6 + P = 9

Believe it or not, the above title (thought) actually crossed my mind the other day. Just as plainly as it’s written, I thought, “yep, makes total sense”.

Is that an equation? Is P equal to 3?

Hahaha. LOL. No. In this case, 6 + P literally equals 9.

Welcome to the land of Dyscaluclia, everyone. Are you ready to learn? (Or rather, unlearn).

Obstacles are an interesting thing, aren’t they? My entire, life I’ve always tried to understand how certain things like disabilities and diseases happen to certain people. We all know that it can be attributed to the Enemy and the fall of man, yes. But what about when kinda good things come out of it? Well, Paul says it best. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  He works ALL things to His good. Not just some. But He never causes bad things to happen, either. To finish summarizing this, (sorry but this isn’t the focus of this post), the Enemy is constant pursuit to ruin our lives and when the Holy Spirit is not present (yes, He can leave when we don’t foster Him), the Enemy tries. Thankfully, although the Enemy may strike His heel, He will crush His head (Gen. 3:15). The battle is won and done, so although the Enemy may try, he will never prevail.

One of the many circumstances in my life that isn’t ideal, is my slight inability to read numbers. It’s called Dyscaluclia, but it’s also known as Mathematical Disorder (dumbest name ever). Interestingly enough, I’m quite good with equations of all kinds, but I don’t get the right answer because I’ll hit the wrong key on the calculator. I tell most people that it’s the numerical form of dyslexia, which they are in the same family. So I transpose numbers a lot.

  • It took me 10 years to memorize my social security number.
  • I have misdialed my grandmother’s phone number more times than I can count. (Just did it last week, actually).
  • It took me 5 years to memorize my sister’s phone number.
  • I’m not sure how I managed to memorize my CWID number in college. Pure miracle.
  • It’s absolutely over with if I do not have a graphing calculator.
  • Do not place me behind a cash register to deal with cash and change. No one will get their money back correctly.

Those are just a few fun facts about Dyscalculia with Chaslee. But enough about that. Y’all probably get it by now. Basically numbers and I aren’t friends. I had a math teacher tell me once that, “numbers are the language in which God wrote the world”. That’s lofty.  If that’s the case then I must just be dumb. And no, God breathed the world into existence, with a few words. Bible says so.

Needless to say, my difficulty with numbers is just annoying. It isn’t all the time, but it happens when I need to read sequences or when I have several numbers to deal with at once. So what does it look like in my brain?

Well, “6 + P = 9” is an awesome example. If I glance at a series of numbers, I see similar shapes and will get them confused. 5’s and 2’s are similar. 4’s and 7’s are similar. And 6’s and 9’s are similar. See how “p” is basically the letter form of 9? Well, mix that shape with a digit and you get the number 9. I also can’t count very well. I’m always one number off.

Anyway, hopefully y’all understand Dyscalculia at this point. It’s a weird thing.

My Heavenly Daddy’s ability to speak to my heart and soul never cease to amaze me, though. Logically, it shouldn’t because He created me as an inspiration or reflection of just a tiny facet of Himself.

Several years ago, (about 8 to be exact— and yes, I’m sure I didn’t get that wrong), I realized that suddenly the number 10 became oddly plastered all over everything I laid my eyes on. I was in high school, and for some reason that number just wouldn’t leave. I never understood why, and just summed it up to be my brain noticing it more. Then a couple years later it became the number 11. 11 was everywhere. Again, I just thought I was having another “episode”.

These “number plagues” happened on and off from high school, and into college. Although, I know certain digits carry weight and meaning in the Bible, I never thought that numbers like 10 or 11 meant anything.

About a year ago, I met a girl in my campaigns class that wasn’t quite like any other girl I’d ever met. We talked about Jesus and our faith, and what really intrigued me about her was how she believed God communicated with her. Our faiths didn’t line up 100%, but something that she told me was that she saw the number 11, and biblically, the number 11 usually meant something bad.

Remembering my bout with the number 11 from high school, I had a “wait, what???” moment, and asked her to elaborate. She explained to me that several numbers, (not just 7 and multiples of 3), have meanings. Number 11 meant disorder, chaos, and judgement. Later that evening she texted me a site that studies and references numerical appearances and meanings in the Bible. If you want you can find it here.

(Disclaimer: I have since done a lot of studying about numbers and the Bible, and that girl was right. This is just a handy little site whenever I can’t remember)

After I read up on 11, I remembered the issue that I was dealing with and praying about at the time. Looking back, what I wanted for that situation would have ended up in the biggest, mass chaos, nothing but a few buildings and rubble left standing, sort of disaster. The Lord obviously protected me, and found another way to speak to my heart on that situation, but had I figured out what it meant earlier, perhaps I would’ve dropped the issue like a hot potato right there instead of dwelling on it.

Since then, I’ve realized that, believe it or not, the Lord will sometimes choose to communicate with me through numbers. Numbers. The one thing my brain doesn’t do well with, the Lord was like “yep, I’m going to use that”. In a way, it makes sense. I always know it’s Him, because when I see His numbers, I see them more clearly than any other digit I’ve seen in my life. They literally translate differently. Isn’t that miraculously cool?

There’s some of you right now that are just like , “okay, whatever. You’re just trying to make God cool, but your brain is just noticing things more often than not”. Yeah bud, well I thought that too until the Lord used the number 8 one day a few weeks ago. The end result was my face turning hotter and rosier than I care to admit. What’s more embarrassing is that it took me, a cross-as-my-banner raising Christian, that has proclaimed to have a close relationship with Christ for 10 years, several years just to understand how my Creator chooses to “neon sign” communicate with me. And I swear to you that I have not lost my mind. (….say all the people who have lost it, right?)

This has nothing to do with numbers, but how amazing is God's creation. That's the ultimate point of what I'm saying. Look at this view over Texas!

This has nothing to do with numbers, but how amazing is God’s creation. That’s the ultimate point of what I’m saying. Look at this view over Texas!

Want to hear the number 8 story? Well, I’ll tell you. I can’t tell this story in it’s fullness, because this particular thing is a seed that God has planted, and although I am part of the plan, it is not my plan that I invented, but He’s given me His crazy, wild, promise, and I’m trusting Him. In non-OMG format, I mean this: The Lord is still working on this and I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. But it will. And trust me YOU WILL KNOW when it happens. Until then, the Lord wants me silent on the thing because it’s between Him, me, and my prayer warriors.

Eight is the number that symbolizes new beginnings and God’s ordained timing. It’s the number of timing. I honestly can’t tell you why I already knew that, but I did. Anyway, I was en route to this place and I was super excited. I had no expectations for what the day would hold, but the Lord had totally blessed me with so much peace and joy that morning during my prayer and worship. I knew that it was going to be good.

So I pull up to my first stop for the day, and suddenly got this overwhelming feeling that I should be prepared because I was going to see someone that I had been praying for (and had no idea why I was praying for them outside of Jesus told me to). But based on what that person’s schedule is as opposed to mine, and where we live and where I was, reality said that my chances in seeing this individual were slim to none. “I’m just anxious for the day”, I told myself. I need to calm it doooown.

I looked out my window, and noticed that literally every vehicle had the number 8 on it. Whether it was a sticker, license plate, whatever, they had a little 8 on it. In fact, my “address” that I pulled up to, ended in the number 8. That little voice in my head instantly reminded me what 8 meant, but I thought “I REALLY need to calm it down!”.

I get inside, and get where I’m going, and the entire time that I was walking to my destination, I was having this internal battle of “They are here. No they aren’t Chaslee, stop it. Yes, they are just watch.” I settled into where I was, and took just a clean-sweep glance of the premises to make sure to prove to myself that said individual was no where to be found. First glace: no one. Okay, I can calm down, right? Yes. Good.

I start people watching and look over my left shoulder. Right then, I see this figure that resembled the same person I was sure was not anywhere near me. I instantly rebuttled with “No, Chas, that’s not them. It’s just someone that looks like them.” Then I heard their voice. So familiar. I ended up getting a closer look (I promise, I was not being a creep). And then it was confirmed. Person that I had been praying for, was about 10 feet from me. My face turned hot as I looked away, and really wanted to say out loud, “Oh my God, I am so sorry, that was you, you were right, this is crazy”.

Needless to say, I later met up with the person, things were crazy, and that story is to be continued because the Lord is doing something. It’s His project and I am not disturbing it.

Fun story, right?

But that’s just it. It’s not only a story. It’s real life. The reality is our sweet, loving, creative, kind, Father longs to be initimate with us, to romance us, and y’all, He is so good that He will go out of His way to create circumstances and communicate with us in crazy ways, just to say, “I love you, baby. You’re my precious creation, and I don’t have to do all this, but I am because I’m God and I’m your Father and I want to.”

So many times we don’t understand why God takes the time He does, uses the words and instruments/people He does, and we see His grand gestures as unnecessary. Why would He do certain things and go to certain lengths for us when could have just done it more casually or simply and gotten the same result? Because it’s part of the song and dance.

Kim Walker-Smith worded this so beautifully in an interview when she talked about the relationship between God and His people as the relationship between Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church, the Bride.

Jesus has made this commitment to us that is so deep and so big and so beyond what we could understand. A love that says ‘I will fight for you’. And that did, to the death, so that we could have power over sickness and death. It’s a selfless kind of love that is a pursuit. But much like getting married, the pursuit doesn’t end the moment you say your vows. The rest of your life is a constant pursuit of each other and each others’ hearts. He’s constantly pursuing us.  He’s coming back for His bride, the one that He loves and desires.

That’s a bit of a paraphrase. But that last part is so right and so true! The romance doesn’t stop as soon as we’re saved.  He wants our hearts forever and He is willing to do whatever it takes just for us to love Him fully. Whether it’s talking to you in a way that is unique to you or dying for you in the worst way possible. It’s all for you, honey. Let the walls of logic down and just embrace it. He isn’t bound by a single thing, and His creativity outweighs anything you could ever try to think of. So let Him romance you! It’s a good and an exciting thing!

I can’t wait to see what this promise that He has given me holds. For those of you with curiosity just itching, I promise you will know.. and you probably won’t have to come back here to read and find out what all this is. However, He still wants me to pray about everything and to remain expectant. And if He can go after me with a radical, fighter, pursuing love, then I can do it for Him, too.

The other day, I briefly became worried about, “okay God, you’ve given me this promise, now. So am I supposed to do something?” I had an underlying feeling that everything would be okay, but as the rest of the day continued, the number 9 followed me everywhere. Sweet, number 9. Know what it means? Finality. That it is finished. Jesus took His last breath on at the 9th hour of the day. The Lord really spoke to me and said, “Chaslee, you haven’t had control of this plan since it’s inception. But I have already written the ending to this story. It is of Me and it is good, and it is final”.

I cannot wait to see what’s around the corner. I’m starting a new chapter and a new season, this time with some amazing friends from Church of the Highlands, and I know that He is guiding me. His voice has never been this audible. If nothing, it’s a testimony to say exactly what Kim said. The journey doesn’t stop after you get saved. Things just get even better. I’m gunning to get as close to Him as I can, and I hope you will too. It is literally the sweetest thing that you could ever dream of. Just let Him romance you, and get ready to see big things happen 🙂

Love y’all,

Chaslee

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Homesick

Today, I’m going to be forward with you. I’m going to jump right into things. This morning, I got pretty fired up about life, but only after being stupid, stressed, and completely discouraged this weekend. Isn’t the Spirit so sweet? I love how relentless He is in His pursuit of us.

Life has been grand lately. By grand, I mean it’s just been really big. High volume. And in every way possible. I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and if I’m completely honest with you, I’ve been so non-stop busy that I haven’t had time to spend enough time with Jesus (that’s not a grammatical error. I mean just that. “Haven’t had time for enough time”. I’ll come back to that). Every time I sit down for too long, I fall asleep. Like an old man.

If I get too far into the details, I’m going to lose the focus of the post, but just allow me to paint a little picture for you. I have a lot to get done during the day at my internship. I am fully, 100%, tickled pink to do the work that I have been given. That is not at all an issue. So I get that done during the day, and everything is hunky dory. But then I spend 2 hours in the car alone. And as much as I try to fill that with Jesus, I am not persistent enough in seeking Him during that time. I get stressed, and tired. By the time I get home, I’m too tired to work out, but my mental and physical self cannot NOT work out. Things quickly go south and I can get pretty ugly if I don’t exert my energy constructively. Plus, the endorphins make me feel good. So I have to work out early in the AM. Which leaves me with maybe 2 hours during the day to not be doing something constructive and just rest my mind…. And suddenly I’m a mess.

My schedule and time management is important (see a few posts ago), but that isn’t the issue in this case. I have a lot on my mind these days. I’m trying to do my duties to my best ability all while being a light of love to others and maintaining my sense of joy and peace. I’m not only trying to the task that following Jesus requires me to do, but I’m trying to do it with the heart and soul that He did too. I’m trying to foster goodness, patience, kindness, meekness, humility, and love, but I’m falling short. And I know that it’s because I’m not allowing Jesus the proper time to fill me up, but in today’s day and age how do I do EVERYTHING? Something’s gotta give.

When my stress bubbles over like this, I don’t resort to giving up or getting more competitive. I get homesick. Homesick for heaven, Jesus, and eternity. It took me a while to truly identify, what was happening here, but I start to just wish that Jesus would come back. However, I wish it in a selfish way. I confess to you, that in these times, I tend to lose sight of God’s purpose for my life, because I get tired, and I just want to rush to the end, the “good part”, if you will. I suppose I get so blase’ about my salvation, that I start to push it to the back of my mind and it becomes how Jesus is getting me into heaven, rather than what it’s really about.

Life just becomes hard with that mentality. The sense of defeat is multiplied ten fold, and my exhaustion is exponentially greater. I become shameful because I start to think, “Where is my spirit? What is this? Why am I not meeting my trials with joy? This is chance to be sanctified and bring Him glory!” Thank God for conviction….

….And thank God for friends and the church. Needless to say I was pushed to the point of tears with frustration on Saturday (I actually resembled a tired baby that needs a nap). I probably drove my mother mad with all of my venting. However on Sunday, I had the pleasure of just chatting with the loveliest friend that the Lord has recently brought into my life. In our conversation, I realized, all of this is where it is because I’m not as spiritually fit as I need to be. If I’m going to set my bar higher, then I have got to get more serious about meeting it and setting it higher again. (1. Conviction).

I went to bed last night with so much more determination. I even packed a lunch, set out clothes, and fully prepared myself to work out this morning. I did a spin work out (which I haven’t done one since early January, so it was in a way therapeutic) to some worship music, and was out the door of the rec center by 7:40. (2. Time to make a change).

I shut my door, got out my Cliff bar and banana that I had packed for breakfast, and as soon as I turned on the radio, 93.7 had I guest on that had some powerful words. I have no idea who he was or what the topic was, but immediately, he said “…because here’s the thing, Jesus didn’t die so that you could go to heaven, He died so that you could live with Him daily and bring Heaven (His kingdom) to the earth everyday”. He continued to basically say that, you can’t just wish for heaven everyday, because the Lord has more for us than that every single day. It doesn’t stop at salvation. Every day that we are on earth is another chance to experience Him, and be Him to others, so we should be greeting every morning with enthusiasm, knowing that the victory is His and the ultimate battle is won.

Needless to say, my day so far has been much brighter. And ironically enough that rainy forecast for today is not present, because it is sun shiny outside today.

The truth is this: no matter how busy things get, no matter how “high priority” something is, if He is not at the helm of my day, if I’m not taking time to spend with Him, if He is not what my life revolves around, then I’m not actually being productive at all. The other day, I heard the old story of Mary, the spirit-led woman who sat a Jesus’ feet, while Martha, being task-led, was preparing a meal. Every time I hear it, all I can think of is “gah, I’m so like Mary. I never clean, I just sit and listen to stories. I’m so lazy”. Prime example, of missing the point and letting ADD go on coast for a while. But this time, I tuned back in and realized that the Lord was using His word to say to me, “Chaslee, you’re getting to be too much about your to-do list and not enough about me.”(3. And action).

It will never get any easier. Jesus told us that the road is long a narrow. So that means that I have to be more intentional about pursuing Him. He’s pursuing me, and He’s there, all I have to do is take that step. Funny how Satan tries everything in His power to make it so that, for whatever reason, we don’t make the effort. But we have more than that. We have the promise that through Him, we can do all things. We know that He is with us in every moment, in every task, in every situation, and we only need be still.

I cannot forget or even put on the back burner the purpose of the cross. He died for me so that I may have life, so why am I stressed and tired? His salvation should be my banner in every single day of my life. Even when I am homesick and just longing for the day when I get to be with Him.

With Easter and the remembrance of the resurrection just within the next few days, I’m making it my goal to remember what His sacrifice meant for my life, not just my after life, and to celebrate it everyday. It’s time to bring my A-game. Even as I’m dying eggs and eating Easter candy.

So today, I’m challenging you too. Rest in knowing that He is with you, even as you’re reading this, or your at your desk, or while you’re cooking dinner. Be encouraged and inspired that every day has a purpose. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”. He created each day, and He went before you, so if you are alive and have been brought into a situation, then ask Him to fill you up and face it with determination. He died, just so we could have access to Him and just so we could face everyday with Him on our side! And remember, He makes ALL things work together for His good. Nothing that we can do is too big or too small for Him to deal with.

We are going to run this race and we are going to run it well!

If you need a little further encouragement, I LOVE this new song that Hillsong just released. Give it a listen 🙂

Well, I think I’ve gone on enough for today. I truly hope all of you have the most intimate Easter with Jesus, and look out on Friday for a bonus post this week!

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Lent: More Than Just Fasting Until Easter

I’m going to be honest with y’all. I love Lent, like a nerd. Ever since I was old enough to understand what it meant and each of its components and traditions, there’s just been something about remembering where man once stood, being humbled, and the glory that comes at the end of the season that has always been so special to me.

This year the season has approached much quicker than I anticipated. Perhaps it’s because the Lord has presented such amazing, yet unexpected, opportunities and I’ve been occupied with that. Or maybe it’s because I just celebrated 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, and I just came off of a high, high mountain top. Either way, I feel privileged. Privileged, because it’s another opportunity to draw closer to Him. This year, Lent will be serving as a reminder that the kind of closeness and intimacy that we achieve with Christ during those highs can continue to grow more and more every day, even after we go back to a daily routine that doesn’t include that added pause.

The period leading up to my internship offer and my other big news was unlike any other fast I’ve ever participated in. I told y’all about it, y’all know. I don’t think I’ve ever bowed that low and felt Jesus in such an intimate way. When I found out where the Lord was taking me next, I was so excited, but not 2 weeks into my new routine I started getting a little concerned because I suddenly had so much on my plate. “Lord, I don’t want to revert. I don’t even want to stay stagnant. I want to continue to grow. I want this intimacy to remain. This is best part of all that’s happening in my life right now, it’s YOU! How do I do this? All of this is for you, and without you it is nothing, so just be with me and intervene!” That was my prayer while in the car, of course. I spend more time there now than I used to.

His soothing voice came back to me, just like a wave on the shore, in perfect tandem. He prevails over my life, and every minute that I put Him first, He will make all things work together for my (His) good. I’m seeking Him, and He is ALWAYS seeking me, so it might take some getting used to, but He won’t let my foot strike against the stone. If I just stay focused on him, it will all be alright, no matter how high or low the activity level is.

It’s kind of like when you’re first learning how to water ski. You’re put in the water, have the rope to hold, and with the skis on your feet, everything feels heavier and the water rises higher as you sink down. But if you position your feet just right, and hold on tight, then the boat will move and you’ll be on top of the water, gliding along beautifully. It may take a few tries to get right, but once you get the hang of it, and if you keep your eyes ahead, then you’ll be gliding on top of the water.

Lent couldn’t come at a better time this year. Even though I have so much happening and more responsibilities to take care of,  and even though Lent will complicate figuring out what to eat thus taking more thought and time, it’s perfect. As soon as I walk into the work place and the pace of my life picks up, here’s this season to remind me of where I just was so that I really won’t forget. Not a month later, I have this fast–which although it’s longer than 21 days, is still less intense–to keep me close to His heart. I’m getting to learn how to further keep Jesus at the focal point of my life in the midst of busyness, success, to-do lists, and this time I’m going to continue to grow nearer to Him. What joy that brings, during a somber season.

Back in November, I heard an ad on the radio for an audition with a group called AMTC (Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ). It caught my attention a little bit, but I changed the station and forgot about it. However, ever since I was little, there has been a place in my heart for acting. At the age of two, I invented my own little game which consisted of picking my favorite movie (Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, The Jungle Book), gathering necessary “props”, and acting out the movie along with the movie playing in the background. From a very young age, I could easily memorize lines and inflections, and was always willing to perform in front of a packed audience. I vividly remember sitting my parents down after dinner one night and reenacting the entire dialogue between Cruella DeVill (Glenn Close)  and Anita, when Cruella sees Anita’s drawing of the puppy coat  and brings her into her office to discuss the young designer’s career. (Lovely 1990’s flashback right? ) I knew both character’s lines like I was saying the Pledge of Allegiance and had so much fun showing off for my parents. Not too mention, so much fun speaking in a British accent!

As I grew up, I simply didn’t think there was any sensible way to pursue acting, so I just moved on when I got to grade school. I mean, everyone has crazy dreams like that right? I wanted to know what my real life calling was. But November was a month where the Holy Spirit awakened this part of me, reminding me of what He created me to be. Long story short, on what seemed like a fun whim I decided to give AMTC a shot.

So in late January, I did it. I prepared a monologue, and despite being sick and a little discouraged, went and layed the very last piece of my heart on the line. I felt really silly. But the cool thing about AMTC, is that they believe that the entertainment industry is the call out mission field of the 21st century. They are there to use their talent, and simultaneously be light for God. They are technically a 501 C3 non-profit, and they call themselves a congregation. Everything they do is faith and scripture based. (Trust me. Skeptical-me did a serious amount of researching). I have always thought about what I would do as a Chrisitian if I were in the public spotlight, whether it were being a politician, business owner, and of course, an actress. Everyone pictures their life and how they will live it, but I always can’t help but think of it from an entertainment point-of-view.

(I have never laid all this out for anyone but my family before. If y’all have gotten this far and don’t think I’m crazy yet, y’all are champs).

Anyway, to wrap up the story, Carey Lewis, the founder of the company, was my consultant and apparently gave me a perfect review. For the rest of the weekend, we prayed about me joining. The biggest issues for me were 1. can I still work a real job alongside this? The answer was, yes, of course, because 95% of their performers have jobs they do with AMTC on the side. 2. Money. I hate money y’all. Good thing it’s the number one thing the Bible tells us to not worry about. Jesus just said, “remember what I’ve said about tithing and building up treasures in heaven? Just do it. If nothing else happens, consider it your tithe to a great ministry”. So, for the next year, I’m doing online classes, and will communicate with my hub in Atlanta all in preparation for a week long event called SHINE (next winter) where I will audition for hundreds of scouts (including Warner Brothers, Fox, Turner Broadcasting, and Sony just to name a few)…. I am following Jesus and He has a plan. No idea what it consists of. But I trust Him.

Between AMTC and work, I suddenly have amazing things to do. I love my internship so far, more than any other job I’ve worked (which may seem intense for only having been here less than a month, but it’s great). AMTC is seriously so cool. I don’t even care if Jesus decides for me to participate and nothing come out of it but friendships and community. He knows what’s going on. Some days I feel like I’m dreaming, but this is real. That’s how big our God is. Best part is, He isn’t even finished yet.

Lent couldn’t come at a better time. I said it once, and now I said it again, but I mean it. If you haven’t seen the common thread in everything that’s been happening yet, you might consider getting glasses because you might be blind. (Haha! Just kidding. But seriously). I don’t care about any of this is Jesus is not in it. His intimacy is what I want above everything.

Notice I’ve said “intimacy” several times. That’s because intimacy and a relationship are two different things. The relationship is important, but it simply isn’t enough. I cannot survive without Jesus. I can’t. So I need Him all day, errday. And I need Him in the rawest, closest form possible. Thank God He is who He is!

Fasting and dedicated, conscious prayer is what brings us to this level of a relationship with Christ, to this intimacy. And that is what Lent brings about. Not only do we reflect on our lack and His bounty, but we come to the conclusion that we need more of Him. So that’s why I love Lent. It silences busyness and puts Jesus back where He belongs: paramount in our lives. We are nothing without Him.

Unfortunately, I have a plug that I have to give. I don’t make any money, but God said trust Him on the money thing. That being the case, I’m doing what I can, and have begun painting. It’s called 3D By C.Lee, and is available on my website. Each work will have at least one 2D element incorporated into it, whether it’s feathers, chains, raised paint, textured paint, etc… I’ll  have them up soon, so be sure to take a look! Everything I make will 100% go towards my membership with AMTC. Guaranteed.

So during this Lenten season, I hope each of you find a new way to get closer to Him, and I pray that you experience His love in a whole new, more intimate way. Until next week…

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Love y’all,

Chaslee

I ❤️ Food

This week has truly been one of those “whaaaat is liiiiiiife?” kinda weeks. On so many levels. Irony? Check. Humor? Check. Happiness? Check. Frustration? Check… but oh, that frustration did not have victory. I mean, I don’t want to confuse you. It hasn’t been a bad week. One word to summarize it in? Weird. Just weird.

Fasting is something that’s supposed to be done in quiet. Jesus is pretty explicit about that. Wouldn’t you want someone you love to be a little more hush-hush about something that was just between you and them? But here’s the thing. This season of fasting brought more understanding and just all-around good stuff than ever before. So I’m gonna give Jesus some praise for what He’s done. (And why am I doing this today? Cause the fast is over now).

As a Methodist and Catholic school kid, I’ve been participating in fasts ever since about 6th grade. They’ve included everything from simply giving up Dr. Pepper, to all out abstaining from bread and sweets. But this is the first time that I’ve actually spent more time in prayer than what I was fasting from could amount to. And let me tell y’all, I love food. I take solace in food. Food is bae for me (and I hate the expression “bae”… it’s so dumb). So it’s a big deal. You get the point.

Y’all all know that I’m at a pretty “moldable” place in my life. Scratch that. I’m at a very vulnerable place in my life. I knew that I needed this fast, and I expected Jesus to move. It’s just always so interesting how He always makes moves that I could never guess Him making. Case in point: this past week.

For example: my mom and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few veggies to make ratatouille for supper. That’s the kind of trip that should take maybe 20 minutes, tops? But let me tell you. We saw everyone we knew that day. And even people we didn’t know. It was lovely, and so many great conversations were had. We loved it. However, by the time we finally left, 3 hours had passed. Not to mention, there we were, in the middle of a fast, enjoying the distraction from our hunger with friendly conversation, SURROUNDED BY FOOD GALORE IN A GROCERY STORE. This was the irony I was dealing with. But in the midst of that irony, a man that we didn’t know came to speak to us simply because he thought we were nice.

Before we pulled up to the grocery store, I had been telling my mom about some of my concerns, (ahem, worries, I’m ashamed to say), and she was reassuring me that the Lord has it all together. Well, this man, about mid 70’s, came to talk to us and he told me his secret to life. His secret y’all. He told me: “It’s all about God. If God is at the center of everything you will be alright.” He also told me that I should let God find my husband (as he noticed no ring on my finger), and he told us several stories about his life. It was exactly what I needed to hear from a stranger. Who knew? Total encouragement in the produce section. And not in the most conventional way (…I always feel like the less conventional it is, the more “neon sign” the Lord is being). It was like Jesus was nudging me, like, “See Chas? Told you. Hahaha”.

I’ve spent more time in prayer at 6 AM (braving the BITTER cold… I HATE the cold) for the past few weeks than I have in a long time. I forewent everything I took solace in.. and that went beyond just food. It was a total immersion in Jesus, and although I felt reduced to nothing, I’ve never been more overjoyed. There’s a lot of “I” in those sentences, but much like reducing and humbling teaches us, the truth is none of that is about me. It’s about Him, and how He loves us. And how fortunate are we, that He loves us in the most creative of ways?

Fasting brings us to our knees, and when we’re at these places in our lives things can get a little wirey. For example, my aunt Perri’s lunch she packed for Thomas (my cousin, in high school). They were fasting during these past few weeks, as well. They would come to prayer in the mornings with my mom and I, and one morning Perri told us this story. She said, “Oh y’all, I just have to tell you this story. Okay, so yesterday I packed this great lunch for Thomas. It had a corn and couscous salad, hummus, some veggies, a Clif bar, and some juice that had fruit and vegetables in it (they were fasting too and this made my mouth water). I put it in a sack, and into the fridge the night before so I could have it ready for him the next morning. So the next day, I grabbed the sack from the fridge, gave it to Thomas and got him to school. Well, later that day I went back to the fridge and found another sack, opened it, and there was the couscous, hummus, veggies and juice. I thought, ‘oh no’, so I sent Thomas a text and said ‘oh baby, what did I send you for lunch?’ Well, the day before, I asked Andy to slice up 10 huge carrots from Sam’s and put them in the fridge for dinner the next night . So Thomas said, ‘ I knew something was wrong when I opened the sack. You sent me a bunch of carrots’. I said ‘I am so sorry, what did you do for food?, and He responded, ‘I ate them'”. Bless my cousin, he ate all 10 carrots for lunch and that was it. We had a pretty good laugh about it, but it’s another example of the kind of week we all had.

The funny thing is, this is the type of vulnerability that leaves juuuust enough room for Christ to have complete control to work miracles in our lives. This entire time we prayed fervently, and were expectant, and still are remaining expectant to see Him work. In the process, prayers were answered, healing occurred, and the Lord even started articulating more promises to me that I know He will fulfill in my life… promises that I never imagined I was even deserving enough for. I’m more excited about the future than I’ve ever been. But above all, I’ve fallen even more in love with Him and His will makes sense. I don’t care what happens to my life as long as it’s for His glory. (A lot of what I’m saying is waaaay easier said than done, but don’t you see the splendor that comes from complete surrender?).

I say this a lot, but I really don’t know where many of y’all are in your life. But if you ever are looking for a recommendation from me, a total dedication to not only fasting, but also amping up your prayer simultaneously is the best way to get answers, understanding, healing, and whatever else you may be seeking the Lord for. My advice? Try it. And do it all in.

For some of you this may be quite elementary. In fact, I feel somewhat inadequate because here I am talking about where I am in life and what I expect the Lord to do and what He’s doing, and yet this is really the first time I’ve completely unplugged from the world and completely plugged into Jesus for more than 10 days. But it’s a journey right?

There’s so much that’s going on, and I know that I will be able to tell y’all even more over the next few months. I’m so excited for what’s coming, no matter what it even is. Truthfully, the future means more time spent with Jesus, and that means being with Him more and more. If the future means more of Him, that’s all I need to know. No matter what it is. I. Can’t. Wait.

He’s all we need, friends. Really. Just let go, and see what He does. He might just make you laugh.

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Praises on the Twelfth of January

There are a handful of experiences that I can wholeheartedly say helped shape who I am. (Note: do not translate that to “define” who I am… Christ defines who I am and that is all). At the top of that list, ranks the experience that I had growing up with my dear baby sister Laura.

Today marks 5 years since she left this world to go be in a more majestic place with Jesus. You won’t hear me say the word “die” because, although our bodies die, our hearts and souls do not. Praise be to my Savior for what He did on the cross so that we could LIVE with Him. Point being, my sister isn’t dead. She’s alive, with Jesus.

While Laura was here, she was one of the bravest, most stubborn, smart-as-a-whip, strongest, people I have ever known. While she could talk (as a toddler), it was pretty obvious that she was going to be the sister with the good grades, good looks, and all the talent. But the true tenacity of her character showed during the years that she was unable to speak, walk, sit up, or hold her head up. (For those of you that have never read or heard, she had Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (infantile)… link to what that means is somewhere on here, or you can just Google it. The point of this post isn’t about disease. Disease gets no attention or time from me).

Here’s the thing; if it’s raining on the wrong day, or I’m sick with a cold, or there’s some other stress going on, then I just want to go home, sit the rest of the day out and start again tomorrow. Laura was not like that. At all. Every day for her took effort. Lots of effort. She had to be spoon-fed mushy food for every meal, and that could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Baths weren’t the most comfortable because she had to have those baby sponges, and sometimes they didn’t cushion very well. The rest of the day she would spend on the couch, unless we ran errands in which she would come with us while seated in a car seat or wheel chair. (Let’s just take a moment to realize how amazing my parents are, too, because they always took the best care of her). Nonetheless, she woke up and faced every day with determination for 12 years with her condition (she lived to be 14) and didn’t give up until she couldn’t breath anymore. She could’ve given up on life but she didn’t. And she had a couple times where, while in the hospital, she could have. She’s a living testimony to how we should face every day.

I, by no means, am even remotely as good as she was at facing the day with courage. Some days, I slip into routine and forget that that’s how life was for so long. (It’s funny how 5 years can seem so close, but so far away at the same time). Other days, I snap back to 5 years ago and think “oh I need to be quiet because she’s sleeping”. Regardless of the memory of the circumstances of the situation, I won’t ever forget her and her character.

One day, (about 3 days before she passed away), she and I were in her room listening to a CD a friend had given me. The song  “I’m Ready Now” by Desperation Band was on, and as the chorus began to to build up, she began responding (which for her, was a sort of a soft, humming in her voice). So we just talked and when my parents came in, they asked “she sure is talking a lot, what are y’all listening to?” The lyrics to the song were this: “I’m ready now, do what you will”. That’s something else about her. Not only did she face every day with a spirit of determination, but she knew the Lord was with her and she was ready for Him to do His will. Even at the very end, when she wasn’t able to breath easily, she had complete faith in her Lord. And she made it completely apparent in her agreement with the song. (If you click on the song, it’s a little older, so don’t judge).

There were so many times that I was sure she could see angels, (the ones protecting her, and doing battle against the Enemy). In fact, being with her was comforting because you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit with her. The Lord is faithful and presides over every circumstance, and He made it extremely apparent in my sister’s life. Not only did He create one of the most beautiful spirits I have ever seen, but His presence was palpable in her life. When I say that my experience with her helped shape my spiritual journey, I mean it in a multifaceted way. She was a light, and He used her to show that He can fuel our strength in all circumstances.

I’ve never taken the time to write or talk about her quite like this, because, well, when someone can’t walk or talk, how can you really explain who a person is without being able to give physical reference? But on the anniversary of the day she went to live in Heaven with Jesus, I wanted to do more than just post a picture on Instagram. I’m not seeking attention at all, but I do want to highlight the life that my sister led. She was amazing, and I only hope that I can learn to be that strong in tough circumstances.

The thing is, she trusted God. And how could she not? In that situation you’d have to be desperate for Jesus every day. But she didn’t get discouraged and give up. She lived life to the very end. Me? Well, after she passed away I went through a long season (nearly a year and a half) where I didn’t doubt God, or His love, or His existence, but I just didn’t understand, and I made some poor decisions. Nothing life altering, but they could have been. See, it went like this: I knew from a very young age that the faith of a mustard seed could move mountains, and that by His stripes we were healed, so all we had to do was receive what He did for us. And we trusted God for her healing. But in the process, I put God in a box. I shaped what I expected Him to do by my mold of what it meant. In actuality, there is an entire part of this that we can’t see and we won’t see until we get to heaven. God didn’t work any less of a miracle and I’m more than certain that He was glorified in the life and passing of my sister. I guess I’ll just have to wait to see the magnitude of said miracle, when I go to be with Jesus.

I miss her, a lot. I miss talking to her, holding her hand, her attitude, her personality, the whole thing. And yes, that does make me want to cry. But even though it might seem like a long time until I get to see her again, I do get to see her again. I can’t wait to see her and all the jewels in her crown. Moreover, I can’t wait to see Jesus and for us to be together with Jesus. It will be… like, ahhh! I can’t even fathom it.

So I really hope that you walk away from this post feeling inspired, joyful, and with a sense of encouragement that He has it all in His hands. Not sad. Cause here’s another thing that experience taught me: no matter what, if He is at the center of you your life and you have given Him complete control, everything, literally EVERYTHING will be okay no matter what. I never allowed myself to even think about “what if” Laura passed away. It was never talked about, and it was the worst possible scenario I could think of for years. But in Him all things are made new. He is the Bread of Life that sustains us, and let me tell you, He SUSTAINED me. Every need He has provided, every fear He has taken away, and I know that no matter what we face He will provide.

Today, on January 12, 2015, I’m giving praise for the life of my sister. She was an amazing girl, and I’m just honored that I got to be her big sister. I’m giving praise, that I will get to see her again one day. I give praise for His faithfulness and grace during my wretched season of life where I didn’t understand and have full trust. I’m giving praise for the opportunity that I had to see Him work in a completely unique way. Laura, I love you, and I hope you are celebrating and praising just as much as me right now.

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Laura could find the humor in the chaos, kind of like what you see here.

Laura could find the humor in the chaos, kind of like what you see here… she’s the baby that’s belly laughing in the middle.

She had loads of personality. For example, her shades of choice were these pink cat-eye sunglasses from T.J. Maxx. And if you messed with her doll house, she would not stand for that!

She had loads of personality. For example, her shades of choice were these pink cat-eye sunglasses from T.J. Maxx. And if you messed with her doll house, she would not stand for that!

Here was her at her seventh birthday party. She was laughing at the tissue paper. Like I said, she faced life head on and kept up her faith.

Here she was at her seventh birthday party. She was laughing at the tissue paper. Like I said, she faced life head on and kept up her faith.

New Year, New Mercies

You didn’t really think I’d let 2014 go by without a final post, did you?

It may be slightly corny, but truthfully I’m too much of an organizer for there not to be a good chapter closing for 2014.

Christmas was great. I would say it was perfect, but my granddad had to stay at UAB a little longer than expected so we didn’t get to have the Marshall family Christmas Brunch like we always do. Nonetheless, it was a great celebration. I don’t think I’ve ever fully realized how special Christ’s birth is and how amazing it is that our Savior and King humbly entered the world. Or maybe I have, and I just remember it as though it’s new every year. I mean the fact that His Majesty could be wrapped up into a tiny baby born among animals in a cave… wow. Just wow. So humbling.

The weekend followed with more wedding celebrations. This time I headed to Tupelo, where one friend got married to his sweetheart and another friend began the celebrations leading up to the wedding to her sweetheart. It just so happened that both parties were in Tupelo. I’ve never even been to Tupelo. It’s crazy how things work out. Anyway, both parties were absolutely deeeelightful and I’m overjoyed for both of my friends. (Not to mention, it’s kinda cool to have all these weddings juxtaposed with Christmas. It’s like, I have the opportunity to give thanks for how Christ entered the world to live humbly and save my life, but I’m reminded to prepare for the day He comes back in all His glory for His bride!)

I never quite imagined ending the year on this note. Actually, I really didn’t envision myself to be where I really am right now, 12 months after the fact. You see, I saw myself in a new job somewhere, perhaps preparing to enter into a new covenant of my own, and following a path that I had deemed “normal” or a life pattern that was “regular”. (Not to say that anyone who is currently in a new career or getting married is regular, or plain. Of course, each person’s plan is unique to them. But a lot of this is happening around me). Needless to say, I am at the very opposite of the spectrum from where I imagined myself. No job –yet– and definitely no where near getting married myself. To add to the “never saw myself doing what I’m doing now”, none of the marriages that I’m celebrating had been announced by engagements yet this time last year. It’s just crazy how much can be packed in 12 little months.

But this morning I remembered something as I was reading my devotional for the day. My resolution for 2014 was grow closer to the Lord. It was simple, but important. And that certainly happened this year. Praise Jesus for that.

Typical photo of a sunset for "then end of the year". Honestly, I'm just leaving this here cause it's a long post and I believe pictures make everything better. For my Bama fans, there's ole Bryant-Denny standing up on the left of the landscape. Roll Tide!

Typical photo of a sunset symbolizing “the end of the year”. Honestly, I’m just leaving this here cause it’s a long post and I believe pictures make everything better. For my Bama fans, there’s ole Bryant-Denny standing up on the left of the landscape. Roll Tide!

Then I started thinking about what I wanted this year’s resolution to be. However, coming off the heels of quite an unpredictable year I just wasn’t sure about what kind of goal I wanted to set. To get a job? It’s pretty clear that I’m doing what I can about that already. To get fit? I’m 2 years strong in that category (pun intended). To get organized? I have so much stuff that I’m beginning to need another closet. It’s as organized as it’s gonna get for now.

The truth is, I kinda don’t like New Year’s resolutions. For instance… the “get fit” goal totally irks me. I get to the gym, see the “resolutioners” that I know will only be there until about mid-March, they aren’t there for the right reasons and they just crowd the weight room, and I want to tell them to leave. (My selfishness confession of the day for you). I mean I totally get that as humans, to set obtainable goals helps us stay on track and stay motivated. That’s good and fine. However, they can also set us up for disappointment. Like those poor gym resolutioners don’t know that they’re making things difficult for themselves because they aren’t working out correctly, resolutions without the right solution are nearly useless. In terms of spiritual resolutions, it can be overwhelming too.

But just as I was thinking about all that, the Holy Spirit in His sweet whisper came through gently. He said, “My mercies are new every morning, not just on New Years”.

And just like that, my New Year’s reflection completely changed. How awesome is that?

New Year’s is cool because it’s nice to be able to summarize what’s happened in a year and reflect on everything that’s occurred. I love to watch those videos on YouTube that combine all the popular music of the year into one mix (even though I don’t really listen to pop music very often), simply because it reminds me of what each season brought forth in under 5 minutes. (I’m a nerd, I know). But set the worldly stuff aside, and we’re left with this idea that there’s one day out of the year to set new goals and start over. That’s completely NOT the truth!

The truth is, with Jesus in our lives, every day is like New Year’s. I’m not saying that we can completely fall off the cart every day and come back the next and say to Jesus “can I have my mercy for today?”… that’s not a genuine love for our Savior. That’d straight up be a weird relationship. But what it does mean, is that when we set our goal to become closer to Jesus, we don’t have to dwell on mistakes made because He wipes the slate clean for us every day. We ask for forgiveness, strive to be a reflection of Jesus, and pursue Him, and we rely Him, then He will be faithful and provide for us and give us a new day, every day.

I realize that this is a simple concept, but it brings so much hope! I had a friend talk with me other day about some of the struggles they have been encountering in their walk with the Lord. Basically it rounded out to be about how, at times, our hearts can know that we need Jesus and we want to seek Him, but there can also be another corner of our heart that is hearing the enticing temptations of the Enemy (whatever they may be) and it keeps us from wholly living for God. It’s scary to think that there is a force working to tear us down, and make us want what isn’t pure and whole and good. And what’s worse is to think that even with our determination to resolve and make new goals for the year, on our own we will still fall short. We will still encounter difficulty and not meet that perfect standard. We’re human.

BUT (and what a wonderful “but” this is), if we seek Him, and acknowledge the parts of us that aren’t pure, and we tell the Lord about it and give it to Him, He has this wonderful thing called grace that covers it and He conditions our souls and hearts to desire what He desires. Then we begin to want to live like He would live. And our actions become reflections of the work that is being done in our hearts. We can’t do it on our own. We have to give Him the opportunity to help us. Even though fear might creep in that we might fail, don’t let it! With Him, we cannot fail. One of the most popular scriptures is Phillipians 4:13- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. That is what that scripture directly addresses (not athletic ability… sorry y’all, although He can help that, too). With Him, we can become more like Him.

And eventually, our life begins to look like what’s written in 2 Peter: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

So as you’re setting your goals for this year, you might need some encouragement like me. And if that’s the case, then just remember that His mercies are new every morning. 365 days a year. There’s nothing we can do to separate us from His love. Although we may fail, He lifts us up. What peace that brings!

I have no idea where I’ll be this time next year. If life has taught me anything, it’s that anything is possible. There are truly no limits on what God can do in our lives and what He provides us with. Obviously, I hope I’m in a good place, but if I define “good place” as in-step with Jesus, then I’m confident that He will be with me. And if He is with me, then… well, you get the gist.

As we walk into the New Year, I can’t really say that I have any resolutions. However, I do have prayers, and they go like this: I pray that the Lord softens my heart and keeps my ears tuned into His spirit at all times. I pray that you (my dear readers) experience His presence daily and that your hearts are softened as well. I pray for our strength to face our battles this year and that we will be victorious through Jesus. And I pray that we may never lose faith.

2015 will have it’s challenges, but with Christ Jesus as our pilot, at the helm of our ship, in the driver’s seat, we can only come out of it victorious! Hallelujah for that!

Happy New Year my friends!

Love,

Chaslee

Comfort Doesn’t Equal Success

Hello my dears,

So after my last post, I thought I’d be back quickly but instead my schedule picked up and I have been running around ever since. Quick recap of life in the jobless world: several more applications and resumes have gone out (and by several, I mean I’ve lost count), but I haven’t had any call-backs or responses. It’s a bit frustrating but frankly, that means that I’m still on the brink of God’s plan for my life, and there is a great deal of excitement in that. Joy joy joy! (And I’m not even being sarcastic).

I’ve said it before, and I firmly believe it. There is a reason the Lord is bringing me through this very restful season in my life. In fact I can already tell you so many of the benefits from it. I’ve obviously been able to recalibrate and develop healthier lifestyle habits (spiritually and physically), but there’s more. And quite honestly, I’m ashamed to say that it has taken this little activity in my life for me to reach this point in my journey.

Just a few weeks ago, I turned 24. Perhaps it’s the dyscalculia and the less-conventional way that my brain processes little details, but the moment any human reaches year 4 of being in a decade, that’s when become a little more seasoned. Let me illustrate it this way; when we are born, we are babies and toddlers all the way up to the age of 3, but then when we turn 4 things change. We’re more independent and capable and we become little kids instead of toddlers. Likewise, kids are pre-teens all the way through the age of 13, but then they reach 14, and the attitude comes…. you see what I mean, right?

Well at my birthday party, my grandmother asked me if I felt any older, and somewhat to my surprise I realized “yes, I do feel older”. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally finished school. But already, I’m noticing a difference in other ways too.

Recently, I rediscovered the joy of reading for pleasure. (Really I should say, I’ve fully discovered the joy of reading for the first time since AR points was a horrible way to make ADD, imaginative children learn to enjoy reading… another soapbox for another time). School is over, and fiction is taking it’s place! The series I’ve been reading is The Mark of The Lion by Francine Rivers, (one of my favorite authors), and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.

One of the main characters is absolutely brilliant. As a Christian in the early days of the church, she is taken out of her home in Jerusalem while it is being torn apart by Rome, and she ends up being sold as a slave to a prominent Roman family. Her entire family had perished but her faith is amazing. She has the most beautiful soul, (although the book describes her as not being beautiful on the outside), and everyone notices her soothing and peaceful presence. But the characteristic that stands out the most to me is how willing she is to serve. And not just to serve, but serve a pagan family of a country that destroyed her home.

I know it’s only a book, but this amazing illustration has  spoken volumes to me. The servant in the book serves because Christ instructed us to serve all types of people and submit to earthly authority. The benefit of the book is that the narrator changes perspectives and you see that the servant doesn’t just go through the motions, but she genuinely loves the family and shows it by serving them. Now, don’t worry, I won’t ruin the book for you. I’ll just highly suggest you read it 🙂

The story has totally called my attention to the parts of me that aren’t staying focused on Jesus and I’ve realized how not genuine I can be. I believe that becoming more mature requires you to be more thoughtful and intentional with your actions, and although it’s a simple concept, it truly is easier said than done.

So often, it can be very hard to be genuine and intentional about sharing when I don’t want to share, or being helpful when I just can’t wait until the task is over. Especially depending on what the circumstance is. But if I’m in a relationship with Christ, then it is His peace and joy that I’m running on, not my own fumes. I’ll take it a step further and say, even if I’m suffering it’s nothing He hasn’t already done because He suffered for me. So who am I to not be joyful in serving even when it’s not comfortable?

Phillipians 2:13 says “God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey Him”. If read wrong, then that can seem a little like brainwashing, especially to someone who isn’t in an ongoing relationship with Jesus. But it’s not, and actually it’s good news because it means He’s helping us when don’t feel like we have the strength to do it.

The title of this entry is Comfort Doesn’t Equal Success, because I had that exact same realization earlier this week. We live in society where we are told to do what makes us feel good, and when you feel good then you have been successful. The more comfortable you are, then the more successful you are. Now don’t read this the wrong way, because I believe the Lord wants us to be prosperous and to bless us in so many ways. However, comfort does not equal success because the Gospel, in it’s rawest form, calls us to live in a way that is the exact opposite of how the world tells us to live. In fact, it calls us to live very uncomfortably. Thankfully because of God’s grace, it becomes so peaceful and joyful to live that way, and that joy and peace surpasses the discomfort. If we are living in the way that Jesus taught us that is true success.

Please don’t take that as “sell all you own and live on nothing”, kind of uncomfortable. What I mean is different. In the Mark of Lion series, the servant serves her master knowing what she needs before she asks for it because she really loves her and is praying for her soul. It’s that kind of discomfort. It’s that discomfort we feel when, “the little voice in my head is telling me that I should do this, and I know I should, but I don’t want to or feel like it or reason x”. But the Lord calls us to live like His Son. And we all know Jesus lived a completely selfless life that wasn’t comfortable.

So needless to say, this season has brought a lot of teaching and learning about how to be a good servant. It’s been interesting because I’m beginning to see “serving” in a whole new light. One time an amazing friend of mine was at the house helping after the tornado in 2011, and she insisted on washing a huge load of dishes because she said, “I love washing the dishes. To me it’s therapeutic”. I hate washing dishes, so it really has stuck with me ever since. But now, I want to say “I love serving. To me it’s therapeutic”. And it is my hope that I can genuinely say that no matter what the duty is that God calls me to, because just as the verse says above, as I draw nearer to Him and pour out what I can, the more He enables me to do so. So it really is therapeutic, because I can become more filled with Him.

As I said in the first paragraph, I am so appreciative of this break. Yes, there are still times when Satan tries to attack with me thoughts such as, “what did I do wrong? why am I not good enough? is my resume messed up?” But I must step back and see all the fruit that has been produced in this season. I truly don’t think I could’ve worked to my best ability in any job, without what God has shown me about myself. So if any of you are unemployed and struggling to know why or are stressed about the lack of income or burden you may be on your parents, just give it to Him and see what He does. He truly does have it all under control.

Hopefully you got something good out of this and hopefully I’ll be back again soon,

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Peace on the Warfront

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Hi friends,

As per usual the job search continues. I’ve applied to several jobs this week in a couple different cities. But I’m not here to talk about that today. I wanted to share with y’all something that I’ve come full circle in realizing lately. It’s brought me so much peace and joy that I can’t stand to keep it to myself!

Something that I haven’t ever talked about on here are my sleeping habits. Part of that is for obvious reasons– I mean, who needs to know about that, right? But the other reason is because it’s not the most casual thing in the world to talk about either. You’ll see why further into this. (Beware: Some of this may seem lofty to some of y’all. But it is very real, so don’t think I’m crazy– say all the crazy people, right? No, but I’m serious).

Growing up, I have never liked sleeping alone. It’s a bit ironic because since I was 2 years old, I’ve slept in a twin bed. But, as far back as I can remember I have always slept with my closet light on and with a stuffed animal by my side. About 10 years ago, I also added leaving worship music on my stereo at night as I sleep (set at volume level 1, so I don’t wake anyone up). I’ll explain that later too.

When I was about 6 years old, I had issues with anxiety and irrational fears. I’ll spare you the details, but it was like something out of a horror movie. I couldn’t sleep at night, and being alone was torturous. There were times that I felt like I couldn’t escape my fear and the only way out was just if I went to be with Jesus. I would cry, stay awake, and just wait for the night to be over. Intense, I know. But fortunately my parents sought after the Lord in prayer and the Holy Spirit comforted me in a way that no other being could. I learned how to deal with those anxieties and started sleeping again. Still, being so young I wasn’t completely sure what all of that was or where it came from.

Later, at 14 I started having vivid nightmares that I could not wake up from. These nightmares scared me because I couldn’t think of why my brain would create such scary scenes. The situation grew worse when I realized that my brain would create terrible scenes during the day; thoughts of suicide started coming in and I didn’t know why. “What is wrong with me?” I worried. I wasn’t miserable, or depressed, and had no reason to want to take my life. I was terrified once again, and night time seemed to bring about the most anxiety. I would maybe get about 3 hours of sleep if I were lucky. We realized that part of what was happening was due to side-effects of treatment I was undergoing for ADD. It is amazing what the brain can do when prompted. However, that fear was all too familiar.

By that age, I knew how to search Scripture for answers. By the guidance of my parents, I realized that what was really happening was spiritual warfare. That’s what it had been all along. Satan knew exactly how to attack me by pulling the right strings in my brain and getting these crazy results. I was taught how to pray when I woke up night, by calling on the name of Jesus and rebuking those thoughts and fears. I figured that nothing is a better protector than the Holy Spirit himself, so that’s where the worship music came in. I started reading Psalm 91 every night, praying that the Lord would surround me with angels to fight off any attacks, and resting in the presence of the Holy Spirit. ( Side note: How wonderful that we can call on the name of Jesus and have command over everything, right?! Gosh, I’m so glad He loves us and bridges the gap for us!)

Since then, I haven’t had any horrific attacks at night. I still wake up with bad feelings sometimes, but I whisper the name of Jesus (so I won’t wake anyone up), and I go back to sleep.

Throughout college, I never had much of an issue with sleeping. Mostly because I was so tired. I was always going, going, going. I was going so fast that I barely had enough time for the Lord, and at times I had no time for Him at all. Now that I have seriously slowed down, nearly to a halt, I haven’t had as much occupying my thoughts.

I’ll admit to you, I’ve been waking up again and I’m unable to go back to sleep. One night I had a horrific dream, where I knew that it was Satan terrorizing me, without a doubt. (Again, I’ll spare you the details). It has reminded me of the sleepless nights I’ve dealt with over the years, and I’ve been convicted of how often I forget to pray at night. But it has also reminded me of how I once was SO reliant on the Lord, scripture, and the Spirit for peace and life, that it can only be described as me clinging onto Him and His word for dear life. White knuckles, and all. It was how I knew I would wake up the next morning and sleep through the night.

Jump to this past Sunday, Chris Hodges spoke about stress and how many of us, Christian or not, are overloading our plates with business and not leaving anytime for rest. I immediately thought “Well, the Lord has definitely imposed this rest on me.” On the one hand, I’m not stressed at all. But then I have those sleepless nights, which at times I’ve thought were due to me not being busy enough, and wish things would pick up pace. However, I realized, busy or not, this is where He has me. I am here for a reason.

I was so busy for the past 5 years that I wasn’t leaving enough time for Lord. I was so busy, that I was essentially being counterproductive in all areas of life. He has now slowed me down to a snail’s pace, and as much as I want to go back to having things to do, I’m going to get the most out of this phase of life.

As the seasons are beginning to change, I’m realizing, that this is the first time in 19 years that I am able to enjoy the Fall season without having to be buried in books. How exciting! To just watch the hand of God as He turns His earth into something different! And not only just His earth, but me as well.

My soul is craving His spirit now more than it ever has in a long time. I just want to sit and soak up His presence in all things. He is here, right now. So I want to be here, right now. The peace and joy that I am now experiencing simply by being not so busy, is nothing short of a miracle. It goes against so much of who I am (the type-A doer). I only wish that the rest of the population could experience what I’m experiencing right now! But this is not a typical circumstance, and if the whole world were unemployed– haha! Well, that would be disastrous.

We all have our trials and troubles in life, and not all of them are anything like my sleeping issues. Everyone has to fight their own battles, and it is always comforting to know that Jesus is with us every step of the way. I know that I am not the only one who may be at an odd point in life, or dealing with anxiety, or having to make tough decisions. But as long as you are where God wants you, know that He is there. And if He is there, then that is all we need.

I will leave you with this. I hope it will bring as much peace as it has brought me over the years:

Psalm 91 (Message translation):

“You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
    the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
    harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
    to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
    their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
    and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!”

Bask in the fact that our God covers all!

Love y’all,

Chaslee

Death Doesn’t Mean the End– My thoughts on how God heals.

I believe that God heals. I believe that in the midst of irreversible situations, God can bring about unexplainable medical miracles. I believe that all we have to do is ask in Jesus’ name, and receive healing and restoration of epic proportions. I believe that even if our faith is minuscule, that my God created us and no matter how difficult it may seem to heal a human of disease, paralysis, genetic or neurological conditions, that HE can do it without any trouble and He loves us so much that He will do it. All we have to do ask and receive.

 

Three months ago Shawn and I went for a ride to get Taco Casa. (For those of you missing out, Taco Casa is the most indulgent fast-food Mexican on the face of this earth. There are only 9 locations and they are all in the City of Champions– Tuscaloosa.) It was a pretty Sunday, and rather than stuffing our faces in the parking lot I decided to drive over the dam and past the lake. When we finished our snack burritos I drove a little further, and we ended up in the county.

 

Around sunset, we spotted a white lab mix wandering around a vacant lot. Shawn told me we should pull over, but I rebutted with “This is the county and there aren’t leash laws. The dog is probably lives here”. About 10 minutes later, we both felt too much compassion to let the dog go. We were feeding her half of a Clif bar and making phone calls to see what we should do. The mid-sized dog didn’t belong to anyone around the area, so we took her home for what was supposed to be one night.

 

After a week long stay at the animal shelter, no one claimed the dog. My mom and I went to get her back, because she was entirely too sweet and well-behaved to be left at the county shelter. It was spring break, and we were headed to Georgia to relax at the campground. The dog was so well-temperd, that we borrowed our neighbors’ kennel and took her with us.

 

Just in those few days alone, we were amazed with how well-behaved she was. The only thing was that she seemed to have a cold, so when we got back to Tuscaloosa we took her to the vet. They gave her an antibiotic and she went to live with my aunt and  uncle (because we already have two huge labs, and they didn’t get along). It was a temporary arrangement because we figured someone would take this amazing dog.

 

About a week later, her name became Bonnie and my aunt and uncle were enjoying watching her interact with a cat named Opal. However, we got a call one day and my aunt told us she had been having bad seizures. They took her to the vet and they gave her phenobarbital to make the seizures subside. Fortunately, they did. But they wanted to know why these seizures were happening. The vet found that Bonnie had tapeworms and that could be the reason for her seizures.

 

Two months later, the dog came to live at our house. She hadn’t had any seizures, but was still having an issue with the parasites. So we took her to vet once again, where she had a massive dose of medication. We felt like the issue had been taking care of and were really having fun with her being around the house. Bonnie was so sweet, but she did have a constant need for attention. It was endearing, and you always ended up petting her.

 

This past Friday, I woke up to an awful scratching noise in my parents bedroom. When I got up, my parents said she had two seizures and they had contacted the vet to see what needed to be done. More phenobarbital was the prescription, but more seizures were the result. Over a 24-hour period, poor Bonnie had 5 seizures (each lasted for several minutes) and 3 the next morning. Our vet really felt like she needed to be put to sleep, for her benefit. She was suffering and since seizures cause brain damage, it was only getting worse. However, EmergiVet, (not trusting our very knowledgable vet) wouldn’t let us do it. We tried one more form of medication.

This medication was worse. Although it masked the violent seizures, she began to constantly pace and whine. It never stopped. My mom and I slept in the kitchen on an air mattress because she couldn’t walk up the stairs. But we hardly slept, because she kept walking in the same circle all night. Clearly, she was not in good condition, nor was she comfortable. I prayed so hard that the Lord would just heal her and give us a home to put her in.

 

This morning we texted the vet and told him what was happening. Immediately, he called us and told us that the problem was definitely neurological. The length of the seizures, and the aftermath (weak legs, poor vision, and pacing) meant that it was only getting worse. The medications might mask the seizures for a while, but it could never make the problem go away. He felt that it was time to put sweet Bonnie to sleep. So my mother, sister, and I reluctantly took her to the vet. We cried on the ride home and went over the details of her bad condition. Even thought the dog was sweet, her body was not okay.

 

Does any of this sound familiar? For us it is. Of course, you can’t feasibly compare a dog to a human when talking about their life. But for 3 days we had to take care of a special needs animal, staying up all night to make sure she was okay. My mother told me “We’ve done this before”.

 

It’s been 4 years since our family’s life and functionality was completely changed. We went from not being able to go to the grocery store  2 minutes down the road without considering the weather or packing up the wheelchair, to being like every other normal family. For these past 3 days we were reminded of what it’s like to be so limited by neurological conditions and special needs. When I look at what’s happened over the past 3 months, my initial thought is “why did we do all of that to just have her not make it?” When Laura passed away my thought was “why was she around for 12 years, with us firmly believing that God would heal her on earth only for her to be made whole in heaven?”

 

It’s the insolvable mystery. The question that no one wants to ask or answer. But unfortunately, it’s a question that has occurred in my life several times. It doesn’t mean that my faith has been compromised, in fact, if at all it has been strengthened. I know that no matter what, these situations have been in the Lord’s hands and he is the ultimate Healer. He knows what He’s doing. And even though I miss my sister so much, and prayers were not quite answered in the way that we thought they might be, it’s okay. Everything is okay.

 

I loved Bonnie, and I hate that she is gone. Shawn told me, “I just really felt like we were supposed to find her and she was supposed to be ours”. That statement completely encompassed the feelings that my mom, my aunt and my uncle were having. But my uncle said, “Just because this is happening doesn’t mean we weren’t supposed to find her. I can already think of 3 benefits that came out of this: 1. Bonnie has been able to live a good life for 3 months. Better than what she would’ve had otherwise. 2. I have more compassion for people with epilepsy, and I can empathize with them much easier. That alone has been good. I work at the VA, and in 5 years of working there have never encountered any epileptic patients. But over the past two months, I have met and been able to help 4 epileptic people. 3. We’ve been able to enjoy her as a pet.”

 

When Andy (my uncle) told me this, I realized that he was right and I could only add to the list of positives that came out of tragedy. But here is my MAJOR disclaimer: In all of my experiences with these difficult situations NOT ONCE have I ever felt that God MAKES these things happen. We humans, brought original sin into the world. We are cursed with it from birth, and there is an enemy that from day 1 starts scheming ways to win our souls and destroy us. God gives us free will because He loves us and He wants us to have the freedom to choose Him because we love Him, not because He made us love Him. Thank God for His Son Jesus. Christ is the reason we can overcome that. But just because we can overcome it, doesn’t mean that it goes away. Satan is real, and unfortunately he has more power than we do. Through Christ we can have power over the enemy, but we can’t do it alone. In these difficult situations, He gives us the strength we need, and when situations get worse God can turn them into better situations. Just because my sister wasn’t healed doesn’t mean that God didn’t answer our prayer. I will see her again one day, and for now she’s better off than me.

 

So often, we tend to think small. We becoming narrow-minded with our blinders on and focus what earth has to offer and the worldly standard that we want to live up to. But what is this life in comparison to eternity? The promise of eternal life with Christ in heaven is so much more powerful than our brief lives on earth. He died for us so that we may have life with Him there. That is the biggest miracle of all. We get to live in joy and love with our God where there is no sorrow or pain. Forever. So everything is going to be okay. And the best part is, He forgives us and washes away every horrible thing we’ve done.

 

I know that it may seem silly that the death of my rescue dog should muster up these feelings again. But I tell you what. It’s reminded me of what I went through 4 years ago ( and continue to go through), and helped me put things back into perspective. I am so sad for Bonnie. But oh my gosh, my God is so good to me. The promise that He has given us despite our wretchedness is so wonderful that words cannot describe it. These situations are heartbreaking. But it’s going to be okay.

 

I don’t know what you’ve been through. I don’t know how you’re dealing with it. I don’t know if you are in an active relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit or if you know Him at all. But I know that His love is great enough to cover all sorrow and brokenness and that life with Him is worth living. This promise is so great that it makes me realize how much time I waste by not spending time in prayer and in the Word in pursuit of Him. He is the best thing that could ever happen to me. And from my experience, He is the only being that can get you through all of life’s shortcomings and all of Satan’s attacks. I know this is deep for a Monday, but revel in the hope that He brings and know I’m here to pray for you and with you.

 

Love y’all,

 

Chaslee

He Cares More Than We Think

Hi friends,

 

      As we are getting into the beginning weeks of Spring and final weeks of the school semester, I thought I’d pop by and give an update. When I first began this blog, part of my intention was to provide an account of my post-undergrad experience. Seeing as the job market is lacking (although somewhat slowly improving) and many of us twenty-somethings are experiencing the same emotions and experiences, I thought it’d be a nice way to offer my own advice and share how I’ve been dealing with things without being too invasive or too impersonal. My always-and-forever disclaimer is that I definitely don’t know everything, nor do I think I’m more special than anyone else. But community and communication always seems to help ease the discomfort of the unknown, right?

      Recently, I realized that I am coming up on a year of having started this little blog. So much has changed in these brief 12 months: I was accepted into graduate school, I did an internship in Birmingham and discovered the pains of 1 hour commutes on I-20/59, I began graduate school and have been on a major learning curve ever since, I’ve made new friends in my program, I’ve continued to question what I want to do when I graduate, I’ve enjoyed being with my family, I’ve learned more about the Holy Spirit and God’s presence, I’ve been to LA, Chicago, and New York, and I’ve been blessed with an incredible boyfriend to help make all this more fun.

      It’s been a lot. It’s changed my expectations of what the Lord can do in short periods of time despite my mistakes and human error. You see last year, I didn’t know as much about how to pray and what to pray for. When my sister passed away, (after so many prayers for healing), and after a less than stellar performance in college (after tons of prayers for help), I began to think that God just didn’t answer my prayers. Perhaps I wasn’t praying enough, or correctly. But I just wasn’t seeing His hand after I prayed. Now, when my mom prayed, it was a different story. She always gets results. So after a while, I stopped praying as frequently for things concerning myself. But that wasn’t good at all. I was allowing Satan to feed me a lie that seems to be catching on other places as well.

Case in point:

Image

 

        I saw this online several months ago. It’s clever advertising, I’ll give it that. But the statement is 100% NOT true. And I’ve certainly learned a lot about that this past year.

A. It minimizes God’s power in a huge way. He breathed the Universe into being, so I’m pretty sure He can answer the entire population of Earth’s prayers at once.

B. I get that it’s about parking and yes, sometimes we do pray about things that are kind of silly. But I hate the way that it generalizes how God works. If you want to pray for a spot and you need it because you’re late for work or something important, by dern do it! I know that I’ve prayed about parking before, and laugh if you want, but it’s worked. Surprisingly, He does care about the minute details of our life. Know why? Because He loves us, wants all parts of us and is present in ALL walks of life, 24/7. Lately, people have been quick to call out the falsity of the “Prosperity Gospel”. But with that I feel like people have also been diminishing the ability and desire the Lord has to prosper His people in SOME (not necessarily all) walks of life. He loves us. LOVES us. He’s not some high God that just sits on His throne all day looking down at everyone in disappointment. Yes, He is grand and holy and good and wonderful and we don’t deserve Him, but He LOVES us and gave His son for us. So even if the prayer is as small as “God, please bless me during the test because I need a good grade” (and you’ve done your dead-level best), or “God, please help me during work today while I’m working with this client” (And you’re putting forth effort) He’s not going to dismiss your prayer. Chances are, He’s going to answer you.

     And if none of that is good enough for you, Paul even says it in the Gospel “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”- Philipians 4:6 That says all. Not some. All. Meaning that we don’t just have to pray about lofty things. 

    The other half of that lie is that it’s selfish to pray for ourselves. WRONG. Jesus prayed for himself, and if it’s good enough for Him then we should do it too. See John 17. It even shows the order in which He prayed. 

    Now I will follow all of this up with something very important. If we aren’t living first and foremost for His glory and our lives aren’t centered around glorifying our Savior, chances are our dreams and plans aren’t 100% bona fide. I’m not saying they’re totally wrong, I’m just saying it’s wise to consult the Lord on our dreams and plans first. If you don’t and you expect Him to answer your prayers exactly, then you might be disappointed. Also, don’t put boundaries on how the Lord can go about answering your prayers and getting you to where need to be. Again, you might be disappointed.

     Granted, this is all something I had to learn personally on several different levels. I still don’t claim to know it all. But I have learned that prayer is important, all day ‘errday. Prayer is important even if it’s about something small. Above all, God loves us, He wants us to talk and be with Him, and prayer is His form of communication for us.

     It’s a little funny. I mean, here I am a communications major. I study how humans communicate on big and small scales, and yet prayer has been something that I have had to learn a lot about over the past year. Funny.

    So as I’m coming up on a full year since I began my blogging journey, I hope it’s helped or at least entertained some of you. I’ll probably continue to blog since this phase of my life isn’t over. Feedback is always welcomed 🙂

 

Love y’all,

Chaslee