Fall Favourites 2018

It is mid-November.

I am mid-way through the first semester of my last year of my undergrad. 
Can anyone in the same place– or who’s been there– vouch for the insanity? 
Yeah. Breaks in order to carry out passions are necessary, I have found. 

That is why I keep up the blog. Many of these posts, have proven to be helpful for some, and many of them just fun reads, and many of them sparking conversations that have changed my life… or, I’m told, someone else’s… 

So, I keep blogging. I pray God continues to use it. 

Today, Wednesday, has the blessing of being a break in my week, consisting of zero lectures, and time to study, reset, hit the gym, hang out with friends, etc. This morning I was blessed by a meeting with my pastors, where these amazing friends of mine blessed me with their time and wisdom. I am so incredibly grateful to go to a church in which the leadership sees community and mentorship as a vital part of church.

After which, I got to head home and clean with my beautiful roommate, bride-to-be, and friend, Mary. This girl is one of my greatest blessings, and we have most definitely become like sisters. Investing in relationships and people in her life so beautifully, Mary has taught me so much about self-awareness and awareness of others. Maddie and Mary are both such incredible blessings to me that I cannot imagine my life without. 

And now, I’m enjoying a break in studying to blog, and felt inspired to do one of my old favourites post:
Essentially sharing the top ten miscellaneous “things” I’m loving this season, that I think you might appreciate, too.

Music. 

PVRIS. Thanks to a co-worker and friend, I have discovered my love for girl alternative music, particularly this band.

Food. 

I used to think I hated pumpkin… but I have this new fancy for it. Versatile for both sweet and savoury recipes, so healthy, and so flavourful, I especially love it in this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. It’s also super affordable! 

Menu.

The restaurant I work at just launched its new menu! And it is incredible. If you are in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, be sure to check out one of our two locations!

Serving something for literally every kind of eater, catering to all allergies and dietary preferences, plain ol picky eaters, and meat and potato lovers. Real people, real food– and that’s what makes me passionate about this place.

Podcast.


I am so grateful for the podcasts broadcasted by my pastor, Mike Rutledge. For leaders of any kind, these podcasts are sure to glean something true for you! While those are not public as of now, his sermons are– and they are phenomenal. Check them out here .

Class.

I am loving my Christian Studies Seminar class so much. Learning such tangible things about program development, research, and integrating different practices, I feel I am finally honing in on some of my passions and callings. 
To brief the project that is coming out of this class, head here.

Worship.

Sitting still with Jesus and singing this song to Him is powerful.

Hobby.

I would say that my number one “hobby” is tap dancing. It is one of my favourite things to do, most definitely my favourite form of exercise, and a practice that gives me so much joy. My school showcase is coming up on December 2nd!

Make-Up.

This eyebrow pencil gave me so much more eyebrow confidence! (When I choose to use it, haha).

Blogger.

Currently catching up on all the posts by my girl Mackenzie. 

Fierce, strong, and beautiful, she is a must-read blogger.

New Friendship.

Blooming so quickly, I have a new friend at church named Kayla, who is one of the fastest friendships I’ve ever formed. She is someone I feel I’ve known forever, and who I’ve been able to open up with instantly. Do you know those friendships? So special and such blessings. People will trump places, work, and experiences for me, always. 

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“I Believe” Bible Study Research Episode Two: It Starts with Believing

Happy Monday!!

Welcome to the second installment of the research and info accompanying the I Believe Bible Study I am launching, as part of my fulfillment of my Christian Studies degree.

To learn all the details about the Bible Study, and how to sign up, head here: Announcing the I Believe Bible Study

To get caught up on the research, head here: Research Episode One

Today’s research focuses on the title of the Bible Study: what does believing in God entail?

There is a reason I titled a Bible Study about fasting as “I Believe.” And that reason is simple and primary and the first step: if God isn’t God, and He isn’t who He says He is, there is certainly no point in fasting to spend more time with Him.

However, in thinking about who this study is for, I do not intend to limit it to being for people who are confident in their faith, and believe fully in/have a relationship with Jesus. If you are in a place of being curious about faith in God; have many questions; want “help with your unbelief” (Mark 9:23-25), even skeptical, this is for you, too.

And I do believe that spending time in prayer and asking of God, the mighty One Himself will answer your prayers (though often not how you think), guide you, and intercede for you.

Drawing on a sermon preached by Pastor Mike Rutledge at my church, Risen City, if we believe in the God of freedom, Jesus Christ, we believe in a God who absolutely is who He says He is. And if He IS the Prince of Peace, the Light of the World, Creator and Friend, then a life lived for Him is going to radically change us. His Holy Spirit promises to intercede for us (Romans 8:26), making us more others focused people.

In this sermon, Pastor Mike talked about the first of the Ten Commandments given in the Old Testament of the Bible.

He explained that, at the time these Commandments were given, the people took them very seriously, as strict rules that, if broken, threatened their relationship with God.

And God spoke<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-2053B" data-link="(B)” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”> all these words:<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-2053C" data-link="(C)” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”>

“I am the Lord your God,<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-2054D" data-link="(D)” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”> who brought you out<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-2054E" data-link="(E)” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”> of Egypt,<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-2054F" data-link="(F)” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”> out of the land of slavery.<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-2054G" data-link="(G)” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”>

“You shall have no other gods before<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NIV-2055a" data-link="[a]” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”>[a] me. Exodus 20:1-3

But when God came to us in the form of Jesus, He came to set us free from the Law. This doesn’t mean that this Law isn’t for our good, or that these Commandments are not things we should adhere to. They should absolutely be adhered to. But it means that love wins, and that we now have the Holy Spirit to help us, because God knows we can’t live out these Commandments ourselves.

It is truly a fairytale. We have an ever-present help.

And the more time we’re spending with that ever-present help, the more we will grow in and with Him. The less we will desire anything but life with and for Him.

This world doesn’t need a bunch of rule keepers. It needs reformed hearts. –Mike Rutledge, Ten Commandments Sermon 1, https://www.risencitychurch.com/messages/

And where do such reformed hearts come from?

Jesus. Relationship with Him.

Whether you’ve had faith in Him for years and years, you are so full of questions you don’t know where to start, or your heart is stirring for more, this Bible Study is for you.

Feel free to comment, connect with me via email, or send me a personal message for more info about the study. I am always happy to answer any questions.

Banana Almond Oat Cookies

Three of my favourite words! Banana, Nut Butter, Oatmeal.

Put them all together to make one delicious, healthy dessert? Heck yes!

Banana Almond Oat Cookes

(This recipe was good for just me, or about 4 ball shaped cookies!)

Ingredients

1 Tbsp almond butter

2 Tbsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener (I used sugar free hazelnut syrup!)

1/2 c oats

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp chopped almonds

2 Tbsp mashed banana

Method

1. In small pot, combine almond butter and maple syrup over low heat, stirring, until melted and combined.

2. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients.

3. Remove pot from heat. Add oat mixture to pot, and stir, until you have an incorporated dough.

4. Roll into balls, or press into a small baking dish, or flatten into cookies on a cookie tray. Whatever shape your heart desires! This recipe can easily be quadrupled multiple times and you can make granola bars on a large tray!

5. Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Allow to cool before enjoying with peanut or almond butter!

A Weekend In Wisconsin

This past weekend takes the cake as one of the best of my life.

Friday morning, in one of my theology classes, in the midst of my friend Bethany’s presentation, my phone started ringing.

I quickly silenced it and responded to the caller– my friend Sheldon– that I was in class. His reply was quick and to the point:

Want to drive to Wisconsin?

Today.

To see Johnny’s soccer game.

I need an answer soon. I’m leaving at 4pm with or without you. 

My mind started racing. My heart leapt into my chest at the thought of seeing my boyfriend, who lives in Winnipeg, and plays varsity soccer through the states. Sheldon and I had been planning on seeing his nationals games in North Carolina, but it wasn’t guaranteed that Sheldon could get the time off work. And, being the most spontaneous person I’ve ever known, it was not surprising to me that Sheldon would text me with the thought of leaving for a 12 hour road trip the very same day.

All the reasons I couldn’t go

You have so much homework, You work tomorrow, You volunteer at church on Sunday

flooded my mind. I slipped into the bathroom to call Sheldon and tell him I needed to figure some things out. And ask him that, if I could get things taken care of, we could please leave after my classes, so at 7pm. He agreed.

The events of this weekend were grounds for me to witness some of the greatest compassion, selflessness, and love I could imagine from many of my friends.

One of these people was beautiful friend and co-worker, Brooke. I texted every employee at Pure, the restaurant I work at, to see if anyone was able to cover my Saturday shift, and no one was able. Brooke works harder than anyone I know, and she told me that she would absolutely work the shift if no one else was able to, even though it was her one day off. I didn’t want her to be the one to work it, and fought her on it, but she ended up insisting.

Brooke, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to go on this incredible trip and support Johnny. I don’t want to say “I owe you–” I just want to show you love in the same way. Thank-you, a thousand times, thank-you.

I also received words of encouragement and approval from my incredible pastors and team of leaders at the church I go to, Risen City. They displayed grace, love, and understanding for the fact that I wouldn’t be there Sunday at the last minute– and also excited for Johnny and I to see each other!

And so, I packed my bags quickly before heading off to my evening class… where, even MORE last minute, Bethany decided to join, and Luke, our friend and Sheldon’s roommate, did, too.

With only a few bumps along the road (literally and figuratively), we embarked on our journey from Waterloo to Wisconsin, my heart fluttering with the thought of seeing my love, who I hadn’t seen in 2 and a half months, while he had no idea I was coming.

The four of us made for one of the most fun car rides of my life… except, of course, they would tell you that I slept most of the way there. Sheldon, bless his heart, drove for the entire trip on no sleep, from 8pm until 7am. We stopped only a couple of times, in between singing our lungs out, laughing our heads off, and, some of us, snoring quite peacefully. We couldn’t stop talking about how comfortable and close we all became so quickly and easily.

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5am rest stop shenanigans

I also have Jay, one of Johnny’s best friends and teammate, to thank for the fact that we made it to Wisconsin. He received my last minute messages with grace and excitement, and woke up early to make sure we arrived safely.

Sitting in a McDonald’s 8 minutes away from the hotel Johnny’s team was staying at, I couldn’t contain my excitement to just hold my man any longer.

“Can we just go guys?!” I bounced up and down like a little kid while my friends nommed their sausage breakfast sandwiches.

Jay let us know that Johnny was still asleep, unsurprisingly, but encouraged that we head to the hotel anyway. Jay met us in the front lobby where he noted, “We should just wake Johnny up. He wouldn’t want to waste any of the time he could have with you.”

So Jay walked me down a hallway to Johnny’s room, where, after some whispering, he knocked. And waited. And knocked again.

After a moment, a very sleepy, very bed-headed Johnny slowly opened the door sporting an unimpressed expression directed at Jay, until he saw me. His eyes widened, and he slowly said, “Whaaaaat?” 

I could barely contain my excitement and energy, and neither could Johnny. “Come here,” he said, and we thanked Jay before having a moment to ourselves. And then all the questions came.

We went after a few minutes to see Sheldon, Luke, and Bethany, who had graciously waited in the lobby so Johnny and I could have a private reunion. Johnny was, as I suspected, so excited and humbled by these amazing friends having shown so much care in order to take a weekend to make such a long trip.

We got to spend the morning all together just catching up and chilling before Johnny got ready with his team for the big game, the game that would decide whether the team would go to Nationals in South Carolina.

While Johnny spent time with the team, we took a quick trip for lunch in downtown Watertown, Wisconsin.

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We all reunited at the soccer field to watch Providence’s girls’ soccer team’s game, which they won in an intense and hard-fought match that went into overtime. Then, we got revved up to watch Johnny play.

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I can’t begin to put words to the pride and emotion I felt watching my man do so amazingly in what he loves. There is so much to say for the determination, passion, and love he has for this sport, that is the main reason he sought out his degree in Winnipeg. When we first started dating, soccer was just “soccer” to me. But I now have a love for it that comes directly from seeing the joy and passion Johnny has for it. Not to mention I have witnessed firsthand his skill in the sport grow tremendously since I’ve met him. He is the fastest, most technique-focused soccer players I’ve ever seen live. And I’m not being biased ;).

All this emotion and excitement made for an intense game. With so much pressure coming from both talented teams, the rivals scored one goal in the first half of the game. Not long after, though, the Pilots tied it up, ending the game in a tie that led to 2 ten minute periods of overtime, in which there was no score.

This led to an intense best of five shoot-out, in which Johnny’s team just barely lost.

Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 2.17.06 PM

Walking over to Johnny at the end of the game made for a very emotional embrace. I just wanted to hold him forever, my Johnny, who looked so disappointed and defeated while still sporting a little smile, and overall amazing attitude. Thanking me for being there and just saying how grateful he was that I was able to be there.

Our goodbye was the shortest we’ve ever had, which made it difficult to process. Saying goodbye to Johnny always leaves me in a pool of tears that I always just want to be alone in. But, in the middle of nowhere 12 hours from home, I had no choice but to be surrounded by my three amazing friends in Sheldon, Bethany, and Luke… and this ended up being the biggest blessing.

We booked a cheap hotel, stocked up on snacks (dairy free ice cream only available in the States!) and basically crashed as soon as we got to our room.

I woke up the next morning incredibly disoriented. Had I really just seen Johnny? Was I dreaming? Where AM I? 

As it all slowly came back to me, the friends and I packed up and headed out for our long journey home. Continually, and throughout the whole day, the patience, fun-lovingness, and compassion of these three beautiful friends inspiring me.

From IHOP to Chipotle, THE CHICAGO BEEEEEAN and a beautiful patch of fall trees, our trip home was nothing short of incredibly eventful.

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And the drive home took us to about 3am, where I ended up on my doorstep realizing I’d left my keys in the coat I lent from Bethany that I had given back to her.

Yet another show of kindness the end the trip, I had no other choice but to call my roommates, and Mary answered her phone graciously and kindly, coming downstairs to open the front door for me.

This spontaneous trip taught me so many things that I will never forget.

Selflessness cannot be planned. Spontaneous sacrifice is real sacrifice. My friends sacrificed time, money, and their own agendas for Johnny, and to support him. This is a true and real kind of love.

Routine is no way to live. I’m a creature of habit, and get very comfortable in routines and timelines and plans. This very nearly prevented me from embarking upon one of the most beautiful little adventures of my life.

People should be celebrated. If it weren’t for Brooke and Sheldon, I would not have seen Johnny this past weekend, or likely ever seen him play varsity soccer.

Little acts of kindness that focus on the other are what it’s all about. A parking garage monitor reduced our parking cost significantly, just cuz. Sheldon bought a homeless man a donut and coffee in Chicago, just cuz. Jay got up at 6:30am to make sure we were safe. Brooke sacrificed her weekend plans so I could see Johnny. Sheldon drove with no sleep to make it all possible.

I have been so inspired to live in a way that serves others, as I know this is the way to serve Jesus, the ultimate completely selfless lover.

What a weekend, and what a God, who has blessed me with such incredible people as role models, friends, and my amazing boyfriend.

Until next time, Wisconsin!

A Diary of Anorexia and Redemption

Hi Friends!

I am currently surviving off coffee after one of the most exciting/emotional/crazy weekends of my life. Full post on that pending…

Today, however, I am excited to share with you the most well-edited and concise version of my testimony ever published. I am so honoured to have a second piece of mine published in the incredible Canadian magazine, Love is Moving.

Read the article here.

In the publishing of this article, I am humbly reminded of the number of opportunities this story has had to be shared. That being said, I want to iterate how necessary it is that what is gleaned from this is that God through Jesus saved my life, and is saving it every day, redeeming me. I am not perfect, His Spirit is perfect. I still have struggles, but He is a perfect redeemer.

“The only reason healing is difficult to grasp is because it hasn’t been our experience.” Dan Mohler

If you’re curious about eating disorder recovery logistics/physical recovery, I am happy to answer questions.

If you’re curious about a relationship with Jesus, I am a friend and shoulder, but He is the Friend and Shoulder.

Thanks for reading friends, and be sure to check out the other amazing articles in this 30th issue of Love is Moving!

He Actually Does: Learning To Trust

He actually does fulfill His promises.

When a worry or fear creeps into your mind, how do you go about addressing that?

Sometimes, I find myself consumed by the worry. I recognize in myself a tendency to overanalyze the future, coping by trying to control the present.

But I have most definitely learned that I am not in control, and the One who is is, believe it or not, all-powerful and actually faithful to what He says He will be faithful to.

I can look at my own life and see God’s Hand of faithfulness. And so, if ever I get worry or worried, I can recall the many times God has provided and taught me, knowing that He uses struggles and trials for His good and as part of His purpose.

I was reminded of God’s faithfulness through one of my pastors and friend, Emily, during our breakfast date this morning.

Emily has many testimonies of Jesus’ faithfulness in her own life, and her speaking into my life gave me such hope that I needed to hear.

Mike and Emily are pastors at Risen City Church in downtown Kitchener.

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Coupled with a visit to my dear friends’ Beth and Jared’s first home together– beautiful and everything they’d dreamed of– I have been given opportunities to witness God’s faithfulness in the lives of those around me, too.

The question is not of whether God is faithful or sovereign or steadfast to His promises. The question is whether that Truth is one you are going to align yourself to and Him someone you live by.

From that decision, He just does. You will notice His promises and desire to pray for more recognition of His wisdom. You will grow in empathy and compassion through His Spirit. And this isn’t something I, Cassie, can promise. But it’s something the God of the universe can, and does.

Since making the decision to live my life for God, a decision God Himself led me to, many people have approached me about the “opportunities” that “seem” to constantly come my way; the encounters and healing I’ve had.

I in no way say this to boast, but rather boast in Christ alone. Without Him, these opportunities would have no meaning. Opportunities come to all of us through the world, but purposed by God, opportunities can be eternal ministries.

So as today I reflected on a lot of curiosity about the future, I am ultimately here, at rest, in the unknown: because God knows, and that’s all that matters.

How to Grocery Shop Creatively On a Student Budget

If you know me, you know how much I love cooking and food creating.

You know that the kitchen is my happy place, and that I love getting creative.

If you really know me (comment if you’re one of the few😝) you know that I have some really strange food combo loves (sweet potato with cinnamon and peanut butter and chicken and banana anyone)? You also know that I’m pretty meticulous with my budget, because I’m a student, and I want my money to go toward blessing others more than my own groceries.

While I recognize that I need an abundance of food to live, I don’t need to live in excess.

SO, I keep this passion alive while on a tight budget of $150-200 per month toward groceries by following a few little guidelines every time I shop:

1. Do I need a grain? Am I stocked up on cool/creative pastas, cereals, rice, flours, etc.? If not, I’ll grab one new one. Also, oats are a necessity for me. *Story time* a lady at the bus stop today literally saw oats in my bag, pointed them out, and we proceeded to have a lengthy conversation about how amazing and versatile oatmeal is. We swapped a few recipes.

2. Veggies. These I buy weekly. Depending on how full the fridge is, I usually buy one green variety and one starchy variety. I’ve been loooving pumpkin recently!

3. Fruit. I usually stock up on two types and they’ll be gone by the end of the week. My most heavily used are bananas and frozen cherries/blueberries. I also love apples and dates!

4. Fats. If Im out of a cooking spray, a sauce, or, most importantly, nut butter, I’ll grab a new one!

5. Proteins. I get most of my meat and eggs in bulk from a local farm, so it’s purchased on special trips with my momma! If I need chicken or want to try a fish or something I will, and I also almost always have chickpeas handy!

6. Treats. Treats are important. My go to’s are popcorn, flavoured drinks, dairy free ice cream, chips, dark chocolate, etc.

Having these staple foods at hand is, for me, perfect for making creative and delicious meals!

Like the ones linked here.

I really hope these were relevant tips for some of you students out there!

Tell me– when you go grocery shopping, do you just shop, or do you go in with a list?