Balance and Inspiration

It’s been a while since I’ve written, due to extreme business. EXTREME. In a matter of about two weeks we had three hospitalizations, a death, lots of sickness and a leaky dorm ceiling. This (for me, at least) was on top of preparing for and taking final exams and attending class. Finally though, things have balanced out, and life is good.

That’s a hard concept for me to grasp, balance is. I like to blame my lack of balance on my ADD (it’s self-diagnosed, but people, it’s pretty obvious I have it…), and the fact that I put everything I have into whatever interests me most at the moment. But I really would like to do a lot of things, and in order for me to do so, I need to find a balance. I need to manage my time. Easier said than done, I’m finding out. There are so many things that inspire me to move and act and pursue and dream and do and grow. How could there possibly be time for all of it??? I will MAKE time. 🙂

Along with the concept of balance, the whole idea of inspiration has been on my mind as well lately.  Why do certain things inspire us more than others? Why do things speak to us? Why do we so often let the flame die out instead of exploring it and letting it grow? Music is such a huge part of my life, I swear I have like an organ inside or something that needs music to function. What if I had never explored the inspiration I find in music? I may have never tried to become a better singer, learn guitar or piano, and most definitely wouldn’t have went to college to study it further. I never even knew I could paint until high school. I liked art and how it speaks to people, and I wanted to try. And I produced a darn good painting, if I do say so myself! And now I love love love painting! I love all kinds of crafts! All because something inspired me and I ran with it.

What stops people, really? What keeps us from having and doing everything we ever wanted? What keeps people from dreaming in the first place? I am known for giving off a Disney-princess-with-her-head-in-the-clouds aura…but I’m discouraged sometimes by the way children are raised. I once read somewhere something about raising children. It said that when your child makes a silly request, like getting a pony in a house that was….not made for ponies….to not say,” No, honey, we have nowhere to put a pony.” I mean, it’s true though, right? Well this writer suggested going along with the idea and saying something like,” A pony?! Oh, that’d be fun! Where would we put it? Could it stay in your room?” And eventually the child will come to the conclusion that a pony is not a suitable house pet. But going along with the idea instead of shutting down their dream, you teach them to use their mind and imagination and grow. Nowdays I feel like we just shut down those dreams. I intend to have very imaginative kids. 🙂

Now, painting may or may not change your life. Music may or may not change your life. But there issomethingout there that speaks to you. I recently met our neighbor (we just moved a few months ago) who just graduated high school. She wants to go to college to learn how to start a non-profit organization and eventually run for senator or governor or something of the sort. That doesn’t speak to me, personally. But the fact that she’s pursuing what inspires her and what speaks to her made me happy inside. I felt a connection to her, because we both believe you should whole heartedly chase your dreams. Senator…that’s ambitious! I hope she gets it.

In a lot of my blogs I mention this whole idea of “doing what you love,” blah blah blah. But SERIOUSLY! I cannot imagine living a safe life of doing what will keep my life stable before trying and failing a million times to pursue something that speaks to me. It’s not just a career. Maybe you have a stable and safe career that you can tolerate but you do crazy things in life to keep it interesting. That’s great too! Personally, if I have to work my entire life, I will try with everything in me to make my career something that pushes me to grow as an individual and be inspired everyday.

That being said, there’s something else I’ve learned while contemplating these things. When I was younger, I would pray alllllllll the time that God would bless me and my talents and let me be famous or something so I could make a living doing what I love. I always dreamed of people knowing who I was and being interested in my daily (yet oh-so-interesting!) life adventures.  I then felt this tug on my heart, as if God was saying, “What happens then? What is your life worth if it’s all about you?”  It kind of stopped me in my tracks. That is so true. That would be such an empty, lonely life! I think that’s why a lot of superstars who live for themselves get so caught up in partying and drugs and sex. They act as if they are living the high life, but they’re lonely and empty because they aren’t giving back. I changed my prayer. I would love to be famous and make a living singing and travelling the world! But that has to be for fun and work. And mylifehas to be spent giving back in some way, no matter what my job ends up being.

This blog kind of ended up being a big rambling mess of rhetorical thinking…but I hope it inspired you to explore things that speak to you, and find a balance in your life so that you can do what you have to do, but also do things you love. If you don’t know where to start, start by thinking. If something inspires you, think about it for a while. Explore it. Try it. You never know where it might lead you!

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“Bring them to Me”

I don’t know about you, but very often in life—especially now, while I’m in college—I feel like I am always coming up short. I always need just a little bit more money, or just a little bit more time, a little more sleep, a little more energy, (the list continues) a little more determination, a little more focus, a little more self-control…Very rarely, if ever, are my own efforts enough. This is really discouraging, isn’t it?? When you’re doing the absolute best you can and it’s still not enough, many ask what the point is.
This discouraging realization is only one half of the story. It is true that what we have is never enough; however, when we bring that little bit that we have to God, He makes it more than enough. Take the story in Matthew for example, where Jesus feeds the thousands (Matt 14:14-21).

Most people know the story: Jesus was teaching to the crowd, heard the news that John the Baptist had been beheaded, and wanted to be alone, so He withdrew from the crowd and took a boat to a solitary place. The crowds followed him on foot, however , (the land formed a “U” shape, so they just walked around) and were waiting for Him on the other side. This would reallllllly annoy me, since I know what it’s like to want some alone time. But Jesus had compassion on them and started healing their sick. The disciples came to Jesus concerned that it was getting late and that the crowd needed to go home and eat (the disciples probably wanted to eat too!). Jesus said to them in verse 16, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” I love how calmly Jesus seems to say that, because the Bible says there were 5000 men besides women and children. I don’t know the average family size back then, but just counting the wives of the men, that’d be 10,000, and if each person has two kids, that’s like 20,000 people! And he gave the disciples the responsibility of feeding all those people! Talk about coming up short….The disciples apparently scrambled to look for food because they offered up five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus didn’t say, “Well, good job, boys. At least you tried, but you failed. Just go home.” Instead he said, “Bring them to me.”

We know the rest of the story. Jesus blesses the food, everyone eats until they are full and the disciples pick up TWELVE baskets of leftovers! What can we learn from this? Whenever we are unashamed to bring God the very little, insufficient amount we have to offer, He blesses our efforts, and allows them to bless others.

Dear God,
I know my little is never going to be enough. But if I bring them to You, You can make it enough to bless others. Please take my little love and make it big. Please take my little kindness and let it make someone feel special. Please let my little bit of determination accomplish great things. Please let the faithfulness I have be sufficient to serve You all my days. Please take my mustard-seed-sized faith and let it work miracles. I pray that my small talents bring you glory. Whatever selflessness is in me, please magnify it. Whatever compassion, heal a heart. Whatever generosity, feed, clothe, and help people.
Please, Lord, take all my insufficient efforts and make them worth something. As the Psalmist says, You stoop down to make me great. ❤

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Restless

I’m going to be honest. I’m not sure where this post is going. I just have a lot of thoughts bouncing around, and I’ve found that’s usually a good time to start writing.

I titled this post “Restless” because that is sort of where I am in life. I feel like a lot of things are acting as irritants. Even good things, like college. I’m so thankful for the privilege of higher education, but it is HARD WORK. I’m ready for something crazy exciting to happen. Maybe I’m just not in that stage of life yet?

One thing is for sure: I’m not bored. I’m learning so much about life and work and music and God and myself….

I’m learning about caring for somone that isn’t yours to care about anymore. Mostly that comes with a lot of wondering…wondering what’s new in their life. Wondering if they’re happy. Wondering if they think about you. Wondering if they’re making good decisions. Wondering when they’re going to find someone else and that whole new line of pain will open up…

I’m also learning about caring about someone who doesn’t deserve it. Mostly that comes with frustrations. I’m frustrated that I care. I’m frustrated that they don’t. Frustrated that you can’t control the little things that make you think of them instantly when you don’t want to….just frustrated. Frustrated that I’m STILL frustrated…but I’m forgetting more and more everyday.

I’m frustrated with my busy schedule, too. But I like most of it at the same time. If  I just had more time to get it done…that’d be great. I feel too scheduled sometimes. I need time to do spontaneous things! I think time management will help with that. I guess I need to take it up a notch.

Lately my mind wanders to summer and beaches and a spray tan and a new and improved body from the Insanity workout that I’m about to start after break (so excitedd! :D) and canoing and hiking and swimming and King’s Islanding and road trips….*sigh* I can’t wait. 🙂 I just want to have fun and enjoy life and family and friends.

I’m also realizing how many things I need to fix about myself. Er, rather I need God’s help fixing. I think I’m loving people, I think I’m loving God, I think I’m being generous, I think I’m being faithful, I think I’m praying more, and then He opens my eyes to my selfishness and idolatry and laziness and sin, and neglect of the Word. But I’m also completely aware of the way He continues to bless me, and that is so humbling. By grace we are truly saved. ❤

I suppose there’s not really a point to this blog. It wanders around as restless as I am right now. haha. I don’t know how these things will turn out. That is life. I think people often write about events they have experienced from beginning to end, sort of as a reflection. But this time, I decided to stop and look around right in the middle of this crazy time, because I’m wondering what in the world is going on. haha Anyways, if you read this whole thing, thanks!

AEC

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The Greatest Lover

One of the things I really love about God is when He teaches me things. God REALLY knows how to make us understand what He wants us to know–like when He taught me many a lesson on why being lukewarm is such a terrible thing by using the lukewarm temperature of the water in the dorm showers. haha. Sometimes the lessons are simple and relatively painless (although those lukewarm showers were less than desirable). This week He has been speaking loud and clear. I thought I’d share my journal entry sort of reflecting my thoughts on what God’s been showing me:

To my First and One True Love,

       You told me to guard my heart above all else, because it is the wellspring of life. I haven’t done that, Lord. I just put it all out there and give my complete best to people in hopes that they’ll give their best to me–and they haven’t yet.

                  Well, You have.

     Jesus, You are a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. You’re the Bridegroom of the church–my Groom. You woo us with Love and grace, protection and provision and comfort. You wrote me a love letter that changes lives, the world, existence. You think about me all the time and know me better than I know myself. Everyday you wake me up with the gift of life, and renewed strength, and a beautiful always changing sunrise and nature. You can always make every situation better. You listen to me. You forgive me repeatedly when I hurt you repeatedly. You gave me talents so I can even express my thanks. You’ve blessed me with health, and I have everything I need. You’re encouraging, challenging, sympathetic, and honest. You gave me a wonderful family. You teach me and equip me for life. You don’t let me get comfortable with mediocrity. You’re preparing a place for us to be together forever. You never leave me–even when I don’t acknowledge You. You understand me even in my crazy moments. You take care of me and heal me when I’m sick. Everything good comes from You.

And I….

I ignore You. Rarely talk to You, thank You, love on You. I don’t do much for you. I only think about myself. You make morning beautiful and I’m too busy grumbling about having to wake up to notice–or thank You for another day of life. I don’t thank You enough. I don’t count my blessings enough. I hurt You and fail You daily.

You DIED for me.

Repeatedly in life, contact with other human beings leads to disappointment. Family fails us, friends fail us, lovers fail us, and we fail them. We reject, and we painfully get rejected.  How many times do we give, give, give, and it goes not noticed, not understood, and not accepted? How many times do we reach out and try to reason with people, and show our affections and it’s rejected? How much does that break our hearts?

God is the God of the universe who has all things and gives us all things freely. He is in control of everything and holds everything together, yet still thinks about us and wants us to know He loves us. Why then, do we not make time for Him? He gives us so much more than people give us or what we could give people. How much do we break His heart when we reject Him?

God, teach me how to love You and love like You.

How can we find someone suitable for marriage with Christ as our First Love!!? haha Good luck, fellas. He is the greatest Lover. ❤ Definitely an example for all of us. Love you, Jesus.

Happy Valentine’s Day…soon.

AC

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Worry, Worry, Worry.

So, I’m just going to come right out and say it: I worry a lot. A whole stinking lot. I mostly refer to it as stress, but stress isn’t always a bad thing. Stress can be a motivator to get things done or make necessary changes in life or situations; stress caused from worry, however, is always a bad thing.  It can seriously ruin your life! I won’t go into too many details about the ways it affects us, because I’m sure most of us know: the sick feeling in your stomach, the sleepless nights, the lessened (or sometimes greatly increased) appetite, the way it distracts us or prevents us from going on with our life and doing what we need to do…

Well, Sunday at church, the pastor made this statement: Worrying is just meditating on the wrong things. Those words might as well have been on a sign with flashing lights! It was like getting the answer I needed before I’d gotten around to figuring out what questions I needed to ask. I’ve been thinking about that statement all week, and here’s what I’ve realized so far:

The first thing is this: We all have worries and concerns. It’s natural. There are things we legitimately need to be concerned about! But being concerned, and worrying are two different things. Being concerned is saying, “Okay, so this week I’m short $200 for bills.” That is clearly a problem. It creates an issue. Concern evolves into worry when we meditate on the problem to the point that it hinders us from seeking a rational solution.

That leads me to the second thing. In the pastor’s statement, he says,” Worrying is just meditating on the wrong things.”  The Bible talks a lot about meditating (and praying). Psalmists talk about meditating on God’s Word and His Law, as well as the very nature of God. Philippians 4:8 also gives us a list of things to think about: “What ever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” 

This week I’ve really been trying to get my thoughts under control. I know that at least I have been going about this not worrying thing all wrong. Yes, I read my Bible and pray, but it’s really hard to find time, right? I’m soooo busy. But the pastor’s words convicted me! ” Worrying is just meditating on the wrong things. Some of us are really good meditators, huh!” Of course, that statement got a good laugh from the congregation, but it was so eye opening and convicting to me! I realized that I’d have a whole lot of free time to meditate God’s promises if I’d replace my meditation on worries with the things in Phil. 4:8. It’s that simple, and that difficult. It’s a matter of breaking a habit.

The third thing this whole subject has brought me to came from a song lyric this morning. I don’t know the artist or the song, but the lyric is, “You are God, You are God, of all else I’m letting go.” Sometimes we need to give God elbow room. We don’t need to look for Him to come in and save the day in a certain way–how limiting is that? Our imagination is soooo much less than God’s. Worrying about the future or really anything out of our control is like worrying about how you’re going to land the plane when you’re not the pilot. It’s like wondering how you’re going to perform surgery on your cat when you’re not the veterinarian. Or how to build your house when you’re not the carpenter. It’s not our job. Not our responsibility. Don’t look for God to help in the way you expect Him to, just look for Him in general. I wonder if we’d see Him working sooner if we simply looked for Him at all instead of looking for Him in our expectations?

You are God, You are God, of all else I’m letting go.

I think this mindset will change our prayers and our lives.

Dear God, thank You so much for the blessings You give. I know you are my provider and I have faith that I will be able to pay all of my bills with the things that you provide.

Dear God, You are the Great Physician. I’m trusting You for healing of myself or for someone I love. I believe You can use the doctors as healing tools, as well as miracles. Let Your will be done.

Dear God, You are Alpha and Omega. You never change. You were there in the past, are here in the present, and You hold my future. I give it to You and believe that You have plans for me to prosper me and not hurt me. Your plans give hope and a future. Use me according to Your will and give me a willing and steadfast heart.

Amen

These prayers differ from my usual, “GODDDDDDD!!!! What is going onnnnn?!?!?! I’m so confused and frustrated and worried that everything is completely falling aparrrrtttt!!!!!” Although many times we are confused and get frustrated and maybe even are hurting during the times we should be seeking God the most, we must try to keep our focus on the One who has the power to do something about it. Everytime I try to fix my own problems, they get way, way, worse. I usually end up feeling embarrassed and silly and even more upset.

So. My challenge to myself and to the readers of this blog is this: “…take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) Be aware of what you’re thinking about most. It’s true, we have busy schedules in life and may not have hours to sit and study God’s word. But take a verse or two or a passage, and meditate on it. Fill up the space in your mind that is usually occupied by worry with noble, pure, truthful, excellent thoughts. See what miracles and breakthroughs happen then! I can’t wait. 🙂

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Do What You Love

            Throughout our whole life there is one question that is repeatedly asked in various forms—the most basic form of this question being, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Often, our answers to this question change many, many times over the course of our childhood, and by the time we are in college and actually ready to choose a career, we have a nice, practical answer that will receive an, “Aw, that’s nice,” response.  I can not help but wonder, though: what would happen if, when asked what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives, we answered with an answer more similar to one we would have given when we were younger?

            During my senior year my grandfather asked me what I planned on doing after high school. I answered that I would take a year off of school and then go to college. Well, he didn’t like the year off idea, but we got through that part of the conversation. Then, he asked what I planned to study in college, and I answered, “Music.” This response was answered with a moment of thoughtful silence. After the silence I was informed on the growing need for nurses and medical jobs, the guaranteed pay, and the nobility of the nature of the work.

            You see, when we are little and answer that same question with,” I want to be a princess!” or, “I want to be an astronaut!” we get positive responses encouraging us to follow our dreams. After all, we can do anything—even become President. This all changes, though, when we get older, and I went on a personal search to find out why.

            When it comes to finding a career, there are many questions we ask ourselves: Will this career provide an income that will meet my financial needs? Is this something I could bear doing for a substantial amount of time? Is this something I can do period? Is there an ability to be promoted? Are there benefits? And, of course, there are many, many more.  There is one question that many people ask me when I state that I want to work in the music industry: Is it practical? A practical career is something that is seriously necessary. That is common sense. However, many people’s idea of “practical” is something that has a set route to accomplishment. Something that is already figured out and has been done by many before. Something that will lead to definite success. Other people’s idea of practical is often my idea of “normal” and normal sometimes feels a little boring. That is where the biases come in, and no doubt, I am biased just like anyone else when it comes to interpreting the meaning of the word. So, just to be fair, here are a few definitions of the word practical from http://www.thefreedictionary.com:  Practical- Capable of or suitable to being used or put into effect; useful; Level-headed, efficient, and unspeculative.

            The words that stand out to me in those definitions are “useful” and level-headed. These are all subject to peoples’ opinions. I believe that one should pursue their craziest, most “ridiculous” dreams when they are young and have nothing to lose. It makes the most sense, if we’re going for rationality. What would it be like to have a great desire to do something, but because someone told you it’s unpractical, or irrational, or you won’t succeed, you never even tried? What would it feel like to still have that desire in you when you are married with a house and children and a steady job and know there is too much at risk to try now? Too many people know that feeling, in my opinion, and I do not want to be one of them.

            I’m not saying that finding a “normal” career is bad—if you want to be a teacher or nurse or businessman-woman with everything in you, by all means do that. My point to this whole blog is to say that there is a question we leave out when contemplating a career: Will this make me happy? Believe it or not, there are people who absolutely love their jobs. That is what I want for people, and for myself. That is a practical question. When people are doing what they love, they work harder. When people are doing what they love, it doesn’t feel like work, and they are happier. When people love what they do, they make better decisions, get sick less, work better with others, etc. For more information on the benefits of loving what you do, see this website. Maybe if everyone in the world followed their dreams and did what they are most passionate about, the world would be a happier place?

            For me, music is my passion and what makes me happiest in life. Although it is very hard to find a career in music that is stable and will have you set for the rest of your life, to me, it is worth a try. It is my childish answer to what I want to be when I grow up. And according to elistmania.com, musicians are the #1 people most content with their jobs. In conclusion, be crazy. Be smart, have a plan, but be crazy too. There are risks that must be taken in every aspect of every job. Don’t be afraid of taking unconventional risks if they are required to do what you love. As a college student, even if you fall flat on your face, you have the rest of your life to be practical….and at least you’ll have peace of mind knowing you at least tried to follow your craziest dreams.

            “God’s dreamers are always unpractical, but in the end…their dreams come true.” –Amy Carmichael.

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Allie, At Your Service

I’m Allie, at your service.

This summer I have decided to put all my talents and skills to use in order to raise money for college. My degree is really demanding, mostly in the area of time, and so finding a job during school is very nearly impossible. Therefore, I am planning on spending the summer doing tons of odd, creative jobs that help me get out in the sun, and let out some creativity while also working hard and helping meet others needs.

 TYPES OF SERVICES:

-A Summer-long beginners piano class. lesson times are yet to be announced. Lessons are $10 lesson (half hour). Any age.

-Anything artsy; Crochet items (blankets, pillows, purses, small bags, scarves, headbands, hats, baby blankets, etc.) Sewn items (cutsom pillows, blankets, curtains, etc.), paintings, drawings, mosaic mirrors and coat hangers, paint furniture, custom picture frames, AND MORE!

-I also sell Mary Kay, so you can sign up for a FREE FACIAL so you can TRY BEFORE YOU BUY.

-Childcare!

-Cleaning

-Play music or sing at parties, weddings, church events, etc.

And more, just ask!

Prices vary from item to item, as some items take more time or money to make. Message for my phone number, or for more info on services or prices. 

allison.cassidy@ccuniversity.edu

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