The Winter Blues

Does winter get anyone else down in the dumps?
I’m not trying to blame my attitude on the cold, because I know that owning my attitude is always my responsibility. But man… I really, really hate the cold. 

It is one sensation I can think of that makes me truly ANGRY.

It makes every activity more difficult. Like today, thinking about leaving the house for the different things on my agenda, from a meeting at my pastors’ house with their kids, which is one my favourite parts of my week, to a coffee and study date with beautiful Mary, to shopping, all things I love and have a generally positive attitude about– the cold weather can literally be enough to almost keep me inside.

Always “almost”… it’s never actually kept me inside, that I can recall.

But the severity of my disliking toward cold weather makes me wonder why we have it in the first place.

And then it makes me reflect why we have much bigger, truly problematic situations present in the world, hardships and fighting and poverty and greed.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Now, I am a baby and out of line to liken dealing with the cold as a very privileged Western person as “suffering.” But my internal and external struggles with it reminded me of the promise of this verse in Romans. Suffering, hardships, difficult times, and struggles… they are part of the Gospel. They themselves produce endurance, which produces character, which produces hope in God’s love, NO MATTER WHAT.

So, to my friend struggling… with ANYTHING…

God knows you. Inside and out. And He hears your silent prayer. Bring it to Him, for real, and entrust it to Him. Know that He has deeper plans for every trial, and that an attitude that says, “This hardship will produce endurance, which will produce character, which will produce hope in the ONE THING that will never fail” is one God calls you to. 

Don’t judge me, but I’m still gonna go into the cold with an attitude that says that God is gonna use the chill in my bones to produce endurance, character, and hope… and honestly, He does. He uses everything. 

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A Morning with my Best Friend

Morning. Not stupid early, but not late morning, it’s 8:30am and your eyelids open after a solid, undisturbed 8 hour sleep. You smile to yourself, feeling that euphoric, passionate, life-is-good-because-God-is-good emotion that translates to excitement to spend time with Jesus. You know He’s going to meet you where you are– which happens to be your little student bedroom in Waterloo, warm under the perfect duvet, that perfect warm that is practically impossible to crawl out of.

You roll over just far enough to grab your Bible, and open it to where you left off. Psalms.

Psalm 41. 

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;

the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.

You spend enough time with Jesus to know that you are certainly not perfect at “regarding the weak,” but also to know that He has already forgiven you for it. He instructs you, though, and He makes you better. That simple time calling on His name and seeing His face, His very body, sitting on your bed, nowhere else to be but with you because that’s how much He loves you– whaaat— He tells you to lift your weary head and stop dwelling. He makes you aware of a coping mechanism that you go to when you’d be much better off turning to Him.

But that’s just it.

In the valleys He reminds you of His faithfulness.

If it weren’t for the coping mechanisms and failures and misgivings and faults, you wouldn’t know how much you need Him. That’s not to give any credit to the faults. No, it’s to weaken them, because it’s kind of sad to know that humans need them sometimes in order to know Him. 

But oh, there is grace. Oh, there is so much love. Oh, He is forever and always forgiving and unbudging. Oh, how this God Jesus just wants to befriend you, be above everything else in your life because He knows it’s what’s best for you.

He is, after all, your Father.

 

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.

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.

Day in the Life: Working from Home, Reunited with My Best Friend, Exhausted?

Wakin up next to my best friend this morning was like livin the dream again, finally!

Maddie, my roomie who is moved back home for the summer, slept over last night at our student house that we, during the school year, live in together. It was so great to be reunited with this beautiful girl who has always naturally felt like my sister. We had such a needed catch up last night and then this morning over an early bird breakfast special before running errands together, and then cracking down on some work.

I have a few freelance writing projects on the go, and so my office was a Starbucks with Maddie doing homework next to me while I wrote away. Check out the blog that I edit and write for at LeadManaging.com/blog. I am taking new clients to write for at the moment as well, so be sure to get in touch with me via the blog here, or contacting me via Instagram if you have content curating needs!

I live the dream when I’m writing away, that’s for sure! And spending the day with Maddie, despite it being a little chaotic, was the biggest blessing I could ask for. This girl is my second half, natural sister, and simply such a beautiful soul. We had such a good time together, and I can’t wait until we’re living together again, for probably the last time next year.

My dear Johnny has been really sick, unfortunately, basically the entire time he’s been back from Winnipeg. I’m proud of the way he’s been handling this stress, and working myself on giving our relationship continuously to God for His glory, and trusting that He will heal Johnny in His timing, and teach and challenge him along the way.

Youth was also tonight, and, while I was so wrecked tonight by Jesus’ presence I was overwhelmed, humbled, and convicted, with that came a physical exhaustion like I haven’t had in a long time! I came home from great fellowship and important time with Jesus to pray about my burnt out feelings and current busy schedule, seeking the Lord’s will for my life and time. I know that this short life is for Him, and when it’s in line with what His living Spirit is doing and speaking, that’s where LIFE is. Spending time reflecting on and listening to Him was the most important part of today.

Lord, thank-you for reminding me that You call me to love. Jesus, I want to put You first, and I know that means loving other people as myself, seeking your will for my life, and serving You in all that I do. May I not seek selfish pleasure, speak unkindly, or turn to anger. Grant me Your Spirit and grace. For Jesus’ glory. Amen.

Perfect Single Serve Pancakes

My roomies will tell you that my breakfasts are always some sort of sweet thing in a bowl in the microwave.

I don’t know if it’s for the sake of saving time, but I love making microwave creations because they’re easy, so filling, and so delicious. Plus, things in bowls always taste better than things on plates in my humble opinion.

So today I took my pancake recipe, tweaked it a little, and made single serving pancakes in the microwave.

Drizzled with peanut butter and maple cream, and topped with warmed cherries.

Single Serve Pancakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup flour

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 Tbsp peanut butter

1/2 cup milk or dairy-free milk (I used cashew milk)

1 tsp lemon juice

1 egg white

Method

1. In small, microwave-safe bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Add wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

2. Microwave 2-3 minutes, or until desired consistency.

3. Serve warm with toppings of choice, ie. maple syrup, berries, banana, peanut butter, Etc.

What Precedents Professionalism?

In many circumstances, I often feel the need to facade professionalism, or to “put it on.”

At work as a barista and server; in meetings marketing my freelance writing services; even with my kids at youth, sometimes I believe a lie that professionalism is a trait that I need to pull out of thin air and put on as my armour.

A little voice says, as long as you look professional and act put-together, that’s all that matters.

What is this thought based on? Where does it come from? Is it true?

Today at work, I was thinking about the person I am at the beautiful cafe I work at as I made a latte between customers. In the midst of our lunch rush, from about 11:30-1, my interactions with customers are often reduced to “I can help the next person… what can we get for you?” Going through the motions rather than approaching the soul.
And my allegiance, above a business and above a facade, is to Jesus, who loves these customers as His children, and who calls me to be real. To put on the armour of Christ, not a made-up armour that won’t actually shield or protect, because perfect professionalism doesn’t exist.

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What is Jesus’ professionalism? It’s stopping to listen to my roomies. Stepping out of my own bubble. Living allowing Jesus’ promises to speak over my life. Living open to the fact that I’m loved. Living knowing that I’m no more or less loved than the person I’m serving coffee, or writing for, or sitting next to on the bus.

What precedents professionalism? What is more important than perfect? 

It’s holding myself to the standard I’m called to, and therefore holding others to it, too. Of grace, and not perfection. Because perfection doesn’t exist in any person besides that of Jesus, and it’s only when I lean on His very present Spirit that I can live out of His compassion, patience, and love. I often ignore Him. I often walk my own way. But I want to follow Him, and, contrary to what my brain and the world try to tell me, I know that my strength is so, so, so weak, where His is astronomically great.

Hearing about this Jesus for the first time?

Well, He is for you. He is for everybody. He loves you infinitely more than any human being loves you. He formed you in His image, and He simply invites you to talk to Him to receive His love and word. Relationship with Him moves on from there. Recognizing His voice and movement in your life is just the start of that.

Is He speaking to you today? Wanting to change up the routine way you’re living? Wanting to help you to see individual souls throughout your day rather than just more consumers and customers? Wanting to fill you with joy, hope, and purpose?

I am not perfect, and false professionalism will look false. But Jesus’ professionalism is for my good, and I’m learning how glorious it is.