there are a lot of words in this one.

This weekend, we took 8 soon-to-be seniors to Austin for a little senior retreat. We had a blasty blast. Yes, you read that correctly. A blasty blast. It’s a term. Look it up. We talked through some chapters in the book “How to Stay Christian in College” by J. Budziszewski. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that. I can’t help you. This book is an incredible handbook to dealing with the realities of college that nobody warns you about.

I wanted to write about some of the things that stood out to me the most. But then I thought…that’s lame. So my creative wheels started turning and I came up with this “Playlist to Staying Christian in College”. Enjoy.

“We Won’t Give Up” by The Afters

This is more like a wrap-it-all-up kind of song, but hey..the last shall be first and such. (Matt 20:16) I may have loosely interpreted that verse. The intro to this song belongs at the beginning of a CD.  It has awesome lyrics like, “They say we’ll never make it but we’re gonna take it all the way” and “all we hear is wait, it’s not you’re time.” I’ve had many people imply that there are certain things more important than digging into God’s word or even taking that simple trip to church on Sunday morning…but there’s nothing they can say to make me believe it. I’m going to take my faith as far as I can and nothing will stop me, though many will try. My first year at college, it was easy for me to decide to sleep in on Sunday, for example. Once I realized that they were wrong, that there isn’t anything more important than strengthening my relationship with God, I understood: You have to fight. You have to decide that you won’t give up, that you CAN make a difference, despite your youth (1 Tim 4:12). Make that decision before your first day of class, and stick with it. [[Also, “Can’t Shut Up” by Anthem Lights]]

“Outta My Mind” by Anthem Lights

This song basically describes one of my insecurities: that I’m not important. I know…that’s stupid. I’m dealing with it. God says I’m important, loved and special. Why do I need more verification than that? I get stuck in my head and only hear my own thoughts. Do you do that? I drown out that voice telling me how special I am and get stuck. “If anybody asks me, what have I been up to, this is what I’m gonna say/I’ve been spending my time out of my mind/and I’m really loving living this way”. Preach it, Anthem! I’m done with inward living and moving on to serving others and serving God. In college, it’s easy to get caught up in all the things other people have and you lack. Especially as a girl watching friends get married and have families of their own. “Gotta try not to say/oh God, what about me/cause I know that’s not the way that I’m supposed to be” and “gotta try just to say/oh, God what can I do” are words to live by. I have this song on repeat sometimes just to get me “outta my mind and into [His] heart” so that I can start “playing my part in [His] design.” [[Also, “Overcome” by Jeremy Camp]]

“By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. I have a lot of “jams” and only a few “favorite songs of all time.” This is definitely one of those. “Why are you looking for love?/why are you still searching as if I’m not enough” are some of the most impactful words I’ve ever heard. A common struggle in college is the need for comfort, love and attention. I think everyone struggles with those to some degree. God is by our side! He doesn’t run off when a prettier girl comes along or a funnier friends walks by, so why do we make Him our last choice? Why not the first? God knows what we’re going to say before the words even pass through our brains, He never has any intention of abandoning us, and He is the King of comfort! This song is a love song to you from the Father through Tenth Avenue North. Don’t take His love for granted, but rather cling to it as you enter the college chapter of your life. You won’t believe the difference it makes. I can attest to that. [[Also, “Strong Enough” by Matthew West]]

“You Are My Passion” by Jesus Culture

This song is sung by my hero: Kim Walker-Smith. She chuckles when she sings. Her joy is full, pure and infectious. I’ve never heard anyone sing with as much passion as she does. I don’t even know where to start with this song. One of the most important nuggets of advice I can give is this: know what you believe. People will ask you why you don’t do this or why you disagree with that and if you can’t give them a solid answer…they’ll either make fun of you or shrug you off. Neither one of those outcomes feels very good, I’ve experienced them both in college. Is God your passion? “My strength in life is I am Yours/and my soul delights because I am Yours/Your will on earth is all I’m living for.” Amen! If you follow Christ and you’re about to head off to college, make God your passion, make Him your only desire. [[Also, “All to Us” by Chris Tomlin]]

-Caitlyn

Listening to: Honestly, I’ve been listening to “You Are My Passion” and “Rooftops” also by Jesus Culture this whole time. Ha!

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curse you, Eve. (insecurity: part 1)

I’ll have some choice words with her when I get to Heaven. We’ll need a mediator.

I’ve been a part of a Bible study that meets on Tuesday mornings. We’re going through Beth Moore’s book “So Long, Insecurity.” It’s been awesome so far. At first, it was difficult for me because I wasn’t exactly sure what my insecurities were. It’s hard to fill a hole when you can’t find where it is, after all. As I read the first chapter, I immediately discovered what I struggle with: validation and acceptance.

Everyone wants to be loved in some way. I like when people like me, pure and simple. I tend to go out of my way to please people and make sure everyone’s happy. I’m sure my parents are nodding as they read this. I’m that way to my core and I always have been. I used to be lacking in confidence, and I still am to a point. Where does confidence come from? Magazine covers and movies? Hollywood and runways? Yeah, for a lot of people. But as Christians, where should our confidence stem from? From God, of course. What’d you think I was going to say?

Our confidence should come from our validation in Christ. His sacrifice alone proves we are worthy of love. He loves us no matter what we do or think. No one on earth can offer that same promise.

How do we do that, though? It’s easy to say: My confidence is in Christ. But how do we reach the point where our heart agrees with our souls? We have to find who God is. When we do that, we’ll start uncovering our identities in Him. My prayer is, “I am who You created me to be. I’m not concerned with anything but glorifying You.” At first, I may not have fully believed that prayer, but I wanted to be able to say it whole heartedly. And in time, that’s exactly what I believe. I don’t care what anyone says about me. I only care what God has said about me and His plan for my life.

Satan uses insecurities as his battle cry. He is the writer of insecurities. They’re simply lies that Satan has fed the world that the world, in turn, feeds to us.

2 Corinthians 4:7 [The Message] says, “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.”

Insecurities cause us to question God. We wonder if He knows what He’s doing, if He really knows us. We lose sight of the gift God has given each of us and our view of the world gets all wonky. His voice is the one we need to hear. It all comes full circle back to the Fall of Man in that Garden of Eden. Eve believed the lies of the serpent that God was holding something back from her. She fell to the ways of sin and we pay the price for it every day. As nice as it would be to push all the blame solely on her, that’d be a lie. We’re pretty guilty, ourselves. We choose to believe the lies of the world rather than trust in the truths of God. Why are we like that?

At the end of this post, I’m posting a video of one of my favorite songs. (One thing about me is that I have a lot of “jams”. This is definitely one of them.) My favorite line in this song is “Why are you looking for love?/Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?/To where will you go, child/Tell me where will you run?” That’s one of my insecurities all tied up with a pretty ribbon. We are constantly searching for our prince charming or true love, but the kicker is…He’s already here! Our culture feeds us the lie, ladies, that only a man can make you happy and fulfilled, but true fulfillment lies with the Father, and the Father alone. Why do we tell ourselves any different? I’m excited to see what this Bible study uncovers about me and I’ll write about my discoveries in insecurity as we go.

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North

God is able.

The theme this summer at Summit Camps is “Poured Out” and it’s based on this verse: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38). I guess that whole week I focused on reflecting Christ, that I never really stared at this verse and wondered what it was trying to tell me. In the weeks that we’ve been back from camp, God’s revealed to me that the whole purpose He called me to Bowie for the summer as a youth intern is in that verse.

My last two years of college, I’ve poured everything I have into other people: trying to be a good example, trying to get friends to come to church with me and encouraging my friends with their walks with God. But in all that time, who’s been pouring into me? I have some great friends, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard, though, when we all live in different places. Sometimes you just want to sit down and have a conversation, but it’s not the same over chat or Skype. The friends I’ve made at school are awesome, but it seems like something’s missing. We all have different aims and goals. I’m at the point where I feel like my gas tank is running low and there’s not a gas station in sight. We get so focused on figuring out what’s wrong with us that we’ve taken all control from God and thrown it on our backs. I’m definitely starting to feel the weight.

So here I am in a town I never thought I’d move to and I feel my walk with God getting stronger every day. These students are pouring into me more than I ever imagined. And I’ve gotten some amazing encouragement from Miles & Emily Morrison, the youth pastor and his wife that I’ve been friends with for years. Then all of a sudden – BAM. Curveball. And I was just starting to get comfortable.

All of my plans for next year have crumbled at my feet. My apartment and roommate plan…everything. I didn’t even bother to have a backup plan. That’s so unlike me. After a few different events, I found myself in the church office crying and saying, “I have nothing. I have no one. I don’t have anywhere to live next year.” After God let me have a good cry, He calmed my spirit and spoke through a dear friend.

God hasn’t gone anywhere. He has a plan for me. He has a place for me to live. He has friends for me that I haven’t met yet. I’m a control freak. It’s time for me to relinquish control and continue giving Him everything – even a plan I thought I had already made.

Something big is coming. Oh, yes, friend. God is moving and it’s going to be fantastic. Are you ready?

//I wrote this post last week and kept thinking something was missing – it wasn’t ready to be posted. Well, that’s because this hadn’t happened yet: This last weekend I went home and posted something on Facebook about needing furniture to fill an apartment I didn’t have, yet. That day, I received a leather recliner, a table and chairs, a coffee table, two side tables and my Nanny’s old couch. Praise God, my provider and shelter! Yesterday, I received a call that an apartment I applied for a few months ago and didn’t think I would get has freed up and they offered me a home! Praise God, my provider and shelter! The roommate search continues, but if God wants me to live alone and focus on Him and my school work, then so be it. As long as He is glorified, it’s fine with me!

-Caitlyn

Reading: “A Lineage of Grace” by (one of my favorite authors of all time) Francine Rivers