What Is Exhaustion Without Purpose?

All I can think about right now is hitting my pillow.

I hate sounding dramatic, but my eyelids are so heavy and my whole body is exhausted from not stopping all day.

And that could easily be for nothing.

I could easily work this body hard and fast for a single purpose: my own feelings of worth, productivity, to boost my ego, “because I’m good at it or enjoy it,” to “make a living.” But, why? Why live to “make a living?” Surely I was put on this earth for more than to be put on this earth.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. MATTHEW 20:28

A pastor I very much look up to and respect preached a sermon on this very verse yesterday that God used to convict and challenge and change me. Jesus might call me to a remote part of the world to be in the depths of danger with starving children and my calling and purpose would be to say “it is well with my soul” and obey. He might call me away from all comforts and pleasures, the “things of this world” that I think bring me joy and say, “These things are NOTHNG,” showing me that glimpse of Heaven, and OH, how good that would be. JESUS I JUST WANT TO KNOW YOU MORE.

Don’t allow me to live this life selfishly, Jesus. Don’t allow me to think about when it’s my turn to eat, or my turn to “shine,” or anything of myself or “my” success. Jesus I just want Your name glorified in my life, and I know that that looks like servanthood. Less Cassie and more You, I pray Jesus, every day.

This doesn’t look like burnout, and it doesn’t look like the striving I often find myself wound up in again. It looks like submitting, it looks like letting go, and it looks like listening. It looks like joy, and unabashed consideration for every soul I encounter. I can’t be perfect in this, so I might as well give Him the steering wheel. It’s all I was created to do.

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When Will I Learn?

…that life is all about the “little moments?”

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”

I have written about it countless times. And I think about it all the time. But sometimes, in the heat of a moment, it doesn’t happen.

In a moment when…

I tiredly choose to watch YouTube videos in my room rather than catching up with one of my roommates (also some of my best friends).

I choose to stress over the fruit that needs cutting at work rather than meeting a customer or co-worker where they’re at.

I choose to take on too much so that I’m spread too thin and feel I have no time for friends and family.

This morning, when I woke up, I was reminded by timely encouraging texts from my roomies, Beth and Mary, the importance of taking time out.

Like every day, I brought my Bible and highlighters out to my living room when Jesus asked me:

Are you sitting with me this morning? Or just “the book?”

Wow.

Sometimes I focus “so much” on making sure I’m ACTUALLY sitting with Jesus that I don’t leave room for Him to just speak. This morning, He spoke loudly, and I decided to listen.

Inspired by a thoughtful, gracious co-worker at work later that day, reminded by her of the love God calls me to share, I was equipped to serve customers in a way that made memories rather than just “what can I get for you?” kind of service.

Further inspired by one of my pastors, Nat, at our meeting about the coming year, where I officially agreed to interning at Creekside Church for a second year. Nat met me exactly where I am. He cared to listen to the details of my life, and reminded me that that is what I am called to do. Stop and listen. To Jesus, to people, to music, to history. 

Aggravated when I knew I hadn’t written my most recent article for the software start-up I write for to the best of my ability; humbled and blessed by the grace my employer showed me, anyway.

These “little moments” that are memory-worthy matter. And they’re memory worthy because of Jesus.

Each time His love is truly shown, and He is responded to, eternal glorification and life-change happens. I’ll take more of these moments, Jesus. Give me a heart and soul that only wants more of you in me, and more of You in others.

A Prayer for Unchanging Desire

Today was the grand opening of the cafe/kitchen I work at’s second location ever. And it was so exciting to be a part of.

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While my job there was relatively the same as it is at our first location, there was something– I would say human-naturedly– exciting about working in the new space. Each and every one of my greetings to customers was cheery and considerate, and I had extra pep in my step and motivation.

While a part of this was probably due to my own excitement/the novelty of the new store, I am very aware that another part is due to my Saviour Jesus.

This morning, after praying for my friend Jacqueline, who is working as a kids’ Bible instructor this summer, I felt a pang of conviction. Day by day, I had been living recently a bit routinely, choosing to ignore the Kingdom of Heaven that God wants to come on earth. Choosing to ignore His voice and just live the work life.

Man, what a sad life that is! It blows my mind how easily the devil can trick our minds into thinking that exhaustedly working just to make money and participate in society is the way of life. I know that it isn’t.Recently, one of my dear friends asked me about the difference between being a light of Christ, and being a kind, respectful person. Sometimes I feel like I just live like everyone else, she said, But I want to be His light.

How normal!

The difference, I told her, is HIM.

When the Holy Spirit dwells in a person, He does the work. He truly does. And, when after I had prayed for Jacqueline and felt this tingling of, “I should be doing church/Bible work, not *just serving food,*” I was convicted when I prayed how equally important every sort of job is when it is given to Christ. Today I encountered hundreds of different people, and rather than just being a bright spot, I asked Jesus for the grace, humility, and discernment that only His Spirit could accomplish. And I had a drastically different day than I might have if I chose to ignore Him.Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 8.07.25 PM

Lord, birth a me a stronger DESIRE than ever for YOU. May I LONG to be with You, to serve you, and to know You more. Lord, help me to live a life of prayer– of constantly talking to You, trusting and believing that You ARE every good thing, and that all Your plans are in stone and for good. Lord, would I lean on You every single day to be a servant and Your Spirit’s light. Would I know my worth in You, and the ways you want to use me in individuals’ lives. I pray all this in Your Son’s name. Amen. 

“Starting with the Light:” My LoveIsMoving Article

Hi Friends!
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Today I am so excited to be sharing an article that I wrote for a beautiful magazine called LoveIsMoving.

When the wonderful creator of this magazine, Conor Sweetman, asked me to write for his magazine, all he prompted me was to write about how technology has impacted my faith.

In his “editor’s note,” Conor writes that three of the writers he prescribed this prompt to, myself included, began their articles by discussing the temptation to turn to one’s phone and social media first thing in the morning. I find this sheds such light on the heavy influence social media has on our generation.

For my full reflection on this, head here for my article! I also encourage you to check out the other articles in this issue, as there is so much amazing and impactful work.

If you enjoy/are encouraged by this piece, please share it! It is a message I definitely feel called to get out to the world.

If God Already Knows Everything, Why Pray?

As a follower of Jesus, it is probably the question I’ve personally been asked most often.

If God is all-knowing… knows what’s gonna happen, knows me inside and out, is GOD… then what’s the point of praying?

I think that there are endless good answers to this question, but I’m gonna answer it really basically today.

First of all– know what prayer is. 

Prayer is not simply, “God, please do this.” Prayer is not a wish of your “fairy godmother.” We are called to FAITH, yes, not to controlling. Faith means believing that if God is who He says He is, He CAN do anything I ask Him. To say otherwise would be to say that He’s not God. If He wanted to make it rain gumdrops, of course He would make it happen. Which does mean that yes, He is capable of miraculous healing and of making the world perfect. In fact, the book of John tells us that He has already overcome the world. It also tells us that, while we’re in it, we will have trials. But that the suffering we endure here is nothing compared to the glory that is to come. We are called to have FAITH in that, and it is then the faith that He provides so much joy in and through.

So for that we can PRAISE HIM. Prayer often looks like a necessary sacrifice on our parts, as His children that He died for, just bowing in reverence. Worshipping, marvelling at His feet. The Word tells us that He is near us when we worship, and that our praises are fragrant offering to Him. He receives worship while we receive His love.

And know that we were undeservingly forgiven. 

Jesus is so so gracious. In fact, it is overflowing around us (2 Corinthians 9:8). But He calls us to REPENT OF HIM. To acknowledging to Him our wrongs and our mistakes, to giving those to Him genuinely and openly and asking for forgiveness. Knowing that this is an absolutely vital part of our relationship with Him. Which brings me to another point, that

Jesus is a person. 

More tangible, real, and AMAZING than any human you can see. CLOSER TO YOU than any human will ever be, forever. This is love that is overwhelming to think about, but it’s true. And the same way that we have the ability to ignore loved ones, things, people in our lives, we can choose to ignore Him. But all it takes is turning to Him, committing to live for Him and receive Him and know Him to see Him in everything, and to know Him next to us. It is only when we are living in such a close relationship with a person that we feel comfortable or called to ASK them things. Asking is definitely a part of prayer… Jesus, how are you calling me to act in this situation?

Jesus, I ask for a little extra of Your strength today– I ask that you would help me to keep my gaze fixed on You, for I know that is what is best.

Jesus, I ask for Your healing work in my co-worker’s life. 

He is Holy, and His ways are better than yours.

At the end of the day, yes– He is all-knowing. He does know you inside and out. And He does already have a plan. Which is why we can rest in YIELDING to what He does, expecting Him to be who He says He is (great, perfect, merciful, mighty, fatherly, compassionate, teaching).

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Ultimately, when we know Jesus, we know just how insignificant we are. Prayer isn’t about what WE get– it’s about what He gets. It’s about His glory, and taking part in the only thing– One– that is eternal, and His purpose for all of us. We are closer to that purpose each time we hear from God, and choose to be intimate with Him.

Here’s the cool little acronym, one of my favourites:

P.R.A.Y.=Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield

Because You Were Born…

You were born to influence.

These are the notes from a sermon I delivered at the high school youth group at the church I’m interning at a couple weeks ago. 

I want us first to set ourselves in a place of receiving if you can do that with me.

Jesus says in Matthew 18:20:

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Because I really believe that no matter where you are right now, where God’s Word is is change for the better, although it may not be the kind of change we’re envisioning. If it’s God, it’s always good. So if you don’t know if you believe that, or maybe you so solidly believe that and you’ve heard a million messages and sat here and listened and you’ve had a mediocre day and your thoughts are elsewhere. Wherever you find yourself I just want you to try something with me. Close your eyes, and think about thousands of years ago. Before anything else, there was God. Who is perfect Love, and who held you and your existence somewhere in His being. Who created you and said you were good. Who wanted to use you to influence people in this short life, who created you for a purpose, and who created you that you would have eternal life. Even though you’ve ignored Him and chosen to do your own thing or gone on missions where you thought you’d be okay with Him. Even though you’ve thought more about yourself than your neighbour. Even though you’ve listened to negative influences, lied, sought after the future rather than thanking Him in the present. In the midst of all those things that same God, in the person of Jesus, is here right now, hugging you, smiling over you, speaking to you. Maybe you’ve gone up to this point listening to other voices, whether it be in your head or the voices of other people, that you don’t even feel like you know how to hear Him. But here is what He says, that “according to the riches of His glory, He will strengthen you with the power of His Spirit.” “That He has gone to prepare a place for you.” and that “He is beginning a good work in you HERE ON EARTH, that will be complete when Jesus comes to restore.” It all starts and ends with Him. If we are influenced by Him as our source, believing this to be entirely true, we will submit ourselves to Him and find joy that’s not just temporary, but eternal.

We have the capability of submitting to anything. PRAY.

When I was little, I was a trendsetter. Or so I thought. I lived by this notion that being entirely myself was the best way to be and so as a preteen, I wore Halloween and dance costumes to school, and I thought I was the coolest. I wasn’t very easily influenced by those around me. Until one day I remember vividly a friend of mine telling me that what I wore made me look “ugly.” That really hurt, and I started to think differently about myself. I became suddenly very aware of the social hierarchy around me, and the way people “fit in” according to whatever standard, or the way they didn’t. And I began to realize that the people that fit in got to decide the people that didn’t. From middle school, it was about where you sat to eat lunch and who you hung out with at recess, and in high school, it was about who got invited to parties and who got drunk. And in high school, that mattered to me somehow. I might not have vocalized it, or even realized that I thought it, but I lived in a way that said I believed that success was measured by my popularity.

We have the capability of living in submission to anything. Let’s break down this word “SUBMISSION.”

SUBMISSION: .

the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in submission to anything that isn’t true or real or what I’m actually meant to live in submission to.

In the middle school, I lived in submission to the idea that my own way was coolest. That going against the grain was coolest. That I could be my own trendsetter.

In high school, after running for co-prez and losing but having gained this popularity and confidence through the way people perceived me, I started for the first time going out with friends, drinking, making poor decisions. Living in a way that said I didn’t care about those around me. Living for myself and my image, and influenced by not necessarily bad people, but an accumulation of untrue thoughts.

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Thoughts like: If I miss this party, people won’t like me as much.

If I don’t get drunk, people won’t like me as much.

I have to hang out with the cool kids to fit in.

Because these were the thoughts I submitted myself to, obviously this reflected the kind of influence I was going to have.

I didn’t acknowledge these thoughts, but they were embedded in me somewhere. And so, in high school, I lived in submission to the idea that others’ ways were the coolest.

This talk is all about Influence and your friend groups. So far, we’ve talked about identity, Amanda talked about the way we can put our identity in other things but that putting it in Jesus is the way. Then Nat taught us that when we live with this firm identity, we are able to be selfless. To think of other people and have genuine compassion and purpose in that. And last week we talked about the fact that as humans, we’ve all slipped up and been forgiven graciously by our amazing God, and that we need to offer that forgiveness to others. As Christians, it’s our call to seek forgiveness and to forgive.

Now we’re at influence. Despite what you might be thinking, I’m not going to give you the “don’t hang out with negative influences” talk. I’m not going to echo, maybe your parents or anyone who’s told you not to hang out with “so and so,” in this particular talk. I’m not going to tell you that. What I’m telling you is that who and what you’re actually influenced by is what– WHO– is going to make you a good or bad friend, and determine the kind of influence you have on others, and who is going to help you decide who to hang out with. But I am going to ask you to think and engage with me, because unlike biology class or conversations about video games or crushes at the caf table today, this is really important stuff and I do believe it’s for you.

So let’s see. Do we think it’s better to shine ourselves, to live like we get to set the trends and do whatever we want? Or is it better to fit in and go with the flow of the crowd?
I’m a cook. I love baking. And so forgive me if this analogy is a bit of a stretch but I hope it speaks to you or at least you get a little bit of food porn here. Who else when you scroll by these you just get kind of like mesmerized? I know, I love it. And if you know anything about baking or cooking, you know about the importance of this one little ingredient that seems so unimportant but makes all the difference.

So if you don’t know anything about baking here’s a little lesson for ya… If there’s no salt, in food, the flavours of all the other foods aren’t brought out and don’t shine. If there’s too much salt, however, salt is all you taste. No salt in chocolate chip cookies means you want to eat three of them because you just want to really TASTE the cookie you know is there.

Let’s break that down. For example, my friends in high school that I partied with are amazing people who were genuinely oblivious at the time to the fact that their constant drinking was a cycle that caused drinking and partying to become their idol and life. I witnessed parties become life, to the point where my entire relationship with these friends was partying. If we weren’t at a party, honestly not doing much (standing around, or playing beer pong, or looking around, talking to people about…. nothing) we were talking about last weekend’s party where, yeah, not much happened. So and so got really drunk. These people “hooked up.” We would just talk about what happened at parties and not much else. And I always felt like I was on the cusp of so much bigger, actual purpose out there and I would grab on to it one day, but at least for high school I’d just focus on fitting in. In other words, hanging out with these really great people without realizing the kind of influence God wanted me to have and receive was like eating a chocolate chip cookie that didn’t have salt. I constantly felt like I was on the cusp of something good, but knew at the same time that my life was “bland.”

It was no fun. I did a lot of things that caused a lot of hurt by submitting first to my image and not thinking much about others.

There came this turn when God reached out to me and made me aware that He was the vital thing I was missing. He created me and I was meant to live for Him.

But when I turned from this way of thinking and became aware of the King of my Heart, started reading my Bible and was blessed to be surrounded by more Christian people– also when I started hearing these mixed messages from the church and Christian people, and I wondered if the right thing to do was to isolate myself from people who partied and got drunk and hooked up with people every weekend (and again, this is just one example of stereotyped *non-Christian activities*), and because I knew many of these friends to be kind people who were also incredibly selfless and devoted friends, I believed some of these were people God had placed in my life for a reason, friendships that were valuable. Some of them. Others of them, not so much. There were some friendships that I realized were destructive, where the friend was just taking and not investing back, where selfishness and gossip dominated.

For both cases, I had to pray and go to God and spend some time with Him, asking for forgiveness and allowing Him to found me on Him. Once I was able to confidently say that HE was my influence, His Spirit and Word and Life were where I was getting my influence and what my identity was founded on, then I was able to maturely let some friendships go, and the ones that were valuable only became so much better. I still have fun with those friends that love to party, but with Jesus in me I have no desire to drink to the point of sickness or selfishly consider my own image above caring for a friend. These friends have witnessed that change in me and not only respected it, but asked me lots of questions, commented that “I don’t think I wanna drink anymore,” and inspired much better conversations and hangouts. When I see some of these friends that are still in the realm of talking about drinking like it’s the only thing to talk about, or gossiping about those around us, I not only recognize that I used to engage in these conversations knowing there was SO MUCH MORE, but I can’t not ask them about more important things, and am reminded that those simple questions of caring and consideration mean so much, to anyone, because it’s a showcase of the kind of love that Jesus is already loving them with… that, as Christians, we’re called to love with.

So, was it better when I was in middle school and loudly setting all my trends, going my own way and thinking I could do whatever I wanted? No– there was too much salt, and so my pushing my own way was all people saw.

The same is true of our Christianity.

Now, again, the last thing I want you to take from this message is to only have Christian friends. Let’s look at this passage in 1 Corinthians as an example.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

*Really important* This Word is telling us directly that Paul is not talking about not associating with people that aren’t Christian. He’s telling us that it’s a lot more dangerous to hang out with people who claim to be Christians, but don’t live out of the Spirit, don’t expel the kind of love and selflessness regularly but rather are not very good people.  So when we actually have a firm foundation on Him, we’re actually CALLED to hang out with unbelievers, because we’re going to be the kind of witness and influence that can have great impact.

Wondering how to be this kind of friend?

  1. Always check your doctrine with the Word, in prayer, and then with fellow Christians. Growing in your faith involves these pillars: God’s Spirit most importantly, b) does it line up with His Word? And c) talking to people whose spirits you trust. When influence comes first of Jesus, we live closer to Heaven, closer to the way He called us to live. We are called to have the powerful influence of Jesus living inside of us.

Psalm 1 does remind us that those we hang out with can influence or sway us from alleigance to Jesus if we’re not careful.

Blessed is the one

   who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

But here’s the thing. This Word doesn’t say to avoid “the wicked.” It says not to walk in STEP with the wicked. Not to submit to the wicked, or be influenced by the wicked.

But being a good influence doesn’t necessarily mean talking about Jesus all the time. Randomly bringing Jesus into conversation can sound a lot like judgement– and, frankly, often is out of judgement. Real friendship of any kind is a walk alongside someone, and, as Christians, our faith should probably be coming up in conversation with our friends, God changing both people, but that is in alignment with what He is doing, not pushing it of our own will. If you’re sprinkling salt randomly in your cookie dough, salt is all you’re going to taste. If you’re throwing Jesus randomly in your friends’ faces, they’re not going to see Him for who He is, and He’s got Perfect timing. *He’s in control, and when we realize that, we WANT to engage with what He’s doing, and be a part of how He’s already speaking to us and influencing us.* When you use just that teaspoon of salt as it’s designed for in cookies– ie, When you let Jesus be Jesus through you– the flavour and warmth and beauty of that incredible cookie dough will shine through.

Are you getting it?

Here is what I’m asking you today, because I’m sure many of us are in different places.

RED LIGHT FRIENDSHIPS

  1. Some of us may be in a place where we’re realizing right now that we’re living in alignment with something that isn’t true. We’re being heavily influenced by friends and doing things just to please those friends or to “fit in,” and maybe we need to step back and allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives, to understand the kind of influence HE wants to have in our friendships.
  2. Maybe some of us are realizing that our friends aren’t very kind people, or we’re associating with people who just take and take and take, are dominantly selfish in the friendship, and we’ve been putting up with mistreatment that has allowed us to believe lies.
  3. Maybe WE OURSELVES are becoming aware of a negative influence we’ve BEEN in other friends’ lives, and need to ask forgiveness of those friends. (When I was in a place of making those very obviously poor decisions, I was very outwardly a negative influence, a time that I learned a lot from. Not to say that I’m a perfect friend now, but my Jesus is, and He’s in me so I can be confident in His strength through me. Urges me to call on Him).

YELLOW LIGHT FRIENDSHIPS

  1. Maybe some of those friends are good people and these are good friendships, but we need to recognize God as the King of our hearts and listen for His voice in order to be the kind of friend He calls us to be. He still calls us to be a part of those people’s lives, but with God as our king and loving them through His influence.

GREEN LIGHT FRIENDSHIPS

  1. e) The ideal friendship is one in which both people are influenced by God, challenging each other, putting God first and loving the other through Him. But this isn’t the only kind of green light friendship, I would say we’re actually going against the Word entirely, against the whole person of Jesus if we say that. He calls us not to discriminate, but also to interact with all people seeing them for the amazing potential they have through Jesús, and He empowers us to change lives and actually point people to Him when He is our own priority.

ROUNDABOUT FRIENDSHIP

  1. Maybe you’re frustrated with non-Christian friends and have just been judging them out of a place of just wanting them to know that they can have relationship with Jesús, but we’re not going to Jesús to do that in a loving way. I know i’ve done this too. You know these Truths and feel confident in your relationship with God, and you’ve been pushing Him on other people. Go to Him to love. Let Him love through you, and be patient with those in your lives. He speaks loudly when we’re listening, and it’s never a boring thing.  

Or maybe you have a range of these friendships! Whatever the case, I want to pray with you now.

 

Lessons from the Birthday Babe Beth

Today, I am highlighting some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life, influenced and inspired by one of the most significant people in my life, Beth Foster.

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Not only is this beautiful girl one of the most gorgeous girls I’ve ever seen, that beauty lies within, too.

Top Five Lessons I’ve learned from this 22-year-old

5) There’s always time to stop and chat. Beth always has time for her friends. She constantly puts others first– even in the midst of finishing her last year of university and planning her wedding! Beth is sooo good at living in the moment, listening attentively, and meeting people where they’re at.

4) The truth may sting, but it’s the only thing worth talking about. Beth is one of the most trustworthy and honest people I’ve ever met, and it’s a trait I’ve thus grown to respect and grow in so much as being so significant to the Spirit of Jesus! Beth never sugarcoats anything, but always tells the truth. She prays for the truth and speaks it, and I know I am always receiving nothing but pure honestly when she talks to me. In this way, she has helped me countless times in a way that hit hard, but led to such freedom and understanding. She only ever speaks out of love.

3) Vulnerability is the place where healing is possible. Beth is also so real about her own struggles, even though I am always surprised to hear she has them! She is truly one of the most put-together people (and not *just* on Instagram– I live with her, I know!), but can also be broken, and will be because she knows prayer and encouragement through Jesus will bring healing. Meeting others in a vulnerable state also has helped me to be vulnerable with her, and with others that I trust, too.

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2) Work ethic and drive go a long way. Beth is so determined, organized, and hard-working. One thing we relate on very much is our struggle to relax, but Beth takes this to such a height. She is go-go-go, and always working for the Lord’s glory. And it shows in the success and talent she so clearly possesses.

1) A relationship with Jesus is the most important part of life. Beth’s prayer life and relationship with Jesus flows in and through everything she does. She desires that His name be glorified, and she desires to know Him more every day, and that pursuit is so clear in who she is, how she lives, and her testimony.

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Beth, on this your 22nd birthday, I am SO grateful to call you one of my best friends and sister. I love you ever so much, and can’t wait to celebrate many more birthdays. I know Jesus is only just getting started with how He needs to use you.