Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rain

This is an awesome video that I wanted to share. I first saw it at the last International Youth Convention that Josh and I attended, which was held in Nashville in 2004. I recently saw it again and remembered how great a message it really was. It is a mini-message by revolutionary speaker Rob Bell. You will be left speechless as he relates the love of God to an experience that he had with his son. You'll need to scroll down to the very bottom of the screen and pause the music player so that you can hear the video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Daily Bread

I was putting Jackson to bed last night. We had just finished reading "A Mudpie for Mother," one of our favorites. I turned on his night time songs. I had, fresh on my mind, a humorous little skit that I had just seen about kids and asking Jesus into their heart. I felt a teaching moment coming on so we talked a little. I wasn't expecting Jackson to really grasp the idea of Jesus living in his heart at three years old, but I was attempting to plant seeds nonetheless. I told him that Jesus can actually live in your heart. I said that if Jesus lives in your heart you can be more like Him and He loves everyone so much. All we have to do is ask Him to come in there. He seemed to be thinking it over. I was anticipating his response when he looked up and said, "mommy, can Jesus live in my tummy? 'cause I'm really hungry." I am laughing out loud as I type becuase it was priceless! So much for trying to spiritually enlighten my child. I got him a string cheese stick and told him I loved him so much for who he was. Then I kissed his precious forehead and turned out the light.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Starstruck

What does it mean to be famous? Webster says it is to "have a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature." Who doesn't want that? Who doesn't want to be seen, heard and admired. It's why reality shows are so prevalent. Everyone wants their five minutes of fame. It's why we wait in line for hours for the chance to get an autograph. Even if it's just a ten second brush with someone who has acquired fame, we want it. It's a desperate cry from a hungry and dying generation to be loved and accepted.

Last week, I had the privelege of going to an International Youth Convention in San Antonio, Texas as a counselor with our youth group. Even I found myself being drawn in by the stardom. It made me jump up and down as I sang along when Starfield performed. It made me tell Charlie Hall that I love his beard. As I walked away I shook my head at myself thinking, "I can't beleive I just said that." When someone told me that they had overheard Chris Tomlin saying he was going to meet his road manager at the Caso Rio restaurant on the Riverwalk for dinner, It was the thing that drove me to make a beeline over to that same restaurant to "bump into him" and have my picture made with him.

Later that week, during a time of worship, I heard God whispering to me. He said, "Courtney, I want you to be Starstruck for me." I started to meditate on what that might look like. I pictured a passionate young teenage girl jumping and screaming in excitement as I run to meet my Lord, the famous one. I thought about anticipating that day, even now, with and unquenchable fire in my heart. I thought about the undignified worship that I have seen people offer up to God. I know that when I meet Him face to face, my heart will be so full that I won't be able to help but to be undignified as well.

During my many encounters with famous people, I have noticed that as much as you admire them and want to connect with them, they are always wisked away all too soon. Busy schedules and other adoring fans take them away. When I meet my Jesus, I know this will not be the case. I believe he will smile when he sees me in my foolish, impassioned adoration as he takes my hand and walks with me in glory.




Your famous and righteous ways, O God. God, you've done it all! Who is quite like you? -Psalms 71:19 (The Message)

Blessings,
Courtney

Saturday, July 12, 2008

IYC is here!

Josh and I just arrived in Gulfport, Mississippi along with our youth group. Our hotel is right on the beach. We have been on the road all day and as soon we got here we went night swimming in the swimming pool despite the impending thunderstorm in the distance. The water was warm and so refreshing after a long day of travel. I now sit in a hotel room french braiding hair and talking about boys with a bunch of teenage girls. It's so nice to get to act young again.

This is the half-way point to San Antonio, Texas where our International Youth Convention will be. We will spend all day tomarrow at the beach before we make the rest of the trip on Monday. We are so excited to get to hear some amazing worship from greats like Chris Tomlin, Starfield, Charlie Hall and Sanctus Real. Some of our speakers will be Louie Giglio, Steve Fitzue, Becky Tirabassi, comedian, Brad Stine and the amazing Skit Guys. We are so lucky to get to have knowledge and love poured into us by God through these amazing people.

I feel like I should be chasing little people around. I find myself having little panic episodes when I all of the sudden realize I don't know where my kids are. And then I remember, they are safe with their grandparents this week. Leah is spending some one-on-one time with my mom and dad. Emma and Jackson are spending some more time with their cousins from Texas at Josh's mom and dad's house. It is really nice to have some down time from the kids but I miss them terribly already.

Please pray that we continue to have safe travel and that new and wonderful things will be revealed to us about God this week during this time of fun and renewal.

Blessings, Courtney

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blowing Some Steam

Okay, I must start off by apoligizing if this post seems like I am lashing out. I got a little riled up yesterday. This is not directed towards anyone that I know personally, just a general frustration. I am about to blow off some steam as I do some therepuetic blogging.

I was on Facebook yesterday. For those of you who do not know what Facebook is, it's kind of like Myspace. You have a profile, can look up friends and do all sorts of other cool stuff. It appeals to a slightly older crowd than Myspace does and seems to be a little more secure against internet predators.

So, I was trying to send an online gift called a "piece of flair". It's a little button that you can pick out and send to a friend. It will show up on a little bulletin board on your friend's profile. I love to do this for some of the kids in the youth group at church. Most of the "flair" is pretty humorous. It just a fun way to give some of my favorite Facebook people a smile. Plus it is excitedly reminicent of my 80's childhood days when we used to wear denim jackets and carry denim purses that were covered with different buttons and pins. Ya, some of you remember that, don't you?!

Anyway, so I came across one that made me stop. It was an image of a church sign, you know the ones where you can change out the letters to show a different message each week. The sign said "God loves all people, unless you have a tattoo, then you are going to hell."

Okay, I will just go ahead and get this out there. I have a tattoo. It is a daisy, about 1" X 1" on my back right hip. Do I regret it? Yes. It is a scar that serves to constantly remind me of a time of rebellion against God, my parents and even my future husband at the time (Josh was less than pleased when he got word of my body's new addition). So for that reason, the message on this "piece of flair" caught my attention and kind of ticked me off.

First of all, I am aware that most images on the internet have been altered in some way to make them sensational. I am also aware that the book of Revelation warns against receiving the "mark of the beast" which could be a tattoo. However, Revelation is very specific about what exactly the "mark of the beast" will look like. I assure you it is not a daisy.

What irritates me, if this sign was in fact real...(well, even if it wasn't), is that there is this common trend among Christians to think that we are better than "sinners". We are all sinnners! "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8) We may even humbly talk as though we know that we are no better, but our actions speak otherwise. (yes I am ashamed to say that I have to include myself here too) It is the very thing that drives so many away from a life with Christ.

One of my college roomates had a guy friend who was homosexual. He told me that he would never step foot in a church again becuase someone at the church where he was attenting told him that he shouldn't come back because he was gay. What right does anyone have to think that they are more deserving of a seat in a pew, than a gay person? Is it any different when we talk negatively behind the back of a fellow church-goer and then sit proudly in the front pew, singing our hymns and shouting our amens. You may say, "but at least I have a repentant heart." But, how might a person living a life of sin learn that a repentant and obedient heart is what God desires if they feel shunned by the "body of Christ" and never return to that place where God's Word is proclaimed.

When Jesus came upon a group of men ready to stone a woman for committing adultery, he said, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7) They all left.

How fair is it when a child is born with both male and female reproductive organs? Imagine the hormonal haywire that they are predisposed to. That is completely unfair! It is no different with someone who is genetically inclined to be alcoholic, depressed, angry or abusive - both sexually and physically. None of that is fair. And yet, we are still called to live a life of obedience to God. He promises not to give us more than we can endure.

"I can do all things through Christ who stengthens me" (Phillipians 4:13). If we allow God to help us there is nothing that we cannot overcome.

Having said this, I also believe that even though these things seem incredibly unfair, God is good. He also has a sort of personalized degree of accountability for each of us. He takes into consideration our age, our knowledge and our circumstances. "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." - John 9:41 Above all, there is Grace, Wonderful Grace! We are "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." -Romans 3:24

In the meantime, we must be patient with ALL people and love them where they are, just the way God does. It may not be comfortable for you to sit in a pew next to a gay person or someone who is having an affair or a young teenage girl who is just starting to show. God does not promise us comfort in our walk with Him. Take heart in knowing that He is at work and allow yourselves to love even when it is uncomfortable.

"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! -John 1:29

God has revealed to me as I blog that I am not being very patient or loving to those Christians who have failed to display patience or love. lol. I set out to "teach a lesson" to fellow Christians only to be taught one myself.

Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.

Peace, Courtney

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Lots to Share!

Happy 4th of July!...a day late...oh well. We had a wonderful time yesterday. We were invited to a family get together. Not our own family, but church family. We ate burgers and dogs and home-made ice cream...yum! The night ended with the biggest fireworks display that I have ever seen put on by an individual family. It really was fun. The kids had a ball picking plums from a plum tree and eating them.


Also, I finally have Leah's room finished enough to post some pictures. There are still a few little things to hang on the walls and such but it came together rather nicely. Although I was pretty nervous about how the green paint would look on the walls, I am pleased to say that it looks pretty cute...bright but cute! :)
Here are some pictures...








We got the chance today to celebrate Leah turning two with some family today. The grandparents and cousins met us at Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate with the famous mouse. Of course the kids had fun. Here are some more pictures...







Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Birthday Baby!

Well, yesterday my baby turned two. Where does the time go? Emma and Jackson have been at Mimi's visiting with cousins so we had Leah all to ourselves on her birthday. We met some friends from college at TCBY for a little birthday ice cream treat. They also have a little girl Leah's age so she had a blast being the only child and playing with another little girl just her age.

I know that she is on target developmentally because two has brought full scale, face down on the floor, kicking and screaming temper tantrums, back-talk in baby babble and plenty of attitude. Okay, so that was after she was denied a nap today until 5 o'clock. Besides being extremely stubborn, (and that's not really her fault...I am certain it's genetic...on both sides) she is really a sweet girl. We went to her 2 year check-up today and she told nurse Nancy "thank you" for her finger stick. Nancy said that it was a first. :)

We will be officially celebrating with family this weekend at Chuck E. Cheese. Do you know that they sell beer there? I think there's a reason for that! :) Don't worry, I won't be partaking although I will be sure to pack the Excedrin Migraine.

I also wanted to let you know that I am in the middle of our first re-modeling project. I decided to start with Leah's room since it's her birthday this week. Also because it is a small room which gives me a quick sense of accomplishment. It has been my first experience tearing down wallpaper. What a chore! And it was just a border! I will be putting color on the walls tomarrow. It is a lime-green color that matches her new bedding. Please pray that it looks just as cute on the walls as it does on the little card at Lowe's. I will post pictues when I get it done.

It's late and well past time for me to retire. I'll leave you with some pictures of our birthday girl...