“50 Thinge You’ve Never Been Asked,” AKA, “Corona Quarantine Boredness At Its Narcissistic Finest”

I was on Facebook and I noticed this questionnaire making the rounds. I stole this from Belinda, and thought it was a good way to pass a few minutes of boredom. If I spelled anything incorrectly, blame it on the ‘rona.

  1. What is the color of your hairbrush? Teal
  2. Name a food you never ever eat: Sushi. Eww.
  3. Are you typically too warm or too cold? Thanks to my missing thyroid, Warm. Before cancer, cold.
  4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Same thing I do every day, Pinky: Try and take over the world!!! But seriously: I was watching the Grand Ole Opry live feed.
  5. What is your favorite candy bar? It changes, but probably a dark chocolate sea salt Ghirardelli.
  6. Have you ever been to a professional sports event? Yes
  7. What is the last thing you said out loud? “No” for the millionth time today.
  8. What is your favorite ice cream? Culver’s Chocolate Volcano or B&J’s Phish Food
  9. What was the last thing you had to drink? Water and a pink moscato
  10. Do you like your wallet? Yep–that’s a stupid question. Of COURSE I like my wallet! This is America! We don’t have to carry wallets that we don’t like!!!!
  11. What was the last thing you ate? A dairy-free cake of sadness. Seriously. Cake of Sadness. I didn’t think cake could ever make me sad. I’ve been proven wrong.
  12. Did you buy any new clothes last weekend? Nope
  13. The last sporting event you watched? Do sports on Fail Army count?
  14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? Popcornopolis Zebra
  15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to? Amy Benwell
  16. Ever go camping? Yes…once…in high school.
  17. Do you take vitamins? Yep!
  18. Do you go to church every Sunday? Yep! Love my church people!
  19. Do you have a tan? Are you joking?!?! Who came up with these questions?!?!
  20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? Yes.
  21. Do you drink your soda with a straw? Yes. I am civilized.
  22. What color socks do you usually wear? White. But I truly hate socks. They’re like cotton prisons for your feet.
  23. Do you ever drive above the speed limit? Does a bear poo in the woods?!?! Heck, yeah!! I’ve got the need….the need for speed!!
  24. What terrifies you? Dentists. Rodents. People with unregistered firearms.
  25. Look to your left, what do you see? My UV lamp for nails and a box of Kleenex. Guess what’s worth more right now?
  26. What chore do you hate? I despise anything to do with dirty dishes. Also, I refuse to vacuum–David has to do it, because our vacuum weighs a million pounds.
  27. What do you think of when you hear an Australian accent? Heath Ledger and beaches. And Steve!!!
  28. What’s your favorite soda? I rarely drink soda. I like Diet Pepsi, Fountain Coke, and Vanilla Cokes from Sonic or Steak n’ Shake.
  29. Do you go in a fast food place or just hit the drive? Drive thru
  30. What is your favorite number? 5.
  31. Who’s the last person you talked to? Robin Jackson (Church person!)
  32. Favorite cut of beef? Wait, what are steaks made of?
  33. Last song you listened to? Currently on Amazon Music: “Lay it On Me” by Vance Joy
  34. Last book you read? Oooh, it’s been a minute. I have like, 5 books in progress.
  35. Favorite day of the week? Friday…more like, “Fri-YAY,” amirite?!?!?!
  36. Can you say the alphabet backwards? Yes. Backwards alphabet the. See what I did there? Clever girl, I am.
  37. How do you like your coffee? Tan, hot, and sweet…..oooh, that sounds sexy! Ain’t changing it, though….that’s the moscato talking. 😉
  38. Favorite pair of shoes? Any pair of Birks in my closet. And that’s a lot.
  39. Time you normally go to bed? 7:45pm on the weekdays. 9:00-ish most weekends.
  40. Time you normally get up? 4:00am…just me and the birdies.
  41. What do you prefer, sunrise or sunsets? SUN. I’ll take it any way I can get it.
  42. How many blankets on your bed? I have 2, and David has 2.
  43. Describe your kitchen plates. Red melamine, because unlike Carol House, we can’t have nice things.
  44. Do you have a favorite alcoholic drink? Riesling. Moscato. Any kind of dairy-based drink, like a mudslide. Amaretto sour.
  45. Do you play cards? Yes! Something tells me I’m about to get a lot more practised in this
  46. What color is your car? Toyota calls it, “Barcelona Red.”
  47. Can you change a tire? In theory…
  48. Your favorite state? MO fo’ sho!
  49. Favorite job you’ve ever had?
  50. How did you get your biggest scar? That’s entirely too personal for the public to know, but rest assured, it’s gnarly, and you will never see it.

These are so fun…Play along !!!

Social Distancing? Yes, I AM a pro.

Oh, people of the world…let me tell you a story:

In the summer of 2012, David & I were enjoying our lives as expectant parents. We were excited, and life was a beautiful ball of bliss.

Oh, please–that’s a lie. Truth be told, I was trying to work as much as possible between labs and doctors’ visits, and research, and a social life, and trying to hang onto my sanity as a mom who was expecting her rainbow baby.

It’s not all butterflies and fairy tales. It’s a terrifying test of faith that is only navigable by prayer, and by the prayer warriors who never let me out of their spiritual sights.

So, as 2012 came to a close, David & I were faced with the very real possibility that I was about to be admitted to the hospital–sans paycheck–for a very, very long time…and then on December 31st, it happened. I was admitted to Missouri Baptist Hospital for what became a 33-day stay.

My first few weeks at MOBap were the epitome of “social distancing.” I couldn’t do anything to raise my blood pressure. I couldn’t have visitors, for the most part. I couldn’t have the lights on, because the medications they gave me caused photo-sensitive migraines on most days. My husband couldn’t visit me as often as I’d liked, because he had just started a new job and we had a dog to take care of. My sister came almost every single night, and we’d usually have dinner together and watch TV. If I had other visitors, it was usually 1 at a time, and I looked like death warmed over. I felt like it, too–in fact, I felt absolutely terrible on every level–physically and mentally.

Spiritually, I was great–weirdly great. Like, I had this crazy calm that settled over me that rarely left me. Once, I got hysterically upset at a lab tech who scared the living daylights out of me, and once, I got into an argument with my mom. Other than that, I stayed super-chill, thanks to prayers, amazing nurses, my sister, and the knowledge that if I needed help, I’d better ask for it. I knew better than to try to go through the last days of my pregnancy on my own, and God came THROUGH. He took care of me…and He showed me that His presence is peaceful. He truly does give us peace like nothing else.

So, I’d forgotten about my early foray into social distancing, until of all things–I heard Kylie Jenner talk about her pregnancy, and how she’s a pro at social distancing after hiding her pregnancy for so many months. That reminded me–and it may be the first time a Kardashian/Jenner reminded me of anything to do with my spiritual life–of just how much grace I had poured out over me during my time of near-isolation. The time I spent at MoBap was one of the times in my life where I felt closer to the Lord than ever before–even in the face of complications; even in the face of frustrations; and even in the face of my potential demise. 🙂 God was there.

And guess what? He’s here, right now.

I survived my time in MoBap thanks to a team of friends, nurses, and family that checked in on me and made sure I never felt alone, even when I was. I think that if we’re going to survive the coronavirus lockdown/social distancing/drama, that we need to be sure that if we’re able, we can be part of that team (or “village,” if you prefer) to help others. The last time I had THIS much time at home, I was on maternity leave (and dealing with severe post-partum depression). So, check in on your neighbors.

Check in on the parents that have now become teachers (and who may be feeling woefully unprepared). Check on your teachers who now, don’t have an in-person class to teach (and who have had to radically alter their teaching methods and lesson plans, almost overnight). Check in on the employees who are now questioning how they’re going to make ends meet.

Check in on the elderly who may or may not understand the rammifications of COVID-19 (and don’t be afraid to tell them off if they aren’t getting it. Like, “YES, DAD, I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU’RE CHUCK NORRIS, BUT DANGIT, MAN, THE CORONA DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR MARTIAL ARTS SKILLS!!! STAY. OUT. OF. THE WAL-MART!!!!!!” (Wait, what do you mean, that sounds like an actual conversation? Did I say that?!? Y’all gonna get me in trouble. 😉 )

I think there are some positive things that can come out of this dark time, if we let our eyes be opened enough to see them. I know a lot of people are terrified…I can’t imagine what small business owners are going through, in particular. But we’re going to get through this. I don’t want to blow smoke or act like Suzie Sunshine, but I know that through all of this, God still reigns.

Every time I look at my kiddo, I’m reminded of the grace of God. Trials and tests come; some may seem WAY bigger than others. Grace stays. Love stays. And God, just as He was in the beginning, still is, “I Am.”

I’m writing this as a reminder not just to you, but also to myself. I have a feeling I’m going to need to look back on this more than a few times in the coming weeks. Pray for our President; pray for our government. They’re under a burden we cannot imagine, yet it’s easily handled by God. Pray that their eyes are opened, and that they have radical encounters with Him.

We’re going to get through this! We’ve got this!!!! And God’s got us, right? 🙂

The Boy Who Cried Wolf…but didn’t.

Man, I blew off the initial warnings about the coronavirus–I totally didn’t take it seriously, because of “fake news.” I think it’s become a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” scenario–the media has over-hyped SO many things, that now we don’t take anything seriously…and here we are. This thing is spreading quickly, and I think that I, as well as many other people, were under the impression that it’s just a bad flu. It gets real, though, when you realize that YOU (as in, ME), per the letter your doctor wrote to your (my) bosses, are to be considered as “extreme high risk.”
Now, most of you know I’ve faced down some pretty challenging medical hurdles thanks to a heavy dose of grace and a touch of ignorant oblivion. Usually, I only find out that I’ve almost died in discussions with my doctors after the fact. 🙂 This time, though, they’re serious, and I’m realizing that I was an IDIOT when all of this started out. I’m not scared or working in fear or anything…it’s just a reality that I didn’t quite grasp. So, do me a favor–If you’re not taking this seriously at this point, I get it. I understand. But just take a second and realize the implications to your family if all of a sudden, you were out of the picture–either dead (worst case scenario) or stuck in the hospital for an extended (and expensive) period of time. Think about the implications if your parents were gone (and I know some of my friends know that all too well). Consider your life without any of the people in it that you KNOW are “high-risk” and the ones you DON’T KNOW are high-risk (because I don’t really look like I am, but I TOTALLY am).
I like my parents. I like their friends. And I like my family.
I like my life.
I’d like to keep it as long as I can.
So if you aren’t taking this seriously, and you try to get all up in my business, don’t be surprised if I or someone in my family corrects you. And if you see me forgetting what I’m supposed to do (which is easy, because I feel fine), feel free to smack me hard enough to put the proper “social distance” between us. 🙂 I’ll take it as a sign of love. 🙂
Be well, readers–I’ll be over here, trying to figure out how to work from home and home-school and basically not crawl up the walls. Gonna need more than thoughts and prayers to get through the next few weeks, for sure!!!!!!!! Gonna need a miracle and some divine intervention–LAWD, help us! 🙂
Hey, maybe I’ll get my writing caught up…

Fear.

Fear.
Fear is heavy, like a suffocating blanket of pressure that you just can’t shake.
Fear locks you in your own head, making you see everything through its lenses, where everyone is on the attack and even the air you breathe is tainted with its taste…
Fear chains your motivation–
Fear tapes your mouth shut.
Fear stifles your song.
But for God…
God says, “Perfect Love casts out all fear,” and He doesn’t just “say” it…
He IS it.
Jesus breathes LIFE into those burnt out, suffocated places…
Jesus gives freedom, and the suffocating blanket of pressure?
It’s no match for the One Who tore the veil to the holiest of places…
It’s no match for the One Who gives us access to the very throne of God.
Jesus gives us motivation…
Jesus shakes those chains loose,
And He opens up our hearts so that the song He gives has
No
Choice
But to tear free from the places where fear tried to stifle it.
“Perfect Love” doesn’t just cast out fear…it annihilates it.
“Perfect Love” doesn’t make sense to a society that is currently embroiled in a panic, hoarding things like an ogre hoards trinkets, thinking they will save his soul.
“Perfect Love” gives us clear vision.
“Perfect Love” restores our hope…
When we feel overwhelmed…when the choices we have to make seem to choke us to death…when the clouds of fear threaten to block out the Light…
When I struggle with anxiety….
When the decisions are too heavy, & my heart is quaking…
“Perfect Love” is the embrace to my spirit that tells me He is still in control.
So I will rest in Him…
And be at
Peace.

Chaos and Christmas Cookies

Christmas seems to be such a time of heightened emotions and drama, right? Either we’re emotional because we’re happy-reminiscing, or we’re emotional because we’re sad reminiscing, or we’re freaking out because there’s too much to do, or we’re filled with abundant joy because of what we’re surrounded with (hyped-up kids). Or, we’re stuffing our fists in our mouths so that we don’t say the wrong thing at our family gatherings…or we’re on a sugar high because COOKIES, or we’re disappointed because no matter how hard we try, we will NEVER BE MARTHA FRICKIN’ STEWART, or we’re hiding in our bedrooms for 2 seconds of peace because of school vacations, or…

Peace.

When the angels came to the shepherds (who were no doubt freaking the heck out, because angels are NOT soft, cuddly lil’ things with wings and halos, NOT TO MENTION the fact that they just SUDDENLY appeared out of NOWHERE. In some translations, Luke 2 says they were “terrified,” and who wouldn’t be?!?!?), they made it a point to say, “Peace.”

Of all of the things that the angels could have said, particularly in regards to the mission they were on, don’t you find it so indicative of the loving nature of God, that they used the word, “Peace?” They wanted their announcement of our Savior to be met not with fear, but with rejoicing…not with dread, but with peace. He wanted us to greet His Son with Peace…that amazes me!

Yet, this season is often met with anything but…

And I am no exception.

I work in a University, which means that I am beyond blessed to have some time off in December and January. This also means that I have a ton of projects that are wrapping up at work, along with my own Christmas preparations. I have schedules to finish, papers to process, contracts to review, doctors to credential, and compliance training to complete. I’m swamped, and I can be very short on patience.

At home, there is cleaning, cooking, baking, groceries to shop for, presents to wrap, recipes to hunt down…laundry that still somehow manages to pile up (even though I swear, I’ve worn the same t-shirt through 3 days of baking…okay, that’s TMI). A few weeks ago, I had to make a run to the grocery store with my kiddo in tow. He’s usually pretty good in the store, so I thought, “Okay, this time, I’m not going to lift him into the cart. My back is hurting pretty badly, and I just don’t want to lift him. He’ll be fine.” And he was…for the first half of the store.

And then he lost his dang mind.

I have no idea what set him off, but he got plain ornery, as we say in my neck of the woods, and I just about spanked his rear in the baking aisle. I was NOT having it, so I hiked him into the cart, and told him I’d had enough. I needed to get some basic greeting cards for work. I saw this blue card that said, “Peace on Earth,” and “Goodwill to all mankind,” and I thought, “Hey, it doesn’t say ‘Merry Christmas!’ I can use these for work!!”

Um…

Do you see what I see, in the picture that heads up this blog?

I was so distracted by my shopping lists and my crazy kiddo, that I didn’t see the Manger in the middle of the card.

I finished my shopping and had my son stand in the corner while I bagged groceries. I’m sure I was the picture of Christmas peace, let me tell you. 🙂

mADEA PEACE BE STILL

We made it home; I got the stuff put away, and my kiddo straightened up his behavior before the TV remote got hidden for the remainder of the night.

A few days later, I was sitting in my office, writing out my cards, when suddenly, I looked at the picture again. There it was, looking right back at me–The Manger.

And I’d missed it.

At first, I laughed with a Jewish friend of mine–“Look what I missed!” She said, “Well, so much for inclusivity, right?” “Yeah!  LOL–Can I still use them?” She said she thought they were fine, so I went ahead with it. I even posted it on Instagram, laughing about my typical dippy-ness. Pretty quickly behind that, though, came a feeling of sadness: How, in the middle of all of this madness, could I have missed the very thing that Christmas is all about?

I felt the Lord say to me, “My story will be told, even when you don’t see how. Even when you overlook Me, I’m still here”  Ooof….yep, that got me.

I had to repent–even though it is such a small thing, it’s true that I had my eyes off of Jesus in the midst of the chaos of my life. The card may have said, “Peace on Earth,” but my stress levels said everything but. How did I get so caught up in this mess?!?

After Thanksgiving, our holiday decorations went up. This year, I gave Jericho the job of setting up the Nativity that I’d bought for his first Christmas. It’s unbreakable, so I felt like I could breathe a bit.  🙂  I set up the stepladder, and let him do what he wanted.

79334477_751940835287909_3619306825197293654_n(1)

I’m kind of your typical Type A person, and I have “my” way of doing things. It’s hard for me to turn loose of things and to let other people give things a shot (I think “Type A” is just a classier way of saying, “anal-retentive,” and I will totally cop to my being a control freak in certain situations). He set up the Nativity scene, and I inwardly cringed–everyone was facing the “wrong” way!!!!  But, I took some deep breaths, and I left it alone…he deserves to have decorations, too, so I got over myself….and then, the Type-A Grinch’s heart grew THREE SIZES that day!!!

grinch

Every time I take a look at the Nativity, I smile a little more, & I feel the Father send me a wink. Every character in this scene is solely focused on the Baby in the Manger.
They’ve turned their backs to the distraction, and they’re focused on the Promise that’s in front of them.

They weren’t so busy that they missed the Manger that was standing right in front of them, right under The Star.

They weren’t so caught up by what people would think…by deadlines and groceries and recipes and outfits and schedules…that they missed the fulfillment of the Promise of God.

My son set up this Nativity where every single character is captivated by the scene before them….captivated by the sight of a Savior that would eventually bring Peace on Earth.

I’m humbled.

I’m correcting my oversight, because a six-year old boy unintentionally pointed out the biggest spiritual lessons of Christmas, right under my nose. I may have missed the Manger, but he sure didn’t.

This past week, I’ve had questions about my faith brought up to the surface…broken places that I thought were healed, came up in a way that I had to lay them before God. We had some intense conversations this week, and I truly felt Him whisper into my heart a renewal of faith…an awakening of sorts…and a restored peace that I didn’t realize I was missing. Feelings of inadequacy came in like an earthquake, and I could see the cracks in my foundation; rather than tell me “you should know better!” or, “hasn’t it been long enough? Aren’t you past this?!?” I felt Jesus say, “It’s okay. I’m the same God now as I was 13 years ago; I was the same then that I was 1300 years ago. Things you see on this earth do not define Who I Am, and when I tell you that I Am enough, you can believe that it is, it was, and it will always be true. I felt Him echo those words about me…”Cassidy, you are ENOUGH. Trust in Who you know I Am.”

Chaos in the past…confusion in the present…fear of the future–these are all things that cause us to curl into a ball of static rejection and anxiety. They steal our peace, and they separate us from God and the joy that He gives. These are things that build armor around our hearts and minds, and cause us to feel alone in the dark…but that’s not where He calls us to be.

The shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem were out on night watch. It was dark, boring, and dangerous work; in a darkness like that, who could possibly predict what criminal or starving animal would approach, next? It was smelly, terrifying, and pitch-black…but then God came, and everything changed in an instant:

[a]Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. 10 The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 [b]For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 [c]“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:8-14, NABRE)

 

God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die on a Cross for our sins, and to be resurrected again three days later. He did all of this, so that He wouldn’t have to go through the suffering of losing a child ever again…He doesn’t want to lose a single one of us.

In this season, my hope is that we will all stop and see the Manger in a new way…My hope is that we can all take some time and solely focus on the gift that God gave us, in bridging the gap between sin and salvation with His Son, Jesus.

We are so grateful to the Lord for our son, for our families, and for our friends (that means YOU!). We’re thankful for our church and our pastors, and for the fact that they never stop their relentless pursuit of Jesus.

Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, and of course, a wonderful Boxing Day, eh?!?  Celebrate the season with joy and wonder, and may the peace of God be on your household.

See you in 2020 (and yes, in my field, I’m “looking” forward to a year’s worth of terrible jokes)!!! Shalom, y’all!

 

 

 

Only sleeping…

Yesterday, I checked out Instagram & found that a worship leader I have long admired, is asking for God to raise her child from the dead.

When I read that, my gut clenched, & my heart rate hiked.

Our initial, human reaction when someone prays like that, as Americans, is doubt. I am not an exception, especially as I have stood in those shoes, and prayed those prayers, and have had to say goodbye.

A leviathan of heartache rose out of my chest, & I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Wait.

Who am I?”

“You are God,” I thought. “You’re still God. You are still all-powerful. And You’re not a tame Lion, that I could predict how You will choose to work, especially based on my own experiences.”

I believe He could raise this child, if He so chooses. And I believe that if He has called her home, as heartbreaking as it is to go through, that He will still somehow be glorified in ways that we as humans cannot comprehend.

I believe that those who would mock this request, this daring, heart-checking prayer, had better check their relationship with God. What God do we serve? Is He not the Lord of the Impossible? He hasn’t changed since He parted the Red Sea–why should this be any different? Because of our culture? Is our entitlement to the mundane bigger than the Creator of the earth?

I don’t understand His ways or His reasons, but I do know that He will have His way. So, as scary as it is for me to put myself out there, I want to join with Bethel and say in faith, #WakeUpOlive. It’s the third day.

It’s time to rise.

Twenty years…

Ever been hurt by someone?

Ever been cut so deeply, that you know you’re never going to be the same?

Scar tissue sometime seems to form even before the true depth of the wound is understood…

Or maybe–maybe you’ve been the one to hurt someone that badly. Like, you know what you did was painful, even if you felt that it was the right thing to do. You know it cost you either a portion or all of that relationship, and you did it, anyway…maybe you had their best interests at heart? Or, maybe you were just a terrible person at that time…Regardless of the reason: you inflicted a terrible wound to someone, and you’ve carried the guilt of that sin for a long, long time.

When I was a teenager, I went to a youth retreat where this man spoke about something that’s always resonated with me. He talked about sin and deliverance in a way that God brings back into my heart on an almost-weekly basis (y’all know I struggle with forgiveness!! I really do!!! I get MAD!!). He spoke about how sin could become something so great and burdensome, that even when we ask God for forgiveness, and we know in our hearts that He gives it, WE are the ones that can’t seem to let it go, and to forgive ourselves and be free. He said it was like our sin was a big dog in our lives that we’d grown attached to, that turned rabid and had to be put down. This deadly, poisonous thing that we’d become practically grafted to, should be ripped out, buried and gone….but we can’t let go, so we drag this gigantic, disgusting, rotting corpse around with us, and act like it’s still a viable thing. We put it into closets and go back to look at it, time and time again. We’ve become so attached to either our sin or our hurt or our unforgiveness, that we refuse to lay it at the feet of Jesus, so we’re dragging this nasty thing around with us.

We stink, and we are corrupted, by refusing to let go of the past hurt and actions.

We are destroyed by this contagious, soul-eating fungus of the dead weight of sin.

Jesus came to love us…He came to set us free. He came to cleanse us of hurt and of grudges and of burdens that weigh us down…He came to kick the dead bodies of resentment out of our closets, and to make us whole; He came to heal the decayed parts of our heart that have been corroded by the acid of bitterness.

If you’re carrying burdens…if you’re carrying grudges against people who hurt you 20 years ago…If you’re shouldering the luggage of resentment, of not being able to get over someone’s decisions or mistakes they’ve made…

Dude, make like Elsa, and LET IT GO.

That kind of decay and rot makes your soul look like an extra on The Walking Dead. It’s not pretty. It’s not holy.

It’s not who God made us to be.

Life is SHORT. It’s fleeting. We can spend it carting around the dead dogs of shame, regret, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness, or we can allow Jesus to lift those stinking burdens, and to give us new hearts for old, gross, diseased ones. It’s so beautiful and amazing, how He frees us when we let Him. I still struggle with accepting His gifts of grace…they’re so much lighter than the alternative. Sometimes we’re so burdened by the weight of what we bear, that we have to retrain ourselves to stand up properly, once He lifts those things off of us.

I choose grace over disappointment.

I choose forgiveness over resentment.

I choose freedom over bondage to the past.

I choose redemption over regret.

I choose Jesus over anxiety and depression.

I choose Love.

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras

“A Boxer’s greeting is a joy to behold. They jump into the air in such a jubilee of delight, it’s as if your return to hearth and home were the most noteworthy event of the century when all you’ve done, say, is walk to the mailbox and back. Return after an hour or more and you’ll get backflips, trumpets and a procession of drum-beating pageantry befitting a king.” —Thom Jones

Last year, when our beloved #HollyTheBoxer turned 13, I penned the following blog that really says more to me right now than I’m capable of saying: https://cassidyscommentary.com/2018/09/04/for-the-love-of-a-dog/

Holly was diagnosed with an unknown kind of cancer just a few days after her fourteenth birthday (14!!!  That’s unheard of for a boxer.)…Her hips and legs had become weaker and weaker, until last week, we finally knew that it was time to say goodbye.

On Friday, I gave her the last bath, and did her nails for the last time. She had trouble standing, and I found myself having to hold her up by one arm while I scrubbed with the other (it’s been rainy, and she had the muddiest paws–I swear, it’s like she packed some in from the outside to save for wallerin’ later on!). I sang her silly songs & used the expensive shampoo for once.  I lifted her out of the tub, and of course, she shook off the displeasure of the watery inconvenience; I couldn’t even complain. I just laughed at her, because at least this time, she waited until AFTER the bath to shake, as opposed to doing it midway through.

I dried her off, clipped her nails, and let her walk out with her usual post-bath annoyance…except this time, it was far more subdued than in her younger days, almost as if she had finally come to terms with the indignity of the fact that she’d had to endure such a scrub-down. That’s one of the things I was always rather proud of: David had trained her to follow commands, but I trained her to let me give her a bath and to do her nails. I always thought of it as our girl-bonding time. 🙂

On Saturday, we did one last photo shoot as a family, at Suson Farm. I know David didn’t want to do it; there’s something really intense about the bond between a man and his dog, and I could see that he was struggling. Also, Holly had lost a good part of her hearing, and did some uncharacteristically-disobedient things that we were not expecting….like, run off and try to get a drink out of the lake…except she couldn’t keep her balance…and David & Holly both almost fell into the lake, on a cold, November morning. I knew we would laugh about it later, but at the time, it was scary and sad. Our girl would NEVER run off like that…then again, she’d also NEVER drink out of the toilet (that started a few months ago) or pee on the floor (that started a year ago….we’re going to deep-clean the house over the next few weeks, yikes) or bark in her crate (that started a few weeks ago). She was declining, and neither David nor I wanted to admit it…until we had to, and Saturday was that day.

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We took pictures as a family, because that dang dog was a huge part of our family for 14 years. I was NEVER a dog person–I was a confirmed cat person–until David brought her home right before our first Christmas as a married couple. She made me a dog lover, and now I can’t pass one up without scratching its head. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my weekends….Every weekend morning, since I got to sleep in, she’d come around to my side of the bed and put her head under whatever body part I had dangling off (usually my hand, but every now and then, she’d get my foot and I’d jump out of my skin!). Every night, she’d sit at the “L” juncture of our couch, right where I couldn’t get out of my seat without her knowing. I missed her so bad last night that I sat there watching “Great British Bake-Off” and bawled my way through three episodes. I miss my friend.

At our photo shoot, I dressed her up in a pink tutu that I’d bought for the occasion. When I bought it, I didn’t know it would be for the Last Pictures, but it seemed perfect. I dressed her up in my favorite vintage pearls, and a costume jewelry necklace that I’d put on her for her 12th birthday. She looks thrilled in the pictures, LOL, but given how many times I’ve made that poor dog suffer the indignity of girlie accessories, I felt like we had to give it one more go.

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Our vet was amazing…I (for some stupid reason) didn’t think our son would be as upset as he was. He was DEVASTATED, and let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than a kid that’s about to say goodbye to the dog they’ve known their entire life. He didn’t know what to do with himself; one minute, he was crying and scared; the next minute, he was telling the vet a cow joke out of a book he’s reading. He made all of us laugh at the worst possible time, but again, that’s something we’ll laugh about later. I’m glad he did it.

Our vet (who was amazing) took the time to tell Jericho that dogs are a creation of God…and that He loves all of His creation. I firmly believe there are dogs in Heaven (I mean, why not–there’s horses, right? That’s what my Mama pointed out to me many years ago, and it makes perfect sense). I also believe that Hannah-girl has her dog back.  David told her that Holly would be “her” dog, and now they’re together.

It still hurts, though.

Just 6 days ago, we celebrated (weird term, loose interpretation) Hannah’s 13th birthday. 4 days after that, we lost our dog. This is a difficult season, and I’m struggling with feeling overwhelmed with everything…work, grief, loss, social requirements, parenthood…I feel like I failed my son by not giving him enough credit to understand the loss of our dog.  I feel like I failed my husband because I’m the one that made the veterinary appointment. I feel like I failed my dog because we had to let her go…it’s the second time in my life that I’ve had to make the decision to let someone I love go, and I know it’s different when one is your child and the other is a dog, but those decisions are incredibly, intensely, intimately painful and foreign, yet familiar…Holly was family, and now she’s gone. I’ve never lost a pet like this before. I’m alternating between feeling cried out, and chastising myself for not having it together. It’s hardly the worst thing I’ve been through, but dang…

We loved that dog.

As she was getting sleepy from the first shot, I picked her up and put her head on my shoulder, and held her like a baby (like I’d done until she got too heavy for my old-lady back). When we laid her on the table, I put my head on her head, and whispered to her…The last thing she heard us say was that we loved her, and that she was a good dog. I hope that she understood…I believe (I want to believe) that she did.

I read a blog where a guy wrote from his dog’s perspective, as his dog was declining…it broke my heart all over again, but it’s so beautiful that I’m linking it. Don’t read it if you don’t want a good cry…

This will take some time to heal.

“A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.” – Robert Wagner

 

“Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us, and make our lives a little brighter, and they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.” – Dan Gemeinhart

 

 

 

 

13…

Every year around Hannah’s birthday, I Google things that girls her age like. I’m not sure why; I think because it helps clarify what she might have been like, had she lived. This year (today, actually), she’d be 13, so I looked up what a 13 year-old girl would like. I’m now convinced that I’m secretly still a teenager, because EVERYTHING on the list is something I like!!! 🙂  Seriously–a mini Polaroid camera? A tie-dye kit? Bluetooth headphones? YES, PLEASE!

I can look back on myself at 13 and remember what I liked (Lisa Frank EVERYTHING! Flamingos! Pink notebook paper!).

lisa frankI have to laugh–it was such an awkward time for me. I was all neck and legs, big puffy hair, and glitter. I was finally old enough to wear makeup; I was too tall for the dress code; and I was still wearing the Coke-bottle plastic frames that everyone wore in the late-80’s/early 90’s. I was in the 7th-&-8th grades; I was a dramatic, hormonal mess; and I had deep, deep hatred of hairbrushes (my hair had just decided to be curly, and it was a shock). I blogged recently about what I’d say to myself at 15; I think it’s totally different than what I’d say to myself at 13, because the drama level at 13 is A LOT. I think I barely survived that year. 🙂

Back to 2019…Thirteen year-olds today are VERY different than 13 year-olds in the 90’s. The threats they face; the exposure they get; it’s more than I can comprehend at almost 42. I don’t have a CLUE about how they make it, or what kind of parents they have to have. What would David & I be like, if she were here? Would we ever let her out of our house?!?!  How does anyone let a teenager out of their house?!?!?!?! I’m considering installing invisible fences. 🙂

I’m kidding, of course…..of course…..well, mostly…..

My little girl would be 13 years old…almost grown. And as much as I want to sit and reflect on what she’d be like, I’m finding that I can’t. There’s been a tremendous amount of healing that has happened over time, but when I try to fill that hole with what might have been, I realize that although I have a fantastic imagination, it doesn’t stretch that far.

I have no idea what she would be like.

I don’t want to sit here and say that it’s “okay” that she’s with Jesus. That will never be okay, if I’m honest, because I will always miss her, and I will always wonder why she died. The longing and the wonder will never go away, and I don’t think that I need to justify that. It’s not a sign that healing hasn’t or won’t continue to progress. It’s a sign that I am a mother that is missing her child, and that it’s unnatural for us to not be together. Moms want their babies, period, whether they’re 5 days old or 50 years old. We’re created to be with our children, and when that is taken away, there’s a hole. The only thing that can close that gap is Jesus, and even with that, the scars are sensitive. After 13 years, it’s a “tolerable” grief, but it’s still grief. I miss her.

I don’t have answers when I get asked questions like, “why?” All I can say is that I believe she’s with the Lord, and that one day, I will be, too. I can tell you with all sincerity that I believe in Heaven and in Hell;  I can tell you that I believe one day in His presence is like a thousand years on earth, and that what I feel like is a lifetime, is a split-second where I know my daughter is at. I believe in Jesus, and in His will, even when I don’t understand it. Faith means believing when we don’t see. We don’t see things clearly on earth; we see them once we’re in eternity. I can rest when I put my eyes on Jesus, and let Him sort out all of the details. He knows what He’s doing.

Tonight, before we get home, Jericho & I are going to stop and get a little cake (or I might bake one, depending on how I make it through the day), and he’s going to goof off and make me laugh, and I’m going to tell him a little bit more about her. I might show him some more pictures, and he’s most likely going to ask some uncomfortable questions–that’s totally okay. More than anything, I want him to understand that we’re grateful for the time we had with her, and for the impact she made. I want him to understand that Jesus brings restoration and healing, even in the midst of confusion and questioning. I don’t know what kind of situations our son will face in his future, but I know that if we can impart to him the undeniable love, compassion, and plan that God has for his life, then we’ve done our job as parents for both of our children.fb_img_154071595978315789262.jpg

I was reminded the other day that my story is His story. I can’t tell the story of Hannah’s life, or of our life before, during, and after her loss, without starting and finishing by pointing everything back to God. We’ll always miss our daughter, in this life. We rest securely in the knowledge that Heaven is real; we also have peace in knowing that salvation through Jesus Christ is possible, and that He can redeem any person and any situation. Grief is temporary (temporary is a relative term); His love is permanent, and Heaven is eternal.

II Corinthians 4:18: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Grief doesn’t win. Death doesn’t win.

Love wins.

And it’s because of His Love, that I can still say, “Happy birthday, Hannah Elizabeth Gayle!” I can know that she is loved and cared for, and that I have such hope:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” –Revelation 21:3-4

 

Diaspora…

During worship on Sunday, I had this moment where I felt the presence of God hit so strongly. I almost said something, but held back–how do you verbalize something like that? In my mind’s eye, I could see a giant, navy-blue blanket cover the congregation as so many knelt and prayed…it was like the Holy Spirit was covering us with His love and comfort.

I spent a lot of time this week at church, during the Feast of Tabernacles. There will be more on that later, but for now, I’ll say that spending 8 days straight with any person usually results in a lot of tension and aggravation. You get sick of each other, and I know some personalities get sick of others more readily. We didn’t have any of that, that I could see. Every night was different, and every time we met together, there was the most amazing sense of community and family. It was awesome, and now I can’t wait until next year. Like I said, more on that, later….In the midst of all of this, come Sunday morning, I was so ready to come together with these people; I felt like we had a better understanding of each other, and where our hearts were. Guess what? We’re all on the same page. That’s so ridiculously cool and amazing–we’re united. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Anyway, Sunday morning worship hit, and I felt such an impact and clear vision in my spirit–I truly felt like God was holding us together in such a loving way.  This poem/prose/whatever came out of that:

“Diaspora”

We don’t know the day or the hour

But the season of power comes

Like a hurricane to believers and unbelievers alike.

But what one thinks is devastation, another knows is declaration,

And the world changes and what we see revolves around the Son.

What does the blind man see but the darkness?

But we who have accepted Him are blinded by the light,

And we walk in faith

Trusting Him for sight,

Every step a testimony of faith.

And when the blind reach for us,

We’ve walked away, toward the glorious outpouring;

And their hearts are hardened,

And the darkness grows,

And the earth is split in two

While we run onward to the place He’s prepared.

Take the blinders off and march to the rhythm pouring out of Heaven.

Let the revelation become your motivation,

Stepping out of the shadows of destruction,

While the veil is shattered and the truth covers us all….

He is coming….

He is coming…

And we are going Home….

 

When you’ve spent a week communing with family, outside and under the stars, you learn so much…you learn where you’re from, and most importantly, you learn where you’re headed as a community….Coming together is a beautifully powerful thing. The word “diaspora” literally means, “the dispersion,” and it refers to the scattering of the Jewish people across the earth. As Christians, we’re scattered in a different way, but when we come together, amazing things happen. All of us will be reunited some day.

In getting closer together as a church family, I found my heart often thinking of Heaven as our true Home…how everything before then is a dim reflection of how beautiful and whole Heaven will be. How kind is our God, that He goes to prepare a place for us? How amazing is it, that we should have such a thing to look forward to? And how great is the testimony of each one of His children, that we come out of darkness, into His Light? We gain eternity in our hearts the second we accept Christ as our Savior, and it never leaves.

I get to spend eternity with some pretty amazing people.

I get to spend eternity with a pretty amazing God. 🙂

And so do you.

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