An Old Swedish Hymn

~Day by Day~

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Verbing Trust through Eucharisteo

I am slowly, but surely, continuing my journey through One Thousand Gifts – and a journey it has been. In the midst of life and a busy summer, I have been making slow progress. I want to really think through what I’m reading, with both my heart and mind. Because of that, I’ve been reading small portions at a time, hand clutching pen and fear clutching heart. Why fear, you may ask? I believe in some measure, we are all afraid of change. There is a sense of comfort in the known, even if the known isn’t what we would like it to be. Do I want to remain the young woman I am, with faulty heart and unseeing eyes? No, I do not. Do I conduct myself as if I am avoiding change? At times, yes.

 

I am a control freak. Not in the sense that I must control what occurs, but I want to know. Oh, how I love knowing things. I am afraid. I am afraid to trust my unknown future, whether the next moment or the next decade, to my known Father. I doubt His goodness, doubt His faithfulness. Even though I may profess otherwise, my shaky trust illustrates just how deep my fear runs. Sometimes, this fear is paralyzing. It causes me to tighten, to clench, to withdraw into the fetal position rather than approaching life from an open and vulnerable position. And yet, while I shut everything out, I crave a joy-filled life. A closed vessel can receive very little. “The full life, the one spilling joy and peace, happens only as I come to trust the caress of the Lover, Lover who never burdens His children with shame or self-condemnation but keeps stroking the fears with gentle grace” (Voskamp 146).

 

How do I change? How do I approach life, trusting? Trust cannot be stagnant – it must be a daily choice. It must be verb-ed, not noun-ed. That’s all well and good. I can keep that knowledge tucked away, but it will do me absolutely no good unless I know a way to practically use it. How can I translate this truth into a functioning aspect of my work-in-progress life? The truth is, it will take work. Is it worth it? I find myself reaching the same realization Ann did in One Thousand Gifts – “the realization that trusting God is my most urgent need. If I deep trusted God in all the facets of my life, wouldn’t that deep heal my anxiety, my self-condemnation, my soul holes?” (Voskamp 149). By sacrificing trust, I sacrifice joy. By sacrificing trust, I sacrifice wholeness.

 

Eucharisteo (refer to link at end of post for full explanation ), giving “thanks, is what builds trust.” By counting blessings, we see God’s goodness. We can “count blessings and discover Who can be counted on.” What about the moments when blessings are hard to find? When hope feels like a fairytale and loneliness is a dear friend? We remember. Jean Baptiste Massieu says that “gratitude is the memory of the heart.” In gratitude, we store up remembrances. It is here, in remembrance, that I am impacted by God’s character, by His trustworthiness. “In memory, the shape of God’s yesterday-heart emerges and assures of God’s now-heart and reassures of His sure beat tomorrow.” If you are human, many of your earthly memories may not lend themselves well to inspiring hope or trust. Instead, they inspire pain, hurt, guilt, fear, anxiety, and loads and loads of scar tissue. May I broaden your remembering? Refer back to a few thousand years ago? It is in this particular remembering, this gratitude, that we fully meet our evidence for Trust. Our Father, in order to have a relationship with us, gave all. He took all pain, all hurt. If that hasn’t earned our trust for Our Father, what possibly could?

 

It in is this remembrance, this gratitude, this memory of the heart, in which we can rest. And come to this realization and promise:

 

It is safe to trust.”

 

-Excerpts from One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp.

-Reference link for “eucharisteo”:

http://justbreatheblog.com/2012/12/22/learning-to-live-in-eucharisteo/

Helllloooooo Tumblr!

Hello my lovely friends!

In the interest in enjoying and making note of some of the little things in life, I’ve joined the tumblr community. :)  If you would like to take a peek at more frequent goings-on, or get to know another side of me, I’d love for you to pop over there and visit!  Come see me at simplepilgrim.tumblr.com! I’ll be putting a link on the sidebar of Just Breathe soon, and will continue working out the bugs on tumblr, but for now, enjoy the ride!

I will definitely be keeping up Just Breathe, but I want to stay true to its purpose – walking through life with Jesus.  Tumblr will be a bit more broad. :)

Blessings!

 

- simplepilgrim.tumblr.com 

On Losing (and Finding)

You know those seasons when it feels like everything is going to heck in a handbasket?  The things you love most in your life are quickly slipping away, and what you’re left with hardly feels like your life at all.  I’m in one of those right now.  Jesus is my constant.

It is in the midst of losing much, that you are promised that you will find all.  Even though at times it is difficult to feel God’s presence, and hard to figure out what He is trying to teach me, I know that He has promised me everything.  I have His grace, His truth, and His love.  I get to be in relationship with my Creator, with my Abba.  And He’s promised that He is working through of all of this, even if I cannot see it right now.

For those of you who are in a similar season of your own, or who may find yourself in one soon, here’s a word of encouragement for you:

You are loved.  You are His beloved.  And when your heart can’t comprehend that, God will remind you, because He is wiser than our faulty hearts.

Romans 8:38-39

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

Even when you’ve lost, you are found.  Found in the love of Jesus Christ.

 

Stories

From her corner in the bustling coffee shop
She could see everything,
Feel everything,
Sense everything.
Eighteen other stories swirled around her,
Each one unique and different from her own;
Yet there remained one common thread –
All were human, formed of the same flesh and bone.
The small, fragrant space pulsed with the lifeblood of the individuals within,
From the oddly paired couple at a center table
To the long row of older gentlemen talking animatedly,
To the cheerful baristas exchanging chit chat with each new customer,
To the couple that just walked in — girl with pixie hair, boy with long curly locks,
     both part of a rising trend, shying away from anything considered “mainstream”
      upon whom previous irony is lost,
To her fellow southpaw by the window, with whom instant camaraderie was
     struck.
Behind each face was a tale to behold,
Each smile slightly varied,
Each sadness of a different weight.
And in that moment, when someone thought they were unobserved, an expression
      would steal across their face:
Some were of peace, some of chaos,
Some of hope, some of despair,
Some of joy, some of grief,
Some of laughter, some of pain.
In that moment, she was privy to a glimpse few are offered–
To see the layer above, presented to all the world,
And at the same time, to perceive the hidden center,
Protected and guarded, raw, vulnerable.
She was grateful — overwhelmed with thankfulness
To be a quiet participant in this unfolding scene.
An insignificant, but present interaction in the crossing of paths between stories. 

The Ugly-Beautiful

It can be difficult to find God within heart-wrenching pain.  More than difficult.  It can seem impossible – only a thing for great theologians, and individuals much better and more selfless than myself.  For a simple girl, looking at the world from her pain-filled corner?  It feels hopeless.

For those of you who are new in joining my journey through Just Breathe, I’ll recap briefly a few key points to date.  I’ve been working my way through One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp, who highlights the perspective of living in thankfulness, also known as eucharisteo.  If you’d like to read my other posts specifically in regards to this part of my growth this year, you can click on the category “eucharisteo” and join in.  My practical step to focusing on thankfulness is a small journal I keep, where I keeping my “gift list” – a place where I can list the gifts of grace that God places in my life.  My goal?  To reach 1000.  My even bigger goal?  To never stop recording what God is doing in my life, even if it is a quick jot in a book, but to live in habitual eucharisteo.  So, to 1000 and beyond!

Also, I told you, my lovely adventurers, that I would be accountable to you with how my list was progressing.  Admittedly, I am not as far along as I should.  With how abundant God’s blessings are, I should be well past a thousand.  However, I have not given up, but am quietly plugging along.  My compilation thus far has reached a grand total of 114.  That’s 114 better than 0. :)

Recent entries:
109.  Skype dates with Kiley
110.  that one shady spot in a parking lot being open
111.  something sweet at the end of a long, hard day
112.  Being tired from the sunshine – and having sunshine to be tired from!
113.  Momma saying I am a blessing to her
114.  Being wanted.

I’ve been home from college for about a week and half, and it has been lovely to be done with exams.  Ohmysoul.  So very lovely.  I do not miss finals, or the 3 1/2 hours of sleep per night I got on average that week.  However, coming home has not been easy.  I will be honest, life (circumstantially) is not entirely rosy.  I am surrounded by a lot of brokenness, and at times it can be difficult to see clearly through pain.  Yes, there are wonderful parts to being home – I get to see my Momma every day, and my favorite coffee shop makes a mean dirty chai, but life feels very big and overwhelming.  Truth is, I am not enough to rise up and meet it.  I simply am not.

A particular question looms in view of this: Where is grace?  Where is God’s goodness in all of the ugliness?

Ah.  There’s the kicker.  How do you view ugliness as grace?

How do we read the world, read the situation, read the people that cause pain?  Through His Word.  “To read His message in moments, I’ll need to read His passion on the page; wear the lens of the Word, to read His writing in the world.  Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because The World has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, ‘I know.  I know.’  The passion on the page is a Person, and the lens I wear of the Word is not abstract idea, but the eyes of the God-Man who came and knows the pain.”

I am a forgetful individual.  I forget that Jesus really did come, and that He really did experience pain – to an exponentially deeper degree than I will ever know.  Sometimes I feel like shouting at God, saying, “You cannot understand how torn my heart is and how great my pain is!”  And yet.  He can.

Here’s one of the most incredible concepts I’ve ever considered.   God the Father put His ONLY Son, Jesus, on the cross to pay for the sin of all of His people, and He called it grace.  He called it grace.  How could something so heinous, so terrible and horrifying be characterized as grace?  Because God uses the ugly-beautiful.

“See that I am God.  See that I am in everything.  See that I do everything.  See that I have never stopped ordering my words, nor ever shall, eternally.  See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom, and love with which I made it.  How can anything be amiss?”

It is grace because God isn’t finished yet.  He is the God of transfiguration.  He transfigured death into life.  He transfigured separation into relationship.  He transfigured depravity into righteousness.  Why do we think He is stopping there?  He was just getting on a roll!

In similar words to those of Ann Voscamp, but in my own language, from my own heart:

I can say that all is grace.  When a child loses a parent, when a family loses a home, when a mother buries her child, when friend takes their own life, when community is severed by betrayal – it is all grace.  This is when eucharisteo is hard – when thankfulness isn’t rejoiced in after experiencing a child’s laughter or a warm ray of sunshine.  All is grace, because God can transfigure all.  All is grace, because redemption is always possible.  All is grace, because “suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart – and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty.”   It is the “hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty.”  But is possible.  Why?  Because God is good.

My challenge now?  To count hardship, struggle, and grief as grace.  My God is the God who transforms.  He is the God of the ugly-beautiful.

 
 
*One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voscamp; excerpts from chapter 5

Beauty. Embrace It.

You. Are. Beautiful.  Embrace it, love it, accept it.  You have been designed by a Creator who delights in you and has proclaimed that everything He has made is good.  You are good.  You are worthy because He has made you worthy.  Revel in the gift of grace, in the reality of your beauty.  Rejoice in a beautiful God.

 

 

 

Los Angeles: Part 1

Hello dear family and friends!!

      It is the morning of my departure for Los Angeles – I can hardly believe how quickly it has arrived!  I want to thank all of you have supported me so far, and for those of you who will continue to support me through this week through prayer.  It is greatly appreciated!!!
These last several weeks have been so full of school and life.  Part of me feels as if I have not had enough time for mentally or spiritually prepare for this trip, but I resting in the truth that because this is something that God has for me to do, He will do the preparing that is needed.
I am going to the Watts district in Los Angeles, and will be partnering with Powerhouse Church.  We will be participating in a VBS, working with the kids from Powerhouse, potentially feeding the homeless on Skid Row, and being a part of the first Sunday of a new church plant.  I am so excited!  I am already anticipating getting to be a part of what God is doing this week.
In light of prayer requests, there a few that I would ask you to cover:
1.  Good team unity – I absolutely love our team, but would still ask that a spirit of unity would be present throughout the entire trip so that we could serve effectively together.
2.  Good physical well-being – it will be a long week and I am going into it low on sleep from the last week in particular.  Asking for rest despite a crazy week so that I could focus on serving the people and also for coming back into the rest of the semester.
3.  That the Gospel would be heard and understood – Through the VBS, my teammate Sadie and I will have the opportunity to share the gift of salvation with some of the children from the area.  We are praying that God will bless that and that it will fully enter into the hearts of some of those who listen.
These are just a few prayer requests that are current, but I would greatly love the protection and support.  Love to you all!!!
Blessings and joy,
   Cassie

Putting Off Blindness and Choosing to SEE

You didn’t even realize there was something here until I brought it to your attention – gotcha!
What you might not have realized  is that this is not the first sentence of this post – in reality, there is one preceding it.  What is the purpose?  To illustrate a point.  You could not see it at first, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  

Helen Keller said this: “It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”  

Lately, I’ve found the concept of blindness brought to my thoughts often.  What is it about blindness that has captured my attention?  One particular characteristic – when our sense of sight is hindered, all of our other senses are heightened and more sensitive.  When we suffer from physical blindness, this is a very, very good thing.  The problem occurs when this applies to spiritual blindness.  

What happens when we are blind the Person and workings of God?  Our attention is focused elsewhere – on our circumstances, the lusts of the world, and all the things that are not of God.  Our awareness of earthly things, in the absence of God, is sharpened and distinct.  The way we interact with others, the nature of our conversations, and the things that we pursue are all affected by our vision, or lack thereof, of God.  We may think we have our eyes open, but so often we are unaware of God.  

I am convicted when I realize that most of the day has gone by and God hasn’t entered my thoughts up to that point.  My Father, my Lord, gave up the life of His very Son so that He could have a relationship with me.  In light of that, how on earth can I wake in the morning without thinking of Him?  My denseness when it comes to acknowledging God on a daily, moment-by-moment basis, truly astounds me.  So what am I asking of God?  That He would increase my knowledge of Him – not just head knowledge, but practical, daily knowledge – and that He would infuse my heart and life with a passionate desire to live in a way that brings Him pleasure.

Father, You know my heart more deeply than I could ever understand.  You know how easily I somehow set You aside, and how much I desire to keep you in the forefront of my mind.  Keep your Word directly in front of me, that I might not lose sight of Your goodness and grace.

Psalm 25:4-5 – “Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.  lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You ARE the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.”

 

My Voyage

It has been a challenging couple of weeks.  Lots of stuff going on – some really good things, some really challenging and difficult things, but all good growing things.  Tonight, I finished studying for my statistics test that I have in the morning and was craving some Jesus time to quiet my thoughts and heart as I adjust to going to sleep.  Jesus is so faithful – He uses so many things to speak to our hearts, to renew weariness, that sometimes I’m overwhelmed by it.  And I’m not nearly overwhelmed often enough.  Here is a prayer from The Valley of Vision that quite perfectly encapsulates where I want my heart to be tonight.

~Voyage~

O Lord of the Oceans,
My little bark sails on a restless sea, 
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely;
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course;
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals;
Bring me to harbour with flying pennants, hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.
I ask great things,
        expect great things,
        shall receive great things.
I venture on thee wholly, fully, my wind, sunshine, anchor, defense.
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
      but my helm is held steady,
      Thy Word secures safe passage,
      Thy grace wafts me onward,
      my haven is guaranteed.
This day will bring me nearer home,
Grand me holy consistency in every transaction,
      my peace flowing as a running tide, my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly,
    with skill to convert every care into prayer,
Halo my path with gentleness and love, smooth every asperity of temper;
Let me not forget how easi it is to occasion grief;
May I strive to bind up every wound, and pour oil on all troubled waters.
May the world this day be happier and better because I live.
Let my mast before me be the Savior’s cross,
    and every oncoming wave the fountain in His side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea
    until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

This is my voyage.  Jesus is sitting at my helm and steering my safely, tenderly, faithfully.  Yes, storms come.  But I know who controls the seas, the harsh winds, and my little craft.  And each day I am nearer home.

Hebrews 6:19 – “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…”

(I know there are run-on sentences galore in this post….however, my brain is tired.  It will only get worse with editing, so thank you for your graciousness. :) )

(By the way, as I promised to be accountable to you, I AM continuing to work on my 1,000 gift list.  My problem has not been trying to think of things to include, my problem has been having the time to document all my blessings.  Such a good dilemma to have!!)

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