Thursday, August 29, 2013

What am I wearing?

Big Girl Pants are defined as: pants you wear when you know you need to step up. Something you are called to do, the right thing no matter how hard it is to do it. Often it is related to listening and obeying the Holy Spirit. (These pants have NOTHING to do with weight and/or age.)

Earlier this week I had to put on my Big Girl Pants, something that I know I need to do more often but is not something that I jump in head first to do. The main reason I do not long to zip up my Big Girl Pants is because it means the Holy Spirit is working on something in me. He is convicting me and calling me to live in a righteous way. Now who would not want to live in accordance with the Holy Spirit?! I do, but repeatedly it means my sinful nature has won over my will to naturally do want I know I need to do. Yes, often when putting on my Big Girl Pants it is because, “I do the things I do not want to do and don’t do the thing I know I need to do.”

While the Spirit has been working on me to really see I needed to step up and put on my Big Girl Pants I came to a conclusion. One reason I do not love my Big Girl Pants is because they feel as if they were made out of wool! You know what I mean; it is that lovely article of clothing that is just itchy to wear because it is made from wool. You find yourself itching and moving often while in this garment. It just does not feel like your comfy yoga pants or worn in linen pants. While this analogy is true it is also convicting. Let me explore more…..

We daily live in our yoga or linen pants, daily we sin and break the heart of our Savior! So when it is made known to our continuous attention that we are in the wrong and need to make a change we put on the uncomfortable itchy wool pants. We then feel something outside of our norm. But in reality as Christian Ladies we should be wearing our Big Girl Pants each and every day!

The Word calls us to live in a way that is holy and upright, Micah 6:8. We are told to forgive as well as to go and seek forgiveness, Matthew 26:28 and Mark 11:25. But somehow this is not what we do first. Our sinful nature is comfortable with holding on to things and making excuses for why “we” do not need to go and ask for forgiveness. Hence why we are so comfortable in our yoga pants rather than our Big Girl Pants.

Trust me…. my sinful nature would be happy as a clam to forever stay in my yoga pants and to not have to feel the discomfort of my wooly Big Girl Pants. But God is working in me. He is showing me that I need to wear my Big Girl Pants every day. No matter how hard it is I need to be willing to zip up my Big Girl Pants every day. The hope and prayer is that God will give me the grace and strength to not just say it but to DO IT! The strange thing is God is telling me over time that these itchy wooly pants will become comfortable! Living in accordance with His Word, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, does wonders in our lives and that is what makes these irritating difficult pants worth wearing!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Best French Press EVER!

So when I came back to Uganda in early June I brought with me a brightly colored french press. The color was what sucked me in but the fact I had broken two french press already in my Africa kitchen I was despite for something strong! Strong and yet stylish...I may live in Africa but fashion and style have not left me!

While back in the great State of California I was on the hunt for a good french press, coffee is essential in the mornings, no matter what side of the world I am on. People have told me over and over again that Bodum is a great company. They looked nice from what I could see and if price means anything they should last from what I saw with that $$$ tag. 

With hope in me I bought the Bodum Brazil 8-Cup French Press Coffee Maker in Green and I am so happy I did! It works great! Makes coffee well, easy to clean, holds heat well, and it is colorful in my Africa kitchen.

If you need a new french press or looking for a gift for newly weds, missionaries heading to the field, grad, or more I would recommend this press! Comes in a few other colors so I am sure it will match many kitchens!

Here is to many happy mornings with a great cup of joe!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I am who I am and I do what I do because...

From and early age I would hear things like….”You are one of kind Sunshine.” “You are special.” “No matter if you have a learning disability or not…you are smart.” “You are mine and you make me smile.” ‘You shine so bright.” 
A lot of the encouraging words I heard as a child came from this lovely lady!

How could anyone, hearing encouraging words like this see themselves as anything but one of a kind?! While hearing these amazing words I also learned how broken, sinful, greedy, selfish, and lost I really was. God did a miraculous thing in my heart when I was the age of 12. He showed me I needed Him more than anything else. With faith like a child I prayed for Jesus to save me. (He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24.)

To this day, I can recall all the detail of the moment Christ was made the center of my life. Now, when this happened that did not mean my selfishness, greed, brokenness, sin, and or dyslexia went away, never to be see or heard of again. In fact the opposite happened! All the CRAP in me, yes I am a missionary I said crap, was magnified. The Holy Spirit pointed out everything with microscope precision. And no matter what I do or how hard I try…until I reach Heaven’s joys, bright heaven’s son, I will not be fully Christ-like.  

Now here is the kicker. Knowing of all this I stand scratching my head. God in His infinite wisdom is using me in Africa, when He could fully well do it all on His own. Heavenly Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Yahweh, the great I Am is using me. He is using sinful, greedy, selfish, prideful, tattooed, and broken ME! 
“Holy Crap…why on earth,” is what I daily ask. And every day this is the answer I get…

Cassandra, you don’t have to know. It is ok if you do not see it. You just have to trust, trust in me. I know what I am doing, so you do not have to. You just need to walk by faith and not by sight, as hard as it may be. You have to know I made you just the way you are and I made you this way for a reason. Just because some one else does not see it, or get it does not mean there is no value. So, can you trust? Can you let go and daily do what I set before you? Everyday can you love and support the people I place into your life, no matter how long they are there for?  Daughter that is all I am asking you do because I am doing the rest for you. –Abba

So until the day I take my last breath and see my savior face to face, I will be who He made me to be and I will do what He is asking of me. For He has done so much more in order to call me daughter. (I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14)

Learning to love who I am and how Christ made me

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Open Door...

More than I would like to admit the phrase “God opened the door” comes out of my mouth. That phrase itself is not bad. In fact, it is good. It is acknowledging that God is at work rather than me. More of Him and less of me is a great thing!

In the last few weeks something strange has happened. Countless conversations have turned to the topic of “God opening doors.” The odd part is how a few friends and I started to see that there seems to be a hidden expectation with the meaning of this phrase. As we were talking, we all kind of had a moment of “Huh? Wonder why that is.”  For me, that moment has continued for over a week now. For some reason I cannot stop thinking about how an open door does not mean walking through will be smooth or painless.

Some how the idea that when God opens a door in our lives, whatever is on the other side will be easier than where we are now. Not sure how or why, but many, including myself hold on to hope of this unrealistic expectation. Yes, God is good and desires the best for us! 
Jeremiah 29:11 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.
 John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Psalm 52:8  But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.
God is not anything if not loving.  But I think we have forgotten one key aspect. We have forgotten about someone that seeks to have power and influence over us. We have forgotten about the enemy.

Now, please, understand I do not want to give credit to the devil. But, face it, he is good at what he does! We have forgotten he is free and roaming this earth.  I believe  that has led us to think an open door means golden roads ahead.

Personally, I can look back at my life and see where I assumed there was going to be golden roads ahead when God opened a door in my life. And more over, I can tell you how many times I have been sorely mistaken. The lack of golden or easy roads on the other side of the door has never meant God did not open the door, but it hasn’t been a cakewalk! The thing I have been learning is God opens the doors in our lives and when we have the faith and trust to walk through them, the enemy panics.  Through the Lord’s strength, the fears of walking through the door did not hold us back, so his first strategy failed. So he goes on the attack!

The enemy understands that because we were obedient to the Lord, mountains are about to move. Lives are going to be changed and he will do what he can, even when he knows he will fail, to de-rail us. He makes the steps we take after crossing the threshold feel like we are under fire. Here we thought it was going to be a bed of roses because the Lord opened the door for us. Hate to spoil the ending for ya but, GOD WINS
 1 Samuel 17:47  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
The Lord wins every time. So when we are hitting the deck to avoid the attacks of the enemy we need to remember who has ALREADY won the war.  We need to stand strong and fight back with God’s word and TRUTH. We have nothing to fear. The Lord of angel armies is on our side.
Exodus 15:6  Your right hand, Lord,
    was majestic in power.
Your right hand, Lord,
    shattered the enemy.
Now I do realize it is much easier said than done. Our human nature tells us to duck or run away. So now my prayer is for us to be strong and realistic when God opens a door.  Praying for the Holy Spirit to instill peace and passion into us so we do not hit the deck but stand strong. Stand strong knowing God has already one the war!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Speaking of Africa

I have been back a month now.  Already spoken at two churches and seen many friends and supporters. Can you guess the number one question I am asked?! Been gone for a it make sense people want to know "How was Africa?"

This is a hard question to answer. Hard to answer because there is a lot I could reply with, just never sure who wants to hear what. Everyone wants to hear I am good and God is amazing (like He always is) but not everyone wants to hear about the hard and dark days. Often people do not even really want to the truth. It is the same thing when people ask you "how are you," as you pass them in the hall at work.  You say "good" or maybe even "fine" but in the back of your mind you are thinking "do you really want to know how I am?"

Come know what I am talking about. Everyone has been asked the question and then formulated a response that they thought the other  person wanted to hear. To be fair I was like this when I lived in the States. Yup, asking "how are you," is what you say was you pass people you know.

Here is where it gets hard for me. For a year and a half I have been in a culture where you stop and talk to people. No matter if you are late for work, a meeting, or whatever you STOP and chat with people you pass.Time is not what is important, it is more the relationship with the person you are talking with that takes precedent. Time is spent with others thinking about them, not about how much time has passed.
Some of you are thinking how odd it is to stop where ever you are to chat with someone. Some are even passing judgement, because time is valuable.  Trust me I once thought the same way. Over time and learning more about Ugandans and the heart of my heavenly father I come to see things in a new light. There is a phrase I have learned and say daily in Africa, it just might help with this. "It is not right or wrong, it is just different." Without understanding why something is done or not done how can anyone make a judgement call?  You can't. You would be assuming, and we all know what happens when you assume.

This is a lesson the Lord has taught me over the years and now as I am back in the States for a while; I have to re-learn this lesson with in American culture.  So, I often take a breath and pray when someone asks me "how was Africa?" Not because I am tired of being asked that questions but more so to invite the Holy Spirit to come and give me words. I do not want to answer as others want me to. I pray I answer as the Lord is asking me to. To be honest and open about what He is doing in Africa. 
I ask you help me never open my mouth to speak about Africa without your words in my mouth. Please touch my heart when it is time be still and wait on your for answers. Give me the answers you know other people need to hear, even if they do not want to hear it. May you also tell me when to shut up! I pray everyone will be genuine and honest when they ask others "how are you." Help me to care less about time and more about my brothers and sisters. Help me do this here in the States as well as Uganda. Thank you Lord to loving me and taking your time with me! -Amina

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Faces I have missed...

Hard to believe it has been one month, one month back in the great state of California. 

God is so good. He knows me more than I ever could and speaks to me in ways that just touch my soul! Over the last month there have been countless moments of sweet reunions. There have also been moments of pure and utter laughter! You know, the kind that makes you cry and almost pee your paints.....yes there has been much of that.

Thank you for all your prayers as I did make the transition to the States from Uganda. I will be honesty and I am not 100% comfortable here but it is blessed time. Learning and growing, trusting and surrendering.

Here are just some of the faces I have missed but are apart of my daily life for the next two months. I am one blessed girl!
Keri and I enjoying chatting, sunshine, and good friends!

Erik and I goofing off at my Birthday Party!

Jaylee Ann ready to take a ride with Auntie Cass

Beth and Erik making me laugh!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Faith, Hope, and LOVE

Life in Africa is hard. Often things happen and we wonder and pray. Someday we hope to understand but until then we have faith in God's master plan. We also walk in the true love and freedom.

“Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5

11 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

When I started with AIM I was blessed to spend three weeks with over 30 adults and 15 children. We all learned more about life in Africa, missions, the African would view, and more. So many firsts were shared together and life long bonds were created. 
 13 But it is you, a man like myself,
    my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
    at the house of God,
as we walked about
    among the worshipers. Psalm 55:13-14
My fun ABO crew!
Julie Gennaro and I at our last ABO dinner!

One family I loved spending time with was the Gennaro Family. They answered the Lord's call to live along the people in the hills of Losatho in southern Africa. This amazing family of eight packed up and said goodbye to Sunny San Diego and headed off to the cool windy hills of one of the smallest African countries. They came to work with a vocational training center in a small village. Chris, the father, has indescribable skills in dress making and tailoring. Whether cracking jokes with Chris and his lovely wife, Michelle, having a sleep over with their three daughters, or running around outside with their three boys I LOVED being with this family. They truly love the Lord and seek Him in all they do. Each child is growing more and more into the person the Lord has created them to be with loving and supporting parents. 
One of the CRAZY Gennaro boys!

Can you tell I love this family?! Well I do. This morning I could not help but lift this family up in prayer. With tears in my eyes I learned that last night Chris went to be with Jesus. The family was blessed to say goodbye and be by his side. After a heart attack and three weeks in a South African ICU, the Lord called His faithful servant home. Please lift this family up in prayer as they grieve the loss of a husband and father. We have HOPE that this family will see God's loving hand in this dark season. We have FAITH that God's plan will bring Him glory for the Gennaro's obedience and work in Africa. We ask that the LOVE this family has for the Lord will be a testimony for all to see.

because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:4-6 

With a sad heart I say goodbye but with a hopeful spirit I rejoice with the heavens as they welcome Chris home!