Monday, May 21, 2018

Guest Blogger, Cassidy Lemoine

2:13 PM 0

Hey Y'all, my name is Cassidy Lemoine.  I am a 20-year-old recent college grad, currently working as a COTA, Navigating adulthood has proven to be more difficult than I thought!  But I am comforted knowing that I am not alone.
Confession, I’m a bit of a control freak. Yeah as if God didn’t already know that. He created me for crying out loud. Psalm 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full and well." Before I was even a thought in my parent's lives God stitched together each thread of DNA that make up who I am. Not the same as anyone before me, nor the same as anyone to follow. But uniquely me, beautiful and precious in His eyes. He knows the depths of my heart, my every thought, my every desire. Yet, I still think I can hide from Him. I am full of shame and embarrassment to reveal to Him or anyone else just how flawed and unworthy I actually am.

Control…none of us have it. Yet, we all want it. Why is that? Why do we so desperately cling to something that is unattainable? In my walk with Christ, I’ve learned that being in control is not an option. I chase after situations that I think I can control the outcome and when inevitably it doesn’t turn out as I imagined everything comes crashing down around me, or at least so it feels. It’s not my true desire to be in control. Honestly, I want nothing more than to not be in control. I want to know without a shadow of a doubt that everything is out of my hands. And I can know this if I would just believe the promises God tells me. But the devil somehow convinces me time and time again that letting go of that control I think I have is much more fearful than holding the fate of my life and the lives of those around me in my hands. I admit when I look at the big picture it seems silly to attempt to hold onto control. But, day to day, moment to moment, the devil convinces me otherwise. Differentiating me trying to control my life from letting God control my life becomes much more difficult.

I am 20 years old, I’ll be graduating in December with my Associate’s degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant and I’m currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. No job, living with a couple from my church, who might I add are amazing, away from my parents, single, and altogether just completely confused. So, what do I do? I cling to any and everything I think I can control.

The crazy thing is these past few months have been some of the toughest months I’ve experienced. No, nothing traumatic has happened. For the most part, everyone I know and love is in good health, including myself. I have the most amazing church family I could ever dream of. My parents are supportive of everything I do. Yet, I can’t shake this rut I’m in. How’d I even get here? I don’t know. Well, actually I do know. It’s because of my faith, or lack thereof. My need to cling to control is a direct result of my lack of faith. I’ve been so down lately. I really wish I could see the devil when he attacks. You know that way I could at least brace myself for the impact. I’ve been nothing short of a bullseye in the past few months. At first, I didn’t realize it. I couldn’t understand why I felt so targeted by everyone in my life; when everyone was nothing but, loving and supportive. But I think I’ve nailed it. The devil is his name and he plays quite the tricky game. Seriously! He is smarter than you think. Either that or we are just a lot dumber than we think.

"So do something about it" that was the advice I got from a friend after finally pouring my heart out at a table in Chili’s. I’m sorry…what? I just told you the deepest most vulnerable thing I can think of and you tell me to just "do something about it"?? At first, I was confused. What kind of crappy advice is that anyway? That’s not what I want to hear. I wanted him to say some encouraging words tell me how great I am and then move on. I’d feel better, my life would be together, and everything would work out just the way I wanted…Right? Wrong! Truth is this is the last thing I wanted to hear however, it is exactly what I needed to hear. A good kick in the rear-end is exactly what I needed. The reason I didn’t want to hear what he was telling me was that it wasn’t reassuring me, in fact, it was verifying just how sucky I am. Yeah…. I am pretty sucky. But, aren’t we all. Instead of having faith and allowing God to take control of my situation I chose to pout and throw a pity party in my head every day, trying to convince myself I am worthy of what I think I deserve; a boyfriend, a job, lots of friends who tell me how great I am all the time. Spoiler Alert! We all suck! But hey that’s okay because we have a God that doesn’t. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God"-Ephesians 2:9. This verse is like the secret code to all the passwords in the world. We all have selfish desires. We all want what we want when we want it. And if you think you don’t or this doesn’t apply to you…think again. Because it does we are all sinners. However, this verse is like hitting the jackpot! By GRACE, which comes from God who is perfect, we are saved through faith, which is a GIFT from God. Let me say that one more time. By GRACE, which comes from God who is perfect, we are saved through faith, which is a GIFT from God. We are not saved through donating money to charity, we are not saved through going to church in our best outfit on Sundays but, we are saved through faith. Hold on it gets better, "it is a gift from God." I cling to this control, that I really don’t have nor want to have when God is begging me to allow Him to give me the gift of faith.

Levi Lusko did a series on faith in 2014, that is called "Let It Be." In the first sermon, he discusses Matthew 20:17, "He replied because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ’Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Levi discussed just how tiny the mustard seed is. It is, in fact, one of the smallest seeds but, it creates one of the largest trees. The one thing that stood out to me the most in Levi’s sermon was that he said: "see past the seed." When I look at the stage of life I’m in right now I see a tiny plant with barley sprouted out of the ground. It feels as if the tiniest gust of wind could rip it right off the ground. Discouraging, right? But, when I look at that seed I’m not looking at two things. One is the strong roots bound to the ground beneath it preventing even the strongest gusts of wind from ripping it out of the ground. My roots are the promises God has given to me. And not the promises I want God to fulfill, like a husband or career. But the promises you find in the Bible, like eternal life in heaven. The second thing is, I’m not looking past the seed. At the moment, it feels like my seed can only be seen through the lens of a magnifying glass. And maybe that’s true but, I’m still missing the point. It’s never about where you are right now. It’s about where God can and will take you if you allow Him. However, I do believe God will one day in his time bless me with a husband, a career, and hopefully lots of children, I don’t think these are the promises that will help out of this rut. Because like all things of this world, they are not eternal, not perfect, and therefore not completely fulfilling. God, however, is. 1 John 5:11-12 "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." I think these are the types of promises we should cling to.
So, this is me doing something about it. I will no longer allow the devil to fill my head with lies and throw a continuous pity party for myself. I will now fill my heart with God’s word. I will cling to His promises tighter than I cling to the control I try to have over my life. I will live every day pursuing God and sharing His love, promises, and fulfillment with all of His people. Now it’s your turn. Whatever you are struggling with whatever stage of life you are in, Go do something about it!

Cassidy Lemoine


Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Iconic Mother

7:21 AM 0

I was born in 1981, which makes me 37 years old.  I have never been one that has felt the need to hide that ever-increasing number, but instead, I choose to celebrate it as the number of years that I have been blessed with life.  Not one season or year would I take away from this life, even the ones that have hurt the deepest because they have been the markers along the way where I have learned the most. With every tear shed, God has used it to shape me.  With every wrinkle formed, He has reminded me how quickly it all passes, and with every sunrise, He is teaching me to cherish the little heads that rest soundly underneath our roof, still fully dependent on our care, yet only for a bit longer.  

Time.  It has a way of leaving you before you ever realize it was there.  Something tells me that the mothers before me understood this a little better than I. 

Scrolling through Instagram the other day, something struck me that I had not noticed before.  I know, right? Leave it to Instagram to provide my thought-provoking moment of the day.  Did I just say, “I know, right?” Anyway, as I was scrolling through all of the adorable “Momma Bloggers” that I follow, I noticed a theme.  Many of their photos could have been mistaken easily for an old ad in the familiar Southern Living or Parenting Magazine from the late 70s to early 90s.  Everything from the clothes they were wearing, to the set decor, to the hairstyles, it was like stepping back in time, and I loved it.  I loved it so much that I found myself reminiscing back to my childhood and remembering specific styles which mimicked those that are now clearly attempting to take their places back into our closets.  As I was wishing that I had saved more clothes from my childhood, this profound thought came to me.  

“We, as a culture, are longing for a simpler time. We are longing to be the kind of mothers that our mothers were, to take pride in the kinds of things they did, and for our lives to mirror the love and way of life that we, for so many years, have deemed as outdated.  We want to get back to the Iconic Mother.”

So, to every Iconic Mother out there, and in particular to you, Mom, here are a few things we have to say.

Your life was what we can only hope to capture in an image of a moment created for a photo.  Mom, you never had any “followers,” and rarely, did anyone from the outside world know or see your efforts.  You never received a “like” or felt the warmth of a “heart” popping up on a screen as applause for your excellent work, yet somehow, it genuinely seemed to me as though you loved what you did.    

Mom, we want to be like you.  We want to wake up earlier, cook our children a hot breakfast, and remind them before they leave to “remember who they are,” not because we have to, but because we want to.  We want to teach them that manners are still important and that the length of their hemline is as well.  Also, to take food to the sick and visit the widows is equally vital because investing in people face-to-face is essential. 

We want to purchase a large batch of fresh green beans just to give us an excuse to have our kids sit down beside us and snap through conversations.  We want to forget our phones at home and not have a panic attack because we remember that centuries of the women before us managed just fine without one.        

We want to go back to a time when felt boards were our favorite way to learn about the loaf and two fishes, when we learned the books of the Bible, and we practiced our memory verses at the dinner table.  Back when “dinner on-the-ground” was our favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and moms were less concerned about the ingredients used to prepare every dish, but they were more interested that their kids were not the first in line because that was a time when the older and wiser, not the youth, were held in high places of honor.

We want to go back to chores and allowances and not to be afraid that the word “no” was going to scar our children for life, but instead, realize that this simple word often can become one of our greatest acts of love.  We want to remember that instant gratification rarely gratifies, but hard work and piggy banks still remain the most effective way to instill confidence in our children.  Confidence that says, “I am capable, I can do it, I am not owed it, but I can earn it.”

Mom, we want to be you.  We want to go back to a time when “participation trophies” did not exist, and you taught us the importance of winning or losing with grace.  When yes was yes, and no was no, and sometimes, life just didn’t seem fair, but that was okay because it did not have to be.  You taught us that disappointments were inevitable, but they were also a tool for many valuable life lessons.    

Mom, you were and still are a rock star.  You are the Iconic Mother.  You have made such a mark on our society that we are now longing to get back to the simple truths that you laid out for us to follow - to love the way you love and to carry ourselves with dignity.  We confess that we have allowed time to fly by right before our eyes, that we have often captured a photo of the life we long to live, but then, we have failed to live it.  

So, if there is one last thing that I could ask of you, it would be for your prayers.  I do know that you pray because I caught you many times; even when you did not think I was looking, I saw.  See, it has always been your faith that I have admired the most.  Your faith has been the one thing that gave you the strength to love me the way that you did.  I realize now that you never needed the accolades that we crave so much today through the means of “likes” and “hearts” because you drew your strength from a much sturdier source.  A source that we so often place on the back burner.  A source that many times becomes a check mark on our to-do list or the relationship that we will get to when we have a little more time.  But you understood that His source was ALL that you ever needed. He was enough.  I want to understand and believe this more and more with every passing year. Won’t you pray that I will?  I want to spend my days at His feet, touching the hem of His garment, and pouring over His words because I know for certain that they will provide everything I need to fulfill one of the most significant roles that has been bestowed upon me - A Mother.   

Thanks, Mom, you will forever be Iconic.

P.S.  Moms, today we have TIME, we may not have it tomorrow, so do not let it fly by, but grab hold of it like the true blessing it is, and make it into something beautiful.

Follow Us @jilldasher