faith, freedom, food

cassie, compiled

cassie, compiled

faith, freedom, food

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06. Oneness

06. Oneness

This is Part 6/6. Read Part 1, “Meeting,” here, Part 2, “Dating,” here, Part 3, “Distance,” here, Part 4, “Letters,” here, and Part 5, “Healing,” here. …all of that closeness tracking perfectly toward oneness. Marriage. God’s beautiful creation. A part of His plan to make humans stronger. In some […]

05. Healing

05. Healing

This is the fifth instalment of six in my series telling my love story with my fiance Johnny. Read Part 1, “Meeting,” here, Part 2, “Dating,” here, Part 3, “Distance,” here, and Part 4, “Letters,” here. Following the grandly miraculous healing that Jesus reigned in over my life […]

04. Letters

04. Letters

Read Part 1, “Meeting,” here, Part 2, “Dating,” here, and Part 3, “Distance,” here.

It was our second New Year’s Eve together, over our first reunion during long distance dating, that Johnny told me there was something really important he needed to talk to me about.

Now, for some context. Before Johnny and I met, I had come through years of entrenchment in eating disorders. At the time we met, when I was entering university, my health appeared much better than it had previously, but my mind was still quite the war-zone. My brain was still hyper-focused on calories and lack of calories and minutes spent burning calories. And I hadn’t even admitted to myself, but, when Johnny left, that war-zone in my mind had waged harder, threatening to take over.

Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 2 SAMUEL 7:28

Since Johnny and I had just gone months without seeing each other, my decrease in health was apparently incredibly obvious to him when he returned. Not simply in my physical appearance, but in my mental clarity and focus.

Never once did I feel Johnny’s lack of love and support. He clung MORE tightly at first, and his gentle, loving promptings scared the eating disorder inside me.

But, Johnny soon realized that clinging tightly was not the answer to my health. If he truly loved me, he would have to let go.

So, New Year’s Eve, Johnny explained to me what he had prayed through. He felt strongly that God was asking Him to step away from being such an influential voice in my life, just for this next season. Johnny explained that he wanted desperately to make everything better, but he needed to act according to his belief that only God could remedy this dark mental illness, and Johnny didn’t want to stand in the way of that because he loved me too much.

We rang in 2017 crying our eyes out, as the eating disorder cringed because Cassie woke up to the reality of her sickness that day. Living this life could mean losing the love of my life… I couldn’t foresee it for what it was just yet, but I knew that I wanted to live freely and whole-heartedly for Jesus, and that the eating disorder was preventing me from doing so.

So, when Johnny left again for Winnipeg, we committed to no communication outside of letter-writing for the next four months.

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. PSALM 9:10

I spent a large part of the coming months in spiritual therapy with some of the most humble and self-sacrificing people I have ever known. To read the full story of how God used this time to heal the eating disorder in my life, head here.

I was a new creation in Christ, and Johnny had shown his trust in both me and in the Lord during this time, which was HUGE.

May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. PSALM 20:5

I have also witnessed Johnny come through immense trials, honoured to walk next to him in his journey with Jesus. The time we both gave in which we synced our words with our actions– we trust you wholly and completely, Lord, so we’re going to surrender everything to you– glorified Him and taught us both so much in the process.

As Johnny last summer endured a lot of challenges and pain during a time that I was much healthier and more thriving, God shifted our perspectives yet again. I have watched Johnny grow from that difficulty in pursuit of God; watched God grant him an amazing job opportunity, soccer skill that blows my mind, and transform his character to become only ever more in the image of Christ. I am absolutely amazed by the grace, love, and genuineness of the man I get to marry.

3 The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. ISAIAH 51:3

03. Distance

03. Distance

All photos by the best wedding/engagement photographer on planet earth, Liam Good. Read Part 1, “Meeting,” here, and Part 2, “Dating,” here.The premise of long distance dating in our culture today is frightening. Multiple times throughout the years Johnny I dated thousands of miles apart I had […]

02. Dating

02. Dating

All photos by the best wedding/engagement photographer on planet earth, Liam Good. Read Part 1, “Meeting,” here. That first coffee date made Johnny’s intentions even more clear. We spent it talking about what God had done in our lives, and to give Him glory for those […]

01. Meeting

01. Meeting

All photos by the best wedding/engagement photographer on planet earth, Liam Good.

I didn’t think the incredibly handsome man with the super humble but intelligent thoughts and shy smile whose name I knew to be Johnny Fulford would ever talk to me.

I assumed that, like the way most middle-school crushes of the same calibre go, the nodding and acknowledging and occasional smiles we exchanged at Tuesday morning 9am Public Faith & Politics class would be the extent of our relationship.

But oh did I have a Heavenly Father who knew differently, One who knew exactly why those middle school crushes were nothing more than hormones. One who has extended such love and grace that the only possible response is to give Him all of my life.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. JEREMIAH 29:11

And, any way, the more aligned I was becoming with Johnny Fulford before we had even once spoken had nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the way God was working in my life. Through beautiful friends, through enlivening the Word of the Bible like never before, transforming my heart and my spirit and my mind to true joy in having an intimate relationship with my One and Only God, Jesus.

I believe that Jesus revealing Himself to me as my Number One was absolutely vital for number two stepping in.

In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. PROVERBS 3:6

My first real conversation with Johnny, then, was on a car ride to Queen’s Park in Toronto for a class field trip. The everything-but-country-music-fanatic cringed a bit at my Shania-Twain-belting but I noticed that he was smiling at my soul.

While we were on the field trip, colleagues who had been in the car asked me, “Do you and Johnny have a thing? Sure seems like it.”

University isn’t the time for a boy, reverberated my mind. But the Holy Spirit was undeniably speaking something else.

Do not conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. ROMANS 12:2

When he asked me that night if he could take me for coffee, after highlighting that he was interested in what the Lord was doing in my life for His glory, I had the most overwhelming peace in Johnny’s intentions to know me; that knowing me more deeply would hopefully mean knowing Jesus and becoming more like Him.

Because of Jesus, the world had already started to look more colourful and beautiful even in all its brokenness; but that was only the beginning.

But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. MATTHEW 6:33

Your Faith Has Made You Well

Your Faith Has Made You Well

Jesus really doesn’t ask for much. Well, yes, when we follow Him we surrender our lives from purpose for dead and meaningless, withering worldly things to the eternal purpose of Jesus’ glorification, and this may certainly be seen as “much” if we don’t know Jesus […]

Guest Writer (Must-Read) Angie: In Christ Alone

Guest Writer (Must-Read) Angie: In Christ Alone

The first time I met Angie Smith was in the middle of the first service I attended at C3KW. I was crying during worship, and she calmly and confidently tapped my shoulder and asked if she could pray for me. I didn’t quite know how […]

Blooming: How Three Days Up North Changed My Trajectory

Blooming: How Three Days Up North Changed My Trajectory

This past Wednesday, May 22nd, I embarked upon a journey that changed my life, and that I will never forget.

This time last year, my dear friend and pastor, Nat, came home from a mystery excursion to the Muskokas raving about his experience, and telling me it was one he really thought I should consider applying for.

The Bloom Leadership Retreat, hosted by Fluid Conference, accepts 24 applicants from across Canada to take part in a three-day, workshop-filled retreat at Muskoka Woods Camp in Ontario. Upon Nat’s recommendation and prayers for me, I applied to the retreat a few months ago, and was excited to learn that I had been accepted to attend.

My journey began early Wednesday morning, as my older sister kindly drove me to Burlington, an hour from my own home, to be picked up by a complete stranger, who was also attending the retreat.

Megan Smylie lived up to her name. She met me with a beaming smile, and, after quickly introducing ourselves, we shared authentically with each other that neither of us knew at all what to expect from the few days, but that we shared an excitement and anticipation that came from God’s affirmation.

We shared our hearts with each other over the course of the three hour trip to the camp, where we met up with the other people who we would surely become equally acquainted with. As we toured the massive grounds, which were full of eager camp kids, we relented that we felt like we had just arrived at Camp Rock. The atmosphere was exciting and infectious.

The actual journey began on the entrance side of a loooong suspension bridge, which the staff kept questioning the safety of– statements we participants couldn’t tell the sincerity of.

We stood in a circle on one side, and each one of us was invited to share what we were bringing into the experience.

Uncertainty about career, intense grief, confusion, sadness, and fear were among the answers. Some said they were bringing hope, but most were walking through a season of uncertainty.

“I have felt called to church ministry– a call outside of myself– since I was nine,” I said when it was my turn to share. “But I don’t know what God wants it to look like, or when, or where.”

Before we crossed the bridge, one of our leaders invited us to think about what it felt like to enter into a brand new setting in a treacherous way.

Crossing the swinging bridge was certainly treacherous, as Megan, one step in front of me, whispered, “I feel like I’m on the bridge in Shrek.”

As I crossed, I felt a release of worries and uncertainties as I prayed, and God’s presence enveloped me. Miraculously, I don’t think I stopped being aware of His omnipresence the rest of my time at Muskoka Woods, thanks be to God.

The Leadership Studio at Muskoka Woods that we entered after crossing the bridge was one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever been in. Every part of it, we were told, was designed with purpose. From the beautiful wooden ceilings with cracked outer edges that represented the beauty God makes of brokenness, to the open space with stunning table space and dinnerware set for kings and queens to emphasize the importance of hospitality and shared meals, the space was something out of a storybook.

The “pillow wall” you see above is where we got to cozy up for each one of our intense learning sessions, spent immersed in the Bible, in prayer, and in gifted preaching.

The room to the far left is where we gathered to worship together, strangers coming together to sing songs to the same Jesus who we’d all walked with, who was the only reason we were all there.

And the food we got to enjoy was absolutely incredible. Presented and described to us each night by the incredibly talented cooks, I teared up a few times at the incredible display of family-style hospitality, in which we all shared delicious food and ensured everyone was well fed.

The many conversations I got to take part in were absolutely beautiful. From a few spontaneous prayer sessions after heart-sharing vulnerability, once from my own heart and many times from others’, to conversations about our journeys with the Lord, to conversations simply about how good He is, I was made to be in constant, never-ending awe of my Father, and how every good gift comes from Him.

Here are the most fundamental things I learned:

  1. Soak yourself in the Psalms. This is the advice of John McAuley, president of Muskoka Woods. Absolutely drown yourself in them, He said. Never let yourself forget of the utter goodness, sovereignty, PERFECTION of Christ. Start with Psalms 1 & 2, he said, and always hold fast to Psalm 23. Allow the Lord to speak through His Word always– even if the reason you approach it is for academic purposes.
  2. Prioritize rest. There is a reason God rested on the seventh day of creation, and it was to marvel at the goodness of His work. He truly RESTED. He stopped, rested, delighted, and reflected. Have a day of the week in which you truly STOP, and have this rhythm of stopping in your daily life in some manner, too.
  3. What you look at, you see. Wow, so profound, right? Really, though, it is. Modern psychology reinforces it. If you’re looking every day at photos of a particular, posed body type that is presented as an ideal, that is what you will want to conform to. If your world is one of only Christians, and you’re living in a “Christian bubble,” you’ll forget the reality that there are many beautiful people in the world who don’t share the same belief, and that God is calling you to see those people, too.
  4. Where are you starting, and where are you going? In other words, you don’t need to know precisely where you’re going, but, to really get anywhere, you need to have an idea of God’s Truth and vision, and ask Him to help you understand His vision and purpose for your unique calling. How do we discover His vision, His overall and most important purpose for this earth? Revelation 21 is the final chapter in the Bible, which accounts what is most commonly assessed as the vision for Jesus’ return for His bride (the Church– you and I). It is summed up by “God with us.” So, our purpose as HIS people, His hands and feet, vessels of His goodness, is to live WITH Him. Not just meditating on Him, or learning about Him, but living in STEP with Him.

These are just a few little points in a massive list of learnings I had the honour of taking away from this incredible opportunity. Not to mention the chance to hike while praying and being in one of the most beautiful places in Ontario, to talk and pray with Ellen Duffield, and to come home with physical resources for growth in my walk with the Lord.

Thank-you, Lord, for changing and shaping me and reminding me of your goodness. Forgive me when I forget, and put aside Your perfection in pursuit of something– anything– else. Would this world fade, and You become all in all, so that Your Son is glorified.

Coffee Talks: Writer’s Block

Coffee Talks: Writer’s Block

I haven’t wanted to face it, let alone write about it. The very topic has caused me to close my laptop and attempt to anything and everything but write. I haven’t wanted to acknowledge its presence, but it has hit me: writer’s block. I would […]