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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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! 

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.

 

Trusting in the “Delay”

Much of today’s musings are inspired by a wonderful message preached by Pastor Mike Rutledge  

at Risen City church yesterday, where Jesus met me in my own worries, stress, and anxieties and revealed newness to me as His Spirit does, starting when I so loudly heard His voice that it was deafening, above all and any other sound: “I have promises I’m in the middle of working out.”

Now, to get very real here, when I say I so loudly heard His voice, I don’t mean I heard an audible-to-the-ears sound. I mean His Spirit, unlike mine, but that I could physically feel the presence of, as well as spiritually, convicted my heart of this matter to the point that I felt I couldn’t stand. I sat to pray and as I did I only heard more from Jesus, who promises His Spirit is no different from the living Jesus, whose presence is palpable and who promises to show up where two or more call on His name with genuine hearts.

Gently I received the peace of Truths I did not deserve to hear. About what He is in the middle of doing, in His timing. That when I feel like something has been “missed out” on, Jesus never missed it. That very thought of Him “missing” or “forgetting about” something part of His creation is laughable!
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Healing and miracles and even more simply clarity don’t always look the way we think we want them to. If you have ever been swayed from reaching out to the Creator of the Universe because you feel like “He hasn’t done anything for you,” a good place to start would be asking yourself what gave you the right to take such a position of deserving.

The Christian faith is about believing that Jesus came when He didn’t have to to suffer in this life and death on the cross because He loved us. To pay the penalty that should have been ours. In His perfection, He suffered the penalty for sin, and, in being God, He owes us absolutely no promises, and no miracles. And yet, because of the very nature of our gracious God, promises and miracles He chooses to bestow.

So after receiving from Him a little nudge that, No, He hadn’t forgotten about xyz, He was working it out in His timing and all I needed to do was give Him space and trust Him, I experienced weight rising off my shoulders as I scribbled down the prayers and promises.

And after hearing from the Spirit, Mike delivered the message on his heart for the church about the waiting periods in our life, how we often question them, and how, really, they’re such a part of the healing. In fact, they are the healing.

Maybe God is in the middle of completing your testimony because His plan for someone else is to learn from some of your stories.

Maybe He’s about to initiate change that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the trial.

But here’s the maybe not: the definitely not: Since He’s God of the universe, He has not forgotten about xyz, kicked it/you aside, or grumbled, “ah, well, they missed their chance.”

Frankly: God and His Kingdom came much before you, and you were created to submit to Him for a greater purpose. Not to pose of Him that He submits to you. 

He only asks of us that we trust Him, engage in relationship with Him, and follow Him.

It’s the only life to live!

Flexibility Journey

If I had a bucket list of things I wanted to accomplish, something that would be at the top of it is becoming more flexible.

I got this tattoo that says “dance” two years ago. While, looking back, I don’t think I’d get it again, at the time it meant several things to me, one of which was the defiance

I used to be the least flexible person on the planet, but I have learned how to stretch and practice in a way that actually makes a difference. Now, I am close to a full split, can touch my toes and beyond with complete ease, and have a much more flexible back.

Here, the top three tips and mindset implementations that *actually* helped me to improve my flexibility, rather than just thinking about improving it.

Patience. My biggest downfall in the past was rushing through stretches without enjoying them. I would choose to stretch when I had a million things on my mind, and a seemingly never-ending to do list awaiting me. In turn, stretching would feel like a chore, and something I was forcing myself to do. Now, when I stretch, if my mind tries to speed up my movements, I remind myself that the time to actually sink deep into the stretches and just quiet my mind is healthy, allotted for, and that I need only be present.

Hold stretches for a loooong time. I would get into a flow of stretches in the past, and think, “ah, I don’t have to hold them for minutes long. As long as I feel it burn a bit, I’m doing the job.” But I didn’t notice a real difference in my flexibility until I held stretches for at least a minute at a time, and from there challenged myself to hold for even longer. It is from there that in the middle of a minute, I would feel the stretch becoming easier, and naturally begin to sink deeper into it. What a great feeling!

Practice your over split. This videovideo  is my go to for most helpful and crucial split stretches, and provides a great tutorial for how to do the over split. Stacking pillows or blocks in order to mimic a further movement into the splits was an absolutely amazing technique for me!

No matter what your goals, grace with yourself in your progress is so important. I have learned the hard way that nothing worth achieving is a quick fix, but is accompanied by hard work and determination for a reason! Enjoy the process!

A God of UNComfort Zones

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Biblical merit for not being in “comfort” zones.

What is “comfort?”

The Word says that HE is my comfort (Jeremiah 8:18). So my ideal “comfort zone” is at His feet, in His arms, walking with Jesus. Equally, this means that we are often out of contrived and worldly “comfort” zones; the things that give temporary pleasure but don’t benefit our neighbours or His Kingdom; the things we may be conditioned to turn to in times of struggle or pain that “feel good,” but don’t have any Truth or power to actually help us or anyone.

So, my TRUE COMFORTER will take me out of FAKE COMFORT ZONES (I can list some of mine in my head right now– can you list yours?) and it might “feel” icky and uncomfortable; but since He’s the True Comforter, it will ALWAYS be good and right.

Maybe that is in the form of ridding rules and restrictions that you unhealthily have around areas of your life. They are habits that feel so comfortable; but on the basis of what truth? And who are they actually helping?

Maybe that is the form of less selfishness and more selflessness– going out of your way for other people; working with the Spirit of God to see those around you who need love, positivity, and hope.

Maybe that is in the form of asking questions, picking up your Bible, or praying. Checking out a church, or calling up an old friend.

Whatever it is, it starts with Him, in prayer and thought. He answers prayers, and He is with you in the uncomfortable change, ALWAYS. It is so often the things that seem scariest in life that end up being the things that He uses to save and redeem.

After I gave up food rules after years of stubborn eating disorders, I wrote this post

to put some words to the amazing process that Jesus had brought me through in healing. It didn’t come from striving. It was not my fault that I had these brutal mental illnesses, nor was it my choice to heal from them. It was, however, my choice to spend more time in the Word of God and with His Spirit– the Spirit that healed me.

Is Jesus calling your name and softening your heart to follow Him to a place that feels uncomfortable, and you just need to trust Him? 

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.