Faith, Life

Dear Dysautonomia

As a person with a chronic illness of the autonomic nervous system, I’ve had to make many adjustments & try different treatment plants. It’s a battle, but it’s a battle I’m willing to fight. Since creating this blog, I have joined some online communities of other Christian bloggers my age. Many of these ladies also deal with chronic illnesses- some have dysautonomia, some have EDS, some have MS or RA, and the list goes on. I’m extremely blessed to have been able to talk with these people and build a community with people who understand what I’m going through. Many of these ladies have way more challenges to face due to their illnesses than I do, but they are so strong and inspiring to me. They give me support & the optimism to push through even the toughest days.

I’m not gonna lie… At first I thought this diagnosis was the end of my plans, dreams and goals. I was glad to have a diagnosis after almost half my life searching for one, but the reality of knowing the changes I was going to have to make made me negative and sad, leaving me feeling just plain broken.

I still have rough days, but thanks to God giving me strength, my healthcare team, my family & my community of fellow “spoonies,” my mindset has shifted. And because of that, I have a few words I’d like to say to this sly, confusing little illness:

“Dear Dysautonomia,

I know you think you’ve won. I know you think I’m going to accept that I’ll be sick forever. I know you think I’ll be debilitated and give up on everything I’ve ever dreamed of… But you are so wrong, my “friend.”

Okay, so I had to stop dancing, my favorite art form and sport of all time, until further notice. I bet that made you ecstatic. So I had to “give up” cardio workouts until further notice. Okay, well that’s not the end of the world. Yes, I spend every day in pain, and with a skyrocketing heart rate. Yes, I find myself sweating even when it’s cold, having chronic hypotension and downing liters upon liters of water- oh & don’t forget all that salt! I’m sure you’re enjoying every bit of this, waiting for me to crack. To give up and fall victim to your grasp.

The thing is… you don’t own me, you don’t own my life. You can throw countless annoying symptoms at me, make me take medications that I cannot pronounce, cause excruciating migraines, panic attacks and pretty severe anxiety, but you cannot take away who I am: a fighter, a motivator, an artist, a student, a friend, a daughter, a leader & most importantly, a child of God.

You can throw all these inconvenient, stressful things at me, but my God is right here with me. I’ve accepted the fact that you’re an obstacle I have to juggle daily- but I will not be overcome by you. For all the flare ups, all the days you make it nearly impossible to get out of bed, I remember who I am. I’m not running away from this diagnosis anymore because you don’t scare me. You may be a storm, but let me tell you, my God is bigger than any storm. I’ll keep dancing in the rain and enjoying the things I can do. You can keep doing your thing, but you will not beat me.

Before I go, Dysautonomia, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for showing me how strong I am. Thank you for making me turn to God as my strength in a time I was separating myself from him. Thank you for showing me that I’m a fighter, an overcomer and a goal-getter. Thank you for showing me that there’s more than one way to do something- if I just allow myself to be creative and motivated. Thank you for causing me to pursue other avenues of creativity and rediscovering my love for old hobbies and art forms, reminding me of so many of the gifts God gave me not only to cope, but to glorify him with.

Dysautonomia, you may beat up my body, but I refuse to be a victim. I will keep fighting until there’s a cure- until this “invisible illness” is well known, and is no longer stigmatized or brushed aside.

One last thing… leave everyone else alone. I hate seeing what so many others are going through. I hate seeing how many people don’t have access to amazing doctors or a strong support system like I do. You can mess with me all you want. Just know, I NEVER quit.

Sincerely,

A girl with POTS.”

To all my fellow “spoonies,” I’m praying for you and rooting for you. You’ve got this. Don’t hesitate to send me a message if you need anything. Never give up.

Xoxo,

Faith, Life, Uncategorized

I am a vessel

I am a vessel, slowly drifting through an expansive and mysterious ocean.
It’s easy to get lost;
To drift further and further from the shore out into the dark, deep unknown.

I’ve faced stagnant waters, where nothing seems to be changing, and I’ve faced rough waters with crashing waves so fast and powerful that it feels I may capsize- or even sink.

I’ve been stranded, feeling completely lost and alone;
But I was found.

My creator sent me the coordinates to send me sailing back in the right direction.
He put out buoys to guide me so that I do not drift too far.

He cast his love over me, anchoring my soul in his amazing grace.
I may drift and I may be knocked around,
but the Lord, my God, will not be shaken.
He is the mighty anchor that keeps me from disappearing & losing all hope.
And for that, I am truly grateful.

I am a vessel, anchored in the miraculous and gracious love of Jesus Christ.

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Thank you for reading this that I wrote recently. Remember that God is a strong and trustworthy anchor who covers us with grace and fills us with hope!

God bless,
Cassie

Faith, Life

A Faithful Challenge: I Have Been Called. [2018]

*** A/N: This blog post is from the fall of 2016, when I began my fundraiser to go on a mission trip to the UK. Last summer (2017), God made that happen. I have been called to return this coming summer, so the sentiment of this post still rings true. The shirts mentioned in this post are an old fundraiser, though I do have some leftover if you’d like to buy one for $15 and get them off my hands :). Keep reading if you’re interested in how I was called to go on this trip & feel free to send me a message or comment below if you have any questions! I will link my Etsy shop soon if you’d like to purchase any of my handmade items to help support the trip, and other updates will follow soon. Sorry this is so long, but I hope you’ll read the following, as it means a lot. ❤

-cassie


“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Mark 16:15

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God has really been working in my heart for a while, but in the past few years, I’ve really been developing a heart for missions. Those who know me know that I am initially a shy, timid person who used to never delve into social situations out of my comfort zone. That being said, through a lot of prayer and conversations, I have felt God tugging on my heart and calling me to serve him in places that are out of my comfort zone. After 2 unforgettable mission trips in Puerto Rico, which was way out of my comfort zone due to the language barrier and my lack of experience with missions the first time around, I felt myself changing for the better and realizing a purpose God had for me- service.

I’ve always wanted to be a part of something much bigger than myself and go places I’m unfamiliar with, but haven’t yet had many opportunities to do so. This is one of the many reasons why I chose to attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, as the school puts a ton of focus on faith, fellowship and ministry. I knew that goon here would both challenge and strengthen my faith, as well as provide many opportunities to serve the LORD while still in school. From the first time I ever stepped on campus, I felt God’s presence and a calling that this is exactly where I needed to be to obey his plan for my life. Since I’ve been here, my faith has been challenged and strengthened and I’ve been introduced to many opportunities to serve him. I’ve also been forced to get out of my comfort zone as I am in a new town filled with new faces and none of my high school peers are at the same school as I am. God definitely used that fact to get me plugged in and involved from day one. I began hearing of many mission trips that are through the university and couldn’t wait to discover which one I may one day be called to embark on, as I have decided to minor in Christian missions and hope to one day use my nursing career as a way to embark on medical missions as well. That, and getting more experience with serving our God is very important in preparing me to follow His plan for my life. College is definitely the perfect t time for these kinds of experiences as it is a time where my experience will shape who I am as an adult, and I don’t yet have a family of my own to provide for- or the lack of energy to put into things such as this.

After attending a Wednesday morning chapel service where students shared about their experiences on the mission trip to England, I knew I had a lot of praying to do. During the service, I heard students pour their hearts out in testimony of what the trip entailed and I had an unexplainable feeling in my stomach and heard the words “you have been called; go” from a voice in my head. I had never felt quite this way before, but I knew it was God speaking to me and I had to find out more. After discussing it with my parents and a LOT of prayer for guidance, I decided to go speak with the school’s chaplain to get more information and a trip application. During my conversation with him, he told me the trip would be very challenging emotionally and that I would leave changed, that it was an experience like no other. I, being a person in need of getting out of my comfort zone and accepting new challenges as I start my young adult life, began feeing excitement as fell as anxiety about going on this trip- but mostly excitement. I know it’ll be completely unlike my previous mission experiences & I will tell you why:

Puerto Rico did have its challenges, as there was a language barrier between English and Spanish speakers and developing the whole mission mindset, but I came in contact predominantly with people who were Christians/Catholic or at least had some experience or knowledge of God. The trip was amazing and the people I got to meet and serve will always have a place in my heart, but my jobs on the trips were mainly running VBS, helping with painting and renovating churches and canvassing towns with fliers for new churches. This trip to England will be COMPLETELY different and I believe will really help develop my faith and heart for missions, as well as allow me to be a part of something BIG and special, in a way totally unlike I have experienced before by bringing the word of God to people who desperately need it.

England is historically known as a Christian country, but has become increasingly secular and could really use the spread of the word of God. Less than 3% of the county is Evangelically Christian. Many are completely secular, but Islam and Hinduism is also growing there. England is spiritually starving and needs the sustenance provided by our savior, Jesus Christ. This is challenging for me, as well as the rest of the students going on the trip, because we are very used to being surrounded by believers and fellow Christians, or serving in places where he is quickly accepted, but in England it’s very different. We’ve already been told that we may not see anyone accept Christ as their savior in the two weeks we are there, but our purpose is to help guide them closer to accepting him, even if the process is slow. This is a very new environment and culture to experience, but I’m really looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and seeing how God uses all of us to make a difference in this country. We am just vessels and God is doing the all of the saving, but I would love for him to use us as tools to expand his kingdom and reach these people’s hearts so they may feel the love, comfort and wholeness that we feel because of him.

On this trip, we will primarily be ministering to college students throughout various places in town by sharing our testimonies, listening to them and doing any service projects in the Northern England community that we possibly can. I’d really love to be a part of spreading our Saviors love in a place that is lacking Christian fellowship because it is really important to me that the knowledge of his love and name will be known the “end of the earth” (acts 1:8). We will be in England from May 11-25, 2017- which will be here before we know it, but I’m really, really excited (how many times can Cassie use the word “excited” in one blog post!?) to dive into this and experience the plan of our Father.

In order to make this trip possible, I am selling some comfort colors shirts (see below) through a company known as Fund The Nations for $22, and I am also planning on selling some handmade crafts and foods in the future. I have also designed a baseball style of the shirt that will sell at $25 a piece! If you’d like to purchase a shirt, give me some odd jobs to do or if you feel led to make a small donation, I’d be forever thankful. Mostly I just wanted to share with y’all what God has called me to do and ask for your prayers as I embark on this journey that is new and out of my comfort zone. The trip is $2500 total and I know that it is totally possible for me to raise every penny if it is God’s will and I put forth the time and effort.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this and I’d absolutely love if you keep me on your prayers or send me some positive thoughts! You can email me any questions you have regarding further details about this trip, my testimony and why I feel called to go at: Cassie.allred1998@gmail.com

God Bless,

Cassie

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Life

Fellowship of the Cru

  I’ve been in college for almost 6 weeks now and in my time here, I’ve gotten the chance to be involved in many organizations and events that make my heart so so happy! One of the best things about going to a Christian college, other than the strong focus on faith and leadership, is the fellowship and relationships you’re able to form through fellowship- and UMHB holds endless opportunities for just that! I’m going to talk about a few of the things I’m involved in, partly as a life update but also to encourage those who are in High school and are applying to colleges to consider what organizations the colleges they apply to offer & find ways to get involved once on campus-  because being involved is SO much fun!

   My week starts on Sunday, when I attend C-Life in the morning at TBC, and then I get to meet with Drama Ministry at the BSM (Baptist Student Ministry) on Sunday evenings. In the drama ministry, I get to hang out with people who share common interests (drama) to put together human dramas and skits that glorify and praise the Lord at the same time (how cool)! We’ve been working for a few weeks, but I’m so excited for the things we may be doing in the future!

  If you remember my welcome week post, you may remember I mentioned my family group. Well, my family group and I share a freshman seminar class, and many of us eat lunch together, study together, and keep up in a group message now and then- like a family! This was our first big opportunity at fellowship at welcome week and many of us formed great friendships that we still carry with us!

  Monday’s are jam-packed with classes from 8-5, and then I get to hang out with a ton of amazing people at Stunt Night practices and I’ve already met so many new people in the past week! This isn’t a year long activity, but we got to jump right in and I’m so pumped to see how the freshman class skit turns out!

   Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, I have practice for Sader Belles, which is the dance team at UMHB. I’m so happy and blessed to be a part of this team, because I love every person in it and it was the very first thing I was thrown into as a freshman (way before welcome week) and has helped me to become involved from the very beginning and encourages me to stay in shape. I can’t forget to mention the bonds it has built and how I’ve gained so many people to go to if I have questions- as many are in the same major as me! We dance together, laugh together & pray together (3 of my favorite things!) does it get any better than that?! Another great part of Sader Belles is that we dance at all the home games, so as a group we exhibit spirit and support for our school, and it’s such a fun way to be involved because you can feel the energy and be a part of the action of all the Crusader football games! 

   Every Thursday night at 9pm, UMHB has “Worship in the Quad,” and I absolutely LOVE it! While we have chapel as a requirement on Wednesdays (which is also amazing), Worship in the Quad is much more intimate & raw. A bunch of students choose to take a break from their studies to sing praise to the Lord and listen to the testimonies of other students for an hour a week. I’ve already talked to a few people after sessions have ended and built strong bonds with them. Everyone who comes really wants to be there and will pray with you, and it’s helped me find accountability partners and prayer buddies, which I’m so thankful for! Worship in the Quad has been so helpful to me for relieving stress from a long week and helping me get through my Friday classes- and making me feel closer to God. As you know, where 2 or more are gathered, God is there, and I truly feel his presence every time. Nothing brings you closer to other people than worshipping together, and hearing what my peers have been through in their walks with Christ is so beneficial, because it rejevunates my faith by showing how God works & reminds me that I’m not the only one who struggles. 

   Friday afternoons, on weeks we don’t have a football game, I’m able to participate in the BSM’s Hospital Ministry, which really has  warned my heart as well. Every week, the Hospital Ministry drives over the the Scott & White hospital and walks trough the waiting rooms, offering prayers to families and their loved ones who are receiving care. In the time I’ve gone, I’ve seen people’s spirit’s be lifted as they thanked us and willingly let us pray for them & it feels so amazing to help ease people’s nerves as they wait. Prayer is such a powerful thing so it’s amazing to see it at this capacity while actually praying for people we do not know. I’m so thankful for a school and BSM that has such great leadership and creates ministries such as this, because it is so humbling and helps fellowship grow among peers and locals. 

    I guess the purpose of this post was just to show how grateful I am to have the opportunity be involved in a few of MANY amazing organizations and to be able to build fellowship and grow in Christ with my peers. I highly encourage everyone to go out and find an organization (or two) to get  involved in to build fellowship with, because college (and life) would be extremely difficult without it! 

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” – Philippians 2:1-2


Thanks for reading and Go Cru!

Xoxo, Cassie

Life

Honey, I’m home!

   As many of you know, I moved away from my childhood home to my new home at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor! I was both excited and nervous to make this transition, but I have just completed my “welcome week” here and I must say, I LOVE it and I’m completely at home!

  My roommate moved in a few days before me, and I moved in a day before official move-in, due to organizations we are involved in. Throughout the week, we met in “family groups,” which consisted of incoming freshmen in our major and upperclassmen “cru leaders” in our major. It’s been a week and we are already so unbelievably close- we really are a family. With our family groups, we got to participate in many games (I happen to be very competitive, as I was reminded of this week) like the “Crusader Cup,” and the “Color Games,” with other family groups on our team as our colors- ours was yellow (and we WON-of course). We also competed for “first family” by doing crazy things (like serenading random Welcome Week Leaders, singing loudly and randomly in Bawcom, rapping, reciting bible verses, cheering for people throwing away their trash, etc.) to win “welcome week money,” and though we didn’t have the enough to wind first family, we had a blast and I did things that typically contradict my shy and reserved nature- see college really does help you grow!

We also learned about the school through many sessions and had amazing services, a student organization fair, a block party complete with a concert from the amazing Hunter Rea Band & many many prayers. 

 The most meaningful part about UMHB so far, other than the traditions, is the emphasis on faith and growing in our walk with Christ. Going to a school that is so focused on faith definitely makes the transition easier- and so do all of the incredibly kind people! Today, we went to church with our family groups to start “church-hopping” to find a church home as we enter our collegiate years and I absolutely fell in the love with the one we attended today, I could really feel God speaking to me. We also ate lunch with some of the faculty- and let me tell you- they are SO nice! I’m full of excitement and am totally and completely sure that I have been brought to the university I’m meant to be at. Tonight, we had an amazing worship service with all of the other freshmen groups in our chapel and then became Crusaders Forever at dubbing (did I mention we are he largest freshman class in UMHB history?!). I will admit that I teared up a bit because I was overwhelmed with joy and pride for the purple, white and gold. 

Classes start tomorrow & so it is hitting me that I was not attending church camp all week, but I’m extremely excited to see what the semester entails! I am no longer the nervous incoming freshman, I am just an excited freshman who is ready to work hard and hold on to every moment and tradition in my next short 4 years here. If you’d like to know more about this amazing school, do not hesitate to ask me because I’d love to share with you how it is already strengthening my relationship with God and others. 


Xoxo, 

    Cassie 

Faith, Life, Lifestyle

Motivation. 

6“What’s my motivation?” Actors often ask this in cliché TV shows when they want to know what emotion to portray- what makes their character act the way they act. While this example is quite silly, I know you’ve seen it at least once (or 80 times) on a sitcom or movie, the question is quite interesting.

Motivation. What IS my motivation? What makes me, me? Why am I the way I am? I’m sure you’ve asked yourself these questions from time to time, I ask them of myself daily. I’m nearing the end of my Psychology summer course and we recently discussed cognition, behavior, personality and- you guessed it- motivation. This got me really thinking about what motivates me.

Before I go any further, let’s define “motivation.”

According to dictionary.com, motivation is: the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way.

Okay, so how does this apply to me?

As an incoming college freshman, what motivated me to go to college? To try out for the dance team? To major in nursing? To go to the school I have chosen?

I pondered over these questions for a while, trying to figure out a clear answer to these somewhat ambiguous questions. My motivation could be that my parents wanted me to go to college, or that college is just the  expected next-step upon graduation from high school. I could have tried out for the dance team solely because I’ve danced much of my life and it’s just what I do, or maybe it’s because I love it so much that I can’t live without it. Maybe I chose to be a nursing major because nurses make good money, or because my mom always thought I could be a good nurse, or because I really have the desire to help people feel better. I could have chosen my college based on its merit, or on how great the program of study in my chosen field is. There is an infinite amount of solutions for what my motivation could be. So what?

I know what you’re thinking, “Cassie, you’re just going on and on about a bunch of stuff that is irrelevant to me and I stopped really paying attention 2 paragraphs ago.” Bear with me, please, I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

As I dug deeper into the depths of my cognitive ability, it hit me. I have small surface motivations, such as future salary, hobbies I grew comfortable with, and societal expectations, but those aren’t really what pushed me to pursue my quickly arriving endeavors. It’s so much bigger than that! Or better yet, HE’s so much bigger than that! I could easily ignore the expectations of those around me and go on about my day, or save a whole lot of money by going to a community college instead of a university, but I’m led to do otherwise because HE has a plan for me.

God is my ultimate motivation, and knowing that he has a plan for me is my source of comfort. Truth be told, I’m terrified to move away for college- just as much as I am excited. I do not know what obstacles and twists & turns the next 4 years hold, but I know they will happen and God will guide me through it all. Just the other day, I was filling out my loans and scholarship forms thinking, “why did I choose a private school, how will I ever pay these off?” And I remembered that I didn’t choose my school, God did. He led me here and I must go, it will all work out if I put my trust in him, no matter how scary it can seem.  I couldn’t grasp a definitive answer on any of my questions because I didn’t have them, but God did. He put these choices in my heart because they were in his plan & I felt that they were instinctive and right, but I couldn’t deem myself as the force driving them. So yeah, I’m scared, but He is so much greater than any of our problems or fears.

I don’t really know why I’m sharing this with all of you, because you likely don’t care too much about what’s going on in my teenage mind, but I just had to let my thoughts spew out of this brain of mine. I guess the whole purpose of this post is that, no matter what stage of life you are in, whether you’re entering high school, college, or just a new chapter, God will be there to help you through it. Through all of the struggles and “I don’t know what I’m doings,” he has a plan for you and you need to remember that and trust it.

If you need a little reassurance, reminders of God’s amazing love, and motivation when you feel stuck, here are a few Bible verses I am quite fond of:

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him & he will direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, ‘With men, this is impossible. With God, all things are possible.'” – Matthew 19:26

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the glory of Jesus Christ,” – Philippians 4:19

Praying for love and blessings to you all,

Xoxo, Cassie