How to Respond to the Labels – Intolerant, Judgmental, Hater


Impossible to please everybody J C Ryle quote

 Some might think I live in a bubble because I’ve homeschooled my kids for the last 5 years…they’d be wrong.  For the first 18 years of my life, I attended public schools.  I also worked in the “real world” as a waitress for many years and later as a receptionist, Administrative Assistant and Business Sales Rep.  During those years, I made friends with all sorts – gay and straight, Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist and every denomination from Charismatic to Fundamentalist to Methodist and Presbyterian.

I sincerely enjoy people and anyone who is kind to me, I quickly adopt as a friend.

I have never been shy about my faith  - 100% of those I listed above, I discussed faith with and probably 25% of them I gave a Bible to as a gift.

And never – never once was I ever called intolerant, judgmental or a hater.  Why?

Because when we are able to get to know people in real life –real flesh and blood, we are able to know a person’s heart, accept them as they are and understand differences without getting angry.

But the on-line world is a whole.different.story!

Did you know that 7% of our communication is words, 38% is through vocal tones and 55% through NON-VERBAL elements like facial expressions, gestures and posture.

This means that when we discuss “hot topics” on-line, 93% of our heart as we communicate (the non-verbals) are missing.

I believe this gets Christians into hot water – FAST!

A 140 character tweet that contains “truth” as we call it  - can sound judgmental or hateful to someone who sees you as…judgmental or hateful.

A Facebook debate where we add our 2 cents, in the most gracious way we can, can come off as intolerant.

It is incredibly hard to speak “truth in love” on-line!  This is why I’m continually putting hearts and smiley faces all over my social media. It is my attempt to give some non-verbal love.

Before I share how I handle these labels, I want to share some of what I have faced on-line.  I have received hundreds of comments and emails with insults.  The first time it happened, I was devastated…it was five and a half years ago on a post about my daughter and this woman commented and said ~ “I hope your daughter becomes an atheist and never speaks to you again.”

Total shock! I only had about 50 followers at the time and it came so out of left field that it troubled me for weeks!

But as my blog grew – the volume of insults grew too.  With each new insult, I was a little less shocked.

Here’s an example of some negative comments I have received on my Women Living Well Youtube Channel:

  • I hate you. You need to be slapped, promoting these erroneous morals that destroy progression in our modern world.
  • Keep this in mind: You make the world a worse place. You are the reason for war. You are the reason for violence. You are the reason for all of the willful ignorance in the world. YOU are the cause of EVERYTHING evil involving gender equality. YOU.
  • How sad that you treat a book that has been rewritten and proven false to be absolute truth. I feel pity that you will never know real life by throwing it away. Stupid doesn’t begin to cover your retarded beliefs. Here’s hoping you grow a brain and are unable to have children to grow up into this self-destroying dogma.
  • Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
  • You are a foolish woman!!!
  • It’s preposterous to claim you follow God’s word literally. You follow what your warped surroundings have ingrained in your twisted mind.
  • Crazy that my post didn’t make it! Can’t deal with the true contradictions of your flawed bible, you ignorant creature?
  • You’re an idiot bigot.
  • You want to brain-wash your kids into your silly myth and keep them from the truth.
  • I find you Highly annoying and egregiously idealistic…I am pretty sure you are no Provebs 31 woman, and everything you claim that is so amazing to you is actually so far from reach and unattainable that your constant lust for perfection causes you severe emotional break downs.
  • God’s word? What bull sh**! What the f*** would you know what god wants?
  • this is retarded. , F*** your ideas , F*** your literal bible translation, and F*** you.

And just last week – I got a long ranting email – this is a short excerpt:

You are so fake and obnoxious in your videos. Your over-sized fake smile with your giant gums is so annoying that I’ve stopped watching your videos entirely.

OUCH!!!!!!!

A W Tozer To be right with men

For years, this has surrounded me – at times, I’d say it has even jaded me.  I have always been one to assume the good in others…but I’ll admit, I see things differently now.  I live in the midst of spiritual warfare everyday.

I used to speak more boldly…and I thought that maybe my choice to soften a bit was maturity…but now I realize it’s not maturity – it’s fear.  I have a lot of fear inside of me.

And I have cried out to God – how in the world do I respond to these people?

Luke 6:27-36 (NIV)

Love your Enemies

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Mercy.

We follow a crucified man…the crowds hated Jesus to the point of death –of course we’re going to be labeled and insulted.

Being a follower of Christ means…

we must humble ourselves.(Philippians 2)

we must deny ourselves. (Luke 9:23)

we must live the crucified life. (Galatians 2:20)

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

***Pause for a moment…is there a person that God is bringing to mind that you need to extend mercy to?  This person has wrongfully labeled you, either in real life or on-line, and you are hurt, angry and have shut them out.

Be kinder than you feel.

Luke 6:35 says – “your reward will be great” if you extend mercy.

I have a feeling the Holy Spirit is bringing someone to mind for all of us. Do you feel that nudge?  Don’t ignore it!

We have a direct command from Jesus –”Pray for those who mistreat you.”

Go heap kindness on them! You will be blessed!

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
~Romans 12:20,21

Walk with the King,

Courtney

The other posts in this series:
Speaking the Truth In Love
The Authority of Scripture and 5 Ways to Defend Truth
The Ultimate Cultural Sin –Intolerance
How to Respond to the Labels – Intolerant, Judgmental, and Hater
What is Sound Doctrine?
Should Christians Simply Unite Around the Gospel?
Can a Woman Be an Elder or Pastor?
Should a Wife Submit To Her Husband?
Can Good Works Save You?
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

What I’ve Feared All My Life

Lexi's birthday

One of our favorite annual Birthday traditions is a Daddy/Daughter date to Friendly’s Icecream Shoppe.

This is a really random post that has no spiritual implications but I have a confession…something I’ve feared for 38 years…

Dogs.

Yep – it’s lame I know.

It’s been a problem that has hounded me (no pun intended) since I was a child.

I LOVE people. And when you are afraid of a family’s dog – let’s just say – that family…does not love my fear of dogs.

I’m a huge inconvenience to have over because these poor dog owners ie. my real life friends – have to put their dog in the basement or their bedroom or laundry room or outside.  Oh – it’s so sad. I hate that I have this irrational fear.

So you say.  Well, what happens if they don’t put their dog away…sometimes I keep my cool. For example, at Christmas time my husband’s brothers dog walked through the house (a 90 lb dog that had gotten out of his cage) and I kept my cool.  If it had decided to actually hop up on the couch with me or barked at me – well the composed Courtney would have left the house and a frantic one would have showed herself.  I would probably jump on your back for a piggy back ride!  (Just saying I think that could happen – I wouldn’t really know from experience or anything. lol!! ;) )

So the story goes like this.  Alexis loves loves loves dogs.  She collects stuffed animals that are dogs, reads books about dogs, watches youtubes about dogs, begs for one all.the.time and insists on petting every dog we pass wherever we are (which is usually a deep breathing exercise for me).

So my husband is allergic to dogs. Praise the Lord! We have an excuse not to get one!  So it was easy to say – “sorry honey, but daddy’s allergic.”

Until one day my husband said – let’s get her a fish or a rabbit or….do you know where this is headed????

Yep – a puppy. Let me introduce you to “Snowball”.

puppy 1

Alexis turned 9 this past Tuesday and her dreams are coming true – (this could be a nightmare. Lol.).  This sweet puppy is only 2 weeks old, so I have 6-8 weeks to prepare for the arrival.

I have never had any pets before – another weird fact about me right? Not even a gold fish friends!

It’s time I face my fears.  Now I’m not real brave…because this dog stays quite small.  She’s a hypo-allergenic Bishon. But it’s a start.  You have to start somewhere right?

puppy 2

So dog lovers- any advice for this first time puppy owner?  I have no clue what I’ve just gotten myself into but I’m excited and looking forward to tackling this fear in 2014!  Maybe, just maybe if I come to your house – you can let your sweet dog roam free without having to give me a piggy back ride! Lol!

Do you have a dog – what kind?  Help me set my expectations for what’s coming into our home – I’d love to hear!  And does anyone know where I can get tranquilizers for my visits to Petsmart and the vet?  Haha – I’m kidding…well half kidding.

Walk with the King,

Courtney

5 Ways to Defend Truth

God's word defines truth.

Before we get started with the #TruthInLove series, we need to define some terms.

Truth is reality…what really is.

Subjectivism is where truth and reality are determined by the subject or person.

Relativism is the theory that there is no objective standard by which truth may be determined.  There is no absolute truth.

As Bible believers we believe in absolute truth which means we stand opposed to relativism and subjectivism.  Truth is not relative to time, location, and people groups.  Truth is not subject to peoples opinions or culture.  God’s Word defines truth.

Whew – that was a lot of words that we don’t deal with on a daily basis but here’s the point!

A world of relativism is a world of contradictions.  If I say the coffee pot is empty and you say the coffee pot is full and we are both right…then our world makes no sense.  This is impossible.

If a Christian says “there is a God” and an atheist says “there is no God” we cannot both be right. It is impossible.

So then we move into moral issues.

If culture teaches our teens that sex outside of marriage is okay and even good and we say it is wrong  (I Cor. 6,7) it is impossible to both be right.

So the struggle for us as believers is living in this world of contradictions.

those who reject the Bible

Sometimes in our goal to love others well – the church becomes wishy washy.  While it’s vital we love others well - we must not be ashamed of drawing a line in the sand and saying – “this is wrong”. Period.

But is the Bible absolute truth?  I mean if we aren’t sure –we will never speak up right?  And when we do speak up – should it be via a twitter war or a facebook debate, or should it be privately amongst our children and in Bible study groups, or should it be from blogger to blogger – one on one?

I can’t answer the questions of when to speak up – you will have to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading but I can answer the how.  It MUST be done in love.  How can you know if you are doing it from a heart of love? First, ask yourself –do I love this person that I am talking to?  If you really don’t care for this person, then most likely –the truth you are about to share is going to come off in a tone that makes your truth impossible to accept.  We will be like clanging gongs and cymbals as I Corinthians 13 says.

If we can’t speak in love, we are outside the will of God —do not speak at all.

But if we love the person, pray and then proceed boldly.  Stand firm, let nothing move you. You have entered a spiritual battle.  The enemy is not the person you are contending with but rather Satan himself, the father of lies.  Do this with gentleness and respect.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I Peter 3:15

If your confidence in the authority of the Bible is not strong – it will be scary to speak up.  So let me give you some facts to build your faith upon from Josh McDowell’s book Evidence Demands a Verdict.

The Bible is unique!

It was written over a 1500 year span by more than 40 authors from every walk of life – kings, fishermen, poets, and scholars. It was written in different places such as the wilderness, prison, and palaces.  It was written in times of war & in times of peace, in times of despair & times of joy.  It was penned on 3 continents -Asia, Africa, & Europe and written in 3 languages –  Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek.  The Bible contains hundreds of controversial topics…WITH an amazing degree of harmony.

Boom!

Find me 5 random men from your local town who could do this with harmony!  It can not be done – this is what makes God’s word – God’s!

2 Timothy 3:16 says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

The Bible is the Book of Books! It is not merely a book about God – it is a book from God.~ R.C. Sproul

The Bible is the #1 best selling book of all time. No other book in history has been translated, retranslated & paraphrased more than the Bible. The Bible has been translated into over 2,200 languages. No other book comes close to it’s unique influence on civilization including calendar dates (B.C. Before Christ).

The Bible contains over 300 prophetic references to the coming Messiah that were perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Here’s just a few…
Born Of a Virgin – foretold in Isaiah 7:14 / fulfilled in Luke 1:26-35
Seed of Abraham – foretold in Genesis 22:18 / fulfilled in Matthew 1:1
Tribe of Judah – foretold in Genesis 49:10 / fulfilled in Luke 3:23,33
Born in Bethlehem – foretold in Micah 5:2 / fulfilled in Matthew 2:1
Shall be called Immanuel – foretold in Isaiah 7:14 / fulfilled in Matthew 1:23
Ministry of miracles – foretold in Isaiah 35:5,6 / fulfilled in Matthew 9:35
He was to enter Jerusalem on a Donkey – foretold in Zechariah 9:9 / fulfilled in Luke 19:35-37
Silent before His accusers – foretold in Isaiah 53:7 / fulfilled in Matthew 27:12
Wounded and Bruised – foretold in Isaiah 53:5 / fulfilled in Matthew 27:26
Hands and feet pierced – foretold in Zechariah 12:10 / fulfilled in Luke 23:33

Do you see why we have no reason to give way to fear and ride the fence?

Sweet Christian sisters – some will make you doubt the Bible.  Some will make you feel like you are less than them – less intelligent, less cool, or less culturally relevant.  But you can have full confidence that God’s word is truth.

Where God’s word speaks – we must speak.  And that is what I will focus on in the coming weeks of this series.  God has clearly spoken to the cultural issues of our day.

Where God’s word is silent regarding gray areas – that’s where I will be silent and leave room for personal convictions and grace.

In the book of Judges there is a phrase used over and over…and over.  It says: “In those days, everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” This is the world we live in – a world of no absolutes — a world where right and wrong is defined by feelings and truth has been twisted to suit our own opinions. We must not let this seep into the church.  We MUST be bold and courageous and stand for truth!  The father of lies has taken enough ground – it is time we stand firm and say – you have come this far and you will go no farther. We will not let you mar the bride of Christ. We will not fall for your tricks and deception. We will not play footsies with those who twist your word.

5 Ways to Defend Truth:

1. Get into God’s word – read it daily. Know what it says!

2 Timothy 2:15: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” esv

2. Pursue sound doctrine. Don’t follow teachers who itch ears (or spread their quotes and links on your social media).

2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

3. Love everyone including your enemies. Pray for the church, the beautiful bride of Christ.

I John 4:8: “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

4.  Be bold, courageous and unashamed!

2 Timothy 1:7,8: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” esv

5.  Do not be surprised when you are slandered because of your stand for truth.

I Peter 4:12-16: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

May we unite and lift the name of our Lord Jesus Christ higher and shine unashamedly in a dark and weary world.

I look forward to going deeper in with you next Monday!

Chime In: What is the most difficult part for you when defending truth? Is it feeling unequipped and unsure of what scripture says? Is it being called names like judgmental and intolerant? Is it fear of losing a friendship? Or is it a fear of confrontation?

I make this list straight from my heart – these are MY fears too. You are not alone.

Walk with the King,

Courtney

The other posts in this series:
Speaking the Truth In Love
The Authority of Scripture and 5 Ways to Defend Truth
The Ultimate Cultural Sin –Intolerance
How to Respond to the Labels – Intolerant, Judgmental, and Hater
What is Sound Doctrine?
Should Christians Simply Unite Around the Gospel?
Can a Woman Be an Elder or Pastor?
Should a Wife Submit To Her Husband?
Can Good Works Save You?
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

 

When You Are Embarrassed

When You Are Embarrassed

A friend asks “What’s the book about?” and I swallow hard.  Almost embarrassed that I would even think of writing a book. I mean really – what could I possibly say that I have not already said on my blog?  And why would I sell something.  For 5 years, everything with my ministry has been free…then all of a sudden I’m holding a conference and selling a book.  This is new behavior for me. And I get a negative email from someone who says they’ve followed my blog for years and I’ve changed and she is not pleased I am selling anything…and my heart sinks – kind of embarrassed.

And so I answer my friend, “the book is about your walk with God, marriage, parenting and homemaking. More of the same I guess.” and it’s awkward so we drop the subject.

And someone else from my church last week messages me and asks how the book writing is going and I don’t know how to answer her.  The writing is long done –and the book should be arriving in stores any day now (obviously she doesn’t read here so it’s safe to refer to this email lol! I hope ;) ha! ).  And I gulp, do I admit that the book is available now – she can read it now.

Am I really ready for people to read my words?

Words I can never ever take back.

They are permanently in print.  Permanent. Scary.

And I wonder what I wrote that could be a lightening rod…fear wells up in my soul.

And some sweet girls on the launch team with advance copies are transparent when they write to me:

“I must admit that before reading this book, I thought it was going to be a “look at me, I am the perfect wife and mother and you should be exactly like me”, and I was pleasantly surprised that it is not!”

Then another agrees as she writes:

When I was getting ready to begin I kinda thought the same thing, a book to teach us our faults and what to change but it’s completely different. The book while reading and praying actually allows the Lord to correct your heart and step on your toes. I am enjoying this book so much and I have a hard time putting it down at night because I want to be the wife and mommy that the Lord wants me to be. Thank you Courtney for allowing God to use you to help us.”

And my heart sinks imagining that people think this book is about me… –being perfect. No a million times NO!  I am so very far from being the perfect wife or mother but I want to point to the perfect one – the Great I AM and say – He – He alone can help us be wives and mothers for his glory!

And when my husband and I wrote a list of pros and cons before signing the book contract, this was one of the cons.  Writing a book could appear prideful and make those in my “real life” think, –I think more highly of myself than I ought.  We are all flawed…is anyone really worthy of writing a book on these topics…and I feel a cringe of embarrassment when I admit to “real life” friends, I wrote a book.

I stand at the post office with a stack of little boxes of books to mail.  The mail man asks if there’s anything breakable, flammable or needing insurance inside. I shake my head no.  He is curious and he asks what’s inside all those boxes.  I say:

a book…”

and then under my breath I add - “that I wrote“.

What’s the book about“, he asks?

Marriage and family”.

“What could you know about marriage and family – you are so young.  You know my wife left me, she was an alcoholic and a ….” on and on he goes. I turn pink – a little embarrassed.  I mention my faith and he seems even more annoyed and I squirm just wishing he’d get those labels on the boxes quicker. Everyone in line is listening- it’s just awkward.  He’s done.  We leave.

I’m back – back at the post office again – with more books to mail to reviewers and there he is again.

Oh the girl that writes on marriage.” I’m pink again…and so it goes over and over each time I go to the post office.  Did I mention I have to go to the post office again tomorrow with 2 books to mail…fun.

My children are practicing their presentations for their homeschool group and they want to share that their mom wrote a book. “Hmmmmm…I’m not sure that’s a great idea kids. Not everyone in the group knows that I have a blog…it might be best that they find out from a different source rather than you kind of announcing it in your presentation. ” They insist.  Obviously they are not embarrassed.  I cringe.

In one week – the book will be out in stores and arriving in the homes of those who pre-ordered it and I have all sorts of feelings I’ve never really felt before.

Well, I did feel this feeling once before – 15 years ago when I led one of my first Bible studies I was a nervous wreck.  I remember blurting out to the circle of 30 women starring at me  - “I’m nervous”.

A woman I did not know from across the room spoke into the awkward silence – “that’s pride.”

Ow.

She was right.

So if I’m proud of writing the book – that’s pride – and if I’m embarrassed of writing the book – that’s pride and if I’m scared of what people are going to think of the book or me – that’s pride.

Well then I guess I’m struggling with some serious pride here today friends. Will you pray for me?

I’m not an emotional person typically…but the stress of homeschooling, my husband’s work schedule and the book launch has made me overly emotional…and easily teary.  Sometimes I think my tears are literally my fears streaming down my face.

And I flip through my old prayer journal to the day that God laid on my heart and my husband’s heart the idea to start a blog back in 2008 – never did I dream I’d be sharing a picture of my chicken scratch.  As I prayed and prayed over this dream – only one thing stood in the way of my fingers tapping on the keyboard.

Fear.

Finally in frustration I wrote across the top of the page these words:

journal

No Fear.

No Fear.

Lord, help me to not give way to fear. Give me courage for the days ahead.

Sweet friend, are you scared about something in your life?  Are you pursuing something that you are almost embarrassed to admit to family and friends?

I am reminded this week as I tremble in fear – God’s got this.

God’s got this.

“Not by might nor by power,but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
~Zechariah 4:6

Walk with the King,

Courtney

 

WomenLivingWell crisp

Pre-Launch Giveaway

A Big Flop, Overcoming & the WLW Conference

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4 years ago, the Outreach Pastor at my church organized a Health Expo as an outreach to our community.  He invited me and Clare from Peak313.com to speak at this Expo (this is us 4 years ago).   She and I went out on a snowy January day and delivered flyers at local businesses, restaurants, and Dr. Offices inviting those in the community to join us.

The big day arrived and I went to the room where I was scheduled to speak and got organized.  I put a pink Women Living Well pen on each chair along with my fill-in-the-blank hand out.  I had my podium ready with my speaking notes, object lesson and Bible.  Then I watched the clock as time ticked on…and on…and on… right past the time I was scheduled to speak.

And the chairs sat empty.

I peeked out in the hallway to see if anyone was coming – empty.

I walked back into the room and wondered what I should do.  I waited a few more minutes.  Nobody came.

So I began cleaning up my pens and papers…feeling like a loser…I had practiced and prepared and nobody showed up.

What a flop.

So 2 years later Katina came into my life!

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She approached me with a dream for a conference…and I pushed her away.  I told her not now. But she didn’t stop persisting…so last year together we began planning – but she would testify I was very anxious about it all.  I had to keep reminding myself to trust – have faith – believe the impossible.  The fear of flopping was very real in my mind.  Katina is awesome with lists and details and quite calm – I on the other hand am forgetful, get bogged down with details and am quite hyper at times. lol!  Katina was the perfect Conference Director and friend to me as we planned!

So this past Saturday, we had our very first Women Living Well Conference and Miss Clare from Peak 313 was once again there at my side – along with my other blogger friends!

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{From left to right…Jen from Good Morning Girls, Clare from Peak 313, Ruth from The Better Mom, Me :) , Whitney from Good Morning Girls, Darlene from Time Warp Wife, Karen Ehman from Proverbs 31 Ministries (and Karen Ehman dot com), Janelle from Comfy In The Kitchen and Angela from Good Morning Girls}

My mom and oldest sister came too! (my other sister was away on vacation :( )

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In the weeks leading up to the conference, we sold out but then suddenly people began backing out – asking for refunds or for me to sell their ticket to those on our waiting list.  Even the night before I received 3 emails from women saying they were sorry they were not going to make it.  Every time this happened – it rattled me.

I got anxious.  What if the room is half empty – what if hardly anyone shows up.

Anxiety reared its ugly head.

Fears.

Memories of past flops.

Then the morning arrived and we were hustling and bustling around and as the sound man attached my mic –they opened the doors…and I was SHOCKED as women poured through the doors filling most of the seats very quickly!!!!

They came!  They showed up!

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The next 8 hours were all a blur as we opened in prayer and then speaker after speaker poured out her heart.  We laughed and we cried.

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We were challenged and we were inspired.

And today I am celebrating what God did this past Saturday.  It was a good day…and we caught it all on camera for YOU so we can do it again via webcast in just 6 weeks!

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I can’t say that Saturday was a success just because over 200 women showed up – God doesn’t use numbers as his measuring stick…God looks at the heart.  All he asks is that I follow Him where he leads me and this is where he led me last Saturday.

So have you flopped???…ME TOO.

That doesn’t mean you should stop trying.  We must remember there are very real spiritual forces that want to stop us, discourage us and make us want to give up!  But God tells us in his word – be bold, take courage, be a light, you are the salt of the world, put on the full armor of God, stand firm, and overcome!

I’m celebrating overcoming today – not just for me but for the speakers who joined me too!  The day before the conference – we gathered together and shared our stories – broken stories. Hurt pasts, painful memories and current trials caused us all to weep together as one…and we prayed hard and God met us there.  Don’t let those smiling faces and fancy clothes fool you – these women speakers are ALL overcomers – by the power of Jesus!

I can’t help but to sing this song along with Mandisa:

Chime In: What in your life have you overcome with the help of the Lord?

Walk with the King!

Courtney

 

When the Bottom Falls Out

Last summer, my husband was walking down our deck stairs holding my daughters hand… they stepped on one stair (these are higher up than they appear in the picture) and it gave out – then they stepped to the next stair and it gave out too!  Thankfully my husband had my daughter by the hand and she did not fall through.  He strong armed her onto the 3rd step down but he got injured from gripping the railing – the wood punctured his hand and later developed an infection - it was just a mess!

The bottom fell out literally for him that day.

But I think of so many blessings in that moment.  I am thankful he was holding her hand…if he had not been holding it – she would have fallen through!  I am thankful that he has a strong hand that was able to get her to the next step safely.  I am thankful that he took the injury in place of her being injured…and it makes me think of Jesus and his strong hand and how he has endured the pain of the cross for us..

In Hebrews 13:5 he says “Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you.”

God is always with us – he has a strong hand that upholds us when the bottom falls out.  He has taken the pain of our sin upon him and covered it over at the foot of the cross…he loves us, protects us, comforts us and never will leave us.

So the bottom fell out for me today…

I had a rough week last week with a cold that turned into Laryngitis and then my washing machine broke with a load in it and more loads to go… and really I was just feeling whiny last week!  I thought surely this week would be better…

But today my son tied our wagon to his bike and my daughter got in and he pulled her along – until she flew out!  She knocked out her two front teeth (which thankfully were baby teeth) but really scraped up her face.  Her lips are swollen and right now she can’t close her mouth to drink or eat…I’m pouring water into her mouth :(

Waaaaaaaaaaaah!

Sitting in the emergency room – I put on a smile for the kids…but inside I wanted to just throw up!  The blood was a little more than I could bare!  And the butterflies came as I worried about all the worse case scenarios. After X-rays, some reassurance from the Dr. that her mouth will eventually close again when the swelling goes down (lol! I needed that reassurance!), and some comfort from facebook friends :)  I am feeling a little better.

(I took a picture of my daughter’s face but I could see at the Dr.’s office she was embarrassed of it – she complained that she looked like a clown – so I thought it best not to share it with you all right now…but on Saturday we are having her 7th birthday party – so I’ll be taking pictures then – you’ll get to see her toothless smile next week when I post pictures.)

But as we drove to the ER, I prayed with the kids and I told them - even though this took us by surprise, this did not take God by surprise.  When we woke up this morning – God knew this accident would happen today.  His strong hand was with us – and he carried my little girl to the 3rd step down.

And in hard times like tonight – when the tears seem to flow easy…I’m reminded of John Piper’s words:

It is crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him.  This is the way Paul thought in Phil. 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” ESV

The key thing to see in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him.  Never forget that your security rests on Christ’s faithfulness first.

Christ is faithful first!  It is HIS mercies that are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).  HE gave me just enough mercy to make it through last week’s inconveniences.  HE gave me the mercy I needed for today – when this frazzled mama just wanted to cry her eyes out in the waiting room and I am counting on HIS mercies for tomorrow’s trials!  I can testify - HE is faithful first!

Some days we have to fight for joy.  We have to fight to see God in the hard things of life.  It is crucial that in our dark moments we remember that though our grasp on God may feel weak – He has a strong hold on us.

Walk with the King,

5 Steps For Determining God’s Will

Lately, I have wrestled with trying to figure out God’s will for some areas in my life.  Two weeks ago, my pastor gave this 5 step process for determining God’s will:

1. God’s will is revealed in his written word – the Bible.

2. God often uses wise people in our lives to advise us and help us determine God’s will.   

3. God reveals his will through open and closed doors.

4.  God reveals his will through inner peace or turmoil.

5.  God uses our obedience for his glory.

Number 5 resonates with me during this holiday season…because Mary the mother of Jesus comes to mind – her obedience to God’s plans are staggering! 

Have you ever thought about Mary’s friendships and how they must have been affected by this baby that appeared to show up out of wedlock…how some of the women probably talked behind her back and said “ya right – an angel appeared to her!”  Those stares and the slander must have stung. 

But Mary followed God no matter what the cost.

Then Mary gave birth to this perfectly behaved child…do you know how hard it’d be - to be friends with a new mom whose child is PERFECT!!!  Let me be the first to raise my hand and say that going to a play date is already intimidating for me…I never know what my sugar plums are going to do next!  But then to live next door to the woman whose child NEVER does anything wrong…oh dear…again Mary was most likely the talk of the town!

But Mary followed God no matter what the cost.

Mary enters the scene in the Bible at Jesus’ conception and then she is only mentioned a few times throughout Jesus’ life. She is there at the foot of the cross on the day that he is crucified. Jesus was her son and Jesus was her Savior – can you imagine?    What did people think of her – the mother of this perfect man? The mother of this hated man?

But Mary followed God no matter what the cost.

This must have been a hardship yet we never see her asserting herself – trying to control Jesus so people will think better of them. She understood she was just the vessel that God used to bring this God/Man to earth. How her heart must have ached watching her son be beaten and nailed to the cross…the cost…

Though Mary could not possibly understand all that God was doing – she was open to God’s plan for her life. She offered all of herself – her pride, her plans, her time and talents to be a servant to God. She understood that her life was not her own.  She followed God no matter what the cost.

I Corinthians 6:20 says “You are not your own. You were bought at a price, therefore, honor God with your body.”

This baby Jesus, who we are about to celebrate the birth of, was born to pay the price for my sins.  I am not my own…

I want to live my life completely surrendered to him no matter what the cost.   

And yet,

I

falter

because of the cost…

and I

wrestle

because of the cost…

and I doubt God’s will

because there seems to be a cost attached…

and then I am reminded of this beautiful young woman Mary…

and I find strength. 

And then I reflect on her son Jesus and I’m reminded that – yes – there is a cost…but not the selfish one I’m so focused on…there was a cost for my sins and it was paid by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross…and I serve a Worthy Risen Savior…I surrender!

Walk with the King!

Courtney

The Biggest Disappointment of Relevant

Me with Ann right before we spoke on a panel about “Upside Down Blogging”.

There was one HUGE lesson God revealed to me during the Relevant Conference…

I’m a huge disappoinment and it’s time I embrace disappointing others -  to the glory of God!

Let me explain.

The closing speaker for the Relevant Conference was my #1 favorite blog writer – Ann Voskamp of  A Holy Experience.  Her writing takes me to the throne of God each time I read it.  I simply can’t get enough of her writing.

Previous to her closing session, I had shared the platform with Ann in a session titled “Upside Down Blogging“.  I spoke about Genesis 11 and the tower of Babel.  The men building the tower of Babel wanted to “make a name for themselves” and in God’s eyes this was wicked and brought judgement.  As bloggers, this temptation to “make a name for ourselves” exists and we have to be so careful of this trap. 

I also talked about Paul and Silas – when the jail doors fell open they stayed in the jail and the jailers family was saved!  Opportunities have arisen this year for me – doors have flown open – but thus far I have stayed put believing that it is God’s will for me to stay right where I am at.  But I’m not always so sure this is completely noble. 

To be honest, I’m scared to death to put myself out there much more than I have on my blog…I fear that expectations may be too high – it raises the bar in every area of my life.  From my marriage, to my parenting, to my homemaking – I feel pressure to not disappoint.  And this fear of disappointing has caused me to stagnate.

 Those closest to me in my real life - know I’m just Courtney…wierd, passionate, talkative Courtney…I have hurts, pains, problems, and fears just like everyone else…I say immature things.  I say sinful things.  I am SO flawed – the cross says I am flawed!  Hallelujah for the cross! 

Trust me, I’m a big disappointment in real life.

And so as I sat with pen in hand, ready to receive the message Ann had to share at the closing session of the Relevant Conference – this fearful, weary, wrestling mommy blogger found hope and tears stung as she spoke these words…

“You have been appointed to disappoint so you will point to the one who doesn’t disappoint.”

Did you catch that?  It’s my calling!

This is my calling – to be a disappointment to the glory of God!

I am free!  Free to be a big disappointment!   Because it’s NOT about me – let me point you to who it’s ALL about – Jesus! 

Here’s more from my notes that I wrote down that night:

There are no rock stars in blogging.  God is our rock and we are all stars shining for him.

Jesus does not need our help to be famous.

Fame is the ugly world of over exaggeration.

Jesus rejected, retreated, and resisted fame.  When he healed, he told them go and tell no one!  He reteated from being crowned King.  Jesus knew he would be used more with a crown of thorns than with a crown enthroned.

Be willing not to be esteemed but to be sacrificed.

Our method of ministry must be as counter cultural as our message is.

There’s a dark underbelly to blogging.  Satan would want nothing more than to destroy us.

All the Christian bloggers united are thunder -we are signaling God is about to rain – rain on the wilderness of parched and dry souls.  Since Jesus is the rain, we must be thankful people are reading at any blog. 

And so I conclude, I am but thunder…I pray that when you come here, God rains on your soul.  And when I post something unsettling, don’t answer your email (oh the guilt I carry for not answering your emails :( I just feel terrible I’ve disappointed so many in this way) or you meet me accidently in the supermarket (multiple times I’ve met strangers who are readers in stores) and my kids are standing on their heads lol!…I will remember I am but dust…you can’t expect too much out of dust (as Sally Clarkson says).

And I am learning to make peace with my new identity. 

“I’ve been appointed to be a disappointment so I can point others to the one who will never disappoint.”

It’s my honor to be a disappointment to the glory of God! 

 Walk with the King,

Courtney