Couple Q&A: From Long Distance to Comparison

Last week, as I had been getting some questions about my relationship with my fiancee, Johnny, I put out a question on Instagram to inspire a Q&A blog post about our relationship that I hope is helpful to someone out there. Maybe you’re in the thick of a long distance relationship you believe to be right, and need some encouragement. Or maybe you’ve been feeling that your relationship is not one you see as resulting in marriage, and you don’t want to be in it anymore.

Johnny and I are in no way experts on these things, but we do have 21 months of long distance, an almost break-up, and lots of prayer under our belts. We both also have theological educations, and hearts for Jesus-centered relationships, which we believe to be the most thriving and purposeful.

That said, let’s dive into the questions!

How did you wait for the right person?

Cassie: Personally, “waiting” for a relationship has never been a struggle. If anything, I’ve always been quite independent and confident, never feeling like I needed a man to complete me, or to be in a relationship. If there was ever a person in my life that I was interested in or that I hoped would pursue me, that was different, but I’ve always known that relationships are only good in any way if you’re in love with the person you’re in a relationship with. “Any old relationship” is not only cheap, it’s unfair, selfish, and pointless.

That said, if you are someone who struggles with feeling like you might be happier in a relationship, remember that being single is far better than being with the WRONG person. My answer to this question is that, before I met Johnny, my person, I wasn’t “waiting” at all, or seeking a relationship. And, when Johnny met me, he had just been reflecting on the fact that he might be happiest if he were single all his life. God truly had other plans, and made those clear.

If you feel like you’re in a waiting period, seek God, the only eternal and perfect lover, as your ultimate satisfaction. Even as I’m preparing to marry Johnny, he will always be my SECOND love, with Jesus being the only one who can truly and perfectly fulfill me. Consider praying, without your own interest, for your future husband/wife, that he/she also would be rooted in Jesus as his/her first love.

Have you ever received negative comments about your relationship? How do you deal with it?

Johnny: I don’t think I’ve ever received negative comments about Cass and I, but there have been comments out of concern and care for us.

If someone is voicing concerns to you, it is important to listen to and consider any and all concerns and pray about them. Consider who the person is that is speaking these things, too. Have they proven trustworthy prior to your relationship? Who are they, and are they gossipy/spiteful, or people you hold with high regard and respect?

Cassie: Ultimately give these concerns to God in prayer, and ask Him to reveal any truth to them if it is unclear to you of the motive behind the comments. Relationships can be blinding, and it is important to hear outside opinions and respect them. But if you are truly and wholly aware of the fact that your relationship is sound and healthy, and someone is simply being rude about it, talk to people you do trust about those comments, and stand firm in the assurance you have in the health of your relationship.

How did you survive long distance?

Johnny: We supported each other’s differing passions, hobbies, and callings. We focused so much on communication with each other, trust in each other and establishing trust, and finding cool and unique, Christ-like ways to love each other and show each other love.

Cassie: One of these crucial things for us has been letter-writing. Taking time out of our days to sit and write, and putting the effort in to mailing these letters, has been one of the most tangible ways we’ve shown each other love.

Ultimately, without being able to trust each other’s faithfulness to Jesus, and His work in each of us, long distance would have been much harder. But we both very vehemently believed from the beginning that, if we were part of God’s plan for each other, distance should not stand in the way… and because of God, and simply, our selfless love for EACH OTHER, we’ve almost kicked it in the butt.

How do you avoid jealousy of other relationships?

Cassie: If “social media” jealousy is the issue, remember that SOCIAL MEDIA IS A FACADE. The same way that photos, bodies, and captions are touched up and altered and simply not real life (the real life is the person behind the screen monotonously scrolling, posting, adjusting), many people use social media as a means of affirming themselves, and feeling better about aspects of their lives that they aren’t actually very happy with. Remember these things, and resolve to be happy for others, and work to genuinely hope the best for them.

Johnny: However, if you see or hear about something in another relationship, such as focus on prayer, couple devotions, humour, date nights, etc. that is a positive thing lacking in your relationship, talk to your partner about these things being important to you. If that sort of communication is not done in a healthy way between you and your significant other, this may be a red flag.

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Do You Want to Be a “Global Citizen?” Reflecting on the Title of My Degree in Relation to My Bible Study

The Bible Study I’m launching in March, called the “I Believe” Bible Study, is in partial fulfillment of one half of my double degree, titled Christian Studies and Global Citizenship.

I personally enrolled in the program for its Christian Studies component, with an interest in applying Christian, Biblical theology to a ministry career. I didn’t think too much about the “Global Citizenship” title. But, in my years of studying, what i have deduced is that global citizenship is the role of any Christian person.

Let us first define “global citizenship.” My favourite definition is this one, from Oxfam Education: “A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world – and their place it. They take an active role in their community, and work with others to make our planet more equal, fair and sustainable.”

A Christian, then, believes in Jesus as the redeeming, saving God of the universe. God, who “so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Someone who follows God, then, loves the wider world, seeks to be aware of hardship within it, and looks to Jesus as the example. Jesus, who says, above all else, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).

So, what does global citizenship have to do with a Bible Study on fasting and prayer? Isn’t fasting and prayer all about personal relationship with Jesus?

Yes… and no.

I truly believe that the best way to become a better global citizen is by prioritizing prayer. 

If we are spending time with the Spirit of Jesus, He is going to convict us and mold us more into His image, which is one of others-focus and unconditional love. It is focus that is humbled to treat every neighbour with love, kindness, and non-judgement. If we spend time seeking God’s will, I believe His Spirit will equip us to be the best global citizens we could imagine being.

Pair this with time spent fasting/abstaining from activities that aren’t productive, and we will be left with even more time for others, loving and caring for them.

JAMES 5:13-18 Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.

Our Proposal Story (+How We Met Three Years Ago)

I had just told myself university would not be the time for a boy.

But God knew differently.

I noticed Johnny Fulford the moment I sat down in my Tuesday afternoon “Public Faith and Theology” class. He was smilely, shy-looking, and downright handsome. When the professor asked us students to share our names, and a little bit about ourselves, I knew his name, “Johnny,” would stick in my mind.

Every Tuesday afternoon that first semester of my freshman year in university, I was encouraged and excited by what Johnny had to say on the topic of Christianity, much of which related to God’s almighty power and sufficient grace. In a place fraught with haughty opinions and lacking semblance of truth, Johnny only spoke when absolutely necessary, and without drawing attention to himself… except for, perhaps, my attention.

I also caught him nodding along with some of the points I would bring up, while I tried not to care. After all, I didn’t want to get caught up in a boy.

But God had other plans.

I always hoped Johnny might talk to me after class. Instead, when we had a field trip to Queen’s Park in Toronto, and I asked a classmate who would be driving there if we could carpool, I saw Johnny approach the same classmate to ask for a ride a few minutes after I did.

Hmmm…

And the car ride was the beginning I’ll never forget.

Johnny and I must have spent more time getting to know each other than I realized, because, when we got to Queen’s Park, a fellow classmate who had also been in the car asked me, “So, are you and Johnny a thing?”

At Queen’s Park, we watched a political debate, and then had the opportunity to ask the politicians questions about their faith. I remember Johnny asking questions that didn’t spark my curiousity about Johnny, but drew me to prayer and to seek God’s will. I wasn’t distracted by him, but pressed forward to focus on God’s heart for these politicians, and our classmates.

It is for that reason that, when Johnny asked me if he could take me for coffee after the field trip, I didn’t say, “I’m actually not dating right now,” I said, “Yes.”

I would later learn that Johnny had also recently wondered if he was called to be single all his life. He had also recently turned down a few other potential relationships. And he had also felt drawn to the way Jesus was working in me.

The coffee date led to more dates. The couple months before Johnny asked me to be his girlfriend were spent awing in Jesus Christ and not in each other. And that is why I love Johnny second. Jesus Himself has called us to, and built up, the foundation on which our relationship stands.

Flash forward three years. Johnny and I are both almost done university… but in different provinces.

When Johnny and I met, he already knew that the school we both attended in Waterloo, ON was not his forever school. Ten months into our relationship, he transferred to Providence University in Otterburne, MB, as it is a Christian university where he could play varsity soccer in the States.

So, much of our relationship has been long distance, though we see each other four months of the summer, over Christmas, and have surprise visited each other, too.

This December 14th, 2018, Johnny returned home from Winnipeg for Christmas, and we reunited emotionally and excitably as always. Johnny’s birthday was the following day, and his sister-in-law had texted me a few days before, having bought us tickets to the Toronto Symphony, and recommending a dinner spot as a birthday gift to Johnny for both of us.

That next day, I was so focused on making Johnny’s 23rd birthday special. After giving him his birthday gift, which included 23 photos of us with 23 things I love about him, Johnny suggested we dress up fancy for the symphony.

We drove to Toronto, talking endlessly, and were so pleasantly surprised by the beautiful atmosphere of the dinner spot that Johnny’s sister-in-law recommended, Bar Reyna. We enjoyed delicious food in one of my favourite settings of all times, and each other’s company, before deciding to walk half an hour to the symphony rather than drive over.

Being pretty clueless with directions, I didn’t realize we were passing Queen’s Park until we were standing right outside it. “Wow, is this Parliament?” I asked. There wasn’t a soul around, and it was dark outside, lit only by tinselly Christmas lights adorning the trees. “Yeah,” Johnny smiled. “I’m surprised you only just noticed.”

I immediately started reminiscing on that field trip three years ago. “I knew I was drawn to you, not because of who you were, but because of who Jesus was in you,” I said. “I knew I believed in Him the same way you did. I just had never before had the vocabulary for it.”

Johnny and I were both tearing up. I was silently praising and thanking God.

And it wasn’t until he stopped me, right out front of Queen’s Park, that I had a single CLUE that he was about to ask me a very important question. “I have a confession,” he said.

My heart went into my throat in excitement, emotion, and joy.

“Sarah didn’t plan this day, I did. All to bring you here, where we first met. To have the hopes of having the best birthday gift in the world.”

The rest of what he said was a blur. I was in the midst of the greatest surprise of my life.

When he got down on one knee and said, “Cassandra Andrea Wolfe, will you be my wife?” I nodded vehemently before pulling him up and kissing him.

Finally, Johnny pointed to the bushes far off, where my sister, Krystal, was taking photos. Johnny had paid for her trip down to capture the moment.

A Letter to My Best Friend on Her 21st Birthday

Dear Maddie,

You’ve heard it before. But when I met you, literally from the moment I saw you, I remember thinking, consciously, “I want to be that girl’s friend.” Little did I know, less than a week later, I would share more of my soul with you than I ever had shared, and feel so quickly like you had been one of my closest friends for a long time already.

Embarking, then, on university together, every step of the way, I cannot imagine a university experience without you. From crying what feels like all my biggest cries with you, feeling 100% completely unjudged and 100% fully loved… from laughing some of my most obnoxious laughs with you, spending endless late nights half writing papers half fully engaged in long, sometimes deep, sometimes very not deep, conversations… living together the past two and half years, teaching each other, learning from each other, growing together. Maddie, I have learned so much from you.

I have learned that truly listening is one of the greatest gifts you could offer anyone. I always know I am so heard when I talk to you.

I have learned that long tangents about leggings, ketchup, grapefruits, socks, and other “little things” are possible, and that I love listening to yours.

I have learned that a life centred on Jesus that starts with prayer and submission to Him shows in that person’s selflessness and love. He is in you, Madds.

I have learned a lot about laundry, hair care, and the importance of removing my make-up.

I have learned and established some of my greatest morals and values alongside you and with your help.

I have learned the importance of laughter and taking breaks from being in the school zone.

I’ve learned and witnessed the beauty of trusting God with some of the things we feel we don’t want to trust Him with– knowing that His plans are always better.

Maddie, thank-you for being one of the greatest blessings of my 21 years. I know you are my lifelong sister, and I cannot wait to see what Jesus has in store and calls you to this year. I love you so very much.

A Weekend In Wisconsin

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

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

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

Want to drive to Wisconsin?

Today.

To see Johnny’s soccer game.

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

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

All the reasons I couldn’t go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5am rest stop shenanigans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, Wisconsin!

He Actually Does: Learning To Trust

He actually does fulfill His promises.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For My Sister on Your Birthday

My Sweet, special sister,

18 never looked so beautiful.

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My sweet pea, you have such a fiercely loving heart. You have always had this beautiful compassion for people that translates to the way you interact with people.

I have watched you feel so deeply and love so boldly, and I love watching you blossom.

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Since the first time I saw you dance– really dance– about 3 years ago, I knew you were a shining star. Remember that fame has nothing to do with the gifts God has blessed you with. He’s going to use them whether your name is known or not. That has no bearing on the beautiful talents you have. I will always be your fan, and I will always cheer on your passions.

And your voice. Your speaking voice brings joy and smiles to so many faces, and your singing voice carries such depth and pure talent no one can deny. I am so proud of all of your hard work, determination, and persistence to do what you feel called to do.

Keep seeking that calling, and rest in the fact that you are so loved, so precious, and so called. I am forever your big sister, which is forever one of my favourite parts of who I get to be. Not because I’m a big sister– but because my little sister is one of the coolest people I’ve ever known.

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I love love love you with all my heart. You are in my prayers always.

Check out my amazing sister’s music!