Arms of the Father

Disclaimer: This post is not a commentary or study of a particular section of scripture. 

I am a very visual person.  I picture everything that I hear or read.  It wasn’t until recently that I became aware that not everyone was this way.  I thought that every imagined and pictured things as much as I do.  This happens when I listen to music as well.  The more I can visual a song and become a part of the story being told the more likely I am to enjoy and relate to the song.

Yesterday morning was no different.  I, like many others around the world, was gathered with my church family to celebrate Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus. The very last song we sang in worship was the song “Oh come to the altar” by Elevation Worship.  It’s an invitation for all to come and experience what Jesus accomplished with His death and resurrection.  It’s an invitation to surrender and experience the love of God.

The chorus of the song goes, “Oh come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide, Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.” As we sang those words I pictured the Father with His arms opened wide to me, full of love for me regardless of what I’ve done.

Immediately I thought of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, a story that Jesus tell during his ministry.

Luke 15:11-32 NIV

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he 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.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

It’s funny because most of the time when I’ve read this passage I have focused on who I am in the story and how I act.  I am most definitely the son who throws his inheritance away, unworthy to be called a son BUT who the Father welcome back with arms wide open.

I am also, more often than I would like to admit, like this brother who is filled with anger and jealousy.  I am often like the brother trying to be good enough hoping that maybe the Father would bestow His blessing on me.

But yesterday as I sang, “Oh come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide…” the picture was a tweak to the story.  The picture was of the Father, running towards me with open arms and of Jesus, carrying me in His arms to the Father.

You see, Jesus is the way to the Father’s arms.  God the Father will always make a way for us.  God is always invested in restoring ALL His children back to himself.  His love is large enough to reach us all because of Jesus.

Ephesians 2:13, 17-18 NIV

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ….

17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

My prayer is that you too would be able to share in this picture.  We don’t have to try to figure our way back to God regardless of how bad we have screwed up or don’t deserve it.  If we are willing, Jesus will bring us to the arms of the Father who is anxiously waiting for us to appear.

My prayer is that every person who reads this, regardless of where you are at or what you have done/not done, would surrender to and experience the great love of the Father.  All who are broke, broken, weary, hurting, hopeless… “come to the altar, The Father’s arms are open wide, Forgiveness was bought by the precious blood of Jesus Chris.”

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Brace.

Last Saturday I threw out my back… again. 

I’m slightly embarrassed to even tell people about the incident because their first question is always, “what were you doing?” and I don’t have much of an answer.  I wasn’t gallivanting in exciting places or saving babies from cars… I was minding my own business and then I was immobilized.  One moment I was harmlessly taking down photos from a photo wall (I wasn’t even stretching or squatting to get the photos) and the next I almost couldn’t breath due to the pain.

When people first find out that I threw out my back they are surprised.  “But you are only 29,” they say, “you are still so young.”  I have to then explain that this isn’t the first time I’ve had this issues.  The first two times I threw out my back I was in high school; the first time was the day after I made it into state for golf and the second time was the day after a dance.  Both of those incidents had to do with overwork of my back (excessive swinging of a golf club AND exhaustive dance moves) and at least one instance included a poor choice in shoes.

Except for a car accident a few years ago I have only experienced minor back issues since throwing my back out in high school.  Every incident since has meant that I was bothered by my back maybe a day or two before I was back into the full swing of things.  This time though, I was caught unaware when the pain hit and stayed.  I couldn’t move quickly and most movement sent sharp pains radiating throughout my back.

And I now I own a back brace.

I hate my brace; it really cramps my style.  It’s annoying, confining and constricts my movements.  I have to be intentional with every breath and think about what movement I am going to make.

And in the midst of it all God has been speaking:
slow down. 
give yourself space to heal. 
just be Kaitlin. 

Sometimes it takes being confined for a season to remember your limitations and to give support in the healing.

Recently I have had many conversations with my senior pastor where my response has been, “I don’t like that.”  I don’t like the emotions that are coming to the surface.  I don’t like what is seems God is doing.  I don’t like it all because…

it’s hard,
it’s uncomfortable,
it’s confining and feels limiting.

But even as I type this out I’m reminded of a tree.  I grew up in a fairly agricultural area and so I grew up with an understanding that when a tree is young that it is often supported by cables and braces.

Trees can grow in such a manner that their physical structure may not be able to support the growth, leading to structural failure. All trees can fail, given the right circumstances, even those without a structural deficiency….Cables and bracing rods are simply tools arborists use to add support to a weak structure.

Cabling and Bracing

If I am paying attention, God is often at working and speaking in the midst of my current situations.  There is a lot of things in my life right now, back brace included, that feels hard and uncomfortable, confining and limiting.  But just as a tree sometimes needs physical support, the bracing in my life, those hard, uncomfortable, confining and seemingly limiting items, is intended to bring healing and greater growth.

In my last blog post, It’s okay to not be okay,  I shared a picture God had given me of myself as a tree.  God is still all about that picture in my life and right now He wants to brace me so that He can support me and the growth He intends for me.

My prayer is this: God do whatever it takes to bring about the healing, wholeness and fruit that You have intended for me.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

“Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.”
Psalm 1:1-3

It’s okay to not be okay.

“It’s okay to not be okay.”

Recently I’ve written this phrase in my journal more times than I would like to admit.  It’s almost like a mantra reminding myself that I can fall apart.

It’s okay to not be okay, it’s okay to not be okay, it’s okay to not be okay.

I haven’t been okay lately and I am a bit of a mess.  Okay, really I’m A LOT of a mess right now and it is exactly where I need to be.  For much of my life I have spent too much energy trying to be okay, trying to push through anxiety and fear, trying to not be too much for people and for God.  And over the past few years God has been showing me just how much I haven’t trusted myself, trusted Him and trusted other people with my deep pain.  Now, don’t read that as I have spent years not crying because that is not the truth.  Many would assume by the free way in which tears often escape that I have spent time mourning and feeling.  But the truth is that I would allow myself to cry just enough to get through whatever was going on.  I would feel and cry enough to push past those feelings to something more comfortable.

I wasn’t necessarily running from God or from the hard things, I didn’t even realize there was another way.

But God did.

A few years ago I started on a journey of allowing God to go to some deep places in my life.  There were areas of my life where I saw that there was less fruit than I felt there should be.  And so, I began to ask the Lord what was going on and why those areas were not flourishing with life.  It may seem silly but it just didn’t seem to add up.  I didn’t know what the answer was or what we would find but I wanted to be as whole in Him as possible.

At the very begin of this season God gave me a picture that has helped me press into and through the pain that has shown up.  Over the years there has been a reoccurring and transforming picture God has given me in different season.  The pictures is one of a tree.

Brené Brown (2)Brené Brown (3)

When I first moved to New England the picture was of a sapling.  The sapling had grown to a healthy point within a nursery and was then transferred to a more permanent location where the roots could grow deep and the tree could grown strong and bear fruit.

 

About three years after that initial picture God was beginning a new season and He again gave me a pictures of the tree.  The sapling had been planted and had grown into a strong tree with deep roots.  But in contrast to the strength and deep roots there were specific areas of the tree that were not bearing fruit.  As God showed the tree He revealed a weed that had grown within the trunk of the tree and was starving specific parts of the tree from receiving the needed nutrients to produce fruit.  Where it had seemed as though something was wrong with the trees ability to bear fruit proved to be something else hindering what was natural for the tree.  If the weed had been dealt with earlier the tree may not have been as strong or even have survived but the tree finally at a point of being strong enough to withstand the invasive effort it was going to take to get rid of the weed.

The tree is me and the weed is the brokenness and lies the enemy planted long ago.  God’s promise with the picture was not just a revealing of what was there but the promise that the weed would be fully removed so the tree would have the vitality and fruitfulness that was originally intended.  God has been so faithful to reveal and remove the lies and brokenness that have been a part of my life.  It has been so good and so freeing and so hard.  These have been the hardest few years of my life.  God has begun to bring out everything that I have pushed past; the wounds, lies, thought patterns, experiences, etc. and has asked me to walk through them with Him.

Much like a volcano, just because the pain has been dormant for years doesn’t mean it isn’t waiting to erupt.   The problem with not really dealing with pain and situations fully  is that when they do come out things can be a bit messy.  Jesus isn’t willing to let the pain stay or for it to explode on us/those around us. Jesus has much more for us. 

I have spent much of my life just wanting to survive and willing to let the pain stay dormant but Jesus wants more for me.  Jesus wants me to not just survive but to thrive.  And much like a garden, thriving can only come when we clean out the mess, cultivate the soil, plant and wait upon the harvest.  It’s messy, its hard work and it takes time.

I’m right in the middle of this season and often I’m just not okay.  I’m grieving and I’m feeling and I’m often a mess. There are a lot of scriptures that I could use here but the one that continues to encourage me is the story of Lazarus.  It’s currently one of my favorite stories because it shows that God’s plan is bigger than the pain we find ourselves in but that God is big enough to carry our feelings.

The story of Lazarus is found in John 11: 1-44.  There is so much that could be talked about here and I’ve previously written about this entire story in “When the Promise is Dead” post so I’m not going to write out all I have been holding onto but there are a few things:

  1. Jesus waited.  Before going to Lazarus and healing/raising Him from the dead Jesus waited.  It was because of the waiting that Jesus both met them in their tears and was able to bestow miraculous life back to Lazarus.  Jesus paused in the midst of His mission and mourned alongside Mary and Martha. 
  2. Jesus wept.  My favorite passages is John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”  He didn’t just shed a few tears but He wept and mourned with the people.

If Jesus waited with purpose and paused instead of pushing through to feel, then maybe I can too.  He was purposeful in timing with Lazarus and so He continues to be with me.  He paused and allowed the depth of emotions to be felt and known and so He wants to do the same with me.  But, thankfully, He also wanted to bring miraculous life to Lazarus, and so too will He with me.

I’m not okay…. but I’m realizing that it’s okay to not be okay all of the time.  I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, in the middle of the feelings and pain and the mess.  It’s okay to not be okay as long as “I’m not okay” walking along side Jesus.  I’m not okay, but I know that I will be more than okay… someday.

“Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable.  It means to show up and be seen.  To ask for what you need.  To talk about how you are feeling.  To have the hard conversations.” Brené Brown

Defining Moments.

In our lives there are moments in time that change us and redefine us.  You know those moments I am talking about, where something inside of us changes or clicks and we are never the same again.

In my life I could probably pick out a handful of moments that have changed my life.  Most of those moments I can honestly say have changed me for the better.  They are moments where God showed up, broke me free of lies and released me in new ways to be who He created me to be.  They were defining moments.

As I look back over the past few years I can pinpoint specific prayers, moments with God and words spoken to and over me that have brought me to where I am today.  And as we enter Thanksgiving week I am struck with great thankfulness for the amount of joy, peace, freedom and excitement I feel in both my life and my ministry.  And as I have been communicating this thankfulness to God, I have been contemplating the moments that brought me to today.  Although I could write about a vast number of defining moments today I would like to focus on just two…

Over four years ago, in the months leading up to the launch of #faithfellowshipyouth, we went to camp.  I knew that after returning from camp we would be announcing the launch of youth group in the fall but the youth did not.  I had experienced many years of struggle at camp but this year was different.  My struggle came from knowing that God had called me to those youth and yet feeling so inadequate for the job.  I wrestled and I struggled feeling inadequate.  There was voices in my head telling me to give up.  But thankfully I knew as I struggled that I didn’t have to hide or do this on my own.  I didn’t have to struggle alone.  In the middle of camp, after a leaders meeting I pulled my pastor aside, shared my struggle and asked for prayer.

There are not many prayers that I remember as vividly as this prayer.  She didn’t condemn me or make fun of me.  She spoke truth into the lies and prayed simply for the lies to be broken, for me to be set free and for the truth of who God saw me to be to be made real to me.  As I write this there are tears in my eyes because every word she prayed over me has come true.  In that moment, as she simply prayed, something in began to change.  That defining moment, that prayer, pushed me into a path that has lead me to experience more freedom and security in God than I ever thought possible.

The second defining moment is married to the first.  Two months after we started youth group and four months after that prayer I stood in front of our district receiving my ordination certificate.  Not many know the internal struggle that came with my ordination.  The months leading up to ordination was full of doubt and unease.  I struggled with becoming ordained because ordination was supposed to be a confirmation of the call on your life due to fruitful ministryAlthough I was confident in God’s calling in my life, I could not see fruit in my ministry.  My first youth group never grew to more than maybe 6 consistent youth and I was only there for about 2 years.  And my second youth group was only two months old.  Where was the fruit that called for ordination?

As I wrestled and prayed about ordination there was a sense of peace to trust the sight of those in leadership over me instead of my own broken and fractured sight.  I am so thankful for pastors and leaders who didn’t allow my own image of myself and my abilities to hinder God’s plans.  There is something to be said of confirmation in what God has called you to do and to be.  Standing before a district, supported by leaders far brighter and wiser than myself, I began to see myself as God did.  I was by no means perfect and by no means was this the peak of my ministry, but it was a needed confirmation that I was exactly who God wanted me to be and where He had been calling me to be.  And in that defining moment I learned to trust God’s call even when my eyes could not see.

There are other defining moments both before and since that I could share.  There are even moments yet to come that will change me for the better.  But as I look back over the past four years, these two moments were pivotal in bringing me to this very moment in time.  These defining moments ushered me into a new journey in healing and strength and trust that I had yet to experience.  And as I sit here today, I eagerly await the defining moments that have yet to come, that will take me beyond what I can imagine my journey to be.

May you also be aware of the defining moments from before and that will come beyond, where God will change you for the better.

Expecting without Expectation.

Expecting without expectation… or in other words, not allowing your expectation of God’s ability/willingness to move to come with a prescription of how that will happen.

If you had talked to me a few weeks ago I would have thought, maybe not said, that I had learned this lesson.  Been there, done that.  Had God blow all my expectations out of the water.  Been overcome by His provision, His care, His blessing, His desire to give me more.

The reality is that although I had let go of many expectations on the practical side, I had been expecting with expectation in different ways.

A year ago God spoke to me about wanting me to live abundantly, that He was going to bring me to a place where I didn’t have to settle for less in life.  I’ve talked about it before here and then again in a different way here.  I’m not talking prosperity gospel but I’m talking about how God as my provider isn’t bound by small measures.  He ultimately knows my needs even better than I know them myself, but I should never feel bound to only either having “just enough” or praying small prayers.  He is Father God, and Father God doesn’t want to just give us the bare bones, He wants to lavish us in His love.

The thing is, when He spoke that to me, I believe it.  And for the past year I’ve clung to His Word and waited for the promise.

And waited.

And waited.

Meanwhile, attempting not to fret under the weight of finances, relationship, etc.  I trusted God and knew He would show up, but…

But I expected Him to show up in crazy, out of left field ways.  Why?  Because I knew it would be something He did and not me.  i knew it was going to be something outside of my control, not dependent on how hard I worked or how many jobs I took on.

Here’s the thing though…In believing it had to be in a crazy, out of left field way, I placed God in a box.  I expected with expectation.  The box I put Him in made me not share the burden with others.  The box I put Him in limited who I knew Him to be.

And then my box was blown up.  It started with one honest, vulnerable conversation.  Which turned into two and then three.  And God did the crazy impossible, through a very real and ordinary place.  He used people already in my life to show up and change my circumstances.  He used a piece of my every day life to bless me beyond compare.

He didn’t have to make something magically appear, but instead He took the little I had and multiplied it.

How often in scripture did God use the ordinary, the seemingly mundane to do the miraculous, the impossible.

Water into Wine.

Loaves and Fish.

Dirt.

In my life, He did the same and revealed to me a box I put Him into and the areas of my life those boxes are birthed out of.  He is still working on those areas and challenging me to believe Him for more, whatever that may look like.  And through it all He is challenging me to be willing to be vulnerable with people in a new area; others may just be a part of Him doing the impossible in my life.


What areas of your life are you expecting with expectations and where could God be asking for you to expect with open hands?

More than a Coincidence…

Tonight I was looking through my drafts for blog posts and stumbled upon this draft that has to be nearly two years old.  I added a bit but wanted to finish what I had already started.

Sometimes in life we can get so caught up in the moving from place to place and people to people that we see life through the lens of coincidence.  As we go about living we come across situations and people and think that it is by some coincidence that in that moment these things have happened.
co·in·ci·dence: kōˈinsədəns
Noun meaning “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.”
But can I believe honest with myself, and with you, the truth is that when I stop to rest for a moment, when I allow myself to hear God speaking, I know these are anything but coincidences.  They are encounters – face to face meetings where the Truth and Presence of God can be made evident.  My dad growing up called these divine encounters, they are moments in life that if we choose to risk, God’s love and power and presence can be made known.
I’ve always believed this, but there are moments where it is more real than others.  Over the past week I have had two of these encounters.  Two encounters that easily in the moment could have been seen as “right place, right time” but when pondered upon, can only be explained through God’s love.
One encounter was in a Target parking lot.  A moment where two complete strangers embraced with teary eyes and one faithful individual was ministered to from another.
The other, and the one that prompted this post, was through a phone call.
Two mornings ago, while I was on a call with my boss, I received a phone call from an unknown phone call.  Normally I don’t call back numbers that I don’t know unless they leave a message but this phone call seemed different.  The number was from the town I had grown up with and there was something within me that prompted me to call them back.
Once off my call with my boss I called the number back and was sent to voicemail.  I didn’t recognize the name or voice but left a voicemail just in case.  A few minutes later I received a call back.  Long story short, the woman on the other end didn’t recognize calling my number but what could have been a short conversation opened into something more as we talked about family on both sides, foster care and then ministry.  As the call was coming to a close there was something that prompted me to ask if I could pray with her.

I don’t remember what was said as we prayed but I remember being amazed a small thing like a wrong number would lead to a moment of ministry.  There are moments that we chalk up to coincidence that God intends to be moments where His presence is made real through His people. Don’t be too quick to count something as an accident, pause and wait for God, it may be in that moment that someone’s prayers are answered.

 

6 years.

6 years ago a young 22 year old moved 3,000+ miles.
I can’t even believe that it has been 6 years since I moved East. 6 years, wow. These past 6 years have been harder, more fulfilling, and more filled with people and growth and opportunities than I ever thought possible.  These past 6 years has been chock full of adventures, both big and small, where God poured His love over me. These past 6 years was full of many firsts, a handful of lasts, the spectacular and the seemingly mundane.
In the last 6 years I have fallen deeply in love with the people and places and history of New England. I think about the individuals who I call my friends and family on the East Coast and I am overwhelmed by God’s love to me evidenced in each of them.
There are men and women who have covered me in motherly and fatherly roles. They have walked me through firsts and lasts and helped me to not run away from both my past and my future.
Then there are those my age (give or take a few years) who I have been learning to do ministry and life with.  Many of you I have watched trust God in finding your spouse and getting married.  I’ve learned from you that God is faithful in every season and I can be safe to love you both uniquely in your marriages. We have experienced figuring out and following God’s leading in church and jobs and home.
Over the past 6 years I have learned a new thankfulness as I have learned how safe I can be with the people God has given to me.
And then there are the young leaders who I am still in awe I get to spend time with whether it is weekly at church, through social media or at camps. I still have a hard time believing how much God loves me in you. I didn’t fully understand the joy of watching someone grab hold of your Word, or hear your voice for the first time until I met you. You challenge and inspire me more than I could have ever known.  Knowing you has deepened my understanding of God’s love for me. And I have learned that although I am not a mother yet, I can be a part of the village who is raising you and mother you as you grow.
In the last 6 years..
I have learned to not let fear define my path.
I have learned that every day holds adventure; some little and some big, we just have to be bold enough to grab it.
I have learned that we are always in process, and that is okay, as long as Jesus is in that process.
I have learned that real, deep ministry happens when we show up, love deep and then get out of God’s way.
I have learned that whatever situation seems dire today or in this season, it will pass and things will get better.
I have learned that often my feelings of failure are based on my expectations not God’s requirements from me.
I have learned that I am exactly who God has made me to be. In all my fullness and muchness. I need only be me and I can trust Him to do and be who only He can be.
I have learned that this is just the beginning. 6 years is just the start of all He has for me. I am so excited for this adventure to continue as I continue to experience just how wide and deep God’s love truly is.
And so New England, Happy Anniversary!  Here is to the days to come where I will continue to get to know both myself and you in a more true and deep way.  Here is to the adventures that have yet to be dreamed up.
<3
(See some snapshots of the past 6 years below!)

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The Most Authentic Me

On Saturday I had the honor and joy of being able to share my heart with a handful of Youth Leaders/Pastor and volunteers at a NextGen training; the whole day was incredible!  As I drove home that day I couldn’t help but feeling as though I had experienced deja vu, there was something in my experience on Saturday that seemed familiar.  And this morning God reminded me…

Skydiving.  About 3.5 years ago, on a sunny day in June I went skydiving.  I read all the FAQs, carefully chose my outfit and headed out the door.  There are experiences in our lives that change our lives forever and skydiving was one for me.  Skydiving for me was my first experience of joy without fear.  As I was free falling towards earth there was only room for freedom and joy.

Niger.  Niger was another adventure that changed my life forever because of the people I met, the things I saw and the God that I encountered.  But my life was also changed because I found myself ministering and living out of a deeper trust in God and security in myself.  Although I wasn’t free falling to earth this time, my time in Niger was filled with freedom and joy.

And this Saturday as I drove home it was as though I was reminiscing of these two adventures.  Saturday was filled with a sense of freedom, security and joy.  Driving home I realized that in those three instances I had been the most authentic version of myself: passionate, vision-filled, secure, free, joyful, but mostly, confidently reliant on God.

These are just the start as I continue journey living more of my life as the most authentic version of myself.  Today though, I celebrate and hold dear these adventures where God invites me to encounter the real me.

Have you had moments where you could say that you were the most authentic version of yourself?

Have you experienced times where all you knew was freedom and joy?

Concrete Impressions

In my last post the miraculous in the mundane I shared about how last weekend I went for a run and God showed up in some pretty awesome ways.  What I didn’t share in that post is that due to God’s revelation I was crying so hard that I had to stop running.  The crying was happy crying but as I can barely run when breathing regularly I didn’t attempt to try to run while crying.

Since I only ran halfway I decided to take a longer route walking home.  And while I was walking I passed a corner of the sidewalk that had recently been recast.  In the new concrete you could see some impressions of footprints. It appears that before the concrete was fully set people began to travel across it.  I chuckled to myself as I passed and kept walking.

But I couldn’t get those foot impressions out of my head. 

You see, the night before at youth group, we had a few salvations.  And every week when we have salvations I am in awe of God’s goodness and frustrated with what seems to be a disconnect between the number of salvations and the number of youth being discipled we have.  I desire to see youth not just meet Jesus but choose to come and follow Him as well.  And so I have been contemplating and discussing with God if we are missing something, if I am missing something.  I want to be obedient to the call that God has given and adjust and submit to what needs to be changed.

As I walked past these concrete impressions this wrestling came to mind with a memory.  A memory from 19 year old Kaitlin.

When I was 19 years old and at college my parents were discussing allowing a youth from our youth group live with them for a while.  He was 17 soon to be 18 and he needed a covering.  As they were discussing the idea they wanted my sisters and I to pray about it as it would affect us as well.

And so one night while at college I was spending time with the Lord and praying about this decision.  I still remember where I was at: behind the classrooms, sitting on the concrete sidewalk with my legs dangling off over the alley way.  As I was praying for this specific situation I began to pray for others who needed to be loved and fostered.  I prayed for those who needed healthy and loving boundaries, who needed to experience the love of the Father from earthly parents.  As I prayed in tears God quietly asked me this question, “Do you want this?  Do you want to be this person to those who need it?  Do you want to foster?  If you want to, you can.

God’s question ignited a passion in my heart and I quickly said yes.  But as I began to pray my yes became very specific.  I prayed:

  • that God would bring me those who were unable to be adopted.
  • that God would bring me those who would end up back with their parents.
  • for those who may get stuck in the system and never find a forever home.
  • that I would love on those kids with His love so that no matter how long they were with me, when they left they would always have that experience of God’s love to call back to mind.
  • for kids that needed to know they were loved by God and that they could have relationship with their parents.

And as only God could do, He linked for me that memory, with our discussions with those concrete impressions.  You see although I hadn’t realized it, I’m fostering.  Many of the youth that we encounter in some way or another need to be fostered.  They need to be loved on and cared for, if even just for one night.  Just like the concrete impressions I saw on the sidewalk, we to are leaving impressions of God’s love on each of their hearts.  In the days to come, whether soon or far away, they will always have that encounter and that decision to come back to.

And so I pray, for the impressions that have already been made, that it would often come to mind. 

I pray for new and fresh and unrelenting experiences of God’s love in their lives that draws them back to His impression on their heart. 

I pray for the impressions that have yet to begin, may we never shy away from sharing His reckless love with them trusting that it imprints even if we don’t see the evidence.

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