Monday, November 29, 2010

funky town

funky. that's the only way i can describe how i feel right now. maybe it's because it's midnight and i've laid around all day due to exhaustion/ this weird heartburn i've been having. but if i'm going to be honest i think a lot of it has to do with this change of environment for me. don't get me wrong, i LOVE being home. but it's just different. getting used to not constantly feeling this push by the Lord.  i have to work for that push and sometimes i just don't want to. sometimes i want to say to him, "why should i challenge myself for you if you're not doing the things that i ask of you...if you're not giving me answers. if you're not revealing yourself to me. why should i be so excited to talk to you everynight or throughout the day when i don't feel you anymore." i realize i sound like a little brat but that's just how i feel. sometimes i just don't want to talk to him. sometimes i'm fed up. of course i don't show that and i certainly don't tell people that because a part of me wants people to think that i'm always lovin' the big man and livin the life! but of course, it's not always like that. people never listen well enough to what He's trying to say to them and most of the time that's because it's not what we as people want to hear. but i hate this feeling of being apathetic about my faith. an old friend and i used to always tlak about how apathy is the worst kind of evil when it comes to your faith and i still find that to be true, at least for myself.

"Help me to move with a vision

And love without condition
When I can't do a thing
Remove my apathy"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

and it's one life and it's this life and it's beautiful

i'm so glad, and dare i say proud of myself, that i've gotten past the point of really caring about what people think i'm doing or what they think my intentions are or what my reasoning is.  i love knowing what i'm doing is right to me and that i've talked it over with my God and i've settled everything within myself.  therefore, people's opinions start to matter less and less to me. because you know what? i'm twenty years old and i know that i have a lot of life yet to live, but i think i've lived my life pretty good so far.  haven't really screwed anything up in a major life ruining sort of way so can i have a little credit? can i be trusted for my own judgment for my own life? since i've been out here, my thoughtful father has been sending me text messages of inspirational quotes on a regular basis.  one that he sent me a couple days ago, although i had heard it before, really struck me.  "those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter."  i'm extremely grateful to have so many people in my life who support whatever it is that i do.  and it's these same people that have allowed this confidence in my self and my decision making blossom inside of me.

 the other day i went to my favorite french bakery in downtown san jose (okay you caught me...the only french bakery i'm even aware of in downtown san jose but it's still delicious) and i ordered a panini. i also got some petit fours and chocolates that were obviously ready before the panini so naturally i ate those first. once i got the panini i was already satisfied but i decided to man up and just eat it.  i ate the first half and the side pickle and just couldn't do it anymore. so i got a doggy bag and went on my merry way with half of my panini under my arm.  i knew that i would most likely run into someone that could put my leftovers to better use than i could so i decided to give it to the first homeless person i saw.  i walked past st. josephs cathedral where i've been regularly attending mass and i saw sitting on the steps, a man i had sat in the same pew with a few days earlier.  i knew when i sat by him that he was most likely homeless (st. joe's has a huge homeless population so i'm not entirely basing my assumption on stereotypes) and he also seemed to have a mental illness of some sort i.e. he was talking to himself the entire mass (not distracting at all).  so i saw this guy and i was like, "perfect! i can give this guy my sandwich and he'll be so happy and i'll be his hero for the day and i'll feel so meaningful!" right? wrong. i offered this guy my sandwich and he refused. of course i simply figured it was because he just wanted money (to buy booze because of course, that's the only thing homeless people use money for right? also wrong.) but anyway, i started to walk away and you know what this bastard said to me? "ya wanna know why?" and i said "sure why not" and he goes, "because i can see through your deceit and lies." i kind of chuckled, wished him a beautiful day, and walked away thinking to myself "welp, i did all i could. i feel sooo sorry for this man. he's so mentally ill that he can't even see when someone's trying to help him." i gave the sandwich to the next guy i saw, pushing a shopping cart full of trash and personal belongings...but for some reason, i didn't feel right. and the things that guy said kept popping back into my head. "i can see through your deceit and lies." now, he could just be saying that because i called the sandwich a panini and he might not know that that means sandwich, but on the other hand, maybe this crazy homeless guy has a point. why was i giving that guy a sandwich? what were my exact intentions? did i do it, even if it was only a little bit, for the satisfaction of knowing that i helped someone? was i doing good just to say i was doing good? it's such a fine line we try to balance. am i doing this completely and totally for someone else? something greater than me? am i doing this for dare i say, God? or am i doing this, even if it's only a little bit, for me? of course we're human. and as humans, we do things for ourselves.  which isn't bad by the way...God wants us to delight in what He has given us.  but He by no means wants us to seek Him out in the faces of the poor and destitute merely for our own satifaction or because it makes us feel good.of course, sometimes feeling good is a beautiful symptom of this disease we call empathy or service or communion. but it's not the motivation. i just hope and pray that i can always remain aware of that thin line i try to balance daily because once we cross that line, we lose the aspect of empathy/service/communion that makes it so entirely beautiful and pure; humility.

"this is what god asks of you,
only this,
to act justly,
to love tenderly, and
to walk humbly
with your God."
micah 6:8

that's it. and you know what, in the words of the sweedish folk sister dou called first aid kit, "it's one life, and it's this life and it's beautiful." so we might as well live it to the fullest. and to me, that means living every day for the only one i know to be infinite.

Friday, November 12, 2010

head full of doubt road full of promise

i don't get why i can't just trust. trust myself enough to know that i'm making the right decision. trust God enough that He's leading me in the right direction. trust myself enough to think that i'm headed in the right direction. trust God enough to know that there even is a right direction. see i could go on like this forever. i know that it's all going to work out. i know that i'm doing at least what i feel is right. but then why is it hard? why do i have any doubts whatsoever? why is a part of me sad that i'm leaving in  days when most of me is dying to get on that plane? it's very frustrating being this indecisive and fickle about my feelings. i'm really trying to stop that; you know, trying to stick to one feeling at a time. i'm finding that it's a very difficult art to master.  i just wish i could be so set in how i'm feeling at one particular moment that nothing could shake me. i wish sometimes that i could easily detach myself from situations. but i can't. it's just the kind of person i am. my heart and soul get so intertwined with whatever situation i'm in at any given moment. which i guess could be looked at as a blessing just as easily as the curse i sometimes see it as.  i know i shouldn't complain about being involved and passionate, but it does make things like leaving a lot harder. but it also makes the future more exciting. knowing that whatever i end up doing, i'm going to love it so much. and i won't mind being intertwined in it because it will bring me joy and peace.  that's all i'm really looking for. and that's why i'm so excited to get back home. joy and peace and the rest will follow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

it goes on

so i've been thinking about me coming home and how some may see this as my adventure being over. in some ways it is. i mean, i won't be "livin' it up in cali!" anymore. but i'm going to keep blogging. this has become so much more than me simply bragging to all of you about how great the west coast is. it has become so much more and i know i've discussed this in previous blog posts but it's true. i'm really finding my voice as a writer, something i never even thought of before all of this, and i also just love knowing that the people i love know things about me that i wouldn't normally talk about (or at least talk about in a somewhat eloquent way) i've decided, the blogging will continue. now, i don't blame you if you become uninterested (disinterested?) since i won't be globetrotting all the time like i thought i would be. but hopefully i'll still collect a little bit of insight, or at least humorous anecdotes each day.  and yes, i am blogging about blogging...just in case anyone was unsure. so as long as you guys want to hear what i have to say (and probably even after that) i will keep on keepin' on.

it's truly amazing to me how much more confident i am becoming. i've always thought of myself as a pretty confident person, or at least someone who's generally comfortable with themselves. but i'm really starting to establish my core values and beliefs and i see myself implementing them into my everyday life instead of just talking about them.  being in a city knowing virtually no one has given my the space and ability to just be completely myself at all times and i can't wait to bring this new and improved me home. i was thinking about this today as i walked around in my joveralls yet again.  i noticed more than i did previously people's looks when i passed by or when they drove by in their cars or bikes.  it was amazing to me how many jaws actually dropped at the sight of seeing a 20 something wearing overalls just for the heck of it. i can't believe that our society has come to a point where it's more shocking to the general public to wear full length denim overalls than to wear underwear for shorts. these are things that just don't make sense to me and never will.

today i went to michael's and got knitting needles and a fatty ball of pink yarn for the 10 year old living in the house. her name's briana and she's really shy but adorable and kind of dorky which i love. she's been staring at me knitting for days so i thought it was time to teach the kid.  when i brought it downstairs and gave it to her, her face was priceless. the best feeling i've had in a while. she was sooo exicted. and about knitting of all things. so we sat there, on the heinously apholstered couch, and i taught her how to knit. she got it right away and is probably already better than i am. that small moment made me really excited to be a mother, aunt, grandmother, etc. i can't wait to pass things on to those younger than me. it's such a fulfilling feeling. it's weird but beautiful to think about even after we pass those things on, and even after we pass from this life into the eternal, things go on. life goes on. it goes on. and on.

i just started reading the book by chris cleave entitled little bee. it's so good already and i'm only on page 13. it's one of my mom's favorite books so of course i have to at least see what it's like. i just wanted to share a small part from the book. it's one of the most beautiful sentences i have ever heard. it really made me think about people's struggles or "crosses to bear" as some would say, and how these are really things in which we should find beauty or joy, not sadness:

"in a few breaths' time i will speak some sad words to you. but you must hear them the same way we have agreed to see scars now.  sad words are just another beauty. a sad story means, this storyteller is alive. the next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile."

i think we too often get caught up in others' and our own sorrow and tribulations.  we fail to see that while this is sad, it's also beautiful because it means we're living. it means we feel. that we are lucky enough to feel. and lucky enough to understand pain and heartache and struggle. we also often times, fail to remember that it will get better. there is hope. we have reason to hope. reason to believe that things will get better and we will be happy and smile.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

humble pie

that's exactly what i had a large, but satisfying slice of tonight.  i've been feeling this overwhelming pressure of having to be honest with sharon and tell her that this isn't the right place or time for me at this point in my life and that i need/want with all that i am to be back home with my family, but i've been scared shitless to tell her. but i decided, today is the day. i can't put this off anymore (especially if i want there to be any chance of me getting rid of my now 72 hour migraine...hence the lack of blogging). so right when seh came through the door, there were no guests home yet and our visitor john was out on the town for the day, i knew it was the right time to speak up and be honest.  before i could open my mouth she said, "now be honest, how are you doing with everything?" and obviously i started to tear up...i didn't lose it though which i was happy about. i told her everything i had been feeling. how it just doesn't feel right to me. and about how much i really wanted this to be right for me. but how i can no longer fight what my heart is telling me...a completely cheesy but entirely true schpeal about why i can't stay here for another five months merely to prove to myself that i complete something. and she knew. she understood. she could tell that this is exactly how i was feeling and that i had been feeling this way most of the time. i guess i'm really not as inconspicuous as i think i am about how i feel. but anyways, she truly understood how i felt. which, i'm gonna be honest by saying, i thought she would have a completely different reaction. i mean, i was prepared to have to pack up and leave tonight if she was angry or whatever (my worst case scenarios are always the most ridiculous things i've ever heard of once whatever i'm thinking about already happens but before it happens, they always seem like plausible outcomes). so i told her. i did it. i was a big girl and she understood. she could tell my heart wasn't here in the san jose catholic worker and that it was at home in st. louis. which believe me, i've been struggling with for the past month and realistically a lot longer than that. is it selfish to want to be home surrounded by my family and friends that love me and respect me as opposed to being in a foreign city thousands of miles away? maybe. but the way i see it, when you're in line with your heart and your hearts desires and what makes your heart the biggest, then you're set. and all i know, is that at this point my heart is at home. with my family. the last place i thought it would be and honestly, the last place i wanted it to be. i wanted this to be so much more than a month of crazy compacted spiritual and emotional growth. i wanted this to be my life. so i came here to find that it's not. and that's OKAY. i'm okay with that. i'm actually more than okay with that. i know myself well enough to know that i'm not ever going to settle. i'm always going to try and do more. become more. but i can do that at home just the same. now i'm gonna whip out another motha t quote and say that "love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action." now i might be speaking too soon/digging myself into a bit of a hole by saying this but i know that being here, regardless for how long, i have gained so much appreciation and respect for my family and friends. i know that i'm now able to consciously put so much more love into the little things that i do for them than i did before. and to me, that alone has made this all worth it.

but what's made it entirely worth it for me has been the last few days. the relationships i've been building with these women who are so loving and strong and funny. they remind me of my mom, or at least who she would be best friends with at work on the mother baby floor. one's a nurse and one's a medical assistant.  honestly, i constantly forget that they're in the position they're in. which i think is the purpose and beautiful effect of living in community. but on nights like these, when they're being real with me and telling me like it is, i remember. i remember that i'm someone who chose to come here and these women didn't have a choice. this was there last option. either here or under a bridge. and that's what i get so frustrated about. is yeah sure i can cook dinner for them and laugh with them and encourage them but i can't get them out of this situation. i can't buy them an apartment or get them that job. god i wish i could. i would do anything to be able to do that for them. to give them that relief. because these women are my friends. tonight, when we were sitting around the dining room table drinking our hot tea and talking, i felt like i was with two of my aunts after a family get-together. just laughing, sharing stories and teasing each other. this is what i will miss. these women. that have taught me more than they will ever know.

so yeah, i'm going home. but that is not the end of my journey. it's really just starting i feel like. and i'm so excited to bring this community back home with me. and to see what it's going to grow into once it's home. i wanted to leave you all tonight with an e-mail from my overly dramatic but slightly adorable 10 year old sister (mom, do not show her or tell her that i'm posting this on here). she sent this to me yesterday and this completely seeled the deal of how in love with my family i am. just read.

"Dear Caitlin,

I don't really know how to post a comment but I guess it's in my blood from all the time Libby spends on Facebook. I wish so much that I was there with you. I would give anything to hug you right now. Every night I sit in my bed and wish that you were here, giving me good advice again. I miss your split personalities--how you laugh at me and make me want to punch you and sometimes how you let me be cool with you and Libby (even though I don't quite pull it off), but my favorite is when you and I both love and understand each other. I mean the real love. not the kind that we say after good night. the love that would wait a year for the one you love. the love that makes you want to scream and pull your hair out. i don't think we should toss that small but strong,four lettered word like a beachball. if only we knew what's in store for us if we loved someone. as i write this, i cry. sad tears, hopefull tears, fursterated tears. god, how much i wold give to hear your laugh. i hope that if i was the one in calofonia, that you would have the same emotion as me.
love, clare"

Monday, November 8, 2010

for where your treasure is...

there your heart will be also..i have read and reread this bible passage from matthew and this very same quote from the alchemist over and over for the past couple of days. the more i read, the more i realize how true this is. i came here in search of my treasure, and ever since i got here (which will be a month next week), i've known that my treasure isn't here. now you all may be gasping at the sight of that sentence...or you all might know me so well that you saw this coming. either way, i have fought within myself for weeks to push out this feeling of certainty that this is not right for me because i so badly want it to be. a part of me wanted to come here and never go back home (except for holidays). a part of me wanted to stay here and meet my future husband and raise a family, all in this house. and i think the part of me that wanted this, was also the part that didn't want to quit. i don't want to give up when i'm a month in. i don't want to tell all these beautiful people that have been cheering me on since day one that it's not really working out and that i don't feel right about it. but it isn't. and i don't know if that will change but i have a gut feeling, that it won't. i decided a few days ago to start speaking do what i know in my heart is right despite the rules and regulations of the house. the fact that me questioning things and not agreeing with some guidelines of the house is causing problems is a sign that this may not be the right thing for me. and it is my fault that i didn't speak up the first 2 weeks of being here but i mean i was afraid. im a 20 year old who just flew out here without knowing what it was like really? how am i supposed to feel. and she's so much older and wiser and has more experience in life and social work. but social work isn't why the catholic worker was started. dorothy day had no experience as a social worker. and i can tell you right now, dorothy day would not be smiling about the way this house is run. i feel like we're babysitting these women. telling them what to do, when to do it. i can't live like this honestly. i apologize if at any point this gets too real and honest for you but this is how i feel.  i'm not saying for sure that i won't be staying. and if i leave like i feel i'm going to, it's not going to be tomorrow (although that would be nice)...we have a new community member coming in a week or so. i'll see how the dynamic is with him around. i'm going to continue to follow my heart and speak up. if others can't deal with that, then i think the answer of whether or not i should stay will unfold itself.  all i know is that i would rather leave early knowing that i did what i could and stood up for what i know is right, than stick it out for 6 months just to prove to myself that i'm not a quitter. i thought i was going to come here and be pushed so far to love people that my heart ached...instead, there are rules and regulations that keep my from fully loving and living in community with these women and i feel like that heartache is a much worse one to have. i expected to give all that i have, not to be confined to only giving a certain amount in order to maintain a certain level of comfort. did you know that the women here can't pass a curtain that leads to the kitchen and front of the house (where the community members sleep) after a certain time of night? why? well apparently for our own safety. basically, we're saying to them, "hey we're afraid of what you might do to the house/us because you've been on the streets and god knows what you've done or seen so we're going to put up this curtain to make that fear visible to you." oh, and the guests can't open the fridge. at all. ever. they have to get a community member to open it for them if they need anything. oh so because they're homeless, they're not allowed to have a midnight snack of a glass of milk? they also can't be at the house during the day on any day of the week. not even weekends. god it's like a prison honestly. i'm just so pissed and frustrated and upset. and i can see that these women understand what's going on. they see the locks on the doors they're not allowed to open. they see the curtain. they see the sign on the fridge. they know they are not our equals. they know they can't be trusted. fuck that. pardon my french but honestly it makes me sick. if we're going to have the courage and audacity to welcome strangers into our home, we have to have a certain amount of trust in humanity and we have to sacrifice a certain amount of security and comfort in order for it to work.  i've tried to have patience...i've tried to remain hopeful that these feelings of disagreement within my heart were just because i was out of my comfort zone. but i can't have patience for ignorance. and i can't pretend that i'm out of my comfort zone when i'm really not. what's so uncomfortable isn't that i'm living in community with people that have nothing. the thing that's so uncomfortable is that i feel like this house is set up to make sure these people know that we, the community members have maintained a certain level of comfortablility. if that makes any sense. i just don't get the feeling that this house is so much about creating community as it is about telling these people how much help they need and then making them do it on their own. and i'm not down with that.

welp, on that note, have a great day!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

just breathe

i would first just like to make a shout out to my uncle johnny for being such a great person and making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world on thursday. he was in town on business this past week and i got to spend my enitre thursday morning with him. i felt so close to home while i was talking to him, eating a delicious breakfast with him, even when it was taking us 20 minutes to work payment out with the ethiopian taxi driver. his coworker, but more importantly dear friend, mike came with us to breakfast and i just feel so blessed to have met him and spent time with him.  they're both men of Christ and their insight was greatly needed and appreciated.

i've been feeling a lot of anxiety the last couple of days about what i'm doing. yeah sure, everyone tells me that i'm doing a great thing and that they're so proud of me (which i really appreciate so keep 'em coming because it makes a huge difference on my daily perspective), but i don't know if this is what He wants me to be doing quite frankly. i know i'm here for a reason but i don't know if that reason is to stay.  i'm not really happy with the whole dynamic and workings of the house and so it's giving room for a lot of doubt.  but the good news is that we're getting a new community member soon which will hopefully ease the tension of the house.

it's almost freaky how much the alchemist relates to things i'm going through and feeling and thinking. i mean, of course i'm no shepherd boy that's seeking his treasure at the pyramids in egypt, but other than that we're pretty much the same. i was reading outside the ridonkulously huge library downtown yesterday afternoon and after reading this excerpt i teared up.  it just really speaks to me and is a huge comfort and reminder. he's speaking to his heart (literally) and tells it that, "every second of your search is an encounter with God.  when i have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because i've known that every hour was a part of the dream that i would find it. when i have been truly searching for my treasure, i've discovered things along the way that i never would have seen had i not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve." i am truly, honestly searching for my treasure...and whether i find it here or not, i will always know that i had the courage...the courage to try something that seemed impossible for me...something i wanted to do but was so afraid to even mention it out loud. but i did. and i'm here. all i can do is follow, listen and talk to my heart. it will lead me to the right place.

so today, on this rainy day in san jose, i'm going to breathe...just breathe. i was reminded of this in the midst of all my worry by a dear friend. i am so blessed with all the things that i'm a part of, all the people i am meeting, but mostly, i am blessed with the amazing love that my family and friends have for me. there's no shot in hell that i would still be here right now if it weren't for the support and words of encouragement from people thousands of miles away from me. and while missing them and wishing i was home is natural, it's not going to make the next five months very easy. all i can do is breathe. and be thankful. and as DHT would say, listen to my(your) heart.

i will most likely write again tonight and it could very well contradict everything i'm feeling and saying right now depending on the frustrations today and how i handle them. thank you all for being so patient with me. for experiencing this up and down adventure with me.  this blog has become so much more personal than i even anticipated and is keep me extremely close to home. i just can't thank you all enough. one of my favorite quotes is "one loving soul sets another on fire." you all are the reason why i am able to love with all that i have and i hope that i can in some small way, do the same for you.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

danny's song my family's song. i don't really know how exactly or why exactly but we love it. and sing it. and i just listened to it when i was in already in a very fragile state of mind and now i'm crying. silently so no one else can here me. but crying. and i can't stop thinking about how much i love them and how much they mean to me. the six of us love each other so much. more than we are willing to admit. so tonight, in order to not only make myself feel better by writing about it but also to let these five people know how much i love and miss them, i would like to dedicate this one to the whyte_clan (our family's politically incorrect email address).

i miss my mom.

i want her to hug me while simultanerously scratching my back. i want her to wipe the tears off my cheeks with with her worn in hands and tell me i'm a big girl. i want her to tell me everything's going to be okay and that this is only making me stronger. i want her to kiss my forehead and tell me she's proud of me and that she loves me and that i'm doing the right thing. i want to come visit her at work and hear all her fellow nurses  gush about her to me. i am so proud of her. i miss her so much. more than i can even explain. i know your mom shouldn't be one of your best friends, but cheryl whyte is an exception.

and i miss my dad.


i miss the way i can smell his 5 dollar cologne from walmart on him when he hugs me in the morning or when he gets home from work. i miss when he says peace to me at mass, gives me a kiss on the cheek while he's hugging me and whispers "i love you and i'm proud of you." i miss his inappropriate jokes. i miss him playing air guitar while listening to his ipod. i miss his ugly clothes that he's not even aware of how hideous they actually are...which subsequently makes them endearing instead of ugly. i miss his two minute recovery time from hurting my feelings to saying sorry and him hugging me even if i don't want to be hugged. what i would
give to have one of those hugs right now...

i miss my brother.

i miss his rude humor. i miss laughing at most of what he says...unless he calls me a bitch...then it's over. no more funny. i miss his laugh and the weird things he does to entertain himself more so than anyone else. i miss those rare but oh so special moments when he confides in me and tells me something he wouldn't tell anyone else, whether he wants to admit it or not. i miss his big hugs and how he'll hug me back every single time i hug him, without fail.

i miss my sister.


i miss her dance moves...that girl can bust it. i miss her laugh, like when she really laughs...and she sounds like she can't breathe. i miss sharing a room with her, staying up into the wee hours of the night, laughing about nothing. i miss seeing her walk through the front door in her uniform after school; a daily reminder of how proud i am of her and how much better of a student she is than me.i miss how i can smell her bodyspray as i'm walking up the stairs on a friday evening as she's getting ready. i miss watching her get ready before she goes out with her friends. it brings me back to sixteen and my mindset at that time...if only my biggest problem today was deciding who to ask to homecoming.


i miss my sister.

i miss her energy. i miss feeling slightly innebriated everytime i'm with her because she's just off the walls and so contagious. i miss her many different laughs (she has yet to develop a real one). i miss her two front teeth. i miss the fact that she kisses me and gives me five hugs before she goes to bed every night. i miss her humor, even though it's not a brand i usually go for. i miss how proud she gets of herself when she accomplishes something. i miss her stories abotu school and all the fifth grade drama...real serious stuff. i miss how she tries to impress me and libby simply because we're her "cool" big sisters.

i miss my family. i miss always having a partner in crime. whether it's laughing or eating or yelling or watching a movie or doing the dishes or crying or talking or swimming or walking or running or dancing or singing. i miss it. all of it. and it makes this very hard. a lot harder than it already is. but in a weird way, it keeps me going. because i know that if i keep doing this and stick to it, i will be with them sooner than i think and i will be able to love them better as a result of this experience. and even if i've had a rough day here and i'm feeling hopeless about what it is i'm doing here or what He's trying to show me, i will try to remember the words to danny's song:

"everything will bring a chain of love. and in the mornin' when i rise, you bring a tear of joy to my eyes and tell me everything's gonna be alright."

"just remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

anything but ordinary

"is it enough to love?

is it enough to breathe?
somebody rip my heart out
and leave me here to bleed
is it enough to die?
somebody save my life
i'd rather be anything but ordinary please
to walk within the lines
would make my life so borin'
i want to know that i have been
to the extreme"

now i'm going to be real honest,  a part of me wishes i could lie and say that these lyrics come from this really cool indie band that no one has heard about and i'm just about to open up a whole new world of music to you and you'll have me to thank for your musical taste. but let's be honest, it's avril lavigne's "anything but ordinary" off of her debut album, let go.  what few people know about me is that i went through a weird phase circa 6th - summer before my 8th grade year of being a mixture of a punk/wangsta. i watched BET on a regular basis and listened to the likes of blink182 and good charlotte.  avril was definitely the coolest chick i had ever seen.  she was such a hard ass. i wanted to be her, and quite honestly, i thought i could be.  just like i thought i could be this really cool hip missionary who travels not only across the country but across the globe, feeding starving children, building houses and orphanages, creating sustainable communities in the poorest of third world countries. thetn i came out here and have realized that what i want to be, isn't necessarily what He wants me to be. yeah of course, i would love to say i've lived in darfur for 2 years building up an entire school and water system.  or that i've aided and cared for an old man in india dying of leprosy right alongside the missionaries of charity. and really, maybe i will be able to say those things, or parts of those things. but what i'm trying to say is i've missed the mark. i've missed the mark in realizing that it's not what you do, but how and why you do it. i'm going to be honest right now and say that i came out here completely for myself. to find myself, to prove to myself, to figure out myself. but these are none of the reasons why i am staying.  right now, i know i can go home if i really wanted to. and a lot of times i do. but i don't. and i don't really know why but i know that it's for some reason bigger than myself. 

but yeah, i've failed to realize over the last couple of years, that just because i have dreams for myself that involve me "helping others" doesn't mean that that's what i should be doing. if i think long and hard and ask myself why did i want to be a missionary in other countries or even in other states, i would have to answer honestly and say because it would be a cool experience for me. it would bring god closer to me. it would make me feel like i was doing something good. you see the pattern? me. not them. and more importantly, not Him.

this experience is allowing me to recognize how incredibly hard the ordinary things can be. but also how important they are.  you always hear talk of how this world needs more people who are willing to make a difference. you see, before now, i never even considered "normal, everyday people" as part of this equation. and if i did, i thought these people needed to change in order to become people who were going to make a difference. change the world. well changing the world and making a difference is so much more than ending world hunger and finding a cure for AIDS...if that makes any sense. to quote mother t like i always seem to do, "love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action." love is more than doing the most radical thing you can think of. in fact, i'm starting to think that love is more so about the things you don't really want to do. but doing them for others. whatever that may be. it's not necessarily about being a radical doing the extraordinary and opposed to the ordinary as much as it's about being a radical doing ordinary things with an extraordinary amount of love. and that's why this experience has been so difficult for me so far. it's not what i'm doing that's so hard or radical. it's the fact that in order to do these things, i have to do them completely out of love. if i don't, they won't get done because i will have zero motivation to do any of these mundane, domestic tasks. and if i do do them, but not out of love, they will mean nothing to me or anyone else.

i guess what i'm trying to say is this is completely different than what i thought it was. this is not what i wanted or what i asked for. what i prayed about.  but i'm realizing that just because it's not the "glamorous life of a missionary college dropout" that i thought it would be, doesn't mean it's not the work of God and of love. because it is. completely. trust me, i don't think i would be here in this place where i know no one is He wasn't the one runnin the show here. there are already things i'm finding out about myself that would hinder me in doing missionary work in foreign places with great love. for example, my deep homesickness that i can't really seem to shake. of course i have my days. days where i'm so busy i don't even have time to think about my family and friends. but for the most part, my heart aches to be near them. to not only hear they love me but to feel it as well. i also am realizing more and more, that a wife and mother is what i want to be. and i believe what God wants me to be as well. i mean, the warning signs were endless: thinking my baby dolls were real, babysitting and loving every minute of it since i was 10, and sometimes even being "that girl" that looks at wedding pictures and baby names online. this yearning for the family and friends that got me to where i am and the desire to create a family of my own would not really be suitable for being a nomad, traveling country to country for years on end. tirelessly serving people i don't even know. i'm not saying i couldn't do it. i know, that through the Lord's strength, i probably could. but that doesn't mean i would do it well. i'm not really sure that my heart would be in it. like it is in other things like children and family.

so to all you out there that think like i have for so long...for those of you who think that the only thing you can do to follow God and be an example is to start a nonprofit organization and bring education to an entire country, please reconsider. not the actions, but the intentions. the reasons why. i'm not telling you that you can't do those amazing things, in fact, i'm sure you can. but just think about it. let your soul sit in the heart of the Lord and realize itself. sometimes you just have to let Him bring things to you instead of you bringing things to the world in order to find Him.  we must seek Him, but we must seek Him within ourselves. and sometimes, you find that you do something radical in order to truly know that it's the everyday ordinary things that make such an immense impact.  a dear friend said something on the phone tonight that has been stuck in my head ever since. "it's not the things that you do, those things disapear.they are forgotten. it's the spirit that is remembered and lives on." beautiful right? yeah, i have insightful friends.

small things. great love. tiny teensy eentsy things. big gigantic huge love.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


words can't express how i feel tonight.  i have had so many emotions in the last 24 hours that i don't even know where to begin. what to process. how to think. what to reflect on.

all i can say is i love being proved wrong by those i love. i love when someone i respect and admire makes me look at things in a different way. to make me stop feeling sorry for myself and look at the bigger picture. that this is not for me. do it for Him. thank you for reminding me of that. thank you for listening but most importantly, thank you for challenging me. i hope i can in someway do the same for you.

since i have nothing to say really, i think it's a good time to let a picture say a thousand words. this is my life here so far in picture form. i hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

they might be giants

depending on your knowledge of obscure bands within the world of music, you may or may not get the reference i am making in the title of this post...and for those of you who are reading this with a now smug grin across your face because you do in fact "get the reference" i'm going to tell you now that the reference has nothing to do with the band and is actually referring to the fact that the giants (baseball franchise) have just won the 2010 world series. woop woop! you know, few things in california during my short time here thus far have wooed me.  for the most part, i've stayed true to my midwestern roots and in fact have a much deeper appreciation and love for the middle of america. but one thing that has the ability to win me over in a place quite like the comadery of an entire city (or bay area in this case) for the love of a winning sports team. watching the game and the celebration tonight just made me so happy for the human race...which i know sounds entirely too dramatic for a situation like this, but it just made me realize that people are beautiful and their excitement and passion for life is beautiful. i love seeing people loving where they are, what they are doing, and who they're with.  even if they are the giants and not my beloved cardinals. you didn't think i forgot about a little thing i'd like to call loyalty did you?  but this realizing beauty in a mass of people made me think of the famous quote from thomas merton when he came into the city after being in the monastery for so long. "it is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes: yet, with all that, God himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race." it really is glorious, isn't it?

i would just like to say, before we go any further, that i am currently averaging 15 reese's minatures a day.  the only thing that makes me feel better about it, besides the obvious me not really giving a rat's ass, is that word; minature.  it makes it seem so much more trivial to me.  yeah yeah i had 15, but they were minature.

patience. my biggest strug.  i mean seriously, every problem that can possibly think of that i have, stems from my lack of patience.  yeah sure, i'm pretty patient with other people. that's easy to me.  but being patient with my own life and what i feel needs to start happening/already be happening/already happened is the hardest thing for me.  today was one of those days that from the beginning, i felt this overwhelming sense of not ebing patient enough about my life and the things god is going to do in it. "what about what he's already doing caitlin? try and see what's right in front of you instead of straining to see what's so far ahead.  i mean for christ's sakes, what you think you see in your future could simply be a mirage, or something that's blocking your sight from what he actually wants for you." these were all things i was saying to myself throughout the course of the day.  then i stumbled upon this little number i hadn't read in way too long:

"Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything

to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way

to something unknown,

something new.

Yet it is the law of all progress that is made

by passing through some stages of instability

and that may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.

Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.

Let them shape themselves without undue haste.

Do not try to force them on

as though you could be today what time

-- that is to say, grace --

and circumstances

acting on your own good will

will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new Spirit

gradually forming in you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing

that his hand is leading you,

and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself

in suspense and incomplete.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God,

our loving vine-dresser.

Amen. "

"and that may take a very long time? are you serious right now? how long exactly is "a very long time" i don't have time for this. things need to start happening or i don't know if i can do this anymore." all things i was saying to myself during and after reading this bad boy by my man  pierre teilhard de chardin. then it hit me. i thought, shut up caitlin. just do it. you know, small things with great love? and then maybe, just maybe, this beautiful plan will unfold before your eyes without you even noticing it for a "very long time". 

you see, it's not what god is going to do in your life that takes so long, it's us recognizing that it's all happening right in front of us that can take a lifetime.