On June 1st, I turned 25 and also celebrated the 2 year anniversary of the Chronically Cultivating Podcast! Over the past 6 months, I’ve been thinking about a lot leading up to turning 25, because a few years ago, I almost didn’t make it out of the hospital. I didn’t know that I was going to be here today let alone blogging and hosting a podcast, and I’m so grateful that I am still here today and able to do this. I’m also thankful for God’s redemption and faithfulness for getting me here to this point. 

But I think something that’s hard with every milestone that you face, when you have a progressive chronic illness, is that you kind-of-know the milestones aren’t going to be the same. For example, a big milestone marker in life is turning 25, but for me that meant that I was going to have a bunch of testing done, just to see how things were going and where my body was at. Knowing and planning for that got me really hung up on the date, as if my whole life was going to change that day, but dealing with EDS is always going to be a part of my life. It’s not about my birthday, it’s just kind of a mid 20s thing, but I built it up in my brain.

Turning 25 doesn’t really change anything – this is just routine testing that has to be done. Ultimately, this is part of what the rest of my life is going to look like, and it’s okay to sit in that hardship and struggle. That being said, I want to make sure that I’m practicing what I preach, which is that we can grieve and be disappointed, we can be broken and still see the good, we can celebrate and still throw confetti – even when we don’t feel like it. I want to celebrate this, because every single day that we’re here on this earth is a gift.

God has humbled me greatly and taught me so much over the past 11.. well 25 years… so I decided today for the two year anniversary of the Chronically Cultivating podcast and to commemorate me turning 25, I want to share with you 25 lessons and truths that I’ve learned + that God has shared with me.

You can listen to this post below (if you don’t prefer to read) but this blog post goes a little deeper into each of these lessons as I didn’t have time to dive deep into all of them.

1. Identifying the truth about who God is and who God says we are in every passage of His Word

So the first truth that I want to share with you is something that changed the way I read the Bible, and the way that I look at the Word of God. When I am reading, at the end of each verse, chapter, or passage, I ask myself two questions. The first being: what does this verse tell me about the truth of who God is? The second being: what does this passage show me a truth about who I am in Him? 

A couple years ago, I found Lindsay, from Find Wondrous Things, and she was posting about how she studies the Word by asking, “how does this passage show us a truth about who God is? And what truth does this show me about who I am in Him.” These questions helped give me guidance as I hadn’t really been in the practice of reading my Bible and consistently being in the Word.

A couple years into this practice, I started to find myself uncomfortable when faced with the Truth that I am a sinner in desperate need of grace.

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 NLT

Now I did a whole podcast episode on this (also linked below) where I talk all about identity, and in detail dive into this verse as it shows a truth about who He who is + who we are in Him. The reality is that I’m a sinner, I am unlovable, I am the worst; being a sinner is a huge part of our identity in Christ.

So often we hear about how special and loved and beautiful we are, which is true true, but we rarely talk about the fact that we’re also sinners that are in desperate need of His grace. Jesus didn’t come here on this earth because you or I were “so special” or “so beautiful” or “so great.” It was because He loved us so much that He wanted to have a relationship with us. We can’t become who He made us to be if we don’t accept the ugly truth that we are the worst as we are all sinners. That acceptance isn’t easy and it’s very uncomfortable, but it allows us to begin to appreciate how much He loves us and truly ask for forgiveness. This has been one of the greatest things that I have ever learned and been able to take away as I continue to study the Bible.

2. So Let It Grow

The next hard pill that I’ve had to swallow, in great truth, is “so let it grow.”

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:3-4 NLT

It was the middle of 2020, and I was struggling and not even because of the pandemic, but I was dealing with really serious disease progression. I’d been meditating on the quote, “I asked God to help me grow and it started raining” meaning: you asked God to help you grow, and rain came (aka things got harder because plants can’t grow without rain.) Now in that season of life, I had felt drenched and far past being well watered. Quite frankly I had many a conversation with God about how this “isn’t how I think He should be caring for me – I wanted more sun, not more rain.” So I took my frustration to the Word and searched for every verse that had grow, my 2020 word of the year, in it between a couple different translations. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but when I got to James I heard God loud and clear. I came to acknowledge that this life is going to be really hard, but I need to sometimes let “it” (meaning me) grow. I need to let myself grow and experience these hard things so that I can develop the endurance that it talks about here in James. So let it grow became great encouragement to my very weary heart. 

3. Joyful vs joy-filled: I don’t need to be full of joy, I need to be filled with His! 

The third lesson that I want to share with you is one that has changed my entire life, (and I know all of these have changed my entire life) but this is something my mentor had shared with me that has really changed my perspective and outlook on life. You don’t need to be full to experience joy, we just need to be filled with His joy.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Psalms 16:11 NIV

There are going to be times where we aren’t experiencing the joy that we would expect, and we’re not full of all the things that the world says will make us joyful. So being able to say, “Alright, I don’t really have a reason to be joyful, and I don’t feel like there’s any joy or any good thing here. But, Lord, I know that your joy is not circumstantial and is not dependent on what’s going on in my life. So I want you to fill me with that joy.” It’s exhausting to be responsible for our own joy! So why don’t why do we place all that pressure on ourselves when we can just let Him fill us with His joy?

4. I can do hard things for You, Lord, even this

The fourth prayer that I want to share with you is, “I can do hard things for you, Lord, even this.” When we officially closed our business, there was so much grief surrounding that. In that season my prayer was, “Lord, I don’t understand your plans. And I feel like you’re taking away the dreams that You planted in my heart. Help me grieve that and help me honor You in that grief. Allow my grief to be an act of worship, and in every moment I feel like I can’t continue, give me the strength to say, “I can do hard things for you, Lord, even this.” The thought process behind this prayer is that everything that we do can be an act of worship. Being intentional in any part of our lives can be an act of worship, yet there are so many times that I find myself saying still today, “Lord, I know I can do even the hardest of things for You. But this is just too hard.”

This season was one of brokenness, and this prayer kept me focused in remembering that we all worship Him in a different ways. How we worship Him is not always going to look exactly like somebody else’s worship, but we can worship Him in all things. Whether we are serving in a church, allowing ourselves to grieve, watching church from a hospital bed, loving our people well – everything we do can be an act of worship. So really knowing that no matter what I’ve been given to worship with, even if they’re the hardest of things, I can always offer everything up to Him.

5. Some dreams are only meant for a season, but not always for a lifetime

Another painful lesson that came out of us losing our business, (although it was a lesson learned a couple years after that) when I was, again, still feeling the grief and loss of the life that I thought I would have had. The Lord helped me see that some dreams are only meant to be lived out for a season and not a lifetime.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

This has been such a hard pill to swallow, but realizing that although I was doing what God was calling me to do in that time – that calling was just for a season not for a lifetime. I was heartbroken because I thought I would be in that field for the rest of my life. I still get reminiscent and sad at times, and that’s okay, because healing and accepting our circumstances is a never ending process. So if you’re also feeling that way, let yourself grieve because this truth hurts. I’ve had years to work through my anger and brokenness and disappointment, yet I still mourn what I’ve lost at times. So I just want you to know that: you can be broken over a life that could not be AND accepting of a new season at the same time.

6. Focus on the sunshine and not the shade

The sixth lesson that I want to share with you has probably been one of the hardest to reconcile, which is: how do we protect our peace + focus on the sunshine and not the shade? As I think of the past two years running this podcast, I think there’s something to be said about opening ourselves up to the world; understanding that if we don’t have boundaries in place to help us protect our peace, it is going to be hard to process and deal with everyone’s opinions on your life. When you share your life on the internet, people feel that they’re entitled to give you their opinion on everything, good or bad, ion every area you share about your life. Which is why we have to preemptively work to protect our peace. And so a phrase that I have used in this lesson is: focus on the sunshine and not the shade.

Now I have loved being able to share my life, the ups and downs of EDS + marriage, and my family with you, but I have had to learn some really hard lessons of how to have boundaries in place to protect my peace. When I say focusing on the sunshine and not the shade, I literally mean focusing on God (the Son) and not the shade other people are throwing, because something that I have been criticized on quite often is the fact that, you can’t be that joyful and that sick.

“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 NLT⠀

But when you allow His joy to fill you in, even the worst of circumstances, it can create confusion for someone who is exhausted currently creating their own joy. They haven’t gotten to a place where they’ve asked the Lord to fill them with joy; they’re still trying to be “joyFULL.” And I want to set the record straight which is that: your ability to allow God’s joy to strengthen you and give you hope does not invalidate your diagnosis. Your ability to be broken and grateful in the same season does not invalidate your struggle. Your ability to celebrate the good in life and even the tiniest of victories does not invalidate your experiences. This has been a really hard road to walk in deciding what to share and what not to share, so that I can protect my peace, but I’m so grateful to have learned how to set boundaries so that I can share my life with you. 

7. The fruit of the Spirit are ALL grown by intentional choices

Another lesson that the Lord has spent years cultivating and teaching my heart is that: the fruit of the Spirit are all choices; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control do not come by chance.

All of these “fruits” are choices that we make, and I work really hard to show you the highs and lows of living with a disease like this. On my Instagram, we do something every week called Wednesday wins (which is where people send in their victories and I throw confetti at the end of the day.) It’s great, and we have a lot of fun! But there was one day, where I had actually skipped Wednesday wins because I was so upset and having a really hard time. The next day, I decided to share publicly that nothing in me felt like there was any good or any victory, but sometimes the victory is letting ourselves grieve.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”⠀

John 15:4-5 NLT

I wanted to practice what I preach, which is that: we can use the joy of the Lord is our strength, even when we don’t feel like there’s any joy, because His joy is not dependent on our circumstances, or whatever our hurt is. It’s dependent on saying, “Lord, I’m hurting, but I know You have the ultimate victory, even if I don’t feel it.” And I didn’t feel any joy, but I knew that feelings aren’t facts. Yes, it is a fact that my body is broken, but it is also a fact that He is a good God.

Joy is a choice. That’s why it’s not happiness, because joy is not an emotion, it’s a choice. I knew that throwing confetti wasn’t going to make me feel more joyful, but I knew that submitting to the Lord saying, “I can do hard things for You. Even though they are things I don’t want to do, that are too painful, that are too hard, BUT I can rest easy knowing that You’ve overcome the world. Although I knew the act of throwing confetti, would not change the way I felt it nor would it suddenly make me feel super joyful, happy or excited, I was able to just say, “Lord, the victory is that I am bringing it straight to You. I know You’re grieving with me so I’m gonna throw confetti for that fact; because I can throw confetti and grieve at the same time.” So we have to remember that the fruits of the Spirit are choices that we decide to cultivate, we choose when we cultivate those things, and we determine how they’re going to impact us – they don’t just happen. That has changed how I have looked at the fruit of the Spirit. 

8. His faithfulness is no match for our fears

The eighth truth that I want to share with you is that His faithfulness is no match for our fears.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23⠀

Many of us struggle when asked to push through hard things, but it’s really, really important to remember that when we’re doing what He’s called us to (and that fear creeps up) we need to speak truth to our doubt. We need to be able to say, “as scared as I am, I know that His faithfulness is far greater than any of my fears.” And that has been something that I have clung to for years now because it gives me so much peace. Remembering that although my fear is valid, His faithfulness is also valid. 

9. Never say never

A funnier lesson that the Lord has taught me over the years is that we should never say never. He meets us wherever we are. As a kid, I actually hated gardening and all things about it, and I was missing out because I had just determined that I didn’t like it so I wasn’t going to like it. But honestly, being able to admit that I was wrong, that it actually is a great hobby, and I’ve come to enjoy it has been really wonderful. It just continues to go to show that as humans, we may say “I’m never going to do XYZ.” But if that’s a way that God wants to reach our hearts or tell us that’s where we’re going to go – then that’s where you’re gonna go!

 “How countless are your works, Lord! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number — living things both large and small.”

Psalms 104:24-25 CSB

10. He’s going to give us more than we can handle 

The 10th truth that I want to share with you today is that God is going to give us more than we can handle.

 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 NLT

You want to know what gets me so mad? When I hear people say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle because it literally says the opposite. Living with a broken body is overwhelming, and ultimately I don’t have the strength or the endurance to handle this because I wasn’t created to. We were created to live in perfect union with Him, but because of sin we’re going to face hardships and suffering until we get to heaven; we will find ourselves overwhelmed when we try to handle it with our own strength. You see, if God only gave us what we could handle – we wouldn’t need Him.

That’s why God doesn’t promise that He won’t give us more than we can handle, but He does promise that He will: walk alongside us to help us carry the load, sustain us one day at a time, that His joy can be our strength, and that He will give us everything we need to face each and every day.

When we invite Him into our brokenness knowing that He’s overcome the world and that when we get to heaven we’re going to have new bodies – should excite us! So receiving His strength, probably won’t stop the hurt that I’m feeling, but it will enable me to endure it. So we just have to remember that God is going to give us more than we can handle, but He’s also going to give us everything we need to face each day, when we invite Him into our struggle.

11. The joy of the Lord is my strength and that His joy is not invalidated by my grief

Another truth that has changed my heart is knowing that the joy of the Lord can be our strength AND that His joy is not invalidated by my grief. You see, joy is not exclusive to when life is going right. That’s why happiness is a feeling and joy as an attribute and a gift that the Lord gives us. So when I say the joy of the Lord is my strength and I talk about choosing joy, I’m not talking about toxic positivity or denial. I’m talking about choosing truth.

“O Lord, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?… But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.”

Psalms 13:1-2, 5-6 NLT

There are times where nothing in me feels okay (let alone joy-filled) rather I feel very broken and disappointed. I talk on this podcast and blog a lot about the joy of the Lord, and how that is a choice that only we can make. Living out the joy of the Lord as your strength can look like many different things. For example, one of which can look like grieving closely to Him. Another can look like throwing confetti over victories that we don’t feel or see. I just think it’s important to mention that you can throw confetti over even the tiniest of good things, and be grieving over a loss at the same time. Our feelings aren’t facts, and that’s why His joy is not invalidated by my grief. It can be hard to share the suffering that we face – especially when choosing joy – because it can be received by the world as invalidating to our illness or our struggle. But choosing His joy, choosing Him, and choosing to invite Him into our grief is far more important than focusing on other people’s opinions. Finally, I think there is nothing more validating of God’s glory, faithfulness, and goodness among the broken; when I see someone living out the joy of the Lord is their strength through hardship, that to me validates God’s goodness, because only Jesus could give someone the strength to celebrate as their bodies continually fail them.

12. I can move mountains from a hospital bed

A truth that I have come to learn through what I like to call “hospital living” (when I was just in and out of hospital admissions constantly) was this realization that God shared with me about the fact that I can move mountains from a hospital bed. Now when I say move mountains, I’m thinking about the verse where Jesus talks about having faith as small as a mustard seed, and how we can move mountains with our faith. What it’s really saying is that our faith in God’s ability to do great things is not limited by anything! For me it was understanding that God is not confined to those four hospital walls – He can do anything from anywhere and He can use us no matter where he’s placed us. So, it gave me great encouragement to remember that in Him, I can move mountains from a hospital bed.

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Matthew 17:20 NLT

13. Her collagen may be weak but her God is strong

There’s a mantra that I’ve held on to all these years in dealing with EDS which is: her collagen may be weak, but her God is strong. For those that don’t know, EDS mainly has to do with our bodies and our collagen being defective. So this mantra helps me speak life and truth to my heart; it speaks to the reality of what life is like in my body, but it also screams the truth that: it’s okay that I’m weak, because God is strong. My body is failing me and we have so many tough decisions to make about my care with just the limited treatment options that are available. Yet no matter what season of uncertainty I’m in, with this I’m able to lean in and cling to the fact that yes my collagen is weak, but my God, He is strong.

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

14. It’s okay to feel multiple things at once

So the 14th lesson that I want to share with you is that you don’t have to just feel one emotion about a situation. It’s okay to feel multiple things at once, and I think it can be easy to forget that we can be broken and blessed, we can be grateful and disappointed, we can be exhausted and expectant – all at the same time! We’re allowed to feel and live in a “both/and” reality. Seeing and celebrating the good is not going to invalidate your struggle, and I wish I had known that so much earlier than I did. So please don’t let the world trick you into believing that life after diagnosis is an “either/or life,” because with God’s grace and goodness and faithfulness, He gives us the ability to live a “both/and life”

 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

Psalms 55:22 CSB

15. Nothing I do (especially for ministry) is more important than spending alone time with Him

Something that the Lord has spent a lot of time convicting my heart over is that there is nothing that we do that’s more important than spending a long time with Him. You know, I think it’s really easy, especially in ministry, to sometimes feel like “we don’t have time to spend with the Lord” or that “we just don’t have time to do all the things.” So we prioritize everything except our time with Jesus because we feel that we need to do what He’s called us to do, even if that means that we don’t have time for Him- and that’s a total lie. It’s all about priorities, and I know that when I spend time with the Lord, He’s going to bless what I’m doing. Spending time with Him is more important for my heart than doing all the things that I’ve deemed He’s called me to do. That’s why we have to look at things and say, “did God put these expectations on myself or did I?” Because ultimately, we need to be in the Word, and learning straight from Him if we’re going to do what He’s called us to do. We can’t know what He wants us to do, if we’re not in communication with Him.

“Things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”

Romans 15:4 NLT

16. Friendships are hard work but they shouldn’t be a hard decision

Another piece of encouragement that has changed my heart is the fact that intentional friendships are hard work, but the decision to keep those relationships should be easy. Now we don’t need to force friendships, but we need to be discerning about who we have in our inner circle and who’s speaking into our lives. At the same time, in order to also have those close authentic friendships, we need to be vulnerable (and sometimes it can be awkward at first.) I know that I had always heard that “friendships stop after high school” or “they peak in college,” but the thing is that if we’re going to have people that we can not only cheer on, but do the hard parts of life with – we have to embrace vulnerability. Good things grow when we’re pushed out of our comfort zone; again though, it’s not about forcing a friendship. It’s about truly being able to say, “as hard as it is to be vulnerable, I know that this relationship is worth it.” That’s what it comes down to for me (in my mind at least.) Intentional friendship is hard work, but the decision to continue the friendship should be an easy decision.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT

17. He made me with this in mind

Now something that the Lord has taught me this year, which has been mind blowing, is that nothing surprises him and that he made me with this in mind. Now you may say, Cassie, of course, God made you. With this in mind, God knows everything. Nothing surprises him, but I didn’t really think about the fact that when He created me, and made plans for me he knew that I was going to be this sick, and my illness may stop me from doing what I feel like I’m called to do with my life. But my illness is never going to stop me from doing what He has planned for me, because the plans and the calling that he has for me were formed with this illness in mind. And honestly, that has just blown my mind.

“Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of His great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding.”

Isaiah 40:26-28 NLT

18. You can live an intentional life and live the chronic illness life when you give your goals some grace 

The next lesson that I want to share with you has humbled me greatly, and I have learned this the very, very hard way. You can live an intentional life after diagnosis, when you give your goals some grace. I think we’re really hard on ourselves, and it’s really hard for us to cheer ourselves on. So when I’m struggling or I’m tempted to talk to myself in a negative way, and I’m feeling like a failure because my goals didn’t get accomplished the way I wanted them to or the plan didn’t go how I thought it would – I ask myself, “what would I say to a friend of mine if they were struggling in this way?”

Because if I wouldn’t say it to a friend of mine because it’s too harsh – then why am I gonna say that to myself? Doing this has helped me when I’m struggling to give myself grace in my goals and over the plans that I’ve made. I can live an intentional life with this diagnosis, it’s going to be hard, but everybody has their hard thing. Everyone has a reason that makes life and goal setting hard. Just because my struggle is with an illness doesn’t mean that I’m the only one with a struggle. So, it’s just that reminder to give ourselves (and our goals) some grace.

“And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.”

Romans 11:6 NLT

19. Living one day at a time is not a failure it’s about changing your mindset and truly allowing yourself to trust that He will give us our daily bread

Now, one of the hardest lessons that I seem to have a never ending struggle with is learning to live one day at a time, and that living one day at a time is not a failure. This practice has to do with us changing our mindset, and following God’s call for us to live one day at a time. In the Lord’s Prayer when it says, “Give us our daily bread,” that means, “give us all we need to face today so that we can focus on right now today.” By doing this we are acknowledging that today has enough overwhelming things of its own, and that we don’t need tomorrow’s concerns piled on top of today’s. So let’s focus on right now and what’s going on in front of us. Jared has been a huge help to me in learning how to do this, as I am not at all the best at this for sure, but what’s great is that even as a planner, shifting to this mindset has helped me realize that although I don’t know what the future holds, God does know. I think maybe the reason He hasn’t shared that future with us is because He knows it would be too much. That’s why it’s so hard to live one day at a time because everything God calls us to do takes hard work. I think of the Israelites that were wandering in the wilderness. When they got their manner each morning, they could only take what they needed, and if they took anything extra – it would spoil. It was a constant act of trust and reliance to say, “I’m going to take what I need for today, and I’m going to trust that God is going to provide for tomorrow.” That’s the type of reliance that I want to be able to build in my life.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”⠀

Hebrews 4:16 NIV 

20. Worshiping through brokenness does not invalidate my struggle just like His faithfulness is not dependent on my positivity 

A really freeing truth that I want to share with you is that, God’s faithfulness and hope and strength and peace is not dependent on our ability to stay positive. This truth has built up a confidence in my heart in my ability to go to the Lord with my struggles, and share what I am feeling with Him. Thank goodness that HIS GOODNESS is not dependent on me; because I am a glass half empty kind of gal, and to know that God’s faithfulness is not reliant on my ability to stay positive, is just so freeing – and I hope that truth gives you freedom as well!

“For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT

21. We were designed with rest in mind

A hard pill that Jared and I have had to swallow, this year especially, is that we don’t need more self care – we need true Sabbath rest. You see, God designed us to rest in Him, and so often we hear the world telling us that, “we need all these different things to make us feel better and rested.” But what we ultimately need is rest in Him, and by resting one day a week, we’re choosing to declare, “I know that I don’t have to hustle because the Lord has got my back.” That has just been an amazing truth that Jared and I have been working really hard to put into practice in our lives, and it’s changed us for the better. Not only are we designed for rest, but we get peace in knowing that we can rest in Him (and we’re also our best selves when we are well rested)

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV

22. There’s no chaos in heaven over this

Another piece of advice I want to share with you is that whenever you’re struggling, pacing, or you’re super overwhelmed – I want you to know that God’s not pacing. He’s resting in assurance of victory! No matter what hardship you’re going through or whatever struggle or drama you’re facing – I need you to remember that there’s no chaos in heaven over it.

Let me just say that one more time, it doesn’t matter what hardship you’re going through, whatever struggle or drama you’re facing – there is no chaos in heaven over it; God has already overcome the world and we can rest in that victory with Him.

“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.”

Psalms 2:4 NIV

23. He wants our hearts not checkmarks – just because you can do all things in Him doesn’t mean you have to do all the things

Another thing I want you to know is that God wants our hearts not checkmarks. He doesn’t want you to just go to church to check off a box. He doesn’t want you to spend time with Him just to check off another progress bar in your powersheets – He wants to spend real time with you. In that, I know I can get really caught up in feeling like I need to do “all the things.” We always hear people say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:13) but nowhere in that passage does it say that you have to do all of the things, so we need to use discernment to determine what He’s calling us to do. Our callings are going to look different than somebody else’s, but our relationship with Him is about us – just Him and you and nobody else.

So yes, you can do all things in Him, but we need to use discernment to know what things He’s called us personally too, because He has not called you all of the things I can promise you that.

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

1 John 2:17 ESV

24. Just because my body is unstable doesn’t mean that I am

We’re in the second to last one, which is: just because my body is unstable doesn’t mean that I am. The truth is that my body is very unstable, and there are times when I am tempted to (and do) break down and stress over the fact that my strength isn’t enough. Yet the thing is that I’m right to break down about that because the truth is that my strength isn’t enough and my body is unstable. The thing though is that the true temptation here isn’t solely just a soak in the instability in my body creates, but in allowing myself to believe that I’m in charge and in control of my stability when only God can give us stability.

 “and He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.”

Isaiah 33:6 ESV

25. Celebrate every tiny victory

And last but certainly not least, the most important thing that I’ve learned is that every tiny victory is worth celebrating.

You can celebrate even when the victory doesn’t look like what you wanted. You can celebrate when you’re feeling broken. You can celebrate even when life isn’t going the way you planned.

Every victory is a victory, no matter how big or small, but we have to choose to see that, and we have to choose to fight for that. So if there’s one thing that I leave you with today that I have learned is that God is good! When we use the joy of the Lord as our strength, we’re able to celebrate every tiny victory… even the victories that didn’t look how we hoped they would.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Before I sign off on this blog post, I just want to take a minute to say thank you. Thank you for being a part of this community and for allowing me to be in your life and in your ear. The past two years of this podcast has held so much good, and I do not take it for granted. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. So thank you for celebrating with me, growing with me, and being a part of this community. Thank you for the messages that I’ve received; thank you for sharing your hearts with me and allowing me to get to know you as you’ve gotten to know me.

Cassie Nolin is a married spoonie who lives the chronic illness life with EDS + Co. (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and it’s comorbid conditions.) She challenges others to choose grace over guilt while goal setting, and is in ministry part time serving the online community through Grace + Goals and The Spoonie Study. She loves planting, hand lettering, and sharing the hope she has found in Jesus. Her blog, Living the Chronic Illness Life, is in the top 100 chronic illness blogs and in 2019 she launched her podcast, Chronically Cultivating, where Cassie encourages women to live authentic and intentional lives through their diagnosis’ not in spite of them. You can learn more about her at www.livingthechronicillnesslife.com

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