If you live in or near my hometown, perhaps you have met my guest blogger for the week.  Erica Skog has joined me on stage several times over the past few years, frequently sharing her music alongside me at the Hazelnut Tree.  Maybe you have wondered why you haven’t seen Erica at any of my performances lately.  Well, that’s a good question.  This past fall, Erica began studying at Northwestern College in Minnesota.  I have missed her joy and cheerful spirit in her absence, so when I came upon her blog, I was encouraged to share her words with all of you.  


IN WALKING by Erica Skog

Last Sunday, I was enjoying my devotions with my morning coffee—an uncommon occurrence for the college student. I’ve found that it’s these uncommon moments in which God chooses to reveal himself to me in new ways, akin to being run over by a train that doesn’t actually kill you.

This particular Sunday was no different. I was reading through Psalm 26. The Psalmist proclaimed that he would bless the LORD. The confidence and security with which his proclamations were made began to seep through the surface of my soul like a day-dried sponge being run under the faucet. Then, the following words charged into me: “But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity…”

Countless times, I’ve both witnessed and experienced the aftermath of trial and tragedy. Divorce, death, persecution, isolation, loneliness, whatever the fire, there are choices we are met with. We can choose to have joy, or to wallow in our grief. We can choose to walk with confidence, or to crumble in a pile of pity. One requires faith; one requires doubt.

What would happen, I wonder, if Christianity would embrace the former of the options? To choose to walk in the joy and confidence of Christ would be a beautiful sight; a bride on her wedding day, or a tulip blooming in the early spring. If, however, Christianity embraces the wallowing grief and pity provided by the world, it will be overrun with darkness; people will be turned into shells of what God would have them be.

I am reminded of Scarlet O’Hara, from the book Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Towards the end of the novel, Scarlet and her husband, Rhett, lose their daughter in a horseback riding accident. Consumed by both grief and guilt, Scarlet remains in bed for days, and refuses to leave. Rhett stays by the body of his dead daughter, neither sleeping nor eating, waiting for her to wake up. She never will.

That is what happens when Christians choose to sit in doubt and darkness. They will forever be waiting for something to bring them to life again, but what they do not realize is that they are on a fool’s mission. God does not call us to follow him when it’s easy, or when we can feel him. He asks us to follow him when we can’t. He asks for faith. Therefore, I will choose to walk in my integrity, and live in the light of the Son. When I do that, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).



If I could describe my life in one word right now, I would have to say that my time is wrapped up in waiting.  I was thinking about this the other day, and I found myself considering the purpose behind waiting and how God could use me during this time of uncertainty. defines what it means to wait: “to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens; to remain neglected for a time; to postpone or delay something or to be postponed or delayed; to look forward to eagerly.”

In many ways, I feel trapped between two worlds right now— stuck between what I know and what is yet to come.  I am waiting for the day when everything will become clear and I can say that certain factors have come together for a greater purpose.  But right now, everything is unclear, and as the definition of waiting implies, I am waiting for something to happen; there is a delay in moving forward to what lies ahead, but I am eager for the future. 

Waiting is definitely not a new concept for me.  For someone who is in their mid-twenties, I am continually seeking which avenues I should pursue, often finding that I am waiting for doors to open to me in the process.  Just over a year ago, I was in the midst of battling breathing difficulties and vocal fatigue.  My health concerns went undiagnosed for quite some time until I eventually learned that my bronchial symptoms were due to severe allergies and environmental irritants.  I moved to a new residence and began taking the necessary medication to find relief. 

But it was a long battle— nearly eighteen months of emergency room visits, doctor appointments, deep depression, fatigue, and even panic.  I was afraid I would never be able to breathe normally ever again, and I was even more terrified of losing the voice I believed God had given me as a way to serve Him. 

I waited for deliverance during that season, and God brought me out of the pain, suffering, and fear.  I clung to Psalm 40 as I worked through that time of uncertainty, and I would like to share those verses with you.  

“I waited patiently for the LORD;

    he turned to me and heard my cry.

  He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

    out of the mud and mire;

  he set my feet on a rock

    and gave me a firm place to stand.

  He put a new song in my mouth,

    a hymn of praise to our God.

  Many will see and fear

    and put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:1-3).   

In time, I was restored to health, and even though it was a trying and difficult journey, I was given new hope and a chance to start anew.  I had been losing ground and sinking in despair, but He lifted me out through the support of friends and family and the doctors who were truly His hands and feet.  He assured me of His unfailing love, and my faith and trust in Him was restored.

I began to pray for opportunities where He could use me and my music and writing to serve Him. In addition, I prayed that He might use me to bring Him glory in my involvement with a camp for high school students with disabilities.  I love the students I am called to mentor, and He has given me an incredible platform to share His grace and mercy with those who are not yet saved.  Through nearly every opportunity, I have had many conversations about matters of faith and how God has worked in my life.

And although I am in a time of waiting once more, I now feel that I am stronger because of where God has brought me in the past.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, and He will deliver me again and again if I only trust in Him completely.  In closing, I leave you with these verses from Lamentations chapter 3:

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,

    for his compassions never fail.

  They are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;

    therefore I will wait for him.”

  The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,

    to the one who seeks him;

  it is good to wait quietly

    for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:22-26).

If you happen to be in a time of waiting as I am, please know that you are not alone.  There is a song by John Waller that could serve as some encouragement.  I have provided a link to the song on YouTube.  May God bless you while you’re waiting. 

“While I’m Waiting” by John Waller:



I’ve only been at the wheel of a car once, but it was enough to sour me on the experience.  I took Driver’s Ed. at the age of sixteen simply for the background and to identify with my classmates.  I can remember sitting in the driver’s seat of my family van, and I think my mom was trying to convince me to pull out of the garage.  I was too afraid to even think about putting the car into gear and backing out.  I looked at it as an educational experience and nothing more.  I was perfectly content to just sit there as if I was pretending to drive.

No doubt, you have made a few u-turns or backed out into traffic during your lifetime.  If you have, you are one step ahead of me.  But although I have never driven a car, I know what it is to turn around and make a u-turn in my life’s journey.  One day, I find myself going one direction, only to turn around and head the other way instead the next day. 

My first real u-turn experience came in 2008 when I spiraled down into deep depression and confusion.  I had thought I knew God’s will for my life; I would be a writer and musician and serve Him in that capacity.  But day after day, God continued to tug at my heart, drawing me out into the community to serve in different capacities.  I found myself applying for my Masters Degree and pursuing self-appointed internships at church and a local home health and hospice agency.  Now, as I look back over two years later, I can’t believe how far I have come.  I took that u-turn and made a change, forever altering my life’s direction.

In my new book, The Promise, J.C. faces the change that take place when Christ comes into her life.  She turns from a lifestyle of late-night parties and poor decisions to a life filled with peace and promise.  Her u-turn experience changes her life forever. 

Maybe you’re being faced with a possible u-turn on the horizon.  Are you feeling called out of your comfort zone into something new?  Face the unknown with the promise that He is with you and will never leave your side.  Put the car into gear, back out into traffic, and make the change.  And while you do that, I’ll think about getting in the driver’s seat again… not to drive literally, but to take those opportunities that terrify me the most and face them head-on with God’s help.     


Uncharted Waters

Sometimes, God takes us out of our comfort zone and brings us into a whole new way of thinking— often providing a blessing at the same time.  This past week, I encountered several circumstances out of my comfort zone, and I would like to recount what I learned through each experience and how it brought me closer to my best friend, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday brought the opportunity to meet with fellow musicians and work toward leading worship for an upcoming church service.  I was disappointed when hardly anyone attended the practice session, and I was slightly panicked to think that the music at Sunday’s service wouldn’t be as polished or fine-tuned as I would have liked.  In the end, I led in worship Sunday morning with a team who only worked through the songs once just prior to that morning’s service.  But with God’s help, we managed to lead the music quite effectively.  In setting aside preparedness and control, I was taken out of my comfort zone and presented with three people who demonstrated their willingness to serve even with very little notice.  Without their commitment to the team, we would have floundered through the service with no clear direction. 

Later in the week, I found myself flustered as I faced meeting someone for the very first time.  I had been given the connection through a mutual friend, so I was grateful for the common bond we shared.  But at the same time, I admit to feeling nervous about the initial face-to-face meeting.  In the end, I found I had nothing to worry about when I realized that I had made a new friend.  The situation was far from conventional, and I wouldn’t have initiated such a meeting on my own if it hadn’t been for our mutual friend.  I am grateful that God took me out of my comfort zone in order to make that connection.

And finally, the biggest challenge of the week came through what should have been a mundane board meeting.  But instead of simply attending and learning alongside the other attendees, I found myself taking on a leadership role and becoming more involved than I had first intended.  I was reluctant to take on these new duties, but I knew I would have to step out in faith and move forward in order to benefit the organization.  As I looked around the conference room that morning, I was reminded that the others were also facing uncharted waters and that we would need to rely on each other to make everything come together.  In being drawn out of my comfort zone, I was reminded that I was not alone and that I had a network of people I could trust if ever things became difficult. 

In each of these situations this week, I faced a challenge and made a new connection.  At every turn, I felt Him guiding me and loving me as only a true friend could do.  I found that even in uncharted waters, there is one thing that will never change, and that is the unconditional love and provision of my Savior. 


What I do

I was reading an online poll conducted by a Christian radio station recently that asked respondents to complete the following: My official job title is_____, but it really should be_____.  I read through the comments posted below, and the general consensus seemed to be that most people were not happy with their present job.  An example response to the poll would be: My official job title is Receptionist, but it really should be Soap Opera Actress or Singer.  And then there were responses that were more humorous like: My official job title is Wife and Mother, but it really should be Cleans All, Cooks All, Buys All, etc.    

The poll and its responses got me thinking.  We’ve probably all been in a social setting at one time or another when someone has posed the question: So what do you do?  I have been asked that question more times than I can count, but my response simply gets more and more complicated as the years go by.  I try to keep it simple by saying that I am self-employed, but then I open myself up to questions about my line of work as people seek more detail.  I find myself explaining that I am an author, freelance editor, musician, worship leader, and Team Leader at the Wisconsin Youth Leadership Forum.  All of these occupations create one full-time workload, but it’s hard to define my role in one basic title.

This past January, I decided to bring back “Cassie Contemplates…” and committed to writing every Monday.  In an early post, I wrote that I wanted to make 2011 a year dedicated to service.  I resolved to live out my life with renewed passion for serving Him.  So when I saw the online poll, I knew how I wanted to respond to the prompt, but I wasn’t sure I could follow through.  Since I didn’t have a specific job title, I didn’t know what to put into the first blank.  However, I knew I could fill in the second blank with something more specific and with a higher purpose.  But did I dare give myself such a job title?    

You see, if someone asked me what I did for a living, my first response would be to give them any number of my physical job titles.  But the truth is, my life is tied up in more than paid or volunteer employment.  I should be proud to tell others that I follow Christ for a living or that I am a servant of the Lord.  Other people might look at me strangely if I respond in such a way, but I have no reason to be ashamed of the truth.  Yes, I might be an author, editor, musician, or Team Leader, but ultimately, my job title is Servant of the King. 

I haven’t always been the best example of servanthood and Christ-like character, but I hope and pray that at the conclusion of my life, I will finally be able to live up to my ultimate job title.  Until then, I will seek to serve Him above any other ambition. 

So in closing, I leave you with two questions to consider.  What do you do?  What is your official job title?