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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Maybe I wasn't there for them to hear my voice...Maybe I was there to hear them.




It was a sunny Thursday morning. I felt aglow in my new sun dress, adorned with a sea-glass necklace given to me by a friend just days before. The ride down state was smooth-sailing- music playing, traffic moving, heart beating, eyes twinkling in the sun. Then it all suddenly changed. The first light popped up on the dash, then a second. Then a third? I can't remember. I had the glove compartment accidentally locked so we couldn't check the little booklet for "how to handle the van when all goes wrong" since the keys were in the ignition, wheels going 60 mph. No exit in sight. I prayed aloud, "Jesus help us to just get to a safe place to pull off. Have your angels protect us." 3 miles to go for the nearest exit. Just keep going, just keep going.


Oh the relief when we pulled off and into the gas station, but then the sheer panic when smoke poured out through the hood. I yelled, "Get out of the van! It could catch on fire and explode!" Well...it didn't explode, thankfully... Whew. Sigh of relief. But we kept a safe distance as the steam continued to roll through the edges of the hood, creating a thick fog and strange smell. I was walking around the parking lot in bare feet with my heels in the car. Made a quick call to roadside service which turned into a long call. The gas station was connected to a convenient store, which had nothing clean or convenient about it, and was actually a liquor store with just a big sign "DISCOUNT LIQUORS".  The man inside came out and went back in and came out and went back in. He didn't speak much English and he liked to spit, shooting it far in the parking lot as a pastime. Two men rolled up in one of those big white vans that screams creepy. They walked around the building to do some business, which caused us to chuckle since there was a place for that kind of business inside. I guess some men prefer the great outdoors.  Hardly another soul was in site. It seemed desolate and barren- I pictured myself in a movie in that moment, broken down in the last place one would wish on the face of the earth.


I made a call to let the venue organizers know we were stranded...still with hopes of a miracle in making it in time for the event so I could sing.  Well...all worked out in the end, thanks to God's provision. A hero saved the day and gave us a ride to the church. The tow truck came and towed the Party Van away (yes, this is the term of endearment my friends and I have named the vehicle over which God has so graciously given me stewardship). We arrived not much more than five minutes before the graduation ceremony began. The sound check was quick and smooth. Bob was one of the friendliest sound guys I'd ever met- more relaxed than most. About fifteen girls walked down the aisle to "Pomp and Circumstance" with glee written all over their faces. Stories were spoken and awards were given...and tears began to envelope my eyes. Ah, this is why I had come...and I settled into my seat.


These were no ordinary seventeen and eighteen year old girls. These were young women who had been through it all. Pregnant teens and adolescent moms who had in bravery chosen life for their babies...and had gone against statistics and the world's expectations, choosing the narrow path of finishing out high school with great accomplishment and success. I looked at them with awe, seeing God's hand-print of grace and power all over their stories. I felt a twinge of discomfort in my own body...thinking of the many times I complain or find an excuse or focus on a hardship in my life. In comparison, my road has been a breeze. These young women have had to grow up so quickly, mature and take care of themselves and their precious little ones. Despite all odds, they have risen above, as stars shining in this generation. They radiate the essence of Philippians 2:14-16, "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain." They have marvelously conquered.  They have dreams, goals, vision, hopes, and a future...with a seed planted in their minds and spirits by their Creator that has carried them to this day and will continue to carry them.


The key-note speaker, Ms. Naliah Gilliam, was quite possibly the most inspiring graduation speaker I have ever heard. I won't forget her. I don't even remember the name of the woman who spoke at my college graduation, but this high school graduation day I will evermore remember.  She shared, "If you walk hand in hand with your creator, everything and anything is possible."  She told the story of her own teen pregnancy as well as her mom's teen pregnancy with her. Her analogy was exquisite, "My mom was a star-ship. I was her precious cargo. I salute her for not aborting her mission!" Wow!  And here, even now as I reflect and write, I salute each one of those graduates for not aborting their precious cargo and their God-ordained mission!

So I sang, "Like A Star," but like the failing van just hours before, the sound system faltered. The microphone battery flinched. What a morning! Something gave way, and it was terrible with distortion, feed-back, cutting in and out. I pressed through with a smile because that's what "professionals" are supposed to do. I wanted to laugh- it was a crazy moment...but I sang the song with passion as I always have, and I just gazed into the front row with those graduates and tried to communicate encouragement and God's empowerment into their young, fragile, beautiful eyes. It was all I could do when the loud speakers were carrying a noise I couldn't wait to be over! One of the staff at DAPI came over afterward and said, "I'm so sorry about the sound! But the essence of the message was carried out, and that is all that matters."  Amen to that! The message is all that matters.

On the way home, in the hero's truck (since my poor Party Van was towed miles away to the shop), I reflected on the beauty of the day. Maybe I wasn't there for them to hear my voice after all. Sometimes I think it's my song that will "make" an event so special. Well that certainly wasn't the case this bright Thursday morning! I think maybe, just maybe, I went through all that breakdown off the highway and sound fiasco just to hear them. Hear their stories. Their victories. Their dreams. Their overcoming and hope. It was a sunny Thursday morning I won't forget. And I will carry them in my heart when I feel like I want to give up, because I've been reminded, "If you walk hand in hand with your creator, everything and anything is possible."

Monday, May 19, 2014

Longing for Home..The Great Wedding Feast

I was at a beautiful wedding this past weekend and just soaked in the glory of it all. A holy moment it was as the bride in white walked down the aisle toward the bridegroom. All the preparation, the hopes, the dreams, the expectation, the excitement, the planning had come to this one day where they made a covenant before God and man, as husband and wife, to cleave to one another from that day forward until death. It was an exquisite picture, a snapshot in time, of the great Someday our souls long for, even when we are seemingly unaware of our longings. These yearning are for a world not here, where all shall be made completely whole and holy, perfect and known by the King of Ages.

As I met some of the guests, and found some really neat connections with our stories, our pasts, and our passions...just a hint of sadness swept over me. I thought, "Wow, these are great people. Some beautiful older couples who have incredible life experiences and wisdom. Some young people with whom I could see myself being good friends...but in this life, we meet so many people at so many places and there's just no way to stay in touch with everyone, and most definitely there's no way to stay close, in deep, authentic community and relationship with everyone. Yet...these are the kinds of people I want to be close with. There is a deep bond in Christ and they have spiritual treasures to share...I love getting to know people, but I hate goodbyes. I want all things to last, especially relationships." And as soon as these whispering thoughts came, another thought hit me: "This is why I long for home. I long for heaven. I long for that great wedding feast of the Lamb, where all of the guests will be there forever and the party will never end.  The feasting will go on, the dancing will continue, the conversations of joy and glory will be forever, and the bride of Christ, the great vast body of believers who span the globe and all of history, will be there together, knowing Christ fully and being fully known by Him. And we will know one another completely and so splendidly as we have been made spotless and perfect by our King."

So my momentary sad thought was transformed into this beautiful ache, taking my heart on a journey of imagining my real home...and the real wedding for which we all await.  Another ache sweeps over me still, as I long for all to have this hope- to know this Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, Who alone can satisfy the last longing of the soul and wipe away every tear at the cross. I ache for strangers I pass by in the day and the loved ones I pray for at night to have this assurance of Home, of Heaven, of forever in Him. I don't want to be at the great feast and eternal reunion of friends and sisters and brothers with any missing. I long for each one to receive the love the King has to offer and the eternal gift of life He's purchased at the cross. I think of Matthew 22:1-14... "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come."  Please, dear friends, do not refuse this invitation. Welcome Christ into your heart and life, so that when this short life is over, He will welcome you into His Kingdom, into the forever feasting of the saints in all glory, at the most spectacular wedding celebration in eternity's history.


Consider what C.S. Lewis reflects in Mere Christianity, on our true country, on the deepest longing of our lives:
“The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Give LIFE (be a catalyst for hope)

Give LIFE!
BE A CATALYST FOR HOPE


The Vision:
Get the UNBORN: Please Keep Me DVD into over 2,500
Pregnancy Resource Centers across the United States!

This resource has helped save precious lives and has given countless moms hope and courage in the midst of unplanned pregnancies.

The true stories on this DVD are incredibly powerful, and pregnancy centers are using it to help counsel the women they serve.

Will you GIVE LIFE and 
become a catalyst for hope…
by sponsoring 1 DVD to be sent to a pregnancy resource center?
Or 5 DVDs? Or 10? We need YOUR HELP!

It's simple:
1. Purchase the DVD(s) at www.pleasekeepme.com 
2. In the paypal special instructions memo, 
please write:"GIVE LIFE" so we know you are 
donating the purchase for a pregnancy center.
3. We take care of the rest and send it to a center in your name!
4. You will receive an email with the name of the center 
your DVD went to, so you can be praying for the workers 
and the moms who will see this life-saving video.

THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Rushing Waves

I had been there hundreds of times. Autumn days with an array of hues moving in the wind and spectacle of colored leaves falling. Cold snowy days with ice on the water's edge. Gorgeous days with blossoms hovering over the current. Warm summer days with sun beating down, sparkling off the river.  At the bottom of the hill, down the little one way road, with nature's paradoxical exquisiteness and simplicity both hovering on either side and old stone and brick buildings enchanting to the eye. But just four days ago, due to the heavy flood waters, this place was different. I'm glad we took a little detour to "sight see"...because what I beheld took my very breath away.

The rapids had come up over the parking lot and turtles and ducks looked so bewildered trying to find a calm corner to hide. The water had risen so high, racing by the mill and sweeping it's old sides with a fast and fierce rush not to be stopped by anything or anyone. I stood in awe, eyes agog and mouth gaping at the sheer power of the current. I had never seen this before. Not here. Not this serene streaming river at the bottom of simple hill, charming lane. This was truly something to behold. I was frozen standing at the edge of the wall, looking down at these sure-to-be class 5 rapids. The water took me back to Jinja, the source of the Nile in Uganda, and the extreme water sportsmen doing stunts on kayaks for all eyes to see and hands to cheer. It took me back to Yosemite Park's Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, where any who dare get close risk their very lives...even when the flowing streams look inviting, the undercurrent lies in wait, stronger than a beast. Was I seeing this type of current here? Now? I was glad a wall separated me from the edge, for if one fell in, the chances of survival would be only pure miracle.

I felt the wind grab my hair and caress my face. I closed my eyes and re-opened them. Yes, the river was raging, and its power no man could control. But Whose hands and words made that river and inspired those waves? Whose very breath could calm it in an instant? My Lord and my God. I stood in awe. I was witnessing the most incredible power rush by at a pace I dare not hope to travel, crashing on the rocks and carrying debris through the mighty flow. Yet, there is One greater than even these waves. He commands the winds and the waves, the storms and the seas.  His presence is Almighty Eternal, Perfect on His throne...and yet He loves me and cares for me and numbers the hairs on my head? If a God this powerful is for me and not against me, a God more powerful than those crashing waves which could crush my very being in an instant, then why am I afraid? Why do I not trust and day after day have to return to Him with my brittle faith? Oh you, of little faith! Take heart, for this very God has come for us and is here for us even now in this moment!


Meditate on these words from Psalm 33...

"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their host by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea as in a bottle; He puts the deeps in storage places. Let all the earth fear the Lord [revere and worship Him]; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to naught; He makes the thoughts and plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of His heart through all generations...From His dwelling place He looks [intently] upon all the inhabitants of the earth- He Who fashions the hearts of them all, Who considers all their doings. No king is saved by the great size and power of his army; a mighty man is not delivered by [his] much strength...Behold, the Lord's eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness...Our inner selves wait [earnestly] for the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield. For in Him does our heart rejoice, because we have trusted (relied on and been confident) in His holy name. Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You."