I wanna be in the Light



Light pouring in from the window this morning provided a great example to attempt answering some questions Ava had.

Occasionally (probably more than that) we give quick answers that fall way short in explaining something on a level kids can understand.

Ava might smile and nod but then she wakes up with more questions, like she did this morning.

So here’s the plot:  Last night after a long awesome day at Six Flags, we were talking about the friend we brought with us, Anna Grace, and how our friends will influence us in good and bad ways, and how we need to choose those friends wisely.  Some friends might be more like role models for us to look up to with our ultimate (most important) desire to be like Jesus!
So we used her friend Anna Grace (who at 13 yrs old modeled incredible behavior at Six Flags yesterday) as a strong example of someone to look up to and how to behave, which we learned this morning can be confusing for an 8yr old.

She translated this to mean she should be like Anna Grace and maybe not be herself. As if she wasn’t enough and we wanted her to be different or we didn’t like who she was, which she revealed to me with eyes full of tears.

Broke my heart to smithereens.

I quickly said, “Oh Ava, no way sweetheart, there is only one you and we LOVE who you are.  We wouldn’t change you for the world.”

I continued, “Acting like someone and looking up to someone, as a way to behave, are 2 different things.  When you see Jesus reflected in someone, that’s a good person to be friends with and look up to, because they will influence you and ultimately you want to be like Jesus!”

Understanding this at an early age is HUGE but difficult to communicate.  How the people or things we let influence us will be reflected in our lives one way or another etc.

So while I was fumbling through explaining this, the light was dancing off our feet… and the idea came to me…  Or God just knew I was needing help!

I began moving my feet in and out of the light.

When my foot is in the light, it is reflecting light and when it’s in the shadows, it is covered in darkness.

God desires us to be children of light and have relationships that encourage us to be in the light as well.

As this started sinking in she asked who I looked up to, so I listed several people like our pastor Andy Stanley, my dad, Steven Curtis Chapman and a few others, also giving her examples of friends I have chosen to be good influences on me even as an adult.

“Mommy doesn’t want me to ‘Be’ these people, but loves when I have good men in my life influencing me, to help me grow as a husband and father and follower of Jesus.”

“That’s what we meant when we were using Anna Grace as an example and as someone we were very impressed with… We clearly see Jesus in her, and that’s a great thing!  She is a great friend to have and to look up to!”

her facial expressions revealed she was understanding and growing in that very moment.

We told her to expect us to be pointing out people like this for many years to come, because the people we are friends with WILL influence you and as a result WILL leave something with you… And we want it to be as light-filled as possible.

So we took that picture above, smiled and went on with our day.

And now as I reflect, at the end of the day, this was an unplanned moment, but so grateful we had it, 1 talk out of 10,000 I’m sure I’ll get to have.  And I’m pretty sure I learned more in explaining it than she did.

Here’s some scripture I used to unpack it with, as truth from God’s word not just her dad’s opinion 🙂

“Do everything without complaining and arguing… shining like bright lights in a world of darkness”
(‭Phil‬ ‭2‬:‭14-15‬)

“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all…. And if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other”
(1 John‬ ‭1‬:‭5-7‬)

“If we walk with the wise, we will grow wise; but a companion of fools will suffer harm”
(Prov 13:20)

To wrap up, I quoted the once popular DC Talk song, which says it best I think:

I wanna be in the light,
as you are in the light.
I wanna shine like the stars in the Heavens.
Oh, Lord be my light
and be my Salvation
’cause all I want is to be in the light.


Jenner Opinions and the Talk about Town

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There is SOOOO much “wisdom” on public display currently, regarding a topic most didn’t care about the day before.
Or maybe you care, but when did you become an expert on it?
Honestly, it’s like a Golden Corral Smorgasbord of what everyone thinks.
And the quality is about the same.

I read the bible too, but didn’t realize its intention was to have the pages torn out, balled up and thrown at others.
It’s as if someone changed how a doughnut was made, we got ticked and all suddenly became expert doughnut makers.
(doughnut is the 1st thing I thought of cause I’m hungry)

But for real, how dare someone in a broken world, act in a broken way, because they are… broken?

How dare someone else show kindness or forgiviness to someone else “undeserving”, as if they had been shown that themselves… pssshhhh….

What’s that? You’re not clear on what is right or wrong or what Jesus would do?
So rather than voice your confusion or anger at the broken stuff… you just show kindness and save your opinions?
And let me guess… you got attacked for that too.
Not bold enough in your page from the bible flinging…

I’ve seen a lot of opinions (scriptural and not) flying around like deflated footballs, but this is all I keep coming back to regarding opinions:

“Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you…” – James 1:19

Most of us get angry and then start typing.
I know i’ve done it.
Even had to wake up and delete it in the night before you read it smile emoticon
But, we blog, tweet, post and share our opinions or some scripture that supports our angle… and while that is permissible, it just feels… not wise… when I step back and just look at it all.

That scripture above offers no opinion on the topic, rather an attitude we should have that requires self control.
Something that seems to fly out the window when we get our angry opinion rolling like a hamster wheel.

Regarding the talk of the town, I wonder if the world would stop turning if we were to be slower on the quick-draw opinions and false wisdom, parading it around to feed our closet arrogance of how much we think we know?

Read that verse in James again, pause on your opinion today and see how that time could be better used face to face, letting your ears lead the way.

To quote my friend Carlos Whittaker “It’s better that way”  –  but than again… this is all just my opinion.


New year is coming at us fast.
We are in Toronto, Canada where my wife is from, celebrating this year!
Love it here and LOVE my wife’s family.
Of course I have missed mine dearly and as usual, We have all been sick but still grateful to be here & invest in the memories my kids will cherish forever.

It’s 9pm, Reality check time… Lots to reflect on, but no time to do it.
I am currently taking a…. “Potty break” …and so I thought I’d use the 10 min of quiet time wisely.
One little girl is teething & being passed around like a piece of the richest chocolate cake, while the other 2 are playing a dance game!
*Pause for Instagram:

Shine bright like a diamond in 2015 Or try… #AvaTruthDarnell #RosalinGraceDarnell

A post shared by Casey Darnell (@caseydarnell) on

So I just found a brief moment to Reflect and type out all my thoughts in the next 10 min, compiled over a year!

This past year… 2014… Will be one I never forget as it carries many stories I will tell forever… Border stretching stories:
– we moved… 4x (long frustrating story)
– we faced our first real sickness with a child, lasting a very LONG scary month.
And though we came out healthy on the other-side, we learned much about ourselves and God used it to grow us beyond our “borders”
– I became a dad of 3 daughters when Eleanor Love was born Aug 5!!!!
She arrived in a very intensely scary way w/moments of fear I’ve never experienced.
(Way beyond my borders!)
– we put Ava in public school… Huge scary step for this private school raised boy. (Border alert)
– finally sold our home and bought a permanent one (included in moving 4x)
– finished out strong with a 20 hr drive to Canada to celebrate Christmas and the new year….
– and then last night I had to explain the difference between boys & girls to Ava…. The beginning of many long talks I will have on this matter in our home filled with GIRLS……….
Borders officially obliterated.

So there’s this popular song that says “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders… Take me deeper then my feet could ever wonder”

Quick note:
It’s way more enjoyable to sing then experience.
However… The reward, though painful at times, is worth it.

I sing a lot of songs that speak boldly of many things.
However, the older I get, and as the responsibilities grow, the more cautiously I sing them… With a focus like passing a hot cup of coffee to someone in a moving car.
That’s what this song kind of is to me.

Beyond my borders?!?
Borders bring a sense of what’s known and safe. Words like comfort and peace with ease of expectation come to mind.
This song is a BOLD request to make… But one that is heard by a more then ABLE God!
Because in these moments we learn, His power is just beginning when ours is ending.

And so, 2014 brought lots of joy and pain in these border moment.
Those 2 kind of held hands and skipped along together as we went through the year.

There’s so much My wife & I are learning I couldn’t hope to include it all in this post.
Nor have we come to the “hoped for” conclusion of many things still up in the air.
Lessons that will carry over into 2015 for us to learn.

In the end… I just want to say, He’s been faithful.
“My redeemer has been faithful and true” (SCC always says it best)

We don’t know everything about God and how He works and how he chooses to this or that…. And not do other things we beg for.
But we have decided at the end of 2014, He is still the one we will follow.
Not without doubts or fear.
Not because we are super spiritual or christian know it alls. (Though I act like it at times)
And definitely not because we think 2015 will be a “better year.”

We believe He is with us.
Never leaves us.
Cares for us and Keeps us and…
Keeps His promises
Until the day we arrive safely home with Him.

“My heart will sing and my soul rejoice” for His unfailing love has again proven better than life.

May 2015 continue to bring Him glory ’cause,
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

Casey, Anisa, Ava, Rosalin & Eleanor


Lessons from a Treadmill and Forest Gump

I watched Forest Gump when it first came out in 1994!  I was in 9th grade and as I recall, I had many LOL’s and cried a LOT.
Earlier today I was on the treadmill at our gym and they happen to have Mr. gump on!
I picked up at the part where he is running across America about to finish and see Jenny again & meet his son.
I wasn’t looking for any lessons or inspiration, but it found me… so here’s some quick lessons I learned.

Don’t run on a treadmill and watch Forest Gump.
Crying and running make breathing difficult and awkward for you and the muscle-heads watching you.

What would the world look like if people forgave the way Forest does when he pursues Jenny and recieves her back after she ran out on him over and over.
“Forest I’m sick.”
He immediately offers his home, offers to take care of her… He takes her back!
What if…

Upon sending his son off to school for the first day, as little Forest is getting on the bus, “Forest, Don’t….. I wanna tell you I love you.”
How many times are the last words our kids or our loved ones hear from us something negative… “DON’T”
Forest pauses and seems to remember what he didn’t hear enough of growing up
“I love you”
He gives his son the best thing he can and the very thing he’ll need reminding of his whole life.
The list of “Don’t” is long, the gift of love… not often enough.

When Forest is recalling his life journey to Jenny on her death bed, she says, “I wish I was with you”
In reply He says, “you were!”
He says he was trying to do what his momma said and put the past behind you… But as he learned you can’t.  It goes WITH you.
It’s part of you and your story.
Remember, you are influencing people… even when you are running.  It will become a part of your story.
It seems in life, we will be defined by what we run from or what we run to.
So. Run for health and enjoyment, but not to forget your past or in an attempt to leave it behind you.

And above all… Don’t do it on a treadmill while watching Forest Gump.



You’ll never know if you don’t try

When I dropped Ava off at school for her first day of first grade… well… I cried.
If you know me, then you know “duh” cause I’m a bit tenderhearted I am.

But as I spent the day thinking about her and reflecting on my first grade days, a certain memory jumped out.
I remember a birthday party I went to where the main activity was riding bikes.
Bikes I couldn’t ride ’cause I was still rockin the 4 wheel bike.
1 in the front, 3 in the back… commonly referred to as training wheels.

So as all my friends jumped on and took off, I remember jumping on and quickly coming up with a story,
“Guys! I’m not use to this bike, it’s got weird pedals, I’ll catch up to ya’ll in a sec, once I… uh… fix the pedals”

I was so embarrased.

I remember sitting there by myself for a long time waiting for the other kids to come back.
Then as they headed back over the hill, I picked back up with the dramatic conclusion of my made up story…
“Whew, where’d y’all go? I couldn’t find y’all but boy I sure had fun riding with no training wheels cause I mean, that’s what I do these days… just me, the open road and no training wheels. Freeze-Tag anyone?!?”
Needless to say when I got home, I made sure that never happened again and had my dad loose the wheels.

Back to Ava.

In light of memory lane, when she got home, I loaded her up with body armor and told her it was time to “try.”
She was nervously excited, but I told her if we don’t try we’ll never know and never learn.

And of course I told her all the comforting things a dad tells his child, as I walked her across the street to a huge yard with deep grass and plenty of room to wreck 😉

What happened next is the video above.
I had NO IDEA she would nail it the FIRST TIME!!!

It was an incredible day that I thank God for letting me be available to experience with her.
Of all the important things in life, as Andy Stanley says, I don’t want to miss out on the one job that’s unique to me…
Being her dad.

However, this whole experience has me asking myself this question today
“what are the things in life I could be missing out on, because I’m still leaning on training wheels?”

Wheels that are keeping me in a shallow sense of freedom and joy.
Maybe wheels in life that are keeping me suspended in fear without realizing it, because life is easier to balance and manage with these wheels on… it’s predictable, comfortable and less risky.

How about you? It could be anything really, that’s become a training wheel in your life.

Maybe a dream unrealized or a gift you’ve kept to yourself.
Maybe it’s something your heart beats for, but rejection has kept you downshifting, letting other people’s opinions decide for you.
It could be a loved one that’s no longer with you and you don’t know how to move on or you’re afraid to.

Whatever it is, the wheels are there to get us up and going… we all need them for a time…
But those training wheels aren’t the REAL ride and aren’t meant to be forever.

Trying can be scary. Trying could mean failing.
But failing can lead to learning and growing if we let it.
I’m not saying to ignore wisdom or wise counsel… I’m hoping this is being read with a base level of common sense.
Let me be clear, I took precautions with Ava 😉
I had her covered in a helmet and pads and she had been “training” for a while.
It was time.
I didn’t want my daughter to fall or get hurt, but I knew the joy that awaited and that it was worth the risk level.

When I watch that video, and see the enthusiasm and joy on her face and when she says, “I DID IT DADDY!”
I believe that’s a picture of the “more” we were made for.

It’s that moment when freedom is realized and all the pain of falling becomes worth it.

So keep working hard, pushing through, leaping and believing… cause you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Hindsight is a PAINFUL 20/20


I found some board-mix Cd’s of me leading worship from 2000-2002.
I’m not sure what these emotions are that I’m experiencing currently,
but in short… it’s bad.  Real bad.

It’s difficult to listen to because I can actually hear me trying to find my voice and it ain’t pretty.
One minute I’m in N*Sync-ville, the next I’m Mac Powell with an occasional hint of DC talk and Lifehouse or Creed. Ugh.

I can see it now, the bleach-tips, baggy abercrombie jeans, Christian-ironic shirts and Justin Timberlake hair…
Crazy over-singing.
Attempting Key changes that were epic fails.
And Christian-eeze that makes my skin crawl, strait preaching at the audience when setting songs up!

Don’t even get me started on the prayers!!!
“God, You are just God… and God we just worship you… we worship you God, cause you’re God and I can only imagine…”

My only defense is that I was helping a youth band and I recall none of us could hear anything.
We had no in-ear monitors with wedges on stage and everyone blasting their own instrument.
Not to mention around 12 singers trying to find their own part to sing.  Chaos. Pandamonium.

But as I was preparing to light these incriminating CDs on fire and bury the ashes deep beneath the earth of my back yard…
I was filled with such gratefulness, that I had to blog about it real fast.

Grateful that God used me, despite what my ears are telling me.
And I’m grateful for the GRACE of others to let me learn and for EVER giving me a chance back then.
(Mike Linch, Ike Reighard, Russ Butcher, Cynthia Cullen and so many more – especially my wife Anisa!!!)
Not sure what they saw in me but I’m humbled to pieces. Lots of pieces.

So today this has me looking behind me and realizing a few things:
   1.  Those days were NOT a waist because I learned SO much. I was growing.
2.  I want to continue being teachable. This is key in continuing to grow and getting better.

   3.  I too need to extend the grace I was shown, allowing others to learn the lessons I was allowed to learn.

I was young and unaware of myself, out of time, pitchy and RAW!!!
I had a “good heart” but sheesh…

Seriously though, I do remember my heart.
I remember what my desires were and why I got into singing in the first place.
I see now God gifted me, but left out the microwave setting. No teenage phenom here.
God’s shaping process is unique for each of us.
And for me, I was shaped at His pace for His timing which was going to be different then others.

But I didn’t give up. And I got better… eventually.
( I’ll be honest after hearing these, I kinda want to now haha… but seriously 😉 )

So if you’re reading this and wrestling with insecurity and doubt,
know that You are not alone. Don’t give up.
And be careful of falling into the trap of comparing yourself and your timeline to others.
I wasn’t behind but rather just waiting for His particular assignment for me.
And as Andy Stanley says, “There’s no win in comparison.”

Remember the promise in Philippians 1:6 (MSG)

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish”

Do keep practicing and doing the hard work of evaluation.
Invite others in that will be honest with you.


Read His word and trust Him, believing that if He has purposed you for it, He will open the right doors at the right time.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

As for me, I saw God open doors in ways I never saw coming and by His grace I was prepared.
And now I’m VERY grateful things like youtube didn’t exist when I thought I was ready.
Boy am I grateful.

Anyone else out there had any hindsite 20/20 moments like this?!?

Hope this was encouraging… now back to setting a fire to these CD’s!!!

What keeps you humble?

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Is there anything in your life that’s keeping you humble?

For me, one thing is my broken side mirror that is currently taped on like a boss.
I could fix it and almost have several times.
It’s not a hazard and I can see fine, but it’s become more to me lately.
It’s a reminder of a lesson learned.

I tried to beat out the closing gate of our subdivision and failed. Miserably.
The mirror shot out like a rocket.
So like the boy from the MacGyver generation that I am, I fashioned some tape into a side-mirror-keep-in-placer.
And wha-la… fixed!

So there’s that, but it also helps keep the temptation of having an inflated view of myself in its place as well.
Everytime I go back to my car from doing anything praise-worthy or in those moments someone is over-flattering, I see that mirror and am brought back to earth again.
“Oh yeah… I almost forgot… I’m an idiot.”

So for now I’m leaving it this way.
Who knows, I may fix it one day, like when Ava starts driving… ughh… like that will happen.

But it’s serving a greater purpose in my life… assisting in keeping me humble.

How’s that for a silver lining to a goof-ball move.

So what’s it for you?
It could be anything really, maybe something heavier like a “Thorn in the flesh” or a zit.

What’s helping keep you humble?

(side note: I routinely get insane middle-school-esque zits on ALL important occasions.)