Looking Back

Today I looked through my old Facebook pictures. *cringe*

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Let me tell ya, there were some winners in there. I mean I had it all. The perm, the braces, the uneven poorly plucked eyebrows, the rimmed black eyeliner. All good looks.

But the whole time I was just thinking how much pain were in those eyes.

She hated herself. 

She thought she was fat (the heaviest I was in HS was 100lbs.)

She thought she was ugly. She thought nobody wanted her. She felt ostracized. She felt lonely.

I can honestly never think of a time when I didn’t feel fat. Looking back at old pictures, I remember taking those and thinking I was absolutely huge. I remember taking pictures of my body in my bedroom with my little Nikon digital camera and sitting on my bed analyzing every part.

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I felt this way long after high school. It lead into college, and even up to now being 22 years old. To be in high school and worry about the fact that you don’t look like a VS Angel is exhausting. I wasted so much time and energy. All those feelings eventually lead to less and less eating and eventually in college, I had a full blown eating disorder.

So to that young girl, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I spent so much time crying and comparing. I’m sorry that I thought a size 2 was too big when ordering my homecoming dress. I want to take it all back. I want to give you a hug. I want to tell you how beautiful you are and how much you are loved and that some day, the right guy will come along. I wish I could protect you. I wish I could tell you to not go on that date or not go to that party or not drink one more Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

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In the Bible there’s a verse that always brings me comfort. I’ve shared it on here before, but by golly it’s just so good that I’m going to share it again.

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

I’ve since started recovery. It hasn’t been long, I still struggle, but I’m thankful to be where I am. I took a year internship in Rhode Island and that’s where recovery started for me. I learned about more about myself and Christ’s love than I could ever imagine. I found people who accepted me and loved me and supported me through it all. In the past couple weeks, I’ve moved back home. I have amazing love from my family and close friends, and I’m ready to continue on with recovery.

All I can do now is live my life differently. I’m working on loving myself for exactly who I am. I no longer crave attention or starve myself. And yes, occasionally I will slip up. I will look too long in the mirror, or I will see a pretty girl and immediately wish I looked like her. But I’m trying and I hope, if you’re struggling like I did, that you will join me.

So to all the girls out there who are feeling the way I did, I hope you find peace with yourself and I pray that God will bring you comfort. I never want any of you to go through what I did, but if you are, I encourage you to get help and start recovering. It’s a hell of a process, but I promise you, you’ll see the benefit. Down below I have listed some websites that might help.

 

Love,

Caitlin

 

 

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/recovery

https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/recovery/self-help-tools-skills-tips

there are many more, but here’s a place to start. xoxo

Mustard, Jesus, and Tattoos

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been…. uninspired to say the least.

The past week has been rough. There has been a lot of tears, and a lot of coffee. This past week I was involved in a car accident. Everyone was okay, but my car is pretty beat up. If you know me, you also know my beloved loser cruiser. Well, this might be the end for her.

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I know, it’s pretty upsetting.

Even though I wasn’t physically hurt in the accident, I was traumatized a bit. In the past two years, I’ve had three frends die in traffic accidents. When, you lose that many people, and then walk away from an accident when they couldn’t, it messes you up. At night I don’t sleep because I keep replaying the accident in my mind.

What happened and why did it happen?

I always want to be a bubbly and happy person, but this week, I’m just not her. But I’m trying my hardest to be strong and keep my faith.

I often look at my arm that’s tattoed with the word “faith” and I just think “yeah I have faith, yeah I love God” and blah blah blah.

But do I really have faith in Him? Do I really have faith in what He can do?

That’s the question I’m being challenged with this week. Recently, I came across a verse in Matthew that says,

“He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ ” Matthew 17:20 

Now I’ve heard this verse many times, but never fully understood it. Like who the eff can move mountains? So I dove in and studied it. In this passage, Jesus is asked to drive out a demon of a little boy. His disciples try, but are unable to perform the exorcism. When they ask why they couldn’t, Jesus tells them it’s because they have little faith.

How in the world do these followers of Christ not have faith in him? I mean the man is standing right in front of them and yet they have small faith. These disciples said they had faith, but in that moment it was an outward, attractive faith. It wasn’t a gritty, full hearted faith. They still doubted.  I think this is true today. Yeah I have the word faith tattooed on my skin, but do I have faith? I love telling the world that I’m a person of faith, but how often do I doubt God’s work? A lot. I doubt that he’ll take care of my car, that he’ll give me the money I need to pay it, that he’ll take care of me.

 I crave the mustard seed faith. I so desperately want to have the faith that God will take care of me through this mess. I don’t want to worry anymore. At this moment as I sip on my iced coffee, I lift up a prayer. Not an ask for a new car or money, but a thank you. A thank you to God for loving me and keeping me safe even though my faith is shaky today.

Love,

Caitlin

What the Heck am I Doing with My Life

Reflection. Not just a catchy song from Mulan, although now I’ll be singing it for the rest of the day…

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This week has been a time of reflection on my internship. I still have about 5 weeks of work left, but I know they will fly by because this whole year has flown by. I can’t believe it’s already been nine months since I packed up and moved 1,000 miles from home.

I’m currently sitting in the coffee shop where I 100% said yes I want to work for Sojourn just 18 months ago. I remember it was a warm October day when I sat down with the three staff members who would later become my co-workers and friends and signed up for this crazy journey.

The past year has been hard, but soooo incredibly rewarding and fun! I had the opportunity to see California, meet new people, and learn so much. It was hard planning and fundraising, and I quickly wanted to go home and see my family, but I’m glad I stayed. God wanted me here.

He had a plan.

When it gets hard, I  remember coming across a picture that said “someone out there is counting on what God has called you to do” I knew I had to stay here. I knew that big things were gonna happen. I went into it thinking that I was gonna help people grow, but it ended up that I grew more than I ever thought I would.

I’m so so thankful for this experience, my friends, the students, and the Felkel family for opening their home to me. I’ve seen so many amazing things during my time here, and if you’re interested in hearing more about them, let’s grab some coffee because it’ll take a while.

During this whole process and especially now that my year is coming to a close, I’ve been wrestling with the question,

what the heck am I doing with my life?!

It’s been really tough struggling through this, so I naturally reached to scripture. There’s a verse that gets a lot of recognition when people are worried about the future, and I decided to break it down for y’all.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Here’s the low down on this popular verse. This was part of a letter that Jeremiah wrote from God to the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon. God tells them in this letter that he will release them from captivity in 70 years and they are to love and serve God through all of this. The Israelites did not want to hear this. They wanted to be told that they were going to be freed imediately from their suffering, but God wanted to use them to help prosper the nation. A lot of people, including myself, have used this verse as a security blanket to basically say that God will release you from your hurt immediately. But we are told to prosper the area around us and to serve the Lord even when it’s hard.

I want to be told right now what I’ll be doing in ten years and where I’ll end up, but that’s not how it works. I have to serve God through this confusing time in my life, and God will take care of me through it all.

I hope that whatever thing you’re struggling with, that you take this verse in context and serve God through the mess. It’s hard, trust me, I know, but God will take care of you. It may not be right this second, but He will hold your hand through it all, I promise.

Love,

Caitlin

p.s. if you’re a student or a RI friend reading this, I hope you know how much love I have in my heart for you and how thankful I am that God placed you in my life.

 

Grit

Gals, guys, mom….Rhode Island is cold.

Last week I spent time in California, and getting off the plane in 20 degree weather was not ideal.

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Although the weather in Cali was beautiful, that’s not the main reason I was there. I, along with 30 college students, packed up my bags and flew to Oakland for a service trip. I have been on a couple service trips before, but this was different. This one really touched my heart, because it focused on diversity and refugee stories.

The first day we were there, we got a tour of Oakland. I was blown away and inspired by the art and history that Oakland holds. We saw the site of the Ghost Ship Fire that happened not too long ago. We also saw the site where Oscar Grant was fatally shot by police. Now I’m not here to get political, but I’m here to tell you about the freedom of Oakland. The cool thing about Oakland is that you feel free to be yourself. There’s nothing that stops people from doing their thing and being whoever they want to be. There are murals from Oakland artists mourning the loss of Oscar Grant. There is this enormous since of community and “Oakland Grit”

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The diversity in Oakland is astounding. Everyday we got food from different countries cooked by people who are from that country. It was incredible! While we were eating dinner, the cooks would tell their story. They would tell us how they came to Oakland and how they became a Christian. I enjoyed listening to them and their stories. That was one thing I became really good at in Oakland.

Listening

Before this trip, I was quick to judge based off what the news was telling me. I was told that Oakland was dangerous, and that refugees were hurting America. I quickly learned that that’s not the case. Sure, every city has their dangerous areas, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from going there. Oakland owns their history. They are proud of their city. One night in particular, we heard stories from a panel of people of different ethnicities. This was the first time I sat down and shut up.

I listened.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19

Jesus was a friend to those who were different from him and he loved them for exactly who they were. I want to love like that. I want listen like that. Last week was the first time I actually listened, and that was tough for me. I’m so quick to give advice, but that’s not what they were looking for. They simply wanted me to understand.

I want to understand their hurt, and understand why I’m told I get “white privilege” There’s nothing more powerful than sitting across the table from someone who is polar opposite of you and just listening. That’s the way Jesus loves, and that’s the way I want to love. I’m human and I’m bound to mess up, but I’m trying.

I challenge all of you to find someone you don’t see eye to eye with and grab some coffee with them and listen. Don’t listen to reply, but listen to understand.

Love,

Caitlin

 

Alone

It’s been a bad day.

You know those days where nothing goes right? Yeah. Bad. So here I am curled up in a blanket, watching The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and sipping on some hot tea. The best remedy for a bad day, obviously.

This morning I had an echo-cardiogram for Mitral Valve Prolapse. My mom was with me six years ago when I was diagnosed, but today I had to do it on my own and that scared me.

And I cried.

Don’t worry, I’m going to be okay, MVP isn’t life threatening in my case. But I cried because I felt alone. Flat out alone.

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Seeing my little gimpy valve flap around on the imaging screen, I felt tears starting to come down my face. I didn’t have anyone near me to comfort me. To tell me that I’m going to be okay. To tell me that I have nothing to worry about.

Today I needed someone.

I needed God.

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When I was younger, God was like an imaginary friend to me. I took him everywhere with me and he was always there no matter where I went. I used to even sit on my swing set and talk to him out loud, and I honestly never felt lonely back then. As I got older, other things became more important in my life. I grew up and God became just someone that I sang to in church.

How do I get swing set conversations back?

I desperately crave to have the relationship with God that I had years ago. I want to be able to talk out loud to him, I want to be able to look to my side and see him near me. I need him more than ever now that I’m on my own. I simply can’t do this life alone.

Isaiah 41:10 says,

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

How awesome is it that God promises us that he will always be with us?? He strengthens us to not just make it through our day, but to conquer it, even the days when nothing goes right.

 

God was with me the whole time today, but I ignored it. He was right there in that room with me. He was with me when I was sad, scared, and hopeless.

In the stillness of the night, I can almost feel that swing set feeling again. The feeling that his arms are wrapped around me the way a father wraps his arms around his sick or hurting child. Tomorrow as my busy life starts up again, I want that feeling to last. God is always with me. His love and comfort are secure.

He will never leave me and I promise, he will never leave you.

Love,

Caitlin

Identity Theif

Alright ladies and gents, time to talk about something very near and dear to my heart.

Beauty.

Ahhhh yes. Beauty. Makeup, skin care, and hair products. Just a few of my favorite words.

As a makeup artist in training, I am a beauty junkie. It’s a real problem. I spend so many hours watching beauty videos on YouTube trying to learn the latest trends. The beauty community on YouTube is gigantic. Combined they have a grand total of 14.4 Billion views!

That’s actually insane. And I contribute a large amount to that number.

The world is obsessed with looking their best. 

But why? Beauty is temporary right? I’ll let you in on a little secret, we all want to be accepted. 

When I was struggling with my body image and eating disorder, I constantly listened to what the outside world was telling me. That thigh gaps made me more attractive, that a slim waistline made me desirable, and if I didn’t live up to that, then no boy would ever find me attractive.

I even considered a nose job and lip injections.

It’s hard for me to admit that because as a woman of God, I shouldn’t be concerned with my outward appearance, right? But I’m only human. I struggle. I look at my Instagram feed wishing I was thinner or prettier. I used to be addicted to selfies. Trying to get the best angles and lighting to make myself look attractive. I even photo-shopped my waistline once. That was a low for me. I remember looking at how many likes I got on that picture, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that people liked the body that they thought I had, not for me. Just plain ole me.

When I moved to Rhode Island, I had a conversation that really made me realize how harmful I was being to my own self. I couldn’t focus on things because I was so wrapped up in my appearance. I was told that I shouldn’t be seeking my identity in others. I shouldn’t look to others for acceptance. Society is an identity thief. It steals God’s idea of beautiful and twists it into an outward, surface level thing.

God made me in HIS image. He accepts me for who I am and for all the little imperfections.

Psalm 139:14 says:

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Here’s what you need to know. David wrote this as an acknowledgment of God and His work. He is speaking to God in a way that is giving thanks and recognition. It’s an absolutely beautiful prayer that I’ve prayed a lot when I’m feeling not my best. Sometimes I forget that after God created everything, he said that it was very good.

Including us.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with things. Especially being in the beauty industry, it can be hard. But I think it’s about time we re-invent the word “beauty” That’s  what I aspire to do with my career in makeup. I want people to see that your inner beauty is the most important. The outside is just a fun way to decorate and reflect on what’s the inside. Let the world see your beauty in a different way. In the way you treat others, in the way you speak, and in the way you love.

Our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit and if God sees us in such way that he would live inside us, who are we to disagree with that?

Without the makeup, without the photo-shop, without the filters

you are beautiful.

Love,

Caitlin

 

With Love

Well…. here I am sitting in a coffee shop, listening to the sound of milk being steamed, friends talking, and quiet techno music playing above me.

If you know me, you know I am obsessed with coffee. One of my favorite things to do is try new coffee shops. There are so many in this tiny state, so I naturally have to try them all, right? As I sip on my cappuccino, I look outside and see light snow starting to fall. It’s beautiful, but suddenly it reminds me of how cold it is and I immediately start to resent the time of year.

Why is it people don’t like this time of year? Most likely it’s because of the cold, but I definitely know a lot of people who don’t like it because they are anti-Valentine’s Day. I know what you’re thinking, “how can someone hate a day of love?!” Trust me, my jaw hits the floor every time someone tells me that. I LOVE Valentine’s Day, but most people I talk to hate it! Some love the 15th because of the half priced chocolate, but hate the 14th. Some singles say it’s because they don’t have anyone to celebrate it with. Some might say it’s because it’s not a “real” holiday. Filled with cute red hearts, teddy bears, and flowers, Valentine’s Day is a bit over rated, but I can’t help loving it!Image result for heart outline
A little history lesson for you about Valentine’s Day…

St. Valentine was a priest during the Roman Empire who Claudius II, the Roman emperor, did not like. According to legend, Claudius II banned marriage, saying single men fought better in war. St. Valentine continued to perform wedding ceremonies despite the new law. Some say he died, but others say he was imprisoned for performing these marriages and fell in love with a young woman who often visited the jail (most likely the jailer’s daughter). He wrote her a love letter and signed it “with love, from your Valentine.”

If that’s not the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard, you’re lying.

Valentine’s Day will be hard this year for me because I’m 20 hours away from the people who love me. My family is my absolute world and I’m heartbroken I won’t be with them this year on February 14th. Living in a new city is exciting, but I’m struggling with a lot of things I haven’t struggled with before. My family is dealing with things they’ve never dealt with before and my heart hurts being away from them. I’m totally open with the fact that I struggle with Atypical Anorexia Nervosa and how it impacts my life. My family helps me so much through that and I’m so grateful for them. It may sound selfish, but how do I enjoy Valentine’s Day this year when the people who love me are 1,000 miles away? The answer to that is to go and love others.

In Corinthians 13, Paul talks about love.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Paul is basically saying that without love, we are nothing. Love is eternal while everything here on earth is temporary. He goes on to explain love, and how we are supposed to love. What I get from these verses is that love is so much more than over-sized teddy bears and candy hearts. God loves us when we are broken or hurting, he loves on the bad days and the good days. His love is always there.

 For those who don’t know, I’m a campus ministry intern, so I work with college students every day. Some days I’m so exhausted that I question why I do my job, but then I see the smiles that happen when we make the students muffins, or I hear the laughter during a game of cards. They put so much love in my heart. I’m not just here to do a job, I’m here to love. Love the students, love the people, and love the world surrounding me. If I don’t have love, then I’m just alone in an unfamiliar state. So this Valentine’s Day, I will not be sad because I don’t have my family around loving me, but I will love. I will love the person who may not have a family, I will love the person who is having a bad day, and I will love the students around me.

So I raise my little paper cup of coffee to the students, but more importantly, they are my friends. I love each and every one of you.

 Love,

Caitlin

 

 

4700 Broadway St

4700 Broadway. Madison Park. My church. It’s located right on the busiest road in an old Jack’s building, which in my opinion is the best view visitors get when they ride into town. Between the hot coffee, friendly faces, and powerful messages, it makes for a wonderful Sunday. I wish I could be there 24/7 but they’d most likely kick me out 😉 The worship services are incredible, but the best feeling is walking in and seeing a smiling face greet you. The smell of coffee brewing fills the air along with the sound of laughter and small talk. The chapel is lowly lit with soft gospel songs playing overhead. I just love the worship team and all the volunteers that spend their mornings making sure everyone feels welcome. The nursery is full of kiddos running around and talking about what they learned about God that morning. There’s always someone there to welcome you whether it’s your first or 1000th time being there. It will be so tough to find that feeling anywhere else. It’s my favorite place to be anytime, any day. So here’s to you, Madison Park, my rock, my safe place.

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p.s. There’s a really rad picture of me on the website taken 500 years ago.

Hello World, My Name is Caitlin

As I sit in an empty Starbucks on a rainy Monday, I decide to start a blog. I mean all great ideas start in a Starbucks, right? So hello, people of the web, my name is Caitlin. Before I get into the good stuff, let me tell you more about myself. I am a 21 year old girl who lives in a small town in Illinois (no, not Chicago or anywhere near Chicago) I take online makeup classes, I work in a small coffee shop, went to a microscopic high school, and cheered for all four years.  I know, can’t get anymore small town America than this, right?  Boring stuff, I know. So if you’re still with me, I’ll start getting into the cool things. I accepted an awesome internship opportunity out on the East Coast. So in three months, I’ll be on my way half way across the country to live in an unknown city! I know, exciting! If you want to keep with my crazy adventure, keep on reading and stick around for a bit! I mean I’m kinda cool and fun, we’ll have a great time here!