Unmatched

What follows was actually written around March 19.  I didn’t share it at the time because I felt like it didn’t fit with the overall “theme” of my blog.  The truth though is that I never wanted this to be my story.  I wanted a different story.  I didn’t want foster care to be my “thing”.  I was a biological child in a foster home growing up (more about that here) and I had seen the hard parts.  I fought the distinct tug towards it for several years, but as God tends to do, he eventually brought my heart into surrender and, finally, obedience.  I’m sharing this with you at 2:30 a.m.  I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had unfinished business.  

We’ve been on this foster care &/or adoption journey since March of 2016.  I blogged about the beginning here.  Our home opened in February of 2017.  This post is an act of obedience.  I’m allowing God to lead the content of my blog.  It turns out the theme all along was obedience.  I knew I needed to share this part of my journey in order to be transparent and honest with you.  It’s an important part for you to understand what comes next.  As much as I enjoy sharing these posts, they are truly my reflections and remembrances of God’s faithfulness.

***

My phone buzzed.  Unknown number.   Deep in conversation with my work friends over lunch, I ignored it.  Time was short and I had recess duty.  After a few minutes, the lull in conversation allowed me a quick second to check my voicemail.  “It’s the adoption specialist,” I gushed, barely able to contain my excitement!  We had been waiting on a call from her.  In the past she had merely returned emails so I knew this had to be the news we were waiting for!  This was it!  We must be matched!

I rushed to a quiet corridor connecting the lounge to the teacher’s restroom.  In my excitement I struggled to remember how to make a call.  They were finally calling!  I waited while the phone seemed to ring too many times, then, finally, the line went quiet and someone said, “Hello?”  “Hi, it’s Cassandra!  I had a missed call from you?”  “Yes, this is Dianne, the adoption specialist.  I’m calling about your adoption inquiry?”  Seriously!  Come on!  “Yes?”  “They’ve been matched with another family.”  All at once I was cold and hot.  I felt a little dizzy and tears stung my eyes.  Diane said a few more things that I can’t really recall, and then I squeaked out a small, “Thank you,” before ending the call.  I had so many questions. 

How could this be?

***

“God!  I trusted you!  I knew this was crazy, but I trusted you.  I wanted those kids.  We inquired against all odds, knowing that you would provide the way.  We began construction.  I could see these kids in our future.  We wanted to be their “match.”

The rejection stung.  They say not to take it personally, but when an adoption specialist looks at your home study, your life, summarized, and tells you that you don’t match? That rejection really hurts.  Its a loud, “You are not enough,” or perhaps, “You are just too much.”  All of those doubts I had suspended and ignored for the last month came crashing back over me. 

You don’t match.

Why would God ever use YOU to do something so important for him?

You are inadequate.

***

I took a deep breath and walked back into the room where I had just shared my excitement about this phone call.  Tears welled in my eyes threatening to come, but I held back, knowing that I couldn’t open the flood gates now.  Not 15 minutes before recess duty.  Not when it was only noon and I needed to be emotionally present for my students. 

My friends noticed the crestfallen look on my face, and I whispered, “They were matched with another family.”  I don’t know what the right thing to say in that very moment is, I’m not sure there is any right thing, but they reassured me that this was God’s plan.  This was a truth that I knew in my brain, but in my heart I was hurting and, to be honest, a  little angry.

***

New emotions began to surface:still good.PNG

I have to tell everyone now.  All the friends that were praying for us…  and I have to break the news to my husband and kids.

“God, now I look foolish and you look like you are not trustworthy.” 

I don’t want to do this.  We aren’t doing this anymore.  We are done.  No more fostering.  They haven’t been calling us anyway because we are obviously inadequate for that as well. 

And definitely no more adoption events.  I can’t do this again and again.

Can we be done?

***

For the last few days, things have been quiet.  I’ve been quietly mulling over these events and how they played out.  How I trusted God for this to be a match, but it wasn’t.  It wasn’t his plan.  At times that is ok with me because I know that I know that I know He is good and he is well able to carry out his plans for my life, and it still stings that this adoption wasn’t a match, but it wasn’t.  There are still kids out there who need a home, so we aren’t done.  We can’t be.

As much as I’ve wanted to quit over the last few days, God keeps reminding me, tenderly, “I do this for you.  I choose you.  I want to be your match.  I pursue you.  I do it again and again.  Sometimes people reject me and that hurts but I love them just the same.  I keep seeking them out.  My love for you is unmatched.

He chose me.  His love for me is matchless!  I don’t always understand the plan, but I have to trust that the creator of the universe knows exactly what he is doing.  Even when the answer is no.

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Untitled

It’s hard to begin a post that has no title and, seemingly, no aim.  I start and begin a million times.  It’s clunky and fake and frustrating.  I begin to doubt my gift with words and openness.  In fact, the doubt is so strong that I avoid even an attempt at writing for months.   

untitledI become frustrated!  My ideas are good… well, at least I think they are good because they are mine, but when I begin to write with no title,no preconceived notions, no “end” in mind, no need to control the topic, I can hear the message God has for me.  Today that message was contained in something as simple as an untitled document, the 14th untitled document to be exact.  Evidence of my obvious inadequacy.  Each of those documents is a failed attempt at writing.  Something I started but didn’t finish.  I can’t bring myself to read back through all of them, but I suspect that they are writings in which I tried to control the outcomes.  I set out in obedience and then wound up in the control room.  The story of my life.

I saw it, plain as day.  It’s not about the title.  It’s not about the ultimate message.  It’s about the journey. 

Will you write (worship) when it seems silent? 

Will you write (worship) when you are angry? 

Will you write (worship) in the waiting? 

Will you write (worship) when you have questions?

Will you write (worship) in the “yeses”?

Will you write (worship) in the “no’s”? 

Will you write (worship) in the journey and not wait to arrive at the ultimate destination? 

I take a deep breath.  I like to control outcomes.  I’m the master at setting specific goals, creating unrealistic expectations, mastering task sheets, making phone calls and sending emails.  I can make things happen, like a Boss!  Don’t get me wrong, these skills are wonderful and necessary except when I’m supposed to be waiting and learning patience and faith and keeping hope when the journey is long and I’m not sure what the “end” is.   At every turn, I’m trying to navigate.  I create my own security by managing outcomes, but that is not my job.  My job is obedience.   God is in control of outcomes.  If I’m trying to do his job, who do I trust?  Yes.  Myself.  I am implying that I can do the job and achieve the desired outcome better than the creator of the universe.   

He reminds me that I can only do the next thing he has asked me to do.  It’s really hard when that thing is, “wait, trust me.”  I can do those things that are action steps because they require physical action and it’s easy to see results.  Where I struggle is when the heavy lifting is actually spiritual work.  Waiting is hard because doubt creeps into every little crevice.  Inadequacy stares back at me from all of my insecurities.  I get in my own head instead of digging in to the word.  I complain more than I pray.  I drive all of my people crazy with all of my questions and the, “Are we there yet’s?”

When my students try to rule the classroom, I send them out into the hallway to see whose name is on the door and then I follow up with, “I’ve got this.  Relax.”    God’s message to us is similar, “Who was it that created the universe and who formed you in your mother’s womb and who chose you?  I’ve got this.  Relax.”

Stop trying to control outcomes.  Look for God in every step of the journey, not just the destination.  Don’t title your journey until you’ve reached the destination God has for you.

Make the choice to relax.  Wait.  Trust.  Like me, you may have to remind yourself a thousand times a day that this isn’t your “thing” but do it.  Make that choice.

Relax.  God’s got this.

Love Over Anger

Make decisions based on love, not anger – From Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone (a children’s novel)

This quote is from a children’s novel we’ve been studying in my classroom about the first Jamestown settlers.  The main character finds himself in hot water because he uses his fists to solve problems.  The Reverend at the orphanage tells him, “Make decisions based on love, not anger.” love over anger.PNG

This line resounds with me.  I can’t seem to get it out of my head as I turn on the news and scroll through my Facebook feed.  It’s the ugliest political climate I have ever seen.  The candidates are spewing hate.  Supporters of each party are spewing hate.  There is name calling and judgmental, self-righteous comments about others who would vote for “that” candidate.  There are entire web-sites devoted to destroying another person’s character.

Y’all.  We can do better than this.  I am so disappointed and I have to be really real, I’ve been right up in the middle of all of it.  I haven’t called any names on social media, but the names were on my tongue.  You didn’t see me spewing hateful commentary about whether or not our candidates were truly saved, but I was doing that at home which makes me just as guilty.

I’ve been watching this unfold from my comfy recliner and stood by and said nothing.  We cannot be silent here,  for that, I applaud Christians.  We are standing up for once and not sitting silently by, but in general our tone is not loving.  We are not speaking out of love.  We are speaking out of anger. 

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  1 Cor 13:1 

Our angry words are only adding to the chaos.  Angry words aren’t effective.  They are turning people away.  What good does it do to speak truth if no one will listen?  If we destroy our own credibility with our mouths or our attitudes, then we have done more harm than good. 

Americans.  Christians.  We cannot act this way.  We cannot react in anger.  Dig in.  What is that anger?  Whatever it is, it’s based in fear, perhaps fear of the outcome of the election.  I have to remind myself often that God is in control and he will use whomever he puts in office.  In fact, he won’t even be surprised!  It’s in his hands anyway, he’s always been in charge. 

Ive been trying to sort through my own feelings about this election lately and here’s what I’ve come up with.

  1. I am afraid of the outcome of the election.
  2. I am angry that there isn’t a candidate I can wholeheartedly support.
  3. I have been acting self-righteous in my attitudes and beliefs about those who disagree with me.

Afraid.  Angry.  Self-righteous.  That doesn’t sound very constructive at all.  I’m in fight or flight mode and it seems like the whole world has gone crazy!

Here is the answer to all of those feelings:  Jesus.  If I throw it back, 90’s style, to “WWJD,” I think he would continue teaching his good news and remind his disciples that God is in control.  I think he would remind them how he calmed the storm in the middle of the sea with just a few words.  He might remind them that his kingdom is not of this world, and he would definitely tell them to temper their words with truth AND grace.  Lots and lots of grace.

God, in this current political climate and in my everyday life, help me remember that you are in control.  None of this is a surprise to you.  You are my calm in the storm.  Help me keep my eyes focused on you and not all of the chaos that surrounds me.  Let my words be exactly what you would have me say and help me temper my attitudes with plenty of grace for others.

Choose love over anger.  Every Single Time.

Love,

Cassandra

Brave-ish

Can I tell you something? I’m scared.  We are nearing the end of the certification process to become foster parents and I am not anywhere near confident that I can do this.  I just keep thinking, “This is crazy.  It doesn’t make sense. This is going to be hard and my life is about to change drastically.” Sometimes I cry because I’m about to do this thing God has asked me to do and I already know it’s going to change my world. I know all about how necessary and needed it is and I know how God wants us to care for orphans and “feed his sheep,” but that doesn’t make me truly FEEL better or any more qualified. It just doesn’t. 

There is a very large part of me that would like to pretend that this hadn’t ever happened, that what God called me to do seemed an easy task for me. This?  This is daunting. It’s impossible. Maybe even reckless.  I can’t reconcile it in my mind. It makes no logical sense. I am not the person best equipped or remotely near-equipped to help hurting kids.  I keep asking God if I can do something else. Anything else. He says, “Absolutely!  Volunteer with the local organization.  That would be wonderful.  But I still need you to do that other thing too.” 

And it makes me cry. I’m crying right now as I realize that I cannot reach the full potential of what God has for me if I’m not willing to do every. Single. Thing. He has put before me.  Yes.  Every. One.

But that doesn’t make me any less scared.  I blog on the premise of being brave and bold, but readers, I’m neither of those things right now.  I know all of the cliches,  God doesn’t ask you to do more than you are able,” which is not true, by the way. If I were able to do it without him, I wouldn’t need him. He absolutely asks us to do more than we are able!  And my least favorite, “If he brings you to it, he will bring you through it”.  These contrite sayings, though well intentioned, don’t lend me any comfort.  They don’t make me feel bold or brave, they just leave me feeling like a failing Christian whose faith isn’t strong enough to hold back fear.

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So what do you do when you know the next step but you are hesitant to take it?  You remember that you are not in charge of outcomes, that’s God’s territory, but you are definitely responsible for obedience. 

I’m going to be bold here and say that bravery doesn’t necessarily feel strong and doubtless and  like wearing a cape.  Brave sometimes means saying, “Yes,” while trembling inside with tears streaming down your cheeks.  It’s crying out, “I don’t see how this will work, but I will do it.”  It’s asking God, “This? Are you sure?  You know this is crazy right?” and then taking action.  Sometimes the actions are small like writing a blog post admitting to the world that you are trying to squirm your way out of your next thing.  That you have been trying to bargain with God and it’s not going so well.  It might sound like asking God if he is sure, but knowing that he doesn’t make mistakes. It’s this process, repeated, until you finally decide to just say yes and move forward and let God be God in all the details. 

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Dear reader, I am moving forward.  I have been standing here, waiting to be ready to run long enough.  I’m not ready, but I’m willing.  I am brave-ish.  I may forget this tomorrow, but that’s ok.  God will assure me again, as many times as I need him to.   Let’s spur each other toward the edges of our comfort zone.  Ask yourself today what thing you’ve been avoiding?  What is your next “Yes” supposed to be?  Let’s lock our shaky arms together and do the next right thing.  For me, that’s taking the next foster parent certification class and getting back to my morning quiet time.  What’s your next right thing?  Take a deep breath and just say YES, then leave the logistics to God… it turns out he’s a pretty capable planner.

Love,

Cassandra

Make Me Brave

I have a small struggle with control.  I want to know when and where things are happening and I want a google map with actual pictures of destinations.  In short, I like to be in charge.  When I started this blog in March of 2015, I had the somewhat misguided idea that I would become some sort of blogging superstar and write a book and begin speaking across the country.  I didn’t like not having an exact plan, but I decided that a little bit of self-promotion coupled with my charming personality (*wink*) would take me far.  Yeah.  That.

You see, I knew that God was doing something and I THOUGHT I would get to take part in the planning.  You know, I would decide what to do and then God would just back it all up because “grace” and all that.  I wasn’t aware, but it’s been his “thing,” not MY “thing” from the beginning.

When I named the blog, I really wanted the title to be something about grace because that was the major theme in that season of my life.  I knew it was the key to freedom, but every single blog name I could think of was taken.  I don’t remember exactly how the name “Sufficiently Insufficient” came to me, but my thought was that in my not being enough on my own, I was EXACTLY enough for what God wanted to do with me. I had a vague notion of that, but I’m not sure I actually believed it.  The blog name was available, so I went with it.

The months that followed were a whirlwind journey and I found that if my words were not inspired by God, they were AWFUL.  There have been long stretches of time in my journey so far, as evidenced by long periods without any words to share with you, that I have tried to do my own thing.  That never gets me very far.  The writing is limp and, quite frankly, terrible.  I’m thankful that, so far, I haven’t shared any of those sad attempts at writing with you. (insert wide eyed emoji!)

So this morning I woke up at 3:30 for some reason.  I decided to check Facebook because I have priorities.  Finally, feeling empty and off-kilter, I thought maybe I could try to read my Bible and talk to God for at least a few minutes.  I was feeling all lost and direction-less, so I started to write in my notebook.  I’ve been avoiding God because I’ve been practicing, “slow obedience.”  My sister reminds me often that slow obedience is no obedience, but I have good intentions and that has to count for something, right? Anyway, I practice slow obedience when I’m scared and I’m scared now.  The things that he has put in front of me seem really big and I seem so insignificant and ill-equipped to do them.  The obvious thing to do is avoid them at all costs. 

In my writing, I finally ended with, “Make me brave.”  In listening to, “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel, the lyrics caused me to think about grace and being sufficient.

I googled the scripture.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Well then.  All those things that I feel so ill-equipped to do are actually opportunities for God to do big things in my life!  My insufficiencies are sufficient for God!  If I could do it all on my own, I wouldn’t need his help!  This is so encouraging to me!  My insufficiencies don’t disqualify me from doing things for God, they actually make me even more perfect for the calling he has placed on my life and they make me able to accomplish every little task in that calling.  Instead of thinking, “I’m not _______ enough, so that’s impossible,” I can say, “This is an opportunity for God to do BIG things in my life!”

I don’t know for sure where my journey ends, but that’s exactly what I needed today.  I can do this.  With God, I am enough.

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How do you handle feeling inadequate?  Are you letting your own shortcomings stop you from doing the thing God has placed on your heart?

Just remember:  You can do this.  With God, you are enough.

With Love,

Cassandra

The Masterpiece

I wonder, in the words of Katy Perry, “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?  I know I do.  I feel empty and hollow and like I’m drifting in the wind, not choosing my own paths.   Circumstances, like the wind, determine my direction.  I sometimes feel like my existence is inconsequential, like I’m just another empty plastic bag.  And yes, I feel like I just want a do-over.  One that maybe I wouldn’t screw up so badly the second time around. 

But did you know that as a person saved by Jesus, God calls you his masterpiece? I have skimmed over this verse in Ephesians so many times but it hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  God calls me his masterpiece. 

Paul says in Ephesians 2:10, in his letter to believers,

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” 

IMG_0083.PNGWhoa!  We are the piece de resistance,  his outstanding artistry, his best work, his supreme artistic achievement!  You, ladies and gentlemen, are the pinnacle of all creation!  God says he loves us more than the mountains and the ocean and the whole universe.  WE, his people, are his MASTERPIECE.  Did you catch that???? WE ARE HIS FAVORITE!  YOU are God’s favorite!

Doesn’t it feel wonderful to know that we are loved so much?  Especially by the very father of creation???

Except it doesn’t.  Because you don’t believe he’s talking about you, do you?  He couldn’t be possibly talking about jealous, greedy, lazy, dishonest, disobedient, judgey, hateful you.  Nope.  That’s a promise for “good” people, am I right?  Not for all of us.  Just the good ones.  Be honest.  You are thinking of someone in your life that you deem “good” and thinking, “Yes, I believe that is true… for them.”  “But for me?  Couldn’t be.  You don’t know what I’ve done.”

And you know what?  You’re right.  I don’t know what you’ve done or what your innermost thoughts are.  But Jesus does.  And he died to set YOU free.  And you will never be good enough to earn something that was given as a free gift because YOU CAN’T EARN A GIFT!  God’s salvation is a FREE gift.  All you have to do is believe.  I know there’s a lot of teaching out there that sets out God’s salvation as “5 simple steps” like a bad infomercial.  If we back up 2 verses to Ephesians 2:8:

“God saved you by his special favor WHEN YOU BELIEVED.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”  (emphasis mine)

When you boil it down to it’s purest form, all you have to do to have God’s gift of salvation is accept it for yourself.  All of the other, “steps” (confession, repentance, baptism) are results of his salvation and may or may not take some time as your salvation walk unfolds with Jesus. 

The point is, if you are saved, then you ARE his masterpiece!  He created you, so only he has the power to name you!  And if God says I am his masterpiece, who am I to question God?  My own feelings say differently, but how I feel doesn’t change the truth.  God’s word is the truth. 

What does it mean to live like a masterpiece? 

Stop labeling yourself by your shortcomings.  They don’t define you because grace is greater.  Stop beating yourself up when you screw up.  Grace covers mistakes.  Stop worrying that you’re “doing it wrong.”  Grace is greater

Masterpiece living looks like living in the freedom of grace.  It’s okay to mess up.  Pick back up and keep pursuing God.

Are you living like a masterpiece? 

Find your freedom in Christ and, “Own the night like the fourth of July.”  Go and shine brightly in your freedom.  Live like the masterpiece that you are.

Love,

Cassandra

Once Upon a Time: A Real-Life Princess Story

Once upon a time I knew a girl. A girl living in guilt, shame and self-hatred. A girl who thought she wasn’t even good enough to go to church. A girl who thought that all Jesus had for her was condemnation. A girl who thought she just needed to pull herself together and do better.

And you wouldn’t have known it. She was a veneer. A polished vision of happiness. You would never have known of the discontentment and self-loathing that simmered below the surface. She hid behind solitude in a fortress built of silence and shame. Bad decisions defined her. They were her story. She held tight to them because she couldn’t bear to think of what people would think if they knew the truth. Her silence and shame soon became shackles instead of safety. She couldn’t tell the story. She didn’t know how to be the villain.

Then one day she noticed a white knight standing there with his arms wide open. She shrunk into herself knowing he wouldn’t still be there if he really knew the truth. She turned away from him, but he wouldn’t leave.

Sometime later, she turned to face him. He made eye contact with her and her shackles clattered to the floor. Confused and knowing she deserved them, she turned away from him, put her shackles back on and shrunk back into the corner. She avoided eye contact with this white knight who wouldn’t leave, because each time they locked eyes, her shackles fell to the floor. She had grown used to their weight and felt strange without them.

After some time she began to feel shimmers of hope as the shackles fell. She began to wait just a bit longer each time before picking them back up. Then suddenly, something within her shifted and she began to feel safe in the freedom from her shackles. One day she grew weary of this game and decided to tell the knight the truth. “I’m a sinner,” she said. Without any sort of hatred or judgment, the knight replied, “I know.”

IMG_0054.PNG“But I –”

“I know,” he interrupted.

“You couldn’t possibly thi–“ she paused as her eyes brimmed with tears.

“I already know,” he continued, reaching one hand down to help her up. “I’ve always known.”

Fat tear drops ran down her cheeks and she lowered her head in shame.

The knight lifted her head, “I love you anyway.”

She returned to the corner and picked up the shackles, then she looked back at the knight who waited patiently with no expectation. He beckoned her to him. She was scared of what life outside of her fortress might mean. He beckoned again and she moved toward him. Together, they emerged from the dark fortress into the shimmering sunlight. Her heart felt light and she danced in the freedom of the sunshine.

      THE END

Once upon a time, that girl was me. I allowed bad decisions and mistakes to define me. I built a fortress of solitude to keep my secrets.  What seemed like a fortress of safety soon became the shackles that held me in shame.

Jesus was my knight. He was there waiting patiently for me to turn to him. Each time those shackles of shame would fall to the floor, I picked them back up because that’s what I felt like I deserved, not forgiveness or grace. Those things weren’t for me. I had missed the mark and I was going to punish myself with hateful name calling and expectations I could never achieve. Jesus waited for me to be ready to come out of that shame and into the freedom of grace. Yes, I had messed up, but there was no condemnation or shame from Jesus. All of the condemnation and shame I had been living in, I had created for myself.

As I began to understand and accept grace, I became free and truly happy. Instead of that awful narrative of name-calling and bullying going on in my head, I was beginning to say things like, “I am free. Chosen. Beloved. Forgiven. Redeemed.” The process took some time and the times between choosing shame over forgiveness became fewer and further between. Some days the shame wants to creep in, but I’ve had a taste of freedom and I’m not going back.

My story is no longer shame and self-loathing.

My story is grace and forgiveness. Freedom. THIS is my story. THIS is my song.

Love,

Cassandra

Mistaken Identity

Have you ever seen the movie “50 First Dates”?  In it, the main character, Lucy, played by Drew Barrymore suffers from short term memory loss.  Henry, played by Adam Sandler, falls in love with her but has to woo her again every day because she forgets who he is.

I love the picture this paints!  I’m completely guilty, myself, of forgetting who I am.  Instead of accepting the word of the One who created me, I label myself.  The problem is that my labels are circumstantial.  They can be based on seasons of my life, my failures, my shortcomings, comparisons to others, and roles that I play among other things.  In any one day I could wear many labels:  Wife, mom, teacher, taxi driver, student, employee, house manager, cook, daughter, sister, friend, and sometimes blogger.  Many days my labels are based on my shortcomings: impatient, lazy, easily frustrated, always distracted, inconsistent, inattentive, messy, disorganized, overwhelmed, insufficient, not enough. 

These labels become my identity.  I don’t know who I am outside of them so every time one of them changes, I find myself in crisis again.  When I don’t do something I set out to do, then my label becomes, “Failure.”  If I face criticism or anything other than a 100% approval rating, I’m personally devastated because it confirms to me that there is something inherently wrong with me. 

And you know? I’m right! There IS something wrong!

What’s wrong is the labels I’m using to define who I am!  They are temporary and inaccurate.  Satan is a big fan of this because if there’s something God wants me to do and I don’t feel like it fits into on of my “custom-designed” labels I’ve created for myself, then chances are good that I won’t even try it.

My excuses will sound like this,

“I’m not a _(Insert label)_.

Who do I think I am?  I can’t even __ (Insert recent failures)__.”

In “50 First Dates”, Henry must woo Lucy every morning so that she will fall in love with him all over again. 

God does this for us.  He is our Henry.  He will woo us as many times as it takes, and he loves us so much that he never tires of it.  What’s really amazing though is if we re-examine our labels, they don’t match up with God’s words about us at all!

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He says we are blameless.  He calls us bold and fearless.  He says we are chosen.  He tells us we can do anything through him.

Those words don’t match my labels at all.  Even better?  God’s labels for us don’t change.  Ever.  I can take it to the bank because he is the same yesterday, today, and forever!  If he says it, (and he does) it’s true whether or not we “feel” like it.  I rarely, if ever, FEEL blameless, bold, fearless or chosen because those are really BIG words, but I can choose to believe it anyway!  I can meditate on it,  I can listen to some great songs about it, I can write it down and post it where I can read it and be reminded, and then when I start to use those excuses that say I am not ____ or I can’t even___, God’s words will come back to me.  His labels give us confidence.  They are truth. 

So when God nudges you to do something you don’t feel qualified to do, and Satan starts in with his narrative, it should go something like this,

Lies:  “You could never pull off something like that. Who are you to do that thing? Remember last time you screwed up?  Don’t you remember who you are?” 

Truth:  And then your lift one eyebrow, smile and you say, “Indeed.” And you remind yourself that as a child of the one true King, you are saved, redeemed, beloved, precious and important in God’s work. You are chosen.  You are free.  You remind yourself that those lies of self-doubt come from Satan, not your heavenly father. Then you roll your eyes at Satan, remind him where he can go, and you ROCK that thing.

I would love to tell you that at the end of “50 First Dates,” Lucy regains her memories and her identity, but she doesn’t.  We are left to feel a twinge of sadness for Henry because he must work so hard for her affections every. single. day. of. forever.  It seems their relationship is doomed never to become a deep and satisfying one.

That’s where our stories differ!  If we marinate in God’s truth about us, he will continue to woo us, but our identity begins to line up with His truth.  Our narrative changes.  We begin to see ourselves through God’s labels for us, and in that, there is freedom.  YOU ARE FREE INDEED!

“So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!”  ~John 8:36

Love,

Cassandra

WILLING > ABLE

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve woken with a song in my heart.  I know it sounds crazy.  It’s like my own personal radio. The song can be anything, from some song I haven’t heard in years to the latest radio hits.  Sometimes it’s the song chorus, sometimes its the bridge, sometimes just the melody without words.  Just this week I began to listen, I mean really listen, to what song is playing again and again in my head.    

I’m choosing to chronicle those songs with a visual and a scripture. (screenshot from instagram)

lyric gallery

Day 1:  “Your love is wild for me”

Day 2:  “He whispers in my ear, tells me that I’m fearless”

Day 3:  “Every fear, every doubt disappears when you shine on us”

Day 4:  “We’re transformed by this one thing, to know your presence, to see your beauty”

Day 5:  “Like a might storm, stir within my soul, Lord have your way in me”

Day 6:  “You delight in showing mercy & mercy triumphs over judgement”

And today:  

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Lyrics from: “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music & Amanda Cook

 

Whoomp, there it is…  You see, I’ve been running again.  Well, not so much actively running because that’s not a thing, but I’ve been avoiding.  I’m avoiding my God time.  I’m avoiding my writing which feels like the gift it is when the words flow, and it feels like torture in the waiting for God to give me inspired words. 

Every post you read here is inspired writing because every time I try to write in my own power, the words are limp and just NO.  Those don’t get posted.  They seem fake and forced. 

I’ve been questioning why I’m avoiding these things and it’s because I worry that if I sit down and begin writing, maybe God won’t show up.  I fully realize that he wants me to wrestle with this myself sometimes and really seek him, but what if I actually don’t have anything good or inspiring or real to share? 

Then the truth hits me:  I don’t.  I don’t have anything good or inspiring or real to share without his help. 

But wait, there’s good news!  If I really seek him and make a habit to seek him regularly, he gives me things to say.  When my study time is lacking, so is everything else.  I can’t tell you how many times I will have to learn this lesson to really GET it because here I am again. 

This is the first morning in months that I have actually gotten up at my “surrender” time: 4:30.  He has been nudging me awake for weeks and I would drag out of bed around 5:30 and give it a half-hearted effort.  Then today, he nudged me awake with a bit of wind, hail and thunder at 4:08.  It’s totally fine.  He has to talk to me like that sometimes because I act clueless otherwise. 

The storm blew over in just a few minutes, and yes, I thought pretty seriously about going back to sleep for another hour and a half, but I didn’t.  I got up.  I read my devotional and felt completely uninspired.  Please tell me this happens to you too? 

Then I listened to what was going on in my head.  I heard the distant refrains of “You Make Me Brave.”  I was unimpressed.  I felt like, “Really?  That one is so not new and it’s been one of my favorites that I played so much I’m almost tired of it.”  Then I googled it for scripture references and ran across this video about the backstory of the song.  I immediately knew that the backstory was exactly what I was supposed to be hearing.  In it, Amanda Cook, the writer, shares about how her song writing is actually prophetic for her life.  She discovers truths as she writes.  Then, she says this,

“Any writing becomes an anthem because somebody took a chance, you know, embraced something and let it embody them and they stewarded the work by becoming it and then, all of a sudden, it gave people courage to actually become it themselves.” 

Wow. 

That is exactly why I want to write.  The words begin as words that are for me and they apply to my life, but I can’t keep them to myself.  They are meant to be shared with others!  In my crazy ramblings, I hope and pray that you are inspired to dig a little deeper and listen to the actual thoughts in your head. 

Are they truth or lies? 

Are you running from something?  Why? 

I’m betting if you dig deep enough, you will find lies from Satan at the core of that avoidance because it’s not God.  We know that perfect love drives out fear, so that rules him out. 

Identify your lies, find and seek the truth, and then show up.  Whatever that means for you.  Maybe it’s writing or speaking or singing or leading a group.  Maybe it’s being a light for your family, your students, your community…  You don’t have to be spectacular, you just have to be willing!  Let God’s truth make you brave and just show up.