The Red Cup.

I have a confession. I just bought a Decaf Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. It was handed to me in their new, plain red cup. I drank it. And I Love Jesus.

I didn’t proclaim, “Merry Christmas” in the middle of the store (its November), tell them my name was Merry Christmas, or run around holding my baby girl above my head screaming, “WE LOVE JESUS!” And you know what, I didn’t feel slighted. I didn’t feel a direct attack on my faith. And in no way, did the removal of the Reindeer effect my love for Jesus Christ. In fact, my love for Jesus only continues to grow, every day that I spend with Him, despite my surroundings in this world.

But you want to know one thing. As I looked at that red cup sitting on the counter I did feel annoyed.. Maybe, even so much as disappointed at the man who caused the big stink over these cups. Granted I don’t know much about Starbucks as an entity but I can’t recall hearing them proclaim affiliation or know of them to be a Christian run and based business. So, why the fuss about them removing the Reindeer? And I hate to say this, but don’t we often hear complaints of people saying that Santa Claus, Reindeer, Christmas Trees, etc. detract from the main Reason for the Season, that being the birth of Jesus Christ!

Let me remind you, fellow lovers and followers of Christ. We are called to lead people to Jesus. We are called to be beacons of light upon a hill. We aren’t called to stir up animosity or get mixed up in the silly arguments about removing “Christmas from Starbucks cups.” We aren’t called to have thin skin, leaving us easily slighted. Rather we are called to be warriors. To take up the cross. To spread LOVE, not condemnation. And PLEASE do remember, that Jesus Christ, NEVER forced the Gospel upon any one. He never screamed “Merry Christmas” at the coffee baristas of His time. I will ensure you one thing… we WILL NOT further the Kingdom by forcing the Good News upon people. It is said, “I will stand at the door and knock.” Scripture doesn’t say, “I am coming to your door, move to the side because I’m kicking it down.”

Now, dear man who created this unnecessary stir at Starbucks… I feel for you. I understand how easy it is to get caught up in bologna. We all do it from time to time. But listen here, “Keep your eye on the goal. Keep your eyes focused on the One we serve.”

In the future, if it truly means that much to you (which is a whole other issue) as opposed to starting chaos and controversy slamming Starbucks new red cups why not put a spin on it and say,

“Thanks Starbucks, for the new red cups with a clean, blank surface reminding us of The One who was born on Christmas Day, who lived a life of humility and love, and who was crucified, and died to wash away the sins of the world… [WHO DIED to WASH AWAY MY INDIVIDUAL SINS], leaving us all a CLEAN, BLANK SLATE!”

Sorry about the rant. But come on people. I don’t mean to sound insensitive but It’s a RED CUP FROM STARBUCKS. Lets toughen up a little and stop allowing the enemy to play games. There are people in this world who are not only slighted for their faith, what they stand for or who they are, but are literally dying as martyrs because of their Love for Our Father, God. These are the situations and the problems that command our attention, not the design team of Starbucks new coffee cups.

 

Those 3 Words.

Truthfully, I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience the blessings God has enabled me to achieve throughout my life. However, something happened yesterday that far exceeded any stage I ever competed on, any runway I have ever walked on, any photographer I ever shot with, any gymnastic coach I ever trained with… and any dream I have ever dreamed of.

Those 3 Words.My son, completely out of nowhere, hopped up on the couch, wrapped his little arms around my neck, and for the first time in his life said, “Momma. I love you.”

Okay, now speaking from experience – had someone told me 3 years ago this story,  my exact thoughts and words would have been, “Awww. How cute,” I would have smiled and that would have been that. I’ve never been a mushy person (aside from when it came to puppies). I’ve never been one to dish out,  the “I love you,” to just anyone, nor was I ever afraid to offer up the “Aw, thank you.” to a, what I believed to be, unwarranted, “I love you” from a beginning relationship.  I wasn’t opposed to love nor did I ever take “love” lightly. However, I am not sure that I ever realized how truly profound those three little words spoken, could be.

In the world we live in today, we all have a tendency to be selfish. Unfortunately, it stems from our very own sinful nature. We have a conversation, but most of the time we are “listening” for that pause that allows us to jump in and tell our OWN opinion, or our OWN story. What is it I want to say? We are constantly on the look out on how to better our OWN lives or situations? Our thoughts are often, “Am I loved?” “Am I happy?” “Am I successful?” “Am I being heard?”

As opposed to focusing our energy on, “Do we make those around us feel loved, appreciated, happy, complete,” our thoughts are more often, “Does he/she make me feel loved? Does he/she make me feel happy and appreciated?”

And we do the same with God. Yes, we might thank God for the blessings He has bestowed upon our lives. We might thank Him for walking us through troubled times. But so often our main concern is feeling His love for us. We think, “I feel so loved by God right now!” or, “Where is He? I feel like He has turned His back on me…Does He even love me?”

How often do we think about our love for and towards Him? This may sound crazy, but how often do we think about how our love makes God feel?

He longs for a relationship with us. He is our father. He calls us His children.

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.”  1 John 3:1

Knowing the incredible joy my son brought to me yesterday by uttering those three little words for the first time, I can not even begin to imagine the amount of joy it must bring our Heavenly Father when we finally express our love to Him.

I encourage you, to step back from your daily lives and look around. How is it that you make those around you feel? Do they feel your love, your friendship, your consideration for them? Do you make God know his importance in your life? Does God know how much you love him?

**Side Note: Please do not misunderstand this post to say that uttering, “I love you,” is the only and best way to express love. Had my son been throwing a tantrum or a toy at the moment when he said those three little words, I am not sure their effect would have been so profound. However, I could genuinely feel his love for me as he hugged me. This genuine feeling of love that came with his “I love you,” is the feeling I am referring to that we need to spread to those around us. This genuine feeling of appreciation, acceptance, love and unending gratitude through our words and our actions is the feeling we need to make known to our friends, our family and our God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made To Thrive : Lieutenant Joseph C. Rocha

 Joseph Christopher Rocha : Made To ThriveOne person can do unbelievable things. All it takes is that one person who’s willing to risk everything to make it happen.” -Sam Childers

 

 

Why He was Chosen for Made To Thrive:

 

Meeting by happenstance in 2009, while visiting Las Vegas with my best friends, I had no idea the impact Joseph would have on my life, my families life and the world as a whole. A humble man of God, Joseph Rocha has waded through the waters of some of this world’s most difficult challenges, receiving his strength from God alone, ultimately carving a new path for thousands of men and women of this country. 

 

As a leading advocate for the Repeal of, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,”  Joseph was given the honor by the Log Cabin RepublicansWhite & Case Law Firm and The United States Senate, to testify in the Federal Court’s challenge of it’s Constitutionality. Upon it’s repeal, Joseph was then invited back to the bill signing, where he had the pleasure of meeting with President Barack Obama.

In all honesty, I could go on for hours regarding Joseph’s worldly accomplishments. However, what truly makes Joseph unique, and in my eyes, a testament of Christ’s love is the way he treats the people and the world around him. Joseph is one of the most selfless, humble and loving people I have ever met. Having spent numerous “weekend-breakfast-visits” with him while he was completing OCS in Quantico, I was always amazed and humbled, how despite the circumstances he had endured the week before; regardless of any hardship – Joseph was always first and foremost concerned with how I was; how my week had been; how my family was doing. When he would finally begin to talk about his week and the ups and downs of OCS, never once was there talk about giving up, or it being too hard. Rather it was always talk about, how God had shown his face throughout the week; how right when he needed Him most, he could feel God with him;  and how humbled he was to have the opportunity that lay before him.

This former bomb-dog-handler, who is now in his final year of law school, contracted to be a JAG/ lawyer for the Marine Corps is not only a world changer, he was and is, “MADE TO THRIVE!”

**all thoughts and opinions expressed in this writing, are solely those of myself, Casandra Tressler.

 

Lieutenant Joseph C. Rocha In His Own Words

Favorite Scripture Verses

  • Jeremiah 1:15 : Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the LORD, have spoken! “They will set their thrones at the gates of the city. They will attack its walls and all the other towns of Judah.
  • Job 38:4-7 : “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together. And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
  • Joshua 5:13-15 : “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

What has been your biggest struggle and how did you see God’s face in it?

The path to to my commissioning as an officer in the Marine Corps. With “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” only recently having been repealed, this 10 year journey from my original enlistment at 18 years old, has come with many professional, personal, and private relationship challenges. Nevertheless, along the decade, small gains reinforced that I was not alone and I would succeed when and how the Lord saw fit. I’ve gained deep patience and trust in Him.

Who are your biggest “heros” or role models?

My little sisters. They are 12 and 17 and there’s nothing they think I can’t do. I’ve spent my life trying to set a good example for them and not prove them wrong.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Most people will never even try, and so many other will give up, but if you are relentless your dream becomes inevitable.

 

 

 

10 Things God Says About Me.

Have you ever seen one of the those kids, that is so bad, you think, MAN THANK GOD that is not my child…

Well, when it comes to the swimming pool, that is my child.

There is something about the water that literally turns my Little Man into a maniac. All he wants to do is PLAY, PLAY, PLAY… and not how little toddlers are supposed to play, but how wild animals play in the open ranges of Africa As I see other moms of toddlers sitting around watching their little ones scoop up water and empty it into buckets on the side of the baby pool or sit beautifully on the stairs, I on the other hand, am narrowly rescuing their unassuming children from my son as he attempts to “pounce” on them like they are a zebra and he is the lion.  I am blocking splashes and flying pool toys hailing from my child’s domain of the pool, as he flops around wildly, going under water and jumping up and down in an attempt to make the biggest splash. At which time, I reluctantly change my hat from “mother” to circus tamer, simply attempting to contain my little monkey. (It’s awful) … (Little side note. We are working on this issue.)

Yesterday,  with the weather as amazing as it was, the pool was packed and my little man was on his A game. (No, I don’t mean good behavior A game.) I mean he was like a wrestling, bull-fighting, shark attacking, tiger preying champion at the pool yesterday. Needless to say, we had to leave early and “Mommy and Little Man” took a much needed stroll to the grocery to “cool off” and “think about our actions.” Frustrated and annoyed that my otherwise, unbelievably well behaved child acts like such a hooligan in the pool, I reached for a carton of eggs and received a little message from God.

No, He wasn’t telling me I have a rotten egg for a son. (Although I am quite certain a few of the other mother’s at the pool may have valid arguments. Haha)  No, quite the contrary. To me, this was a little message, saying nothing more than, “Chill Out Momma. We’re all different. We are all created with our unique blessings, gifts and talents AND we are all created with our own unique struggles. So embrace the blessings. Embrace the talents. Embrace the gifts. And deal with the struggles as they come, but don’t dwell on them. Don’t let them ruin an otherwise beautiful day.”

So I started thinking, of all the things, just at the age of 2, God has blessed my son with. And then I started thinking of all the beautiful things I can say about my son (and truthfully, like any mother, I can list just about 90 million things I love about my son and say about him on a daily basis).  However, then I started thinking, what does God say he loves about my Little Man and what would God say about him right this instant, knowing his actions in the pool? Would God’s list be the same as mine?

What does God say he loves about you? Despite our struggles, our hardships, our annoyances – what is it that He would say about you as a person?

I encourage you, make your own list, “What does God Say About You?“ Then make a list of things God says about your son/daughter/husband/partner… What is it that God loves about that person?

What Are 10 Things God Says about _____________________.

 

In the meantime, you can check out what I have come up with…

10 Things God says about me.

 

1. He loves that I am a little bit weird. (just a little bit) He created me this way. He created me in His own unique image.

2. God loves that I am redeemed. He knows my failures. He knows my struggles but He loves me despite of them and has made me whole in Him! (Ephesians 4:24)

3. God says, I am forgiven. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

4. God says, I am an Overcomer. God says, that not only will He never give me anything too big to handle but that with Him, there is NO one that can stand against! “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

5. God says, I am His child. Think about this for a moment. There can be 9,257 people in a room, and I have just as much confidence that the God of the universe, the God who has EVERYTHING,  would point me out in a room, like that of my own mother or father, and say, “Yes, she is my child! I claim her as my OWN!” Talk about feeling accepted! 1 John 3:1

6. God says that I am beautiful. He created me in his own likeness. He knows every hair on my head (and there are a lot).  (Matthew 10:30) I am the apple of His eye. (Psalm 17). His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

7. God says, He doesn’t care if I … Continue reading

Image Credited and Property of : Damn Delicious

 

 

Quick and Easy Coconut Thai Shrimp Soup
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups uncooked Noodles
  2. 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 lb. Shrimp : peeled and deveined
  4. 1 pinch Himalayan Salt (to taste)
  5. 1 pinch White Pepper (to taste)
  6. 2 Cloves Garlic : minced
  7. 1 Onion : sliced finely
  8. 1/2 Red Bell Pepper : chopped
  9. 1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger : grated or minced
  10. 2 tablespoon Red Curry Paste
  11. 1 12 oz can unsweetened Coconut Milk
  12. 2 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
  13. Juice of 1 Lime
  14. 2 squeezes of Lemon
Instructions
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package. Set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, warm olive oil. Add shrimp, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until pink, for approximately 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a stockpot, add garlic, onion, and Red Bell Pepper. Cook, stirring often, until tender. Cook approximately 5 minutes. Add ginger, stirring repetitively. Cook approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Add red curry paste. Stir continuously until well combined.
  5. Gradually add coconut milk and vegetable stalk. Whisk/Stir continuously for approximately 2 minutes : until completely incorporated.
  6. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until it thickens slightly. Approximately 5 minutes. Add shrimp. Allow to simmer for 30 seconds-1 minute.
  7. Serve.
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Casandra Tressler http://www.casandratressler.com/