That Kind of Love

I’m sure I know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask it anyway: Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you felt like your world was crashing and all H-E-double-hockey-sticks was breaking loose in your life? I’m assuming your answer is yes (me too, by the way). And if your answer is no, you’re likely too young to be reading this, or you need to check your pulse.

This was me a few months back. I was so hurt and frustrated by some situations and people in my life, and a poor, dear, soul of a friend had to experience my meltdown over the phone. I really do feel for her now, that was a rough day for both of us.

But seriously, we all have those days that seem like they couldn’t possibly get worse. Maybe you’ve lost your job, or someone you love has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease. Perhaps your spouse has just walked away from a marriage you thought was solid. Or maybe you’ve just discovered the addiction your child has been hiding. These are some of the worst things imaginable, right? But what if, you’ve been sent as a sacrifice for all humanity? What if, you’ve never done a thing wrong in all your life, but was sent to die a brutal death for a world full of sinners: rapists and murderers, human traffickers and cheaters, addicts and liars?

I’m so thankful God hasn’t asked such a thing of me. But He did send his son, Jesus, precisely for that reason. And I imagine, if I had been Jesus, I would’ve been on the horn (a phone, for all you youngsters) with all my peeps losing my mind over the day I was having! You know, similar to how I responded to my situation a few months back, but on a MUCH larger scale.

But, thank God, He chose Jesus instead. And I assure you, Jesus was a way better option than me. He wasn’t calling His bestie (John, the one Jesus loved) and complaining about the day He was having or texting His disciples asking for advice on how to dissolve the situation. Jesus was more concerned about his friends, the disciples, leading up to His arrest and execution than He was about himself. Jesus was more focused on you and on me than the imminent death He was facing. Several times before He was arrested, He urged the disciples to:

1. Believe in Him.
2. Not let their hearts be troubled.

Jesus cared more for His friends than He did for His life. Even though they would betray him, deny him, and scatter out of fear for being associated with him (sounds a bit like you and I at times). And this got me thinking about the kind of love that must be. The type of love He was extending to a rough group of friends, the kind of love He was extending to those whose sin was the reason for His existence. The type of love He has for you and for me, the ones whose sin nailed Him to the cross.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Love is what keeps us grounded when all hell is breaking loose in our life. Love is what causes us to forgive those who wrong us and pray for those who persecute us. And love is what held Jesus to a cross.

Friend, we are going to face times of hurt, frustration, meltdowns, bad days and worse days, but may we be careful not to neglect love for one another and never take for granted the love Jesus poured out for us on the cross. Believe in him and do not let your hearts be troubled (Jn 14:1). The savior has come and overcame, and He did it for you.

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Hold Tight

Toss and turn, toss and turn. I lay wide awake, my mind spinning in circles, battling and wrestling with my thoughts, the situation surrounding me, and the Lord. Maybe you’ve been there before, up all night wrestling through your struggles; whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Some nights it feels like a WWE match in my own room. I wake up exhausted and often without progress, only to fight the same battle again the next night.

After my last battle of the mind a few nights ago, I decided, enough is enough. I’m done letting the situation win. Tonight I’m not giving up until the Lord takes it from me, until I’m able to surrender the battle entirely. And that determination leads me to the story of Jacob in the book of Genesis:

Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not defeat him, he struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip.  Then he said to Jacob, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name? ” the man asked. “Jacob,” he replied.  “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” he said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he answered, “Why do you ask my name? ” And he blessed him there. — Genesis 32:24-29

As I read and reread this scripture, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the words spoken in verse twenty-six: Then he said to Jacob, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  Jacob had a lot of wrestling to do because of his past life as a deceiver, and when day broke he could’ve easily given up and let go of the fight, but he refused to let go until God changed him.

That thought challenged me and I wondered, are we willing to hang on? Are we ready to fight through until something inside of us is changed?  Or do we give up at daybreak only to face the same battle again and again?

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the tossing and turning, the battles that rage inside my mind and heart, the situations that never improve. I’m tired of revisiting the same fight night after night, day after day. I want change to happen in my circumstances. I want change to happen in my life, I want a blessing, but to receive change and a blessing, I have to be willing to hang on to Jesus and not let go until change happens. We cannot give up at daybreak just because it’s easier, we must hold on and not let go.

So what are you giving up on? What battle are you continually fighting? Maybe you’re fighting an addiction to alcohol, shopping, food, or drug addiction. Perhaps it’s an unending struggle with your spouse, or a battle with depression. Or maybe you’re fighting for the promises and dreams God’s put in your heart. I don’t know what you’re wrestling, but I know you can’t let go, not this close to a breakthrough, a blessing. Friends, God wants to give you a new name, a new identity based off what He sees in you, not based on your issues, your past, or your situation. But this requires you to wrestle until you receive what you are fighting for and what God has for you. Don’t give up.  

Sawdust Brownies

Cassie, have you tried these brownies? They are delicious. That was a lie straight out of my dear friends’ pie hole. Faith seems all sweet on the outside, but inside she is full of jokes and evil tricks, such as getting me to eat what I now call sawdust brownies. And I’m not lying when I say it took me ten minutes to chew and swallow that brownie. It literally tasted and felt like someone had poured sawdust right into my mouth. WORST. BROWNIE. EVER.

Just a side note here – Yes, I actually know what sawdust tastes like. I grew up in a family of saw-millers and construction workers. And those brownies may have looked good, but I assure you, they were NOT good.

Earlier this week, I started a Bible plan on the Bible app with a group of ladies. Just a way to further and create community among my sisters in Christ, and it was incredible. Ladies were opening up and sharing about things to women they didn’t even know. It was absolutely beautiful. But during the plan, there was one verse and thought that really stood out to me: there is no substitute for the presence of God.

Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer. Psalm 27:4 (TPT)

And that’s where the sawdust brownies come into play. Them there brownies looked incredible (I felt the need to use my best Carter County sawmill voice). They were everything you dream a brownie should look like, but someone had the bright idea they also needed to be healthy. YUK! Y’all, I don’t do healthy, I do tasty. Those brownies were lacking the latter. Anyways, whoever had made the brownies went to extremes to substitute all the goodness in the brownies with things like black beans, and gluten-free sawdust, I mean flour. But in the process of substitution, they sucked the goodness right out of them there brownies! But isn’t that what we do spiritually?

God has given us himself, everything we need to feel satisfied and fulfilled, yet we run to substitutions for our fulfillment. We feel alone in our relationship, so we stay up all night watching unrealistic Netflix romances or looking at pornography trying to fill the void, only building up more walls in our relationship. We struggle in our finances, so we go shopping to make us feel better for a moment, only digging ourselves deeper into debt. We feel empty and worthless, so we try and find our worth on social media, just to see that everyone else’s perfect Instagram is better than ours, sending us into a more profound depression and self-hate.

Do you see the cycle? When we start substituting God for idols, we lose. We lose our spouse, our friends, our homes, our worth, our faith. There is no substitute for Jesus in our life any more than there is a substitute for brownies.  You can run as fast and as hard as you want from the presence of God, but you will never be fulfilled, and you will never be free.

So I ask you, what are some areas of your life that you need to replace the sawdust with sugar? What have you been using as a substitute for your relationship with Christ? I pray that God searches your heart today and reveals to you the places you keep hidden. Friend, I believe in you and Jesus is waiting for you. Now go, and take back your life today.

P.S. – Shout out to my sweet friend and editor, Faith Schweizer. She is absolutely incredible and such an asset to this ministry and my life. (And if you’ve never heard her sing, you should! Go check her out on iTunes.) Thank you, Faither, for EVERYTHING!

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This Is Me

What a tough struggle I’ve been having. That ancient struggle of others approval of me. Same battle, different day.

At the event I last spoke at, I had someone make a comment that hurt me. The crazy thing is, I had tons of people offering encouraging words to me that night, but that one discouraging comment is all I  keep hearing. Why is that? Why do we hear the 1 in 1,000,000 words that hurt?

Well, I wish I knew,  but I do not. What I do know is the struggle to STOP caring what naysayers are saying. My husband is a pro at this. He’s got the thickest skin of anyone I’ve ever met, and the ability to LOVE people despite how they hurt him (or his bride), and someday when I grow up I wanna be just like him LOL. Don’t get me wrong, I still love people and treat them kindly despite they’re hurtful words, but I also tend to let every word penetrate me deeply and become truth to me if I’m not careful.

As I was crying to my hubs about the situation, he reminded me once again that I don’t need the approval of man/woman. It only matters how God sees me + the promises He’s made me. So, ladies, I decided to be brave right now.

This is me.

My name is Cassie. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love to be loved by people. I love PJs and get pouty when I have to put on a bra and real clothes. I get up way too early and am usually cranky by lunch (my kids can confirm this). I love kayaking, laying on the beach or gravel bar, I’m afraid of mice and spiders, and of a shark and mountain lion attack (I often have nightmares of one or the other). I dream of leading women closer to Jesus through retreats, conferences, coffee shop meetings, speaking and writing. I dream of writing a best selling book and buying a vacation home in Hawaii. My number one priority in life is my faith, family, and ministry. I drink too much sweet tea, overeat pizza and eat way too many tacos. I hate veggies and like very few fruits. I workout exactly 7 minutes a day and hate EVERY second of it. I love people deeply and therefore, tend to get hurt easily. My family is far from perfect, but they are perfectly mine. I am freaking proud of my kids and where I come from. I’m not ashamed of my past, but rather embrace it and all that God can use it for.

Ladies, THIS, IS ME. This is who God created me to be, and TODAY I am embracing ME. And I encourage you, EMBRACE you too! Say what you will, go ahead and think I’m crazy for dreaming so BIG, You’re entitled to your opinion, but no longer will I let ANYONE’S opinion of me determine my worth and sweet friend, neither should you.

As you come to him, a living stone — rejected by people but chosen and honored by God 1 Peter 2:4

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Tantrums and Testimonies

I marched, or rather, stomped down the stairs; it was somewhere between a two-year-old tantrum and an I love Jesus stomp. I was frustrated and tired, and they needed to know it.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the power of our words. How we can speak life and death into ourselves, our neighbors, and situations. But this week I want to focus on the other side of that thought, our deeds.

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

Did you catch that BIG word in the text? Representative. When God caused me to remember this scripture after my tantrum, I read it in a few different versions to get the full effect. This version spoke loud and clear to this girl. Not only are we to represent Jesus well, with our words, but also with our actions. Ouch!

There are MANY times where I manage to hold my tongue, but my face says everything my tongue isn’t. Example: A few weeks ago someone said something to me that frustrated me. I felt like they were a little harsh and out of bounds and while my words were kind, my face said everything I was thinking. After a bit, they apologized, but I needed to also. While I didn’t SAY anything wrong, my deeds were wrong.

What’s the point, Cassie? Well, the purpose is, we represent Jesus not just with our words but also in our actions. You may say all the right things, but if we don’t support our words with our body language too, well, we might as well say what we’re thinking.

So back to my tantrum. Dustin and I had a weekend away for our anniversary, and while away we ran into issues at the airbnb we had booked. ALL of our neighbors were super loud and very disrespectful of us old people trying to sleep before our long drive home the next day. I was super frustrated and even messaged the owner asking if there was anything she could do with no response (making me more frustrated). So trying to practice what I preached I chose not to say a word. How Christian of me, right? Well, not exactly. Instead, I waited till 6:30 am and was LESS than quiet as I packed and prepared to leave that morning. Leading to the stomping of stairs on my way out, hoping it disturbed them. I know, I know. No need to judge me, I’ve already repented.

While in my mind I had every right to stomp down the stairs, the truth is I wasn’t representing my Jesus very well. If those people didn’t know Jesus, I guarantee I didn’t help them find him.

So how are you representing Jesus? Are you doing it in word, but not deed? Or maybe in action, but not in word? They must go hand in hand. When we learn to represent Him well, we will reach more people and change more lives. Let’s not be the reason someone runs from Jesus, rather than to Him.

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It’s not about YOU.

I know I’ve said it more than once, but I am a dreamer. God has given me BIG dreams that I can never accomplish without His mighty hand in the middle of them. I love that He’s put these dreams inside of me, entrusted them to me, but I am sure of something, He made you a dreamer too. HE created each of us with a purpose and a dream. Maybe for you, it’s writing a book, becoming CEO of a big-time company, being a homemaker, pastoring, singing, or becoming a baseball star. We ALL have or have had a dream at some point or another. Sometimes our dreams get buried under our burdens, but they are always there. But with all this in mind, I want to challenge you with this statement:

God’s big dreams for us, are not about us at all. -Kyle Idleman

Say what? The dreams God’s given me aren’t about me? Nope, not at all! They are about God and bringing HIM glory. Remember, they involve us, but they aren’t about us, as Pastor Megan Norman likes to say. God gives us BIG, impossible (without His intervention) dreams to chase, not because we’re better than the next person, or more qualified. Most often it’s the opposite. He gives us BIG dreams to chase because He understands that greater glory will be brought to Him. David was a little shepherd boy, and great glory was brought to God as a little shepherd boy defeated a giant and eventually became King. Moses had speech problems yet led an entire nation. Joseph had a big dream, however spent time in slavery and was wrongfully accused and thrown into prison. In the end though, taking a position that saved his family and brought GREAT glory to God.  God purposely chose you for YOUR dream, so if you are feeling less than qualified, it’s because you are, but God is more than qualified, and through you, HE will gain great glory!!!

If our dreams aren’t about us does that mean God won’t bless us? Not at all, God wants to bless us. But blessing hinges on our obedience to Him and His will for us. God longs for us to live a full life in Him, but don’t mistake His BIG dreams for your BIG glory. God’s desires for us are not about us. It’s about Him, and along the way, with obedience and a humble heart, God WILL bless you too. He will cause favor to pour out in your life for your humble obedience to HIM.

So whatever dream God has purposefully put inside of you – chase that thing down. Bring our King BIG glory. Follow God’s heart for you, even if it sounds insane (and sometimes it will). Don’t sit back because you’re afraid to fail, or afraid you aren’t what God is looking for. The all-knowing knows what He’s doing, and He’s picked YOU out of billions of people. So set self aside, face some giants (the bigger the giants, the bigger the glory) and bring GOD glory!  

For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. Romans 11:36 NLT

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