time, balancing checkbooks, balancing on one foot.  All of these balancing tricks are tricky.  But they are all important players; they are the cause that will have an effect.  The more and more time we spend with Jesus, the more and more we will understand how our lives will reflect His perfect balance of grace and truth.  As we increasingly grow to reflect these things, people will identify Jesus in us and we will be the evidence they need, to know that Jesus is Lord-  and that is a thrilling thought!