“Yes, I Believe”

Just this past week, I completed the process of proofing the early-release copy of my book, The Promise.  I enlisted the help of two reader friends to look over the book and comment on their perceptions of the story line and the finished product.  One of the readers had nothing negative to say except for one constructive comment.  “I understand what you are trying to communicate in the book,” she said.  “But I was a little surprised at the maturity of your characters and how willing they were to share their faith with their friends.  Most teenagers don’t talk about God like that.”

Sadly, I had to agree with my reader friend.  Finding teenagers who are passionate about their faith is hard to come by in real life, but the situation is not hopeless, friends!  I was reminded of one such real-life teenager, passionate about her faith, when I read a Facebook post the other day.  The challenge that was put forward in this post was to Google your first name and change your profile picture to one of a famous person with your first name.  I didn’t intend to change my profile picture, but I did take the challenge and Googled my first name.  The first response that came up in the search box was “Cassie Bernall.”

You may recall the story of Cassie Bernall and her final moments on this earth in service to God.  She was among several students killed atColumbineHigh SchoolinLittleton,Coloradoon April 20, 1999.  It was reported that when the shooter asked Cassie if she believed in God, her response was “yes.”

I was a freshman in high school when this tragedy took place, and I can remember how the news rocked our community and so many others around the country.  Suddenly, school was no longer a safe haven.  I was aware that my fellow students knew about my faith.  I helped lead a Bible study in the high school library, and even though I didn’t shout out my testimony for all to hear, I knew I couldn’t hide my relationship with Christ.  When I heard Cassie’s story, I questioned if I could respond with such faith and certainty when faced with imminent death.  I marveled at the passionate witness this teenager displayed for the world to see as her story went public. 

I glanced at my calendar and realized that this past Wednesday marked the twelve-year anniversary of the Columbine shootings, and I do not feel it is coincidence that I chose today to share Cassie’s story.  I feel that bringing The Promise to my readers in this season is also not a coincidence, for it isn’t often that we hear of the good our youth can bring to today’s society.  So often we hear of the mistakes these teenagers make: teen pregnancy, use of drugs and alcohol, gang activity, bullying, and acts of violence such as the events at Columbine.  Why can’t we stop to recognize the promise that exists in the lives of our youth today?

I may be 27 years old and nearly ten years out of the high school scene, but I can’t help but be drawn in by Cassie Bernall’s story.  If only I could possess the passionate faith of this teen in my day-to-day life so that I could daily say with her: “Yes, I believe.”  When faced with the question of whether you believed in God, would you respond the same way… even with a gun pointed directly at you? 

When you have the chance, take a listen to the Michael W. Smith song “This is your Time,” inspired by the life of Cassie Bernall.  May it be a reminder of our ultimate mission here on earth: to live out our faith for others to see and to not be ashamed of the Gospel. 



Yes, you read correctly; we’re talking about donkeys today.  No, I have not gone crazy; I promise that I have a point.

I was talking to a friend recently who alerted me to the legend of the donkey and the cross that is visible on the back of some breeds.  The miniature donkey, either Sicilian or Sardinian, has a cross on its back, visible from a patch of hair that stripes down the back and then crosses over the shoulders.  I had never heard of this fact before, and in our conversation, my friend and I marveled at how this just couldn’t be a coincidence. 

In Matthew 21:1-11, we read this account of Jesus enteringJerusalem, riding on a donkey:

 1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

 5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
   ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
   and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

   “Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

   “Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

 10 When Jesus enteredJerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet fromNazareth inGalilee.”

Upon reading this, my writer’s mind could not help but find the symbolism.  Donkeys, by their very nature, are animals that serve.  In Biblical times, these animals were used to carry people and goods from place to place.  The miniature donkey, in particular, is said to be a very gentle and docile creature, and I immediately thought of Christ’s humble nature and servant heart.  He had come to earth to serve the people, and yet the same people who honored Him on Palm Sunday later shouted “Crucify Him!”  The Sicilian or Sardinian donkey with the cross on its back is a constant reminder of the sacrifice of our humble and gentle Savior who carried the burden of our sin to the cross.

So this Easter, think about the symbol of the donkey and how it can remind us of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.

A Sponge

I am a type A personality— a workaholic of sorts, dedicated to doing my best in everything.  Sometimes that means long hours and stressing over more than I need to, but the truth is, I am a “doer” not just a “dreamer.”  If something needs to be done, I am going to do it and learn something in the process.

 Over the past two years, I have been taking classes, completing papers and projects, making portfolios, writing curriculum, and making presentations.  And that’s only the academic work!  Call me crazy, but in addition to school, I have also been giving concerts, writing books and blogs, and creating new songs.  And then there are my two self-appointed internships.  When I started working toward my Masters degree, I quickly learned that there was no required internship.  That’s when I approached two different opportunities with eagerness to learn all I could in preparation for my future career goals.

 For almost 20 months, I worked for a home health and hospice organization, answering phones and completing random office tasks.  Although I had not received any education in working as a receptionist through my years in undergrad work, I was trained in on site and enjoyed a very gratifying experience at the office.  I found that interacting with patients and their families in addition to the staff afforded me the opportunity to minister to each person I spoke to over the phone and in person.  Although the organization was not a Christian entity, I felt I was able to share Christ’s love with others quite effectively.

 During this same time period, I also worked in the music department at First Reformed Church in Baldwin, Wisconsin, and I still do to this day.  Over the past two years, I have learned more than just what it means to be a musician and worship leader.  I have soaked up all the knowledge I can about preaching, small group meetings and committees, administrative tasks, audio and visual needs in the worship service, and so much more.

Recently, someone from the church asked me why I work so hard, but honestly, I don’t think I do all that much.  True, I seek to offer my best in every task I complete, but I guess I didn’t see myself as being that active in the congregation.  When I thought about it, I justified my workload and commitments with the idea that I am a sponge— eager to learn anything and everything that will draw me toward becoming a better musician and servant of Christ.  I feel I can never learn enough, and even though my time taking classes has come to an end, I am still learning. 

So I am a sponge for the Lord— seeking to be all I can be as I serve and worship on a daily basis.  To Him be the glory for everything I do!

“The Promise” (Story Behind the Single)

For those of you who attended my concert at First Reformed Church in Baldwin, Wisconsin on Sunday night, April 3, you were able to hear the premiere of the new single “The Promise.”  Today, I am releasing the song online.  You can hear the song on my website at www.cassandralokker.com, where you can also order the track through Cassandra’s Shop or via email. 

I would like to share the story behind the song and give you the opportunity to grasp a semblance of my passion for the project and its importance to my upcoming book release. 

Since 2009, I have been progressing toward obtaining my Masters degree in Ministry Leadership.  Throughout my time spent completing papers, portfolios, and presentations, I found myself needing a release.  My music career was going well and I enjoyed my volunteer work, but I felt this increasing draw toward my writing.  I hadn’t written a novel in almost three years, so I was largely out of practice.  Even so, I told myself that this project would just be for fun and we would see where it would lead.

The idea for The Promise sprang from a novel I had started to write in high school.  The characters had already been created and some of the plot set in place by the time I seriously started writing in January of 2010.  I would write when I had time and my school schedule was less pressing.  As a goal, I told myself I would try to write the book in a year, even though I knew I was up against a huge challenge that probably wouldn’t be conquered. 

One afternoon in late September, 2010, I sat down to write.  I told myself I would just get a few pages out before dinner, but I got swept up in the moment and didn’t look up from the computer until past 10:00 p.m.  I had grabbed a snack at some point throughout the course of the evening, but for the most part, I was completely dedicated to finishing the book… and that night, the goal was accomplished!  I finished The Promise. 


I wasn’t sure what to do with the book at this point.  I wondered if I should share it with my editor or keep it to myself.  Finally, I sent it to Ashley, and when I heard her early thoughts on the manuscript, I began to get really excited about the project.  For the first time, I started thinking about a Spring release.  I knew things would be crazy with graduation near that time, but I wanted to do this.  And even crazier was my next idea: what if I could write a song based on the book to use as a promotional tool to garner interest for it?

I was traveling to Colby, Wisconsin to sing at some weekend church services when the first lyrics came to mind.  I scribbled them down, thinking that would be the end of that.  I didn’t really anticipate that an actual song would materialize, but I also didn’t close myself off from the possibility. 

I had been home from Colby for a few weeks when I sat down to do homework one night.  But the ideas for the song suddenly came to mind and I couldn’t ignore the inspiration as it struck.  I set everything aside and started to write, and within an hour, “The Promise” song was born. 

I am so eager for you to hear this creation!  I have been blessed to have others come on board and share my passion for this song and book combo.  Without these individuals helping to make this possible, I would not have the chance to see my music and writing come together in such a creative way.  Nelson Vaughn is featured on guitar with credits for producing, Kyle Bonderson acted as engineer, and AnaLise and Tessa Alzen offered their talents on violin.

Keep your eyes out for The Promise (the book) and its release!  Also be looking for the promotional video/ book trailer to land on YouTube and Facebook in the next few weeks!   Enjoy the song and please read the book.  I pray you will find a blessing in both endeavors.