“Out of the mouths of babes….”

You guys, God blew up my brain this morning. Like, He shattered me in the best of ways…..I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out:

In the morning, I have about a 45-minute commute. I like quiet in the mornings. My drive is usually where I try to get focused, I pray, and I listen. This morning, I had just finished praying the intro (LOL–by “the intro,” I mean the Lord’s Prayer. I start every day with that. Long story. Good enough for Jesus, good enough for me.) and I was thinking about my son. I was thinking about how he’s said a couple of times lately that he wants to be baptized. Now, he’s 5–I’m pretty sure he’s not ready yet, but it’s on the table. I was 9 when I became a Christian and was water-baptized, so I firmly believe that kids can know what they’re doing.

We pray with him every night. I want my son to know that God is real, that He is listening, and that we don’t have to fake anything with Him. Jericho’s prayers are really, really cute, and I believe that he prays with intention. David has been AMAZING at working with him on Bible verses (I highly recommend Pixie Paper on Amazon; we purchased superhero-themed prints with Bible verses on them, and Jericho’s been learning them since he was 3. “Green Lantern verse!” “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light onto my path!” “Captain America verse!” “Jesus is the Captain of my Salvation!”), and he’s been learning them at school. Image result for jesus is the captain of my salvation

Watching a child develop their own faith is fascinating.

As parents, we have to be careful of a trap that I have found myself in: Don’t disregard the strength of their prayers because they’re cute.

I was driving into work, thinking about how Jericho had jumped at the opportunity to pray over my family’s Father’s Day meal. It was a simple prayer, full of thanksgiving, and one I really didn’t put much stock into, because let’s face it: I have a really cute kid, and it’s cute when kids pray.

I was, of course, happy that he WANTED to pray (my mother was verklempt, LOL), but I didn’t really think too much more of it beyond the general pride I felt that MY KID PRAYS. Outside of that, it was adorable, and we go on with our day.

Image result for verklempt meme

God feels differently.

I felt Him whisper to me this morning as I merged onto 270: “His prayers are REAL.”

My brain exploded like a firework. If I could have stopped my car and pulled over, I would have.

He kept going–it all rushed in: “His prayers are real, his heart is pure, and I AM LISTENING. All of Heaven is listening when a kid prays. His prayers have stock in them, just as yours do. Age doesn’t matter. I listen. Nothing he says is in vain; all of Heaven takes note. It’s written down. Jericho’s prayers are HEARD.”

So much for my mascara this morning.

How dare I sit back and write them off as a novelty?!?!?!?!?!?

The prayers of our children are heard in the heavenlies!!!!!!!!!!

I came into work, and turned on Bethel worship from a few Sundays ago. I picked it based on the screenshot of the worship leader, who I hadn’t heard before (Sean Feucht), and Pastor Bill Johnson was doing the intro. What he said made me stop in my tracks, and open up this blog to write all of this down:

Psalms 8:2:
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (NIV)

Mr. Johnson went on to read a paraphrase of a few more verses of the chapter (hit the video at the 4:32 marker):

“You have built a stronghold, a dwelling place of strength, from the songs of babies. YOU HAVE BUILT A FORTRESS FROM THE SONGS OF BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!  Strength rises up from a chorus of babies. This kind of praise has the power to shut Satan’s mouth. Childlike worship will silence the madness of those that oppose you.”

I have never, EVER read this verse like this. I’ve never seriously considered the power or strength of the prayers of a child. I’ve said, “oh, sure, that’s adorable, it’s good to teach kids to pray,” etc., but it’s never impacted me like it has this morning. Between what God whispered in my ear on my commute, and a different interpretation/paraphrase of a verse I’ve heard 1,000 times, my world is rocked this morning, and I am renewed in my prayers of gratitude for my son in my life. That boy is a gift and a blessing who has taught me more about God than in almost any other time in my life. He keeps me reliant on the Lord, and he keeps me committed to renew my faith every single day. Today is just one more example of the lessons God has taught me through Jericho…

You guys, how amazing, that the Creator of the universe stops in His tracks to hear the prayers of a child…that the prayers of the least of these matter to our Savior. Our prayers are never just a novelty act; He never writes them off because we’re who we are. He’s listening, and He’s not just listening–He’s looking forward to our conversations. He’s engaged with us as His Beloved. Jesus truly loves us so much more than we can know, and it’s a joy to belong to Him…it’s a joy to get to parent with the influence of His kindness…it’s a joy to be loved by Him…

 

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the Blessings of “Boring”

Christmas cards, postage, etc., COST. So, in the interests of saving our budget, we greatly reduced the number of Christmas cards that we physically sent out this year. Besides, everything–EVERYTHING–is online. Also, the only stamps I have left are either Harry Potter or Disney Villains, and NOTHING says “Christmas” like a Cruella De Ville stamp. 🙂 That being said, here’s our OFFICIAL Christmas Card/Letter for the year:

Christmas Card 2017

Christmas, 2017

One of the doctors in the clinic stopped by my office the other day, and commented on how sometimes, people need to learn to be happy with “normal.” I’m a big fan of “normal.” As a society, we’re told we need to “thrive on chaos,” and to “work well under pressure.” That’s all fine, but I think we’ve lost the luster of celebrating every-day life.

Wake up at 4am. Get ready for work. Drive—a lot—and maintain your Christianity in the process. Do your job—and maintain your Christianity in the process. J Drive some more. Pick up your child from school, head home, make something edible for dinner, and crash in front of the television, read a book, play a game, etc., until it’s time to do the whole day over again. There’s a schedule, and the days tend to flow into one another in some kind of monotonous blur…Or do they?

I’m definitely locked into my routine; I know I can hit that snooze button 3 times before I’m at Critical Rush. My closet is organized so I can spend 5 more minutes in bed, and I usually pack my lunch the night before. I’m as streamlined into my routine as I can possibly be, all in the name of a few extra minutes under the blankets. Do I look forward to every single day? Heck, no. There are more days than not where I fight a major battle just to put one foot on the floor. It’s for medical reasons, it’s for mental reasons—My “expectation” for the day is honestly just to get it over with. I know that sounds like absolute drudgery, but I also know it’s more common than some people realize. I think that’s part of why when something exciting happens, it’s so much more dramatic, because HOLY COW, WE HAVE BROKEN OUR ROUTINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you know one thing that breaks any concept of a “routine?”

Love.

Although the first part of my day is routine, as soon as I pick Jericho up from school, it’s really “anything goes.” I know I’m going to get him, maybe talk to his teacher, and we’re going to drive home, have dinner, and talk about his day. I know he’s going to go to bed somewhere around 7:45, and that I’m going to bed at the same time. What I don’t know, is what he’s going to say…what he’s going to do, or what new skill he’s picked up. It seems like he grows every day, and before we know it, he’s going to be starting Kindergarten. Impossible. I know that when he says something sweet, that on the outside, I’m going to remain calm; on the inside, my heart is going to turn into confetti, and my brain is going to replay the memory a thousand times over the course of the next “routine” day. When he stops everything and hugs me, I know my heart is going to go full-on Grinch, and grow 3x in 30 seconds (it does that a lot). It’s a brand of love unlike anything I have ever known or can describe, and it’s mind-blowing. I don’t understand the love I have for my son. I don’t get it—where does it come from? How does it just keep getting bigger? How is every day with him so amazing? I mean, yes—he’s 4.

Four has tested us in ways we never thought we could be tested in. Everything everyone said about the “Terrible 2’s” or “Terrifying 3’s” is a load of garbage, because FOUR?!?!?. Four is insane. Four means we occasionally have a Tiny Tyrant who is dead-set on voicing his own opinions, on doing is own thing, and is NOT dead-set on simply accepting “DO WHAT I TOLD YOU TO DO!!!!” as a viable reason to do what he’s told. Jericho is feisty, opinionated, determined, and incredibly creative. He is also very loving and very sweet, most of the time. There is never a doubt as to what he is thinking, and I can’t help but to think that he comes by that honestly. J

He’s decided he wants to be a foot doctor, a chef, and a police officer. He’s working on his handwriting; he’s able to read lots of words, and his spelling is pretty impressive. He’s in Pre-Kindergarten!?!?! School has been very good for him, and it’s definitely been a year of transition. He’s just a typical 4-year old boy. I celebrate that.

David’s “routine” day is a little different than mine; he gets Jericho ready for school every day and takes him in. Jericho wakes up ready to punch the day in the face! His day starts with YELLING, “I’M READY TO GET UPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!” over and over and over again, until David finally goes into his room and turns the light on. The child is persistent. I’m not sure how David deals with the volume level of the morning, but on the weekend, it makes me a little buzzy. J I’m used to absolute silence in the morning when I leave, because everyone is still asleep. It’s a culture shock on Saturday morning!

David’s still working with MetLife, and if there’s any “routine” to his day, it’s that he’s going to be busy. Between hurricanes, floods, storms, fires, and crazy drivers, he never knows what kinds of claims he’s going to be dealing with (or what kinds of excuses he’s going to hear). We each have to maintain certain amounts of confidentiality with what we do, but when he does tell me a carefully-redacted story, it’s always jaw-dropping. People are hilarious.

I continue to work with the Center for Eye Care at UMSL. My favorite part of my job is working with our Mobile Eye Van to provide vision services in underserved schools. A proper diagnosis of a vision issue can change a child’s life; that’s exciting, to be a part of making that change. I also continue to work with contract negotiations, compliance, and credentialing. The laws change constantly, and my biggest challenges are being made aware of, and of understanding, these changes. I appreciate the “simplicity” of just being “Mom” at the end of the day, and of not having to worry about government regulation enforcements! J I also continue to do freelance editing when I have time, and “officially” launched www.CassidysCommentary.com over the summer.

We’re a completely “normal” family. We’re a Dad, a Mom, and a child, who start each day, work and learn each day, and go to bed each night. But when you look at that sentence, there’s a lifetime of hope and of love in each comma. There is no happier moment of my day then when Jericho crawls up into my lap, and sits with me. I’ve never known a fulfillment like I feel when we sit there, doing nothing. I’m so thankful for that little boy, and so grateful for the love I see in him. He’s such an answer to prayer, and such a daily testimony to David & I…

I remember that feeling of waking up on Christmas morning when I was a kid—the anticipation, and the expectation. I kind of feel like that every day when I pick Jericho up from school. J Even though it’s “routine,” it’s the best time of the day, full of the excitement of seeing his face and of hearing about his day. It’s a beautiful “normal,” and I am so in love with having it in my life. We are both so grateful to God for these “typical” moments…

For this Christmas season, I hope that you & your family find the gratitude and joy in whatever your “routine” may be. My prayer for all of us is that the drama we are so affected by on a regular basis, go back to being out-of-the-ordinary. My prayer is that the “routine” would be calm and joyful, and that as a society, we would learn to appreciate the beauty of the mundane. Celebrate “normal” this holiday season, and enjoy the peace of the Holy Spirit in your families as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Merry Christmas!!!!!

Love,

David, Cassidy, & Jericho Cooley,

And Holly the Boxer, who is very, very old….

Happy Birthday…

Eleven.

You’d be eleven.

I Googled “things 11-year old girls like,” and the results made me smile.

Science.

Design.

Crafts.

Glitter.

I wonder what you’d like, as I do every year…

Time moves on, and we take our steps….

Leaves turn, and winter comes again.

Your brother changes every day; it’s going

So

Fast.

Every day with him is a gift that we

End with a hug and a

Prayer to the

Great God Who

Blessed Us…

The Great God Who

Holds you

Now…

He’s coming to the age where your story

Is told…

I’m not sure how we’re going to tell him,

But we will tell him how much we love you even

Now.

When the darkness comes….

When my soul is overwhelmed,

And when my heart feels every ounce of the memories that

Autumn Brings,

I remember the promises of my Savior…

I remember the promises of His Word…

I remember He loves me.

He loves you.

And I cling to the hope of seeing you again.

I remember the dreams He gave;

One boy, and one little

Red-haired

Princess…

Mine to hold

In eternity.

 

Happy Birthday in Heaven,

Beautiful Girl…

Your name means “Grace,”

And it is by the Grace of God

We live.

We hope.

And we love. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Former Friends, Forty, & Feet…

My brain has been in a whirlwind for the past 2 weeks.  There’s a multitude of things going on…Shall I outline it all, in the hopes that writing it all down, makes it all make sense?

  • The dissolution of a long-term friendship  has led to difficulties maintaining a positive attitude.  As a fairly outspoken person, it’s increasingly difficult to not confront said “friend” regarding their demeanor. I have to trust God that truth will out…That being said, “truth” occasionally means that you piss people off, and I guess that’s what I’ve officially done.  Have I been a “good Christian” in how I’ve handled this mess? Nope (does the Silent Treatment count for or against me?!?). I’m hurt, I’m angry, and my eyes hurt from rolling them so hard. I’m almost 40, and this “act like you’re 17” crap is for the birds. And no, I’m not going to tell her about it—what good would it do? To pour out my heart to someone who thinks they’re never wrong? I don’t have that amount of time to waste.
  • Working with women is DIFFICULT (see #1). They’re catty, they’re mean, and they’re so, SO petty. I’ve been in a female-dominated industry for 18 years, and I’ve been both the Catty-B, and the victim of the Catty B. I’d like to think I’ve been on the receiving end of said BS more times than I’ve dealt it (because I generally dislike the confrontation involved—what good does it do? If someone hates you, telling them off about it isn’t going to make them like you any more), but that’s an easy thought to think. I can’t be objective in that thought, but I sure as heck can say that I’m in the thick of it right now, and OMG, I AM OVER IT. IF women would be kinder to each other on the job, men would have more respect for our work performance and authority. Instead, we shoot ourselves in the foot because we can’t keep our feet out of our mouths and our bitchery out of the office. Women need to build each other up, and cram this sanctimonious garbage where the sun doesn’t shine. Be nice, girls. Maybe someday, we can actually work together in PEACE.
  • The onslaught of stories of sexual harassment is a weight around my heart. Every. Single. Woman. Has a story to tell. Reading them is heavy…exposing our children to them is HEAVY. Hearing it all on the news is HEAVY. Since Mr. Clinton was in office, we have been subject to greater and greater exposure to sexual impropriety in the media. I have to wonder if purity is dead? “How shall a young man keep his way pure?” I don’t know anymore. How do I raise my little boy to respect women when even at 4, he is using words that by their very definition, sexualize? Thanks to a children’s movie that decided to use the word “booty,” I can’t get my son to quit saying “booty butt.” Sure, it’s funny…but what if he doesn’t stop? That’s a problem we have to quell NOW. As mothers, we are responsible for raising our sons to end the #MeToo in this world. We have to. We are the ones who can end it. Fathers, you are the other ones that can end it. Start with you. Start with respecting sex, with turning your eyes away when it’s inappropriate (women need to do that, too). Fathers, set the example of romantic love with your wife. Set the example of respect for her body. Mothers, set the example of respect for your husband. Turn off “The Bachelor” and shows that glamorize sexual behavior (I don’t mean to single out any show in particular, and in fact, I’ve never watched “The Bachelor.” I’m just gathering that from previews). Listen to the lyrics in songs—turn them off when they’re inappropriate. It’s a struggle for ALL of us, but it’s worth it. Sex is to be appreciated, bodies are to be respected, and WE need to restore purity by the grace of God, in our households. These are stands we have to take. I have to remember that IT’S WORTH IT, to turn off questionable lyrics when my Mini is in the car. Sure, I’m a grown-up, I can handle it, right? Maybe I’m jaded…but he’s not. My son is not. Let’s not callous our kids before their time (and maybe let’s collectively rethink what we’re so callous to, ourselves?).
  • Sometimes, we have to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s uncomfortable and in my case, leaves me paranoid for a solid month. That’s where I am right now. Yes, I am praying about it. I’m still paranoid. When you regularly deal with anxiety and something comes up to tip that cart just a little more in that direction, a small thing becomes a very BIG thing, and it’s an effort to not obsess about it.
  • I turn 40 next month. Why I’m having some kind of existential crisis over it, I’m not sure. The fact that I’ve made it this far is flippin’ amazing. While I’d like to celebrate by face-planting into some kind of elaborate pastry, I’m actually going to celebrate by getting stoned out of my mind. I’m kidding. Kind of. It’ll be the legal kind. 🙂 The day before my 40th birthday, I’m having the first of two foot surgeries, in an effort to finally end the years-worth of pain that’s really affected my life. I have tarsal tunnel/plantar fasciitis in both feet, so it will be nice to see that level of pain be taken care of. My goal is to be off of the pain meds as quickly as possible, so that I don’t ruin both Thanksgiving, AND Christmas (surgery #2 is the Friday before Christmas) for my family. Scheduling the surgeries in this way makes sure I don’t miss as much work as I would be, had I scheduled them any other time; I have to look at the financial impact over the social impact. I have to say, though, I’m a bit bummed about spending 40 so completely laid up, especially after I’ve seen (and been to) some amazing 40th birthday celebrations. I’m super-thankful my hubby and my parents are helping…and I’m thinking I can just snag JD with my cane if he gets terribly out of line, LOL.
  • As is wont to happen this time of the year, my anxiety/depression is a bit peaky. I’m in a (lengthy) season of feeling like the Lord is blocked off…like I can’t get to Him, and when I try, I’m too tired. He feels a million miles away, but I think it’s me that’s so far from Him. He never leaves, and I know that, even when I don’t feel His Presence. I feel like my heart is just crying out for some kind of Word, some kind of direction from Him, but I feel shiftless. Our church is getting ready to dive into the Song of Solomon study, and I’m ready for it. I need that revelation of the endless love of God, at a much deeper level. I find Him so much closer during worship, but when I’m in my 9-5 (or 6-3), I am so empty…It’s not like He’s hiding while I’m in my office or anything…I’m never insulated away from Him, but I feel like it.
  • One friend unceremoniously dumps me, and it sends me into a tailspin…whether that’s the definition of crazy or not, I’m not sure, but I know it’s had a huge impact on my life. It’s a Milestone Moment. I’ve questioned a lot of things over the past few weeks, and I’ve been reminded of several positives. I’ve also been taught/reminded of a few lessons:
    • My best friend in the universe has been my best friend since the 3rd grade. If I were horrible, Vinita would not be by my side through every good/bad/ridiculous stage of my life. I’ve several other friends that have been in my life for 10 years or longer. I rarely think about the longevity of a friendship as a proving ground for my moral compass, but it was recently brought to mind, and I’m grateful for those women that have loved me as I am.
    • This isn’t the first time I’ve ever had someone tell me I’m not good enough for them. I’ve been rejected before, for jobs, parts, etc., but never from a “friend.” When I got dumped by a guy (for the first and only time in my life), I spent 2 years in a death-spiral of depression. It’s been 20 years since that happened, and I would hope I would bounce back more quickly from rejection. Yet here I am, about a month after my dismissal, and I was so broken over it all that I’m  just now able to really write about it. I don’t anticipate a 2-year “death spiral” LOL, but I’m certainly impacted.
    • I don’t ever want to make another human being feel the way this person made me feel. I’m rethinking every aspect of how I treat people (including my husband who, let’s face it, gets the best AND worst of me). It’s a work in progress, but maybe someday, I will get it down pat. I just want to show the love of Jesus. That’s hard to do when you’re a jerk.
    • It’s also hard to show the love of Jesus when you’re stuck in the internal monologues of what you’d like to do to the person you’re angry with. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I haven’t imagined a million scenarios ending with me slapping the living daylights out of her or telling her off….but what good would it do? What would it do in the eyes of Eternity? It bears NO WITNESS to the love of Jesus. I’m struggling, I’m not going to lie—I can’t even look her in the eye right now (it’s mutual, don’t hang me), and God knows she won’t speak to me. I did try to engage, but all it took was one perceived slight and she was back to being a….Well, you get it. There comes a point at which you stop casting your pearls before swine…but you still have to show the love of Jesus…and I’m not sure how you do both. I’m figuring it out.  It’s selfishly worth it to put the work in, to figuring out how to show Jesus in a perceived no-win situation. I’ll get there.
  • Guys don’t do this. They don’t unfriend each other, and they don’t wax loquacious in the psychology of failed relationships (okay, at least not that I know of). Things like this make my husband crazy with me. They also confirm that yes, I’m occasionally nutso-pants, but he married me, so what does that make him?!?? I know it’s sexist, but I think guys get the easier part of mental health and of relationships. Women are waaaaaaaaaaaay too OCD in negative thought patterns (and maybe I’m a sexist troglodyte. I’m basing this solely on my husband and his miraculous/enviable ability to compartmentalize).
  • I want to ask for prayer, but I feel like I’m “that person” who is always surrounded by some kind of drama, and ALWAYS asks for prayer…like asking for prayer is just another way of saying that I’m broken, yet again. News flash, Cassidy—EVERYONE IS BROKEN in one way or another. We are all broken, and the beauty of life is watching Jesus take those pieces and make them into something/someone beautiful in His time. The process of waiting for His time? That’s the hard part…So in the waiting, I’m asking for prayer…Having 2 surgeries and basically being immobile for 2 weeks during the holidays, while trying to care for a 4yo (and having to rely heavily on hubby/family) is difficult. The situation with my former friend is difficult. This time of the year is—you guessed it—difficult, and my heart is tender. Please keep my doctor, Dr. Arnold, and her team in your prayers, so that my surgeries and recovery go smoothly. I am blessed to work a desk job that allows me to return to work 1 week after each procedure, so I am grateful for my job (I am!! SAY IT WITH ME!!!!!!!!!! I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY JOB!!!!!!!!). Please pray for David, Rico-Bean, and my parents, who are in their 60’s, and are willing to tackle caring for a pre-K boy that is VERY active. Pray that they have the energy they need!
  • Finally, never underestimate the beauty of worship, when it comes to focusing the mind and calming the heart, and in warming the spirit. I rediscovered Bethel Music on Spotify this week, and when my brain is a jumbled mess…when my heart is overwhelmed…I am grateful for people that make worship their life, and that share it with the world. We need it, desperately….I need it.

I realize that writing a bulleted outline for a blog is a bit excessive. At some point, I need/want to become disciplined enough to write on a daily basis…if I want to make this work, I have to pour into it consistently. Besides, when I wait too long to write, I wind up with a 2500-word tome that no one has time to read, right?!?!?!?!?

Thank you for your patience with my writing and my rants…and most of all, thank you for your prayers. Life is hard, but when there is fellowship…when Christians come together and lift each other up, life is a joy. I am so grateful to share that joy with you. You’re a blessing in my life, and a reminder that God’s people are GOOD. ❤

*When you’re friends or family members of a writer, and you KNOW they’re a writer, you have to know that at some point, they’re going to write about you, good or bad. Names have not been named, no slander has occurred, and no one may be held responsible for the contents of this piece. It’s ridiculous that I actually have to say this, but this world is looking for any reason to be a victim. You don’t get that from me.