Why am I blogging? A Penny for My Thoughts…

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Here are several.

Grace before and after; Photo Credit Ruben Plomp

Photo Credit Ruben Plomp, Grace before and after

The Blind See; Photo Credit: Debra Bell

The Blind See; Photo Credit: Debra Bell

Ravette Before and After;  Photo Credits: Debra Bell and Josh Callow

Ravette Before and After;
Photo Credits: Debra Bell and Josh Callow

The M/V Africa Mercy

The M/V Africa Mercy

But even more than that, I want to share what He is doing in my life.  I hope you’ll follow along and see His work in your own life.

Thanks for reading!

Cassie

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I Jumped the Gun – an Introduction

Hi!  I’m Cassie. I write curriculum for Staff Development for Mercy Ships – in Lindale, TX.  Hard to believe, I know… the world’s largest NGO hospital ship operates from a small town in East Texas, 5 hours from the nearest coast line – and that’s if you’re driving pretty fast.

But here I am, trying my best to live by the 2000 year-old model of Jesus – loving the world’s forgotten poor, by supporting those who are serving them.

Some of you might be wondering why I am writing a blog.

I came from a Christian family.  I have done some pretty un-Christian things, and had some pretty un-Christian things done to me.  I lost faith.  After one (of a few) life changing experience, I am back on the right path – I hope!

So, the purpose for my blog is to share real life struggles, joys, triumphs, and a little about the amazing miracles I witness through my work with Mercy Ships in the hope that they might give someone unknown to me hope. It’s also to prove that we’re all imperfect, and if we just make an effort to shine some light into the dark places we have been, it can only get better.

I believe we all have a history; one that we might not be proud of.  We can’t change our pasts, we can only “rethink our thinking,” and change where we are headed.

Originally posted in About Me.

Stand Down, Loyal Soldier

Barry Brown came to Mercy Ships yesterday to rock our boat. I don’t think any of us expected to be shaken up, but he did it, at least for me.

This morning, we were talking about Wilderness (Mark 1:12-13)  – or the place the Spirit takes us after we discover our identity in Him, to participate in our spiritual development.  This is where the walk gets good.

He said that when you go through a wilderness moment as a child (or as an adult), a loyal soldier appears, to stand up, and make you strong enough to get through that trying time.  Think: an 8.5 year old boy who just lost his father being told that he is “the man of the house,” and he simply pulls up his breeches ad says, “if that’s what it takes.”

The loyal soldier is there.

The wilderness is meant to be a time of refining.  Whatever we were meant to deal with that remains after we exit the wilderness – whatever loyal soldiers remain standing – will be transmitted to (I prefer the term “inflicted on”) others. This is so important, and affects me daily.  Stefan and Erin talked with me about it after the Impfondo trip.  My loyal soldier is a soldier of defense.  He stands up and fights when I feel rejected after someone disagrees with something I say.  Or I perceive being excluded when, really, there is something else going on entirely.

I do it to people I care about – people I work with, people I’m friends with, and even Brian.

The trick is, knowing when the soldier is standing up, ready for a brawl, when the fight shouldn’t exist, and telling him to stand down.  Walking with Jesus is listening to the things that people tell me out of seeking to understand and compromise, not to feel like they have a personal vendetta to shoot everything I say down in a blaze of glory.

Knowing that this loyal soldier represents a weakness, a “hole” in my character, where the spirit can enter and strengthen me.

Stand down, loyal soldier.  I got this. – Jesus.

Congo and Babies

Brian and I have never tried to have a child; we have only been married a year, and I simply said that “we’re not ready.”  Here’s the thing, you are never “ready;” you become ready when the baby comes.  So, while that might hold some truth, we’d like to travel and save some money before we bring a child into the world, it’s only part truth.  I have always wanted a baby, but have always been a little afraid that I will not be able to have kids.  My medical history is that I have little chance of carrying a baby to term.  The story of how that came to be is long and painful – maybe I will share it another day.

My culture would have me believe that if I am not able to be a mother, because of medical reasons or otherwise, I fail at not only being a good wife, but at being a good woman.

Coming to Congo, I knew there would be a LOT of children, and that the primary purpose of our field service was to revive a playground for the kids in Impfondo and the Pioneer Christian Hospital  (I’ll call it PCH, for short).  I also knew that I might have the opportunity to observe a surgery.

What I didn’t count on was that I would attend a church in the jungle where 43 of the 60-something attendees were children.  I also didn’t expect the feeling of utter helplessness at seeing a 3-month old baby with meningitis seizing on his hospital bed in the urgent care room at PCH. Lastly, I didn’t expect my surgery observation to be of a C-Section, turned live birth, which ended in me weeping at the miracle of the baby’s first cry and the look of triumph in the new mother’s eyes as she met my own.

This trip has had a repetitive theme: babies.

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This morning, I went on a Mercy Ministries outreach to a local orphanage with K.J. and Erin, called Baby Creche (pronounced “crush”).  I didn’t sign up to go; K.J. came to my cabin last night and said something along the lines of, “I put your name on the list, I hope you don’t mind.  They serve fresh croissants before we leave.”  Well, how can I say “no” to that?  Babies who need love and warm croissants?!

So, I loaded up with 7 other girls and one guy into the Land Cruiser to the orphanage.  The children there were heart-wrenching. They are sick, malnourished, and absolutely perfect.  They played with us, hugged us, and smiled (when they were strong enough to muster it), but mostly, they just wanted to be near to someone who would hold them.

I don’t really know what to say in conclusion of this post, other than this has been a most surprising, heartbreaking, but wonderful trip, where I think God is telling me that it’s alright to “fail,” as long as I try.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?”  Genesis 21:6-7

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Sounds Like…

Image

Tyler State Park – isn’t it beautiful?  Even in the dead of “winter.”

I spent my next-to-last Saturday in the States with the girls I’m going to Impfondo with on a silent retreat in the woods of East Texas – and it was a beautiful day.  It was quite chilly in the shade, but the apricity!  I eventually took a little nap on the shore you can see in the top right of my picture.  I can see that animals have got that whole sleeping in the sun thing figured out.  But… it took me a while to get there.

It seems like the hardest part of going on a silent retreat is making being silent yourself.  I was thinking, “Okay, God.  I’m here, and here’s what I want to talk about today… UGH, why can’t these people be QUIET?!  I’m on a silent retreat!… Sorry God... Okay, I need you to talk to me about my final project, and about my testimony… and this… and that…”

I eventually walked all the way around the lake, settling for a time in two spots.  Once by a beaver’s dam, where I got frustrated because I didn’t see a beaver.  And then on the shore that I ended up napping on.  Both times, my Bible’s pages blew open to Ecclesiastes 4-6.  So I read them.  Twice.  He never told me about the things I wanted to talk about, at least not in the way that I wanted to talk about them.

So, in all my hours at the park, here are the things I learned:

  • It’s better to wear a sign that says, “I’m on a silent retreat, so that people you pass on the trail don’t look at you like you’re crazy and quicken their pace when you blink at them after they say “hi.”
  • If you keep opening your Bible to the same book, maybe you should read it.
  • Expect to hear God, but don’t put Him in a box on how He can speak to you.  I wanted to see a beaver, but never did.

Fasting. . . From Thoughts.

The Thinker - Dan McKay

Photo Credit: Dan McKay

Here’s a thought: have a month fast from thinking any critical thoughts.  The trick is to just not entertain the thought at all.  Just as soon as it enters your mind, push it out.

I’m starting…. today.  This is probably going to be a lot tougher than I think, but it will be good to get over being overly critical before I head to Congo.  

So, are you going to join me?

And so, it begins…

I never really thought that I should write a blog about my life as a Christian person, in fact, most of the past several years were mostly spent trying NOT to talk about my life as a Christian – a lot of conflict comes with that.  So, I’m not going to use this blog to “preach at you” because, frankly, I’m not a preacher.

I am, however, going to share my journey with this awesome organization that I’m part of, and how it’s changing my life for the better.

I started working with Mercy Ships about 4 months ago, and just yesterday I realized that I’m here.  Yeah, I’ve been working here, and I’ve even started to dread the hour commute each way; so I have known that I’m here, but I mean I’m really here.

God brought me here, and met me where I was at at the time He called me. I’ll explain what I mean…

This is the first week of a major training class that Mercy Ships does for their long-term volunteers and employees.  Yesterday was the Personal Support Raising Seminar, which is how we, as missionaries, learn how to raise support – whether prayer, monetary, or otherwise.  It was kind of weird for me to be there, in a way, because Mercy Ships pays me, and the others raise their own support.

So, two things happened:

  1. I learned that God met Brian and I where we were at when he called me here.  He knew that our relationship would not have been okay with me raising money to work somewhere – who does that?!  I would have been okay with it, I think, but Brian definitely wouldn’t have been.  I get to say that because I’m the one writing this.
    I’m pretty sure He’s leading me to something much bigger, but He never gives us more than we can handle.  I believe that.
  1. I learned that I should read the entire word when I come across a hyphenated word in scripture.  I was reading Luke 8:1-3 for the class.  Apparently Mary Magdalene had MOR-mons possessing her, rather than DE-mons.  Auto-correct of the mind, a slip of the tongue, and I’ve become famous for a day.

Seriously, though.  Yesterday was inspirational, and I’m really starting to think that I can do this.  Sure, this organization is full of people, and we’re just that: people.  But we’re here for a purpose – and it’s a BIG deal.  I’m here.