Day in the Life: Slip n Slide, Spontaneous Worship, Coconut Cream Pancakes

Awake.

In a new, but altogether familiar, room. I am back living in the apartment I lived in all of last year, and I am so happy to wake up here. It feels like home. I remember what Jesus did the day I surrendered my “food rules” to Him, crumpled on the floor in this room. I reflect on my beautiful summer, busy working but also on many adventures with Johnny, my family, and friends. Time flies, and God is outside of it.

I ease into a slow morning, studying the book of Ephesians and enriched by the Spirit Himself in prayer, cleaning and organizing the house, making and eating food, working for a few important hours on my cookbook.

Speaking of which…

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Next week, the contest TO WIN A FREE COPY is coming, with details. All you will need to do is repost the share photo with the hashtag #cassiescookerygiveaway, and comment two friends who you think would love the breakfast cookbook as well! With nearly 30 recipes that are UNIQUE, SIMPLE, and DELICIOUS, you’ll be craving these breakfast recipes more often than just the a.m.

Due to some technical difficulties, the launch of the book is OCT. 1st! I am so so excited for y’all to see it!

Today led me into a heap of errands in the afternoon, one of which being taking my cell phone to Apple to get it looked at. It recently wiped all of my contacts, photos, and ability to text. I had an incredible experience and conversation with the technician over the multiple hours I waited to as he diligently put time and effort into solving the issue with my phone. Throughout the entire experience and day, I prayed that the Lord would carefully grant me His vision. He granted nothing but patience, and the outlook that even if I no longer had my phone, so what? And convicted me, gently, in some of my means of using my phone.

I wondered whether if Jesus were walking in his flesh body in this generation, would He own a phone for the soul purpose of connecting with/loving on others? Of course, He does not call me to use it when in the company of others, or to distract myself, or for self-gratification. What convictions. And spurs of funny story-sharing with the awesome Apple technician, who sadly told me, “You have a positive attitude. You’d be surprised what little things customers become so impatient at. It’s kinda scary how much people think they NEED these things.” Technician Dude, thanks for being awesome.

My other errands were fun and quick, especially after I stopped by Teavana, a partner store of Starbucks, and got a soy caramel almond brittle latte, and I was quite grateful, actually, for the time to myself and just talking to Jesus.

The evening brought exceptional company and creativity in some of my dearest friends– one of whom, Ryan, had had the idea to create a Slip N Slide with tarp and whole lot of dish soap down a massive hill in our city. I met my gang of friends there and again felt so grateful to be surrounded by loving people interested in doing CREATIVE things! Shoutout to Ryan– you are awesome, friend.

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We spent the night after just hanging out, making and eating pancakes with coconut whipped cream and soaking in one of the last nights of the summer. In more ways than one throughout the day, the Holy Spirit convicted me in His gentle way to remind me the need He has of me to put others before myself always, and to consider their needs above my own.

Lord, I pray that You would continue to grant me Your Spirit of understanding and wisdom that sacrificed everything for ME. That I may joy in what You joy in, Lord, which is ultimately laying down Your life for others. Teach me to lay down my heart for others without judgement, doubt, or hesitation, by Your Spirit, Lord. I submit myself to You and exalt only Your Name. Amen. 

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The Glass Castle: A Movie Review

I am not picky when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations.

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As an avid reader, I’ve been told people would guess otherwise; that I get worked up and nervous about whether or not a movie will “do justice” to one of my favourite books. The thing is, I love and appreciate movies in their own right, so I am usually pretty thrilled to see any adaptation of brilliant books.

Jeannette Walls’ “The Glass Castle” was no exception.

  • One of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Great acting, solid story line, does not preach nor give a pat answer. Every movie goer will find parts to relate to and pieces of truth. For a tough subject I left feeling positive. Enjoy. –User Review, Tribute.ca

The movie is based on the memoir by Jeannette Walls; the true story of her breaking free from her abusive family. Life with her parents wasn’t all bad, as we see Jeannette and her three siblings stick together and love on one another, often loving their father and his trust in nature. Jeannette’s father saw the evil in the world, and wanted to keep his children from it; but his demons had driven him to become an alcoholic, abusing any money he made and leaving his family to starve, the alcohol turning him into a raging, physically and verbally abusive man. Jeannette was the only of her siblings to keep faith in her father and his unconventional ways of living, even though he often became a monster.

As cruel as her father often could be, he “had his moments,” and Jeannette agreed wholeheartedly with his constant reminders to stay creative and unstained by the world. Jeannette had always wanted to be a writer, and wrote story after story in her little notebook in her spare time. When she finally escapes her abusive home after saving enough money to move to NYC, Jeannette becomes a successful reporter for a popular newspaper, working with the “big shots” of the world. Successful in the eyes of the world, sure, but convicted that this isn’t what she’s meant to be writing about.

This true story teaches on the dangers of two extremes: believing we’re invincible on our own, unending of community, accountability, or any sort of closeness to the world; and, oppositely, the danger of clinging to the world and listening to society for the basis of success, caught up in its temporariness.

I would rate the movie an 8.5/10.

I thought it was phenomenally acted. Woody Harellson is one of my favourite actors of all time, and no one in the world could have casted the role of Rex Walls better. Brea Larrson and Naomi Watts were standouts in their roles, too, and the cast of children were all also incredible in terms of realism and character development.

The storyline was smooth and captivating. The movie was not too graphic while dealing with difficult and hard-hitting content, and portrayed its themes without being cliche. Its “glass castle” motif, among multiple metaphors, bits of humour, and consistent lighting were among the elements that grabbed and kept audience attention.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone!

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Martha, Martha, Martha: At Jesus’ Feet

Today’s writing is not mine, but rather my notes from a message I heard at the church my dear friend Maddie is leading worship at called Risen City, a new church in Kitchener/Waterloo. Pastor Mike Rutledge spoke on a well known passage in Luke’s gospel, commonly known as the story of Mary and Martha.

www.risencitychurch.com

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” LUKE 10:38-42

If it’s easy to bring up the temporary and negative things in our lives, Mike began, shouldn’t it, even logically, be so much EASIER to access and trust in the only solution to questions, hatred, sin, and EVERYTHING, the Lamb of God?

In this story, Martha is busying herself in preparations that Jesus doesn’t ultimately care about, “distracted.” We see that she wanted Jesus to notice and pay attention to the work she was doing, showcasing a tendency to shift the want of worthy praise to ourselves. Rather than praising her work or “productivity,” though, Jesus gently rebukes Martha’s soul.

“If the Bible never challenges your assumptions, it’s possible you aren’t really hearing it.” –Timothy Keller

And Jesus is so loving, not condemning, but seeking Martha’s betterment, as if to say, “Martha, I don’t want your food, I want your attention.”
Pastor Mike went on to highlight the fact that Martha seems usually to get a “bad rep,” and proceeded to remind us the importance of “Marthas” in the body of Christ– the servant heart, the work and preparations that are simply the reality of making church and the work of Christ accessible in a broken world. Preparations that come from a selfless place.
BUT, here’s the thing. SITTING comes first; SERVING comes second.

Because if we are operating out of ourselves, out of our own trying and business, we will inevitably burn out and fail to serve Christ.
It IS my job to sit at His feet, Jesus calls us to come to Him, not to take advantage of His grace and the fact that He works on our behalf.

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. DEUTERONOMY 4:29

Here’s the thing: the world that glorifies BUSINESS causes feelings that the literal sitting at Jesus’ feet isn’t “productive” enough.
GOD, however, whose will and portion is perfect, would NEVER call or will us to be so busy that we can’t spend time at His feet.
Indeed, “most of us aren’t busy, but distracted.”

I began reflecting…

More of my time sitting at Jesus’ feet– what would that cause my life to look like? My life, that is only for the cause of Christ? What is most important? Would sitting with Jesus make me a better girlfriend FOR JESUS, a better friend FOR JESUS, a better sister FOR JESUS, through Jesus, no scrolling, only promises. Thankfulness, gratefulness.

May our days be a continuous conversation with the risen Lord who desires our relationship and answers perfectly. May we open the Word in faith, knowing our souls NEED calibration (2 Peter 1:12). I don’t “need a break.” I don’t “need Netflix.” I need HIM. And I’m not going to “put Him off.” This being said, I know my Lord does not CONDEMN my Netflix watching… just reminds me that I would rather spend the time with Him.

I don’t need a plan or to busy myself with little details; I need to “pray without ceasing.”
I don’t need to “get on to the next thing” for sustenance. I need HIM for sustenance.
I wait upon the Lord, and eagerly ask the Holy Spirit to change me. And I worship and praise Him! 
“If you have a conviction you haven’t given over, GIVE IT TO GOD.” Even– ESPECIALLY– when the voice of the enemy is telling you to hold on to it. The result, He promises, I’ve experienced, billions experience, is PURE JOY for His sake, and therefore my betterment.
And community and accountability IS IMPORTANT.

What are my priorities– what is funny to Jesus, used by Jesus, joys Jesus? May these things be on my lips. And oh, the amazing, sweet, unfathomably good news? He does not ask us to worry or wonder about these things– but rather to die to ourselves, to our trying, to give our lives to Him and submit to His working, that He would work in us.
He’s not praising my work or my self righteousness– we can put down the productivity for its own sake and take the Gospel as Jesus hands it to us.

First we “Mary,” then, through Jesus, we “Martha.”

Pride is at the heart of both only being filled/spending a whole life SITTING, and at the heart of thinking our servanthood is king, or relying on “feeling accomplished, busy, or talented”
We aren’t called to be affirmed in SELF. Rather, everything we do is meant to be a response to what Jesus has ALREADY DONE.

TEN THINGS TUESDAY: Culinary Goals

I love preparing food for loved ones and enjoying it with them. It is another blessing that God has granted us, the enjoyment and sharing of food, but it would idolatrous for me to be constantly preparing food and not enjoying it myself. I rarely have the spare time to cook at the moment, but when I do, there are a lot of things I’m excited to make!

From-Scratch Chicken Tenders and Plum Sauce. One of my boyfriend’s favourite dinners, and mine, as well, I want to make drool-worthy strips from scratch that he looks more forward to than anything from a box.

Goat Cheese Dip. Something fun and yummy, and cow-milk-free, that goes with breads and chips! And, speaking of chips…

Homemade Potato Chips. I would love to learn how to make ketchup chips as good as Lays!

Caramel Apple Spice & Pumpkin Spice Drinks and Baked Goods. For the fall! My favourite culinary season for produce and flavours.

Mastering Chocolate Buttercream Filled Cakes. I make tasty buttercream, but the aesthetic is something I want to work on.

Fluffy and Soft Belgian Waffles. I made this favourite of Johnny’s for the first time this past weekend, and he apparently likes them unconventional; soft, rather than crispy. I want to learn how to make them perfectly fluffy; and, I think I agree that I prefer them this way after trying a dairy-free version for myself!

Pretty and Flavourful Avocado Toasts. This staple of mine is too boring when it’s simply mashed avo on toast. I want to find the perfect flavour profile!

Fluffy, Buttery White Bread. My mom buys only bakery-fresh white bread, and it so beats the stuff in the store. I want to master yeast-made white bread myself!

Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have a few secrets of my own for the perfect chocolate chip cookies… but they can always be better ;).

Christmas Sugar Cookies. Come Christmas, I will actually have called-for time for all of this… and hopefully time for Christmas cookie baking and sharing! 🙂

 

MEDITATION MONDAY: Taking Jesus at His Word and Deed

My mom makes the best spaghetti in the world. Who would also agree that their mom has a dish that is the best in the world? The smell of my mom’s spaghetti on the cooking on the stove when I came home from school was the best smell, and made homework exciting because i got to look forward to a family meal and a big plate of spaghetti. I don’t know all her secrets, but I know it’s the best. Enough that I would want it over anything else. If it were up to me at that age, I would gladly eat Mom’s spaghetti every night. But, Mom knows we weren’t designed to eat the same meal night after night, and as much as I doubted it, I would have probably gotten sick of it if we did.

Indeed, what is best for us, and for the greater good, isn’t always the thing we think we want. 

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! ROMANS 9:1-5

We hear from Paul here that his conviction in Jesus being all in all was enough for him to cut himself from the goodness of Christ in order that others would understand their place in Him. Not only does Paul exemplify Christ in this expression of immense selflessness, but the Word boldly proclaims God to be the source of all goodness. We feel his anguish and understand its importance.

We see time and time again in the Gospels what seems to be a natural doubt.

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. MATTHEW 14:13-21

In this story, we watch the disciples come to Jesus– as if He could ever need any sort of reminder about the care of His own creation– concerned that there would be nothing to feed everyone. And although bread and fish may not have been the most delicious meal, the Lord fulfilled the disciples’ need to be fed without dwelling on it, so that they could get on with more important matters. Jesus was the answer. And the best thing the disciples could have done in this situation was trust that He would provide, as He promises to always. Trust that by leaning on Him, they would be filled. Maybe they had visions of going into town to get spaghetti, but the physical need itself wasn’t what mattered– how they got to it did.

This involved a faith in that Jesus is who He says He is.

If we believe in Jesus Christ, that He died for our sins and rose again in order that His Holy Spirit would come afresh upon us and make us new, then we believe that, period. He is the One God, whose same Spirit performs miracles today as He did with the loaves and the fishes, and if we believe that, then we BELIEVE IT, and we invest in relationship with Him. We believe and know that Jesus COULD HAVE actually turned those loaves and fishes into a gourmet spaghetti dinner, better than Mom’s– sorry, Mom, only Jesus could do it better. But He wasn’t concerned with the earthly thing– Jesus reminds us we need only be concerned with HIM, and in the process He fills in the earthly things that He does want us to ENJOY. It is only when those things become the centre of our lust and attention, rather than a tool that we allow the Spirit to work through, that we run into problems.   

Of course, experience of Jesus’ working miracles is helpful here. That can start with trusting and believing the miracles He has worked, then allowing Him to fill us with His Truth that He IS forgiveness, IS grace, and is LOVE. Rather than the food being the relevant concern, then, for the disciples, Jesus became the focal point; the disciples concerned themselves with JESUS’ will, and, WHEN food became the afterthought, their baskets were full as Jesus perfectly saw fit.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for going on two years. We met at Laurier, and Johnny decided a year ago that he would be transferring to a school just outside of Winnipeg. For the second semester of our long distance relationship, Johnny and I prayerfully decided our only form of communication would be via letter. No texting, Skyping, or phone calls. It was an emotional thing to enter, but our provision in prayer was that the Lord would teach us the discipline of sitting down to write to each other, and become bigger in each of us as we had to trust God with each other, and in each other. I learned so much about prayer and the blessing of communication in this time, and Johnny and I will forever hold time together dear. As difficult as it initially seemed to take this leap of faith, Johnny and I couldn’t have done this without the Spirit; if our trust had been in each other, we would have failed each other. And we have failed each other, of course. But clinging to Jesus and trusting Him, we have reaped rewards in our relationships with each other and the Lord. Believing that He can do it, and that He always is who He says He is, I have witnessed both in the Word and my own life the way even good things entrusted to the Lord, placed on the altar for Him to tender, are never, ever, ever returned for the worse.

Again, Jesus is JOY, and does not condemn. Rather than randomly making such decisions of faith, our Lord delights in our prayer and relationship with Him.

Martin Luther famously said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Believing that this Jesus created us and is who He says He is and is alive today for our good and our purpose means being in conversation with Him. When the disciples expressed their concern to Him, Matthew’s Gospel clearly states that the Lord worked out of COMPASSION; out of COMPASSION He worked to serve FIVE THOUSAND MEN with five loaves, and two fish. THIS IS AMAZING! This Is the same Lord who is in our midst today and invites us into conversation. Who is anguished when we push Him away. Who KNOWS all our sins and worries no matter what, so thus delights when we bring them to Him willingly. And whether His work is what we may have envisioned as our answer, we trust that HE is the answer, and grow in faith in the one who was our beginning, is our present, and is our end. Sometimes this comes with sacrifice and suffering, but as Jesus sacrificed His LIFE so that we might have it, we glimpse eternity and pure joy when we put our faith and our lives in the will of the One who never fades.

 

TASTEFUL THURSDAY: Velvety Mashed Potatoes

Hey guys!

A couple evenings ago, I made dinner for Johnny and I. It was a simple meal of crispy chicken thighs, steamed broccoli, and mashed potatoes for him but rice for me, as I can’t eat dairy.

I wanted to make the potatoes a la Cassie, but they ended up too soft and liquidy. Johnny still approved them, so the recipe you are getting is a scaled down version to ensure they’re the thicker, but still fluffy, soft, and buttery texture you want.

If you make these, let me know!

Velvety Mashed Potatoes

Recipe serves 1

Ingredients

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp chopped onion

1 clove garlic, diced

1 large potato, peeled and cubed

1 cup chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 Tbsp heavy cream

chives

Method

  1. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in medium skillet; add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for 3-5 minutes, or until onions start to turn translucent.
  2. Add potato chunks to the pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the chicken stock and salt and pepper; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover the pan just partly, so the sides still release some steam.
  4. Simmer until the potato chunks are soft and easily pricked with a fork, about 30-40 minutes.
  5. Place contents of saucepan in blender or food processor; add cream. Process until smooth, and no chunks remain. Season if needed, to taste.
  6. Serve hot with melted butter and garnished with chives.

WHAT I “ATE” WEDNESDAY: Your Presence, Lord, is Irreplaceable

Today has been beautiful. I am ever-amazed by God's provision and timing over us, and yet isn't it almost prideful that my amazement might exist; for His timing and authority over us is simply an everlasting Truth.
I woke up, breakfasted, spent some time in the Word and enjoyed a slow morning before heading out to meet Johnny's sister-in-law, Amanda. She is a special soul and I have been feeling more and more close with her as I've had the opportunity to know her. Her heart for the Lord and for people is inspiring and infectious!

We caught up over coffee and book shopping before I had a super quick arms and back and stretching time at the gym, so rejuvenating. Tons of food followed, and then a tea date with beautiful Savannah, a girl I have danced with since before I was 10, who radiates Jesus and beauty and selflessness. One of the most beautiful influences in my life, Savannah and I talked about our lives (she is currently preparing for a co-op term in SINGAPORE!), the power of prayer, and Jesus' provision in our lives. I started an evening shift at Starbucks 5:30, and headed to prepare for that next. It was a wonderful shift full of awesome and brightening customers, my amazing co-workers, and such a blessed space. I got to chat and hang out with two of my favourite baristas too as we slow down in the evening, and it was just a great shift.
And coming home to my younger sister's best friend, a wonderful guy who means the world to me, for a catch up was just another special surprise.

Philippians 1:22-25, “If by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and your joy in the faith."
LORD, show me how you need to use me. May my eyes and soul be ever on you, and my life reveal nothing but your grace, authority, and love.