Why do we wait ’til it’s too late to love big?

I should have written this weeks ago, or even months ago.

Why do we wait until someone is dead or dying to tell them what they really mean to us?

My dear friend Caleb Atnip has been battling colon cancer for almost two years, and last week, I got the worst message I could have gotten.

His family said he only had a few days left to live.

I said, “No,” over and over again at least 10 times followed by, “I don’t want him to die.”

I cried thousands of tears while my fiance comforted me. My heart hurt for Caleb and for another dear friend of mine, his wife, Savannah.

caleb

My fiance (my Caleb) and I went to see them at the hospital immediately the next morning. I had all these things planned out that I wanted to say. I wanted him to know that his love and friendship meant the world to me, that I was so thankful that he was always my cheerleader and always on my team, that he saw the best in me in a world that likes to tear people down, and that he and his wife are such an example of a God-centered marriage. I wanted him to know how strong and courageous and faith-filled he was and how deeply and unconditionally I loved him like a brother.

But, instead, we talked like normal, laughing and joking around, and when we went to leave, I grabbed his hand and simply said, “Caleb, I love you so much, and I just want you to know that you are one of my favorite people in the world.”

He looked me dead in the eye over his oxygen mask and nodded his head. I knew he heard me and I knew he understand.

I have beat myself up a million times about not saying more. I wish I could’ve talked to him for hours about how wonderful he is. A few months ago, I showed his wife my wedding dress and offered to show him, but he said, “No, I’ll wait until the big day.”

I never got to show him my dress, but I know he will have a much better view of it that day.

The preacher at his funeral said it best when he said, “Don’t have regrets about what you should have said or done because he lived the very best life and was very happy.”

But it made me think. Why don’t we tell each other how we really feel while things are going right? Why do we wait until a crisis to love? Why don’t we just love every single person like they’re dying?

That’s how Caleb loved people. He poured out love and faith in God even when he was dying. He had joy even through his pain. He had empathy for others when he was going through the worst possible scenario. He loved his wife every second of every day, and continued to put her first until his final breath.

He just wanted people to love people and to love Jesus. And he was ok with dying if that meant that his story would save lives.

His wife slept in a hospital cot by his side every single night. I rarely saw her cry. I rarely saw her sad. Even when they would get bad updates, she would have a smile on and would outwardly trust God.

At his funeral, when the final song came on, she was the first to stand up, lift her hands high, and worship her God – make sure you catch that – a woman who had just lost her high school sweetheart of 10 years, her new husband, and the love of her life all at age 25 lifted her hands to thank and praise God for all He has done and will do. THAT is faith. THAT is love. THAT is humility.

There are people we meet who make us better. Caleb and Savannah are those people – the kind of selfless people that don’t make you feel bad, ever. They make me feel loved and enough yet push me to be better and love bigger and do more all at the same time – that’s a God-gift.

Caleb’s dad hugged me and told me that Caleb talked about me and bragged about me all the time. When I worked as a news reporter, he watched me from the hospital every morning.

I said to my Caleb and my mom, “He just thought I was way more awesome than I even am,” and they said, “No, he saw the best in you. He saw what God sees in you. He saw that in everyone.”

Throughout my life, I have always cared too much what people think and have let negative thoughts and words from others totally crush me. With Caleb, I never worried what he thought because I knew how much he loved me.

Caleb was the second person I had to say goodbye to on the last day of their life. My beloved professor Dr. Nelson was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, and I had to sit and hold his hand and tell him how much I loved him in one short sentence, too. I prayed I’d never have to do it again, but I’m glad, in a way, that I had to. It changed me and made me even better – and this time, it hit me that I HAD to start loving people bigger and telling them how incredible they are on any and every random day for no reason whatsoever.

Both Caleb and Dr. Nelson were people who lifted me higher than I could ever lift myself and loved me the way I know God loves me, so it hurt me deeply to lose both of them and didn’t seem fair at all.

I said to my Caleb, “The whole time he has been sick, I prayed and just KNEW he would be healed. I knew he would live.”

My Caleb said words that I know God gave him: “He is healed – just not how we thought he would be healed, but God’s ways are so much higher than ours.”

I said, “Why do we have cancer? Why did man have to sin? Sometimes it makes no sense,” to which he said,”If we didn’t have sin, we’d have nothing to compare grace to.”

Those words and that conversation are exactly what Caleb Atnip his story of fight and faith to initiate.

Luckily, Caleb’s powerful story lives on through his legacy, through his family, through his friends, and, mostly, his awe-inducing, powerful, strong, breathtaking wife.

This is a post from his Facebook page on Jan. 9:

I haven’t made an update in a while and today I make one that is definitely not easy to say. We have decided to stop chemotherapy and any other treatment for the cancer. According to my oncologist with the way my cancer has progressed and the way my body is slowly starting to get worse they think I’ve only got about 3 months left to live so I want to protect what quality of life I might have left by not torturing myself with any painful and sickening treatments. Even though this isn’t the news or results we had hoped for me and Savannah are going to be ok. I am confident in where I’m going if I die and I know Savannah will be taken care of here if I do. I am thankful for the life I have lived, the friends I’ve made and the memories I have. More than that I am thankful for Jesus creating a way for me to go to heaven. While I am not excited about leaving my wife, family and friends I am so excited to see my savior and experience heaven in all its glory. We know God is still capable of miracles and He could decide to keep me around for much longer but we do want to be prepared in case the worst does happen. Thank you all for supporting me and praying for me through this journey. I wanna say that if cancer does take my life it does not mean that I lost my fight to cancer. I am simply being called home so that I no longer have to deal with the pain and suffering of this world. Thanks again and please be understanding if I’m not able to answer every call, text, or message during this crazy time.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. My Fatherʼs house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14:1‭-‬3 NIV

He wasn’t scared because he knew where he was going, and he just wanted everyone else to know that, too.

A firefighter, a friend, a husband, a brother, a son, a hero, Caleb Atnip changed the world and will keep changing it without even having to be here physically.

As I watched his mom, who is battling breast cancer, take care of her dying son hours before his death, I saw Jesus. I saw one servant caring for another servant and it was a visual of Christ’s love and his plan for the world. I saw Jesus in her and I saw Jesus in him at the same time in that moment. And I saw where he learned to be such a servant.

To be able to paint a picture of service and love at a time when it would be acceptable for you to break down is moving and powerful and a testament to the strength the entire family finds in Jesus.

His wife, his mom, his dad, his brothers, his in-laws, his best friend – I could continue to list people that were in Caleb’s circle and they are all exceptionally incredible people and I can’t help but think Caleb and Jesus both have a lot to do with that.

The preacher had us thank God for Caleb at the funeral and that made it all make sense – we thanked God for a gift we didn’t deserve just like we thank him for the grace we don’t deserve. All of the best things He gives us are things we did nothing to earn, and Caleb was no exception.

Now, we will continue to live in thankfulness for lives like Caleb’s by living out our own God-story and holding on to faith until the end just like he did.

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We Have To Get It Together

Not every day is the same in life, even if we do the same things we always do – and that’s something that makes life really cool.

The main thing that makes life really cool, for me, at least, is people. People I know, people I’ve never met, people I observe… just people.

Even cooler than that – God uses people to teach us things and tell us things, and I so love that about Him.

Today, after I finished up some work, I headed to a local coffee shop to meet up with a friend who reached out.

I met Chloe last summer when I worked as a news reporter and she interned at the Space and Rocket Center. She moved to Boston for a job and we kept up via Facebook likes and Instagram comments. I watched her life on a screen and she watched mine.

I was actually kind of shocked when she said she’d be in town and asked me to get coffee – shocked but very honored that she’d choose to spend some of her time with me.

She got me a coffee and we started chatting. We talked for about an hour about jobs, relationships, God, and life in general. Toward the end of conversation, she mentioned that she was looking for a strong church in Boston and that’s what she wanted to ask me about it. It was so refreshing to know that she had reached out seeking godly advice, not because it made me feel good, but because that’s what we do – God leads us to His Word and He leads us to His people when we need advice.

There are times when we are the seeker and times when we are the giver, and it all comes full circle.

She gleaned some things from me, and I gleaned some things from her.

While we were talking about our struggles, we both found common ground on comparison and covetousness, whether it’s clothes, jobs, weddings, shoes, trips.. Whatever. I mentioned that I was working on writing some stuff about collaboration over competition and just doing this thing together instead of racing, and what she said really hit me:

“I know it’s not a race or a contest, but sometimes I still feel like I’m losing.”

I still feel like I’m losing.

Even though we know, and we can say out loud, that life is not a race, we can still feel like we are losing when we aren’t in the same season as someone else. We feel like our Chapter 1 should be just like someone else’s Chapter 3, but none of us are living the same book from the same shelf.

When we feel like we are losing, we have to remember we are already winning because we are on the winning side.

Today, I didn’t feel like I was losing because by admitting our weaknesses to each other, Chloe and I made each other stronger and took another step toward togetherness instead of tearing down.

I told you before, sometimes you’re the seeker and sometimes you’re the giver and sometimes you don’t know which one you will be or when you will be it.

Moments after Chloe left and I continued to work, the woman at the table next to me helped me reach the outlet for my computer charger, which led to a long conversation and a new friendship in which I went from “giver” to “seeker” and got advice that I didn’t even know I needed from a perfect stranger.

Nicole had left Detroit and was on what she called a “nomadic journey” that began at a Ukranian church in Saskatchewan, Canada and led her to visit old friends in Huntsville, Alabama. During her last full day in the Rocket City, Nicole was encouraged to visit the very coffee shop I would visit that day.

I think I told her my life story (naturally) and she shared parts of hers. I told her that I was currently writing about “being a fiancé” and the lessons and emotions that come along with it. When I revealed my book title to her, a huge smile spread across her face as she laughed and said, “I love that because I’ve never been married and I’d still read it and because I used to design wedding dresses.”

I told her the entire story I like to call “The Tale of Two Wedding Dresses,” and showed her the dress I’d wear on my big day. She then told me about how she went from being an engineer of dresses to an engineer of more technologically advanced products – but she assured me that both were equally intricate and important.

Her words about dreams I had for books and website were answered prayers – I have asked God for clarity and He used her to deliver that clarity.

We became fast friends, exchanged contact information, and she went on her way to her next adventure: Asheville, North Carolina, but not without my recommendation to eat at Biscuit Head and get the fried chicken gravy.

Some of her best advice was to make sure I get a Mexican latte from Satellite Coffee in Albuquerque, New Mexico if I ever visit – which I absolutely have to now.

As she talked about her travels, I was immediately envious that she had seen so much of the world that I desired to see, but, for once, the envy went away as quickly as it came and I realized that I was on my own adventure right where I was, in my own season and my own chapter. Maybe my travels would be writing and marriage and family and faith and people while hers would be exploring the world and herself – but both of us would continue to connect like we had with others that we meet along our journeys, and that’s really what it’s all about.

I had a day packed full of inspiration, wisdom, and fellowship in one room, right in the middle of the city I lived in with people on different paths than me, and we all learned from each other and alongside each other without the slightest glimpse of comparison.

We’ll all get there. We’ll all get there together.

I Realized Marriage Is Not For Me

It’s funny how something meant to be so beautiful and pure can turn into something so stressful and chaotic.

I’ve always known I wanted to get married, but I honestly never thought about my wedding. I rarely looked on Pinterest and never dreamed of a dress – I was honestly more concerned with who would love me for the rest of forever – that sounds very cheesy, and it is, but it’s also very true.

After college, I was totally and completely single for almost two years, and it was amazing. During those two years, I did not think about an engagement ring or a wedding dress one single time.

When I met my now almost husband, we knew pretty quickly that we would probably get married – still didn’t look at rings or venues or dresses or flowers or dream honeymoon locations. I promise it did not cross my mind because I was so consumed with the fact that God had given me EXACTLY who I prayed for and I was having a lot of fun loving and being loved.

Time passed and I knew he would propose soon. So the ring discussion had to happen.

My Nana passed away when I was little and left a diamond for me, so I picked the setting I wanted and that was that. That was my ring, and it was special because of the center of it and because we picked it out together. He went to have the ring designed and I didn’t make a big deal about it – I loved the ring he proposed with and never found it on Pinterest or Instagram. Guess what? It didn’t matter either way – I was more excited that HE was the one who gave me the ring, no matter what kind.

After the proposal obviously comes the planning, and that’s where things got chaotic.

Since I had never thought about what I wanted, I didn’t know what I wanted…

I am very indecisive in every day life, so you can imagine that I might be even worse when it comes to what everyone says is “the most important day of your life.” What everyone gets wrong is why it’s the most important day of your life – It’s not because of the decorations or the dress – it’s because you are committing to forever with a person you are vowing to serve and honor and love for the duration of said forever.

In the beginning, I was very laid back and didn’t get too stressed about anything. But fear not, the stress came. Long story short, I got TWO different wedding dresses. I won’t go into detail, but the second one is stunning and “my dress” and I can’t wait for him to see my walk down the aisle in it. But that’s when the stress and obsession all started.

Our wedding started becoming more and more about decorations and food and music and dresses and what people would think than the reason we were having it in the first place. That’s the problem with marriage these days – they start off with a big proposal, social media posts, pictures, big parties, and a lot of comparison instead of focusing on the relationship being celebrated people who matter there celebrating.

Please don’t misunderstand me – there is absolutely nothing wrong with a nice, big, beautiful wedding with all the “fixings.” There IS, however, something wrong with being way too fixed on all the “fixings.”

Brides allow stress to creep in when we start focusing on all the material aspects of the wedding. Then, we start comparing our wedding to all the other girls’ weddings around us. We compare our showers, our photos, our rings, our venues, our dresses… you get the picture. We start questioning all the things we picked out because we think it won’t be good enough compared to “her wedding.” Comparison will always be the thief of joy, especially when it comes to something like a wedding.

News flash: Marriage isn’t for you anyway. It’s not for me. It’s not for anybody. It’s seriously for God and His glory and His grander plan.

My fiance, Caleb, and I recently attended a marriage conference that really focused on the fact that marriage was designed by God to unite people who work together for Him and raise up generations who continue that work. The enemy works to divide what God has united, and a major way he does that is with marriage. Caleb and I have also learned that the enemy uses weddings to attack the marriage before it ever begins.

It has been so evident that the enemy has been hardcore attacking our marriage because he is so scared of what we can do for God individually and as a team. He has been sneaking into every little crevice he can find and causing stress and arguments that don’t even make sense just to try to turn us against each other.

But he never wins. He never will. God brought us together for a reason and when we focus on Him, the reason becomes clearer and clearer.

My fiance is so calm and so grounded and brings me back to earth when I go spinning out of control. He asked me, “Why has this wedding become more about the decorations and less about us and why do you think the enemy is attacking it so much?”

It made me stop and think about why I was freaking out over invitations and centerpieces and flowers instead of looking at the incredible man right in front of me. And it hit me that satan is using all of the little details to stress me out so that I won’t appreciate the love God gave me through Caleb and use it to glorify Him.

The marriage conference we went to through Church of the Highlands with speaker Jimmy Evans hit a re-set button for us and reminded us the power of marriage and how special it is that we found our “compatible opposites” to spend our lives with, forever growing and forever learning. The things Jimmy Evans set sparked something that allowed us to really share how we were feeling, so I told Caleb that I felt like everything I did for the wedding wasn’t going to be “good enough,” which pretty much reflected how I feel when I backslide and forget my purpose and my identity in Christ.

The enemy cowered away as I shed light on my insecurities, confessed them to my partner and best friend, and used our relationship for what God intended it to be. And he cowered even more as Caleb began to tell me the kindest things about me I had ever heard and will probably ever hear this side of Heaven from a human. I was silent for the majority of the car ride, which is hard to believe if you know me. I sat and listened as he told me how he really, really felt about me, and why I was absolutely “good enough.”

I won’t tell all the things he said to me as I sobbed because I respect him and the fact that some words should stay between us, but he did start by saying:

“Do you know why I’m so quiet a lot of times when we’re in crowds? It’s not because I don’t want to talk… it’s because I’m watching you and I’m in awe. You love people the way God created us to love and it is an absolute gift from Him that you can light up a room just by walking in. You change the entire atmosphere of a room just by being there and talking to people the way you talk to them.”

I tell you this not to make myself sound “cool” because Caleb thinks I’m way cooler than I am. I share this little excerpt to let you know that I have never ever thought those things about myself but I always hoped and prayed I would find someone who would love me in a way to see the best in me, even if no one else, including myself, did. And that moment, that tear-filled car ride showed me more than ever before that I had found the one meant for my soul – not for my wedding pictures or my couple’s showers or my Instagram posts or my honeymoon plans but for the deepest needs of my soul woven together by a creative God.

The silly details about the wedding that I had been so worried about no longer seemed to matter. It was a relief to feel that my marriage wasn’t for me – it wasn’t for us – it was for a much higher purpose. It was for glory. It was for God.

Someone told us a few months ago, shortly after we got engaged, that we would do great work for God’s Kingdom with a ministry as a couple and that younger people would look to us for advice. I have no idea what he meant or how that will come to fruition, but I have no doubt that it will as long as we remember that our marriage is not for us.

No wedding, no marriage, and no relationship, no matter how sweet, funny, adorable, and kind the person may be is greater than our God and His love for us. We have to know that and live that. We have to use all those great things I just mentioned to remember God and His overflowing love and show Him our thanks.

Please remember, no matter the season you’re in, your wedding IS good enough, your job IS good enough, your house IS good enough, your hair IS good enough, you ARE good enough. Everyone is walking out their own story and there isn’t another like yours. Don’t focus on all the details and decorations and miss out on the celebration of what really is important – it’s more than likely staring you right in the face.

For His glory,

Kaitlin

Another New Month Attempt at ‘Starting Fresh’

Does anyone else ever plan to wake up expectantly on the first day of the new month? I like to think of it as a mini new year every time that “1” comes around on the calendar.

I went to sleep on Jan. 30 planning to do just that – wake up expectantly and have a really great month with less stress and more progress toward goals, big and small. But, in true Kaitlin-fashion, I woke up a little late on Feb. 1 with all my lights on, my makeup from yesterday still on, and clothes piled up on my bed and my floor (they were clean at least – do I get credit for that?)

Once I had showered and actually woken up to reality, it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest as my to-do list started running, no, sprinting, through my head and piling up. I laughed out loud remembering all I had to do today from actual work for my job to the dozens of other errands to simple tasks like replying to emails, registering for events, placing orders for wedding decor, signing paperwork for a loan to own a house… I’m not telling you this list so you will pity me – I’m telling you so you will know you are not alone with your list, whether it’s full of small things or just one big thing.

Lists can overwhelm and the enemy can creep into that list if you let him OR you can invite God into the mundane (shout out to Christy Nockels and her “Glorious in the Mundane” podcast).

The funny thing about lists is that they grow without you adding to them sometimes. I had a lunch meeting at 12 that ended up moving itself to 12:45 since I spent an hour multitasking work with phone calls to the mortgage company and the credit card company because they couldn’t find the account I had opened – turns out they had all my information wrong, and it took me the majority of the day to get it worked out.

I could have gotten frustrated, and I did a few times, but I was determined that today’s busy day was not going to get the best of me like so many do. I was determined to focus on the glorious in the middle of the mundane and thank God for all the good instead of focusing on the chaos.

I noticed the attacks the enemy tried to fire on me – he sent me on a rabbit hole on social media to try to make me feel bad and even dug up things from months ago to try to make me feel bad, but I audibly said, “No, not today,” and he gave up.

He always does give up, and God never does. Remember that.

So, my day 1 of February was not ideal or perfect in any way. I didn’t wake up with fresh flowers in a vase (the flowers in my vase are dead), or make coffee or have my quiet time like I intended to, but God’s mercies are new every single day, which means that if he grants me another day on this earth, I’ll have another shot at starting fresh. If He doesn’t, that means I will be called home and REALLY get to start fresh.

Friends, if you are trying so hard to get your life “together” and things just keep seeming to get in your way of doing that, please don’t give up. Stop focusing on getting it “together” and aiming for perfect and just aim for present (another shout out – Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – amazing read).

I heard a great message tonight and he said, “Maybe your 2017 didn’t start off like you’d planned.” I know mine didn’t. I made a short list of reachable resolutions and I honestly haven’t made much progress on any of them – but I have taken baby steps in some areas, and that does count for something. And whatever baby steps you are taking count, too.

We are not perfect – only God is, so we do not have to walk around pretending we have everything under control when we really don’t.

Our to-do lists don’t always have to be completed and the boxes don’t always have to be checked – if we live thinking they do, we will drive ourselves insane.

So, my February 1 was hectic and messy and busy and there are still clothes piled up on my bed, but I am breathing, I have amazing people to love, and I had the freedom to worship my Jesus with hundreds of other Christians at a church that feels like home tonight, so I’d say overall, it was a pretty great start to another month.. and maybe another chapter.

Keep your head up. We’ve got this. Together.

Forward,

Kaitlin

Sitting In Satan’s Chair

It’s no new discovery that Satan uses things meant for beauty to totally wreck us, and there’s no doubt he tries to use relationships and marriage as weapons.

I’ve always heard that engagements and wedding planning can be one of the hardest seasons to walk through, especially as a young couple. I honestly didn’t believe them because the first half of my engagement to my fiance was absolutely free from stress or drama. Then, the second half hit.

Things got real when we entered the year 2017, which is the year we are getting married. Our church begins the year with 21 days of prayer and fasting, and one of my main topics of personal prayer has been wedding planning and our relationship.

During 21 Days, which I will be writing about in my next post, the first week was very uplifting and very insightful when it came to purchasing our house, the second week was full of attacks from the enemy, and the third week has been a “full circle” kind of week where things are coming together and God is bringing me back and steering my focus (my one word for the year).

Buying a house, preparing for a wedding, maintaining our relationship… those are all very stressful ordeals if you let them be – and I let them be. I started focusing on very worldly, materialistic things. I wanted the perfect house in the perfect location and the perfect wedding with the most perfect flowers and food and decorations and songs and guests… and God said, “Hi Kaitlin. Yeah. Remember me? I AM perfect. You are not. And nothing else is either.”

When we compare our lives, any part, to anyone else, they will always fall short in some way. And I was comparing every single part of my life to every part of everyone else’s life while my fiance watched, feeling totally defeated and believing the lie that I was helping the enemy tell – that he wasn’t enough and that he wasn’t giving me what I needed or wanted. I didn’t even know I was helping the enemy until I saw it in Caleb’s eyes while I was complaining. I was allowing the enemy to use what should be such a beautiful, joyful, exciting time in our lives to steal, kill, and destroy and sliver of joy we could have possibly had.

We would talk about our wedding – I would talk about all my worries about the cosmetic aspects. We would talk about our house, our house that we prayed over for so long, our house God clearly led us to – I would question the location and talk about where other people were living and question whether or not we should have gotten it. We would talk about getting married and how exciting it would be – I would bring up our finances or talk about how we would have to adapt to living with each other forever or talk about exactly how I wanted to decorate and how I was stressed out about decorating the perfect home. WHAT!!!

I took a step back, saw what I was doing, and then I just wept. God has sent me this wonderful, beautiful man who loves me exactly how I begged God for a man to love me, and all I could do to him was worry him that I was unhappy because of MATERIAL things that will fade away. Thank GOODNESS God gives me grace and mercy because I was being absolutely ridiculous.

Someone told me the other day, “The most important thing is the food and the alcohol and the DJ. You want people to enjoy their food and have fun. People will always remember the food and the party.”

I absolutely disagree. The most important thing about a wedding day is the vows two people are making to God and to each other. The most important thing is that the ceremony glorifies God. The most important thing is that people leave feeling filled up by The Spirit and that they are inspired by the love and commitment of two people sold out for Jesus and sold out for each other.

I know I will have that. I know God sent me a man who loves Him and loves me and will continue to work for The Kingdom for the rest of forever with me right beside him, running along encouraging him and being encouraged. That is love and that is beautiful and that is a DREAM wedding.

My dress and my venue and my food and flowers and coffee bar and DJ will all be adorable and beautiful and fun, but even if they aren’t, He is still good, and we will still be married. We will still begin our lives together that day and promise to always uphold our end of the deal. People we love will still be there loving us and praying us on.

As for our home – it doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of downtown or the middle of nowhere, I want our home to be a place of rest for us and for anyone who enters. One of my favorite people’s houses is my favorite because I can feel Jesus when I walk in. I don’t care what it looks like or where it is, I care about the peace I walk in and out with. My parents’ house is my favorite because of the memories that have been made and because the kitchen smells like my mom and I have a reading chair and my dad’s spot looks and smells like him. It doesn’t matter that it’s outside the city limits. It matters that it’s a resting place for them, for me, for everyone.

My life has never been perfect and never will be, but it has been and always will be beautiful because of the goodness God pulls out of the mess. What Satan means for harm in our lives, God means for good and for glory.

Satan can try all day to sneak in where I’m weak and turn my head to look at what others have and what I “could” have and what I think life should look like and caring about materialistic things and make me believe that what everyone else thinks is what matters, but God swoops in and turns my head up to Him so I can see what matters and why I matter.

Satan uses what we are most focused on during certain seasons and what we are trying to accomplish to totally blur our focus. It’s like when you were little and you would ask someone to spin you in an office chair and then you would get up to walk and not know where you were, and then you would fall down. Well, we aren’t asking him to spin us, but he’s spinning us so hard and so fast and we are trying to stand up and walk while we are dizzy and confused. So, get in a different chair. God’s chair doesn’t spin. His chair is like my favorite reading chair in my mom’s kitchen. It’s still and cozy and warm and brings you back home, where you are meant to be.

Planning a wedding, buying a house, having a baby, finding a husband, starting a job, quitting a job… all of these things can be so exciting and/or so stressful and can most definitely consume us and give Satan and huge entryway to come in and spin us around. He just loves to find crafty ways to detour us from God’s creative plan.

But the good news is that God already won and always wins, and that means we do, too. That means our marriages do, too. That means our weddings do, too. That means our careers do, too. That means every detail of our lives do, too.

So, get out of that spinning chair Satan is trying to put you in and crawl up in God’s cozy, floral reading chair, relax, and find joy, not anxiety, out of the things of beauty in your life.

From my cozy chair to yours,

Kaitlin

Wait, There’s More…

I feel like Jesus’s favorite thing to say to us is, “Wait, there’s more.” But we don’t always wait, so we get the “less.”

I’ve honestly been dying to write this all day, but He kept saying, “Wait, there’s more.” And boy was there.

It may not seem like much to you and it was really just a normal day with a few unusual events, but a bigger and bigger picture continued to be painted for me from sun up to sun down and I knew it all meant something for someone, even if only me.

My fiancé and I are in the midst of house hunting, and we have come very close to buying two different houses.

We put an offer on a house we both loved a few weeks ago. And so did someone else…one day before we did.

I was devastated and I cried and THEN I went to God’s word (which should’ve been first). My devotional talked all about how we expect and ask and want so much from God and how we can be takers instead of givers and I took the slap to the face and realized that house wasn’t meant for me and something better was waiting. My, “Wait, there’s more” moment.

Fast forward to another round of house hunting where Caleb and I looked at two houses then found “our house” accidentally a few doors down, hours after it had been placed on the market. We were sure it was our house… kind of. We agreed to put in an offer, but I didn’t feel as excited as I should have, unbeknownst to anyone but me and God.

The sellers countered and rejected our offer several times before Caleb asked if I really was excited about the house. He could sense my discomfort with it all. I said, “No I’m not… but I don’t know why.” He asked if I had prayed about it and when I nodded, he said, “Well that’s why. Let’s not get the house.”

I so badly just wanted to want the house and offer more money and have it right when I wanted it, but God was telling me to wait. There was nothing wrong with the house at all other than the fact that God did not want us there.

As I was in prayer the next morning, I specifically praised God for discernment in trivial things like house hunting to prepare us for bigger trials we would face when we would desperately need discernment.

So, I thought the house we were going to look at that afternoon would be the one. And it wasn’t. It was in bad shape, Caleb and I got into a fight about the whole process, and I was just feeling so defeated about the entire process. And that’s when I knew the enemy and grabbed onto what was important to us at the time, finding our first house, and used it to tear us apart.

I fought back. I prayed more. And I kept hearing God say, “Wait, there’s more.”

But, like the stubborn, indecisive child of His that I am, I wavered on the decision to walk away from the previous offer completely.

Maybe we should just offer more money. Maybe that’s the one. Maybe I don’t really have the discernment I thought I did…

That afternoon after tears and fighting and questioning and pleading for answers from God, I randomly walked into a nail salon that I’ve never been to – this is a huge factor of the story because I NEVER cheat on my usual nail spot, Spring Nails (plug for them).

I was emotionally drained and just needed a little pick-me-up. An older woman sat down beside me to get her nails done, and in true Kaitlin-fashion, I told her everything – all my worries and cares.

When I told her about the house, she said, “Walk away.”

She told me not to buy it and that there was something better.

We became fast friends, exchanged numbers, and she told me she always prays before coming into town from her house on her farm that she will meet someone of substance and have a meaningful conversation.

I teared up as she said, “You were the answer to my prayers today.” And I quickly replied, “Well, you were the answer to mine.”

It’s like I had been waiting for an answer all day and expected God to bless me just because I had been in constant prayer. My mentor said when she does that, God always says, “Well, I thought you were praying to simply seek me, not for something in return.”

WOW. Yep. I really was praying to seek Him, but I was expecting Him to answer all my questions and meet all my needs on MY time instead of His.

And His answer was consistently, “Wait, there’s more.”

He even wove the phrase in with my desire to write this post. I kept opening my computer to write it throughout the day, and He kept saying, “Just please wait. There’s more to the story.”

If I would have written it before, I never would have told the part about how the house I thought would solve our previous problems turned out horribly or how the lady at the nail salon was a vessel for God’s message.

When we try to rush and do it our way, in our timing, we miss the best part!!!! He wants us to wait for more because He KNOWS the more is better than the now.

Your more is better than your now. Please know that.

Caleb told me a story about a very interesting man he met on a fishing trip that said if he ever had his own fishing show, his catch phrase would be, “Wait, there’s more” to keep the viewer interested.

That’s totally God’s catch phrase. He wants to keep us interested. He wants to keep us chasing after Him so that we will remember we always need Him and He always has our best interest in mind.

If you get nothing else out of this, take the word “wait” with you and hide it away. Patience and waiting is never a bad thing because when God is telling you there’s more, there is abundantly more.

As for us, even if we end up in a smaller house with “less” by the world’s standards, I know that home will be blessed and we will always have more than we deserve.

Yours in the journey,

Kaitlin

XOXO

To The Girl Who Lost Her Boyfriend

I met a girl a few days ago five minutes after her boyfriend died.

He had been fighting for his life in the hospital for more than a year after he was shot in the head.

I knew them both because we have a mutual best friend. I had been following their journey through her and watching in awe at his recovery and the way God was using their testimonies.

My friend told me she had been visiting them at the hospital a lot because he wasn’t doing well, but they prayed and believed for a supernatural healing – and so did I.

But on the morning of Dec. 15, I woke up with God telling me I had to go visit my friend that day.

I work in Florence, AL a few days a week where he was currently in the hospital, and that day happened to one of my days to drive there.

I kind of forgot what God had told me that morning (how often do we just forget his nudges) and went on about my day until my friend texted me to ask for prayers for her friend in the hospital.

God nudged me again to go back once I was off work. I got off work early and almost talked myself out of going because I had so much to do and didn’t have makeup on… and I just kept making up reasons not to go, but then God REALLY nudged me and I knew I had to go.

I sobbed the entire way there, not because of the situation, but because of how God’s love was revealed to me in that moment. Even though I wouldn’t get anything out of it and didn’t “have” to go and could think of reasons not to go, I showed up anyway. That’s how God loves us. He doesn’t have to ever do anything for us and there are thousands of reasons why He shouldn’t show up for us, but He ALWAYS does it anyway. He always shows up just to sit with us and let us know He cares and let us cry on His shoulder – that’s how we are called to love each other.

When I got to the hospital, I walked up with a huge smile and waved to my friend. She walked fast toward me with tears in her eyes and hugged me and said, “He’s gone.” He passed away five minutes before I got there.

I felt my heart drop to the very bottom of my stomach and, for once, I had no words to say. I just hugged her and loved her – that’s a lot like how God just hugs us and loves us anytime we need Him.

I knew in that moment exactly why God had nudged me that morning and all day long. He wanted me there for a reason, and I felt it.

Again, I hadn’t met her friends, but I was about to meet the girlfriend in what was the worst moment of her entire life.

She hugged me and had the calmest smile on her face – she felt so at peace, and if I got nothing else out of that day, it was that. She was a walking display of the peace of God and He was using her to be a light in a moment when it would have been humanly acceptable for her to be a wreck.

We exchanged our “nice to meet you’s” with a giggle and I just hugged her again. I told her how much I loved her and she told me she couldn’t wait to hang out with me – and there it was again – a sign that she knew life would go on. Her boyfriend had just died yet she loved on me, a stranger, like everything was fine because she knew it was.

At one point, I looked away and sobbed thinking about what I would do if I lost my fiancé. I couldn’t imagine having her strength.

The only words of wisdom I could muster up were straight from God and I told her that He was going to use her boyfriend’s testimony for the good of so many people but He was also going to use hers and THAT is powerful. Her testimony is so powerful and so encouraging and I felt that in her presence the entire time we talked.

I knew I had to write this for her just to make sure she knows how integral her part is in leading others to The Kingdom. The impact she had on me in the 15 minutes I spoke with her moments after her world crashed down gave me so much hope, and that’s how I knew she would do that for thousands of other people with her testimony.

I think as much as God led me there for her that day, he led me there for our mutual best friend. She told me she had been so strong until the moment she saw me, and that’s when she knew she could let go and break down.

Please understand I didn’t do anything – God did everything. And she knew that. She knew that my hug embracing her and taking her burden was actually God wrapping her up in His arms and wiping her tears away in the way only He can.

As the three of us talked, they told me about little signs they had gotten from God, and I called them “God winks” from a book I had heard of.

When I left, I googled the book so I could order two and send them both a copy.

I found “When God Winks At You” by Squire Rushnell. There were other similarly titled books but that’s the one that jumped out. I didn’t order it but I went to Barnes and Noble that night to do some shopping, and when I walked in, it was the first book on the first shelf I saw as I soon as I walked in the door and my heart sunk again.

Tears streamed down my face and I picked up two books. I shipped them to my old friend and my new friend and felt God saying, “Does it all make sense now?”

It’s amazing what can happen when we really listen to God and do the simple things He asks of us.

As for Allison, she has done exactly what God asked of her through the entire journey with her boyfriend and has exercised her faith during a trial. I hope she knows how strong God must think she is to have given her this job and how proud He is at how she has followed through with it.

We can all learn a lot from her. She lost the most important person in her life, but she didn’t lose her faith in God.

Here’s to that girl and being a little more like her in our pursuit of The Kingdom.

From my heart to yours,

Kaitlin

 

When A Man Pursues A Woman

We all know the sweet song, “When A Man Loves A Woman,” by Michael Bolton, and more famously sung by Percy Sledge. It talks all about how a man can’t keep the woman he loves off his mind and would trade the whole word for her – an absolutely beautiful song.

But what about pursuit?

Not a lot of men will say, “Hey girl, I will alway pursue you,” but the truth is when a man loves a woman, he HAS to pursue here – the two go hand in hand.

We pursue things like money, dreams, and careers, so why do we often fail to pursue the people we love?

My fiancé told me from the beginning that he would always pursue me, and I honestly wasn’t sure what to think of that. I had heard it in church, but I never really thought about it. I never wrote on my “Future Husband List” that he would need to always “pursue” me, but boy am I glad God wrote that on the list for me.

The pursuit of happiness is an ongoing pursuit for absolutely everyone, and the pursuit of your partner should be too.

I have never been truly pursued by a man until now, and I can’t tell girls enough to wait until they find the man that pursue them every single day – and the man they want to pursue back!

Just last night, my fiancé asked if he could take me on a surprise date. That might sound silly or sappy or way too mushy for most people, but the fact of the matter is that it meant so much because it means that he will never stop showing me how much he loves me and never stop trying to win my heart, even though he knows he has it forever.

He picked me up with Starbucks waiting in the car and Christmas music on – side note: I love Christmas and he isn’t very fond of it, so the Christmas theme was a huge deal. He took me to look at Christmas lights because he knows how much I love them and he loves riding in the car and talking to me. He went out of his way to do so many little things to show me that he loves me for absolutely no reason and no intention other than the fact that I deserve that.

And you deserve that. Oh MAN do you deserve that.

Guess who has been pursuing you since the day you entered the world?

Yep. God.

He pursues our hearts with a fire and a passion that even my adorable fiancé with Starbucks and N’Sync Christmas Pandora can’t match. He pursues us even when we run away, even when we spit in His face, even when we sin directly against Him. He always pursues our hearts, and when we start to pursue Him back, it’s magical. He does little things all the time to remind us just how fiercely He is pursuing us.

The thing about a man pursuing a woman is that it can’t be one-sided. Every woman deserves to be pursued like a princess, but every man deserves to be pursued like a prince. God is pursuing their hearts, too, so why wouldn’t we?

We have to choose to love them and show them love every single day, even when it’s difficult.

In the same breath, we have to pursue God. He is pursing us every second of every day, and we have to do the same to get the most out of our relationship with Him.

Girls, guys, whoever is reading this, YOU deserve the pursuit of love and I hope you always give it back. If a guy or a girl isn’t pursuing your heart right now, please know that God still is.

Don’t ever settle for someone who doesn’t pursue you and love your heart to pieces. God painted us a perfect picture of how that should look so that we could use it as a guide.

The coolest thing is that when you do decide to pursue God’s heart, you usually find someone who is doing the same thing, and then you can pursue Him and each other.

When a man pursues a woman, he can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else and he can’t help but show her what she deserves.

Wait on the pursuit and the little surprise dates and the Christmas lights and the butterflies – it’s all real and out there somewhere; you just have to pursue God to get there.

Making Yourself Small So Others Feel Big

“Our strength is not in our beauty but in our function.”

I always thought I was supposed to act like I wasn’t pretty.

My whole life my parent always told me I was pretty (even through my awkward, REALLY awkward, middle school phase), and I never believed them. As I got older, there were days I felt pretty, but I never thought I was beautiful.

I struggled throughout high school with, honestly, feeling like everyone hated me. I did the same thing in college. The fact of the matter was that no on hated me. Unless you are doing things to someone out of malicious intent and hurting them, then there are people who love you and people who want something you have and that’s all – they don’t hate you.

We tell people, “They’re just jealous,” when someone is downright mean for no reason. And that’s usually true. I can think of a time when I really didn’t like someone simply because I was jealous and wanted something they didn’t have. I generally kept that to myself and didn’t act on it, but some people act on it.

With that being said, I wanted to make sure no one ever hated me or was jealous of me, so I made sure to make myself as small as possible.

Even when I knew that one cheerleading routine better than all the other girls, I didn’t want to let them know I thought that, so I’d cower down. Confidence was a foreign word to me. I thought confidence meant cocky and I didn’t want to be that at all.

When someone told me I was pretty, I would tell them why I wasn’t. If someone said I was really amazing or cool or anything else very nice of them to say, I would babble on and on about how they were wrong.

This whole making-myself-small thing really could have hurt the best relationship I’ve ever had. My then boyfriend, now fiance, told me I was pretty and kind and cool and fun all the time and I would make the worst faces or say, “Oh my gosh no,” every single time. It made him so upset because he was expressing emotion that I was totally rejecting. I had to explain to him that it really was me and not him. Since then, I have gotten a LITTLE better about accepting his sweet compliments. Your lack of confidence does not make your more attractive. You can be and should be confident and humble at the same time.

I have a best friend who really and truly is one of the most beautiful, fun, kind people I’ve ever known, and she had/has the same problem. One night, we bonded over our experiences of shrinking ourselves down to make sure others were lifted up. She has no clue how wonderful she is because she didn’t want to make anyone else feel bad about themselves, so she always made sure to step down just a little to give everyone else the room that she also deserved.

I think all of us can get into that rut of wanting so badly to serve others (which is so great) and lift them up that we bring ourselves WAY down. That is NOT the answer. That is not what God called us to do.

You can be God-confident in the way you are without putting anyone else down. Why can’t we all just be lifted up together? If we all love ourselves and love each other simultaneously, that is going to make for a beautiful, strong world.

Your success is not my failure, and my failure is not your success. Beauty is not dependent – it’s very independent. Oh and by the way, that beauty is not your strength; your function is your strength. Lisa Bevere expresses that so fiercely in her book, “Lioness Arising.”  You should check it out.

If you ever feel like you have to lower yourself for the sake of someone else, that is not from God – that’s from hell. You are supposed to walk with your head held high, not because you are athletic or smart or talented or beautiful, but because you are a child of God.

When we all start walking around like that, there will be no more noses in the air for the wrong reasons and no more hanging heads for the fear of hurting anyone else’s ego.

Stop making yourself small so others can be big. You don’t deserve that and neither do they. You are great, they are great, we are all great.

Own who you are – the strengths and the weaknesses – and walk right beside that girl next to you with her own set of strengths and weaknesses. You’re both big to God in your own ways, so you don’t have to feel small.

Be big and bold in the name of Jesus and for the glory of His kingdom. Walk in that, live in that, love in that.

Let’s vow to stop shrinking ourselves down and just lift everyone, including ourselves, up as often as we possibly can.

Walking right beside you,

Kaitlin

 

 

Why My Third Baptism Was A Disaster

I have now been baptized three times and the third time was the biggest disaster of all.

I was raised in a small, wonderful Church of Christ Church where I learned a lot about God and His love. When I was 15, I decided I needed to get baptized because it was time to really commit myself to Him – and I did not want to go to Hell.

My brother and I walked to the front of the church together on an August day, confessed our love for God, and we were baptized in His name. Now, I know I was saved as soon as I decided to confess my love and commit my life, but life happened and my heart changed and I learned a lot.

When I was in college, I felt like I had slipped away from God, so I decided to recommit and be baptized again – and it was amazing. I felt refreshed and renewed. But life happened more and my world felt so out of control. I just wasn’t grasping a real, sold out relationship with my God.

Flash forward to “adulthood.” I graduated college and, shortly after, moved to Huntsville, AL for a job where I moved in with a roommate who went to Church of the Highlands. I started going with her periodically but didn’t really dive all the way in.

I got more and more involved in the church and met more and more amazing, godly people who I knew I needed to surround myself with – especially the guy I’m now going to marry.

All of these people, and so many from my past, played a part in shaping me and my walk with God. I watched some of them completely sell out and live their lives boldly and solely for God and nothing else – and I wanted that.

I had been a Christian most of my life but I hadn’t always stayed true to what I had promised to God.

Jeremiah 31:22 “How long will you go here and there O faithless daughter?” I had been going here and there searching for my joy and my purpose when it was right in front of me all along.

God had been tugging on my heart for MONTHS telling me to rededicate and be baptized again. I ignored it, wrestled with it, fought it, and then surrendered. I was so worried people would think I had never been baptized before and judge me for it, but WHO CARES what anyone thinks? So what if I had or hadn’t? This time felt like the first time anyway – it felt real. My heart was ready to really change and I finally understood what it meant to be in a devoted relationship with God. I wanted to publicly declare what had been happening in my heart.

A mentor told me once that a baptism is always between you and God, but sometimes He also uses it to encourage others who are watching you, and I hope it did that, too.

Let me say first that the baptism was a beautiful and perfect moment between me and God, but on the outside, it was a DISASTER.

My parents weren’t able to be there, so that already had me in a state of stress from the start of the day, but I kept praying and fighting off the stress that was coming from the enemy.

My grandparents and brother and sister-in-law came to church with me and my fiancé before the baptism. I messed up all the times for everyone, and really messed up the plan for the entire day.

So, we had to run to Zaxby’s to scarf down some lunch in about 15 minutes before we had to be back. I cried the entire day. I couldn’t eat. I was a WRECK.

I had no clue what was wrong with me, so I texted my best friend and summarized the day. She said, “That’s the enemy trying to work against you. It’s such a special day for you and your walk with God and the enemy will not win today.”

I felt the enemy trying to mess me up all day. I had so much anxiety and couldn’t eat or stop crying. Our food took forever at lunch and it was pouring down rain. I was in a fight with my fiancé. Everything was going wrong and I have NEVER felt more alone.

Then, when it was my turn to be baptized and I came up out of the water, my shirt lifted up and everyone there saw my stomach and lack of six-pack. And when I got to my car I noticed I had had a booger on my nose for.. who knows how long.

I expected the entire day to be perfect and for everyone to run up and hug me after and for there to be pictures of rejoicing like I always see on social media – but none of it was perfect… except for my Jesus. I had people who I loved there to support me and a God there to save me, and that was all I needed and ever will need….. so then I started to feel bad for not being more appreciative of the wonderful people there loving on me. The cycle with the enemy continued.

A messed up shirt, soaking wet hair, running mascara, boogers, tears, anxiety, loneliness, desperation, fear, sorrow, seeking approval from man – those were just a few items on the list of things I brought to God in that moment. And He met me with grace, love, and arms wide open (cue the Creed song). Despite all that was going on around me and inside me, in that one moment, I felt more peace than I ever had. And that’s when it all made sense.

I thought I would leave and have the best day of my life and be a totally different person.

I left and fought with my fiancé some more, felt sorry for myself for a multitude of things, got jealous, got angry.. you name it. BUT – I was a totally different person and I did feel changed. I recognized that my little world may not be perfect, and I will always fall short and sin, but God loves me anyway and is patient with me in this process of becoming who He wants me to be.

Things will never be perfect. Even when we try to control everything and get the perfect picture of what should’ve been our perfect day, we will feel empty until we focus it all back on Him.

The moment God and I shared that day forever changed me and taught me hundreds of things in a split second.

I’m so glad my day was so imperfect so that I can always remember how perfect He is. His perfection overrides all my imperfections. He meets me where I am at my weakest and lifts me back up with ease. He is my strength and my approval and my joy even when my world is crumbling.

The only way such a messy day can also be my favorite day is only because of the grace of God.

You can run to him to with your shirt up showing your untoned stomach, makeup all over your face, boogers on your nose, food in your teeth, anxiety in your heart, and anger in your words and He will clean all of it up and make it new because He loves you.

Let’s stop focusing on making everything perfect when Someone greater has already done that for us.

Yours in the struggle,

Kaitlin