Recently, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued.  I first became interested in this work simply because I have grown to really appreciate TerKeurst’s writing.  My women’s Bible study has used some of her work as Bible Study material, and I look forward to the brief recordings aired on the radio from her ministry, Proverbs 31 Ministries.  In reading Unglued, I found that I learned a great deal about myself. 

Although I am reluctant to open my heart to sharing some deep, emotional insights, I feel that the time has come to unburden myself to you, my readers.  The coming posts will be rather personal, but I pray that something I share here will resonate with you and meet you where you are today in your life’s journey.

At the beginning of 2012, I wrote that there would be a theme to my posts this year.  I talked about the idea of the mirror and reflecting Christ to everyone around me.  I have found that reflecting Christ comes with its challenges and a great commitment.  I am an emotional individual, and it doesn’t take long for me speak in anger, cry in fear, or fight for my own way in various situations.  Neither of these responses point to Christ’s life within me; in fact, these actions mirror a self-motivated individual who has simply come unglued.

In her book, Lysa shares: “Might our unglued places be like windowpanes of clear glass that give us an honest peek inside our souls— places where we can see what’s really going on within?” (167).  This particular quote opened the door to really examining myself internally.  In the times when I come unglued, I need to take a moment to ask myself why.  What is lying just under the surface that causes me to lose perspective?  Is it fear, anger, loss of control?  I have found all of the above to be true.

In the coming weeks, I will explore these ideas further, but one thing I will say before I sign off is that I would be completely lost if it weren’t for accountability.  I am a part of two different women’s Bible studies, and I highly value my time spent in close communication with these incredible women.  We have come together in prayer in the midst of difficult times, and we have encouraged one another when things looked bleak. 

My relationships with these women prepared me for an even deeper source of accountability through my work as a worship leader at my church.  I have had the opportunity to interact with the pastor and other church members, and in the process, I have had to endure some constructive criticism.  Although I became teary-eyed as I took in the words that were difficult to hear, I came out of such encounters with a renewed sense of purpose and direction.  Sometimes, accountability hurts and may result in an unglued state, but in the end, healing and growth can take place.  In the coming weeks, I pray that my brutal honesty can open the doors to a different accountability in the realm of online community through “Cassie Contemplates…”  I would be honored if you would join me on this journey.    

How Much Does it Cost?

A friend’s daughter faced a powerful dilemma this past weekend. This incredibly talented young lady has been participating in karate competitions over the past few years and has quickly advanced to new levels as she has earned each new belt.  Recently, she has recognized the need for a new karate uniform as she prepares to compete in an upcoming tournament. The decision set before her was that she could get a new uniform; it would just be very simple— white, no embroidery, no name or patches. But it would have the name of her new school on it.  Unfortunately, the “need” for a higher quality uniform was just not high enough to justify the increased spending. According to her mother, she was okay with this… for about two minutes.

It was then that she remembered she had been saving money for an iPad. Knowing full well that the iPad would be put on the ((way)) back burner, she offered her mother every penny she had to help pay for a new uniform. Why? Because in her eyes, “an iPad isn’t important.” This was coming from a child who had wanted this machine for at least a year, if not more.

Her mother talked to her instructors about it as they worked to purchase the new uniform together, and the looks on their faces as they reacted to her very grown-up decision apparently surprised her.

On the way home she questioned: “Mom, what if we lived in a world just like this one— only we had to pay for friendship?”

Her mother said, “Wow, that wouldn’t be a fun place at all, huh? Is this what you talked about in school today?”

“No,” her daughter replied. “I was just thinking about it when we were talking about what things are and aren’t important… And I think that if the people in this world lived in a world where they had to pay for friendship, not a lot of people would have friends. They’d choose the other things like fancy clothes, makeup, and an iPad.”

Her mother had this to say on her Facebook page that night: “I love it when my 7-year-old’s logic reaches out way over even my own span of thought…. But I hate it when she does it in the back seat so I can’t immediately embrace her.”

At first, the sheer cuteness in this story made me smile.  There’s something about the honesty of children that transcends the nitty-gritty of daily life.  But the more I thought about this child’s comments, the more I realized that we truly take our friends for granted.  What if we had to pay for a good quality friend?  Would we skimp on the expense or would we seek out those who would certainly prove to be priceless?

This story served to remind me of a conversation I had with a dear friend recently.  She called me when I was walking through the grocery store, and at the beginning of our conversation, I was a bit distracted.  But when she told me the reason for her call, I stopped dead in my tracks.  You see, the night before, I had prayed and agonized over a difficult decision.  When I woke up that morning, I still had not come to a decision, and it was tearing me apart inside. 

My friend confessed that she had been thinking about the same issue and that she had considered a way for both of us to move forward without compromising in any way.  We talked for a few minutes longer (but not so long that I was one of those annoying people in the supermarket talking loud on their cell phone), and all the while I thought about the impeccable timing of that phone call.  “You’re an answer to my prayers,” I remember telling this friend as we ended our conversation.  “Thank you for setting my mind at ease.”

In the past few weeks, I have been particularly intentional about my relationships and how I invest in them.  I want to be the best friend I can be through intentional conversation, listening and truly hearing a person out, praying for and with a person, and opening my heart to incredible moments like I experienced in the grocery store. 

I truly believe that solid, God-honoring friendships are priceless— worth more than gold or any riches of the world.  There is not a single iPad, karate uniform, or material possession that could ever equal the privilege and honor of walking in friendship with someone else.  We have been placed on this earth to be in relationship with each other, and it’s simply a blessing to know that the most priceless things in life are indeed free!  Here’s to friendship! 


It’s amazing what can happen when you have that light-bulb moment.  It wasn’t that I came up with some great idea, but I finally grasped a concept that I had unknowingly been acting out without realizing it. 

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan to participate in a conference put on by the Disability Concerns branch of my church denomination.  Advocates for people with disabilities along with pastors and other representatives came together to talk about inclusion for people with disabilities in local churches.  I was simply honored to attend the conference in that I had only been declared a Disability Advocate for my church rather recently.  I was there to learn and absorb everything to the best of my ability, and that’s exactly what I did. 

On Friday evening, we had an informal time of question and answer, and many attendees gave remarks about why they were attending the conference and what they hoped to learn in the remaining sessions.  One young woman talked about interdependence, and the concept struck a chord within me. 

For so long, I had seemingly gone about my life as a person with a disability, fighting battles of independence.  I had attained the necessary connections to go to college and then struggled my way through difficult classes and striving to graduate.  Then I made it my mission to obtain employment, and although the journey to find a job stretched over five years, I finally became Worship and Music Director at FRC.  And then there was Independence Day— the day I moved into my own apartment.  I have since relocated due to health issues, but even so, I have my own place and I am living independently, which was exactly what I wanted.

In my work at YLF, I seek to encourage our delegates/ campers that they can make a difference in today’s society— that they can be independent and make their own decisions.  In today’s disability culture, it is all about obtaining independence and self-determination.  The goal is to do as much as a person is able to accomplish on their own.  Relying on others is not living independently… or so I have been told. 

This idea of interdependence was a refreshing concept, although I realized the idea had already crossed my path.  This past March, I coordinated a Disability Awareness Sunday at FRC, and I preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul addresses the Corinthian church regarding each person being an indispensable part of Christ’s body.  Although I used the word “indispensable,” not once did I comprehend that the members of Christ’s body are interdependent on each other.

This relationship of interdependence is a common factor in my life on a daily basis.  Because I cannot drive, I am reliant on others to make sure I am where I need to be at certain times.  I am dependent on Colleen, our church’s sound tech., and the members of OneVoice to drive me to church on Sunday mornings when the weather does not allow me to walk.  But as we come together to worship, OneVoice and the others on the praise team are dependent on me to lead the congregation in worship.  Without my presence at the piano or singing lead vocals, the music would not come together.  I am dependent on others for transportation needs, while the congregation is dependent on me to lead the music.  It is a relationship that exists to better the whole of the church.  We all work together to make a Sunday morning service happen, therefore being interdependent on each other.

My experience that weekend was a lesson in dependence.  I waited for the airport shuttle, not sure how the process worked; I waited for an attendant to walk me through the airport; then I allowed a fellow passenger to carry my bag through the airport as I went to meet the representative from the conference center; later, I found myself dependent on a group of fellow conference attendees as we drove to find dinner that evening.

But the next morning, I was able to give back to the conference attendees as they sang along with me as I played piano for the time of worship.  It has always been a learning experience for me to lead in hymn-singing since I find I am less competent in this area.  That morning at the piano, I found the experience to be one of interdependence.  I had to follow verse by verse and accommodate the singing— not playing too fast or too slow; the singers had to follow me as well— finding the melody and harmony parts based on the notes I was playing.  Many of us had disabilities in the room that day, but in worshipping together, we became one body with different skills and gifts.  We were interdependent in what we brought to the table. 

At our church recently, we have been discovering what it means to participate in loving relationships, and I truly believe interdependence is a big part of this.  Interdependence is a relationship of relying on one another; no one is more dependent than another and no one is completely independent either   We come together in love with Christ as the head, knowing that we are nothing without Him and without each other.     

A Perfect Day

As students are returning to school, I can’t help but think about that classic essay assignment that often was assigned on some of the first days of class when I was young.  Even in college I had to answer this question in some form: what did you do this summer?  Now, I might not be a student any more, but I did have a memorable summer, and I thought it was fitting to take this Labor Day weekend (arguably the end of summer) to share it with you.

I spent the first part of June preparing for my time at YLF— readying the staff and finishing up last-minute details regarding our lodging and meals.  Then on the third week of the month, I traveled to Madison to meet 21 teenagers with disabilities.  We had an incredible week together learning about advocacy and leadership, and I am so proud of each of the students and staff that participated. 

I returned home from YLF to what was easily the highlight of my summer.  But before I could move forward that first weekend after I came home, I needed a lot of sleep.  That first night back in my own bed, I slept great, but it wasn’t nearly enough.  My parents showed up the next morning, and we spent the day having lunch and talking with my grandparents.  By 3:00 in the afternoon, I just couldn’t keep my eyes open, so I begged off and told everyone I was going home to sleep.

Well, surprise— there would be no sleep that afternoon.  No sooner had I walked through the door than a friend from Colorado called, saying he was in the area and wanted to drive up to have dinner.  Of course I said yes; I was not about to sleep the day away when I could be having great conversation and incredible food at one of my favorite restaurants in town.  My friend Kate joined us for dinner and ice cream that night, and it was great to just sit back and relax with people I don’t get to see all that often.

The next morning, Pastor Tim, Becca, and I got ready to lead worship in the park.  For the past two years now we have held a service outdoors, and it has become one of my favorite services of the year.  My friend from Colorado played a beautiful prelude to open our time of worship, and then Becca and I led in some praise songs.  The weather was perfect, and many friends and family came out to participate in the service and potluck that followed.  I was simply blessed to have Becca, John, and Kate with me that day to make everything come together. 

During the potluck, I had the opportunity to connect with old friends and family.  There were so many people there that I felt I was short-changing many of them, but I wouldn’t have traded the heightened pace of rapid-fire conversation for anything.  Saying goodbye at the end of the day was hard, but when I got home, I completely crashed.  And yes, I finally got that sleep that I was longing for. 

That particular weekend and the entire summer thus far has taught me about communication and relationship, and I am eagerly looking forward to the fall when I can continue in this vain.  I will be leading two separate Bible Studies, one of which will begin later this week, and I am eager to lead these women in exploring a deeper relationship with our creator.  I want to carry that perfect summer day image with me as I build relationships and strengthen the connections I have already made.  As a worship leader, Bible Study leader, and YLF director, there is much to be done, but relationship and communication are the most important factors. 

I am so incredibly grateful for my close friends and family and the example each of these people have modeled for me.  I can look back to that summer day in the park and smile because it was on that day I felt loved, appreciated, valued, and incredibly blessed.  Thank God today for the people in your life that mean the most to you.  Go tell them that you love them and hold them close today.  Make every moment count for Him.