Have you ever wondered about someone’s story? Someone’s background, upbringing, trials, successes? It’s so easy to sum people up when we meet them, but deep down we know there’s more.
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I was 5 years old and sitting in my LDS (Latter Day Saint, or, Mormon) Primary class for children, singing “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” wondering why Jesus would want me to be a piece of the sky.
I was 8 years old when I was baptized into the Mormon religion. I remember stepping down into the warm baptismal font in my neck-to-ankle white suit knowing my sins were about to be wiped away. My last thoughts were, “Wait, I’m not ready. I wish I could sin more, and THEN be forgiven.”
On my 10th birthday, we had a family pizza party. I didn’t wear shoes the entire day as I played outside in the green Spring grass. Dad gave me a black “Coleman” sleeping bag and a “MagLight” flashligh. Always one for emergency-preparedness (including everything from cold Colorado temperatures to bear attacks to Y2K) it was an awesome gift. (To this day I favor the MagLight brand over any other flashlight.)
I was 12 years old and snuck into the Youth Dances held in the gymnasium of the Mormon church I attended. The appropriate age for a dance attendee was 14, but I snuck in with my sister (who was 17).
I was 14 when I house-sat for a friend and got drunk for the first time. I walked home with my “boyfriend” and kept repeating that I thought I was going to die.
I was 16 when my sister went to college and I snuck into more dances. My mom and I ate Twizzlers and listened to Backstreet Boys on the way home from visiting my sister at Southern Utah University.
I was 17 and on top of the world. I was on the high school swim team, had a college scholarship waiting for me, had a cute boyfriend, and was a rock solid believer of the Mormon religion. I attended early morning Seminary classes and was very active in my church functions.
I was 18 when I converted my aforementioned cute boyfriend to Mormonism.
I was 19 when I knew something was missing for me- spiritually speaking. I withdrew, (most of my rebellion happened around age 14) and stopped believing in the Mormon church.
I was 21 when I partied like a “normal” (worldly) college student.
I was never raped, hit, or shockingly hurt, but I was lucky, on many occasions.
I was 22 when a coworker told me about a Christian radio station she listened to during the day for encouragement. I looked at her weird, but knew something was different about her.
I was 22 when I saw a woman in the shaving cream aisle of Wal-Mart wearing a cross necklace. I thought to myself, “I want that. I want to be so bold for God, that people see me and know me as one of his.”
I was 22 when I moved away from my college town and took my dream job in Arizona.
I was 23 when I started attending a Baptist church every now and then. One day, the Pastor was preaching so hard, his fake front tooth fell out! This was truly my first introduction to a non-Mormon church. The people were friendly, the food was good (Baptists are known for that) and the friendship was genuine.
I was 24 when I asked Jesus Christ to be my personal Savior and I gave my life to him. It was September 12th, and I was sitting on my bed. I had met with my pastor many times to ask many questions. I had previously submitted my paperwork to the Mormon church requesting they destroy my record of membership (a requirement in order to leave the church.) On September 10th, I received confirmation that my request had been completed.
I discovered that what was “missing” for me was a true relationship with Jesus Christ. More than following a religion (Mormon or otherwise,) it was about the personal relationship.
I got on my knees, resting my elbows on my bed and prayed the prayer and read the Bible verses my pastor gave me. Nothing happened. Lightning didn’t strike. In fact, my condo was eerily quiet. I called a friend from my Baptist church and asked her if I did it right.
She told me it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong, but it was an act of submission to the Lord. She said that in time, and with exercise in my faith, that I would start to feel new.
September 13th I woke up and felt new. I was not ashamed! (Romans 1:16) I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was now a believer of Christ.
That day I left for a work trip to Tucson, where I was able to find a church to attend. I worshipped like never before, since I was a new believer, and knew no one. The praise and worship was very moving. I knew I had made the right choice to give my life to Christ. I knew I was never going to be the same again.
Good morning! It’s a blessed day. Thank you, Lord, for waking me up today.
I loved morning snuggles, and driving our NEW CAR to church this morning. Yes, that’s right. New (used) car. SUV actually. I’m very excited, and full of anxiety. We got a very good deal (thank you to my husband for serving in the military, and the sales and finance guy being easy on former military [and easy on the eyes]). It took us six hours at the dealership, and lots bargaining on our part. In the end, though, I am so glad we stood up for ourselves, because we left with exactly what we wanted, for $10 more a month than our payment on the car we traded in. Sweet deal.
This morning I enjoyed a quiet ride to church to drop off my husband. On the way back, I saw three blackbirds in a field, and heavenly fog grazing the top of the grass beneath their legs. I thought I’d have luck on my side today. Then I got locked out of the house, and once finally inside, I made half a bagel, and dropped it between the fridge and the counter.
I am enjoying the quiet time while my hubs is away, so I’ve been perusing blogs all morning. I simply had to share one of my findings:
WE MADE IT! Sorta. I actually scheduled this post to be published this morning, (and then I accidentally sent it to your email box early – DUH!) so I might not have made it to today. The way my week went, I wasn’t sure I would make it.
First of all, I have to tell you this: My hair is falling out, thanks to my double-dye job. OMG I am losing so much hair I’m afraid that soon I’ll have all those short frizzies, and nothing long and pretty. POUT! (Thank you, GNC, for your hair, skin and nails pills. I hope you work super turbo fast.)
Life is a beautiful exchange. Think about all the things we exchange. Looks and glances, words, (positive, negative, loud, soft) hugs, material items, written documents, items to a store… life is full of exchanges.
Take a moment to think about the exchange between you and Jesus. How often is there communication back and forth? How often do you meet him when he is waiting for you? How often do you reciprocate the love he poured out for you? Do you exchange your experiences and thoughts on God with others?
Sometimes the hardest person for me to invite to church is the person I’m good friends with who has different views on God. I am a very accepting person, and I do believe a bit of “to each his own.” If you know what you believe already, I respect that. Heck, I respect you even if you don’t know what you believe. I respect you if you don’t believe the same thing as me, but I will encourage you to exchange views with someone close to you. Someone who might be a little awkward to communicate “churchy stuff” with. Someone who might make you feel a little embarrassed that you went for such a long time without bringing up the subject.
Take the opportunity to share what you believe. I am forever grateful to the woman who invited me to a very different church than I was used to. Although she is not in my life anymore, her impact on me was far greater than I could ever express my thanks for.
I have an anniversary (not wedding) coming up, but more on that later.
Exchange…exchange…exchange. Meditate on that word. What does it mean to you? Who will you exchange with, and what will you exchange?
Here is my quick post to answer some quick Q’s, to pretend that I actually blogged today. THINGS I LOVE AND WHATNOT.
What what what? (For the most part.)
What blog am I loving? Dani Hampton: read this!
What needs to be organized in my house right now? My jewelry.
What’s on my mind? I am over-night making some yummy iced coffee for work tomorrow.
What am I reading? Embrace Me by Lisa Samson. Well, I’m not reading it right now, because I’m typing this. (Stole thirty minutes reading on my lunch break. Total bliss!)
What am I up to? About to go for a run.
What am I thankful for? Every single day I receive. Truly, I wake up and thank God for another day.
What am I tired of? This song. No.. don’t click there. I won’t do that to you. It’s basically a song that a neighbor plays overandoverandoverandoverandoverandover. You get the idea. Also, Facebook. Still on strike. Feels good. I’ve only missed Facebook when I’m extremely bored, which is not a good sign of a hobby. Time for more healthy hobbies! Missed the post? Read here.
What’s new to me: My new Twitter handle: “CleverBlackbird.” It was going to be “CleverDaw,” but I didn’t think most people would understand. Being too clever can just be plain old nerdy.
Who do I miss? My family. (whimper)
What am I happy about? My husband and I are “official partners” with the Christian church we attend. This is a fancy name for being “members,” but it also means that we more than show up, take communion, shake some hands, and go home.
Super happy. It’s a blessed life I have.
Go, and make the world happy.
God and coffee. These are a few of my favorite things.
The message at church today was to rest. It’s part of a four-week series: rhythm, rest, renew, release.
Right now I feel a little unbalanced, not having my own house. I think my husband and I have a little too much “rest” time, which is why we are starting to volunteer in different areas to fulfill more of God’s work. So many people do not live life at a suitable pace, resulting in stress, being overworked, and even health problems.
REST… you will be glad you did. My mom used to tell me that the Caitlin who got six hours of sleep was not a happy Caitlin. The Caitlin who was fully rested did a much better job in school/work, and was so much easier to love. Who doesn’t want to be easy to love?
Arriving home, I made some iced coffee that was to die for. Here’s the recipe:
– Freshly brewed coffee, chilled for a few hours in the refrigerator
– Evaporated milk
– sweetened condensed milk (SCM)
Mix the evap milk and SCM together and chill. Go easy on the SCM if you don’t like sweet coffee. Once cold, pour the mixture over ice (if you have a mason jar, it will taste extra yummy… promise) and slowly stir in the chilled coffee.
This was so tasty, even my non-coffee-drinking husband approved and gulped some down. Of course, I just added more SCM to his.
Hope you had a lovely weekend, and have a wonderful start to your week. Remember, each day is a gift. Love, and love always.
My husband and I spent most of the weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. We attended an awesome church called Passion City (with worship led by Chris Tomlin and Kristy Nockles). What an amazing service! I definitely cried off my carefully applied makeup. God is so real, so big, and he loves us so much. (John 3:16)
Afterward, we cruised around the city, picking out all the spots we’d want to visit someday.
There’s something magical abouy the city at night…
Makes a person fall even more in love.