The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For

Security and transparency.

I’m 90 percent sure that if I left those two words on a discussion board somewhere, our society, our generation could go on and on about those subjects for quite a long time.

It’s sad to think that many of us lack these two things, especially when we have a Father that completely provides the first and just longs for us to display the latter. But unfortunately we have somehow arrived at a point where it is very hard to posses both of these traits; this year’s election being a magnificent example of such.

So here I am, a complete two years since I set off on a journey of jumping off the grid of any type of institutional structure to search for my purpose in the Kingdom. I am here to be transparent with you, and tell you about the kind of security I have.

In hindsight, it’s completely stupid that it took me this long to realize who I am, and what I was created to do. All stupidity was on my part, of course, not the Lord’s. He was whispering directions to me all long, but I was looking for a different set of instructions than the kind that He was giving me. He was giving me the kind that said: “1. Be honest with yourself, and realize the talents that I gave you in order to be who I created you to be. 2. Trust me with everything. Forget worldly security and walk out on to the platform of my security.” But I wanted the kind that come with furniture on how to put it together. I wanted: “1. Apply for this job. 2. Make this much money. 3. Life will make sense within the realm you have always seen it in.”

Now, to be clear, our basic command from Jesus is always the same no matter what. “Love God. Love People.”- basically. Thank you Church of the Highlands One t-shirt. But I also believe that we are all constructed with certain talents, quirks, and perspectives to add to the Kingdom. Our God is a God of details, and there’s a reason for it.

Now, to get on with my story… The past two years have been pretty painstaking. All of this could have been avoided if I just would have been honest with myself about these truths: 1. I am a massive dreamer. I never met anyone that can imagine as big, lavishly, and dramatically as I can. It’s a blessing and a curse sometimes. 2. I’m creative. I’m artsy. I’m actually pretty good at it.

But instead, growing up, I chose to fall into the belief that artsy professions don’t make money and that they don’t add value to society. In 6th grade, I knew that I wanted to be an architectural-interior designer. By 7th grade, I had decided that job couldn’t even serve the Kingdom in anyway and that it wouldn’t make any money anyway. I fell even deeper into that belief during high school, that by the time I was in college I believed that I needed to go to law school so that I could be a leader in politics, and THAT was how I was going to change the world. (Sidetone: with Donald and Hillary running this year, I couldn’t be any happier that the Lord lead me out of that!)

All along, I struggled to muster up everything I could to make my resume law school worthy. I was in a sorority, I was a Capstone Woman, and I took every pre-law course I could. However by senior year, my plan was beginning to crumble. With one, simple legal writing class, I realized that law school was not only the last thing I need to do, but it was also the last thing I wanted to do. Finally, this was the first time I was honest with myself.

But I kept on trying to be “important” aka: have a good job that society honored and made a decent salary. So I scrambled to form a new plan, because this was the first time that I didn’t have plan, and good gosh that was terrifying. I completed a last-minute application to go to graduate school, and by the grace of God was admitted, but at the time I was just happy because I figured this allowed me to remain in some type of structure. I thought surely this would directly lead to a cool job with a company or firm, and that was good enough! Not law status, but I was alright with that.

In the meantime, I had been privy to design and photography classes. Deep down, I loved them. I even considered switching my major to advertising during my junior year, but didn’t because that would’ve been crazy.

I’m really trying to summarize this at the moment, but honestly, I was miserable. I was trying so hard to become something that I felt was important and the dumbest part of it all was that I was basing it majorly on a worldly definition.

So when I graduated, I felt like I had been abandoned. My plan wasn’t working or moving forward. I compared it to “feeling like the train tracks had just run out”. What I didn’t see was what the Lord was doing. I didn’t see that He was given me a new structure. I didn’t see that He was breathing new life into my creativity. I didn’t see that He had given me a unique set of skills. I didn’t see the dream that He was trying to give me.

Two years ago, school was over, I was jobless, and didn’t know how to function without a completely packed schedule with a side of a massive to-do list. I had no requirements. All I would do was wake up, eat breakfast, read His Word, spend time with Him, work out, and write this blog that I haven’t had much to do with since February of 2015. What was happening, was He was trying to show me a new way of life. One that wasn’t strictly determined by my old, worldly, structure. It was one that He was knitting together.

But I only got dumber. Even though I loved my days of being creative and writing, I didn’t see the value in it. I didn’t see how I could make a difference. My life had become so quiet. So I floundered once more to find a career. I tried more internships, and even worked as a personal trainer just to make some money. All the while I was disregarding the gift the Lord had given me. On top of that, I felt like the Lord had quit talking to me which led to a desert season that went from May of 2015 to January of 2016. I was so confused and so distraught. Really, if I had just gotten quieter, I would have been able to hear the Lord’s direction. Pretty silly, considering He had already imposed a whole lot of “quiet” in my life already.

Now I do believe the Lord works ALL things, even our lack vision, together for His good. And He did this for me during this time. Every experience I’ve had up to this point has helped give me ideas upon ideas upon ideas because of the unique insight I’ve gained through each job. Praise Him, for that.

However, even after I fractured my tibial plateau during the winter of last year and was unable to work as a trainer, I still was reaching to find “normal” structure. Somehow, I finally had enough nudges, whispers, and all-out neon signs to use my gifts and do freelance graphic design. During 21 Days of Prayer this past January, I had a dear friend and mentor come out and say “you should do this!” With nothing to lose, I had just enough gumption to start my business.

The struggle didn’t stop though. This past spring, I took part in a Freedom Group at Church of the Highlands (highly recommend to anyone- even the “experienced” Christian). Going into it, I knew that Freedom Group sought to further sanctification at whatever level it could. I just didn’t think that would include dealing with my self-critical attitude about who I am and what I was created to do.

After a lot of prayer and tears, I finally had the courage to step out and be a freelance graphic designer. I didn’t care about the money I’d make, or the lack of status I’d obtain, I just wanted to help people brand their ideas and companies, and to dream with them and help them, in turn, be themselves too by clearly communicating through their brand. One leader in my group told me to “do what made my heart sing”. And design does that for me.

In the process of sorting out this new plan, the actual plan the Lord wrote for my life, I was still struggling with fear. I asked questions like: “how do you freelance? how do I make this into a living? what the heck is happening?!?” – more or less I FREAKED. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed for ideas and the Lord sent them. He sent them in ABUNDANCE.

For last several months the Lord blessed me with a job that would help me have a steady paycheck while I built up my business. When I accepted the job, I figured it would take me a couple of years to finally make the transition from that job to full-time freelance, but I quickly learned that it was one final lesson. The security in that job was just what I longed for, and I could see myself settling into it quite nicely, but I wasn’t using my talents. It would have been extremely easy for me to get stuck there, but I was so unsatisfied and so unhappy. So finally the Lord brought me a few more clients, and I finally have the courage to step out on my own.

Truth be told, this is a post that has been several years in the making. I wanted to be able to write it as soon as I had graduated with my Masters. If you were a previous reader of the old “The View From Here” blog, then you know. It’s been quite the journey. After a while, I just stopped writing because I was getting to pessimistic. But thank goodness we have a God that loves us, and is gentle with us, and that works miracles so that even when we need to go through the process and take the long way around, He can redeem the time and opportunity that we may have missed.

I have learned several things that will always stick with me about who I am and the purity and rawness of Jesus’ love. He is so patient and so good, and then we come along and rip ourselves to shreds just trying to be important. For years I grew up saying that I just want to be “normal”. This was partially because I grew up with a special needs sister, and my home life wasn’t exactly average. But the older I got, the more I meant that in a way that was hypercritical of my ability to dream big, be creative, and see things in a way most people don’t. But recently, while talking with Jesus, I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’ve said, please don’t let me just be normal. I can finally say with all honesty, I want to become what the Lord wants me to come, no matter what that may entail.

So here it is, everyone. This is the plan that has been in the making for my whole life. The plan that He has knit together. We (the Lord and I), bring you Chaslee Designs.

(Check out the website here: chasleedesigns.com )

Thanks for reading,

Love Chaslee

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The Heart of the Matter

Vacation is good.

If you’ve been in any kind of contact with me in the past week, you’ve probably heard me say that at least once. To my friends who have heard me say this and been at all envious or annoyed: I am so sorry. But take it as your permission to GO ON VACATION.

Here’s why:

It’s funny, because you’d think that with no steady job, I wouldn’t need a vacation, right? Wrong. That’s because vacation doesn’t mean “stop working for a few days”. It’s a change of scenery. A change of pace. A new environment. A new kind of quiet to allow the Holy Spirit in, massage your soul, and give you the overwhelming grace to keep on going. I got to take a vacation last week, and it couldn’t have been anymore perfect.

I started off the summer by thinking that I really didn’t need vacation. I mean, let’s face it, I’m not exactly worn to the bone with work. But for some reason Jesus kept being like, “stop saying that! I provide you with what you need” and apparently I needed 5 days at the beach with nothing to do.
Yet again, He was right and I was wrong. This time I didn’t even see it.
He wasted no time (in typical Jesus fashion), and as soon as I got in the car to drive south 4 hours to Orange Beach, AL, He just started speaking. A LOT.

Know what He said to me?

“You’re trying too hard.”

And not in the good way. It’s one thing to be told by your peers in high school that you’re trying too hard, but when the Maker of Our Souls tells you that? Ha ha ha. 

I immediately thought, “okay, let me just roll over and quit right now.” How could I be trying too hard? Seriously? For well over a year now, all I’ve been doing is looking for just one inkling or hint of why God has me on this earth and for what purpose He intends me for, and that’s about it. I currently have no steady job, and I simply just look for ways to make myself useful during the day, because no matter what I do, the Lord deliberately closes the door and I have to be productive somehow. I’ve been patient for a long time, and now I’m trying too hard? There’s just no way.

Let me take a moment to be even more transparent with you. I thought back in January, that I had reached zero on how much more I had left to give, (see here: https://chaslneemarshall90.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/belief-before-proof/) . Well, after having 6 months of possibilities appearing and disappearing along with waiting and a million maybes, now I have officially reached zero. I actually cannot tell you a single thing about my life with absolute certainty aside from “Jesus is my savior and He is sovereign”. Maybe that’s the whole point of this process. 

Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear that vacation was a necessity. 
So, Jesus confronted me about my honesty and genuineness of heart. He pointed out that I may be involved, and “doing what I’m supposed to”, sure. I pray without ceasing, worship in the most focused manner possible, I’m attending small groups, utilizing my quiet time, and serving others. I’m “doing” it all, yes. But I’m not being honest and raw with Him. 

He said to me, “you’re letting everything proceed Me. Do you realize that? Church, fellowship, your future, relationships. Above all you’re letting your concern about what my mission is for you proceed Me. How can you even have a mission without Me? Seek Me first, not all the extra stuff. And stop performing. Just be with Me.” 

It sort of was like a hit to the gut. To be frank with you, where I am in my life is getting so phenomenally stale that I want to get off the merry-go-round and quit. That being the case, hearing all this made me a little frustrated. 

Despite the frustration, not long after my soul began to feel more rested than it has in the past month in a half because now, I had the permission to just let it all out in all its rawness.

  

He drew my attention to Luke 5 where there are 2 accounts of Jesus healing people. They’re an interesting contrast, because both individuals approach Him and ask for it in 2 completely different ways. A man with leprosy asks Jesus to heal him, “if he is willing”, where as another man’s friends hoist him onto to the roof of a house where Jesus was preaching, and rip tiles off the roof just to lower him to His feet, and ask Him to heal him. 

After the man with leprosy is healed, Jesus tells him to not tell anyone but go directly back to the temple and tell the priests what had happened and then worship and give offerings, which was a process that had to be done for him to be accepted back into society as a clean individual. The man still told everyone anyway, and Jesus knew that he would disobey, but He healed him anyway. 

On the other hand, Jesus told the man with the mat to pick up his mat and go home, and the man did so praising God for what had been done. Much simpler than the man with leprosy, right? What are you doing Jesus?

Well, the man with mat was healed in front of Pharisees who questioned what Jesus response to the man was, rather than his healing. He said to him, “you are forgiven”, and they were like “who are you to do that?”…. Basically it goes in a direction that would take focus off of what I’m trying to say, BUT most important is this:

In both situations, Jesus addresses their hearts first. He gets their hearts before the rest is done, because their hearts, regardless of their condition take priority over everything else, in this case, their physical life. 

And that’s all he ever wants. Our hearts. Just as they are. Ugly or pretty, He wants it.

As a born again Christian that has been on her walk for over 11 years, I suppose I’ve fallen into this idea that I should be pretty near to perfect at all times. I feel like I should be really good at living like Jesus by now, and for me to be struggling as much as I am right now is ridiculous. Maybe that’s true. But to pretend that everything’s okay to the point of not being 100% honest with Jesus about how I feel is even more ridiculous.

He says He wants us. Not our version of our fixed up selves, but just us. For my entire life, every time I’ve ever heard that kind of message, I begin to think “oh that’s for the ones who haven’t been saved yet”. But that couldn’t be more wrong. He wants our whole hearts, the good and the bad, at all times. Even if we feel like we’ve taken a few steps backwards and are embarrassed, He still wants it.
When I got back from the beach, I was relaxed enough to let my guard down. Something about “simply enjoying His creation” (as He told me to do), brought me back to spiritual reality. So for the past few days our conversations have been very honest. 

In fact, my worship at church has looked way more blah than usual because I just didn’t have all the energy I normally do. My prayers have gone from “Jesus you are so sweet and even though I don’t know what’s going on, I love you” to “Jesus, I don’t have a whole lot left. I love you, but this sucks. I’m not going anywhere, but help.” But it’s honest. I’m giving Him what I have and that’s all He wants right? 

Here’s how I see it. Imagine being in an epic movie with Jesus where you literally go through everything together. Then try to imagine how the dialogue would go after that. It’d be super open and honest right? So why wouldn’t it be like that now? The truth is, even when you haven’t felt Him or seen Him he’s been there the whole time. You’ve got nothing to hide. No matter where you are in your spiritual walk, He still wants just you. 100% you. So to be anything short of honest with him isn’t fair. (I’m saying that to myself, actually).

At some point, this will all make sense. I’m pretty sure right now is the point that everything officially makes no sense whatsoever, but I still believe that the Lord has written the story and I have a purpose in it somewhere. I want to give up, really badly. I’ve had it with possibilities turning into waiting, then into maybes, and slowly into no’s. At this rate, I don’t know what He’s promising me beyond eternity with Him. I haven’t got a clue as to what all of this is for. But I trust Him, I swear I do.

A few weeks ago, I was ready to toss this blog in the trash and get rid of it rather than “ramp it up” like I said I was going to a month ago. But instead here I am, writing again. Perhaps this is the part of this story where it’s about to get good. Maybe not. I’m approaching 25, I don’t have a steady job, I’m definitely not getting married anytime soon, and every time I think I’m on to something, it’s a dead end. In terms of “modern day blogs that you should be following”, this one definitely is not one that makes the list. I don’t even know why I’m writing at this point. 

But Jesus has this.  

He has my heart in all its splendor and lack thereof. And that’s all He wants. I’ve reached zero, but He’s got all of me. If I do nothing else in life, at least there’s that.

Above all, He is good. 

I don’t have a resolve in this post this time. Sorry to leave you with this, but it’s just going to have to be a “to be continued…” post this time. 

Jesus has this. The battle is already won. Thank you, Lord for what you’ve already done and will continue to do. 

Love y’all,
Chaslee

Deciphering the Map: Just Give Up…

God is so so so so so so good. That’s pretty much all I can, and all I ever will be able to say.

Just this week, I read back across some of my previous posts. I don’t mean that in a vain or narcissistic way, but I’ve had this blog up and running for two years now and sometimes it’s just fun to take inventory.

What I found is that primarily, I’ve grown in and by the grace of Jesus more than I ever expected to. Grace, grace, what wondrous grace. Thank you, Lord.

Secondly, I have realized that His ways are SO not our ways. And that is how it should be written in the Bible. I imagine something like, “For my thoughts are SOOOOO not your thoughts, and my ways are FAR FAR FAR BEYOND your ways” Isaiah 55:8. Yep, that would totally suffice. No matter how big our dreams or imaginations are, we cannot come close to being able to predict the future He has for us, (unless you have the gift of prophecy and that’s awesome, but nonetheless that’s still of the Holy Spirit and not us).

Thirdly, I have noticed how much longer-winded my posts have become. I’m so sorry, to my faithful readers, and I promise to make these more convenient to read. (Ahem, I’ll edit them better).

Two years later, I am 24 and life is definitely not what I imagined. As a college graduate, I foresaw a steady 9-5 job, possible relocation from my hometown, maybe I’d be engaged or married, and with a few new friends at a good church.

But here’s how it really is. My employment is not like a steady 9-5 to job, I have not relocated and am actually still living with my parents, I’m as single as could possibly be, I have more new friends than I can count, and my church is heaven on earth. Up until that last part, by all worldly standards I am not what most would call “up to par” on life. However, I don’t think I could imagine anything better than where I am right now.

You see, the absolute thing that I know for sure is that I am exactly where Jesus is and I can hear Him and see His direction so clearly. To many, it probably doesn’t make sense that I’ve chosen to stay where I am and not ravenously pursue that 9-5 job in some super cool city. It probably doesn’t make sense that I broke up with a guy that I thought, for a while, I would marry. And it probably doesn’t make any sense that I’m as completely filled with the peace and joy that I wake up to every morning and go to sleep confidently with at night.

Back in August after I graduated from grad school, all bets were off.

If y’all have read the previous posts from the year, you know what happened in terms of events. But really, it became just me and Jesus, without the slightest excuse for a distraction, and even though it was a desert season, His grace was like a flood. As soon as school was over, the rush was gone. I wasn’t hired immediately, and instead my life was hushed so much that I could hear Jesus’ sweet whisper to come in to Him.

It began by starting every day by spending time with Him in His word, with a new kind of devotion that I never fully stuck to. Immediately, the simple peace and joy of His presence washed over me. If I had just been doing that one simple act with that much dedication, maybe school would’ve been less stressful. But it didn’t stop there.

In the midst of the confusion and disappointment of not being able to instantly turn into an “adult”, He began to teach me about what more I needed to do have a servant’s heart. A heart that He could use, and I needed to have before I took on the mission He had for me. The super confusing part was, I still didn’t know what that mission was. So through an amazing modern-day parable, AKA a book, the Holy Spirit painted the most amazing picture of a servant hearted woman I have ever seen. I couldn’t resist, because let’s face it: He’s irresistible. I started trying to find times throughout the day where I could change selfish actions (no matter how little), into selfless actions.

Next, I heard Him tell me gently that it was time to end a relationship that I saw a future for. I didn’t understand, so I asked Him why. He gracefully told me that we were not equally yolked. And after a week of being plagued with that message, I got up the courage to end the relationship. It wasn’t fun. It required sacrifice and it made me sad.  But just as faithfully, the Holy Spirit literally picked my heart up, and put it where it needed to be which was even more for Him than it was before. It was hard to explain to some, but the most simple of answers is: it was Him, not me and not him.

Finally several months passed, and after so many rejections and lack of responses from companies and firms I could not understand why no one wanted me. My resume is outstanding. My gracious references gave glowing reports. How could I not get a job? I got to the point where I said, “Okay Lord, I’ve given you all that I’ve got. What else do you want?” Then He pointed to the very bottom of my heart, and brought up my childhood dreams: being in front of people and performing. Whether it was presenting speeches, singing, acting or modeling, I loved it. But the logic behind pursuing any of that was useless. No one ever makes it and it’s competitive, and I just completed school with zero training. But He said, “give it to Me, and come away with Me”. So I did. It was crazy, but I did.

Y’all see the pattern here, right? Our love turned a corner back in August, and suddenly I just WANTED more than anything to be like Him more than I ever have before. I mean I was saved when I was 4, rededicated my life when I was 13, baptized in the Holy Spirit when I was 14, and been in quite a pursuit of Him ever since. But this? This has been crazy. I cannot find another word for it. I say that, not boastfully, but as a testimony to His Holy Spirit. In the most beautiful way, He began to mold the back corners of my heart that I wasn’t even aware weren’t fully for Him.

Stripped bear. I have nothing left to give. I know that I’m not perfect and as I continue to grow, I will continue to find pieces of my heart that are not direct reflections of Him and they will need adjusting. That’s just basic sanctification. However, the more I give, the more He has for me, and although it’s difficult, it’s so good and so right. It makes no earthly sense, but in His terms, everything is coming together according to plan.

At the beginning of the year, I went through the most strenuous fast I have ever gone through. It was one of the best things I have ever done. My diet was restricted to veggies and fruit as I continued my work out schedule, and I woke up before dawn every bone-chilling morning to experience Jesus. The analogy of coal being turned into a diamond comes to mind. By the end of the fast, He provided and I accepted an internship in an area that was right up my “dreams” category.

I learned and am continuing to learn so much. Added to that, He provided me with friends from Church of the Highlands Tuscaloosa, and suddenly the meaning of community in the sense of the way Jesus and Paul talked about community has VIBRANTLY come to life.

There’s a verse in John that has constantly been on my mind ever since January.

 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:14-12

He tells us that we can do even greater things than the miracles that He performed, because we have been adopted! And we can experience heaven on earth, and that’s what’s happening right now, people. My earthly circumstances cannot change how I feel about that either, because the truth of the matter is He is always right here and He is my source of joy, my everything!

Where He goes, I will go, where He stays, I will stay.

So the internship ended a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t hired. It just wasn’t His plan for me and I am completely fine with that. Just as smoothly as possible, I immediately accepted a part-time job as a personal trainer at the University Recreation Center, just as I wanted to back in December. But this time, I’m more equipped. Part-time isn’t full-time, but it’s ideal.

Last week, the opportunity quickly came to participate in a model casting call for a “well known athletic brand”. My amazing, most Godly, most talented friend, sent it to me and encouraged me to participate. I haven’t been training as consistently for the past few months as I would’ve preferred, but I sent in my photos and sure enough! Nike cast me as a model for their sportswear. WHAAAAAT? (Y’all be on the look out for me around town!)

My friend took this. Started the day by shooting with Nike, and ended it by putting on UA Golf's putting green. Just follow Jesus. He does things you can't.

My friend took this. Started the day by shooting with Nike, and ended it by putting on UA Golf’s putting green. Just follow Jesus. He does things you can’t.

Had I been working full-time, that wouldn’t have happened. It was my very first shoot (actually, the first casting call I’ve ever done), and I had a blast. Ever so appropriately, God has lead me down this path and He has taken a big dream that a tiny little girl had and even though that’s only one shoot (and maybe the only shoot), it’s a dream come true.

There’s so many other little parts to this, but to save on words: His plan is so much better than ours. The truth is, if you’re evaluating your life by worldly standards of any kind, then it’s time to reevaluate. Everyone’s journey looks different, but regardless there is a peace and joy that surpasses all of it, because there simply is nothing like being in a non-complacent, intimate, relationship with our sweet, gracious, and SO LOVING Savior!

I may never know what tomorrow holds, but if it means that He is in full control then I don’t care and I don’t want to know.

Basically what I’m saying is this: He’s leading me in an amazing direction, and He has given me so many more promises, some that I wish I could tell you about, but you will know about soon enough. I don’t even know how any of it can possibly come about but He has taught me to never underestimate Him, because He loves me, wants the best for me, and He can do anything. But I do have an announcement!

Things are about to change for this ol’ blog. It’s been part of the centerpiece to this journey for me and certainly an amazing platform from where I can talk about God’s goodness. However, change is coming.

I’m embarking on a new kind of journey, and I want y’all to come with me. As I start my job at the Rec Center, I’m going to start back blogging about fitness, and nutrition. There’s also more to that, which I want y’all in on, but I’ll let that remain a surprise! My Daddy is about to take me some where super cool, but it’s not just for me. It’s for y’all too!

That all being said, I’m working on creating a new site. Basically, we’re gonna kick all this up a notch! I’ll still have all my old posts available in the archives, but this little space is just not big enough for what is about to come. I hope to write posts more frequently, with less to read, so that it’s more convenient and entertaining, and prettier! This has been fun, but it’s about to get even more fun!

It’s crazy to think what can happen in just two years. But I’m glad that Jesus is as wonderful as He is to make it all possible. Y’all will never cease to hear my praises on how wonderful He is. Nothing in my life or my life itself, is worth it without Him. I’m still working on the new domain, but look for it coming soon!

I hope y’all are ready for this wild ride. With a God this big, don’t expect anything small.

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Dreams Bigger Than The Sky

It’s funny how you can really get into a routine that’s on a steady incline, everything’s even keel, and suddenly the Spirit just interrupts and says “Hey, (your name), remember this? Well I want you to know this.” Or something along those lines.

Today, I was working on uploading some material on social media, and it was taking a while. I listen to Spotify, like most, while I work. But today, I got a little tired of my regular playlist, so I switched over to something different. Remembering a conversation I had with my cousin Thomas, I opted for some Jonathan David and Melissa Helser. The tempo, melody, and harmony was the perfect fit for the ambiance at my little desk. So I continued to work, and then suddenly this extremely familiar song came on. One that I knew the words to. It was like remembering something from a dream, and I couldn’t figure out why I knew the song. It was fun listening to it, and I continued to work, with the hushed thought in the back of mind wondering about when and where I listened to this song so often to know the words. Out of curiosity, I looked up the release date of the song, faintly remembering downloading it onto my iPod… (it was before my iPhone days if that tells you anything). When Google told me that it was released in 2012, a light bulb went off.

Weird, how you can look back on your life with such a different perspective, huh?

Recently, my mom and I had a conversation about the differences between sin and a mistake. How making the same mistake, knowingly, becomes a sin because you deliberately commit the mistake knowing that it isn’t what Jesus would want. Heavy stuff, I know. That’s actually pretty common for us. But interestingly enough, there was a sense a relief that washed over me when I realized some of the sinful mistakes I made in my past, were (although still sinful, because I am a human born into original sin), were more like mistakes because I didn’t actually look Jesus in the eye and say, “I know you did that for me, but I’m going to do this instead.”

I know your wondering, “did she copy and paste something and forget a transitional paragraph between those two?” Nope. I didn’t. You’re reading it the way it’s intended. Just roll with me. It’ll make sense in a little bit.

Back to the song.

I randomly downloaded that song back in 2012, right after it’s release. Around that time (January into the Spring), I started turning my running sessions into worship sessions by listening to worship music when I’d run. So I ran to that song a lot. I never got tired of the song, I just started listening to other songs and forgot about that one. Y’all know how it is. That was the summer that I interned in DC. Right before I left for our nation’s Capital, I had experienced some pretty serious heart break because my dreams that I had had for the preceding 3 years hadn’t come to fruition. The song was a little bit like a salve for my soul because it says,

On the shores of my soul I give You permission To wash my tears away And take all my disappointment [and] fill me with joy once again I’m gonna sing out loud And let my voice be heard It’s a song of victory And it’s ringing in the earth

So I could sing that song, make it like a prayer, and by doing so, I was reminding myself to sing through the storm.

I think I’ve said it before, but I am a big time dreamer. If I could tune people into my brain, it’d probably make excellent television. I don’t say that with pride. I say that with equal parts embarrassment and equal parts praise for how wonderfully my Father made me. But the point it is, my dreams are big, they happen without prompting, and my imagination builds and builds and builds them to the point that my expectations are set so high that I have to rely on God to see them come to life, because there is no earthly way to even make them a possibility. It’s been a reoccurring thing throughout my entire life. And while I know it’s one of the most unique things that God formed about me when He created me, it’s also one of those vulnerabilities that Satan has made low blows to throughout my life.

Three years ago, my imagination was let down further than it ever had been. I thought I had nothing else to look forward to, that it was the end of the road and nothing else could happen. Was it because I had allowed myself to dream too big? Was it because The Lord was trying to teach me humility? Why could something go so far up and come so much further down?

Fast forward a couple years and that whole imagination thing became a roadblock for me, because I became too afraid to put 100% of my trust in Him. Instead of using such a wonderfully crafted part of me to serve Him, I became too absorbed in worldly expectations and let the whole thing become corrupt.

In simpler terms, it went like this. My heart was for Jesus, but I hadn’t allowed myself enough time with Him to become more like Him. By not being more like Him, my desires became for worldly things even when I didn’t see it that way. (This was a MISTAKE…reference that blip about mistake v. sin above). As they became more worldly, so did my dreams. But here’s the funny thing about being worldly: when your heart becomes worldly, your vision becomes nearsighted. So in this process, I felt the need to limit myself, because certain things “just weren’t possible”. Then, by limiting myself, and by following what I thought was my dream, I ended up in a huge messy pile of disappointment. ITS CRAZY HOW TWISTED THINGS CAN GET… isn’t it? Satan specializes in making a mess of things.

Over the past several months (nearly a year), my schedule has thankfully slowed down enough to let the Holy Spirit (in His fullness) back in. He’s sweetly, and swiftly helped me get back to the root of my dreams and aspirations and helped me realize what He has given me. Let me tall ya, where I am now is VASTLY different from where I was for a while. And my dreams look much different too. The biggest differences now are that my dreams take into account absolutely ZERO limits, and ultimately He and His glory are the final destination.

I feel like I’ve probably lost you, my dear reader, by now. So, I’m going to be more literal.

Why am I writing this right now? Well to be honest, I’m at the end of the diving board again. I have my big ole dreams of how I can serve Jesus in tow and my faith is acting as my little floaties on either arm. It’s time to jump. And the truth is I’ve been reluctant to do so, simply because I don’t want to be disappointed anymore. I don’t want to let my dreams run wild, only to have nothing happen. The moment I do that, the moment I give Jesus my already large dreams, I know they will grow like weeds and I will have no control over them OR the actual situation that is my life. The fear of disappointment is just a creepin’ around the corner.

However, here is the main, very important, difference this time: my dreams are built on Jesus and wanting to love and serve Him. I actually do not care about what happens to me as long as it brings Him glory. And I am not boasting on my behalf. No, no, no. His Holy Spirit so thankfully has taken my heart and made it more like His, something that I could have never done on my own. Let that serve as a testimony to His goodness, because it’s hard to be like Jesus sometimes, and it’s not by my own effort, but by His retaliation when I let myself go and take up my cross. How awesome is that?

That all being the case, here’s what I know. He loves me so much. He will never let me fail. Even if my dreams don’t play out exactly the way I dream them, doesn’t that mean He has something better waiting for me? I mean ultimately, heaven is waiting for us, and I’m positive that it can’t get better than that. So what have I to fear? No matter what, no matter what, no matter what, it is all going to be okay.

So we’ve addressed that end of it. Now here’s the faith boost: no matter what our dreams or expectations are, the reality is Jesus defeated sin and death in 3 days (Just 3. Something that had an effect over all of time, took 3 days for Him to defeat). AND He rose from the dead. Nothing is impossible. And when His presence is in our lives, we have all we need.

Why am I making this a post for all to read? Well folks, I earnestly believe that one of the most defining characteristics of our generation is that we all dream big, and the reason that all of us millennials are having a hard time with being in this phase of life is because we’re afraid that all that’s around the corner is disappointment. We can make jokes about it all we want to, but by giving it so much time and attention, it’s just making the problem worse.

So my message to all of you is to pick up your little floaties, and jump. Jesus is not telling you to jump into something that’s going to kill you. Your eternity is secured, and He should know because He’s the one that did it for you. BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU. And why would someone that loves us, tell us to do something that is going to hurt us? If we place everything in Him, nothing bad can happen. Don’t try to figure out the logic in it, because that’s thinking in worldly terms, and we are spiritual beings my dears!

And here’s something else. Three years ago I made the mistake of letting other things besides Jesus define my dreams. At this point it’d be a sin to do anything but let Him fan those flames. There’s no way I can’t give Jesus these crazy dreams and let them run wild. So just go ahead and take it from me, it’s better to give Him your heart, and go after your God-given dreams than to not.

So let’s face our challenges and opportunities today with confidence and faith-filled hearts, all the while meeting everyone with love (that’s the most important part, so don’t forget!).

And here’s my technical update: for me, change is around the corner again. I have dreams for how it could all work out, but I know that if it doesn’t it’ll be okay. I don’t even need a “fail safe” for my hope (ahem, a distraction, as in “well, if ths doesn’t work out, then I will focus on this”), because my hope is in Jesus. He is the one that leads my footsteps, not my emotions. I would share what all I’m dreaming, but it’s not even nearly as important as what’s written above, and it would just make all this even longer. Also, you’d be like whaaaaa? So go forth, and give all you got to Jesus. Don’t fear disappointment cause it’s not even worth it! 450b0cd3394ad9fa04131f6d6c7c4e4b Love y’all,

Chaslee

Cinderella: Why it’s Okay to Believe in the Fairytale

Hi friends!

So I’m back this week with, what I would consider, a more upbeat post than last week’s. (Not that my feelings have changed on that subject for my life personally, but I digress).

Perhaps it’s the time change and the days beginning to be noticeably longer. It could be that the sunshine has been out from behind the clouds this week. Or it simply could be that the Bradford Pears have put on their blooms, and although I despise their pollen and odor, it’s a sign that Spring is in its humble beginnings. It could even be that I’ve finally kicked mycoplasma to the curb and now I’ve been working out again (FINALLY!!!), so that’s all in balance now… (or getting there). Whatever the reason, my spirits are higher this week than they’ve been in a while. Not that they were low, but now they are eeeeeven higher than they were! You could say, I am pretty jolly about everything.

Spring is such a catch 22 for me. Although Winter is my least favorite season, I started not to get quite as excited for Spring during college because it was usually filled with school assignments and stress. It became anticlimactic compared to every other season and I always ended up slightly disappointed. This year, out of habit, I felt the same about Spring. But already, this season is shaping up to be pretty wonderful.  I think that catch 22 might be a throw 21 now.

This weekend was perfect. It was relaxing, productive, and sunny with a mild temperature (for me that means in the 70’s… I’m the coldest-natured person that I know). My favorite thing that I got to do was go see Cinderella.

Image cred goes to Disney, obviously.

Image cred goes to Disney, obviously.

I’ve been following the movie’s Facebook ever since last Fall. I love Lily James in Downton Abbey, and it’s Cinderella, so I’ve been excited, but I always have doubts about how well a motion picture will be executed. However, Cinderella was flawlessly done. You can agree or disagree, for whatever reason. But I feel like it was perfect.

There’s several reasons, why. The acting was great (how can you go wrong with Cate Blanchet and Helena Bonham-Carter? Answer: you can’t, unless you try to mess it up.). The costumes were so lovely. They brought the Disney cartoon to living, breathing, life. The set was jaw-dropping. It glittered nearly as much as the costumes did. And my favorite part was how it was written. It was the perfect mix of the classic tale and the Disney movie. To summarize it, the film was absolutely dreamy. It will be a classic in my house. I’ve already seen it twice (once with my mom, aunt, and sister and another time with a friend).

There will be spoilers, from here on out, so if you don’t want to know, then don’t read.

Part of the reason I’m critical about movies is because of their endings. Most people are like that, too. They want it to be just right. Satisfying, with a slight twist. What people permit as “satisfying” is where we fork. I’ve already seen a review for the movie that only gave it 3 stars. I immediately thought, “it’s probably because it fully indulges in the fairytale, and sassy pants wanted a different point-of-view or more realistic take on things”. My point is, it’s Cinderella. Let it have the perfect, happy ending. Be inspiring and let people dream.

I get where they’re coming from. It helps you not set such a high standard, and not set you up for disappointment. Or it simply helps you feel better about your circumstances. Sometimes, it allows you to create your own ending of what happens in the future, and instantly it becomes more relateable to you. I fully get it. If every movie had a happy ending it’d be too predictable. But Cinderella is the exception.

I probably sound like a diva princess, talking so passionately about letting Cinderella have her happy ending. Perhaps I am. But as I was watching there were so many instances where I just couldn’t help but revel in how sweet the story was. In terms of love, it creates a beautiful picture. And God is love.  It’s easier to put all this in bullet format, so let me explain:

  • At the very beginning, Cinderella’s mother tell her to “Have courage and be kind”. I adore that because it’s a call-to-action to be bold and to show love. She ends up living by this statement, and it’s pretty wonderful.
  • Even in the face of her evil step mother and step sisters, Cinderella maintains the heart of a servant and does everything with kindness as though she’s doing it in love, despite her circumstances. She never even complains. It’s more graceful than any of the Disney princesses, if you ask me. She’s thankful for what little she has, even though she’s made fun of for it. She shares her little bit of table scraps with her friends (the mice), and finds ways to make due with what she has. (The part where she sleeps by the fire to stay warm and wakes up with ashes on her face, completely unaware until the others made fun of her… That would 100% happen to me).
  • Then we get to the prince. Their “meet cute” was genuine, warm-hearted, and sweet. What I love about the prince is how humble he is, and that he doesn’t think twice about Cinderella’s social status. She has the humility to be completely honest about who she is, and the first time he asks her to dance, he says so in way that’s like a  formal request to someone far more important than himself. It’s an invitation that I don’t think anyone could resist.
  • At the very end, Lady Tremaine walks down the stairs after being proven wrong, and after Cinderella has accepted Kit’s marriage proposal. Cinderella turns around and pauses. Just when you think Disney has finally provided a window for the perfect “last word”, Cinderella tells her step-mother “I forgive you”. And she meant it. It’s the cherry on top.

Above all, the movie offers a sense of hope. It gives a good ending to someone that has bowed down consistently, lovingly, and without complaint. She worked hard, stayed sweet, gave of herself, and in the end, without her doing anything out of the ordinary she ended up exactly in the best spot she could have ever, (but didn’t) imagine. And all she wanted to do was go to the ball to visit with her friend, “the apprentice”. Her love for Kit was genuine. Does any of this sound familiar?

Much the way marriage is supposed to model the relationship between Christ and the church, there are so many parallels between this movie and how Christ romances us. If the fairy godmother were an angel, you’d have a story that resembled a story out of the Bible. Jesus offers us so much hope, just like the story of Cinderella does. Only with Jesus, it’s not made up. It’s real. And the happy ending is life eternal with Jesus in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to end up like Cinderella (anyone know of any really nice princes that love Jesus?). But the real reason that it’s okay to believe in this fairytale is because in reality, Jesus already wrote the love story for us. It’s kind of funny to think about it this way, but Jesus was Cinderella during His time on earth. He gave love with boldness that the world had never seen, remained pure and holy while humble and tender, and when the world turned its back on Him, He forgave us.

Our call of duty is to be as much like Him as we can, which can resemble the life of Cinderella, and we are promised life eternal. The only difference is, the Prince of Peace loves us just as we are, not even as good of a person as Cinderella, as ugly sinners, before we even encounter Him. Our happy ending is written without us even knowing it. All we have to do is love Him. And how easy is that when He is so sweet? (Easier said than done, yes).

That’s why there is absolutely nothing wrong in believing in the happy ending, what the world has deemed as “the fairytale”. The truth is living in this world, is the alternate reality for a short time, and where He is is reality. The fairytale is the reality. How awesome is that news?

So if you haven’t, I highly suggest going to see Cinderella. Guys, too. It won’t hurt ya. Perhaps you will get the same warms fuzzies that I did, too!

As always…

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Mawwaige, Mawwaige

Well I think I’m actually beginning to really move into “the working phase” of life. Usually when I write, my process goes like this: I think about what’s going on, what I’ve been mulling over, what’s come full-circle or at least will make sense and not misrepresent the Lord, and I just talk about what’s in my heart. Very often I don’t plan what to write. I mean I give thought to it, and screen out certain things, but I don’t have a scheduled list for my personal blog.

Lately, I just haven’t felt like I’ve had anything new to share that isn’t about brand representation and social media (which I’m sure y’all don’t want to hear about). Normally, I’d just not post and not think about it, but for some reason I’ve felt like I needed to post something new. At least something.

So where am I at in life? Working away the days, really. Mind you it’s just an internship, but I really like what I’m doing. Like I said last week, my dreams when I’m asleep at night  have switched from being really imaginative to being really practical and making about zero sense. It’s like in Divergent when Tris hops on the train in the very beginning… I did that about a month ago, and haven’t stopped thinking about PR stuff. It’s been fun having something to work for, especially since I love the “cause” that I’m working for.

Other than that, there’s really not much else going on aside from just watching where Jesus is leading me. Honestly, that’s action enough for me. I waited in stillness for so long, that I have absolutely no complaints about anything. Be sure to note that, okay? You’ll see why in a bit here. NO COMPLAINTS. ALL PRAISES.

But I’ve gotten pretty used to the 2 hours of alone time that I have in the car. I-20/59 is a busy and crazy commute, so it’s not quite as calm as one would imagine, but during the boring parts of the drive, I pray, and my mind wonders, and I pray.

If y’all ever knew about everything that runs through my mind, it probably wouldn’t make sense to you. My brain never stops. It never turns off. But I’m still a 24-year old girl, so the other day the thought of marriage came across my mind…. Calling all da single ladiesssss. (And married, too.)

I’ve never really talked much about this before, but it is a popular topic. And it’s important too. So let me just give y’all a run-down on that area. (FYI- this is me going out on a limb, cause I like to keep my heart cozy and hidden away, and hardly anyone is allowed to know anything.. so I will discuss without revealing too much).

The other night I was watching The Bachelor, and Whiney Whitney said something about “I’m ready for him to put a ring on my finger”. When she said finger, I thought “finger- chicken fingers- yum”. And I was still full from dinner. So that should give a glimpse on where I am about marriage. I see people get engaged and I’m no longer surprised. I’ve been in 3 weddings in the past 2 years (and loved every minute of it), but I can’t even fathom changing my last name. Sharing a home with someone that isn’t my blood relative, and fostering a Godly marriage by “being willing to be uncomfortable in order to work things out” sounds beautiful, but trying to picture myself doing that at this point in my life is like something out of the Twilight Zone.

  It’s strange, because I’d love to be married. I don’t want to say that I’m not mature  and ready for that yet, because that will denote the absolute WRONG connotation. (By no means do I love ‘jUst BeInG sInGlE, GoInG oUt On ThE wEeKeNd’… That’s so not it. I mean right now I run, paint, and hang out out with my family on the weekends and I’m so very content).

I’m settled and mature, but I’m not “looking”. I’m completely over dating for the sake of dating. I don’t want a “boyfriend”, I want a companion. I’ve adopted the mentality of “I don’t want to be married, unless the Lord wants me married.” For now, I’m pursuing a relationship with Jesus, and unless a romantic relationship is actually bringing me closer to Jesus then I don’t want anything to do with it. So guys, get your hearts right if you want me! Haha, I’m totally kidding. You can’t pursue Jesus in order to get to me. But it won’t hurt you to just love Him cause He loves you back.

I get so sick of the trash that Elite Daily publishes about dating, and really anything else secular. But some of these Christian articles are dinkey, too. You can be raw about your feelings, and still have Jesus at the center of it, and that’s what I’m figuring out.

Some days, I feel like I’ll be the last person to get married, if ever, and that’s never a good feeling. It just seems like it’ll take forever. I’d love to have a family and still be somewhat young so I can keep up with babies and toddlers, and not be the oldest mom at my son or daughter’s graduation. However, more than that I want to glorify Jesus, and I know He has everything under control. But until the day comes, I’m here because the Lord delights in me and He wants me around. I live for Him.

On most days, I think about who I’d actually like to marry and then resort to the conclusion that the likability of that individual existing is slim to none. Before you start thinking about “oh she believes there’s just one person for her to marry, blah blah blah”, SLOW YOUR ROLL. That’s a debate that’s about God’s plan for our lives, and I don’t think that any of us can comprehend that so I think that debate needs to end everywhere, now. But here’s why I think that: after my last relationship, the Spirit literally picked my heart up and put it in a different place. He’s been revealing more to me about my heart ever since. The entire story to that is long, and too personal for here, but one thing that the Lord really impressed upon me was that I do need to set a high standard for the man I marry. And it is HIGH. But coupled with that, the Lord created me, and one of the things that He created is my narrow margin of who I’m actually attracted to. And I’m unabashedly embracing it. Note that attraction does not necessarily just mean physical attraction, but it means an attraction to their heart. I know I sound like an icy-hearted witch, but in the past, I haven’t always dated with that in mind quite as much because I just figured it wasn’t as important. But now that I’m at this point and age in life, it’s important. And heck, God created it and He has validated it, so I’m gonna roll with it. Now, I know this sounds like me saying “good luck guys with being able to date me”. I’m absolutely not doing that. The Spirit will move my heart when and where and for whom I need to be moved. But that time hasn’t quite come yet. So my standards are staying put.

  Everyday,  I’m surrounded by people that are getting married. I’m interning for a bridal gown designer. I’m literally around the whole marriage thing every SINGLE day. (No pun intended). It doesn’t mean that everyone who is getting married is any more or any less than me or vice-versa. It simply means they are at different points in their lives than me. That’s it. So even though it’s constant, it’s not negative. It’s just another chance to dream about what that might be like one day. There’s no reason for it to bother me.

Lately, my heart just seems like there’s a corner of it that’s in a tiny tug-of-war. I couldn’t be more peaceful and joyful about where my life is right now because I know I’m exactly in the center of Jesus’ heart. And quite frankly, I want to remain there, so I’m trying not to do anything that will push the Spirit out of my day-to-day. But then I get a tiny tug in my heart that’s like it misses my companion, and then I go, “well he isn’t here, but Jesus is”. And that’s what’s most important.

Truthfully, I don’t know how or why this would interest anyone. But my sister and I seem to talk about it a lot. We feel differently but the same about some things. And then the other day, my aunt was at church and happened to say out loud that “my niece is totally not concerned dating anybody or marriage because she says she’s married to Jesus and that’s all she needs!” (which is true), and it was enough to catch the attention of dear sweet girl from far away. So I know I’m not the only one, and if I’m not then it’s worth discussing.

My attitude about this will be just like my attitude towards unemployment because the truth is, it’s a phase of life. I will wait patiently, not wishing I were somewhere else because this is where He is. And that being the case, I feel like it’s worth documenting. I feel compelled to write about it. So perhaps there will be more posts like this in the future, perhaps not. But for now, this is where the Spirit has lead me. As always, I hope this provides you with a way to connect with Jesus more today, and just remember, this isn’t my declaration against men or how to be single and hopeful for marriage. You listen to what He’s telling you.
Love y’all,

Chaslee

Managing Time to Foster the Spirit

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Man, old habits die hard, right? You think you’ve learned your lesson, and then not moments later, something is there to meet you and push you over the edge… well, at least nearly over the edge. You feel like you’re going around in circles, but I’m here to tell you that circles have no welcomed place here. Rather than be pushed over the edge, it’s time to recognize the issue, face it head on, and break the cycle.

I’m sure y’all are wondering what all this is about, accompanied by either the thought of “oh no, not again,” or “seriously, what’s it this time?”. Well friends, the whole point of this blog is to share my experience in hopes that it can help you cope, too. Fellowship is the name of the game. So allow me to explain…

It’s been longer than usual since I posted last. Things got busy at my internship, and then just in time for the weekend, I found out I had mycoplasma, which is basically a form a pneumonia that isn’t contagious or super serious, but will linger like a bad ex and make you feel rotten. Plus, it’s a dog for someone with asthma. So today, I had no choice but to surrender to this icky illness and stay home from work. It sucks. I actually haven’t felt this unable to breath since I was maybe 2, or since the time I had my sinus surgery. It’s plain awful. Not to mention, my need to be productive is being less than satisfied. But there is a reason that I’m sick.

Rejoining the “real world” has really been putting everything I learned in my season of unemployment to the test. For the most part, I’ve been able to set precedents for my daily schedule that allow me to get everything done that I need to without added stress. Although I’ve got a lot on my plate, there’s just enough room for everything.

I suppose the biggest challenge has been trying to find the right balance between being too busy and in a hurry, to” just right” productive, to lazy and not productive enough. That last one, I’m happy to say, has not occurred yet, but if you looked at the condition of my car or room, I’m sure you might disagree. Lately my brain has been on non-stop. It’s been so on, that my dreams at night are about silly details like “maybe I should get a new Wobble water bottle so I can stop buying brand new ones from the drink machine”. You know you’re busy when that starts happening.

There’s a lot to be done at my internship, and I love it. It’s a new territory so it’s challenging, but I’m not without a vast expanse of information at my finger tips (thank you, God and thank you, grad school). I’m beginning to see all these little pieces to this puzzle that I never thought I’d be able to find a spot for, come together to make this really epic picture… I think. So of course, when you finally get on track, and say, “Jesus, it’s you or nothing”, and He has this grand, dream of a plan and you embark the journey side-by-side and it’s great, Satan knows he’s lost the battle. He knows your weak spots even if they’re trivial. In this case, mine is asthma and mycoplasma. That’s the reason that I’m sick, I think. Satan is trying to slow me down, cause that’s all he’s got left.

I don’t get what it is about being sick that will dampen your mood, but just as emotions can play on your health, I’m convinced that health can play on your emotions. The total, honest, truth is that I’ve probably been sick for a solid month. Back in late January my dad brought home this awful cold, which if he has something, then usually it’s contagious and not nice. In summary, we all got it. After the first two weeks of the illness, it fades away and you think you’re fine, but ohhhh no no no. Then a couple weeks later you get this dry cough, and it’s mycoplasma. (Sorry for being bitter but I hate being sick). So around Friday, I just got kinda blue. I prayed, and talked to Jesus, tried to get myself out of it, and truthfully couldn’t figure out why I felt gloomy. I even began to wonder if everything was going to be alright, because I was slower at work than usual and made stupid mistakes. Also, the fear of “falling into a job for 5 years with nothing happening except for a job– as in no husband, no purpose for Jesus, and just being a 20-something” crept in, and around that time, I started thinking, alright, this has got to go. Because that is just all a big lie. Every day has purpose as long as Jesus is in it, and I have Jesus.

This is where that habit part comes in. I truly prayed about where I was. I knew none of the way I felt was coming from the Lord, so I asked Him to just meet me and help me like a pathetic little kitten with a hurt foot on the side of road. Immediately, He pointed out how little time I had been taking to pause throughout the day and just spend in His presence. Now, “little” in this case is compared to how much I had been seeking Him right before, which if you will recall was that magnificent fast. I had still been doing my morning devotionals, and listening to worship music on the way to work. But that solid hour of raw conversation between Jesus and I had faded away. And I need that. More than I need the air that was being sapped from my lungs this morning (…and that actually was so bad that I cried).

Two years ago I had this perpetual problem of not managing my time right. Part of the issue was because my definition of time management wasn’t what it ought to be. I figured that as long as I could get everything done, be “on time” to class and tours and other duties, and got 6 hours of sleep somewhere in there, then I was managing time well. But that’s not true. Time is not only about to-do lists.

I came across a sermon by Mark Batterson around that time about time management, and it sort of turned everything upside down for me. I wrote down a few notes on a skinny rectangle sheet of paper and placed it on my mirror above my dresser, where it still is now. I came across it just the other day, and item number 2 caught my attention. It says this:

“Leave margins of time. Otherwise you will shrink your capacity of gratitude and creativity– at which point the Holy Spirit can leave.”

Perhaps the reason that it caught my eye is because I’m relearning about my capacity of creativity and how to use it. Nonetheless, it speaks to how important it is to leave comfortable pockets of time between the day so that it still leaves room for the Holy Spirit.

After my big long break, I’d say that I’m pretty good at leaving margins of time, and room for the Holy Spirit. But then I receive these blessings and opened doors, and suddenly I’m back to where I was. Old habits really do die hard. I can’t forget what I learned though because the only reason I am where I am is to be a witness of His light, and a servant for Him. If I lose that time with Him, then what’s the purpose of being where I am? That’s why we have to slow down. It’s important to be organized, but we cannot marginalize God.

The actual reality of the fact is that our to-do lists don’t matter as much as we think they do. That’s actually what we fill our time with until Jesus leads us to the next thing He has for us. What it’s really all about is waiting for and listening for His voice, even (and especially) when He calls us to break away from our scheduled lists and asks us to chat with a friend about something they need help with. Or perhaps He wants us to skip working out so we can spend an extra hour in prayer, uninterrupted. You get the gist.

So as I sit at home today, humbled by mycoplasma (of all things,) I’m reminded of what the true heart of servanthood is, and that’s living for Him. Without Him it is pointless, and without time spent with Him, I can’t experience Him in His fullness. And honestly, with the way I’m feeling, I don’t want to try to do it my way ever again.

I don’t know how any of y’all feel about any of this, but that’s my beef for today. If we don’t start slowing down just long enough to experience Him, it’s all pointless. So give yourself a breather today. Spend it in prayer and just get to know your Savior. Trust me. It will make you feel a lot better. I am also not too proud to ask for prayers against this illness, if you feel so inclined 😉

So next week, I promise to provide you with a more upbeat post. As I take time to slow down and seek Jesus, I’m sure that things can only get better.

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Fun Filled Journey

Guess what, everyone? The day has finally come! I can finally announce that the Lord has brought me to a new place in life and where He’s taking me…. And I actually don’t mean that with the slightest hint of sarcasm. Really, it’s finally happening.  It’s hardly what I ever imagined or expected, but it’s just one more way that He’s showing me how magnificent He is.

One of the lessons Jesus really made me soak up during my season of rest, was how much I never want to be where He is not. I don’t mean that I wasn’t in the center of His will, and that’s how I realized it. It was simply through the process of us communicating and Him confirming, that even though my life was sitting obnoxiously stock-still, He was there. He was not forward, He was not backward, He was there. I read an excerpt on She Reads Truth the other day that summarized this whole point perfectly:

“We all have different “kingdoms.” Each of us has been led to a different destination, by a different path, journeying through unique circumstances to get where we are today. Where you are right now—where He has you in each moment—that is your kingdom. That very place is the piece of God’s Kingdom that He has entrusted to you. Whether you believe your kingdom is substantial or completely irrelevant, it is still yours and it is still His. You are still His. He has brought you here on your journey for such a time as this. .” – She Reads Truth

Rest was my kingdom. That was my domain. But now He’s graduated me to a new domain. So without further ado…

When I was little, my definition of a good, successful, adult, life was one that was FUN. I told my mom, “I don’t want to grow up and things not be FUN! That sounds miserable!” When I was little, I had a hard time grasping and understanding what made me happy. At that time, if I was in the McDonald’s playhouse and had a Happy Meal, I was having fun which made me happy. If it was after school and I was in the woods with my neighborhood friends pretending in our playhouse, that was fun which made me happy. If I was going to the beach and going to get to swim and make sand castles, that was fun which made me happy. (That last one is still quite true). You see the pattern here. FUN=HAPPY.

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Epitome of a very happy “little me”: full abandon going down the slide at McDonald’s. (Clearly unaware of the static in my hair).

I think for me, growing up has also meant learning what makes me happy. Now I know that it’s not always fun. In fact, I can be doing the most boring things like eating on the couch, watching TV and I’m happy. The truth is, none of those things determine what a good, successful life is. It is solely based on Jesus, who brings immense amounts of joy and peace, and that joy and peace brings a feeling that surpasses “happy”, because happy is dependent on other things whereas my joy and peace are not. They are dependent on the most valiant Savior that ever graced the world. I now know, that I can be living on top of the world, but without Him I am without joy and peace. And vice-versa, I could be in the pits with Him and be filled to the brim with joy and peace. It simply is not about FUN.

(If your looking for the big news, here it is). Recently, I accepted an internship with heidi elnora, a wedding gown designer in Birmingham and am working on in-house social media and public relations. I’ve been here for one week, and already I’m having a blast. I’m surrounded by creativity, a brand that is well-established, and there are so many good things to come for them in the near future, such as her show called Bride By Design by TLC that will premier soon. I’m a mere intern, but it’s a move in the direction of the professional world (what what?) Not to mention, it’s FUN.

I know what you’re thinking, and I know I said fun does not determine happiness. It does not. But the Lord took me on quite a journey to get here, that I would not trade for anything in this world. He defined for me what makes me truly joyful. He set me upon His rock, and I know that no matter what, because of Him I will not be moved. So essentially, He gave me true happiness and then, knowing the desires of my heart, has given me a job that I enjoy. It’s pretty phenomenal the way that He has worked. He kind of did the reverse route of what I always thought would be necessary to be a good, successful adult. Instead of going fun-happiness-fulfillment, He went fulfillment-happiness-fun. And now no matter what, I am fulfilled. That’s actually what it’s all about! I’m thrilled and excited to see what the future continues to hold, no matter what it is.

Now, for a FUN added bonus to all of this. God is just mind-blowingly awesome at loving us. Psalm 37:4 is so commonly referenced because it provides us with the promise that if we “seek the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”. It’s a good, heart-warming promise, but at times I’ve doubted if my desires were true or wholesome. Something that this scripture doesn’t say out loud is that He knows our hearts and our desires and He knows which ones are true and wholesome, even when we don’t.

During my break, I was really forced to give everything over to Him. From my worldly desires of success, in what I thought meant success, down to my very last ounce of talents that I had rejected because I didn’t deem them legitimate.

Basically, I thought that PR and politics was my game. I thought it was my domain, and in college I thought law school was my road to success. Why? For some reason, growing up in elementary, middle, and high school, I really began to think that there was no way to be successful using writing, art, creativity, acting, singing, and design. Unfortunately, that was everything I was good at, and pretty much the only thing I was (still am) good at. In my mind, the only way to be successful was to excel in science and math. Science, I could hold my own in (not excel), and math? HA. Y’all, I have Dyscalculia, AKA Mathematics Disorder, meaning I transpose numbers. It’s like dyslexia, but with numbers. In fact, they’re in the same family. So clearly, the Lord didn’t create me to calculate numbers. I now know it’s okay, because He created other people to do that for Him. But growing up, I just didn’t think I was smart.

In high school, I went to Girls State and found out that I was good at improv, speech writing, and public speaking. Rather than recognizing those elements, I automatically assumed public policy and law should be my path.

All along, even until my junior year of college, I pushed aside my talents. The truth is that I run the gamut in the arts, but I’ve never counted it as worth anything, until now. I always thought everyone could do it, and that it wouldn’t serve me as a real career. But that’s not true. Even after I graduated, I didn’t think it was possible to incorporate my degree (which requires some of those talents) into a industry that I just loved. The other half of it (which I later realized) is that the things I do love: fashion, design, art, writing, reading, movies, acting, improv, I never thought could be turned into a substantial career. Yet, here I am doing PR for a wedding dress designer. I even work alongside the folks that do Birmingham Fashion Week.

It’s so so special how the Lord knows us, and how He delights in us and will treat us to things like a fun job. Just like Psalm 103:5 says, “He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s wings”, He really does give us good things. In fact, this verse perfectly sums up what’s going on in my life right now. He’s treating me to things that I only dreamed of as a little girl. He knows me so well!

Again, I’m only an intern until the end of April. They may choose to keep me, or chalk it up to good experience, but either way, the Lord has shown me that 1. He does care 2. He knows me better than I know myself 3. I’ve got a lot of talent the HE gave me and since HE gave me it, it is worth something 4. If I give everything over to Him, He will take care of it all and He will do it in ways that I never even allowed myself to dream of.

Birmingham skyline to accompany the drive home to Tuscaloosa.

Birmingham skyline to accompany the drive home to Tuscaloosa.

So, all of that summarized, is that I am gifted, but not in a way that I deemed successful or feasible. I was discounting His creation, and also assuming that He couldn’t work in whatever way He wanted to. Which is horrible, I mean, what kind of connotation does that put on His vast love for us? It makes it not vast. I was putting limits on what He could do in my life, simply by believing what my teachers and peers had told me about how to be successful. It makes no sense.

He is beyond good. If He is simply good, than no other thing in this world deserves the adjective “good”. I know that I will have highs and lows in my life, but how can I get past what He has done for me? And then on top of making me whole, He richly blessed me with talents that are a reflection of Him! It’s amazing. And can I add, thank goodness He did not make us all the same. It just further shows how dynamic He is. He is a really really great King, Father, Friend, Lover of my Soul. I will never get past it.

I hope that this has blessed you today and served as a reminder of how wonderfully YOU are made in YOUR (His) OWN way! Just get happy about that. Have fun with that. And know that your talents and who you are please Him. They make Him happy! Never limit yourself to the definitions of the world. (I mean, use common sense). Don’t be like kid Chaslee and say, “my talents can’t do anything of real worth”. That’s not true. Listen to Him. Let Him reveal to you what He has created you to do and Let Him have control. Give Him your all today. 🙂

I have more news coming soon about something else that I have always prayed for: what is my mission field? He’s given me word on that, too. He’s doing so much today! Not just in my life, but all around! 🙂

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Good Roots

It’s funny, the kind of changes that can happen so rapidly in a week’s time. Especially when it’s God’s time. Which, let’s face it, we are all on His clock. He invented it. It’s His. But, we always think He takes such a long time to move,  when really I think He’s just like “Look, I’m a big God, so when I move, it’s big. I waste no time. When I get it done, I get it done. And I get it done, when I get it done”. Surely there’s a scriptural reference for that somewhere, but at the time I can’t recall it.

I’d give you a rundown on everything that’s happened over the past eight days– and truthfully, I REALLY want to– but Jesus is wanting me to remain a little quiet for a little longer. So I assure you, things are happening. He is beyond my most strict definition of faithful that I could ever pull together. Never under estimate Him. Actually, never try to estimate Him at all, because we’re too small to even try. Lesson learned. He is to remain a mystery, I suppose. (And I mean that very lovingly, because the trust and love that’s developed and refined in that process is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It’s beautiful.) Also, eventually you will hear of all this news. I promise.

However, over the weekend, the full prospective of having a good “root system” came into focus. You know what I mean, right? A root system is made up of your people. For me, it’s my family and closest friends. In fact, I suppose there was a time, back in the glory days of college, that I was so busy that I never took the time to nurture those relationships the way I should have. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate them, I just didn’t prioritize them. Another wonderful thing that this break has allowed me to do, is take time to just dig into those relationships and make them grow. From my aunts, uncles, cousins, to my core group and friends, and beyond, my heart has been enlarged by the room that’s been made by their company.

I’ve been noticing this for quite some time. Ever since before the end of grad school, I’ve noticed how important these relationships are. But everything sort of epitomized over the weekend and the magnitude of it’s notoriety became more than noticeable. So I just have to tell y’all about how amazing fellowship with friends and family is.

The week was packed with so much news. Of course, my imagination is larger than life, and after this fast I’ve really started to understand how much I truly don’t want to go where the Spirit is. The idea of there even being one single force, the Enemy’s or my own, against His will is seriously depressing to me. I had some amazing opportunities arise, but if they weren’t of Him, then they weren’t even possibilities. So I called on my people to help me pray for discernment and protection and blessing. (And the answer was totally surprising, but again, another story for later! 🙂

My friends were so absolutely supportive. It was the warmest goodness to my heart to have them be there for me. In fact, I had to miss one of best friend’s wedding showers because of schedule overlap, but nonetheless, she cheered me on in my endeavor. I mean, how selfless is that?

Then I sent a big group message to my family to send them an update on all the news. Y’all, I can’t even describe what ensued next, so I’m just going to let you read it.

*Sent them all my news and concluded with, “Go Jesus!”*

Paige: We’ll be keeping you in our prayers. And hoping that neon sign is large and blinking, cause those are the best. We are proud of you. Lots of love.

Perri: Ditto. And if you don’t SEE the sign right away we’ll pray that it hits you in the head but that you sustain no injuries from the blow. Seriously though, yay! Gimme a J!

Papa: God answers prayers and He honors faithfulness and obedience. Indeed we see Him keeping His word.

Julia: J!

Perri: Gimme an E!     Obviously Julia and I are the only two on the JESUS squad.

Julia: E! Gimme an SU! (Werd *with prayer emojis*)

Perri: Wait. Gimme an S!

Julia: S!

Perri: Now… What’s that spell?!?!?!?!

Julia: JESUS! Rollllllllllll Jesus Roll!

Paige: I think y’all need to call each other.

Julia: Meh meh meh

Perri: YEA!! Hey, it’s a group thang. We’re just spreadin the LOVE 😉

i said *y’all are awesome hahahaha*

Perri: You are going to be amazed at what God is about to do for you! The whole crazy family is excited!! We love you! And to show you how much, Paige is planning the most incredible deer bbq party! I don’t remember seeing her so excited about cooking for someone. I know I can’t wait!!

Papa: [Bless him, he probably had no idea why his phone was buzzing so much]. Mom and I think you are really tired but we’re glad your focus is RIGHT ON. We are swole up with pride.

Perri: Ha! gotta love the group messages!

*more love from me and Thomas*

Then later,

Richard: Hahaha. Y’all crazy

Paige: I don’t know about BBQ but there 2 ducks in freezer.

Richard: Mmmmmmyum

Paige: Maybe some duck liver pate’. Or do they even have livers. I don’t know.

Richard: I’ll take your 2 ducks and raise em 4 t-bones. Haha jk jk

Perri: I’d see your duck livers and your t-bones and raise you 20 fried chicken tenders. But they’re gone now. So, 10 cans of cat food- the good kind. Or 1 box of salt and a banana. OR 1 half roll of duck tape, 5 empty toilet paper rolls and half a box of raisin bran. And everything has a liver.

Richard: Hahahaha! Y’all are hilarious!

Perri: I miss y’all. Anyone up for a family trip to Nashville? Richard said we can ALL stay with them 🙂

Paige: We’re packing right now

Just a few of the bunch. Love them, dearly.

Just a few of the bunch. Love them, dearly.

Now, as you can imagine, the conversation continued. If you ever wonder why I love my family so much, this is part of why. They are hilarious, supportive, and above all loving. I can always be confident that if I ever just bust it so hard, that Jesus will be there to help me up, and my family will help me, too. A lot of people may think we are a little different, but they are exactly what I need and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

In that particular moment, they not only supported me and gave me love, but they even entertained me while I was waiting to find out what was next. Just. What. I. Needed.

The overall truth (no matter how corny it may sound), is that in order for a tree to grow abundantly and produce the perfect amount of fruit, it’s gotta have an amazing root system. Yes, water and sunlight are necessary. But look at the Bradford Pear. Lovely tree to put in your front lawn. But many times they get too top-heavy before they can develop the proper root system, and they split in half or just topple over. (However, DO NOT discount remaining in tune with the Spirit. There’s a perfect little example of that with this tree in Geneva County, AL and it’s the oldest tree in the state!)

The Lord made us to live in fellowship. Not alone. But just because we aren’t lonely doesn’t necessarily mean that we are nurturing our root systems to their full potential, and that just isn’t right. It’s a little sad that it took me being on a huge break in my life to realize this. God gave us life, and that should be all about love. Nothing more, and nothing less. What we do, (job, hobby, or anything else), is just another part of the love story that He writes for us. It’s the fun part, you know, how He proves His love to us and reveals Himself to us. But the main star of the show is love and fellowship. Because just as He lives in us, He lives in our families and friends, too. So why not experience Him in those relationships? Make it a priority. The rest of the details will follow and work out on their own.

Perhaps some of you already realize this, but what’s the harm in taking time to appreciate our root people a little more? They deserve it.

Can’t wait to tell y’all what’s to come. Thanks for joining me. Y’all da best!

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Belief Before Proof

It’s finally here! The sun is shining, the holidays are behind us, and a brand new year is in front of us! Happy 2015 to all of you! There’s so much promise that lies ahead!

….Okay, if I’m being completely honest with you, my new year did not begin that brightly. Like, at all. I celebrated New Year’s Eve by going to bed before 11:00 PM (partly because I wanted to, and partly because I was too busy to make any plans beforehand), I woke up the next day to find that the cat had used the floor of my closet as a litter box, it rained non-stop, and Alabama lost to Ohio State in the playoff. Plus there was the inevitable reminder that continued to reoccur all day (between the billions of engagement announcements and job hiring announcements and other accomplishments featured on every form of social media possible), that I’m 24, jobless, and living at home with my parents. Yeaaaah, not much of it was promising at all.

I got really sarcastic on New Year's Eve. This was my Instagram for the world to see.

I got really sarcastic on New Year’s Eve. This was my Instagram for all the world to see.

Fortunately, what we do on New Year’s Eve/Day, has absolutely no indication of what the rest of the year will look like. January 1–and 2 and 3–, 2015 was simply a day that the Enemy kept coming up behind me and poking me in the side incessantly. It doesn’t mean anything else.

I’m not going to lie to you, for those three days I was extremely bored and pretty annoyed. I couldn’t stop hashing over the fact that I’ve been waiting so long for the Lord to open up the door and me enter the next chapter of my life with a strong sense of purpose, and it kept making me more frustrated and more frustrated. So dumb, I know. Don’t worry, I’m over it now. But here’s why.

I’ve told y’all about the She Reads Truth site on here before, and if you don’t remember surely you’ve heard about it from someone else or at least seen it on Instagram. If not, visit it here. Out of all the modern day apps and junk, this one is actually worth your data usage. Currently, they are doing a study on the book of John.

This is going to sound so hipster, but John has been my favorite book of the Gospel since about middle school. Having grown up in a Catholic school, we learned a lot of history about the books of the Bible and what we learned about John was so unique. John was Jesus’ BFF… I mean obviously all the disciples (minus Judas) were, but John stayed awake the longest in the Garden of Gethsemane. John saw and wrote the book of Revelation. John was the only disciple to die of natural causes, not because he was executed. But beyond all that, the way the book was written was much different than any of the other books of the Gospel. Some find him to be cryptic at times, but he offers a perspective that’s really insightful. He focuses on details and stories that the other Gospels do not. I could go on and on (clearly).

I haven’t done a study specifically on John’s Gospel in a really long time, but I’m so excited to be doing it now. In the middle of all my icky gloom and doom, I began this study and started to notice a pattern that I guess I’ve never really focused on quite so much before. You see, John is all about “the point” that Jesus was communicating. The physical details don’t matter to him, but the truth that Jesus preached and lived out does. And in the first 4 chapters of John, I couldn’t help but notice how often Jesus would call out that what people were looking for was proof (often proof showed through those worldly details that don’t matter like wine or water at a wedding) so that they could believe. But He always would point them in a different direction, by basically responding with 1. “You thought that was cool? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet” and most importantly 2. that our faith doesn’t need proof in order for us to believe, we can just trust Him.

Now, don’t worry, I know your probably like “what is she saying right now?” First of all, I’m not under any circumstances condemning or even criticizing faith that comes out of seeing or experiencing “proof”. Second of all, it’s more like this.

Our world can be so misconstrued sometimes. Very often, we have to keep our hearts guarded so that we don’t get hurt or disappointed and one way to do that is to wait for people to prove themselves to us. It happens in so many relationships and walks of life, and it’s a plan that works when we’re learning how to trust people. That can apply to girls trusting guys before they date them, bosses trusting employees before they give them bigger responsibilities, parents trusting their children before they let them drive, and so on.

But one of the wonderful things about Jesus is that we don’t have to go through that process. We can just trust Him with our whole hearts, souls, and lives, and know that we can trust Him without needing proof first.

I know this sounds really lofty or out in left field. I’m not trying to be complicated or smart or whatever, but in realizing that point that’s written about in John, it reminded me that I’m entirely too worried about silly details that are so magnified by the world, but don’t really matter. I’ve been waiting for God to open up this amazing door to a job almost like I’ve been waiting for Him to prove to me that He has a plan for me, and that’s not fair to Him. Not when we’re talking about a loving relationship like the one we’re supposed to have with Christ. It’s like saying to my mom, “I’ll wait for you to buy me new earrings and then I’ll know you love me”. Not even remotely correct, because she does even greater things for me than buy me things, and I know she loves me without new earrings anyway. With Jesus, that’s not even remotely correct again, because He works greater miracles than that all the time, and I know He loves me. I mean, He lived a spotless life and gave it over just for mine.

How wonderful is it that we can just trust Him? It’s weird to comprehend because of the world we live in. It’s a little bit like the concept of time. God is not bound by time, and heaven doesn’t run on a clock. But we can’t imagine life without time. Likewise, trust after proof is a concept we’ve grown up around so we can’t fathom relationships without it. But unlike being bound by time while we’re on earth, it’s something that we get to experience on this earth just by being in a relationship with Him.

So whether it’s a job, or finding the one that you’re supposed to marry, or getting a promotion, or whatever is your looking for proof that He loves you or cares about you… remember that it’s not about that. It’s about being in a relationship with Him. Trust Him before He works the miracle, cause the miracles that follow after that are even bigger and more important anyway!

The Lord is uncovering parts of my heart everyday, that I don’t even realize I’m living with. It’s like those people who have bullets lodged in their body and don’t know about it until they go through a metal detector at TSA. I’ve always been open about how much I trust the Lord, but once again, He’s shed His light on the dark parts of my heart and now I’m learning about a whole new aspect of this trust thing. Hopefully, this will be the year where I can learn to be completely content with His ways and learn how to trust Him even more 🙂

Have a great week y’all,

Chaslee