2013 in Review

Well, everyone, the new year is almost here! 2013 is coming to a close, and it has certainly been a year to remember. I thought it would be fitting to share with you a few highlights from this past year that may not have made it into my posts here at “Cassie Contemplates.” I hope you will get a taste of the blessings God has sent my way this past year.

Over the course of this year, I experienced the world of e-books. I always said that I would never abandon the actual paper and bound book, but it looks like I have come to the other side. I still like to read authentic books, particularly from the library, but I love reading on my Tablet too. On my device, I can change background and text colors so there is less eye strain as I read.

This year, I also experienced iTunes Radio. Its a little like Pandora, only its on iTunes. Now with iTunes I can utilize my music library that is synced to my iPod, listen to radio stations from all around the world, and see what iTunes Radio has in store for me as well. All of this has helped me gather new music ideas for my personal music ministry and my work at FRC.

This year brought a few changes to my praise team, OneVoice. We said goodbye to Patty and Claire, but in turn, we welcomed Hannah, Emma, Jadyn, and Brooke. It has been such a blessing to work with these ladies and I am grateful for their service through worship.

About halfway through the year, my church congregation wrapped up our study of The Story. Our 31-week journey opened my heart to such concepts as the mystery of God’s love and His plan of restoration. I was impacted by such songs as “Alive” by Natalie Grant, “Mystery” by Gateway Worship, and “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North. I also completed a new song of my own called “Waiting Here.”

In March, I had the opportunity to attend a Brandon Heath concert! I was determined to meet him after the show, and my friends Dori and Brooke waited patiently while I stood in a long line to greet him. You see, I had the chance to meet him at two other times and both chances had fallen through. I was not going to let this moment slip away from me. We took a photo with musician Mandisa and my friend Kate.

In June, I traveled to Madison, Wisconsin to direct YLF on-site. We met fourteen amazing teenagers, and I think our staff and community was the strongest it has ever been! Thank you to everyone who participated in making YLF 2013 possible.

In August, I traveled to northern Minnesota to participate in Joni and Friends Family Retreat. I led worship each morning and met some amazing people. I came away from the experience with a heart of gratitude that I could be a part of such an incredible ministry.

Also in August, I had the opportunity to visit with the Mascow family in Michigan. It was great to reconnect and spend a few days strengthening our friendship.

In September, I celebrated my 30th birthday with a few close friends, eating cupcakes and just spending a quiet evening together.

In October, I traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin to tour Lambeau Field. It was my second visit to the stadium, but I didn’t mind. I spent way too much money in the Pro Shop and it only heightened my love for Packer football.

Also in October, I traveled to Excelsior, Minnesota to attend a Bebo Norman concert. I was surprised to have gotten the opportunity to meet him and share a few words after the concert. Many of you may know that I perform some of his songs: “Come and Worship,” “I will Lift my Eyes,” and “Nothing without You.” He was humble and sincere, and I consider it a blessing to have spent a few moments with him.

Late in October, I cried and prayed through some difficult concerns, and in the end, three individuals stood by my side as I made sense of it all. I am thankful for the support during that season and for the confirmation I received regarding my calling and ministry. I am grateful that these individuals boldly proclaimed that I was in the middle of something and had to see things through.

In December, I once more put on Hazelnut Tree Christmas at our local coffee shop. Once again, I welcomed Vanessa Huftel to join me for duets, and she also provided background vocals. It was great to have her at my side that night!

Finally, December moved forward with the knowledge that I had made a secret plan with my sister Becca. My parents and other sisters assumed I would be busy at the church on December 22 (the day that had been chosen to celebrate family Christmas). But Becca and her husband Tim made it possible for me to surprise everyone. They traveled to Wisconsin to pick me up as soon as I was free the morning of the 22nd, and we drove down to southern Minnesota to join in the gathering. I had not truly been with my family for Christmas for several years, so it was great to finally be included in the celebration. I am thankful to Becca and Tim for making that day possible, for in the end I received another blessing. Becca agreed to join me and Vanessa to lead music on Christmas Eve.

As this year comes to a close, I am looking forward to spending New Year’s Eve with a few close friends. I am grateful for the experiences of this past year and I am looking forward to all that is to come in 2014.

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