Modern-day human trafficking in your own backyard

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 1 (888) 373-7888.

CANTON, Ohio – A 2019 report says Ohio ranks fourth in the nation for human trafficking, making it one of the worst in the nation.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that occurs in every state, including Ohio. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Ohio has had 2,632 total human trafficking victims since 2007. The issue of human trafficking isn’t distant; it is happening in your own backyard.

What is it?

Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings. It’s the recruitment, control, and use of people for their bodies and their labor. Through force, fraud, and coercion, people everywhere are being bought and sold against their will–right now in the 21st century.

Types of Trafficking

  • sex trafficking
  • forced labor
  • bonded labor
  • involuntary domestic servitude
  • child soldiers

How does it happen?

Traffickers use different methods to recruit victims. According to slavery survivors, the most common methods of recruitment are false job advertisements, sold by family, loverboys, abduction, trafficked by a friend, or false immigration.

There are many cases of human trafficking attempts in Ohio. One local story is of Lauren, 24, who reported finding a distracting piece of paper on her windshield after leaving her shift at Belden Village Mall. She shares:

“When I left my closing shift and walked out into the parking lot, I noticed my car was boxed in by the only other three cars in the lot. When I approached my car, I noticed there was a piece of paper covering my windshield. My coworkers immediately told me not to walk around to the passenger’s side of the car to take it off. None of us felt right about this situation. They watched me get in my car, and I waited until I was far away from the mall to take the paper off my windshield. When I turned it in to the police, they told me that it was an attempted kidnapping that it was good I was aware of what was happening. Apparently, Belden Village Mall is a hotspot for trafficking. So scary!”

How can you help?

Slavery is more stoppable than ever, and that’s why there are multiple local and global organizations rallying around the world and doing the work together. The first thing you can do is know the signs.

Signs of Human Trafficking

  • controlled by another person
  • controlled movement
  • lack of earnings
  • foreign, unfamiliar with the language
  • overly fearful, depressed, and submissive behavior
  • bad health or malnutrition
  • lack of official identification
  • signs of physical abuse
  • substance abuse
  • lack of trust
  • lack of personal belongings
  • signs of dependance
  • deceived by a false job offer
  • feelings of being trapped

Next, educate yourself on this rising conflict. Share resources with others and draw attention to this very relevant fast-growing criminal industry.

If you want to take a step and contribute to the end of human trafficking, multiple local organizations in Northeast Ohio can help you you get involved.

The first organization is a branch of the non-profit organization A21 Campaign founded by Christine Caine called Not for Sale: One Step at a Time. A group of ladies here in North Canton, Ohio, are dedicated to preventing human trafficking and providing education that brings awareness to this modern-day tragedy.

A21’s annual and global Walk for Freedom.

Another way you can get involved is by supporting Rahab Ministries. This non-profit organization helps women in our area who have been sexually exploited recover from their trauma.

As you can see, the issue of human trafficking isn’t distant; it is happening in your own backyard. Help put an end to human trafficking by knowing the signs, educating yourself on the conflict, and partnering with organizations that dedicate their lives to ending modern-day slavery.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 1 (888) 373-7888.

Faith Family Church to introduce additional worship experience

Saints Worship leading the church congregation in worship on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2019, at Faith Family Church located in Canton, Ohio.

Faith Family Church is adding a new Sunday worship experience at their Freedom campus located at 8200 Freedom Ave NW, North Canton, OH 44720, in April 2020.

Pastor Michael Cameneti, lead pastor and founder of Faith Family Church, announces to the church congregation on Jan. 5, 2020, that the church plans to expand by introducing an additional Sunday worship experience at their Freedom campus. Cameneti’s reason for making this decision is simple: “Reaching more people. We go to reach people far from God.”

In addition to reaching people far from God, Cameneti hopes the additional worship experience will help traffic after services and result in less exit time for church members. The weekend worship experiences at Faith Family Church’s Freedom campus will take place on Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. When attending service, you can expect to find genuine music, a positive and relevant message you can apply to your everyday life, and a congregation representing all walks of life.

Faith Family Church congregants are responding well to this announcement and are anticipating the additional worship experience. Nelson Swartz states: “I am so excited for two worship experiences because it allows room for so much more growth! It also allows for more opportunities for people to serve. A huge plus side will be parking lot control. It’ll be way easier to get in and out.”

What began as a small basement Bible study in 1988 has flourished into a multi-faceted ministry reaching the world and helping people establish and grow in their relationship with God. This past October, the church launched its first campus location in Fairlawn, Ohio. At only 14 weeks old, their average weekly attendance is 340 people. With this additional weekend worship experience, Cameneti and his team are believing for an average weekly attendance of 4,300 people.

Faith Family Church will launch this additional worship experience on April 5, 2020.

For more information about Faith Family Church, please visit

Living With Audacious Faith in a Virtually Faithless World

Hey there! Welcome back to I Choose, a blog created to encourage and inspire others to live a life full of authenticity, passion, and self-love. My name is Cassie, and I am a 23-year-old writer and student at Southeastern University.

For this week, we tackle the dawning question, “How do I live an authentic life for God in a world that is virtually faithless?” As believers, the Bible promises we won’t always have it easy. It also states that we were never meant to fit into the world, but rather be set apart from it as light among darkness.

At the foundation of living an authentic Christian life is developing a Christian worldview and having a clear set of biblical beliefs. Learning how to integrate your faith in all the areas of your life is an essential part of your walk with Christ!

Here are the ways I believe we can live with an audacious faith in a virtually faithless world:

1. Seek God First

What does seeking God first look like? Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” To seek the kingdom of God is to focus on and fully experience a relationship with God. It means prayer, Bible reading, worship, repentance, praise, and thanksgiving. When we seek God before everything else, we begin to develop a Christ-like worldview that is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. This biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God.

I believe there is so much weight and heaviness to the words in the Bible. They are more than just words on a page; they are living, breathing, and the foundation and framework that shape our actions and beliefs. A large aspect of developing your Christian worldview is writing down a statement of your personal and firmly held faith. This is called a Personal Statement of Faith.

Seeking God first involves discovering what you believe about the Bible and applying it to your daily walk with God. Before constructing your Personal Statement of Faith, reference this page to help you get started. Ask yourself, “What do I believe about scripture? The Holy Spirit? Creation? Jesus?” All the things you state should be statements underpinned by Scripture that you believe wholeheartedly.

2. Practice Discernment

“With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn to me to heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” —Matthew 13: 14-16

Christian discernment means looking at and listening to our mediated culture with the eyes and ears of Christ. We are asked to see genuinely and hear clearly the sights and sounds of media so that we may know what values and meanings are informing our culture. But it is difficult to see and hear in a world filled with noise.

Having a Christian worldview helps us stay grounded in a faithless world, but discernment helps us find God in culture today. When we are grounded and sure of our beliefs, we are less likely to result to media to form our opinions, our identity, and much more.

My pastor once said, “Culture that’s driven doesn’t drift.” To me, this means that having a grounded belief system that is driven by the Word of God is less likely to be influenced by outside forces.

“Following Christ in a media culture demands that we become aware of how we use the media and how much we depend on the media to shape the routine of our lives.” — James McDonnell

3. In Times of Opposition, Press on and Serve Others Well

In a culture where it is hard to work among others who don’t accept you, the best thing we can do is work humbly and serve others well. As Christians, we are called to go out into the world and speak life. We will encounter many situations where it won’t be very easy to integrate our faith well. We must press on through opposition and never let our faith be compromised.

God will bless you for integrating your faith well into your daily life, including your profession. By keeping a humble heart and passionately loving and helping others, I know I can trust that God will work through me in ways only He can.

We live in a virtually faithless world, but there are so many ways we can live confident in who we are, trusting God to do what only He can. God has ultimate authority as Creator and Lord of everyone. I believe this begins with obedience to His word and allowing it to become the foundation of our lives. Live unapologetically all out for Christ. Seek God first, and the rest will follow. Discern outside voices. Press on and always serve others well.

Prayer: I pray as believers that we continually strive to stand on the authority of Scripture and seek God first. I pray that God will guide your beliefs and actions to reflect His word. I ask that God will reveal any grey areas in your life and make clear to you the convictions you may need to have.

Until next time,

Salt + Light Coffee Co.: Pursuing Your Dreams

Did you have a high school dream that you never pursued? If you had the opportunity to go back in time and pursue it, would you?

If you are new here, my blog I Choose is all about encouraging and inspiring others to live a life full of authenticity, passion, and self-love. One of my favorite things to do is share stories of people I know who are doing just this.

This is Morgan.

Morgan Darr, 19, had a dream from sophomore year in high school to start her own coffee business when she graduated. From a young age, Morgan showed characteristics of a true entrepreneur and knew that this was the path she was meant to take when finishing high school. With passion, drive, and “God-given connections,” Morgan was able to make her sophomore year dream come true after a trip to Haiti. There, she met with two coffee farmers, one agreeing to do business with the states and thus starting Salt + Light Coffee Co.

Interviewing Morgan, it was very inspiring seeing the passion she has for her business and the people of Haiti. The impact her direct trade relationship is having on the farmers is remarkable. Morgan showed deep compassion for those she met who have inadequate living conditions, no education, and hardly any food. She saw first hand where the cup of coffee we drink out of habit every morning comes from. She saw the injustices the farmers had, and saw the sorting, the roasting, and the packaging first hand and knew she needed to give awareness to this and do something to help.

Children of Haiti farmers by Morgan Darr

“You are supplying jobs and supporting fair wages when you purchase Salt + Light Coffee Co. Each coffee bean is harvested and sorted by hand. We are so thankful for the men and women who do an excellent job harvesting, roasting, and sorting through the 100% Arabica beans.” -Morgan Darr

We rise by lifting others.

One of Morgan’s mottos is always to remember that there is someone on the other side of your cup of coffee. I know personally that when I make my morning cup of coffee, I don’t usually think about where it came from. Morgan wants her customers to be aware that there are people who do labor-intensive work to provide them with a cup of coffee. She wants to bring to light the injustices farmers face every day. By supporting her business, you can contribute to her providing a sustainable life for the indigenous people of Haiti. Who thought that at the age of 19, she could have this big of an impact and play such a significant role in changing lives?

Women of Selecto Coffee sorting coffee beans for Salt + Light Coffee Co. Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The second motto her company lives by is they are going to go deep and then wide. She doesn’t want her business to be passive with its farmers. She wants to make a difference in their lives, and with her direct trade, she is making a tremendous impact on the farmers. She is supporting the farmers, who support their children, who then get an education, which gives them an opportunity to get a job, to travel, or have sustainable living conditions. Once she has accomplished this, then she will expand her company and go more extensive than ever before.

Children of Haiti farmers by Morgan Darr

“The concept behind this basically states that we believe in finding the root of the problem and fixing it before we move on. We are going to form relationships with the farmers & get to know them personally.” -Morgan Darr

It brings me so much joy seeing others pursuing their dreams. Morgan has so much passion for others, and it’s been so beautiful seeing her visions come to pass. I want to encourage you to seek your dreams with all of your heart. With God on our side, we are able to do infinitely more than we could ever think, hope, or imagine. No dream is too big for our God.

I hope Morgan’s story inspired you today. Be sure to watch my interview with Morgan to hear what others have to say about Morgan and her company, Salt + Light Coffee.

Salt +Light Coffee Co. is available for wholesale and can be ordered in 4 oz or 12 oz bags with your choice of whole bean or ground. Morgan thanks her customers for their support in making her dream come true.

Contact Morgan!


INSTAGRAM: salt_lightcoffeeco

Miraculous Deliverance

What fight are you currently battling? Some of us may be in a season of never-ending storms, where it feels like there are challenges facing us in every direction. Others may say life is pretty good right now, where the only challenges you may be facing are having enough time to do school work or you may not enjoy the job you currently have. Whether you are looking in the right place for guidance or just needing to prepare yourself when the battles do come your way, we all have things we are facing that we need to admit we can’t face on our own.

My blog post this week is going to dig deeper into a common biblical story that if you’ve been in church for any given amount of time you have heard of- the battle between David and Goliath and God’s miraculous deliverance to the rejected, yet faithful, underdog. I hope this post prepares you to fight the storms in your life by equipping you with various ways to build your faith to allow you to face the giants in your life, rather than bow down to them.

Slay like David

David was a shepherd and a man after God’s own heart. To give some context, before David fought Goliath, he was anointed to be King Saul’s successor by Samuel, who was a prophet that had great influence during the judges period of biblical history. David had 7 older brothers, all of whom overlooked him and treated him with disrespect. 1 Samuel 17 was the beginning of David’s time waiting to receive his kingship. He was faithful where God planted him, and spent most of his days following the directions of his father, Jesse, and tending to the sheep (1 Samuel 17:15–18, 1 Samuel 16:11). He was under 30 years old when he took on the largest Philistine warrior, and with trust in the Lord was able to have victory (2 Samuel 5:4).

For the sake of this post’s length, I encourage you to go read 1 Samuel 17:32–47 before reading on.

I feel like we have all experienced a time where the odds were against us and we had no idea how we would make it through. In situations where we feel we have no idea how to cope, we need to be like David and be so bold in our faith and remember that the battle is the Lord’s. But you’re probably wondering, how do we be bold in our faith, and how do we equip ourselves to have this mindset when the odds are against us?

It’s really hard at times to have a David faith that consistently reminds you that “my God will allow me to overcome this!” But we have to remind ourselves that we have that faith living inside of us, we just need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and renew our thoughts (Romans 12:2). In 1 Timothy 6:12, it says: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” This verse speaks volumes in and of itself, but Jordan Smucker spoke of three simple ways a few summers back on how we can fight the good fight of faith, and I’d love to share the points he made with my own additions:

1. The first way you can fight in faith is prayer. Prayer is so powerful, and it should be the beginning of all battles that come your way. Before you go to others and ask for advice, make sure you have gone to God first. He knows all and will give you the guidance you need to overcome any challenge you face. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (NIV). I love how James said it was effective. You can replace the word effective here with successful, which can act as a reminder for us that Jesus already won the battle. We have the victory, we can’t worry. Like Paul writes in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (NIV). We can come with thanksgiving to the Lord for helping us conquer the giants we face. What pleases God is a bold faith, so we must continually practice His presence and build our relationship with Him (Hebrews 11:1–3).

2. The second way you can fight in faith is by checking your position. Are you looking to the wrong place for guidance? Are you placing yourself in a position of failure or victory? I feel like we often are so focused on the bad going on in our life and fail to see the bright side in situations. I have a student, who I won’t name for the sake of privacy, who assumes that since their parents are divorced that they are destined to be divorced in their marriage someday, too. I know another student who believes that since their parents are alcoholics and never went to college that they won’t go to college either and will be a drinker, too. 

We must stop being a generation that looks at our circumstances as the end-all, that we can’t be victorious coming from broken situations.

Side note: David was overlooked by his family, but never lost sight of his position as a man of God that will someday be called to achieve great things for the Kingdom of God. You have a position where you are at to be bold in faith, bold in prayer, and bold in expectancy that God is calling you to great things. We must stop focusing on the failures and start focusing on our position as victors.

3. The last way you can fight in faith is trusting in what God sees. The way I picture this in my mind is a mountain, and we are merely making our way to the top, trying to overcome the various obstacles that life brings. We can’t quite see over the top yet, so we focus on every little thing around us on the way up. Our legs may be hurting, the view isn’t that great, you’re thirsty, etc. When we have a God focus, we see over the top of the mountain before we make it there, because you trust in the process and trust in what God can see. God is larger than all the giants we face, he oversees them all, from the beginning to the middle to the end. Our view of the mountain may be high, but to how big our God is it seems so small.

You always have to remember that the presence of a giant or problem in your life doesn’t mean the absence of God. God wouldn’t put a mountain in your life if He didn’t think you would be able to make it to the other side.

He will turn that giant or obstacle in your life into a platform if you keep trusting and focusing on Him. As we go up the hill, we can’t see the view from the top. Faith says that even though we don’t see the view from the top just yet, we know it is coming and we wait expectantly for the view. We have faith that we will be victorious through every battle. As David said confidently, the battle is the Lord’s. David approached Goliath knowing he would be victorious because it was ultimately the Lord’s battle.

Short video clip of me sharing a part of this message to our students in the United high school ministry.

The next time you are facing a giant in your life that seems too large to overcome, remember to: Keep a positive perspective and stop complaining about it, trust the process, keep your focus on God, and value every season. God wants to show you something and help you grow in every part of your life, good or bad. Trust in His vision because He sees it for how it really is. That giant in your life? Consider it done. He will miraculously deliver you from any situation you face, just like He delivered David from Goliath.

I want to encourage you to face your giants. Declare the victory over them. With audacious faith and a God perspective, we can overcome anything. Slay like David in every area of your life. Declare the victory before you see it won. Approach every situation by saying, “I will fight boldly knowing that the battle is the Lord’s.”

Thank you so much for reading! Please share if this brought encouragement to you so you can help to encourage someone else’s day. For questions, feedback, source information, feel free to comment below!

Have a wonderful week! I declare that the Lord will do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine.

Things I’ve Learned Working a Desk Job

I have no idea why it took me a year to realize most of the things I am about to share. I was working in retail for five years straight, constantly on my feet and moving around. Then I left the mall to work an administrative desk job…where I was constantly on my…you know what.

I have worked as the Creative Project Manager at Faith Family Church for a year and a half now. I am so thankful I was given this opportunity, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I soon learned this amazing job came with a few unwanted surprises!

Huge lifestyle changes really do impact you physically and mentally, especially if you are like me, a full-time employee, and a full-time student. I learned many things over the past year about my physical health and especially my habits. With the help of a few of my co-workers,

Here are a few things I have learned working a desk job.

You can’t keep the same eating patterns.

No, you can’t work a desk job and eat fast food for lunch. No, you can’t eat sweets the same way you used to. You no longer are on your feet, burning calories from walking around for 5–6 hours. You have to change your diet. If I am being completely honest with you — I gained like 15 pounds after leaving the mall. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a horrible diet before, but my diet was not sustainable with my lifestyle change. It was time to cut back on sweets and sugar.

My co-worker, Hannah, realized this the hard way. She got hired the same month as I did and had been experiencing similar changes, only it took a doctor telling her she was very unhealthy to encourage her to change her eating habits. Hannah shared,

“My doctor told me that I was so low on protein and high on processed foods that I have to cut out sugar and sweets entirely. He told me word-for-word that if it doesn’t come from the Earth or depend on the Earth to survive, then I have to stop eating it. I knew then I had to change what I was eating.”

Packing lunch is healthy and saves you money.

It is better than going out. From the very beginning, I was really good at doing this. But even a year later, I realize I need to change what I pack and be more conscious about what I am packing for myself. This includes more veggies and fruit and fewer chips!

My co-workers, Anna, and Wendy, are excellent about this and even encourage me to pack healthier. Anna is a cross-fit trainer and always has amazing meals prepped, while Wendy packs delicious salads, homemade kombucha, and healthy snacks to munch on in-between meetings.

I quickly learned that not all of my co-workers eat healthy, which leads me into my third point…

People will constantly bring in desserts and free food.

The people who couldn’t care less about their diet regularly bring in junk food for the entire department. Treating yourself every once in a while is okay, but weekly indulgences, even daily indulgences, can really add up! I receive what we church staff members call “all-church emails,” where someone on staff sends out an email to every single person on staff announcing something. The most common all-church email? “Come to the front office! ___ dropped off free food.” Think I’m lying? Here are some examples from just the past few weeks:

Trust me when I say, you need to avoid those weekly cupcakes and office donuts at all costs.

Sitting at a desk all day can be tiring and boring.

Get up and walk. Stand up, stretch, don’t let yourself sit down for more than an hour without getting up. My co-worker, Branden, is our lead video editor, and he cannot stress it enough the importance of getting up out of your desk and taking a walk to rejuvenate yourself. He shared,

“It’s easy to sit and stare at a screen for hours on end with no break. I force myself to get up and take a lap around the church building every hour. I learned that this has helped my creative flow and productively greatly.”

And equally as important — don’t allow yourself to snack out of boredom! Just avoid bringing those unhealthy snacks into the office.

Keep your mind focused.

I have learned that listening to podcasts while doing your work is really helpful for your productivity and focus. When you have been sitting for so long, it is easy to get distracted with mundane things. My favorite podcast to listen to at the moment is Girls Gotta Eat — hilarious, real, and motivating!

Consistency is huge.

If you are like me and have the freedom to clock in whenever you please, having a set schedule for yourself is important. I don’t have to be in at 10 am every day, but I choose to be. Sometimes I decide to come in at 9 am and work a regular 9–5 shift even though I am not required to. You will be more productive and learn to prioritize your time a whole lot better.

What have you learned working a desk job? If you have a tip that wasn’t mentioned, please share it with me! I am always trying to find new ways to create a more productive work environment for myself!

Comment below which tip was your favorite!

Until next time,

The Road to Purpose

“In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk — better yet, run! — on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline — not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” — Ephesians 4:1–3 MSG

Everyone is longing for purpose. Everyone is longing to know their calling. Everyone has looked far and wide for the next move, the next step, the next turn. As I was speaking with some excellent and vulnerable friends, we discussed some thought-provoking topics that left me so refreshed, inspired, and ready to share.

Recently I have been having so many of the same conversations with people from literally all over the United States. I spoke on the topic of passion and direction with my friend Joseph, 29, who lives in San Francisco and my family friend Emily, 24, who lives in Wilmington. The pattern of conversation was simple: each person was opening up to me about how recently they have felt stagnant, lost, merely longing for the next step of their life — searching for passion in the workplace, direction on what to do next, and drive to achieve whatever it is they are called to achieve.

I kept seeing this pattern among these conversations, a pattern of so many so thirsty for vision, passion, and direction for their next step in life. After a month or so of having the same conversations with so many people, God helped me realize something: it doesn’t matter where you are located, how old you are, etc.: everyone has gone through seasons of life where they are lost and searching for the next step, their passion, their purpose.

I am passionate about volunteering on my church’s production team!

I met a few of my close friends, Ashley, and Mariah, for coffee and when we began to talk about this revelation, Mariah brought up what God had placed on her heart recently. What she said spoke volumes about who our God is and how intentional He was when creating us with a unique and specific purpose. She said,

God created the world, the blades of grass, the trees — and then He said, “I need one of ____ in the world, to do ____only the way they can.”

Just as blades of grass serve the purpose of providing stability for the soil, and the trees for providing oxygen — we each were created to serve the purpose that only we can fulfill. The God-given purpose that only we can figure out for ourselves. I love how Paul instructs us to “run on the road God called you to travel” in the opening verse above. It is our job to find that purpose and run toward it. The New Living Translation of verse one says it this way: God is begging you to lead a life worthy of your calling.

But then it made us think: why are so many people running and going nowhere? Then it hit me.

To run, you have to have direction. You have to have clarity. If you lack clarity, you will hit walls, get lost, and wonder how you ended up where you did so suddenly.

But when you are slow and listen to God’s still, small voice in the seasons of figuring out your purpose, you see much clearer. You take life step-by-step, discerning what is right from wrong. You aren’t rushing; you are focused on doing things God’s way and not your way. It is in this season where people experience this thirst for the next step as they are looking for answers. I believe it is in this very season of preparation where God will reveal your unique road that leads to your unique purpose.

I think it is crazy how Paul instructs us to literally run in the calling and live up to our God-given profession. When I think of running, I imagine how crazy it would be if you ran without vision. You are literally setting yourself up for failure. The key to running is only doing it when you have your guard rails up, and you are heading full speed ahead to the vision that God placed on your heart. Without that vision, you shouldn’t be running.

Paul could have written “walk slowly when you find your calling,” but instead, he instructs us to run. When you walk slow, you aimlessly wander around, and it is so easy for you to make a turn, question your call, or want things your way. It’s when you get that glimpse of vision when you should begin running full speed ahead with the end goal in constant sight. It’s here where you need to stay the course and keep all that you want to achieve close to your heart.

You need to know that what you are heading full speed towards is accurate — just as if you are the tree running toward its calling of providing the Earth with oxygen. I think this is where people get stuck most often. If you are driving full speed in the wrong direction going your own way, we can’t expect God to be the typical “Jesus take the wheel” God as Carrie Underwood would make you think. God is ready to give you all the answers you need. He is desperately behind you on your road to purpose with his state trooper lights on prepared to stop you and reveal your purpose. If only we would slow down and pull over. Ashley shared,

He is coming up behind you with His sirens and lights on telling you you made a mistake. He is desperately trying to redirect you back to the right path like a GPS.

Sometimes we are going so fast our own way we ignore the visible signs of alert around us that are the very thing that could get us closer to our purpose and calling… if only we would stop and listen.

I am also passionate about riding horses! Meet Romeo!

To conclude, know it is okay if you are feeling lost because you are definitely not alone — more people are in the same season of life with you than you know. Just remind yourself that God looked at all of creation and decided He needed one of you to do things only you will do. Once you figure out what that thing is, you are golden.

But in the meantime, if you feel like you are off the path, don’t worry because we have all been there. Slow down, stay focused, set goals for yourself, know your guard rails, and for the love of God, if you see God’s sirens and lights following close behind you as you drive full speed down your road to purpose, be sure to pause and evaluate where you are going!

Lots of love,

Women gather at The Studio CG for a night of community and self-care

NOVEMBER 4, 2019 – I had the privilege of spending this evening with a beautiful group of ladies for a faith-filled yoga gathering. The Studio CG is a connect group associated with Faith Family Church that brings young women together on Monday nights to practice wellness and self-care. Through various exercises, prayer, and meditation, women who come to this group have no choice but to leave refreshed and motivated for the rest of their week.

If you are new to my blog, welcome! My name is Cassie, and I am a 23-year-old writer striving to encourage and inspire others to live a life full of authenticity, passion, and self-love. The Studio CG is one of the various ways I can share this passion with others!

Before I share my experience with you, let me encourage you to come out to our next gathering! Attending The Studio CG is completely free for any woman seeking community and a place to grow their mind, body, and spirit. The group gathers at Faith Family Church every Monday night from 7 to 8 p.m. Come prepared to have a fun exercise paired with guided meditation and prayer to relax and prepare your mind for another amazing week.

6:45 p.m. Women begin showing up at the church, anticipating another great Monday night gathering. Yoga mats in hand, each woman arrives one by one, ready to stretch their bodies and calm their minds. I love seeing so many women excited to participate and have community!

6:55 p.m. Nine girls have arrived on time for our free yoga group. With the weather warmer than usual and the sky a perfect blue, we decide to set up our yoga mats on the church’s back patio. I am ecstatic to see a diverse group of women of various ages.

7:00 p.m. My dear friend, Heather, is leading our class tonight. Heather has been practicing yoga for many years now and loves sharing her experience with others. After welcoming the group of ladies, we began to play relaxing music that sets the mood for the session ahead of us. We all stretched and prepared for our simple yoga flow that is designed for beginners.

7:10 p.m. We had a young woman arrive a bit late, but we welcomed her nonetheless! She placed her mat down next to a young woman at the end of the row and jumped right in. As the yoga flow began to get more involved, none of us have perfect form and can keep perfect balance, but we are having a refreshing time.

7:30 p.m. We wrap up our 30-minute yoga flow, and the ladies are relaxed, stretched, and ready to meditate. With every woman sitting comfortably on her mat, we have a couple of minutes of quiet guided meditation geared toward renewing our minds with a Godly perspective. Then to my favorite part, repeating God’s promises over our lives.

7:45 p.m. Finishing up our meditation, we gather in a circle off of our mats and pray with one another. At this point in the group, we have all practiced self-care in our bodies, minds, and now spirits!

7:50 p.m. The yoga, meditation, and prayer session is complete! All the women begin to fold up their mats and wrap up yet another great Monday night session with the Studio CG.

8:00 p.m. After a few minutes of conversation and community with one another, all the women begin to leave and say their goodbyes. I express how thankful I am for each and every one of them.

We had yet another very successful night with the ladies. It is so important to take time out of your busy week to take care of yourself. This can look different for everyone, so if you have any questions or ideas that you want me to share, please let me know! I hope to see you out next week.

Until next time,

Morning Routine for Self-Growth

One small positive thought in the morning can change your entire day.

Hello! I’m Cassie and welcome to I Choose. If you missed last week’s welcome post, you can find it here! There I explained my vision for this blog and what you can expect from me in the future! For this week, I am so excited to share my personal morning routine with you all! Creating a solid morning routine has impacted my self-growth and daily mindset in ways I am so thankful for. I believe that how we spend our mornings sets the tone for the rest of our day. So here are five things I believe you should implement into your morning routine!

1. Switch Off the Snooze Setting!

Before I created a solid morning routine, I dreaded getting up in the morning. Any other non-morning people out there?! One thing that I wanted to do for myself was to change my mindset about waking up. Instead of dreading hearing the alarm in the morning and immediately hitting snooze, I decided I wanted to be thankful God granted me another day alive and healthy on this earth. To work toward this mindset, I decided to turn my snooze alarm off. Does snooze even really make you feel more rested? It didn’t work for me, so I began to wake up when I was scheduled to at a consistent time every day! And no sleeping in until noon, either. So do yourself a favor and turn snooze off, a more productive day awaits you.

2. Reading

As soon as I get out of bed, I am immediately going downstairs to make myself a cup of coffee. Who doesn’t love a warm cup of coffee in the morning?! As I drink my coffee, I do my devotionals, journal, or read my Bible for 15–30 minutes. Journaling specifically has been something that has helped me get my thoughts straight before I start my day. Acknowledge how you are feeling that morning. Write affirmations, download what you are thinking, write about what God is doing in your life at the moment. You will love looking back at these writings and seeing how much you have grown.

And of course, starting your day with God’s word charges you and fills your mind with things above. You’ll find yourself being more peaceful throughout the day when you begin with encouragement and wisdom. So definitely read your Bible, a verse or a chapter — you will see a change!

3. Yoga Flow

Before I shower and get ready for the day, I do a simple yoga flow that takes me literally five minutes, stretches my body, and focuses my mind and breathing. Yoga has been a game-changer for me in the mornings. I feel calmer and less likely to stress over the small stuff. Here is my favorite yoga flow I do in the mornings. If you try this out, please let me know!

4. Solitude

Once my yoga flow is over, I remain in a comfortable, seated position and meditate and pray. Whatever I read that morning, I will meditate on. I will take a moment of solitude and allow God to speak to me. Our relationship with Him isn’t one-sided; we must remember to allow room for Him to speak. I know my day will be filled with meetings, conversations, and busy-work, so I take this moment and pray for my day with a heart of thanksgiving.

At this moment, I do what contributes to my self-growth the most, and that is my visualization and self-love routine. I tell myself how grateful I am that I took a few minutes out of my day to be calm and take care of myself. I think of my future and focus on specific desires that I feel God has placed on my heart. I thank God for all He has done and all He continues to do. I ask confidently for whatever it is I am believing God for in that moment. Take this time to love yourself, tell yourself you are going to have an amazing day. Remember: Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.

5. Water

The last thing on my morning routine is to hydrate. We should be drinking at least 72 fl oz of water a day. If you can knock out half of that while you are getting ready for the day, then you are setting yourself up for good skin, more brainpower, and more energy. Recently I have been tracking my water intake on the fitness application on my phone called MyFitnessPal! Hold yourself accountable and start monitoring your water intake!

Implementing these five simple things into my day has made the most significant difference in my self-esteem and daily outlook on life. I grew in thankfulness, peace, self-love, and confidence in my future. I find myself being so productive and less distracted throughout the day since beginning this routine. Of course, I am no expert, and all the things I listed are things that I found beneficial to me and my self-growth — but I do believe that if you implement any of these five steps into your day, you will see some change! Reach out to me and let me know if you found this helpful or plan to start any of these habits.

Much love,

What Adds Value to Your Life?

What adds value to your life? For me, it’s pursuing a lifestyle I am passionate about surrounded by people that encourage and inspire me to better myself. Over the course of three years, I have discovered the joy that inspiring and encouraging others through writing and speaking brings me, and it took a lot of contemplating before deciding to take the next step in expanding this gift. So this is where I start my journey. Welcome to my blog, I Choose.

My name is Cassie, and I Choose is a result of a God-given dream and calling to be a published author and women’s speaker someday. About a year ago, God placed three words on my heart: go, move, and speak. I knew from then on that I was called to go out into the world and inspire and encourage many people.

My vision for I Choose is to create an atmosphere that is judgement-free, inspiring, and encouraging. Over the course of two months, I was able to develop a life for myself that promotes a healthy mind, body, and soul. Once I realized the things in my life that were making that difficult for me, I decided to be the change that will make it easier for you to do the same!

On this blog, I am going to post content that will help you create the life you dream of living with a mindset that is positive and days that are happier. It’s going to be authentic, sharing inspiration for all the good and the bad that we experience in life. Along with Jesus, there are going to be posts on healthy eating, yoga, meditation, and affirmations-all things that helped me form the life I desired.

We choose what we consume our minds with. We choose what we do with our bodies. We choose what we do with our time. Why not choose to take better care of our minds, bodies, and spirits with things that add value to our lives, rather than hindering them from being what we desire them to be!

I would love for you to start this journey with me! To begin, let’s declare this together…

I will be the energy that I want to attract. I will manifest the life I desire. I will practice gratitude. I will fall in love with taking care of myself, my body, my mind, and my spirit.

All the love,

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