An Open Letter to My Little Brother

An Open Letter to My Little Brother

Little Brother,

Your very existence sparked every creative intuition and energy I have ever had. You are the reason I love to spin stories, beginning with the legend of your birth: “My Brother, The Alien” (New York Times Best Seller in my head!) And once, I took a photography class and you were the subject of my portfolio. In a way, you’ve always been my subject. I have watched you grow and push boundaries to new limits. You have given me approximately one hundred mild heart attacks as I’ve watched the dare devil in you rise to the surface. You are my biggest opponent when it comes to wrestling in the kitchen floor, but my best ally when it comes to our friendship.


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Brother, to the untrained eye you are as solemn as a grave site. But I know better. Over the years, you have induced some of my biggest fits of laughter – and then you tease my laugh. Your sense of humor is unique and special. You challenge me to stop and slow down because I am constantly racing. You have always had more wisdom than I know what to do with. Your life has shown me about Jesus more than I ever could have imagined a younger brother could teach an older sister. I am often amazed by the truth you speak and left wondering how one heart can have so much instinctive goodness.

Growing up, I loved having a brother, but often wished that you were older than me. So many of my friends had older brother that were as protective as guard dogs. Then, one day, without warning, you became the protective older brother, despite me being five years your senior. You guarded my heart and refused to let anyone take advantage of it. Little Brother, it was my job to protect you! But you took the role seriously, and still do to this day. I can never thank you enough for being my personal security guard.


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Little Brother, I wish I could bottle up this time of your life and place it on a shelf, because it is so fragile. This newness of adulthood is exciting and filled with adventure. The novelty of being a “grown up” has not yet been doused with the cynicism of this hateful world. I wish you could live in this realm forever. But because that is not realistic, I pray you dream wider than your arms can stretch. I pray that you will grab any boundaries that are set by this world and shove them out of the way. My desire for your life is for you to do more than change the world; take bits and pieces of this Earth and leave your mark on them. Then show the rest of the inhabitants of this planet what they’re missing out on. I know what you’re capable of, even if you do not. Don’t be afraid to fall. I’ll catch you every time.

Bub, I gave you your first black eye, and you didn’t even cry. I am so proud to be the big sister of a tough as nails adventurer. Brother, you are a fearless leader. Nothing scares you! And while my instincts to be your “second mother” are so strong that I want to suppress your courageous nature, I would never dream of it. This internal boldness is so much a part of you I could never imagine you being any less brave. I pray that this daring innate quality you possess lasts a lifetime and follows you into each and every opportunity you stumble across. You are the son of ministry, of courage, of kindness, and of exploration. Brother, take this world by storm. Leave no stone unturned.


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You are the boy man (I’m still coming to terms with the fact my little brother is now grown!) with a big heart, and a bigger imagination that no one has quite mastered yet. I pray you are the captain of a ship with a quest to show the world the capabilities of the anonymous. I hope you’ll let me be first mate.

“Let brotherly love continue.” – Hebrews 13:1


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All my love, and then some,
Cassie, RN



Things My Pap Taught Me

I’ve been truly blessed to grow up in tight knit family. As long as I’ve lived, I’ve always had a close relationship with my grandparents. I genuinely believe they are some of the best people to ever grace this Earth. I’ve learned a lot from my Pap over the years, but I wanted to share some of my favorite lessons.

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1- Generous Tipping. My pap knows a hard worker when he sees one. He recognizes individuals who work tirelessly to better their situations. I love going out to eat with my Pap because of the respect he shows to the staff. He tips generously, with a glad heart. Rather than leave the cash on the table, my Pap takes the extra effort to shake the hand of the employee and thank them for a job well done. A true gentleman.

2- How to speak to The Lord. Since I was a little girl, I have always modeled my own prayer after how my Pap prays. I’ve watched him respectfully remove his hat before bowing his head to talk to God. I’ve heard my Pap speak to Jesus as often as I’ve heard him speak to his friends. Pap is always thankful, and in every prayer asks the Father for forgiveness where we’ve failed Him, because we fail Him daily. I find myself often praying in the same way.

3- Never be without a Bible. My Pap worked in the deep mines for the greatest part of my childhood. He recently told me about how he always carried a New Testament Bible into the mines with him. Imagine what a testimony that would carry. Pap was always prepared if a man decided to follow Jesus while deep in the ground. At our Pinning Ceremony, each graduate received a small New Testament Bible, donated by The Gideons. My Pap encouraged me to include it with my other supplies and ensure it goes with me as I care for patients.

4- To speak kind words. I have never in my life heard my Pap speak an ill word toward anyone. I’ve never heard him judge another person as long as I’ve lived. Through his example, I’ve been shown the importance of kindness. My pap is a goodhearted man, but he is also as stubborn as the day is long.
5- How to deal with disappointment. As a preschooler, my Pap took me to breakfast at Hardees every single day without fail. And every single day, I ordered French Toast Sticks. Until one day, the lady behind the counter tells me they no longer sell French Toast Sticks. My heart broke that day. I just know my eyes welled up with tears. But my Pap encouraged me to see this disappointment as an opportunity to try something new. “Try something else instead.”, he said. And I did.

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What lessons are cherished in your family? How do these lessons apply to your life?

“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;” Psalm 103:17

Love,

Cassie, RN

Our Baking Sheets Aren’t New Anymore

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One evening last week, I was washing dishes after dinner. I noticed our baking sheets, that are barely 2 years old, don’t look “new” anymore. Their fresh-from-the-store shine is now dull. They have scratches like road maps. Grease stains, discolorations, and an imprint from a recent “very crispy” dinner. When I first noticed their newness was missing, I was sad. Drew and I celebrate two years of marriage this August, we received these baking pans as gifts. I immediately felt guilty – like I had been too rough with our baking sheets.

On our recent cruise, Drew and I attended a newlyweds game show with every intention of participating if selected. However, when we arrived, we found out that we hadn’t been married long enough, but we also weren’t “new enough” to participate in the show. I felt sad then because we were no longer considered new, and that feeling crept into my heart when I saw those (no longer new) baking sheets.
My heart broke because they weren’t new anymore, their sparkle had worn off, they seemed less “special”. Then my perspective changed…

What a blessing it is that our baking sheets aren’t new anymore.

Our scratched and scuffed baking sheets are evidence that there has been love in our home as we’ve wanted to cook and eat together. The shine was dulled each time Drew continued to pursue my heart, by making me dinner after a long shift. Each time I experimented with a new recipe, hoping Drew would love it, our baking sheet received another scratch, a tick mark, reflecting another smile on his face. We have longed for time spent at home over delicious meals. We’ve made sharing dinner time a priority. We have eaten wonderful home cooked meals together and our not so new baking sheets are a sign of that.

These now dented baking pans are proof that we have lived in a house with electricity, and always had enough to put food on the table. Our stained baking sheets are evidence that our basic needs have been met over the past couple of years. You could tell by looking at our baking sheets, that we’ve not went hungry.  The collection of “damage” we’ve succumbed these baking sheets to reveals that the contents of our fridge were never empty. Our hearts and bellies have been full, as evidenced by the baking sheets that no longer shine. I’m sure there are families that wish their own baking sheets had a little more stains and a little less sparkle.

Our baking sheets are also a reflection of our marriage. New and shiny at first, and then the scuffs and stains along the way, make them all the more charming. Each scratch, a memory etched in time. They’ve survived even the saltiest of my cooking fails, at the same time our marriage has endured my salty comebacks. And while the gleam of freshness may have worn off, those baking pans, like  our marriage, are just as beautiful as the day they were presented to us.

Even if the newness of the baking sheets has rubbed off, they’ve been well loved. And like baking sheets, the scuffs, bangs, dents, scratches, and stains that have occurred in our relationship tell a delicious story about who we are and what we cherish. An artifact for years to come from the first year and a half of our marriage. Trust me, these baking sheets aren’t being replaced anytime soon.

And while many people would wish you a marriage free from dents and scratches, I won’t wish you that, because I know it is not realistic. Instead, I wish for you to see those stains and discolorations and love them even more for their imperfections. Here’s hoping the sparkle on your baking sheets wears off real soon.

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine…” Song of Solomon 6:3

Are your baking sheets well loved? What stories do they tell?

Love,

cassie

An Open Letter to My Little Sister

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Sissy,

When you were born, mom and dad handed me the best gift they could have ever given me: a sister, a lifelong friend, a second closet somehow equipped with clothes that seem better than mine. They let me choose your name and with the name I gave you, I believe you were also given every ounce of spunk and spitfire you could hold. The Good Lord knew I would protect you, but that you would be needed to protect my heart.

Little sister, I have watched you grow, attended every single birthday party, and tucked my secrets in your listening ears behind braided pigtails. I know your heart better than almost anyone in this world and I still don’t completely understand it. Maybe I never will, and maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. But I’ve seen your heart love and I can’t wait to see all the souls it will love in your lifetime. Your heart is special, sis, it loves those who are misunderstood, those who can’t love back, and those that need it the most. I envy the depths of love that your heart radiates, but I’ve also seen tears flow from your bright eyes because of others’ hurt it allows you to feel. My prayer for you is that this rare and unique love is never wasted on anything that doesn’t love you back with as much unbridled sparkle as you give to others.
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Sis, you have goals that are incredibly selfless and inspiring. I can’t wait to watch you serve this world even more than you already have. My friend, you are capable of doing whatever you put your mind to, and then some! So dream a little bigger, darlin’. When you think you’ve dreamed all you can muster, go just a little further. Push the boundaries of your imagination a little more, just outside your comfort zone, because that’s where the magic happens, I know, because I’ve seen you there before. You are courageous, never forget that. 


Sister, you are so beautiful. You are the girl that walks in a room and people smile. You carry all the grace of every beautiful woman that came before us. You have the same cheekbones as our great grandmother and the glimmer in your eye the instant before you sass someone matches hers too.  My friend, I’ve seen you at every awkward stage of your life: braces, bad haircuts, and our “Mary-Kate & Ashley” years, and you were as beautiful then as you are now. I promise. Your beauty comes from a place within you that is so good and so pure hearted that it cannot be ignored. Sister, you are beautiful. Promise me you will never, ever let anyone make you feel otherwise.

I am so proud to be your big sister and you are truly everything I want to be in a person. Because I’m the older one, everyone expected you to look up to me, but it’s me who looks up to you. I’m so thankful to have your hand to hold as long as I live and the love between us and before us to get us through anything this life could ever throw our way. You are forever my play mate, best friend through eternity and Sissies always.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”
-Song of Songs 4:7
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All my love and then some,
cassie

9 Tips for Married Students

I canceled our Honeymoon for Nursing School.

I was accepted into my Nursing Program in the middle of my engagement to Drew. At the time, we had an amazing Honeymoon planned to Virginia Beach (where we met as babies!) and Colonial Williamsburg, where we would spend the week. However, when I got that acceptance letter, listing the date of our orientation as 3 days after our Wedding, I knew our incredible Honeymoon would have to go on the back burner to school. And Drew was not only okay with that, but 100% supportive of that decision.

Marriage sometimes means give and take, and Drew is familiar with the demands of school because he is a student, too. My husband will earn his Doctorate in Physical Therapy this August. As long as we’ve been married, we’ve both been students. The two biggest roles in my life, are that of Wife and Nursing Student. It’s definitely challenging, but in the end, I know it will be in our benefit. And I wouldn’t change being married young for anything in this world. I know there are many other young married couples in the same situation that Drew and I are in, so I wanted to share some of my advice for how we make it work. These tips aren’t exclusive to just married couples, but also work for anyone that’s in a relationship and a student at the same time.

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  1. Set priorities. My life in order of priority is this: 1-God, 2-Drew, 3-School. If this weren’t the case, I would go insane! Your spouse should be your first priority, second only to The Lord. I’ve found that this strengthens our relationship both with one another AND with Christ. But when you’re both students, that means school comes next. This means that school comes before catching up on Grey’s Anatomy BUT after having dinner with my husband. This approach ensures that my schoolwork is done, but I also get the quality time I desire with Drew.
  2. Encourage one another. School is hard. Like really hard. In the year and a half of nursing school, I’ve cried before exams more than I’ve cried about anything else combined. Do you know who’s always there, being my cheerleader? My husband. And vice versa. if Drew is stressed, I’m there to listen and help him get things done. Just hearing “You’ve got this” as you walk out the door before a big test or getting that “Great Job!” text after revealing your grade is a huge encouragement. If your spouse just got a great grade on an assignment, be sure to tell them how proud you are of them. Words of affirmation go a long way, especially in stressful times during the semester
  3. Study together. It’s definitely not the most glamorous date nights, but they are essential to success when you’re married and in school. Some of my favorite evenings are spent with me on one end of the table, Drew on the other and textbooks and Pretzel in between us. It’s no fun studying, but the couple that studies together, stays together. If you’re gonna do something you hate, doing it with your best friend makes it a little more tolerable.
  4. Become friends with your spouse’s classmates. When you’re in school, you see your classmates more than you see anyone else, they become a family to you. So it’s important (and really fun) to become friend’s with your spouse’s classmates. Drew knows all of my classmates by name, knows what they’re doing this weekend, and wants the best for them. The same goes for me with Drew’s classmates. A lot of them call me Momma Cass and text me even before they text Drew. Classmates are extended family, and I love that Drew and I are each close to one another’s. I may be able to understand that Drew is busy in school, but I will never be able to empathize with him like his classmates that are doing the exact same thing as him. Knowing and loving the people that help support him makes my heart a little happier.
  5. Make a plan to accomplish responsibilities. When we got married, we knew that at least one of us would have to get a job in order to provide for ourselves. Because Drew is in a doctorate program, his level of work and expectations are greater than mine, so we made the decision together that I would work while we’re both in school. However, that doesn’t mean Drew gets out of responsibilities. Because I work, Drew does almost all of the cooking in our house. (He’s an amazing cook, so I’m totally fine with that!) He’s also really great about doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. Typically I’m in charge of laundry and straightening up the house. When we first got married, I had a really hard time relinquishing responsibilities around the house. However, I learned that life was easier for the both of us when we split up chores and errands. Having a plan makes life smoother for both of us. Teamwork makes the dream work!
  6. Be patient with one another. Understanding is so essential to a relationship. Sometimes with school and work, life can get stressful and that means we can get grumpy. In those moments, when I’m fussy and hateful, Drew is so patient with me and is slow to fire back. When Drew is stressed with school and becomes overwhelmed, I try to be understanding rather than demanding. School requires so much from us, without the pressure of everything else going on. Being patient and kind toward your spouse in times of stress makes them feel loved, rather than like they have another thing to add to their to-do list.
  7. Have date nights. As regularly and frequently as possible. Drew and I typically do something each week, even if it’s just Chinese take out on the couch with Netflix. It’s essential to take time out of your schedule to focus on your relationship. I always feel recharged and reconnected after our date nights. If I have my nose in a book for too long, I forget to look up and appreciate the things I love most.
  8. Be flexible. If you’re a student, you know how quickly things can change. Due dates are often pushed up or moved back. An assignment you thought would take 30 minutes takes a couple hours. Your exam is the next morning and turns out you’re not as prepared as you thought you were. Yeah, we’ve all been there! When this happens to your spouse, be flexible! If you can help with a project, lend a hand. If your spouse loves to study with flashcards, quiz them! Help out a little extra around the house. If you had Date Night planned, reschedule for another day. Flexibility is key to making sure everything gets done, with as few hiccups as possible.
  9. Keep your eye on the prize! Juggling marriage, work, and school all at once is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done! The only way I can keep up the motivation to accomplish everything is by remembering why I’m doing all of these things. I know that once this season of being married students is over, we’ll both have incredible careers that we’ll love. Although it may be hard now, it will pay off in the long run. You can’t look at the here and now and see the struggle, instead look to the future and see your goals accomplished.

At the end of the day, our marriage isn’t perfect, but Drew and I both work incredibly hard, both at school and in our relationship, to be the best we can be. If you give your best in everything you do, it will pay off in the end. This season of marriage while we’re both in school definitely isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade the late nights studying, Chinese and Netflix, and dinners with classmates for anything in this world.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” -Ecclesiastes 9:10

What advice would you add to this list? Do you and your spouse study together?

Love,

cassie