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When Life Requires A Reroute

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My husband was supposed to arrive at 3:13pm that day after a 12-day trip. It was a Friday afternoon and storms began rolling in, delaying his flight little more than an hour. I gathered my things and began to make my way through the torrential downpour and rush-hour traffic, exhilarated to see my hubby after days of waiting.

Waiting in the terminal for him to land, he texted me. They’d been circling above my head, and the storm, for an hour. The storms were too thick, too dangerous – the only option was to reroute to Austin, a 40-minute flight away. Not knowing when I would need to come back, I headed home – back into the fray of traffic and thick, sideways rain.

Steve’s flight landed in Austin, along with many other diverted planes. He and his fellow passengers sat on the tarmac for three hours. At home, the kids were disappointed I hadn’t brought their Daddy with me. Steve and I sent messages back and forth, trying to prepare a back-up plan. Do I drive to Austin to pick him up? Do I book him a hotel before rooms run out? Do I book a rental car for him to make his way home?

All plans ceased when he replied, “They’re arranging for buses. We’ll be at the airport around 2am.”

A very long day for him. A few, brief hours to nap for me.

It seemed providential that my father-in-law was in town, staying at our house that night. I could leave in the middle of the night to pick up Steve without dragging sleeping children to the van.

On Steve’s end, after five hours in the air, three hours on the tarmac, at the end of a working day, he and the other passengers unloaded and dispersed onto four coach buses, headed for the metroplex, another three hours away. When the driver became sleepy and swerving just 45 minutes out of DFW, Steve took the initiative to sit with him and talk through the rest of the trip. Steve wondered if he’d been placed there for such a time as this.

Driving in the wee hours, storms and traffic long gone, my heart leapt to see the buses pull in at the terminal, to catch my husband’s awaited embrace. It was 4am by the time we finally slept in our own bed. But the digression of events that day had me wonder.

What do we do when plans change? When things are completely out of our control? When the other passengers on this ride with us get upset, angry, impatient? How do we lay not only our circumstances but our attitudes before the throne of God in the face of disappointment?

Steve didn’t arrive at 3:13pm as planned.

But he did come home.

God flooded us with patience and peace.

God paved the way in having my father-in-law available to be there for the kids.

Steve played a role in assuring the bus arrived safely.

Are we too caught up in the inconveniences of life to see the opportunities? Too overwhelmed with wondering how it will pan out to see how God has paved the way? 

What is God doing in the midst of your reroute today?

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Identity Lost

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We’ve forgotten who we are.

We’re facing an identity crisis. And the reason is very simple: We have forgotten that it’s the very Person of God which defines us. Who He is speaks who we are into being. So, when God is resisted, pushed away, ignored, considered to be imaginary…that’s when we’ll allow anything but Him to define our deepest selves.

Here, in this nation we like to call the “Land of the Free,” we’ve ousted God from the public square. Pushed Him to the periphery. Surrendered to relativity in the name of tolerance.

And many of us have forgotten that it’s the very Presence of God which defines us.

It’s not the opinions of others which define us.

…Or sexual preference.

…Or past performance or future plans.

…Or present situations or hopeless circumstances.

…Or careers or relationship statuses.

The very definition of identity is under scrutiny in our nation. What does it mean to be human? To be married? To be a parent? To be a man or a woman? To be a Christ-follower? To be free?

David had no qualms about who he was and how he was defined, whether in his lowest moments or in his highest peaks. “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.” (Psalm 18:20)  I’ve struggled with these words – this declaration of right-standing before God – because I know I’m not innocent. I know the inner struggles of my heart, the many, daily failings I face.

Yet in my struggles, God has reminded me that my righteousness has nothing to do with my past. It has everything to do with the sacrifice made for me while I was still a sinner, the sacrifice God made for me. For me! For you!

I just can’t get over the fact that God loves me (and you!) unconditionally. In the middle of my mess, covered with the stench of my choices that are rooted in pride, all the times I’ve sought anything but Him to define me – He still loves fully! He embraces completely! Me…and you…right where we are in this moment.

But He won’t leave us there.

This God who loves us passionately created us for such a time as this. He conceived us in His mind before we were ever conceived in body. And He daily invites us to take steps towards becoming the people He designed us to be.

So, when we’re in the onslaught, facing another attack against the essence of who we are, stepping into His Presence is where we can find the truth that brings freedom.

When we look at what we do and we think it’s who we are, we’ve missed a critical reality! What we do stems from who we are – and who we are is defined by the One who dreamt of us, created us, and stands ready to partner with us in living this life authentically – with love, truth, abundance, and freedom.

 

 

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How can we know who God has created us to be? In my book, Refining Identity, you will dive deeply into God’s Word, coming to understand more of Who He is and who you are. He sees the beauty and potential in you. Will you partner with Him in becoming the you He designed and desires you to be?
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On the Other Side of Our Excuses

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Do you ever feel like an opportunity is too much work? Too many hurdles to overcome? It would be better to just skip? Maybe it’s just me.

I knew days before that the meteor shower would happen in the wee hours on Friday morning. But the idea of rousing myself, much less my children, at the insane hour of 1 am was simply too much. So I scratched that off my planner.

We needed our rest, after all.

My husband would be away that night for work, so I wouldn’t have any help dealing with the kids and getting them back to bed.

I don’t function well when I’m tired.

I don’t like the dark…or the grass…or bugs in the grass.

So many excuses…ahem…reasons not to.

By the time Thursday evening rolled around, I’d completely forgotten the foreshadowed night display. But sleep would not come. Hours slipped by. Eyes wide open. A friend posted a song on Facebook that captured my heart – one of my all-time favorites – “Adagio for Strings.” I let the strings lull my body to calm. And at the height of the piece, like a burst of light, my memory jogged. Nearly 1 am and there I lie, wide awake. And I thought…why not?

Pajama-clad, I stepped onto the dark patio and looked up. No streaking meteors. But the stars, they captured me. God stoked my soul with the heavens of His majesty. I couldn’t wait to show the kids!

When I tried to wake them, my daughter, surprisingly, got up quickly, excited, wrapped in her cozy blanket. My son, stuck in his sleep, refused to get up. So, a mommy-daughter date it would be.

The ladies of this house don’t care for the dark. Or shadows. Or unidentifiable night noises. But suddenly none of that mattered as I lay our softest blanket like a bed on the grass. We rested, snuggled, and waited.

In the waiting, I felt my tension. As eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized my flexed muscles held stiff, my tendency to want to hurry the moment along.

Then I saw it! A shooting star careening through the heavens. My heart leapt in wonder. My body began to relax. There we cuddled together on our blanket-topped grass, watching fiery meteors streak across the night sky – perhaps about 20 flew by during our 45 minutes outside.

What if I had allowed the hurdles to get in the way of that moment with my daughter? What would we have missed out on and not even realized?

In those wee hours of the morning, God captured my heart – so serious and task-oriented of late – and restored a sense of awe. Gazing at the vastness of even that sliver of sky, I sensed my smallness, yet His profound love for me. Hurdles faded away. Excuses evaporated.

And another meteor shot across in blazing glory.

What opportunity stands before you today, just beyond a hurdle? What beauty? What wonder?

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Chronic Healing is NOW Available! When does a chronic condition open the way for God to move miraculously? Courtney shares her raw testimony here of living with Type 1 diabetes in the midst of experiencing a healing God. Order your copy today!

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Free Books Giveaway – Ends 8/20/16

CH Front Cover PerfectAugust is a special time around here:

So, just for fun, let’s have a giveaway! Today, if you subscribe to Now Found, you will be entered to receive one of two available prizes: a copy of Refining Identity or a copy of Chronic Healing.

What you need to know…

  • Subscribe today to Now Found where you will receive blog updates and our monthly newsletter!
  • Entries will be accepted through 10:00pm CST on Saturday, August 20, 2016.
  • Shipping is only available to the continental U.S.
  • Winners will be notified via email.

If you’ve ever asked the questions “Who am I?” or “How is God working through this situation?” these books are for you!

Subscribe and enter to win HERE!

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Chronic Healing is NOW Available!

CH Front Cover PerfectA chronic condition is persistent, ongoing. And for physical, chronic disease, medically speaking, is usually incurable. Facing my own chronic issue has been a decade-long struggle. I’ve wrestled with scriptures and promises of healing, coming to realize deep-seeded beliefs about God as Healer.

As He’s shown me more of Himself in the midst of my circumstances facing a chronic condition, I’ve come to see how healing can be chronically (persistently, continually) received.

My most vulnerable and nakedly raw book, Chronic Healing: Hope and Healing For Body, Soul, & Spirit, is now available. If you face any kind of ongoing circumstance, be it physical, soulful, or spiritual, this book is for you!

Order your copy today!

 

Also available at Amazon, BarnesAndNoble, and Google Play!

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Gear Up To Declare

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This blog is nearly 4 years old! And I am readying to attend the Declare Conference for the 4th time – that place where I’ve gone to find rest and inspiration to continue on in this bloggy space. Where women gather to worship. Where friends find one another for the first time. Where the #digitalevangelist is equipped.

To gear up for this year’s conference, attendees are linking our digital arms and answering a few questions…So here we go!

1. If we were meeting in person, how would you introduce yourself? Wife to Steve, homeschooling mama to two (so far!), writer, speaker, editor, writer’s coach, and native Texan. I’ve always been an old soul, an avid reader, a lover of music. Although I’m an introvert in need of recharging time on my own, I love people – meeting, encouraging, diving deep.

S & C in Vail

2. What is your favorite thing to write and why? I love writing nearly everything. But books are my favorite, by far! I enjoy the long-range project, the life-message, the time spent with God processing on paper. My first book  – Refining Identity – a Bible study, a discipleship journey. My second, an ebook – The inTentional Mama – a super-short and practical read to uplift mamas everywhere. My third releases in ONE WEEK! Chronic Healing follows my journey living with a chronic condition, walking alongside the Lord who is my Healer.

CH Front Cover Perfect

3. What is your favorite thing to read and why? Can I just say ALL the things? Articles and blogs, commentaries and Bible reference, Christian novels, Christian inspiration, classics of the church fathers and mothers that challenge me to go deeper. I wrote recently about the books I couldn’t stand to part with during our recent move. Give me words to read, to ponder, to apply, and I’m generally content to sit for hours [if anyone will let me…ha!].

4. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? Have my pre-dawn writing time followed by listening to waves on a beach, toes in the sand. Dine slowly at delicious, local restaurants with people I love. Hold my hubby’s hand. Kiss my daughter’s freckled face. Tickle my son. Nap. And read.

5. What’s one thing you love about your blog and one thing you’d like to improve? I love this space dedicated to finding God in the midst of everyday life. I love the freedom to express, to share, to challenge myself and others. I’d like to tweak a few things to make the site more aesthetically pleasing and current.

6. [Lightning Round] Would you rather…

Read on Kindle or paperback? Silly question…paperback! Pen and coffee go with my reading time.

Drink coffee or tea? See above =) Coffee, for sure. But I don’t mind a cup of tea in the evenings either.

Go to a musical or a movie? Unless the musical is Les Miserables, I’ll take the movie option.

Vacation at the beach or at the mountains? Engaged on a mountain, married on the beach, I love them both! Beach ultimately wins – crashing waves, bare feet in sand, endlessness of the ocean.

Have an exciting night out or a relaxing night in? Relaxing night in. Games, pjs, cuddles, deep conversation = happiness.

Watch sports, play sports, or no sports? I’ll watch as long as hubby is nearby. Then it classifies as a date. =)

Thanks so much for joining me on this link-up intro!

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A New Normal

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I’m establishing a new normal today. For over 3 years, I’ve awoken before 5am on Saturday mornings, tossed on clothes, and headed out the door for coffee and writing.

But last week we bought a new house! And with the move comes changes, like writing more at home. So I allowed myself an extra 15 minutes of sleep…all the way until 4:55am…before rising to brew my own coffee and set up my laptop across from our dining room window that presently looks out over the pre-dawn blackness of the open field behind our property.

It has been a whirlwind, an exhausting whirlwind – moving every scrap of our possessions from one place to another which is no small task. Here are a few observations from the other side of the crazy:

  • We’ve been so blessed by the friends and family who have come to help us pack, unload, and begin to settle. I’m rocked by their selflessness and generosity. And, yes, my eyes began leaking in moments when I realized a friend packed up those closets and cabinets for me that I’d been avoiding.
  • It’s taken quite a lot of mental energy to encourage the kiddos who are big enough to help, but old enough to have complex emotions about uprooting their “normal.”
  • The enemy will do everything he can to steal, kill, and destroy the goodness God provides. He has sought to instill fear, steal my joy, overwhelm me with tasks, and create uncertainty throughout this whole house-building process.
  • It is completely possible to walk a house from foundation pouring to final touch ups, at least once a week with a critical eye ready to catch any flaw, and be pleasantly surprised upon actually moving in at things we’ve overlooked all of these visits.
  • My husband is basically a superhero. His strength, endurance, and tendency to get all the big things assembled, connected, and in place within a few days of moving is jaw-dropping in its wonder.
  • After 7 moves in 11 years of marriage, I think we mostly have this thing down. Our first move as a married couple was stressful as we learned all kinds of lessons about how not to communicate with love and effectiveness. We may be exhausted, but I’m so deeply thankful that there’s a whole lot more flirting than fighting in this process.

Our last home was such an unbelievable blessing to our family. Our little place, built in 1980, housed first steps and laughter and lessons learned. Our very own pear tree provided hundreds of pears annually. The canopy of trees in the back gave us shade while we played. But mostly, the sense of God’s peace on that space was the stand-out for us and for the visitors we had over the years.

Here, in a new place we now call “home” I feel that peace as well. But there’s more. There’s light. I long for this to be like a lighthouse, set on a hill, pointing everyone we meet to Christ. I pray that this place will not only be where we retreat to rest, but also it will be a place we invite others into – even despite our imperfections that range from dirty dishes in the sink to moments of frustration – because God’s love is sufficient to cover all our imperfections and His grace is sufficient to give strength in our weakness.

Has your normal changed lately? How is God meeting you where you’re at today?

 

 

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Can I Be Healed?

CH Front Cover PerfectI don’t suppose I considered this question of healing much before I experienced a life-altering diagnosis. Have you?

I’ve been living with Type 1 diabetes for nearly a decade. A decade of confusion, lessons learned, failed attempts, successes, struggles, and wondering: What is God doing in the midst of this disease?

Several years ago, the Lord put a radical idea on my heart: that healing is not the thing to be sought…that He brings good even out of chronic illness…that He is the Healer of my spirit, soul, and body regardless of what the “facts” I presently face try to prove. As God and I tend to do, we processed this entire concept through writing and now I’m excited to share with you the result, my latest book, Chronic Healing: Hope and Healing For Body, Soul, & Spirit.

Chronic Healing dives deeply into the raw reality of my day-to-day, living with an ongoing condition, and considers the many ways God has brought incredible healing to my life. Through this personal testimony, you will be encouraged in your own circumstances. You will be introduced in a fresh way to your Healer. And you can witness how He has touched and brought healing to areas of my life such as self-pity, control issues, fear, anger, confusion, perspective, body-stewardship, and many more!

You are loved. You are seen. And the God who created you has purpose in every circumstance you find yourself in!

Pre-order your copy of Chronic Healing today!

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Ready to Make a Move

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We’re moving this week! And that’s set my mind towards an awareness of all the final things – those final experiences we’ll ever have in this home.

We’ve been so blessed with our little home these past 8 years. When we moved in our children were 20 months and 4 months old. This is where our daughter took her first steps. Where we became foster parents. Where we saw the hand of God move time and time again, providing for our needs when finances seemed depleted. Where I learned how to keep a home. Where we began homeschooling. Where I’ve written all my books. Where we’ve picked pears from our tree and preserved them for the upcoming year each summer. Where we’ve tirelessly renovated and worked. Where our children prayed their first prayers and asked Jesus to come live within them.

And this week we will say goodbye to this special place where our family grew.

Mowing the lawn for the final time. The final pear-picking season. The last meal we’ll cook. The last game we’ll play. The last sleep under this roof. The last load of laundry. Everything feels nostalgic now.

It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset that where we are now – in this temporary place – is where we always will be. Despite the tyrannical urgent we feel in this transient space, we must keep our eyes focused on the lasting. This may be the final time we see that person, walk down that road, perform that task.

How will we handle our moments, perhaps our final ones here?

“…Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire…For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” Hebrews 12:28-29, 13:14

It’s time to move on, move ahead towards a new set of memories under a new roof. And we’re so excited to see what God does in this new season for our family!

But this move has made me consider the two homes for the follower of Jesus: earth (the temporary) and heaven (the eternal). Here on this planet, we take our first steps and make our first progressions, explore our giftings and develop relationships. In heaven, we’ll take all of who we are, stripped of our sin nature and sickness of soul and body.

Are you ready for that move? If you aren’t sure, right now is the perfect time to get ready. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” It’s a surrender to Jesus as the new Lord over your life, trusting Him with who you are. It’s a belief that God has done what we never could do on our own – defeat sin and death.

As we pack up the last box and load the last stick of furniture on the truck this week, I’ll look back on this precious place with thanks, pray that it will bless the next family like it’s blessed us, ask God to keep His peace and Presence here to touch the lives of all who enter after us. And we’ll move to the next place He has for us, ready to experience everything He has beautifully prepared for this new season.

 

 

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My Relationships with God and Food

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A friend of mine put out a challenge to me a couple of months ago: consider trying a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Our families have grown in our friendship over the past few years and this pastor and former NFL athlete had just written the foreword to my latest book, Chronic Healing.

“I just want to challenge you to take a look at it, Courtney,” he said.

This girl who’s grown up the carnivore, loving her steaks grilled medium, bacon, and chicken of all cooked varieties. This girl who’s leaned on dairy to feel full and comforted, who buys no less than three dozen eggs at nearly every grocery trip. What?

I had a terrible migraine one afternoon. My husband was to be away for a men’s retreat overnight. So the kids and I grabbed some Chinese takeout, ate an early dinner, and retired to bed incredibly early. I ate my crab rangoons, despite how I know the way they make my blood sugar go haywire for hours. And I felt terrible.

Sitting in the dark to ease the migraine, I still wasn’t tired, so after my nutrient-void meal, I found a couple of documentaries on eating a plant-based diet. (It could also be called veganism, but since that label comes with additional stereotypes I don’t feel fit me personally, I’ll stick with “plant-based.”)

My understanding was challenged. I wanted to feel good and healthy and whole in my body. I wanted to be fit, ready for whatever calling God placed on me.

After glancing at the calendar, I saw that my next checkup was 2 months away. What a perfect time for an experiment! I could handle eating plant-based for 2 months to see what changes came along the way. The next morning became my Day One.

It’s been 2 months now that I’ve eaten a plant-based diet and I’m amazed at the changes I’ve seen. So far, I’m 13 pounds lighter (without even trying), I’ve been able to lower my daily insulin requirements by about 20%, my LDL (bad) cholesterol has dropped 46 points, I feel lighter, more agile (as opposed to more lethargic, that had become my norm), and what amazes me most is that my ever-present cravings have all but ceased! I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t overwhelmed during a day with some kind of food craving.

After meals I feel satiated, yet not stuffed. I feel like I’ve fed my body nutrients rather than merely fed the beast in my belly which is never satisfied. More often, I’m seeing a few bites left on my plate because I’m able to better sense when I’m full. Smelling cooked meat or cheesy dishes may ignite my taste buds for a moment, but the moment has quickly been passing me by.

Many times, when I’ve mentioned to others throughout these past weeks what I’m doing, their response is a mixture of admiration and a certainty that they could never do that because they “love” their food too much. They could never give up ranch dressing or cream in their coffee or their seasoned steak or breakfast eggs or bacon. It’s inconceivable!

And, more than ever before, I’m seeing how tethered we as a society have become to food to comfort us. That was me! A whole life spent tied to food, idolizing food, unwilling to part with my favorites.

I’m not a dietician, and I’m not telling you to eat (or not eat) anything in particular. I’m simply sharing a piece of my story with you. My story is still developing. I’m still researching the ins and outs of this particular way of eating. But I do want to place a challenge out to you – are you eating to live or are you living to eat?

Are you selecting your food based on its nutrient density, its ability to feed your body’s cells? Or, are you selecting your food based on the cravings of your taste buds and the groaning of the beast in your belly?

“Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Philippians 3:19

A few final thoughts:

  • What about protein? – We’re all concerned with this one and it’s the primary question I am asked. Plants are abundant in protein. My main sources include hemp-based protein powder, hemp hearts, sprouted pumpkin seeds, nuts, and protein-heavy veggies.
  • What about refined grains and sugar?  – Simply put, I’m avoiding them. They’ve been stripped of nutrients. I’ll have the occasional dinner roll or side of pasta when eating out, but generally, I’m seeking to eat whole foods.
  • What about gut health? – Remember, I’m still learning, still experimenting. I do know how un-sprouted grains and legumes can negatively impact gut health, so my goal is to eat sprouted grains and legumes wherever possible, getting more comprehensive over time.
  • Are you using a specific plan?  – No I’m not. I created a list of meals and snacks I knew I already liked that fit within the parameters of a plant-based diet (vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, whole grains, tubers, legumes). And when I meal-plan or grocery shop, I simply refer to my list. I don’t count calories or points.
  • Is this for everyone? – I don’t know and I won’t presume to say one way or the other. For me, this is making huge differences in my life and in the way I approach food. (My husband eats what I eat, plus high-quality meats, organic and grass-fed wherever possible. With his diet and regular CrossFit training, he’s leaner and stronger than he’s been in quite a while.) Talk with your trusted health practitioner, consider your specific situation, and try different methods to see what works best for you!
  • What does this have to do with God? – This blog space is dedicated to finding God in our everyday circumstances. So why am I writing about food? Because food has been an idol in my life since childhood. The enemy has used food to control me and provide false comfort. Yet God is the One who created food and designed our bodies. He often used food in the Bible (a physical substance) to speak to a deeper reality, a spiritual issue within the hearts of His people. For the first time in my life, I no longer feel dominated or consumed by food. I feel fueled by it, better equipped to move forward in God’s calling on my life.

May I pray for you? Lord, thank You for the person reading these words. Thank You for Your perfect design and purposes on our lives. Thank You for creating food to bring us back to remembrance of our need for You. Help us honor You with our choices and steward these bodies well. Guide us in wisdom to Your very best for our individual needs and circumstances. Reveal to us Your next steps and give us boldness to move forward, forsaking anything in our lives that does not honor You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.