Beloved (Repost)

After attending church this Sunday and observing the Sacrament of Holy Communion, I was reminded of a post I had made back in February at the beginning of the season of Lent.  My recent exploration of the book of Psalms also brought to mind Psalm 51 and its penitential focus.  I would like to repost my “Cassie Contemplates…” entry from February 27, 2012 included here below. 

I was feeling lower than low.  It had been a long day and I was feeling under attack.  Nothing I had done that day had seemed to measure up.  I was weak, defeated, and feeling just plain worthless.  I began going over my failures in my head, and that’s never a good thing to do when you’re already reached the depths of despair.  And then, sins and bad habits came to mind, and I was a mess— brought to tears by the sheer hopelessness that had come over me. 

I cried out to God in confession, seeking repentance for the wrongs I had committed and to find peace in Him.  I recognized that my desperate prayers were falling on the eve of Ash Wednesday, which is recognized in the Church as a day of confession and repentance as we contemplate Christ’s ultimate sacrifice in that we are dust and to dust we will return. 

I fell asleep that night, deep in sorrow for my failures, sins, and grief.  But when I awoke the next morning, I was reminded that joy really does come in the morning.  The sun was shining, and although I was still thinking about my prayers from the night before, I did my best to smile as I thought about the promise of a new day. 

I booted up my computer and clicked into iTunes.  For me, it’s always a better day when there is music.  I tuned into one of my favorite contemporary Christian stations, and the morning show host introduced the song “Remind me who I am” by Jason Gray.  Now, I had heard the song before, but at no other time did the lyrics strike me on such a personal level.  The song tells of the shame and guilt that a person can have over past sin and how we can so often lose perspective.  We often forget that we are His Beloved.  The song pleads with God to remind us of who we are in Him.

Moments after the song played, the station played a brief clip from Jason, sharing the story behind the track.  He relayed that he wrote the song in response to the continued reminder of sin in His life.  He said that the times he felt excessive guilt over the wrongs he committed was the very time he needed a reminder of his identify in Christ.

The same was true of me that morning as I heard the song and the story behind its writing.  I needed to be reminded of who I was in Him— that I was His Beloved.  I found it equally fitting that I stumbled on some verses from Psalm 51 as I started in on my Lent devotions, and I would like to leave you with these Words of healing and repentance as I close. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2).

I am forgiven and I am His!

Just in case you need reminding of His love for you, please take a few moments to watch Jason Gray’s music video for his song, “Remind me who I am.”  I have included the link with this post.  Blessings to you, friends, as you find your true identity, love, and forgiveness in the One who loves you with a crazy, passionate love!

Praise the Lord!

In my study of the psalms this summer, I have come to recognize the overall theme of this collection of divine poetry.  In the broadest sense, the book of Psalms calls the reader to praise.  Of all of the chapters in this book, psalms 146-150 exemplify this the most. 

As I poured over the notes in my study Bible, I came upon four reasons for giving praise to the Lord.  I would like to share with you how each of these elements has come about in my life as I have sought to praise the Lord despite my circumstances. 


  1. Praise takes our mind off our problems and shortcomings and helps us focus on God.

Two years ago, I was quite ill, and my strong reaction to allergens took a toll on my voice and breathing.  I was stressed and worried about my health, and for the first time in my life, I began to doubt how God could possibly use my music as a career and ministry focus.  I prayed and cried for hours every day it seemed, but on Sunday mornings, I came into church seeking to find a new perspective.  I remember one Sunday morning in particular.  I was getting ready to lead with Crossroads, and to my frustration and despair, my voice would not cooperate.  I sat down on the front pew, hung my head, and just cried.  I didn’t care who could see my meltdown; I was simply done trying to put forward the effort.  Two of the band members came and sat next to me and prayed that God would give me the strength to get through our 20-minute set of music and that He might fill my heart with praise.  And when I stood at the piano and led in “Revelation Song,” I could feel His presence like never before.  My voice held out, and I could hear the congregation lending their voices to mine as well.  I was able to let go and simply praise, and for the moment, I forgot about the tightness in my chest and my weakened breathing.  I was giving back to Him.


  1. Praise leads us from individual meditation to corporate worship.

It was just before Christmas last year when OneVoice was in its early existence.  One of our members, Patty, came to church that Sunday practically bursting with excitement.  She told me she had been praying and reading through Scripture when she felt led to write down what she could only assume to be a message from God.  She knew we would be leading in the song “Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns, and it was obvious that the words she had hurriedly scribbled down connected directly with this song in our set.  I encouraged her to share what she had written as I played through the introduction to “Glorious Day,” and almost instantly, I could feel that God was up to something special.  I had already felt that leading “Glorious Day” was a perfect fit for the service, and Patty’s written words added so much.  The song is typically thought of as being centered around the season of Lent and Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.  But that day, as the body of Christ, we honored a tiny baby who came into this world more than 2,000 years ago, knowing that one day He would come back for us some day soon… on that glorious day!


  1. Praise causes us to consider and appreciate God’s character.

There are two praise and worship songs that help me realize God’s character and the sacrifice of His son.  The first is “Your Great Name,” most popularly performed by Natalie Grant.  The song focuses on the power of His name— how lost are saved and are freed from condemnation, His power over the enemy, and how He brings healing to the weak and hurting.  The song reminds me that His name is power, and I need only to speak His name to draw near to Him.


The second song that brings to mind God’s character is “Overwhelmed” by Jennie Lee Riddle.  When I first heard the song, I was overwhelmed with a great deal of stress and worry, and when I saw the title pop up in my iTunes window, I had to smile.  “Wow, this is a song about me,” I thought to myself.  But then my perspective shifted as I quickly realized that the song was definitely about Him.  The lyrics speak of His tenderness and ability to restore one’s soul, His holiness, the power of His Word, His sovereign majesty, and His authority.  The chorus makes it known that the worshipper is overwhelmed by the Lord, and I love the illustration that paints— to be so lost in worship that one is overwhelmed by His greatness.


  1. Praise lifts our perspective from the earthly to the heavenly.

I think of another Jennie Lee Riddle song here as I contemplate the idea of the heavenly.  The lyrics of “Revelation Song” speak of His incredible power and might.  Text from the book of Revelation is quoted throughout the song, and it reminds me that we need to be ready to meet Him when He returns or calls us home.  I picture myself seeing Jesus for the first time as I enter eternity.  I can’t wait for that day because two things will take place at that time: (1) I will be able to see clearly for the first time and (2) I will be able to sing and lift up praises to Him for eternity.  “With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings; You are my everything and I will adore You.”    

Not to us

I have mentioned a few times that I have been spending the summer in the psalms in preparation for a Bible Study that will be starting up in the fall.  I am nearing the end of this project, and chronologically, I am also nearing the end of the book of Psalms.  A few days ago, I came upon Psalm 115, verse 1, and it was in this text that I found what could arguably be the theme of my existence as a worship leader:

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1)

As I was contemplating this verse, the lyrics from a song by Chris Tomlin came to mind.  The song is called “Not to us,” and it speaks of leaving the world behind and putting the cross before us— recognizing that it’s not about us but Him.

Now, I’ve never led in this song when I’ve been at the piano on Sunday mornings, but I felt as if I couldn’t let the truths of this lyric slip through my fingers.  The song reminds me of something my dad often said when I was growing up.  He would hear people talking about finding the perfect church home and how they just wanted to feel like they were getting something out of their time in worship.  Later, after taking time to reflect on the conversation, he would say something like: “Attending worship isn’t about what we can take out of it but what we can bring to God.”

I couldn’t agree more as I find my place as a worship leader in the local church.  For so many years, I was a performer— someone who would stand on stage and showcase my songs and voice.  I sang with groups, bands, and solo, and often I would receive compliments afterward on how beautifully everything had been presented.  Although the positive feedback was a great source of encouragement, I knew I couldn’t let the words go to my head.  My father’s viewpoint kept coming back to remind me that my gift of music was a way in which I could give back to God, and it was my responsibility to not trivialize it. 

I find now that there is nothing more rewarding than leading praise and worship, for it is in that time at the piano that I can set aside all expectations and nervousness and simply sing to Him.  When I share music with OneVoice, we meet together about ten minutes before the service to pray over the upcoming time of worship.  We don’t leave the room until we lift up two requests: (1) that the people who come to worship that morning might be able to truly worship along with us and (2) that it would never be about us up there on the platform.  We are His instruments, and its all for Him.  “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory.”  Amen.

Nothing but a Cupcake

It’s a good thing I’m not much of a cake lover.  A little over two years ago, I was officially diagnosed with an egg white allergy; as a result, I cannot eat baked goods with egg whites in them, and this includes cake, of course.  Over the past few months, I have explored alternative methods of baking, and I have found ways to bake with vegan substitutes.  But since I live alone and would have to eat pretty much anything I baked, I only go through the effort of completing a recipe if I know I will have someone with which to share my treats. 

But even though I don’t often like cake that much, there are some times I just want a taste— a sampling, if you will— most conveniently in the form of a cupcake.  The “cupcake craze,” as I have come to call it, seems to be all over the U.S. right now.  Celebrities and others often have cupcakes available at their events, like weddings for instance, and these personal little cakes are convenient, simple, and can even be quite artistic. 

Recently, I have been intrigued by the Food Network show “Cupcake Wars,” so when I was given the opportunity to see a real-live bakery in person, I just had to see what the “cupcake craze” was all about.  After running errands one day, a friend and I stopped at a bakery, deciding that we wouldn’t leave without sampling at least one cupcake.  But to my disappointment, there were no vegan options, meaning no cupcake for me.  But I figured one small taste of my friend’s cupcake wouldn’t hurt, so she broke off a piece of her red velvet treat, and I savored just two small bites.

I instantly realized my mistake; I began coughing and choking, and it was then that I comprehended there was probably egg white in the icing.  Needless to say, the cupcake did not sustain me; in fact, it brought harm to me physically.  I had to refrain from eating what remained on my napkin.

So where am going with all of this cake talk?  Well, shortly after my disappointing ordeal, I came upon a quote from a radio deejay on Facebook which articulated: “The Bible is bread for daily use… Not cake for special occasions.”  I found this to be so true upon reading it.  Over the past few weeks, I had found myself floundering a bit in my personal relationship with Christ.  I had fallen back in my times in prayer and even more so in my personal time of devotions.  I had become bogged down in paperwork and practices for my work with YLF, and so often, my commitments to spend time in the Word and prayer fell by the wayside.  I spent time with Him as it were something I could check off my list, much like the way I was completing tasks for YLF.

In my time apart from Him, I found myself craving something more substantial than tiny morsels— like cake— instead of the more life-sustaining bread of His Word.  I hungered for the sustenance I had lost over the past few weeks, and I longed to return to my summer project in the Psalms.  Now that I have pushed aside the most pressing commitments for YLF, I have been freed to return to what I truly love— something far more valuable than a simple, tasty cupcake.  I am looking for a meal— something that I won’t reject due to an allergy.  I want something more than a cupcake, and I am praying that in the coming weeks, I can return to what really matters.