Stephen and Courtney

Stephen and Courtney

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Your Load

The other day I was getting laundry out of the dryer.  I dropped a sock and bent down to get it and then dropped three more items.  When I reached for those I dropped two more.  I yelled out "Stephen, this is a metaphor for my life"!

The next day as I sat at a red light I saw a little bird gathering sticks.  That little bird had the same problem I did.  She would reach for a stick and then one would fall out of her beak and then she would start over.  I wanted to call out, "Little bird. You are only meant to carry three sticks!"

I am excited to go back to teaching full time and see that God is using laundry and birds to teach me to lighten my load.  Like all women, I want to do all the things and do them all well.  Well, it's inevitable that I will drop things along the way.  Thankfully, my husband is great at picking them up but I see that it is so important that we don't take on more than God intended for us.  He desires us to work hard and rest.  We need to create margin in our lives for needed rest. Margin is also where relationships have room to grow and flourish.  Lighten your load and pray through the things that are truly yours to carry.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Do you know what I love the most about you?

Drew has always been a talker and inquisitive.  He likes to know about a lot of different things and can keep a conversation going.  When he was three he climbed up in my Poppi's lap.  Poppi is Drew's great-grandfather.  He sat in Poppi's lap facing him, asking questions, and talking for quite awhile.  Suddenly, he grabbed Poppi's face in his little hands and said, "Poppi, do you know what I love the most about you?".  Poppi told him that he didn't know and Drew answered, "Because you answer all my questions".  I have always loved that moment.

Sunday morning in worship at church I could not get that picture out of my head.  As I have been praying for the Lord's direction in some areas lately, I was thinking about this moment.  I imagined my hands grabbing the Lord's face and telling him what I love about Him.  I love that He answers all my questions, too.  He gave us His Word and speaks through it to us.  His Spirit leads us.  I love that He is always faithful.  I love that He will never leave us.  I love so many things about who He is.  What do you love about Him?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ron update and an open apology to my dog

I will start with the story and then move on to an apology.  Drew wanted me to move his fish tank.  So I huffed and heaved that tank across the room and then heard Drew yell, "Is that Ron, Is that Ron, Is that Ron?!".  If you haven't heard we had a rope fish named Ron.  He jumped out of the tank and was eaten.  Or so we thought.  I looked on the ground and saw a mummified Ron.  He was perfectly perserved.  I guess he had jumped out and was hidden.  We had checked all behind the aquarium and drawers but he was hiding somewhere because he suddenly appeared on the floor.

I hate snakes.  Ron looked like a snake.  So I cried.  I begged my children to dispose of Ron.  Drew suddenly thought he would be helpful and go to the garage for the screwdriver that I had asked him for 10 minutes ago.  That left Charis and I alone with Ron's corpse.  Charis said, "I'm not scared of the grossness but I'm scared he is alive".  He looked like the same 'ol Ron and so I got her fear but after months he was certainly dead.  I begged and so my little girl went and like a valiant warrior scooped up Ron and threw him away.  She's my favorite.  JUST KIDDING.

Now for the apology... I want to formally and publicly apologize to my dog, Ellie.  I was wrong to assume because you had wet ears that you ate Ron.  I see now that all my evidence was circumstantial.  I judged you falsely based on the moisture level of your ears and that was wrong.  I even wrote a blog about it and I am sorry.  Please let it be known that Ellie was not complicit in the disappearance of Ron.

I feel like we have closure in Ron's death and I'm glad he wasn't eaten.  He suffocated.  Once again... respect the boundaries God has set for our protection.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Our African Names

When Stephen and I were trying to get pregnant or adopt we were blessed with many prayer warriors coming alongside us.  Some of these people we knew well and some we only heard about.  One woman, an amazing woman of prayer from my grandparents' church, fervently prayed for us to have a child and then she said "God, why not two?".

Her name is Maria.  Maria is from Africa and can pray prayer that shakes the building.  When she has finished praying you know you have been prayed for.  At a baby shower she gave us a children's book with two names written in it.  She told me that was the twins African names.  I was appreciative and thought it was how you say their names in her native language.  

God saved a special moment of understanding for me this month. Maria told me the whole story a few weeks ago.  The kids and I saw Maria while visiting my Mimi in the hospital. She was telling the kids about their African names and told us that the morning I found out I was pregnant she was driving and praying for us.  At that time she pulled over and wrote down two names that the Lord gave her.  She wrote down Joyful and Grace in her language.  I love how God works!  Maria did not know that we were pregnant, that it was twins, or that my prayer had been in God's charis to give us Charis.  Charis means grace, a gift of grace.  The names He gave her fit our children perfectly.
From birth Drew has been a child the exudes JOY and Charis is the gift of grace that we prayed for.  

Over eight years later I am still getting glimpses of how God was at work through the prayers of His people.  That was a hard and sometimes dark time for us but I can always see His hand working.  I am so thankful that shortly after He knit my babies together He chose names that fit them so well.  He is a Creator and His love is forever.

A Costly Gift

Every Gift Has a Cost

The other night as I watched my kids sleep it struck me… The thing that I have most poured myself into in life is teaching them about the Lord, with the prayer that they will accept Him as their Lord and Savior.  I have worked hard at jobs, desires, and goals before but never have I so completely poured my life into something.  The salvation of my kids has been a prayer since before I met them, directed EVERY decision I make for them, and occupied so many of our conversations.  As I thought about this I reflected on these verses:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Eph 2:8

The wages of sin is death but, the gift of God is eternal life. Romans 6:23

These verses are referring to how I received my salvation.  It was no work of my own.  However, it struck me what Jesus gave for me to have salvation.  He gave His own life, he took my sin, and He was separated from His Father.  My salvation was only free to me.  Not to Jesus and not to the people that sowed His name into my life.  Let’s thank the people that spent time in prayer for us and taught us who He is so that we could experience and know Him.  Let’s live a life of gratitude to Jesus for His costly gift. 

Raising children is hard.  Being a parent, in general, is difficult.  But being a parent that seeks to raise their children to go against the grain of culture and societal norms, to seek the face of the Lord, and follow His voice over the roar of culture is down right TOUGH!  It takes His Spirit renewing us each day and prayer that feels repetitive.  However, now as I look at them sleeping and wonder if what I am teaching is sinking in I can stand encouraged.  I am sowing into them.  A farmer’s life is full of hard work and prayer.  He can tell you that never once did he win an award for how well he sowed seed.  However, his work provided food for many.  As we sow into the hearts of our little ones we are helping to produce a food that will one day feed someone.  The work can be hard but don’t lose heart. Keep plowing parents!

Friday, January 12, 2018


My kids made Christmas lists.  Charis' list included an American Girl doll, markers, binder clips, and a book.  Drew's list resembled the list of a Saudi Prince.  I quote... "things that are rare, diamonds, $500 cash, and an eel named Ron".  Did you catch that last one?  An eel.  Named Ron.  And remarkably that was the most doable gift on his list.  So we bought the sheik an aquarium for Christmas.  My husband researched eels and found out that they bury themselves and you never see them but that there is a fish called a Rope Fish that looks like an eel and is "social".  So we ordered a Rope Fish.  The employee at the aquarium store informed us that this Rope Fish was being caught in a river in Africa and that people risked their lives in hippo-infested waters to get us (dumb) Americans these fish.  We were like "Great, we will take one!".

A few weeks later Ron came home to us.  Drew loved Ron and we all enjoyed watching him.  Ron had tricks.  He would hide IN the filter and shoot out at me when I looked for him.  I told the boys that I was nervous he would get out from the hole by the filter.  Stephen assured me Ron would never do that.  I worried though because I could sense that Ron had a gypsy heart.

Last night Stephen and Drew were feeding the fish and noticed Ron was gone.  We looked in his usual spots... the filter, the rocks, and in the gravel. Ron was gone.  Then we noticed a wet puddle on the table by the aquarium.  Right then Ellie, our  dog, came up and her ears were wet.  After we CSIed the crime scene we deduced that Ron had in fact freed himself of the aquarium and Ellie had found him in distress.  Then she ate him.  Ellie ate Ron!

We are still mourning the loss of our Ron.  He was a good Rope Fish.  He just didn't respect the boundaries that were there for his protection.  And he got eaten.  I think we can all learn from Ron's legacy.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

I Do It Myself

At church our worship leader always leads us in a time of confession and I was convicted that I often try to do things on my own.  I have never been a big resolution setter for the New Year.  Probably just because by January 2nd I get busy and forget about what was so important to me on December 31st.  However, this year I would like to be aware of how dependent I am on the Lord for everything and not strive in my own meek efforts. That will mean that I spend time with Him, listen to His Spirit, and seek His will over my comfort.  I desire to step out of my comfort zone and follow His lead.  

I was reminded of when my kids were little and I would try to dress them.  At about 3 years old they went through the common “I do it myself” phase.  Which to them was an effort to exert some independence but as a mom meant that I had to wait while they put their shoes on (the wrong feet), stood in the rain or cold while they attempted to buckle their car seat, and let all my pride go as I took my son to Bible study in a random assortment of clothes that he chose.  I thought back to that 3 year old standing there looking ridiculous in mismatched clothes, some on backwards, and not weather appropriate.  I think that I look like that to God at times.  He has a way that is good and best for me but, I “do it myself” and in the end stand there like that 3 year old.  I may be dressed but it could have been so much better had I listened to and depended on the Lord.   Maybe I parented, worked, and was a wife that day… but had I done those things in His Strength and not my own how much better could I have done?

I want a heart that acknowledges that I am not self-sufficient.  I am dependent on the Lord.  When the kids were little Stephen told them one night that we were not going to ask the Lord for anything, just thank Him for what we have.  I was on board and see lots of value in taking time to thank and praise God.  That night Drew started crying and asking “what if I need something?”.  I thought it was comical at the time because he missed the point but after he went to bed I realized that Drew had a great mindset.  He was scared of going through a day of not being able to ask God for what he needed.  I was not.  The little boy knew who to go to and that He was all we need.  I want a heart that is so dependent on Him that I can’t imagine not seeking His guidance, fruits, or heart for a day. 

My resolution is to walk in His Strength and depend on the Lord for all.  I hope that at the end of 2018 I can stand appropriately dressed and not like that willful 3-year-old in red shorts, an orange tank top, boots on the wrong feet, and a snow cap.