Why I’m Joining #192HoursOfPrayer

Originally posted March 23, 2014

Today I am honored to join a group of writers all over as we pray for a beautiful young girl following her heart and God’s call to Haiti.  I stumbled across a blog post linked to Lisa-Jo Baker’s 5-Minute Friday and without hesitation I asked if I could join in.

I love the chain reactions that happen when we follow God prompting us.

Kaitlyn, of It Just Takes One, a student, writer, and lover of Jesus announced that she will spend her spring break serving a village in Haiti.  Click here to read more about her journey.  Then Rebekah, from Three Bees in a Blue Bonnet answered God’s call to cover Kaitlyn in prayer over her journey and she posted about it on 5-Minute Friday.

I almost missed writing about the prompt on Friday because it was almost midnight before I realized it was even Friday.  I was rows and rows deep on the link-up.  I read the 10 blog posts before mine but felt compelled to scroll up a few rows where I landed (seemingly randomly but definitely not) on Rebekah’s post where she told about her call to create #192HoursOfPrayer.  It was beautiful, it was inspiring, and I wanted in.

So here I am, signing off of this post to spend the next hour in prayer for Kaitlyn.  A stranger, a fellow writer, a sister in Christ.  I will pray for her today through Thursday from 4-5pm.  I am honored to be a part of this movement, this sacred act of prayer.  If you are reading this post I hope you will pause and cover Kaitlyn in prayer.  I pray for her safety, for God’s clear direction, and mostly for hearts and lives to be changed because she followed God’s call.  I pray that he uses her obedience in a mighty way.

​Be sure to join us in prayer at #192HoursOfPrayer or follow Rebekah at Three Bees in a Blue Bonnet and ask to be added to the prayer schedule.

Check out Kaitlyn’s It Just Takes One blog and follow her journey!

And join us on 5-Minute Friday!  You never know who God will lead you to there!

Casey

Peace in the Mundane, Joy in the Counter Wiping

Originally posted March 22, 2014

It is 2:26 in the afternoon, the week of spring break.

I have company coming in less than 24 hours, muddy paws have left now dry prints all over my floors, there is a basket of laundry to be folded on my bed, sheets to be changed, a kitchen scattered with cereal boxes, bread crumbs, and bags of apples ready to be washed.  The kids are finally playing in the woods because the sun is trying to peek out of the gray sky.

I am still in my pajamas.

I have barely opened my Bible today even though 5 hours ago I sat down to do my Bible study.  I used it for reference as I wrote, but I have not reached for it to fuel my soul even though I know it is the thing I need most.

Some days I feel lost, this is one of those days.

I long for purpose, yet I sit here and write instead of clean up the mess scattered around my house.  What if today that is my purpose?  To keep a clean house, to teach my kids about tidiness and responsibility?

Am I so vain that I cannot fathom that THIS is all God has for me today?  So I search my heart for what I have to say, I question what I believe my calling might be, and I desperately seek approval and affirmation from someone who might have read a nugget of encouragement.

I like to look like I have my life together, that I am content with whatever God places before me this day or that, but to look at me today you would know that I am a liar.  I say I hate to be busy but faced with a week that is not busy at all I simply do not know how to be not busy in my day to day life.

God grant me the strength to accept that YES, maybe this is what you have for me today because MAYBE, you want to tell or teach or show me something.  God help me to lay down this vanity that says I am meant for more. Give me peace in the mundane, joy in the counter wiping, laundry folding and mopping.  Teach me to praise you not only in the storms but in the calm that terrifies me.

Joshua at Starbucks (Who May or May Not Exist)

Originally posted on March 19, 2014

I hate small talk.  We have established that before.  I will pour out my soul to you, ask deep, probing, make-you-uncomfortable questions, and hold a perfect stranger while she cries, but as I established here, I HATE SMALL TALK.

I love to smile, to offer a quick word of encouragement to a struggling mama or obviously frustrated cashier, but I don’t want to chit chat because it makes me feel so completely out of my element.

So you can imagine how I felt the day I was accosted at Starbucks by a cheerful barista (is that the word when it is a guy or it is baristo?)  named Joshua.  In that moment I would have rather stuck my hand directly in the hot coffee than carried on a “how’s the weather” conversation with this guy.  I had 3 hours of kids at VBS, time to kill, and a bunch of work I needed to get to.  For the record, it was not anything about him in particular, he was lovely I am sure, I just wanted to get my stinking coffee and move on.

Funny thing is, I am not even a Starbucks kind of girl.  I was only at that particular one because I didn’t want to drive all the way back to Franklin.  I rarely ever go to Starbucks, feel super uncomfortable at my lack of hipsterness when I do, and just try to keep my head down so no one tries to talk to me.  I know, I’m super friendly & very Jesus-like.

So here is the conversation:

Joshua: Hey there. What are you up to today?

Me: (Looking behind me sure he must be talking to someone else) Oh, hey.  I’m just working while my kids are at Vacation Bible School.

Joshua: Oh yeah, what do you do?  Do you like it? (All of this while smiling wildly at me)

Me: (Still confused at this conversation) Oh, um, I do contract work for a marketing research firm.  I kind of hate it right now because I’m a little bored.  But it’s a great job, I just don’t think it is what I am supposed to be doing. (As this comes out of my mouth I’m stomping my own toe wondering why on earth I am feeding this conversation because I just want it to end so I can go drink my coffee but we all know I am an over sharer and completely incapable of small talk so naturally I have to take this to some stupid deep level.)

Joshua: What is your ministry?  (WHAT THE HECK!?!? How does this guy even know to ask me this?)

Me: Well, I don’t have one anymore.  We moved here last year (and I go on and on I am sure about the move) and I left youth ministry and I miss it.  I have been wondering for the past year what my ministry is anymore.  I want to get back into ministry and I miss doing something creative.  (Again, how did he know to ask me this, is there something tatooed on my forehead?  Was my Bible showing?  I didn’t even have a big cross around my neck.  I’m wearing a bright striped skirt, flip flops and a tank top.  Not exactly “Church Lady” garb.)

Joshua: (Looking at me in a way that I am pretty sure he can see my soul, says) When you were telling me that, God gave me an image of clay hearts shattering.  But you know when God breaks something apart, He doesn’t just put it back together.  He makes it into something completely new.  

Me: (stunned) Well, um that is crazy because for the past year I have felt led to clay and can only seem to meet clay artists, and I am trying to figure out what all of that means and I used to want to be an artist and and and….

Joshua: Well, I am sure God will show you your ministry, have a good day.

And that was it.  I walked away stunned, confused, and hungry for more.  For nearly a year I had been feeling God pointing me to clay and over the next few weeks and months it would be crazier.  I would just know I was to read a particular scripture and there would be a reference to clay, I would meet clay artists, I would call my boss to tell her what I was thinking about doing and she would know I was going to tell her something about clay because she was just reading Jeremiah 18.“Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jer 18:2-6)

You know, like Joshua said, He formed something NEW from the clay.  But the day that really got me was when I was feeling especially stubborn.  I was sitting on the deck having a talk with God.  I was acknowledging that He sent this Joshua person to tell me something, He sent me scripture many times and was practically yelling CLAY at me.  But stubborn as I am, I asked for just one more clear piece of direction.  I knew instantly I was to read Lamentations 4:2.  I know, that makes exactly zero sense because one, where in the Bible is Lamentations?  And two, did He really just give me a specific verse to read?

“The precious sons of Zion, Weighed against fine gold, How they are regarded as earthen jars, The work of a potter’s hands!” (Lam 4:2)

SHUT. THE. FRONT. DOOR.

OK God, I get it.  I literally dropped my Bible on the deck and laughed out loud.  I have probably never read Lamentations other than my many attempts (and failures) at reading the Bible in its entirety.  I could not tell you if I tried who wrote it or why and I certainly had no clue whatsoever that there would be a reference to clay.  But in that moment, that one line was meant for me to read.

Clay.  The Potter.  Shattering Clay Hearts.  Making Something New.

But is it really about the clay?  I’m still not sure.  I started working with clay in the only way that made sense.  The business side of that has been slow getting going but I am not sure that is what is is about.  Perhaps it was about me rediscovering passion and creativity.  Maybe it was what I needed to open a new side of me.  Maybe it was about opening my eyes to the something new He is making.  I don’t know if I am making these clay handprints to make a living, to meet a specific person, or to revive something in me.  I don’t know if I am missing the point altogether but I gave up trying to figure things out for Lent so atleast for 40 days it doesn’t matter.

I say it all the time and I know my friends are tired of hearing it but HE IS TALKING TO YOU.  Goodness knows if He is talking to me and can make Himself heard in all the commotion that happens constantly in my head He will make Himself heard to you if you are listening.  God is not selective in who He speaks to, we are selective in whether or not we listen.  It is not always audible, it is not always easy to train your mind and soul to listen.  But when you do it is worth it.  There is a peace and a sweetness that comes when you feel God’s heart speaking to yours.

I’m not sure if Joshua is real.  I know that sounds crazy but I am genuinely a bit scared to ever go back to that Strabucks and see if he is (or has ever been) there.  It was too God directed, too obviously constructed for me to experience.  God will use whatever means necessary to get our attention.  On that day he used a huge discomfort to disarm me and make me listen, goodness am I thankful He did.

Has a stranger ever spoken truth into your life?  Has God used your discomfort to get your attention?

The Beautiful Girls in the Crowd

Originally posted March 19, 2014

On Fridays I love to link up with 5 Minute Friday on Lisa-Jo Baker’s page.  Lisa-Jo gives a prompt and we all write for 5 minutes without editing, or correcting, or over thinking it.  We just le the words flow to the page.  You should join us.Last Friday, I missed the prompt.  Ironic that the prompt was CROWD as I was surrounded by people.

I sit in a crowded church.  It is a beautiful holy space with ornate carved wood, gorgeous stained glass and an echoing silence that fills the space.  Glances around the room reveal beautiful faces stained with tears, eyes red from crying and bodies tense with anticipation at saying goodbye to the one they love.

You can feel the air stand still as every person in the room holds their breath as 3 gorgeous blonde girls, with their mother’s smiles and contagious personality enter the crowd. It is like they are absorbed into the room it is so filled with love and pain for them.

It is a crowd of people gathered for one reason.  Love.  Crowds can be loud, or rowdy, or dangerous, or uncomfortable.  This crowd is love.  They gather to say goodbye to a friend but they also gather to try, in any way possible to take just an ounce of pain away from those beautiful, hurting girls.

Days later the crowd will be gone, but the hurt will still hang heavily around the necks of the beautiful girls.  The crowd will go home, but their love will remain.  They will pray, they will cry, they will still hurt for the beautiful girls.  Life will go back to normal for much of the crowd, but the beautiful girls will remain in their hearts.

Crowds can be a place to be lost, a place to be anonymous, a place to be scared.  Or they can be a place to feel kindness, receive healing, and accept love.  When the crowd is gone, and life returns to its new normal, the beautiful girls can soak in the love left behind, to rest in the prayers being poured out over them as they learn their new lives.

This crowd was love, because what else could it have been. 

Casey

Freaking Cancer

Originally posted March 7, 2014

My girlfriend Ashli’s mama is lying in a hospital bed fighting for her life.  Just a month ago she went into the hospital with no idea how life was about to change.  Full of life, gorgeous, extravagant Rosie was told she had stage 4 lung cancer.  Inoperable. Untreatable unless she gets her strength up.

Cancer freaking sucks.

I lost my aunt to cancer last spring.  My other aunt is a survivor 2 times over.  My dad & sister-in-law both survived melanoma.  My mother-in-law is a survivor and one of my best friends just finished her last radiation treatment on Monday.  So when I say cancer sucks I mean it with every fiber of my body.  It sucks because it takes life not just of those with the evil cells, but also of those who have to sit and watch the ones they love suffer.

Rosie has lived a life bigger and more fabulous than most and I literally cannot even picture her sitting in a hospital room – I’m not sure if I have ever even seen her gorgeous face not done up & her beautiful blonde hair perfectly styled.  She is like a Hollywood starlet – only way cooler and with the sassiest kind heart you can imagine.

Cancer sucks but it does not always win.

I have many people in my life that are living proof and today I am not going to let fear tell me this is over for Rosie and her girls.  I believe with all of my heart that when we pray, we are to pray that God’s will be done because goodness knows He knows the plans he has for our lives, to prosper and not harm us (Jeremiah 29:11).  But we are only able to ask for what we know to be possible, ask him for things that we can understand and grasp.  As much as I know it is right to pray for His will only, when my friend’s mama is dying all I want to do is ask for a miracle.

So God, I beg of you, if it is your will that Rosie stays with us on this earth a little longer, let your holy spirit tell her to FIGHT.  She is tough, she can overcome any obstacle if you are with her but she can’t give up.  If this miracle is not a part of your plan, then I beg of you to surround her with comfort, carry her girls through this time and forgive us all when we ask why.  For we only understand the things of man.  The idea of a lifetime without a mama is what we can comprehend even though through your eyes you see a blink of time on Earth and eternity together in heaven.  Be with my friends, speak to Rosie, and give everyone the strength to look to tomorrow.

I love you Ash, Rosie, Morgan, and Brookie

Casey

Be a Bad Superhero (Or Something Else Unexpected)

Originally posted March 6, 2014
For years I have chronicled Maddie May’s wacked out style on Facebook to the amusement of my friends and family.  I laugh and let her dress herself because she is just a little version of me.  You see I went to private school where I wore this:
Every stinking day.  To say that I hated it is the understatement of the century.  (In an unrelated bit of irony I am looking at putting my kids in private school where they will wear – gasp – uniforms.  Trust me, the irony is not lost on mom.)  Maddie May gets her style honestly because from the time I could have an opinion, I wanted to make sure I had the stamp of my own style.  My mom called me Punky Brewster(because it was the 80’s) and because Punky’s crazy combinations had nothing on my need to accessorize.  I wondered why my parents would not allow me to cut (and dye) my hair like Cindy Lauperand why they felt the need to TORTURE me with the wretched plaid jumper and the nemesis of my childhood, those blessed knee socks.Maddie May is undoubtedly her own person, she dances to a different beat, cares not what others think of her style, and more than anything wants to be something you just don’t expect.  Yesterday, she lived that out in a way that I just can’t quit laughing about.  Her outfit posts on FB are legendary among my friends.  Here are a few of my favorites:

So what happened yesterday?  It is Dr. Seuss week and Wacky Wednesday at school.  A day to throw together all of your craziest patterns, mismatched socks, shoes, crazy layers, whatever you got.  What did Maddie May wear?  A gray and black tee shirt with black leggings and some boots.  When I asked why she didn’t want to be wacky…“I don’t like to be wacky; I just like to be me.” Touché Maddie May.

Oh to be as wise as a 4 year old.  What if we could stop trying to do and be what everyone expects of us and just BE WHO GOD CREATED US TO BE?  I challenge you all to do something unexpected today, to act in a way that catches someone off guard.  Not because you are trying to be wacky, but because you are trying to be who you were created to be.

Casey

Reflecting on the Path

So have I really made any progress on this path?

Nearly 5 months ago, I sat here and typed out the words that were flooding my thoughts.  I declared to the world (or at least the 5 people who read that day) that I was making a change to my life and here, on the pages of this blog I would chronical the journey.  God was calling me to share my story through 3 things.

Create. Relate, Share Jesus

That was the filter through which I would run all new ideas, all plans.  I felt confident that I had found something useful to guide me on my journey back to a life of purpose, a tool that would make the searching and the weighing and the questioning easier.  It has.  And at the same time it has not.

cre·ate  [kree-eyt]  verb 
1.to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that  is not made by ordinary processes.
2. to evolve from one’s own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.1

I assumed that create for me would mean visual arts.  I have always loved painting, drawing, clay and color; and in many ways create has been all of those things.  But create also became about words.  I began to recognize the stories in my heart that I longed to tell.  They fill my mind and I find myself constantly looking for a scrap of paper to scribble down an idea so I don’t lose it.  Creating became less about something to look at and more about a way of expressing emotion.  I’m still not writing those stories but I think I am getting closer to feeling brave enough to try.

God’s whispering of CLAY over months and months came to fruition and I started my small ceramic handprint business.  I started over when the pain of failing in a past business was still very real.  I have a few creative outlets but I still feel trapped some days.  I have a brand new easel that I have not had the courage to take out of its box and a stack of blank canvases waiting to become something beautiful.
I’m still trying to work out what I am supposed to create instead of allowing myself to be used as part of the creation.  
I am still getting in my own way but have experienced a healing that comes from moving in the right direction.
re·late  [ri-leyt] verb
to establish a social or sympathetic relationship with a person or thing1

If there has been one area that I needed work the most this was; and still is it.  I’m a strange kind of social person.  I love conversations, but just the real ones that draw you deep into relationships that can’t happen over chit chat and gossip.  I am practically incapable of surfacy talk – it is just incredibly uncomfortable for me.  I am more likely to get into some deep soul baring discussion with a perfect stranger than to talk about traffic on 31 with another parent at a basketball game.  I am all in or nothing it seems.  But I know that is not the way the game works.  Most people are not going to that soul baring place where real life happens if we don’t get through some obligatory “your shirt is so cute” conversatons to break the ice.

I am trying, glory I am trying.  When I go to basketball practice for the team of which I know NO PARENTS AT ALL, I want to just sit there and read a book.  I want to just read because otherwise I am going to either have to chit chat or make someone really uncomfortable when I ask them if all is well with their soul that day.  I’m just not good at the gray area there in the middle where the rest of the population is comfortable.

So I have started saying “yes” to new friendships, even those that start slow.  I said “yes” when God called me out with a coffee tweet from a perfect stranger who 4 months later I consider an absolute God-send into my life.  I’m still investing in the real relationships I already have as I invited women into my home for the If:Gathering where we shared our dreams and fears with one another.  I put my Nook down and jumped in on the conversation with the other moms at basketball practice last week, and I have started just smiling more at strangers instead of avoiding conversation in order to avoid the chit chat,  Who knows how many relationships I have missed because I didn’t take the time to just smile and let the chit chat happen.

PSA – I still hate the surfacy talk, so if we are going to be friends you have to promise me that we can move past this stage pretty quickly because I can just breathe better in a place where we are being real with one another.

Share [shair] verb 
to give others access to
Je·sus  [jee-zuh s, -zuh z] noun
the supreme example of God’s nature expressed through human beings

Is this what I am doing?  Am I doing it every day and in every way possible?  The desire of our heart is not always played out in our actions and in this I fall unbelievably short.  I am working on it but have so far to go.  Scripture tells us:
But encourage one another daily as long as it is called Today so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Heb 3:13)

Isn’t that really what it means to share Jesus.  Whether sharing through scripture, prayer, a cup of coffee, or service; to share Jesus is to encourage others.  The lies that we tell ourselves about our value, our dreams, & our worth come from the enemy.  Those lies will deceive us and it is only through the hope of Jesus that we can overcome them.  I think that is what sharing my story is really about.  It is a story of hope, hope that I could not see when I was struggling and depressed.  My neighbor Jodie showed me Jesus in that dark time and for that I will always be grateful.  Friends have been encouraging me to put myself out there to speak to women and girls and with my hands shaking I sent a message to someone coordinating a women’s conference in town.  And he responded – not with the “Oh, isn’t that cute” response I expected, but with encouragement that he was passing my website along to his partner.  Sharing Jesus through sharing my story feels right – terrifying but right.

I still get it all wrong alot (most) of the time, but atleast now I know I am getting it wrong with a right heart.  God knows my intentions and is quick to show me when I’m working for my own glory and not his.  I’m still prideful, too concerned with appearance (though you would not know it by my outfit today), and terribly consumed with my own comfort.  But He continues to transform me every day.  Tomorrow begins Lent and I have some serious areas to focus on with God’s help.  I pray that by Easter I am further into this journey, and no longer struggling with the same things holding me back today.  I pray the same thing for you.

Casey
1) Definition from dictionary.com

With Both Feet

Originally posted on February 26, 2014

What do you do when you know God has been telling you for months to “tell your story” and all you keep asking is how; and suddenly how is staring you in the face?

What do you do if you finally admitted to yourself, your husband, and friends that you think you are supposed to be speaking to women – sharing your story and offering hope to them; and one of those friends tags you in a Facebook post of a Women’s Event looking for speakers?

What do you do when you are out of excuses, you know He has a plan, and your selfish, prideful fear is just no longer cutting it?

You JUMP.  Both feet, ready for the water, trusting that you will come back up.

A few weeks ago Lisa-Jo Baker tweeted  “Scared is the new brave” and you know what?  I’m just going to go ahead and believe her.  She is using her platform to raise money to build a community center in South Africa. You really should click here to learn more about it and make a donation. She is scared and brave and an absolute inspiration to me.  I want to be brave so I’m going to do this.  It’s totally normal to send this email to a random person I have never met, right?

Dear sir, I hear you are looking for speakers for a women’s event in Spring Hill.  Nope, no credentials other than God told me to – does youth ministry or speaking in front of our congregation at church count?  Awesome, count me in.

That should seal the deal, right?  I don’t care, I’m doing it.  I am reading Restless by Jennie Allen right now and last night as I read I knew I just needed to go ALL IN.  I needed to tell God I will do it, whatever “it” is.  Well I did, and today my girlfriend Casara tags me in a post looking for speakers and texts me this in response to me asking how you even go about beginning to speak…

“It’s just one small step at a time.  God told Moses, ‘Now therefore go and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.’ (Ex 4:12) All you have to do is go.  Just move and He will do the rest.”

What a wise friend I have.  I’m sending this crazy message.  I’m getting out of the way and letting God move.  7 years ago I was drowning in depression – He redeemed my story and I have to start talking about it so He can finish it.  Here I go.

Casey

Fear and Calling and Messing it all up

Originally posted on February 20, 2014

My mind has been swirling with thoughts and realizations lately that I am so far from the person I was 10 years ago.  I laugh to think of the work God has done in me and am overwhelmed to think of how far I still have to go.  When I was called to ministry in 2007, it made no sense whatsoever, but I followed and was blessed beyond measure by the people whose lives were woven into mine.  I have been pouring through old pictures and cannot help but get teary over the huge impact these teenagers had not only on my life but on the lives of my kids.  They were our family, and when I felt myself being pulled away from ministry I didn’t understand why, but I knew it was time.  I was struggling every day with the fear that I was messing it all up.  I just knew that one day my kids would shun the church that took so much of their mom’s time.  They would hate the Jesus whose ministry I was championing while leaving them for a week in the summer to go to mission camp, or on weekends for retreats.  I dreaded the day that they would have had enough of being in a church because for a season of our lives that is practically where we lived.  I knew I was in over my head and needed a reprieve.

I think I was pulled away for a time of rest, of reflection, and a time for God to grow and stretch me.  Now, I am feeling with every fiber of my being that I am being called back into ministry and I am terrified.  I don’t even know exactly what it looks like, but I have some pretty hazy visions in my head.  Jeff is cheering me on like he always does, the kids pray with us every night that God will continue to shine a light on the path I am supposed to be taking.  And all the while I am SCARED. TO. DEATH. When I think of what it all means, if I really jump in with both feet, if some of the HUGE things I see hazily in my head are real, then this is going to mean time away from my kids and from Jeff.  My life will change.  Every single time God has shown us a direction, He has delivered on it, why would this be any different – and that is what scares me.

Last night I was thinking about all of the different versions of me that I have been in my life.  I was imagining what each of those Caseys would think of or say to the person I am today.  I was laughing aloud as I imagined telling my 22 year old self that “No, I don’t exactly keep up with my every other week manicures, It may or may not have been over a year since I have stepped foot in a nail salon and oh yeah, my hair gets cut once a year at best.  I’m a vision really.”  I was reminded of a blog I wrote over 2 years ago when I opened my eyes to how different I was from who I thought I would be.  I’m glad I am not the same person, I am not sure I would even like the person I was back then.  There was way too much make-up, nail polish, and need to fit in to the Charlotte mold I was clearly not made for.  But I obviously have so much more stretching and growing to do.

I am still caught up in the same old stubborn patterns and I childishly dig my heels into the ground when I know I am supposed to be moving on.  We are all called to something important, and I don’t mean important in worldly terms.  I mean important because it is God’s calling on our lives.  Your important work will not be the same as mine, mine may not feel as big as yours, but it is all important.

But how on earth am I supposed to jump back into ministry, discipleship and leading other people’s kids when mine are a mess 99% of the time?  Maddie May literally smuggled a Cadbury Egg out of the grocery store on Sunday in her boot and proudly told me about it an hour after we got home.  That is its own story to be told on another day, but you see what I mean?  How do I have any credibility at all to share the word when I am so completely dealing with the exact same behaviors, problems, and concerns with my own kids?  I ask these questions, I toss excuses at God and I let fear of messing it all up keep me from obedience.  Then, today, I read this at Momastery and couldn’t decide if I felt encouraged that I’m not alone in this fear or more scared because if a bestselling author and speaker can’t do it without being scared then how can I?

But then I let my heart settle and I cannot get the truth out of my mind.  I am not the one who will be doing it; He will be doing the work through me if I will just get moving.  My heart hurts for young women today.  It is those young women in their late teens and early 20’s that are living with the same struggles and issues I was but it is all out there for the world to see because of the internet.  They struggle in ways we never did because no one knew you literally had fewer “friends” or people who “liked” something you did or said.  There is an entire generation struggling with being defined by things that absolutely do not matter and I just want to come up beside each one of them and tell them (maybe for the first time) who they really are.  They are not a number of likes, or an Instagram pic or a tweet that was or wasn’t shared.  They are loved and valued and important.  And life after this season is beautiful and challenging and more real than anything you are experiencing right now.

So I’m going to keep writing, and sharing as I try to follow His callings.  I have some big dreams that I want to share as the time is right, but for now, I just want my friends reading to know I am here being scared with you.  Whatever it is that you feel called to do, whatever is challenging your heart or consuming your thoughts, you can do it.  Because if it is His plan, you won’t be the one doing it anyways, He will be doing it through you.

What do you think you are being called to do that you are too scared to act on?

Casey

All the Jennifers – AKA 99% of the Women I Know

Originally posted February 14, 2014

From 1970-1984 there were at least 892 babillion Jennifers born in the US.  And at least half of those are in my immediate circle of friends.  OK, that might be a slight exaggeration but I can list 20 off the top of my head and that doesn’t even count my 2 newest favorite Jennifers; Jennie Allen, founder of the If:Gathering, andJen Hatmaker, author & my imaginary (I’m not a stalker) BFF.  According to Babycenter.com[i], Jennifer was not just the most popular name the year I was born, it was the most popular name from 1970 to 1984.  Y’all that is a lot of Jen, Jenny & Jennies.  I went to a girls night out last week and of the 10 women there 5 were named Jennifer – seriously.

And then there is Casey.  In the year I was born it was #261 in popularity.  It peaked in 1987 at #80. Bless it’s heart.  Needless to say, there have never been a lot of Caseys on my block.  When I was a little girl I hated it because the only Caseys I did know were BOYS.  I had a boy’s name.  Jennifer means Fair Phantom or White Wave (how romantic!).  Casey means Vigilant in War.  Seriously, what the heck was I going to do with a name like Casey?  I was girly, artsy, loved to dance and a hopeless romantic.  Again, Casey was a boy’s name.  My middle name was Lauren; couldn’t I just go with that?  How about a nick name?  Something cute, anything cute.  Nope.  “Case”, that was all I got – what else are you going to do with Casey?  Not cute.

In the mid 90’s while at the beach with a group of girlfriends we baffled everyone we met because our names were Stacy, Stacy, Traci, and Casey.  It was utterly ridiculous sounding but every time we were asked (as we were trying our hardest to be cute on the Myrtle Beach strip), we would say, Stacy, Stacy, Traci, and Casey – and people would look at us like we were mental.  I felt for the first time like my name was “like” everyone else’s.  It wasn’t the same but there was something about it that fit in.  Over those teenage years I met a couple of other Caseys and even declared one to be my arch nemesis (because that is the kind of thing you do in high school, right?)  And as the years went on I began to like the differentness of it.  I loved that if someone said “Casey is coming”, rarely did anyone have to ask, “Which one?”  It was my name and the thing I used to hate about it had become the thing I was beginning to love.  I even declared as a youth leader years later that we were all to refer to one of the new boys to our group as “boy Casey”.  He loved that, really he did.

The name was mine, I had grown into it, claimed it, and it had become a part of me.  If someone came to me as an adult and said, “Oh by the way, you are “Petra” now, that vigilant fighter would have come out and they would only manage to attach a new name to me with the force of an army.  Petra means rock[ii], like Peter means rock.  You know Peter, who was once Simon, brother of Andrew, called by Jesus?  Jesus met him and 5.2 seconds later changed his name.  And Peter (Simon) just went with it.

Can you imagine our lives if we just went with it every time God offered to transform us into something else, something he created us to be?

It is so interesting to me that Simon’s given name means “to be heard”[iii].  Isn’t that just exactly what we are all trying to do?  To be heard, to be known, to make an impact.  But Jesus says, “I have something more for you”.  Sometimes that something will just require a small change, sometimes a name (or more likely a title) change, but ultimately, He wants to literally transform you from who you were (a person striving to be heard) into who you were made to be (a rock on which Jesus can build his kingdom ).  Jesus wants to use you, but He needs you to understand who you are in Him first.  Maybe you are fair phantom or white wave, maybe you are a vigilant fighter, but maybe you are meant to be a ROCK.

Stop resisting, stop yearning for what someone else has be it a name, a gift, or a passion.  His plan is for exactly you, exactly as you are, whatever you are named.  If you are meant to have a different name, or place, or title, or position, He will do it.  We just have to be willing to go with it.  And just so you know, VIGILANT IN WAR is exactly who I pray I am every day.  And oh yeah, Casey is making a comeback… #90 for 2014, thank you Kacey Musgraves.