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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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.

the miraculous in the mundane

This past weekend I went for a run.  The day was warmer than normal and I needed to get outside, move around and breathe deeply.  The ran started out as normal, with some huffing and puffing, but as I hit my halfway mark something hit me.  I was listening to my current favorite album, “Where His Light Was” by Kristene DiMarco and there is one song called “Could You Be this Good” that resonated in a new way.  The chorus says:

“Could You be this good, 
Could You be this good, 
The way that You forgive me
The way that You hold on to me
Could You be, could You be this good

And it was in that moment, with those words ringing in my ears that I was struck by the miraculous nature of this mundane moment; the miraculous nature of the mundane act of running.

To understand why this one act, running, is so miraculous you have to look back at all of who I have been in the past.  Looking back you would realize that runner has never been a part of my identity.  Broken, self conscious, perfectionist, yes but runner, no.  I have never desired to run and I  have never been able to run; both body and brain stopped me from running.

But thankfully that was the past me, and it is there that the miraculous can be seen.  Over the past three years God has been doing a deep work of healing in my life.  Who I knew myself to be and who I saw myself as has been shattered and God has begun to introduce me to who I really am.  It started with Him healing me spiritually and emotionally but it bled into healing the physical.

And so this past Saturday, while participating in the mundane act of running I was overcome with the miraculous nature of God.  I was hit by a wave of understanding God’s love in setting me free and introducing me to the me He knows and created me to be.  The me who runs (albeit not fast nor very far), who owns athletic apparel, who…. fill in the blank on so many new aspects to my identity in Him.

Last month one of my pastors, in talking about our trip to Niger, said a simple statement that has stuck with me.  I had been sharing how I had felt different in Niger, how it felt as though I really was me and ministry just happened out of my security in Jesus.  She responded that although I may have felt different, to her, I was just being me. 

My prayer for myself and for those who read this is that we would all begin to allow Jesus to introduce us to our real selves. 

Would we allow God to strip away the hurt and anger and brokenness to reveal who we have always been underneath?

 

The uniqueness of His gift

Can you believe that another Christmas has come and gone?  Thankfully all around there are still the lingering effects of Christmas to be seen.  In my house I still have a few presents to mail (whoops), my Christmas tree still stands tall and there are presents waiting to be put away in many rooms.

I love Christmas.  There is something about the possibility of snow, of friends and family surrounding me, and the reminder of God being with me that I can’t help but love.   One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the gifts.  What I love about gifts at Christmas is the time and intentionality behind them.  Personally, I probably love giving gifts more than I love getting them.  I find great joy in spending time thinking of a gift, making or preparing the gift, wrapping it and seeing their face when they open it.  If I see something and it makes me think of you… you will probably receive it as a gift.  To me giving gifts is an extension of my relationship and knowing youGiving gifts is personal, and unique to each person.

This Christmas there are two presents that stand out to me just due to the nature of the gift.  Over the past few years I can tell you each year the specific gift that really hit and impacted me.  This year there were two: a hand crafted nativity set from Niger and a hammock.  As much as the importance was in the gifts themselves, it was more for me about the personal story and background to each gift that touched my heart.

This Christmas at our church we choose to focus on the gift that is Jesus, God’s love to us.  As Pastor Heidi was sharing on the gift of God’s love, she shared that God’s love for us is individual, unique and special for each of person.  Just as God made each of us uniquely in His image, His love for us interacts with each individual in much the se same way.  Much like my love of giving gifts that are specific and unique to the people I hold dear, God’s gifts of love to us are the same.  How Jesus covers us with His love and salvation is unique and specific for each of us; He know us, He sees us, He loves us as we are and His love meets us in ways that covers us and our peculiarities just right!

I’ve been thinking about this for the past three days and I am so thankful for a God who loves me uniquely.  He loves my silly sense of humor and my odd quirks.  He doesn’t just love the uniqueness of who I am, I am a part of who He is and His love for me covers all of who I am.  His love meets, mirrors and covers who I am completely and uniquely.

My prayer this morning for you is that:

  1. You would know that you (and your eccentricities) are a part of the character of God.  You are made in His image… your quirks included!
  2. That God’s love for you is as unique as your personality is.  His love can handle all of you and covers every nook and cranny of who you are.

God’s gift of love in Jesus is for ALL, and yet, He uniquely is gifting you with a love that can meet you just as you are, where you are, and encompasses the vastness of your idiosyncrasies.

Niger: Love goes beyond language.

I just returned from a 10 day mission trip to Niger, Africa.  It was an incredible trip that I believe has changed me.  Over the next few weeks and months I will be working to write out different instances and moments where God opened my eyes in a new way.  May God speak through me as He spoke to me to change your heart as well.


Less than a week ago I was in 100 degree weather with people whose skin pigment was a tad darker than my own.  They didn’t mind my awkward dance moves or my sweaty skin.  Their deep smiles and clammy hands quickly captured my heart.  I was in the midst of men, women and children whose deepest desire was to be known and loved.   And if I’m honest, that too is my deepest desire.

During a mere 10 days, I witnessed God’s love for these people in tangible, miraculous ways.  And as God showed up I experienced a love for these people that went deeper than I thought possible.  I wept as they wept.  I laughed as they laughed.  And as they held my hand they also held my heart. 

There were two moments where I was  struck with the truth that love goes beyond language

The first moment was during our second morning at our women’s conference as we spent time in worship together.  The only instruments were a small drum, a noisy tambourine and twenty something voices lifted in praise together.  And as we sang in French (a language I still don’t understand) there was a tangible expression of joy and love between the women.  We danced and sang and laughed together as we praised God for all He is and has done.  In the midst of a dusty and hot room my heart burst with praise; the thankfulness to God echoed in all our hearts regardless of the language we spoke.

The second moment was on that same day.  Midway through the day as we waited for lunch a few members of our team played with some of the school children outside of the church.  As I joined a circle playing “pass the water bottle” I noticed the little girls starring at me.  Now I’m a blonde haired, blue eyed, glasses wearing lady and so I chalked the starring up to those factors.  As we continued to play the game one little girl standing next to me continued to stare.  After a period of time lunch showed up and we had to go inside to eat.  As we walked to the door the children followed and this little girl grabbed my hand.  Such a simple gesture and to have such trust put in me as a stranger was sobering.  I didn’t speak her native tongue but I did speak a language that went deeper: love.  And so as we waited for the meal to be served I held her hand and loved her.

Love, God’s pure love, is not confined by language.  His love that encompasses joy and peace and praise is a language all its own.  I won’t soon forget these two moments where love spoke louder than any language.  One moment where hearts were one in overwhelming awe of the One who loves us all and another where hearts were connected by simple trust and sweaty hands.

One foot infront of the other.

Tonight I went for a run.  It’s been nearly a month since my last run.  But I did it, I went for the run.  It is a very weird thing for me to sit here and write about running.  You see until about 4 months ago I did anything but run.  Sure occassionally I would have to sprint around at youth group as all the youth boys tried to get me out but run, on my own, without teenage boys chasing me?  Nope that just wasn’t me.

But then something began to stir in me.  Some of it was a realizing that my health, although not spiraling out of control, wasn’t what I wanted it to be.  Some of it was realizing that with more to do I had less energy to give.  I felt as though far too often I was running on empty and filling up on quick pick me ups to just survive the day.  But then there was something else, something else was stirring and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

And so, a few months ago, in my quiet private moments with God I began to shared my frustration.  My frustration over my lack of energy.  My frustration over my lack of movement.  My frustration that I felt confined by my flat feet and the pain they produced.  I cried out that I wanted to want to run.  I not only wanted Him to meet me in my feet but I wanted Him to stir something I had never had before.

And as I shared the something that I couldn’t name and couldn’t quite pin down continued to stir within me.

And then God did something.  Without any prompting God healed my feet.  Then He reminded me of my request to move and to desire to run.  And so I did.  Over the past few months I have made small progress but I do run.

And as I have continued to make the effort, continued to make the choice no matter how long it has been, continued to put one foot infront of the other I haven’t been able to get this thought out of my head:

I am learning how to wait.

The stirring I had been feeling was this desire to remember what it’s like to wait well.  To keep pushing on even when it doesn’t look like anything is changing.  This may seem strange but in a world that is full of instant things I had forgotten how to wait.  

And so, I’m learning how to keep at it… no matter how long it takes or how slow I am.  I’m learning how to give myself grace and to trust the process.  There are so many things in my life that seem to be up in the air; so many things that I’m waiting for God and His promises in, so many things that I want and need to change.  But so many things that I need to not be instant and temporary.

And runnning is teaching me that this all takes time.  What God is doing in me and through me is not instantaneous but it is everlasting.  It takes time but it is worth it.  And so, in my running and in my living, I am putting one foot in front of the other; choosing to do it again and again until I see things change.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize. Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore I do not run aimlessly…”
1 Corinthians 9:24-26

 

When I grow up…

This week at my church is Camp Discovery!  Camp Discovery is a VBS in the style of a day camp.  This year we are learning that we were created by God and built for a purpose!  We are on day three and this morning I heard a story that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about….

Yesterday the Camp Director was sitting with a Jr. leader and a group of girls discussing what they wanted to “be” when they grow up.  As they went around the circle one of the girls responded, “I want to be what God wants me to be.”  The Jr. leader quickly and quietly turned to the Camp Director and responded, “Don’t they know that they are already who God wants them to be?”

From the mouths of babes.

We often ask the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We talk about becoming doctors and lawyers and movie stars and what it takes to be that when we are older.  It shouldn’t suprise us then that we find our identity in what we do and if we do it well.  I see whole generations struggling to find out WHO WE ARE as the reality hit us that our jobs and careers aren’t what we thought they would be.  We don’t know who we are because what we do is so scattered, sporadic and doesn’t always seem to make an impact.

The truth though is that what we do is not who we are.  

I wonder if maybe we should change the question from what do we want to be to what do we want to do?  I wonder if maybe we should focus on an identity, a being that is secure in being LOVED by God, CREATED by God… and then dream into the purposes and doing that He has for us?


What do you want to DO when you grow up as you ARE loved by God?

Who I am.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the idea of who I am.  My identity.  I think many 20 somethings spend time thinking about identity as many of us move from child to student to adult.  Many of us change from sons and daughters, to husbands and wives, and then to fathers and mothers.  Many of us change from students to adults, from colleages to supervisors and from employees to boss.

As I have thought about my own identity in the changes of life I have become convinced that many of us are wrong about our identity.  Many of us view our identity based on what we do.  I am an athlete, an artist, a musician.  I am a handyman, an electrician, an accountant, etc.  What we do in our professions and in our lives dictates who we see ourselves and others as.  The problem with this though is that we struggle to really understand and grasp WHO WE ARE as WHAT WE DO changes.  As I learn more about God I am convinced that WHAT I DO is not my true identity.

You see when I was a child there was something that my dad would say when we were attending a serious event or we were going somewhere without him:

You are a DeWitt, act like a DeWitt.  Act in such a way that is worthy of the DeWitt name.

And luckily for my dad, my sisters and myself would act worthy of the DeWitt name.  We were mature and friendly.  We never caused a scene (that I can remember), we were always helpful and we genuinely enjoyed (most of the time) what life was all about.  We acted as we knew a DeWitt to act.  It was out of our identity as part of the DeWitt family that we behaved a certain way.  Can I share a secret with you… even if we had raised a holy terror, if we had acted NOT like a DeWitt we still would have been DeWitts.  Even if we screamed at every person we met, threw food in people’s faces and tore our clothing we would still have been DeWitts.  Our identity wasn’t dictated by our actions but instead our identity dictated how we would act.

You see regardless of our actions we BELONGED to a family.  Our IDENTITY was not in our ACTIONS but instead in our belonging… our being.  And the same is true in God.  When we accept the Gospel and allow Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our life we move into a new family.  And our new identity begins.  It isn’t that we always automatically act like we belong, but we do.  Our ultimate identity is based solely on being loved from God… and our actions flow from that point.

We are:

John 1:12              Ephesians 1:5              Genesis 1:27              1 Cor 12:27              Jon 3:16

1 Peter 2:9               Galatians 3:27-28               1 John 3:1-2                Romans 8:17

Children of God
Adopted/Chosen by God
No longer Slaves
Men and Woman of God
Heirs to His Promise
Loved of God

And everything else flows from there.


Where does your identity lie?  
Are you trying to act like you belong or are you acting out of belonging?


5 Years.

Yesterday was my 5 year anniversary of living in New England.  5 years.  I just can’t believe it.  I am amazed that:  First, 5 years have somehow flown by so quickly AND that somehow it has only been 5 years that have passed.  Isn’t it weird how that happens.

I have found that as you grow older those two statements ring more and more true.  It feels as though time is racing by, and yet, it feels as though the adventures we experience and the people we come to know, we have always known and experienced.  Simply amazing!

There is a lot that God has done in me and there are more than I could list of things that I have learned over the past 5 years but for kicks and giggles let me list what seem to be the top 5 things I have learned…

5 things for 5 Years

5. That distance doesn’t hinder relationships it only changes the way we relate.  When I moved to California from Washington I was a young 19 year old who had never lived away from home.  I was desperate to relate the same way as I always had and so I called my family EVERY SINGLE day.  I wasn’t ready to let go of the day to day interactions.  I wasn’t sure what it meant to have a life outside of them, I thought that if things weren’t the same then somehow it meant my relationships would be gone.  Fast forward 3 1/2 years when I moved to New England.  I not only was moving away from my family but I was moving away from my friends to a land that was unknown.  What I now know is that GOING and SENDING others means that our love is increased.  We may SEE people and comunicate with them less but it doesn’t make it any less impactful.  When distance limits time and hinders communication it makes (or must make) what contact and time is spent together that much more intentional.

4. Different doesn’t mean bad or wrong, it just means different.
The culture and people in New England are different than both Washington and California.  When I moved to California it felt as though what people did differently was WRONG.  It felt wrong because if they weren’t wrong than it must mean that I WAS wrong.  This feeling was based on a misconception that there was one right way to speak, one right way to love, one right way to meet/be with people.

Over the past 5 years God has begun to show me the beauty that is found in ALL of His people and how intentional He was to create us all to see and love and meet people differently.  As God showed me the purpose He made me with to see differently I was able to see or at least imagine the purpose He had for the different found in others.  Truth is truth but sometimes that very truth can be expressed, seen and experienced differently. Different doesn’t mean bad or wrong, it just means different.

3. Joy is found on the otherside of fear.
I love that recently there have been many Christian worship songs that talk about how God conquers fear.  This is probably due to the fact that for much of my life fear ruled me.  I can see now that fear even ruled my relationship with God: I feared being found out by God or others as being the phony I felt inside.  I knew my sin and struggled to be “good enough” to deserve the gift God had given to me.  When I moved to New England God began to make my face my fear.  He challenged me to make decisions in my life not based on my fears (especially of failure) but instead based on His faithfulness and His love.  1 John 4:18 says “Perfect love cast out all fear…” and God challenged me to trust His perfect love in the face of my fears.  I took a trapeze class, I went skydiving, I allowed Him to shed light on my past and I opened my heart to the possibilities of love.  And through it all I found that joy is found on the otherside of fear; when I allow my trust of God to dictate my decisions I experience freedom.  My only explanation when asked what skydiving feels like is that it is pure joy, there was nothing else but peace and joy.  When we journey with God and choose Him over our fear, we find His perfect peace and joy.

2. My potential has more to do with God than it does me.
Now hear me out for a second… In high school and even in college you could have summed me up in one word: perfectionst.   I felt like I needed to be good enough to make an impact on the world.  I felt this call of God on myself to do something important, something big but I never felt as though I measured up to that call.  And to be honest, that is probably true but I’ve learned in the last 5 years that I don’t have to:

Be good enough
Be wise enough
Be creative enough
Do enough
etc.

I only need to trust God in me and His leading and He will make the rest happen.  My potential has more to do with God and His power in me than it does on what I can do myself.  When I trust in that, impossible things are possible.

And finally, 1. My identity is wrapped up in God’s love.
This has been huge for me. If you haven’t figured it out yet my identity for a very long time was wrapped up in what I could do and the impact that I had.  I saw powerful ministers of God and felt as though what they did impacted who they were.  But now I know the truth, who we are dictates what we do and our impact.  If we want to be the light and love of God to people than our identiy MUST BE found in being loved by God.  Only when we rest in, root ourselves in and identify with God’s love can we in any way give that same love to others.  His love overwhelms me.  A few days ago I wrote this in my journal,

“A different sort of security comes when we see our whole identity as being based in Your love of us.  If we are certain of nothing else we can be certain of being found in your love… Your love is fullness of peace and strength.  Your love will not fail to change, transform, challenge and empower.  Your love is who we are and THAT changes everything.”

When my identity is based in God’s love then I can trust that He will change me.  He will cover me.  He will empower me.  He will… His love never fails and His love drives out fear.  If I am found in His love, if being loved by Him is who I am then nothing can stop me from being His love to the World.

I am in awe of all God has done in the past 5 years.  He has changed me and marked me in incredible ways.  Here’s to many more adventures and years allowing Him to do what only He can do in AND through me.

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