Why I Believe the Butterflies Never End: Love that Grows

This weekend, I had the honour of being a bridesmaid to such a beautiful and inspiring woman in my life, Emily.

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Here is the speech I gave at the reception:

I first met Emily when I was this awkward grade nine and she was in grade twelve, in school choir. To me, Em was the beautiful senior who was simply waaaaaay older than me, with her life already together. She also always wore sandals, always wore sunglasses on top of her head– even inside and even in winter– and was always so simply beautiful. Like an actual naturally beautiful cover girl.

Flash forward, and Em asks me to sing in a worship band with her when she found out I was a Christian. Through and through, I got to know the sweetest soul and most angelic singer. And, most importantly, I got to know her heart for our mighty Jesus.

When high school was over, we didn’t see each other… until one day, I ran into Em at a bus stop. It was one of those “am I gonna say something?” moments, but Em came right over to me. “It’s been so long!” she said. And we took the bus together, talking all the way and just feeding off each other’s energy. I remember feeling God’s Spirit in her so tangibly.

Em was so intentional about planning a coffee date, and from there, it was like the most natural, beautiful sister-ship formed. Jesus had said quite simply, “here’s a sister for you who loves Me most. Who knows that I’m who she’s meant to live for. Who will challenge you and point you to Me.”

And, my word, who is refreshingly honest, humbly sweet, and amazingly compassionate.

Emily has amazed me from that day forward with grace, strength, and a fierce heart for Jesus. She has been such an exceptional friend and light for Jesus in my life, and has made a huge impact on me. She reminds me that His strength is made perfect in weakness.

All these past few days leading up to the wedding, I’ve been thinking about my vision of Em as a cover girl. She’s been so chill about this wedding because she just cares that Jesus is here and given glory. I know why I thought she was a cover girl: she’s “easy, breezy, and beautiful.”

Jay, nurture that goofy, strong, beautiful soul and let it soar, because she’s a powerhouse. I so trust you with Em, and I have come to so trust the kind heart you are and the Father you’ve found in Jesus. Thank you for loving her preciously, and being her second love!

I love you both, and am so honoured and privileged to know you and the love that Jesus has united you in.

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I have always been a romantic person, and believed deeply that, in marriage, one should fall more in love with their husband or wife every single day, that love growing deeper, seeing new heights, and discovering new butterflies.

Obviously, by no means am I an expert on marriage. I’m not married, and you have every right to think I’m a naive 20-year-old.

But I have reason and evidence for believing this that begins with what– WHO– I believe to be the purpose of life.

Jesus Christ, who sacrificed His perfect self for a sinful people so that we might live to serve Him, also came to dwell in us. And when we ask Him for His understanding– when we ask Him for His eyes to see our spouse/significant other/friend the way HE sees and loves them– when we know that He died just as much for that person as He did for any other– when we know that His love is one that surpasses all understanding…

When HE is our first love, first priority, and go-to person, and NOT our significant other, we don’t stop loving, because He doesn’t.

Isn’t that pretty amazing?

Emily’s vows to her husband were really special. They went something like, I vow to love you second. I vow that I will screw up, but look to Jesus.

Jay vowed to be rooted in the Holy Spirit and His Scriptures.

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I believe that broken marriage can be redeemed by the love and Spirit and work and life of Jesus. Jesus has already won the battle over death and the enemy, and by accepting Him, He promises that we enter into new life.

And that “love is patient” verse you always hear at weddings? That’s Truth, and it’s the LIVING Word.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I can say that I love my amazing boyfriend more every day. That I get more butterflies every day, more grateful for him every day, more excited about doing life with him every day. And that’s meaningful only because Jesus has gone before us, called us to love each other and for Him, and for His ETERNAL purposes. What a Kingdom, and what a God! What a romance we have with Jesus alone, and Jesus first.

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Better Than Any Other Relationship…

Sometimes I don’t want to acknowledge that my mom was right about a lot of the mistakes I’ve made.

You know how your mom is always right? Yeah, it’s like a thing.

Don’t drink too much –been there, done that.

Don’t date the player guy — been there, done that.

Don’t spend all your money in one place — been there, done that.

My mom’s always been pretty cool, cuz she doesn’t tell me things in that judgemental tone. She doesn’t yell, or ever literally say “Don’t _____.” She advises, and she loves. She’s pretty darned wonderful.

But yeah, she was right about all those things. And I definitely learned from them. But I didn’t learn from those mistakes in any meaningful way until I entered into the covenant, committed relationship with the One who had ALWAYS been in a covenant, committed relationship with me. Realizing that Jesus had always been there, always loving me, always willing to accept me and my repentance was part of what made me so excited about living for Him.

The more time we spend in relationship with Him, the more we get to amazed at just how IN THE WORLD He is. I mean, He created it. And then came back to it in all its sinfulness– we can’t begin to comprehend just how God He is, and just how human we are– out of love for us. Realizing this, and how perfect His law of love is, I wanted more than anything simply to serve Him and to love Him.

It is amazing just how “there” He is. We’re not called to do any of this alone.

You see, when a person accepts Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, He promises them His Holy Spirit, to guide, love, and lead. He convicts, challenges, helps, and hugs. He is Father, Friend, and Saviour, and if this is true, it’s true forever and all the time. 

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” JOHN 14:26

Yesterday, I was so astonished by the Lord’s work in my heart and around me that served not only as assurance in my own heart, but as service to His people. The way He answered prayer, put specific people on my heart, and the way even just thinking about the sacrificial lover He is helped me to focus on others. He is strong when I am weak; He is my deliverer, and because I know He is YOUR deliverer, He helps me to love in such a way that reflects His love on to others.

Last night, my pastor preached a sermon about light beating out the darkness. He noted that, when one turns on a light in a room, it’s not as if we ever have to push out the darkness; it’s just gone. The light covers all.

The same is true for the One who is called Light of the world. When one accepts Him into their life, life isn’t perfect, but we are entirely forgiven; that Life is always in us. We might choose to turn off the light switch; or someone else might, and allow it to be dark again. But the switch is always there, and the LIGHT is always there, always active; are we listening and engaging with the One who is always engaging with us? Or choosing to ignore Him?

My mom is always right. But God is PERFECTLY right. He knows no wrong, and His love knows no bounds.

Maybe you’re struggling with wanting a relationship.

Have you entered into relationship with the One who is already in relationship with you?

Do you know the One who, unlike any human you could be in relationship with, loves you perfectly, unconditionally, and is always with you? 

 

God is Not A God of “Sometimes”

I have been learning a lot about what it means to “meet people where they’re at.”

Freud’s theory about the egocentric child is something that I think can be easy to live in. We live from a singular perspective, and it might seem easy to live one’s whole life that way– from one set of eyes, assuming others see things the same way because that’s all we know firsthand. This way, we might live for ourselves; putting our own fleshly desires first, thinking about our own schedules and lives above other people. Especially in a consumeristic, busy-glorifying society, this is easy to do.

But it’s not helpful.

The more I learn just how true it is simply that everyone is raised so differently, with various exposures, challenges and triumphs, and presentations of ideas, the more I see just how true it is that we’re called to meet people where they at– because the fact that we’re all on different walks is true. 

What I also believe to be earth-shatteringly true, even above that very tangible, physical truth, is that Jesus Christ is God of all, and sacrificed Himself for every single human being, that we all might live freely for Him. If I believe that to be true for me, I must even mores believe it to be true for all those around me.

MATTHEW 9:9-13 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ’I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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We can learn so much from the experiences of and opinions of those around us. These two ladies next to me here are example of people I learn so much from every day; whose journeys with God, whose daily lives devoted to others, interactions with all sorts of different people all make up beautiful women that I get to learn from– and love, firmly believe that the fact that God’s love is real is a life-transforming Truth for them, too.

Firmly believing that it’s a life-transforming Truth for my parents, who I watched selflessly, beautifully, lovingly devote themselves during Easter weekend to my grandparents.

Firmly believing that it’s a life-transforming Truth for Johnny, soon to be close to me again but now many miles away, living a life with all different people and a calling I don’t get to be physically a part of, but I know Jesus’ love for him is more powerful than anything else. Firmly believing Jesus has a plan for him, and for us.

And I don’t believe this on my own. Jesus empowers me to believe it and to walk following Him. When I’m weak in a situation, Jesus is already redeeming it, and is ALWAYS closer than the air I breathe.

This isn’t just true sometimes, or for some people. It’s true all the time, and for all people. That is amazing. That changes the way we live. HE changes the way we live.

We’re all on different walks, in different places in faith, and in different seasons of life. And I’m not called as a Christian to shove doctrine down people’s throat. But I am not going to pity people or treat anyone any less than LOVED, Created in God’s image for a purpose, or that their calling won’t be fulfilled.

Jesus, remind me that we’re all on different journeys to the same God. Remind me that intimacy can’t be talked about, but only lived in. Equip me to see people the way you do, to love others in every season, and to stand firmly in faith in Your promises. Amen. 

Language of Heaven: Guest Writer Mary Soppitt

Hi Friends!
Today I am excited to feature one of my dear friends, and housemate, Mary Soppitt’s spoken word poem.

We are in a Christian Studies class together called “Paul and the Corinthians,” and Mary had a presentation today on the “love” chapter of the book of 1 Corinthians. Her delivery and prose were both so exceptionally beautiful, True, and thought-provoking, bringing tears to my eyes, and God stirring up Truth and wisdom in my heart. I feel so blessed to know this incredibly strong, self-aware, SPIRIT-aware, genuine, real girl. Thank-you, Mary, for the way you allow Jesus to love through you, to convict you, and to be all in all.

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And what is amazing is that living alongside this girl, I have watched Jesus strip her of struggles and make her more whole, witnessed only more freedom and witnessed what she writes about here, and all without her having told me any of it was happening at all. The beautiful thing is the lack of pride that speaks to. The lessened pride, and the true selflessness of Jesus more and more operating out of this lover of His heart. 

I pray that someone out there needed to read this as much as I needed to hear it.

Language of Heaven

A spoken word poem by Mary Soppitt 

Language of Heaven
Pride is difficult to see,

it masks itself in extravagant charitable giving 
growing

with every penny added to the go fund me page

It sneakily, creeps higher and higher 
as

its roots sink deeper and deeper
Pride is almost invisible

it disguises itself in heart moving sermons

with every standing ovation,

it silently grows,

the heart a perfect place to take root

filling up the broken places that no one ever shows, 
and slowly, surely it pushes out the love that existed.
Pride slinks away in alley ways,

watching, waiting to pounce,

it hides away in the prophecies that make people cry

you know the one’s that really hit that sweet spot?

it puffs up the messenger,

teaching them, shouting at them to forget 
that the giver of the message gave it only in Love

Pride is difficult to see.
Pride isn’t patient,

It runs, full force, fully expecting to get back everything it has given away

Its undistinguished temper and lack of patience 
is a mask with L.O.V.E written on the front
Pride doesn’t give,

Pride makes investments

whether in words, or money or time,

it impatiently waits for the return 
It’s assets are affirmation

In recognition, in its name printed in the church bulletin.
pride does not give anything to anyone
without using them as a stepping stone 
in its world of constant transactions.

it’s an addiction.
Pride is only satisfied with the out ward appearance,

it is fixated on making sure everyone knows everything it has done

it posts on social media, 
every status building his tower of imaginary dignity 
and as every “act of love” adds to his tower of self worth 
it gets higher and higher 
it gets more unstable 
it gets further away from the ground
it gets further away from the people he “serves”

pride will never look back 
pride stays at the top of the tower 
pride doesn’t like the ground

the ground reminds him of his weakness 
and pride isn’t okay with weakness,
She will attack the weakness in others that she knows she struggles with

In the name of “love” she will use anger, 
or manipulation 
or control 
to remind you of everything you need to fix in yourself

just so she doesn’t have to look inside herself
and actually see how much room she has allowed pride to take 
and actually see how much control she has given pride

and actually see how much shame pride has covered up.
Its funny how honour and shame only have any real power in relation to others

But as soon as you are by yourself, 
no matter if you are a king or a plumber or a student

Shame has more control than you wish to admit. 
Shame takes over the fake identity you have traded in for the price of your love

that you have bought while stomping over others,
that you have bought at the expense of your freedom

that you have bought “in the name of love”

Sometimes I wonder if Paul looked up into Heaven when he wrote Corinthians

Did he see something that the church had missed?
Did he see the trinity up there? 
Did he look straight into the eyes of Jesus?
Into the eyes of love? 
I wonder if he saw the honour God gives to Jesus.

Or if he saw the patience Holy Spirit has with humanity.

I wonder if he saw the pleasure the Father finds in Jesus.

Or if he saw the rejoicing when Papa God gets one of his children back

I wonder if he sees the celebration between the trinity

as they rejoice in who each of them are, 
in what each of them has done

as they completely trust each other, 
as they completely hope in us.
I wonder if Paul saw the excitement in God’s eyes

Saw that he is a dad at his child’s soccer game 
and with pride beaming from his face, and tears in his eyes
he exclaims

“that is my daughter, I know she loves me, I am so proud”

as I sit on the field picking daisies, totally useless to the goal of the game.

But still, He is ecstatic, because he knows that no matter what I do,

There is a love that we share, worthy of rejoicing in.
I wonder if Paul saw Jesus,
as He was up on that cross
completely covered in shame

as low as he could have gone. 
There was no pride up on that cross

when the Roman soldiers nailed Jesus up there
they nailed the purest love.

every hammer, only love

every cry of pain, only love
every snicker, only love
all the shame
& the guilt 
& the rejection
and still, there was only the purest love.
I wonder if Paul saw what Jesus saw,
the glory, the hope, the permancy of his sacrifice. 
I wonder if Paul understood what Jesus understood.
That the kingdom, His father has built is backwards. 
That the kingdom honours our weakness 
that the kingdom is made perfect through us

that the kingdom was made for the poor, for the shamed, for the weak.
I wonder if the church understands this.

that if we only give up our need to strive, our need to compete 
our need to honour ourselves with gifts our Father has given us

and actually went low, actually did what our Father told us to do, 
maybe we wouldn’t make people feel like a “mission”, 
maybe we would understand our identity

maybe we would know we are loved

maybe we would really grasp the fact that it has nothing to do with us

that we actually can’t do any of this on our own.
If we took a hard look in the mirror,

Maybe we would feel the need to give up our pitch forks that we have carved out in the name of love

maybe we could do more listening to those we serve 
so our gifts don’t sound like overwhelming noise

that points to ourselves, 
that build brick upon brick on the idols we so willingly let into our lives

the idols we so willingly let into our church. 
maybe we can spend more time with the one who is Love

so our gifts can actually point to Jesus. 
maybe the time we give to others we can give to God first,

so that when nothing comes of it, we can trust that Love has it in His hands.
A few months ago, 
I had one of the most clear visions I have ever had in my life

,
I was face to face with the Father 
and he looked me in the eyes and told me: 
“Mary, just by being born, you have already won all my love, all my affection”

and instantly I was stripped of any shame, any pride, any tool I use to try to make myself more impressive

and though it was only a glimpse into the freedom available to me from the pride that has taken such a hold over my life

I realised that it is only face to face with the Father, 
that the church will understand who they are

It is only face to face with Love
that we will know love.

it is only face to face with love
that we will be love.

Sermon Notes March 18th 2018: Freedom is for Freedom

Here are the notes from the sermon I preached at my young adults group this past Sunday!

Have you ever witnessed a friend or someone in your life just making a really poor decision and you just wanted to shake them because it seemed so obvious to you that what they were doing was wrong? That there was an easier, better way?

I think all of us at one point or another have probably been both at the receiving end of this– so the one doing something stupid that we’re blind to– and the one on the other end, wanting to shake understanding into someone.

About a month ago, I was making stovetop popcorn for my roomies, just having a nice night in and asked who wanted popcorn, wanted to do a nice thing and make a snack for everyone. And I start making the popcorn and then there’s oil dripping down the sides of the pot and the burner is starting to smell really bad and I’m kind of ignoring and before I know it there’s a little flame in the burner. And I’m freaking out and jumping up and down like and repeating, “Oh my gosh guys what do we do,” as if THAT’S going to do anything, and then my roommate Maddie comes over and takes the pot OFF the burner, opens the window, and turns the heat off and she’s literally like WOW, THAT WAS SO DIFFICULT.

“What was freaking out and flailing your hands gonna do, Cass?” my roommates laughed. To them, it was such a sensical solution and I just wasn’t thinking.

Or, how many of you can relate to the mom-or-grandma not knowing how to use social media? I’ll read my mom some Facebook messenger conversation and she’ll be like, “Cassie, you shouldn’t be sharing that stuff on Facebook!” And then I’ll have to explain to her that, No, Mom, the conversation is not being seen by the world, it’s private messenger. This just doesn’t make sense to her.

Or have you ever had a friend who’s blinded in a relationship? You see all the bad aspects of it, maybe they’re being hurt, maybe they’ve neglected some of their morals, maybe they’re obsessed with this other person and you just want to shake them and say “YOU DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER! Why are you putting yourself through this?”

Or maybe it’s a friend who you see such good things in, you admire in so many ways, and yet they’re down on themselves, not stepping into that full potential. Maybe skipping school a ton, or just not utilizing their work ethic to live in their full potential. It seems so clear to you how wonderful this person is, and it’s frustrating to be on the outside of a situation like that. When something is so clearly the right path, and someone near you can’t see it.

We’ve been working our way through the book of Ephesians at Vivid, which is a letter in the New Testament of the Bible, so the part after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and Paul has just finished talking about why we must uphold unity and peace as Christians. And then he goes on to say these words:

EPHESIANS 4:17-19

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

 

These serve as Paul’s instructions for that “right path.” We should no longer walk with futility, of course, when we know otherwise. Or, he says, we should no longer walk “as the Gentiles do,” the Gentiles being people who didn’t know the saving grace of God and His love for them.

As I was reading over this passage, I was reminded of a person and I didn’t know why. I didn’t know if it was a revelation of God, or if I was just distracted, or if I needed some humour in my life in the midst of exam season, but this person kept popping into my head.

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And I didn’t know why at first, but then realized– Chandler’s sarcasm makes him someone who states the obvious.

If you don’t know Chandler, he’s a character on a sitcom that started in the 90s, Friends. Chandler is the king of sarcasm, his jokes pointed at stating the obvious. Just check out this clip:

And then I figured out how all this linked to the book of Ephesians and Paul. What Paul is saying here to the church at Ephesus seemed so obvious to him that he says it later it in almost a dumbed down way:

GALATIANS 5:1 For freedom you were set free. 

…Um, well, for FREEDOM you were set free. This reads almost like a redundancy, doesn’t it?

…Um well, yeah, obviously freedom is the result of being set free.

So why, then, do we ever live slave to things?

We were set free for freedom! Not to be yolked again to slavery! Not to be in bondage to sadness, fear, addictions, worry, anxiety! Not to be a slave to the law! But to be FREE! When he writes here, many commentators read it in that he’s a little frustrated. As if saying, “I don’t get why you choose to live the way you do! The solution is so simple! Christ Jesus is who you’re made to live for!” He feels the need to state the obvious because what should be obvious is not evident in the way people are living.

It’s like what Chandler Bing would do if he was making a sandwich and Joey asked him, “are you making that to eat?”

“Oh, no, I was actually gonna throw it in the garbage.”

Comparing that to if someone asked you, as a Christian, “Were you set free to be free?”
“Oh no,” so many of us say, the world wants us to say, “I was set free to be yolked to comparison, gluttony, idolizing, depression, and fear.”

I think in regard to these words, it’s important that we reflect on our current position. In any sense, all of us are in one of a few places:

  1. Never heard of this amazing life with Jesus and putting off of the old self, or haven’t invited Him to truly rule our lives;
  2. We have accepted Jesus and are living with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and are maybe very convicted of a sensual sort of living
  3. Are living in harmony with the Spirit, repenting, knowing He is the refuge for sin and sensual living, etc.

Now the obviousness that Paul is stating here is not to dumb down or neglect struggles. Or to say a struggle with mental illness isn’t valid, or with bouts of worry aren’t valid. God sees those struggles, friend, but the thing is He doesn’t want to leave you there! See the God that came to us in Jesus is a miracle-worker, and He is going to be so good in that struggle and just asks you to have faith, and come to Him. So really To know that, even if you’re not LIVING in that freedom in this moment, IT IS freedom that God died for you for, and He’s going to bring you there. Faith that that freedom exists.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that dies down quickly to colloquialisms, almost like you’re grasping at straws for what you’re trying to say? Like when you’re talking about balancing work and school and a social life and sleep and you’re conversing about that very thing with a friend and end up at “yeah, it’s such a balance.”

That “balance” we all talk about, I want to argue, is this perfect harmony that is Jesus, God made perfect in a human. And we have the notion that living with such a balance IS possible…

If we’re living with these convictions we sometimes just feel far from God and decide not to talk to Him because we don’t want to. But every encounter we have with His Spirit that seemed hard always ends up being amazing. And life-changing, right?

This perfect, balanced God is right with us through His Spirit, and wants to come into relationship with us.

And the thing we miss in “trying” to achieve this balance is the real thing worthwhile: stepping into conversation with Him rather than plunging along in our own way. Talking to Him with faith that every time we do, He’s going to guide and change us. Meeting Him in His Word, and engaging through faith in the Truth that He will change us.

And Paul paints that so perfectly in his next words about how to do what he’s talking about:

Ephesians 4:20-23

Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

We’re not meant to do this alone. We’re meant to allow Him to have the reigns. We’re meant to submit to a higher power, and trust Him.

When we know that His Truth is THE TRUTH, that futility Paul talked about, of living selfishly, becomes a convicted way of living. His Truth eradicates other truths that have tried to take the throne in our lives.

Some of these are sneaky, like the doctrine of social media that says, “I’m only justified by the most perfect looking Instagram feed.” or the doctrine of progression that says, “I need to do better. I need to be better.” or the doctrine of reliability that says, “I need a relationship to be happy.” or the doctrine of lust that says, “I need to consume this, or veg out, to be happy.”

And in encountering this freedom, sometimes what we miss is thinking we need to display the freedom alone. But God-intended living is not self-autonomous. We were never, from the beginning of everything, meant to do any of life alone. It’s possible to get tossed about, then, by many different teachings, different presentations of who or what is the very purpose of our lives. But that’s when we have the solid Word of God, and His own Spirit, to align us with what is right.

And here’s the thing: “we can’t store up that intimacy with Him.” –Heidi Baker

He will change your heart. He will be so intimate with you. Help you to love, and to live to serve. Guide you into the Truth you were created to live for, and debunk lies that called you to live otherwise. We come to WANT nothing more than to put off the old self, and put on Him. He set us free, FOR FREEDOM, after all.

Let’s pray, and ask God what LIES He’s calling us to be free from. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t align with His Word, maybe His Spirit is stirring something up in you about the way you’ve been living. But when we come to God with these things He DOES change us. And sometimes community helps with accountability in actually doing that. So I’m gonna pray now, and then I would invite you to ask the Spirit a lie you’ve been believing, and what might be untrue about it and to start debunking that.

PRAY.

What Actually Matters: Reminded By A Starbucks Barista

I have worked for Starbucks for almost two years now.

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My friend, more like a brother to me, Kevin. We met working at Starbucks, even though he doesn’t work at my store!  

I remember when I was first called and told that I got the job. I was on my way to meet Johnny’s parents when my assistant manager called and told me I was hired! To many friends, it seemed like a strange job to be so excited about, but I had wanted to work at Starbucks since I was a little girl.

Since I was 13, and a barista gave me free food at the end of her shift and chatted with me for half an hour about Christianity, even though it meant she got out of work late.

Since I went to my most frequent Starbucks and every barista knew me by name, cared about me and my life, and showed genuine interest in getting to know me.

Since I first tried a soy caramel latte, and started learning about espresso, and the mission of Starbucks.

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I’m passionate about the company and its mission, but, like any job, sometimes it becomes routine.

Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field, And the fertile field is considered as a forest. ISAIAH 32:15

Sometimes, I sacrifice getting to know a customer, or listening to a co-worker, out of stress to get a cleaning task done.

I have thought more about getting home and done work in time to finish an assignment than connecting with the souls that come in and out of our store.

And why? It’s those shifts that I remember, that I’m passionate about, and that I feel called to. And, when these connections happen genuinely, they are never because “I set my mind to it,” but because I gave the shift to the Lord and said, God, give me Your eyes. Don’t let me be like “Martha,” worried about getting the mundane things done. Give me a Heavenly mindset to see the eternal and important things. To see each soul in my midst the way You do, as precious children of You.

I was reminded of the way the Lord wants to use me at Starbucks tonight, as I worked a shift at a different store from my own. The shift supervisor was a man named Ryan, and we had such a fun shift together. Every once in a while, he checked up on me to see if there was anything he could do for me, to make me feel more comfortable, or to help me out. He served customers as though that person in front of him was the only thing on his mind. He truly worked in such a servant manner, and took the time to converse and get to know me, too. AND at the end of the night, refused to let me take the bus home, and gave me a ride.

He lived not for himself throughout that shift, but for the people around him.

When we live for God, the Holy Spirit provides that awareness of the love for others around us.

So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 1 CORINTHIANS 11:20-21

Righteous living means Cassie is out of the picture. Cassie wants the Lord to be seen– and, He has so taught me, living in Him ends up looking like serving and loving others joyfully. It means a lot of smiles, laughs, and “no worries” about the little things. He has a lot of love to spread, and His amazing love means I want to spend time in prayer, time at His feet to get to know Him and His plans for me and those around me.

Thank-you, barista Ryan, for the way you loved and served tonight. You reminded me that “rule-based” work is not righteous work.

I pray that we are all able to live our lives submitted to the amazing Holy Spirit of Jesus who wants to do amazing things through us– things that matter eternally.

 

Other People First– Actually

University is busy. And it’s hard work. 

If I wanted to do all the readings I’m assigned for school, I would be reading every second of every day. But I’ve figured out how to read what I need to– on top of work, being with friends, down time, sleep, and daily life necessities.

I’m not trying to create a sob story, and I recognize that every student feels this– I love my school and studies, my job, and my life, and know that I am so so blessed beyond belief to have these resources and opportunities. But what I am realizing is that when busyness becomes routine and becomes ordinary and becomes what I know, I find ways for it to work that turn relationships into things that need to be scheduled, out of genuinely, of course, wanting to see friends and caring about them, but getting used to only having snippets of time to see people, and thus friendships being reduced to “appointments” in a sense.

This is not okay, ever.

Because a busy university season turns into a busy career season and my social life is not “my social life” in the way other people fit into “my life.” All other people have lives and journeys and struggles and triumphs and I want in every sense to put those above my own.

And yesterday, during worship at Creekside, the Lord spoke a huge, loving conviction over my heart.

I’m setting you even more free than you think you are now. There’s so much MORE freedom for you to enter into.

And he gave me a picture of that looking like other people’s lives and needs and my love for Him trumping routines, and His Spirit ITSELF making relationships that put the other person first, because that’s all His Spirit does. He doesn’t indulge in Himself, He doesn’t obsess over and idolize any part of His own life, He just loves on every one in His creation, and that love comes from the Father. And that Love instructs me, as His Spirit is within me.

And He doesn’t ask me to do it alone. Even though some habits in my life are selfish and unlike His heart, He will debunk those when I let Him. And He spoke to my heart without my asking for it. He is such a Father and such a Friend.

And then Pastor Nat went into his sermon, and spoke exactly about what Jesus had been preparing my heart to hear: Jesus heart is that our relationships would put the other person first. That is where Joy is. And I can access His Spirit at ALL TIMES to love others, to care genuinely for their lives, and to know how precious they are. 

then make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambitionor empty pride, but in humility consider othersmore important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. PHILIPPIANS 2:2-4

And He prepared my heart in reminder of what I’ve always known to be second most important to relationship with Him, that being unconditional love of all His children. His sacrificial love is the best example of that. And He meets us all right where we’re at, and helps me to do the same.

So today, having coffee with my beautiful friend Morgan, who God has so preciously brought into my life, I wanted so genuinely to get lost in her life, to know how she’s been feeling, and to understand her truly. And I am so excited to be a part of her life. I know this is His heart for ALL my friendships, that I would care and invest in every person as He does.

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Lord, give me Your Spirit and Strength to love and serve others. Continue to teach me the ways of Your heart that are FOR all people, and show me more every day the ENDLESS JOY that is in loving and caring for others– no agenda, not for any reason but their joy and Your glory. Amen.