My hope for you.

To the ladies (but perhaps also the gentlemen),

As you gorgeous darlings start a new year, there are a few things I want to share with you or perhaps just encourage you with. Because I think we can all agree that sometimes it’s a bit hard to be a woman today. We’re told we have to look a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way. We are given all these rules and we end up stifled. We become every thing we’re told we should be instead of being who we were meant to be, who we were born to be.

My hope for you, in this bright and shiny new year, is that you can be you. I hope that you can embrace who you are in every possible way. I hope that you can learn to love yourself, to see and truly believe that you are an amazing young woman. I pray that you can smile and be happy this year.

And to that end, I have a few things I’d like you ladies to keep in mind as the days of 2013 start to roll into the past. Nothing fancy or even brilliant, but simple things that we often forget as our lives become busy and our days and nights become routine. But maybe for you, they will brighten your day.

First of all, you are absolutely beautiful. Your body is lovely. Your face is lovely. Your curves (or not) are lovely. Your heart is lovely. Your soul is lovely. Every part of you, the flaws, blemishes, and scars you carry are breathtakingly beautiful. God created woman and saw that she was good. You, my dear, are good. You are wonderfully made, stitched together to be exactly the woman you see in the mirror.

There may be days when you don’t believe this. Some mornings, you might wake up and look at your body and feel disgust. You may hear someone say you aren’t attractive. And you might believe those lies, letting them fester in your heart. You might try everything possible to change, to become better, to become perfect. My dear, you can never be perfect. But you weren’t meant to be. God created you exactly as you are, and you are gorgeous. The lies you hear are exactly that – lies. They are not to be taken to heart or to bring you down.

Also, know that it is okay to be overwhelmed. It is okay to stress. There are certain situations where worrying is unavoidable. But remember that God is in control. He will take care of you always. You need never wonder if you are alone in any moment, because God is with you in everything.

Never feel like crying makes you somehow weak. Never feel as if you have to hide your emotions, the feelings in your heart. You were made to feel, to have sympathy and compassion, and to share that with the broken hearts around you. You are able to feel because you are human. You have a soul. Never believe you have to hide or deny that.

Never settle for less than you deserve. Never feel as if you need to sacrifice what you need for fear that you will never achieve what you truly want. You are worth what you dream and wish for. And you are allowed to ask for it and fight for it. Never let anyone tell you you have to take what you can get. You can have your heart’s desire. Don’t believe you have to compromise.

Remember that it is okay to take risks. Sometimes we need to take a chance to make a better way for ourselves. It may be absolutely scary and might end terribly, but not knowing will always be worse. Because just maybe that one risk is exactly the one you need to take. It may lead you down the path you were meant for.

Eventually, you’re probably going to make a mistake. It may be something small, but it might be something rather life-altering. It could change everything about you and how you live your life. Your mistake may even be accompanied by guilt and shame and regret. But I want you to know that in spite of everything, you are loved. You need never feel shame. You are the child of God who loves unconditionally and bestows grace and mercy. He will take care of you, walk with you through the mistake and onto better days, happier days.

Make friends who care about you, can laugh with you and cry with you. Surround yourself with people who lift you up rather than bring you down. Find people, men and women alike, that you can do life with. That you can you can go on random adventures with, argue with, learn with, and grow with. Allow yourself to be challenged by your friends to be better and never hesitate to do the same. True friendship is when you see the best of someone and the worst of someone and choose to love them because of both. So be intentional with your friendships.

And don’t forget to have fun. Be spontaneous and try new things. Seize the opportunities that present themselves, because they may lead to spectacular ends. Enjoy each day and make the most of them. Love your family and friends with everything you have, because life is short. Forgive and show grace. Smile everyday, and laugh in every moment.

Above all things, love yourself. Love God. And love people.

And remember that you are beautiful.

Most sincerely,
Cassi

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.

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Gentleman (perhaps not) needed.

To my future husband,

Hello, my darling. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately with the holidays drawing near. I see my sisters with their significant others, and I crave that for myself, just once. I have no reason to doubt it will happen and yet I do. I feel as if with each passing year I fall farther away from you.

Some days, I don’t believe you exist. Most days, I know you don’t, deep down in the most secret and empty part of my heart – the part you’re meant to fill.

Because you are meant to fill me, are you not? You are meant to complete me. You are the reason I was born, my reason for existing. You are my other, better half. Why can I not find you? Why am I so alone?

I wonder if you think of me, consider me, dream of me. I wonder if you imagine what I will be like – what I will look like; what my laugh will sound like. Do you wish you knew me now, at this moment? Do you wish we were together? Are you lonely? Or are you unready to be with me?

I’m not ready for you.
I fear I never will be.

I’m beginning to believe that perhaps you aren’t meant for me, that I’m not meant to have you or know you. Perhaps my world is to be my own – unshared and untogether.

Perhaps you aren’t mine.
Perhaps you never were.

And where does that leave me, then? Incomplete? Less? Unfinished? How am I to go on alone when I’ve forever been told I’m to wait for you – a man who can’t possibly exist. What’s left for me without you?

Who am I?

How did I get to this place, needing you more than anything else in this world? When did I become so enamored with knowing you that I ceased to know myself? I am so lost. I’ve trailed after you only to find myself amidst the darkness, a chill piercing my heart. I cannot find you, nor can I find myself. I lost myself in you, even though you are not here.

I am stronger than this.
I am better than this.
I am worth more that the empty darkness I’ve fallen into.

You cannot make me whole.
You cannot complete me.
You cannot save me from myself.

You never will.

And that’s okay, I think. Because though I would love to be with you, near you, I‘m afraid of what I would become were I to find you now, in this moment. I would ask too much of you, make you into a hero you could never be. It’s time I was my own hero. It’s time I moved on without you always haunting the corner of my mind.

It’s time I let you go.

Because I am allowed to save myself. I’m allowed to be on my own. I’m allowed to go forward even if you aren’t by my side. My life doesn’t have to pause because of your absence. I’ve used you as an excuse, a reason to put my life on hold. When I find him, I tell myself, then I can begin. I’d like to think you’d want better for me than I’ve wanted for myself. You’d want me to be happy.

I’d like to be happy, I think.
It’s been far too long.

So while part of me will perhaps always carry a small hope that I’ll find you, I’m going to start hoping for other things. For happiness, for change, for strength, for new friends in new places, for opportunities, for a life I can be in love with. I’m going to live for me instead of merely waiting for you. I’m going to become the woman God intended for me to be.

Even if that means living without you.
It’s time I learned how to love myself.

Yours always,
Cassi

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.

For my sisters.

Last week, my dad gathered my sisters and I together and suggested that we, as a family, weren’t showing each other the love God calls His believers to have for each other. It was convicting and distressing, because as my sisters listened to his words, we couldn’t deny there was some truth to them. We had become complacent in our love, lazy in showing it. In many ways, we took each other for granted, and my dad feared what sort of family we had become. Did people see our family and see eight people who loved each other above all things? Or did they see eight people who took each other for granted?

I was dumbfounded, mostly because I heard a bit of truth in my dad’s words. I looked at my sisters, my mom, and my dad, and feared they didn’t know how much I love them, adore them, admire them. I worried they thought I cared for them less than I ought. I wondered how my family had come to this point – where my dad questioned our commitment to each other.

It broke my heart.

When tragedy struck Newtown, CT, last week, I read about families losing their darling babies. I read about the bravery and sacrifice of teachers, the trauma of students. I read about gun policies, our rights as Americans, our duties as Christians, and how can we put a stop to the senseless violence? Or is humanity too far gone?

But all I could think about was my baby sister Sophia, eight years old and at school. I thought about my sister Margaret, roaming the halls at the high school down the street. I thought about my sisters Allie, Rebekah, and Brittney at the mall. I sat on the couch, reading about the horrific shooting in Newtown, echoing the tragedy at Clackamas mall in Portland, and I wanted to hug them.

I don’t hug them enough.
I don’t say I love you enough.
I don’t listen to them enough.
I don’t put down my phone and enjoy time with them, talking with them like I should.

I’m the oldest, and I’ve done a poor job of loving my sisters – the people I love most in the world – the people who know me best.

So this is for my sisters, my love letter to them. My apology. My hope for the future. Not in an attempt to trivialize the violent events of last week, but in an attempt to open my heart and begin again; a second chance.

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To my darling sisters of varying ages, heights, and places in life-

I love you all dearly. My guyses. And I’m dreadfully sorry it takes moments like these for me to open up. I wish I was different, more open. I’m learning, for both our sakes, because I don’t wish for you to be like me. You can be so much better, so much more. In many ways, you already are.

I’m so proud of you – of your fearlessness, your faith, your ambition. You know who you are in a world that tries relentlessly to change us, and I admire you for it. Though I should be an example for you, you teach me something every day. I can’t imagine not knowing you. Your souls are beautiful, your hearts full to overflowing. I’m blessed to be your sister. You are God’s gift to me, and I’m forever thankful.

Know I am here always. I will listen to anything you find to be important. There is no matter too small. Nothing that could shock me. Nothing that would make me love you less. My ears are open and my heart as well. I will love you through anything, carry you if I have to. Because I love you and because I’m your sister. It’s what I was born for.

Brittney – We argue, more than we should. We’ve fought and competed our whole lives. But I want you to know I’ve never thought you less. I’m proud of you, of your intelligence and your convictions. You are so strong in your beliefs; I can’t fathom it. I wish I could be a bit like you in that way. Your smile is infectious, your beauty blossoming every day.

Rebekah – We’ve shared a room for years. That we haven’t murdered each other is a testament to our patience. You are lovely. You have a gorgeous heart and soul, and I am proud to be your sister. You do so much and hope for so much, and your faith in God is inspiring. You touch so many lives and I can’t help but smile when you tell me about your day.

Allie – You are an absolutely gorgeous nightmare. A whirlwind of intense passion. I can’t imagine a world without you bursting into my room unannounced, challenging my mind and making me laugh. You have a true servant’s heart, the soul of a poet, and I pray for the change you will cause in a world that needs so desperately to see God’s love.

Margaret – Your artlessness is absolutely endearing. You love life, enjoy life, and live your life in such a manner that makes me envious. You love freely and live fearlessly, and someday I hope I can a bit like you in this way. I know you’ve been hurt by people close to you, but your strength is beautiful. You are insanely adorable. I love you as you are.

Sophie – You won’t read this most likely, since you are only eight after all. But I want you to know that even though I sometimes don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to be for you, I love you. You are my baby sister, and I shall protect you always. I will never stop being your big sister, no matter where life takes me. I adore you, and you are quite brilliant. Never forget that.

You are all a piece of my heart. I’m happy to know you, better for loving and being loved by you. You are my best of friends, and I wouldn’t trade any of you for anything. I’m here for you. And I will always be your sister.

Sincerely,
Cassi

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.

A letter to my younger self.

{I saw many lovely ladies on Twitter talking about how they were writing letters to their younger selves, and the wonderful and freeing experience it was. So I thought, why not? I encourage you, gentlemen and ladies alike, to do the same. It’s rather cathartic. Enjoy!}

Dear a younger and probably less weird but somehow more self conscious Cassi Clerget, aged 17 years,

Hello, my dear. I wish I could tell you the next several years are going to be a piece of cake. They’re not. And in a few years, you’re going to discover you can’t even eat cake, so there’s irony for you. And I wish I could tell you that when you turn the glorious age of 25 your life will click into place and the world as you know it will make sense. It doesn’t. Especially considering I’m writing this from our bedroom in mom and dad’s house.

But with each year, you will learn new lessons, uncover new pieces of yourself, explore a new path. With each year you will grow into yourself, becoming the lovely woman you were meant to be. Life, you’ll see, is one surprise after another. Some of these lessons will be difficult to learn, but as is the case with most things in life, the hard lessons are worth the most. So this is for you, a bit of encouragement (even though I’m sure your stubborn self thinks you don’t need it)…

On finding love… You’re going to be single for quite some time. And you’re not going to like it. You will spend many nights wondering what is wrong with you, why the man you admire doesn’t feel the same. Your self esteem and self confidence are going to give you emotional whiplash, and it will sadly get worse before it gets better. It’s not easy, caring for a man (or two) who doesn’t return those feelings. It’s difficult to see your friends find love and not be able to experience it for yourself. It’s heartbreaking to watch the man you care about choose someone else.
But you are strong with a dash of independence. You will make it through. One day, you’ll see that having a man in your life doesn’t make you whole; only God can do that. You are going to discover that being a woman doesn’t mean having a man. It means being the beautiful person God created you to be. Being a woman means loving and living life, not sitting on the sidelines waiting for a man to ask you to join in.

About being cautious… I know you like being careful. I know you aren’t always impulsive. And I know you labor over every detail before coming to a decision. And while those traits are admirable, sometimes you let them paralyze you. You agonize over everything until you’re too worried to take a chance. You walk a fine line between being careful and being afraid. Life isn’t fun when you let fear take over. Life isn’t enjoyed when you’re too terrified to make a mistake. The truth is you are going to make mistakes. A lot of them. You are going to do some really stupid things. But each mistake, each impulsive decision will teach you something. They will help you experience life. They will give you something to write about.

Since we’re on the subject… never stop writing. Never stop scribbling down those ideas on post-it notes and notecards. Never stop trying to write a book. Never stop imagining the stories you want to tell. Because here’s a secret- words are the foundation of your soul, the way to your heart. You live them and breathe them. There will be times when it becomes a chore, but those days will pass, and you’ll realize that a life without words, without stories is a life without air, water, light, and God. There will be days when you think it’s not worth it, that maybe you should find something else. But if you remove your passion, your love, your craving for words, you’ll be empty. You live for the stories you can tell. So never stop writing them down.

Also… Be yourself, always, no exception. You can roll your eyes at this if you must, but deep down, in the secret place in your heart, you know this isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s easier to be someone else, someone different, someone everyone else wants you to be. It’s easier to hide certain parts of you to make others happy or to be more appealing to the men who don’t seem to notice you. But carving out parts of yourself, hiding the things that make you who you are means you only get to live half a life. Pretending to be something you’re not means people don’t see you for who you are. And you are worth seeing and worth knowing.
So accept that you will always be the girl who laughs at an inappropriate joke. You will always listen more than you talk. You will always be the nerdy girl with glasses who is a bit shy, a tad awkward, and more comfortable sitting at home. You will always be the girl who hates to party and doesn’t understand flirting. You will be the girl who is recklessly cautious, or maybe cautiously reckless. You will always be you, because one day you’ll realize that’s the only person you can be. Be kind to yourself.

Unfortunately… There are going to be days when you feel absolutely low. You aren’t going to want to get out of bed, smile at the people you see, or laugh. There are going to be days that only seem to get worse with each passing minute. There are going to be days filled with darkness, depression, and desolation.
And you aren’t going to want to tell anyone. You are going to keep it to yourself, hiding behind a poorly constructed mask that offers no solace. You are going to wish you could burrow under blankets and pillows and cry until the emptiness is filled with your tears. But, my dear, you don’t need to. There’s no need, because you aren’t alone. You’re never alone. You can seek help, seek the love and mercy of our amazing Father. You can tell someone your sorrows. You can share your pain. You should never be embarrassed or ashamed of how you feel. It’s who you are; how God made you.

Some other random advice… Know that it’s okay to end a friendship, especially if that person cares nothing about you. Know that your sisters are your best friends, and that’s pretty freaking awesome. Know that sometimes mom and dad know what they are talking about even if you happen to be more “book smart.” Know that when you dye your hair red, it will never come out. Know that your wait for an iPhone will be long, but worth it. Know that when your sisters tell you to read some random guy’s blog, it will be a new beginning. Know that you will often be in debt, but your education is a gift. Know that moving back home (three times) isn’t a sign of defeat, but a chance to begin again.

Finally, and this is the most important, know that there are some things you just can’t know and will never know. You will often and frequently be annoyed by this, and you will do your best to figure everything out. But life is lived best in the unknown. We learn best in the unknown. We discover ourselves in the unknown. So be okay with not knowing.

Love,
Your older but still pretty awesome self.

PS- Maybe stop making sweeping declarations about things you are never going to do. God sees it as a challenge.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts. And maybe follow me on Twitter?

(one) gentleman wanted.

Dear my future husband,

Hello. Just, hello. I wish I could say that to you directly. I wish I could look into your eyes and greet you. I wish I could smile as you kiss my lips, but I cannot. Not yet. Not tonight.

I’m lonely for you. Perhaps more than I ever have been. I long to look up from my book or computer screen and see your face, see you watching me. I long for the feel of your arms around me, your whispers in my ear. I long to hear your heartbeat as I lay across your chest. I long to fall asleep in your arms, safe in your love and embrace.

I want to talk with you. I want to have long, never-ending conversations that continue past the sunset and sunrise. I want to argue and disagree with you. I want you to stimulate my mind with things I would have never thought of. I want to share my favorite passages from books with you as we talk through what they mean. I want to ask you a question and watch as you thoughtfully consider the answer. I want to say things to you that mean something. I want to see the spark in your eyes when we talk about the important things. I want to feel the passion in your words as they fall from your lips.

Can we travel together? Can we lose ourselves on the road? Can we disappear into the reaches of places we’ve never explored? I want to discover something with you. I want to find a place neither of us have been and learn something from it. I want to create memories with you that only we can share. Can we fly across the sea and search for these for memories? Can we become more familiar with the road we travel than the comforts of home? Can we live in the spaces between?

I prayed for you last night, and the night before. I pray for you often, whenever I feel lonely. I don’t pray that I find you soon or that you find me. Instead, I pray that you are safe, that you are loved, that you are well. I pray that you are happy and living life to the fullest. I pray that you are fulfilled, that you are doing what God has planned for you. I pray that you laugh often and smile constantly, even if I can’t be their reason. And I pray that when we meet, we are both ready.

I can’t wait for the nights when we can pray together before we fall into bed. I can’t wait for the days we read our Bibles together, being together moved by His word. I can’t wait to serve Him with you, to be surprised in the ways He uses us. I can’t wait to grow in Christ with you by my side. I can’t to experience a maturity in my faith as you challenge me. I can’t wait to worship God with our love story.

I’m sorry if I’ve put expectations on you. I’m sorry if I’ve imagined you in any way other than who you are. I’m sorry that I’ve allowed other men to become my fantasy. I’m sorry that I looked at you as something I deserve, not as a blessing or gift God gives me.

But I’m not sorry I’ve waited for you. I’m not sorry I’ve hoped for you. I’m not sorry that I anticipate finding you. I’m not sorry that the very idea of you, the knowledge that you exist brings a smile to my face.

I cannot wait to meet you; to see you for the first time. I can’t wait to hear the first words you speak to me. I will treasure them along with every memory we make. I can’t wait to love you and make love to you in every season, year after year. I can’t wait to look into your eyes when I say my vows, when I promise to love you and cherish you.

My heart is yours, ready for you and only for you.

Sincerely,

Your someday wife.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts. And maybe follow me on Twitter?