Stephen and Courtney

Stephen and Courtney

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. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bountifulness and Waiting

I was reading in the Psalms this morning and was reminded of a sweet verse that the Lord used for me.  Years ago Stephen and I were struggling with infertility, waiting on the Lord, fear, and honestly processing all of it imperfectly and not always in unity.  We walked that road for years and then when I found out we were expecting twins the Lord gave me the verse "Return to rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you" in Psalms 116:7.  I had it painted on the their nursery wall as a great reminder of what the Lord has done. 

If you have waited or are waiting on the Lord you know that is not what it sounds like.  Waiting sounds passive.  Waiting on the Lord is active.  Waiting on the Lord is fraught with prayer, deep anguishing prayers.  Waiting on the Lord is expectant.  It is sitting up and keeping watch and listening for the Lord's direction.  It is daily giving it over to the Lord.  Somehow, I spent every morning giving my desire for children to the Lord but woke up with the desire again the next morning. 

The Lord's bountiful blessings were not solely wrapped up in the twins.  His blessings came as He sustained us through the journey.  He taught me to praise Him in the waiting room.  He gave me the desire to be a saint that perseveres.  He showed me where my hope and home are.  He showed up when my spirit was weak and my stomach was full of tears.  He showed me Himself and allowed His people to minister to me.  In the end His answer to our prayers took our breath away.  But many times in the journey His love, faithfulness, and provision did the same. 

His blessings are bountiful and our souls can find rest in Him.  No matter what you are waiting for today let your soul find peace in Him and His bountifulness. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Walmart Surprise

Have you ever had a blessing and learned a life lesson at Walmart?  Not a life lesson like don't wear nude leggings with a t-shirt but something a little more profound?  There was a day when my twins were about 14 months old that I did.

When my kids were little grocery shopping was hard.  They were too little to walk with me and when I put both in the cart there was no room for groceries.  So my solution was to put the kids in our double stroller and fill the bottom portion with as much groceries as I could.  This particular day I was trying to quickly get through the store and filled the bottom of the stroller.  Suddenly, one of the twins started to cry.  Then it got worse.  The other started to cry as well.  Then it got worse.  They both started to scream.  Red-faced, loud, angry cries were coming from both of my cherubs.  I started to panic.  As a first-time mom I worried a lot about what other people were thinking.  I wanted to run from the store.  However, if I ran out with my stroller full of food it would be stealing.  If I left them and ran out, that is child abandonment.  My only option was to check out as fast as possible.

I ran up to the shortest check out line. As I came up I started to sweat and just knew that the poor cashier was thinking "Why me? Why my line out of these 25 lanes, I know only 3 are open, but why mine".  I waited trying to placate the kids with puffs, happy noises, and promises of ponies.  Nothing was working.  It was finally my turn.  I came up with a sheepish look and started apologizing and simultaneously throwing food on the belt in an effort to get out of there.  As I looked at the cashier she stopped and made eye contact with me and smiled.  I started breathing again.  She smiled bigger and told me "They are such blessings.  You are a special mama.  They are beautiful."  I turned to see what children she was referring to.  Mine.  This amazing lady looked at my red-faced, screaming children at their worse and called them blessings.  She is right.  They are.  It took us 5 years to have them and they are a blessing.  The part that took my breath away was that she looked at my children at a point when they were not lovely at all and saw their value.  Their value is not because of their great behavior, good grades, or manners.  They are valued simply because they are made in the image of God.  They have value because He created and died for them.

The cashier not only extended desperately needed grace to me and my children that day but she taught me something.  She changed the way I view people.  As a teacher, I could look at that little guy that pushed all my buttons and had been to the office on repeat and see a child of value and love him.  As a parent, when it gets hard and I feel like I am dealing with the same character issue for the 1000th time I can look at them as a blessing.  God looks at us in our worse state and sees value in us. Romans 5:8 "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us". The moral of the story is that the Walmart pick up isn't the only blessing there... sometimes it's through a cashier named Triumph.