When Your Story Doesn’t End Like Esther…or Cinderella

When your story doesn't end like esther or cinderella

Not all stories end like Esther…or Cinderella.

Sometimes when we do what is right – in the midst of a bad situation – things get worse.

Then what?

That’s what today’s video is all about…

(if you can’t see this video – click here)

One final observation…

Esther was a woman of courage – she risked her life to save the lives of her people.  But her courage goes further than just going to the king and asking for him to save her and her people.

Esther did this IN the presence of the guilty man who orchestrated all of this.  She outed Haman –to his face! Wow!  That takes strength.

It would have been easier for Esther to ask to be alone with the King and use some manipulative womanly ways to woo him. But Esther did not mince words.  She spoke openly and boldly right in the presence of Haman.

May we have courage – no matter what the outcome – to face our fears right in the face.

To speak truth that sets people free.

To confront darkness with the light.

To trust God with our very lives. And not give in to the fear of man.

To be able to say the very words of Esther, “If I perish, I perish.”

Walk with the King,

Courtney

this week's reading

**Looking for the GMG resources for this month? –> click here. 

 

**Chime In: What is God teaching you this week through your study in the book of Esther?

BLOGGERS: Are you blogging through the Bible with us or have you written a devotional based on your own quiet times this week?

Put this graphic in your post, link it back to GoodMorningGirls.org and then link up below – we’d love to come visit you! Blogging through bible with GMG button

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