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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sing for Life!

I received a call in October from the March for Life planning team.  It was only eight months since my brain surgery, and I had sung no more than three times in public during that recovery period.  The first time was in August, when I sang "Broken Vessel" at the funeral of a dear friend, Nancy, who lost her battle with brain cancer, but won her glorious eternal life in Jesus Christ.  (That week when Nancy went home was the week Jamie was hospitalized due to chemo wiping out almost all of his white blood cells.)  The second time I sang was at my home church, where I shared the timeless hymn, "Holy Holy Holy" at a worship service, just three weeks before our wedding.  The third time was at my cousin's wedding, two weeks after my own (the three of us girl cousins grew up together, close in age and close in heart...we each got married within a four month span this year!).  It was an honor to share the gift of music on their beautiful wedding day.

Each one of those events- the funeral, the wedding, and the worship service- was so precious and treasured.   Outside of those occasions, singing was not something I was able to do much in my recovery.  In fact, for months the headaches were so intense, every time I would try to sing more than one song my head would just pound.  I hardly even walked into the living room to touch the piano.  The long road of surgery's recovery, Jamie's cancer and chemo, and starting out beautiful married life was anything but "normal" and I was not exactly ready to sing again.  Of course I wanted to sing, I wanted to jump back in to this gift God had given, but how could I pick up all the pieces and start all over?  When would I feel strong enough to get through more than one song?  Would people even want to book me for concerts again?  Back in 2014, before my diagnosis, things were going so well and my music ministry was growing and everything seemed great, but when a year of hospital visits and recovery hit, I have to admit, some days my heart doubted.  What would the future hold?  Was it all lost?  God had miraculously restored my hearing, but would He allow me to truly offer up this music again on a regular basis in worship?  Would it come back to me like riding a bike?

I received that call from the March for Life out of nowhere, and what a surprise it was when they asked me to sing at the rally in Washington D.C. before the 2016 March!  Somehow I remained calm on the phone, but when I hung up, I hit my knees and the tears streamed.  All I could do was praise God.  I called Jamie at work and told him the news.  I felt the Lord's presence and blessing so intensely in that moment, restoring all things, and making all things new.  He wouldn't let all the setbacks over the past year define my future.  My future was in His hands, and He would open a door to once again use my voice to worship, to proclaim truth, and to share a message of hope and life.

January 22, 2016 was a March for Life I'll never forget.  I was so humbled and honored to walk on that stage and sing our Nation's beautiful Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner".  I was so moved to hold hands with other pro-life leaders and proclaim blessings over this country through "God Bless America!"  I was thankful for life, more than ever before, and ready to begin ministering through music again with all the passion in my soul.  After everything I have been through, I see life through a lens I didn't see through before.  The precious gift of life I now thank God for in such a personal way, every single day I wake up and breathe.  I will not stop being a voice for life until every life is protected and given rights.  Every life!  The unborn, the born, the young, the elderly, the impoverished, the wealthy, the educated, those without an education, the abled, the disabled (who, for the first time, I have such respect for, after all the hurdles I went through in recovery, and now as I wait for my vision to heal, I realize how much those with disabilities have to overcome on a daily basis!)

The March for Life was blasted with a blizzard, and yet, still D.C. was flooded with thousands upon thousands of people who came, courageous in the storm, willing to do anything to peacefully proclaim the message that every life is valuable, and that we not only march for the babies, but we march for the women.  We march for every life.

I will look back on January 22, 2016 as a moment in time when God truly gave back my music ministry and platform to sing for His glory.  He didn't need to give my voice back.  He didn't need to give my hearing back.  But He did, and I am compelled to use it to worship Him and lift the hearts of listeners toward truth and lasting life.

"For Christ's love compels us,
because we are convinced
that one died for all,
and therefore all died.
And He died for all,
that those who live
should no longer live for themselves
but for Him who died for them
and was raised again."
2 Corinthians 15:14-15 

Isaiah 62 is a chapter in the old Testament where Isaiah prays over Jerusalem- God's Holy City.  This passage is specifically about Jerusalem, and I don't want to misplace that context, but I think at times we can use prayers and writings of Scripture and apply them to our current day, current time, and current place.  If all God's people around the world prayed this prayer over the nations and capitals, I just wonder how God might answer those prayers...What if we chose not to remain silent, but prayed without ceasing over our nation here, the United States, and we earnestly expected that God would bring righteousness and salvation and lasting-life to Washington D.C. and every corner of our country?  Take a moment to read this passage, and if your heart is compelled, say a prayer over your city, over our nation, and over the world today.  It is only God who can truly awaken the darkness with His blazing light. We, His people, must not keep silent or give up hope!  

"Because I love Zion,
I will not keep still.
Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem,
I cannot remain silent.
I will not stop praying for her
until her righteousness shines like the dawn,
and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
The nations will see your righteousness.
World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
And you will be given a new name
by the Lord's own mouth."
Isaiah 62:1-2 

Friday, February 19, 2016

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, on February life was hanging in the balance.  I remember waking up at 3 something AM, right before my alarm (which never happens), and I felt so fully refreshed from my night's sleep. I had total peace (which is only from the Lord!  Ask my family- I am an emotional girl with a roller coaster of dramatic feelings, anxieties, and normal human emotions most of the time!) It was the same peace that had flooded my heart for 8 months, ever since my diagnosis, and nothing had changed that morning. I was ready!  Writing notes to my parents, my brothers, and my boyfriend, Jamie, were top priority before heading to the hospital.  I journaled a paragraph, too.  And painted my toenails.  Off to Mission Community Hospital we drove in the dark, early morning hours of LA.  That's when I posted this photo from our hike the day before (The hike where my brothers ran up and surprised me as I was taking one last walk with Jamie before surgery!  My two brothers had flown in to California from the East Coast, unbeknownst to me or my parents, to be with me for surgery!)

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him." Psalm 28:7
It's a day to trust God :) 

How do I reflect on a year of miracles?  How do I even wrap my mind around this extraordinary journey?  First, I want to thank you again, dear friends, who prayed me through all of this.  It was you, God's people, who carried me with prayers of faith, notes of encouragement, and gifts of generosity.  We can't see the grand picture, like our Heavenly Father can.  I don't know all the reasons why Jamie and I went through what we did this past year.  I've said it before, though- my story may be a wild one, but your story is just as powerful, meaningful, and purposeful.  Your trials and struggles are valid and real.  Your victories are glorious.  Your life is a gift, every single day, just like mine is.  This journey we are on is but a shadow of the things to come.  This road we walk down is temporary, pointing to the glory that awaits.  We get glimpses of this glory along the way, and let me tell you- my eyes have been opened wide this year in absolute wonder.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Romans 5:1-5
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy spirit who has been given to us."

Will you take a moment to reflect on the powerful phrases from these two passages?






These promises are true and everlasting.  If I could share one thing with you after everything I've been through in the past 365 days, I would want to share with you the endurance, glory, peace, hope, and grace that only come from knowing Jesus Christ as Savior.  I've been given a second chance at life, and after all is said and done, at the end of the day, these promises are what I will forever cling to.  All else is temporal.  All else is futile.  These promises remain forever.  

Here are the lyrics to a song I wrote shortly before my diagnosis.  I hope these words bless you.

Beautiful Mess
by Caitlin Jane 

I see glory, I see failure
I see victory, defeat
You breathe life among the ruins
You bring peace in mystery

When dreams fall into shambles
And tears veil these eyes
I'm awakened to the vision
of this beautiful mess of life
oh the beautiful mess of life

Let love and faithfulness never leave me
Bind them, God, around my broken heart
Write your promises deep inside me
I wanna hold on, never leg go, even when You feel worlds apart

I shall not forget Your teaching
Trust when I cannot see
Acknowledge You in all things
You direct and always lead

My confidence and my stronghold
Your burden, easy and light
Blessed am I forever
In Your favor I abide
In Your favor I abide

Let love and faithfulness never leave me
Bind them, God, around my broken heart
Write your promises deep inside me
I wanna hold on, never leg go, even when You feel worlds apart

Feel worlds apart
Yet You're here with me
In the mess today
I see You in the beauty...

 Let love and faithfulness never leave me
Bind them, God, around my broken heart
Write your promises deep inside me
I wanna hold on, never leg go, even when You feel worlds apart...

I shall not be discouraged
Jesus give light to my eyes
You came to seek and save the lost here
In this beautiful mess of life