The One He Wants.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

At some point, I think most of us have felt scarred by disappointment, we wonder if anyone would ever choose us. With gaps that make us feel like candidates for rejection, we hope no one will notice our empty places. Sometimes, it seems the only way we’ll get chosen is if all the good ones are picked first. 1 Peter 2:9 reminds that through Christ we are chosen.

God sent His Son to light our darkness and fill the gaps in our hearts. He wants us to hear Him declaring with all His heart, “You are the one I want!”

I love knowing that through everything, God chose me! We have all been through situations that have scarred our hearts and made us feel inferior or inadequate. It has been nine years since I called off my engagement and it took me a long time to realize that my worth was still the same. For a long time I thought that my value decreased because of my circumstances, but they haven’t.

My circumstances actually made me stronger, just like each experience you go through can make you stronger. We often allow our situations to make us feel worthless, and to take away part of who we are. The situations become who we think we are, and we fear moving forward. Women tend to fear loneliness, and because of that, they feel inferior to others. I was at this point once before, but what is truly amazing is that when we are willing to surrender everything before God, He gives us that peace that transcends those unnecessary emotions.

For years after calling off my engagement I was scared that the only option left for me was to wait until all the “good ones” were picked and then decide from there. But that thought could not be farther from the truth. When we can fully grasp that God is in control and loves us unconditionally, we are able to see our TRUE value.We are not created to wait and see what is left over. He created us with the most perfect plan in mind. We are not the extras in the movie of our lives, we are the lead! Yes, we sometimes allow ourselves to fall into the background because we feel we are too damaged. When we have that mindset, we are only selling ourselves short and decreasing our value in ourselves. God sees us as being a treasure; He would never want us to see ourselves as being worthless.

When Peter talks about God choosing us, he is reminding us that through it all, bad and good, God chose us! No situation is too much for Him to handle. And when we allow God to wrap His arms around us, that feeling of loneliness disappears.

We all struggle with fears, whether we are willing to recognize them or not. I have learned over the years that I cannot let those fears control my life. I had allowed fear to control me for so many years, so I can tell you that nothing good comes from being fearful. When we are willing to recognize what scares us and completely surrender that to the One who loves us, He is willing to comfort our hearts and remind us of our true value.

Our value cannot lie in our circumstances or who we ‘think’ we are- it needs to rest in God and who He created us to be. God loves us, values us, protects us, cherishes us, and guides us- we just need to be willing to listen to Him instead of our circumstances. When times get hard, and you are scared of what lies ahead, remember that you are the one that God wants. He will never make you feel inadequate.

People will judge your behaviors without even looking at what trials you have been through that make you who you are. In today’s world, people are too quick to judge and so often we allow those judgments to define who we are. But our identity is in Christ alone! This world has nothing to offer except jealousy, greed, pride, and loneliness. God is willing to show us unconditional love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. So compare the two…there is NO comparison. God is the only option if you want to be truly happy and content in who you are! The world may not choose us, but God does.

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remembering who you are.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

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“you’re prettier in pictures than you are in person”

Those nine words would define me for the an entire decade.

On a blind date in college, those words attached to me like a sticky name tag. One that I chose to wear for years. “Hello, my name is Cait, I am not pretty enough.”

For years, whenever I thought about my body or my looks, I flashed back to those ugly words. I sadly believed those words to my inner core- that I was not pretty in person- and that ultimately I was not yet pretty enough.

So lets fast forward ten years…the women’s ministry at my church started reading a book called ‘Fervent’ by Priscilla Shirer. One of the chapters is titled “Your Identity: Remembering Who You Are”. I knew it was going to be a tough chapter, but lets just say- I didn’t make it through any page of that chapter without sobbing (I resorted back to my ugly cry). Anyway, as I was soaking in the chapter- the words spoken to me all those years ago came rushing to the forefront of my mind. And there I was- listening to those words on repeat in my mind and feeling completely defeated and insecure.

I immediately put the book down, not wanting to read one more word, and without even thinking about it I began dwelling on those nine words- were those words true? still? was that why at thirty-one I was still single? was I still not pretty enough?

With a reluctant heart I picked the book back up and continued reading- even though I knew it would just be easier to keep the book closed, turn on some Netflix, and not deal with this emotional, spiritual battle.

I had allowed those words from a stranger, who I would never speak to again, to have tremendous power over my life. And coming face-to-face with the enemy on the battlefield did not seem like something I was ready to fight on a Monday night. But it was then that Ephesians 6:11 came to mind, “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil”. And so I decided to suit up.

I had allowed the enemy to devalue my strength for YEARS, to magnify my insecurities until they completely dominated how I saw myself, disabling and disarming me from being who God created me to be, and living in the truth that in Christ I am enough.

And the enemy wanted me to live in a state of defeat. My defenses down. My resolve weak. Surrendering to an army of insecurities instead of courageously thriving in the sophisticated security of my identity in Christ. But no longer. Not me. Not ever.

Friends, you are so valuable and so loved. Those things that you count as weaknesses and flaws, those things that the enemy is hell-bent on accentuating are not more powerful than the strength you have in Christ. Don’t allow painful words from your past, insecurities, lies from the enemy, or past hurts to have any power in your life. It will only leave you feeling handicapped (trust me, I know this WAYY to well). You are loved by God, endowed with His Spirit, you are His, and in Him you are ENOUGH.

Ezekiel 16:10-13 “I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head...You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.”

LOVE THAT!!! We are exceedingly beautiful and we advanced to royalty!!

 

Finding the Friendships You Deserve.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17b-18)
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Last month, I was feeling so insecure and discouraged about friendships. I ended up calling one of my best friends in tears, feeling so vulnerable and in need of advice.

I had been feeling like as soon as I would get close to a friend, we would grow apart. Or that they would find other, cooler, more fun friends and suddenly vibes were weird.  I honestly couldn’t figure out if something was wrong with me or if I did something to screw up friendships. I’d look online and see pictures of cliques and feel even more isolated. I would hang out with friends and watch groups of girls taking selfies, but usually would be the one taking the photo. It would hurt, it would make me feel insecure, and discouraged.

There have been times in my life that I would try to bend and contort myself in whatever way I could just to fit into a group. But no matter how many times I tried to bend and contort, it never really seemed to work.

Friends, if you are struggling to feel like you belong or if you’re having trouble with friendships, I just want to encourage you.  God did not design you the way He did just for you to bend and contort His design to fit into some group or clique it wasn’t designed to be a part of. And you’re not weird or strange and there’s nothing wrong with you if you grow apart from women you have cared about for awhile.

Because you know what? All things are redeemable. And at the end of the day, God delivers who you need, right when you need them, to stand by your side. Some of the girls I honestly thought would be life-long friends (maybe even in my wedding one day) have been some of the friendships that drifted apart. Some of the girls I thought I would grow apart from years ago are the same girls that have invited me to be a part of their special wedding day. And often, those  friendships that continue to build and last throughout the years are not friendships you can fake. They’re disorganized and crazy and a little bit messy — but they’re real. They take time to build.

I think, sometimes, we avoid friendships that require much of us because we are afraid of the risk. When we’ve been hurt or walked all over, we begin to close up and control our environments. I mean, who wants to be hurt again? Trust me, there’s wisdom in guarding our hearts, but that doesn’t mean we have to live in isolation. Though isolating can be tempting to do when friendships haven’t gone our way in the past, there’s a problem with that logic. The truth is, the greatest satisfaction comes from the greatest sacrifice.

Although I haven’t solved the friendship puzzle, I do know that REAL friendships can empower us and bring out the best of who we are.  Real friends won’t judge you for your messy hair days, they encourage you, challenge you, make you better, push you closer to Jesus, support your dreams, they love you through the hard times, and they pray for you. Life is so much better, and easier, and certainly more fun when we walk through it together. I am so grateful for authentic friendships. For raw, real, tough but gentle love.

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Life Lesson Learned While Playing With Play-Doh.

Yes, I learned a life lesson while playing with play-doh. Here is what I learned:

First, play-doh is extremely entertaining to children. It can keep them occupied for hours.

Secondly, it can seriously get stuck all up in your nails for days.

And thirdly, I need to be more like play-doh.

I get the honor of babysitting my best friends son while she is busy making brides look stunning on their wedding days. Recently while I was babysitting, her son asked if we could play with play-doh together. I was super excited, like kid in a candy store excited. I always loved playing with play-doh as a kid, so of course I wanted to play.  It was while I was attempting to make different creations out of play-doh for him, I was overcome by emotion. Side note: I definitely failed at making them look anything like what he wanted. However, I realized that just as he was asking me to mold things for a purpose, God desperately wants to mold His children and shape them for His purpose.

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I was reminded of Isaiah 64:8.  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand”. 

I   L O V E   T H A T !

Play-doh is very similar to clay.  Both can be molded, shaped, and both can dry out.

I once took a pottery class where I learned all the ins and outs of making pottery. I’m not going to lie, I’m extremely uncoordinated, so my experience was an epic fail at the beginning. I definitely knew why becoming a potter and making pottery was not my calling; nor was making cars and tractors out of play-doh for a two year old.

The instructor of this class had to teach me how to handle the clay. He told me there were two important things to remember, that I needed to keep the clay wet during the process and that I needed to keep the clay centered on  the wheel. If the clay is not centered on the wheel, it will eventually tear apart before I would even have time to finish the process. And it’s only when the clay has enough water and is centered on the wheel that the molding process can begin.

If we want God to mold and shape our lives, then we need to be in His Word daily so that we can become shapeable and not dry out. And we need to be properly centered in Jesus Christ before God will be able to start molding and shaping us.

When we try to live our lives in our own strength, away from Christs leading, and not centered on Him- our lives will eventually fall apart. Just as the clay would if not centered on that wheel.

We all have experienced lives ups and downs at one point or another. We are going to feel pressure, especially when being shaped. Think about the clay, it definitely feels the weight of the potters hands when they are adding pressure to make the desired shape. Think about the play-doh, you have to apply pressure in order to create the shape you desire. Now think about your life, it is through life’s trials that God is able to stretch you and shape you.

God is able to mold us, transform us, and sanctify us when we are open to His will for our lives.And He will mold us and make us the vessel of honor that He desires for us to be. “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work2 Timothy 2:20-21.

Just as the clay (or in my case play-doh) needs to fully trust the creator, we need to fully trust in our Maker.

PS…I love how God can speak to our spirits in the most simplest of moments. It was in playing with the play-doh that He reminded me of His greatness, His power, and His love for me. Look for God throughout the day- He is there!

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Winning My Battle With Instagram.

I spent a lot of this weekend doing something I know I shouldn’t have—something I know I hate, something I know makes me feel small every single time. Yes, I spent most of this weekend scrolling through my Instagram, hitting refresh again and again, trolling other people’s profiles, and wondering why the heck so many more people follow them than follow me. While this is so humbling to admit, it’s extremely disgusting as well. I’d much rather pretend I’m above this kind of behavior–that I never succumb to the temptation to compare.

But I do, and I did, and I spent the majority of the weekend feeling rather small as a result—all of the things I don’t have at the front of my mind, center stage. Have you ever found yourself doing this? I’m betting I am not alone in this.

It’s easy to compare our lives on Instagram. A big part of it is that it’s all about the numbers. Just like our weight or our pant size, there’s this number at the top of each of our pages, and hearts on our photos that say how many people like us, how many people care what is going on in our lives, how many people want to see what we have to share.

Sometimes this number sits there peacefully, allowing us to be us, and not taunting us with the fact that we should be more. But other times, it begins to whine—softly at first, but louder the more we listen to it. The longer we look at the number, the smaller we feel too, the more significant that small number feels and the more insignificant all of our other dazzling attributes become.So what if I’m a good friend, or a good writer, or a good counselor? She has more Instagram followers, nothing else matters.

It’s ridiculous, but if we’re honest, I think most of us have felt this way—our worth and our likability dictated to us by tiny numbers on our touch-screen.

I’m mad that I let myself feel this way—that I let my mind get small and narrow like that. I’m mad I spent my weekend feeling so small, that all of my accomplishments, relationships, and who I am as a person faded into the background because of an insignificant little number and how it measured up to the number of other women I admire.

I would love to tell you that I got over it, or that I found some sort of magic Jesus cure that made me feel better, but I’d be lying. I found a way to feel better, a way to win the battle, but I know comparison is a war we’ll wage as long as there are people who are better than us at things—or in other words, forever.

So instead of ignoring it, or feeling defeated under the weight of the war comparison wages against us, I started reminding myself of what I have, the amazing people I have in my life, and that I am special. I spent this morning thanking God for the people I love, and reminding myself of how much they mean to me and I know I mean to them. I started reminding myself of what I’m good at, and thanking God for how He’s blessed me and skilled me. And I started reminding myself that I’m still growing—that I’m in process, that I’m not finished.

And slowly but surely, the number at the top of my profile started to fade into the background of my life again, back to where it belongs. I’m sure it’ll pop out again when I’m feeling small, or in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. But I’ll do the same thing I did this last time. I’ll take the truth of who I am, and why I matter, and stab at comparison until he goes away—exposed as the little jerk that he is. Comparison may always try to sneak into our minds and our lives, but we don’t have to let him win.

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Releasing A Dream I Clung To So Tightly.

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD”.      Psalm 112:7

I didn’t release my dream for my life over days or even weeks. It was a long journey. I was terrified that if I truly surrendered it to God, that He would make sure it didn’t happen, just because He could. I was certain that letting it go would be the nail in the coffin, as they say. I believed that He wanted to take this away from me as a punishment for wanting it so badly.

What He began to show me is that I truly didn’t know Him. If I did, I wouldn’t doubt Him or His ways so much. I had a very warped sense of who He was.

So I started searching everything I could find about the attributes of God. Books. Sermons. The Bible. Friends. Anything and everything that could possibly help me to better understand  God I wanted to dig into deeper and deeper. I will be honest and tell you that I really struggled, especially when it came to learning about the characteristics of God. For example, I understood  that God was unchanging, but to me He seemed so different between the Old Testament and New Testament. I was terrified of the God I read about in the Old Testament and yet infatuated with the God I read about in the New Testament. This took me on the journey of how, why, when…It took me on a journey of chasing Jesus. I read and prayed, and prayed and read.

I was determined to understand God to the best of my ability. And the more I grew in understanding God and His character, the more I felt like I wasn’t losing a dream. I felt like I was gaining an understanding and a path that was truth.I realized- I wasn’t losing anything, I was replacing my longing with contentment. I was gaining an eternal perspective. I was standing in the center of His will (which is right where I wanted to be).

I wouldn’t have started the journey of discovering who God was, if He hadn’t prompted me to give up my dream. I wouldn’t have know this unshakeable, unchangeable, full, rich, complete, perfect love of my Savior. Simply put, I wouldn’t have been an active participant in my relationship with God. I would have been a bystander, with His love, mercy, grace, conviction, power, authority, and Spirit swirling around me, but never being a part of me. This journey is why I know who God is. It is why I trust Him.

God wasn’t asking me to give up my dream to hurt me, but to fill me up with more of Him. I never want to take His love for granted again. I want my passion for Him to ignite in my heart.

I promise, God will blow your mind with who He is.

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Ladies, Don’t Get Lost In His Mixed Messages.

There was a time when I spent months waiting, and wondering, and hoping for a relationship to move to forward, I spent so much time trying to figure out what the heck his mixed messages were trying to tell me, and hoping beyond hope for a happy ending.

There were so many questions that seemed to replay over and over in my mind:

  • If he doesn’t like me, why would he flirt with me so much?
  • If he does like me, then why no commitment?
  • I’ve prayed over and over again, “God, if we’re not supposed to be together, take away my feelings for him.” But God hasn’t. Is that supposed to be telling me something?
  • If this isn’t supposed to happen, then why do so many of our friends tell me how perfect we are together?

I felt like a detective, I was piecing together all these different clues. It all felt so complicated, and so entirely uncertain. I looked at relationships around me wondering how the heck they made it happen. I wondered how they figured out the whole puzzle to such a stunning result.

 I decided to ask my close friends about their relationships and how their husbands pursued them. I wanted more insight. They told me how they each started talking in the beginning of their relationships, how their husbands were friendly and kind, how they pursued them. They told me the different stories about how they became ‘official’ (yes, we are even talking Facebook official). It was so simple! Their husbands met them, got to know them, liked them, pursued them, asked them out. My friends didn’t have to make it happen, or pin down their husbands, or decode what they were thinking, because they told them. Plain and simple!

After listening to their wonderful stories and talking through my track record with these amazing ladies, I decided that I needed to change some things up, because clearly my way wasn’t working for me. I made a decision that I wouldn’t give my heart away again until it was truly asked for. I realized the importance of Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” and allowing a man to pursue me correctly. And until a man told me how he felt, showed me how he felt, and made a commitment to me, I decided that mixed messages just weren’t enough anymore.

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Everyone’s story is different. But in every story, if the relationship is going to happen, there’s a point when the man has to make his intentions clear,  when he has to make a commitment and follow through with it. And until that point, we can’t give our hearts away.

Now, this is hard because we are such lovers. We have such huge hearts. We want to love and care for and connect with people. And I love this about us. But if we aren’t careful, this gets us in trouble. It lands us in positions where we’re fully invested when we maybe shouldn’t be, hurting, and feeling powerless as we wait for him to make the next move.

I know y’all have all the hope in the world that this guy is going to get it together, realize what he has, and run to you like he absolutely should. And maybe he will. But here’s the deal, until that happens, until he comes to you telling you how much he likes you and asking you to be his girlfriend (committed, exclusive, and public)- he has no business being in your heart.

He cannot have you (or your heart) until he is willing to pursue you and commit to you, in the way you deserve. And so that’s what I hope you hold out for because that’s what it should take to catch an amazing woman like you.

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