On this day in 1987, my mother went into labor and birthed a 7 lb. baby girl. Her first words when they told her that I was a girl were, “Oh No…” Now, please do not get the wrong impression. This is not a sob story about how from the beginning of my time on earth, I’ve not been loved and adored by my family. Not in the least. The next thing out of her mouth sounded something like, “my son is not going to be happy about this. He wanted a brother. He told me that if I had a girl, we would have to send her back…” Needless to say, the nurse immediately wrapped me up and went and asked my brother if she should send me back. 🙂 That was 27 years ago so clearly you can see that I was immediately loved and accepted into our family.
As I reflect back on these past 27 years, I want to share a few things I’ve learned along the way in hopes that you can learn from my bumps in the road.
1. Your mom may not always be right. But there’s a 99.9% chance that she is. I spent so much time growing up thinking that my mom didn’t understand me and my adolescent problems. Even in college when I was trying to make good sound decisions about my future, I always thought that since my mom’s career path would naturally look different than mine, she couldn’t fully understand the decisions I was trying to make. How silly of me. I spend a considerable amount of time thinking to myself, “man, mom was right” and even now, “ok so what would mom tell me to do?” Heed their advice and cherish their wisdom.
2. You do not have to have everything figured out. I went into college thinking that I had it all mapped out. I would finish my 4 year degree in Theatre Performance and gain experience by performing in each and every school and community theatre show that would take me and then I’d move to New York and pay my dues to get to a Broadway stage. I just laugh when I think about that now and how quickly during my college journey the Lord showed me that my plans were simply that…all about me. There’s a reason why we don’t know when we’ll get married, when we’ll have babies, when we’ll die. God knows and that’s all that matters. He holds us in the palm of His hand and we do not have to have it all figured out. Seek out how you’re to be obedient one season at a time.
3. Go on a mission trip. Ignore the cost. Ignore your age. Ignore the fears located with the location. Just Go. Seriously, I’m talking to each and every one of you. Ask God to present you with an opportunity to go and serve Him. When I told my mom that I was going to go on my first mission trip to south Mississippi 6 weeks after Hurricane Katrina had struck the gulf coast, her response was, “Casey, what are you going to do? You can’t rebuild people’s homes. Are you going to be their on site entertainment?” And she was right. I couldn’t rebuild their homes. And I did provide a little on site entertainment! I mean, have you seen me hang pictures on my wall? I’m not the girl that needs to be holding the hammer. But I went and my life was forever changed, not by anything I had done but by the way the Lord spoke to my heart and showed my that this life is not about my own selfish ambition but His love being shared to those that are hurting and in need of a Savior. I have never had a single soul that I’ve encouraged to do missions return and say, “Casey, I wish I’d never gone!” but have rather returned with a heart of gratitude, not necessarily to me but to the Lord for all that He had taught during that time.
4. Find a good, solid biblical community. There were times in my life where I hopped from church to church, or even didn’t go at all, and those were the times that I struggled most. There was a time, not that long ago, after college where I stopped going to church. I wasn’t mad at anyone, I didn’t have any big falling out disappointment. I didn’t leave for another church, I just stopped going. I still lived 5 minutes from the church that I had found to be my home for 3 years but I stopped going. I found myself in a season where I could not go to church with out crying; and it wasn’t just one of those, “God is speaking to me and I can’t stop these tears from falling down my face” kind of cries. It was the “I can’t breathe, snotty, ugly, only should be done in the privacy of your own home” kind of cry. It was the strangest thing. If M was in town to go with me, I was fine but there was something about sitting alone among all of the families in my church that I loved so dearly that I was reminded that I was alone. Satan would whisper to me that I was an orphan. I would drive the 5 minutes from my sweet little rental home to church and have what I can only describe as a panic attack sitting in the parking lot of my church just thinking about walking through those doors alone. And I was embarrassed. No one knew what was going on with me and I’m pretty sure everyone thought that I was going somewhere else but I wasn’t. I was just sitting at home, waiting for my roommates to get home from their church so we could go grab lunch. I can say now that I look back over that season that what I needed most was community. I needed family. And Satan knew that and He whispered exactly what was necessary to keep me from experiencing the love of Christ that is found through true biblical community. Get involved in a small group. Find a church that you can make your own. Invest your life in those people and allow them to invest in your life too.
5. Take care of yourself. You’re the only you and people need you to be you. (That was a lot of you’s!) Self care is one of those things that I ignored because I saw it as just being lazy but our bodies need a break. Learn how to say no. It’s ok! There will always be opportunities to go to dinner or go shopping of whatever the case may be. But only if you take care of yourself now! We only have one body and we have to take care of it! Get good rest, make smart eating choices (says the girl with 3 birthday funfetti cookies beside her laptop), drink lots of water, read a book, go for a walk, stop and smell the roses, refinish a piece of furniture, go to a flea-market, do what ever it is that brings you joy and fills you up. M and I were talking last night about how a friend was sharing with him the importance of taking a Sabbath and how we often see that day of rest as lounging around and being lazy and while there’s nothing wrong with that(!), taking a Sabbath is all about being filled back up. Work and kids and just life is really draining and we have to take time for ourselves to be filled up in whatever way that means for you. For me, it’s sitting here on my patio, wrapped in my grandma’s quilt, drinking coffee, eating the birthday cookies that my roomies left for me and writing this blog while listening to All Sons and Daughters. Find your happy! And take care of you!
6. Put less stock in people and more stock in God. I read a blog by a friend several months ago as she reflected on her short time being married. She wrote how she had a false idea that once she got married, she would no longer feel lonely but that was not the case. She was still lonely and the reason is because she was relying on her husband to fill a void that only God could fill. How grateful I am for her transparency! People are human and they’re going to let you down. Don’t place responsibility on the shoulders of man for things out of their control. That loneliness I often feel is there not because of an absence of people but an absence of community with my Heavenly Father. God provides all things. Even though it’s been nearly 4 years since my precious mom went to be with Jesus, I still find myself feeling lonely and no one on Earth could ever take her place. HOWEVER, the love of Christ is powerful and when I’m filled up with His Holy Spirit, my mind is refreshed and I find myself shouting “Oh death, where is your sting?” God is the provider of all things! Trust Him in that!
7. People are hurting and they need a Savior. All around us. Every one has a story. A story of disappointment, a story for their pain. And they need Jesus. For this reason alone, there is no need to ever be unkind. Even when people are being ugly to you and are being unkind themselves, you are not given a pass to be unkind in return. In fact, by remaining respectful and kind in spite of other’s short comings, you are being Jesus to them. As humans, we’re going to disagree with people. It’s going to happen. We’re going to be disappointed by others. We’re going to disappoint others ourselves but what difference could we make if we took a deep breath when we have the urge to be unkind to someone and did the opposite? What if we showed more grace and less justice? What if we took a minute and looked at others as a child a God? Choosing joy and choosing to be kind is the only way we’re going to make it and the only way we’re going to bring others closer to the Father.
My motivation behind this blog is not to boast but really the opposite; to share my shortcomings in hopes that my readers do not have to stumble over the same blocks that I have over the years. I am a new creation in Christ not because of anything I have done but because of everything that He has done to mold and shape me through my trials. Redemption’s Song is just that, a cry of praise to the Lord for the valleys we’ve conquered together! May we sing out Redemption’s Song with every breath we breathe!