What is love?

The funny thing about writing on love is almost every post I’m reminded of a song.  Like today all I can think of is “what is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more..”  Anyways, I felt compelled on this journey to love intentionally to define love.  In our culture today, for a variety of reasons, love has become confined to this sexual love box that quite frankly I don’t believe it belongs in.  Actually even the Oxford Dictionary defines love in this way:

love  [ ləv ]

noun

  1. an intense feeling of deep affection:
    “babies fill parents with intense feelings of love”
    synonyms: relationship · love affair · romance · liaison · affair of the heart ·

    More
    • a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone:
      “it was love at first sight”
      synonyms: infatuated with · besotted with · enamored of ·

While this type of love is real there is so much more to loving a person than being emotionally attached or physically loving them. The bible defines love differently.  It explains true unconditional love.  Love that doesn’t depend on our feelings but remains despite our feelings 1 Corinthians actually lays out in detail what real love is,

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Many of us have heard these verses over and over but when you break down the truth of scripture.  You realize how far as a culture we’ve missed the mark on this one.  Love is not some fairy tale ending even though I some days I desperately wish it could be.  Love is not an amazing feel we get when we care for someone.  It isn’t a sweet kiss or a bouquet of flowers.  All these are just the effects of Love.  Love is choosing the good of another person over your own good.  Sacrifice.  It’s not always fun, it’s not always easy, and quite frankly more often than not it’s something I don’t feel like doing, but it’s good.  And love that has been tested is deep and rich.  That is why at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 Paul writes “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

So today I’m taking a moment to breathe and consider what it really means to “abide” in love.  I’m considering ways to step out of what is easy for me and do something hard for someone.  Something that actually puts their good above my own.  I pray you can do the same thing too.

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Gather Together, because No One is Called to Hermitude.

Hermitude, I am pretty sure I just made that up but as a stay at home mom I often feel isolated like one of those mean little old men in bedtime stories that live alone in their hovel. It’s so easy for me to fall into the bad habit of separating myself from the world. I make excuses like, it’s too hard to leave the house with kids, my house is too dirty to have anyone over, I’d be embarrassed if they even saw me, or that would mean I need to get dressed and brush my hair and wear pants! Then after a few weeks (or months) of making excuses I end up lonely and a little bit bitter. It leads me to think untruths about others. Blame them for my loneliness. When really it’s my responsibility to work at building relationships.

God has not called us to isolation. He made us to fellowship together and fellowship can be sweet even in a messy house while wearing a ratty sweatshirt and having not showered. There is something about the fall that draws us together. It is made for gathering! And chances are that I am not the only one out there making excuses and feeling lonely. It’s time to take a step of faith, unafraid of rejection, with transparency and love, and just be together with someone.

So there, I guess that’s my challenge for today. Take time out for someone else. Even if it’s just a few minutes. Even if I don’t have time. Make time, because really people are more important than anything else on my schedule. They have eternal value and what better way to show love than give them my time. I won’t ever get it back and it is precious.

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Abide, 31 Days of Love: an experiment

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
~1 Corinthians 13:13

Over the last couple weeks I’ve felt compelled, although I’m not sure why, to join The Nester (Myquillyn Smith) and her idea to write a blog post every day for 31 Days. I’m really not a “blogger” so this is kind of a big deal for me. I’m terrified of doing this and I’m also pretty sure I’ll fail. But, I believe that hard things are worth doing even if they seem impossible. In the words of Lewis Carrol “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” This month I’m believing three. The first is that I’ll actually be able to write every day for thirty one days, the second is that I can show love to someone different and in different ways every day for thirty one days, and the third is that I can plan meals for each day this month. The third really has nothing to do with the first two other than it actually was one of my goals this month and it does seem impossible. I am not a type A personality, in any way, shape, or form. I write lists. I also usually lose those lists before I can actually use them. I love the idea of a clean organized house with schedules and order. Neither my home nor my life reflect this. I try, I really do, but in the end I’m normally my own worst enemy.

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Anyway, the topic I’ve chosen for this month is “Abiding in Love” This year I’ve been trying to build relationships and love people like Christ. That’s why when I was wracking my brain for a topic I kept coming back to love. Because real love is hard. So I’m not sure how but each day in October I will intentionally act out my love for another individual. Most of the post probably won’t be me sharing how I did that, some might, but because love is intimate and personal there are probably going to be times that sharing will not be appropriate. After all we’re not supposed let our “left hand know what our right is doing…” right? (Matt. 6:2-4)  This is something I as a believer should really be doing anyways.  The love of Christ should be natural to me.  I should be so filled up with the spirit that love is pouring out of my every crevice  but the closer I  examine my life the more I realize that I am not overflowing with love and concern for others.  Instead I’m absorbed with myself.

When I think of abiding it fills my mind with fall like images such as cozy blankets, warm coffee, sweaters, scarves, and crisp fresh air.  But when I consider what abiding in real love is those images are stripped away.   It isn’t cozy or comfortable.  People aren’t easy to love.  Love requires sacrifice and intentionality.  It is so much richer and deeper than just a feeling we have for another person.   So this month I’m going to love and write intentionally. I hope you can join me.

31 Days:


Day 2- Gather Together, Because No One is Called to Hermitude

Day 3- What is Love?

Day 4- Learning How to Love

Day 5- Resting in Love

Day 6 & 7- Grace in Love

Day 8 – Keeping it Simple

Day 9 – This is harder than I thought…

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Hope is our Anchor

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As most of you know September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Our ministry for this month is Starlight Shores Camp. A refuge for families with children battling cancer. Today I release a new limited edition 5″x7″ letterpress print in the shop. This print will only be printed this once and once it is gone will not be offered again. 50% of the profits from the sales of these go to the oncology floor of Helen Devos Children’s Hospital. This will not change even when our ministry changes at the end of the month. Please consider purchasing one of these prints as both a reminder that our hope is secure and an opportunity to help a child fighting for their life.

The print is gold letterpress ink not gold foil so it is not shiny like gold foil but it is beautiful. For more information or to buy one of these limited edition prints select shop from the menu or follow this link

Hope Cancer Awareness Print.

Grace Abounds: Reflections on Hosea

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“The law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased,
grace abounded all the more,”

~Romans 5:20~

Yesterday as I was perusing my IG feed I noticed a post from She Reads Truth inviting everyone who participated in the Hosea study to share on their blog, Instagram, or Facebook account how it impacted their lives. I was super excited about this. I thought, I love Hosea, this study has been terrific, and I have a blog (duh) so naturally I immediately sat down, reviewed the notes in my journal from the last two weeks, and began to type. But nothing happened. For forty five minutes I typed but nothing I wrote resonated with me. So I decided to quit for the night and try again tomorrow. Little did I know what tomorrow would bring.

Today has be one of those days. You know, the ones with major mommy meltdowns and lots of yelling. Nothing catastrophic happened. Actually, most of it is kind of a blur. It was just a really rough day with three small kids. By 4:30 I was strung out and in desperate need of a break. So I packed all my kids into their car seats and drove to the grocery store. Fifteen minutes, I told myself, fifteen minutes is all I need. Thankfully it takes about that long to get to the grocery store and after walking around with the kids in the cart I felt like some of my sanity was beginning to return. After checking out and getting everyone back in the van I was struck by something (not literally). It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit uses seemingly ordinary moments to reveal truth to our hearts. Suddenly I remembered the study. All I could think of was God’s long suffering with His people. His wayward, wandering, disobedient, idolatrous people. Over and over He watched as they sinned against Him. He never reacted impulsively. He didn’t lash out at His children over their sin. He patiently and lovingly corrected them. Then ultimately, He provided a means of escape from the sin that had entangled them.

I’m going to be honest. I was not patient today. Many times I reacted out of emotion rather than love. As a mom I often am overwhelmed by my circumstances. The funny thing is yesterday I felt in control. I remember actually thinking “Wow, the house is clean, I picked and canned corn, the second week of homeschooling is going great, and the kids are keeping a schedule. I got this.” God certainly has a way of giving us perspective. And believe me today I got a lot of perspective. I was reminded that everything I have, do, and am is in His hands. Pride was one of the things that began Israel’s long history of disobedience. The moment we think that “We got this” apart from Him we fall. So quickly we forget the amazing things that God has done for us. I identified with Israel so much during this study. I just wish I would have Identified with God more. After all aren’t I supposed to be imitating Him? He freed me from the shackles of sin so I wouldn’t have to be a slave any more. And yet like Israel and like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:19 I end up doing the things that I hate and not doing the things that I actually should be doing. Thank God for His grace. The chorus from the old hymn “Grace Greater than our Sin” kept going through my head this evening. “Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin.”

I am so thankful that our creator is patient with our weaknesses. I’m also thankful for the team at SheReadsTruth.com. This study was such a blessing.

Following the Leader…

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“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.”

– Lamentations 3:25

Sometimes God asks us to do things that we know are right but aren’t comfortable. These things stretch our faith and our view of who God is. I’ve been mulling over writing this post for over a month and for a variety of reasons my husband and I both thought that it was best to wait. But now it’s time. Time to let you in on, for those of you who don’t know, what our family has been considering the last six months. It’s time to reveal what has been pressed so deeply upon my heart. In reality it goes back much further than six months. Everything really started when Tim & I were teenagers. Before either of us even knew each other. Most of my life I thought I was going to be a missionary and after my husband went to Alaska for a christian youth camp he felt sure he’d become a pastor. For a multitude of reasons, most of which relate to God growing both of us, it has taken over 10 years to make the decision to finally take this call seriously and pursue whatever it is that God has for us.

Two verses have been reccurring in my life this year, the first is Luke 5:28 which talks about Matthew (Levi) being called by Christ. It says “And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.” and the second is Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” The last seven and a half years we’ve been married I’ve become quite comfortable. I never would have thought when we were first married that West Michigan could feel like home, but it does. I love the stability, the people, the places, and things there are to do here. I’m deeply attached to our church and the people there. This place which once seemed more like a temporary resting place for me has become very permanent. I’ve lived in our house here almost longer than I’ve lived in any house. And when Tim first started mentioning moving this spring my heart immediately prickled to the idea. I saw no reason for us to move (going into the ministry hadn’t factored into the decision yet) and all I could think was “Lord, I’m finally comfortable and content where I am. Why would you want me to move?”

Over the next few months I could feel God stretching my faith and in July we went on a missions trip to Vermont with our church. Toward the end of the week Tim and I had a conversation in which we both came to the same conclusion. Looking back over the course of our lives both of us could see one recurring pattern; no matter how far we’ve run from Him or how complacent we have become, over and over again God has pushed us toward the ministry. So we asked ourselves “What does that mean?” What will it look like in our lives to pursue being either a pastor or a missionary? We both realized the first thing that would be necessary is Tim would need to take seminary classes. Thankfully our fellowship of churches has a program called “Practorium” where you can take seminary courses in your local church. What this also means is that Tim will probably have to quit his job because he works usually around sixty to seventy hours a week and works out of town a lot. Both of these things impose a large unfairness against the demands of the schooling. The final thing we are wrestling with is moving. Let me be clear we don’t want to leave but we do want to be open to whatever God has for us.

Over the last year I’ve been extremely convicted about what it means to follow Jesus. As American Christians we find it easy to say that we believe when in reality, we as a whole are not often forced to live out our beliefs. To take the radical things Jesus said and put them into practice. I’ve known Proverbs 3:5-6 most of my life. I’ve always said that “I trust” Jesus, but very seldom have I actually had to lean on Him because He was all I had. The decision to possibly move and start a new job with less hours and most likely far less pay is not an easy one. I’ve been forced to realize over the last month that my trust has not actually been in the God I so freely talk about. It’s been in Tim’s job, our family, our house, and several other things that quite frankly, are not worthy of my trust. God is in complete control of our circumstances. He knows all of our needs and He reminds us in His Word that He cares for us. Honestly, I don’t know if we are for sure moving but we are going to attempt to sell our home and give God a blank check for our lives. We want Him to do whatever He wants with us. Please pray for our family as we continue to seek His face in this situation and thank you all for following along with us on this journey.

The Shop is Live

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…and just like that 17 items are up for sale.  I’m incredibly nervous right now so this post will be short and sweet.  A big thanks to everyone for your support.  Each of you have been an incredible encouragement.  I hope to have prints and stationary available in the shop in September.

Happy Thursday 🙂

Beginning the Good Work

 Well this is my first official blog post.  I’ve had this site for about a month and haven’t done much with it.  Consider this a belated apology to all of you who have visited the site and wondered where the actual content was.  Hopefully you read the about page and about our mission.  It’s been kind of a rough start.  Not the way one normally wants to start a business but never the less this is how things are.  I had every intention of opening up shop the week I bought the domain name for this blog.  Which was about five weeks ago.  July was a crazy busy month for our family.  My husband literally was home for three days.  But amidst the wonderful chaos (because it really was an amazing month) we made a huge life changing decision.  Which I will most likely explain on a later date.   Because of everything that happened last month this new little business of mine was put on the back burner.

Now I’m going to be real honest here.  I have the tendency to get super excited about something put all my energy into it and then get totally burned out.  This may or may not have contributed to the delay as well but I think the deeper issue here is my own insecurity.  I love to do what I do.  I love to paint and design things. I am by nature a creator.  I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t work with my hands.  I’ve always wanted to start a small business and have tried here and there.  So this is kind of a perfect fit for me.  An online shop gives me the freedom to make and sell while also being able to focus on my family.  And to be completely transparent there is probably going to come a time in the near future when we may need the extra income.  But in the back of my mind there are the doubts that creep in.  It’s like they are there just waiting.  I begin to think things like “Nobody’s going to buy this.  You’re going to fail.  There are so many people way better than you why even start.  You are not good enough.”  And in this world of mom-preneurs it can be easy to fall into this.  Don’t believe me.  Go check out some of the amazing people I follow on Instagram.  Sometimes the amount of talent is overwhelming.  People are opening print and art shops everywhere.  How is it possible to compete?  So, I almost gave into the pressure.  The lies that if you may not succeed you might as well raise the white flag of surrender and not even try to begin with and then yesterday happened.

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It started because I saw the sign I made that says “Just Begin the Good Work” and then yesterday morning I read this post from gracelaced.com.   It impacted me on so many levels the main quote was from G.K. Chesterton and said “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”  Finally at about 4:30 I was able to do my devotions which happened to be Hebrews 10 (one of my favorite passages) the last couple verses say this:

“but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”

All year long I’ve seen posts about being “brave” and while that’s wonderful I was kind of tired of women telling other women to “be brave.”  It became cliche.  But really that was my problem I was allowing my fear to dictate my decisions.  Actually I do this a lot.  Fear can be crippling.  The enemy can use it to keep us from doing things that are really important.  Not that this is one of those things.  But the reality is if I can’t trust God in this simple thing.  What does that say about my faith?  So yesterday I decided whether I fail or not I am going to try.  Pretty heavy for my first post.  I hope to have everything listed in the shop by Thursday.

Happy Tuesday Everyone.

Cassi