Sometimes the Answer is “No”, and Sometimes No Explanation is Needed

Over the past year, give or take, I’ve written about learning the lesson of saying, “no”. It hasn’t been the easiest lesson for me. There have been a number of times, one very recently, when I’ve had to say “no” because I knew that “no” was best and right for my family even while a huge part of me was tempted to say “Absolutely, yes!”. This particular opportunity has crossed my path more than once in the past couple of years, and had it been presented to me 10 years ago, I would’ve snatched it up. What I didn’t know then (hindsight and all that) was that I would’ve had to quickly do a complete 180 and walk away from that opportunity when Anna’s adoption was complete.

I feel like I’ve moved into a season where God is making me take on the “no” answers for myself rather than just removing the opportunities altogether. And y’all, that’s hard because it’s a level of maturity and adulting, if you’ll forgive me using that term, that I wasn’t quite sure I was prepared for. You know, most of us would prefer to hide behind our parent and let them do the heavy lifting, so to speak, but there comes a time when children have to be pushed to be independent and confident in who they are and where they’re called to be. And being completely honest, the sense of relief and peace that came with that “no” answer was and is confirmation that I’m doing what is right.

Of course, being me, lover of words, I had to use all the words ever created to just say no. I have a friend that tells me, “No is a complete sentence,” and I’m really trying to grasp that concept. But throughout my rather lengthy and apologetic explanation, I kept saying, “It’s just not the right time.” Which is completely true, it is absolutely not “the right time”. What I didn’t expect, but what I’ve realized, as I’ve continued to pray and ponder on this particular situation, that I was certain was not an if but when situation, is that the “right time” may never come. I don’t know for certain (but I do have a strong feeling regarding this) because sometimes, pretty much all the time, God doesn’t tell us all His plans for us for our entire lifetime, and we have to trust Him to reveal what needs to be revealed at the exact right moment. No surprise, my plans and His plans rarely match exactly, but His are always far better.

Enter Isaiah 55:8, ” ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.”

All that to circle back to . . . words. I’ve been known to talk too much. I often write too much. I frequently explain too much. Especially, when giving a “no” answer. I know it’s shocking given the three paragraphs it took for me to actually get to this point. But that is the second part of the saying no lesson that I’m now learning. Sometimes, in life, brevity is the wisest choice, and other times you just need to keep your mouth shut (or in this case your fingers off the keyboard) completely.

This past week, I was presented with a totally different “opportunity” to explain myself. Opportunity in quotations because the events that led up to this point were events I had to deal with but would’ve rather not. In the interest of privacy this will be vague, but incredibly long story short, I had to moderate some drama, poor word choice, but I’m grasping for something better, which (1) wasn’t my issue to begin with but I had no other option and (2) drama is not my cup of tea. At the end of the day, I was also forced to make a couple hard decisions. A few days later, I was presented with the “opportunity” to explain myself, and I’ll tell y’all, these fingers were itching to type all. the. things. But the Holy Spirit, as He so frequently does and has no issue doing, said in that still small voice that whispers to your heart, “Nope. Keep your mouth closed and your fingers off those keys.” I struggled, oh how I struggled, and this is just one of quite a few times, He’s told me to keep quiet here recently. The word ignore, is not in my vocabulary, and every time I have to stay quiet, I legitimately think I might die a million times over by not saying anything.

But then I was brought back to Jesus with the woman caught in adultery.

John 8:1-11

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

When the scribes came to Jesus, ready to stone the woman caught in her sin, they weren’t wrong. The law gave them every justification for their actions. But Jesus didn’t engage. He refused to talk to them about her but instead, stooped down and started writing in the dirt. There’s a ton of speculation as to what He was writing. Truth is, no one really knows, but what is very clear, is that He ignored them. He actually acted as if He didn’t hear them.

When they continued to press Him, Jesus answered them with the briefest of answers, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Then He went right back to writing in the dirt. And they all just wandered away feeling guilty of their own misdeeds, but also, I’m sure, thinking, as we’re all prone to do when not privy to the entire conversation or situation, “Well Jesus just gave her a free pass.” But He didn’t. He absolutely addressed the situation with her, but He did it privately and with discretion, and I have no doubt, at the prompting and leading of His Father.

And that’s the lesson I’ve taken away from this. There’s “a time to keep silence and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7b) , and both are best done at the directing of the Holy Spirit. I’m certainly not Jesus . . . not news to anyone, but I serve Him and follow Him. I’m learning, albeit slowly at times, that taking the time to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, to look before leaping, is never a bad idea. Just because I’m justified in saying or doing something, doesn’t mean I should. Likewise, I’m absolutely certain that there are times when that same still small voice tells me I need to speak up, and in those moments when I’m likely just as justified in staying quiet and doing nothing, far more is accomplished in acting in and speaking the truth with love and grace than maintaining silence. The key is not in speaking or not speaking, in acting or not acting, but in listening and following the guidance of the ONE I serve. And if I’m doing that, I owe no one else an explanation.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author. 

My Kind of, Sort of, Non-Negotiables . . . On Practices and Disciplines

There are certain things in my life that I’ve learned should be non-negotiable practices for me. They are the disciplines that when and if I let them slip for too long . . . and believe me, it has happened . . . I very quickly begin to see the negative effects in my mood, my attitude, and in my life in general. On the other hand, when I stick with these things on a pretty regular basis, I most definitely see the benefits and the good fruit that results. But the thing I have to keep circling back to, that I continually must remind myself of, is this, I’m not doing these things just for the sake of doing them. It’s not about a performance or getting the proverbial gold star. There’s a purpose to these practices, and the end result is worth the discipline it takes to make these part of my life.

Before I dive into my “kind of, sort of” non negotiables, I want to make something clear, the word discipline often has a negative connotation. As humans we generally default to easy and often equate discipline and doing hard things with discomfort. But the truth is, these are all things I truly enjoy, and while they may sometimes be uncomfortable in the moment (I mean, working out, in particular, can be a bit unpleasant), discomfort and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, will generally bring growth. The reality is we all have a tendency to be lazy, even about the good things, and I’m certainly no exception.

Without further ado . . . and in order from most important to least (but they’re all important):

  1. Spending time with God through the Word and in prayer. Y’all if I don’t take the time to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, I am not the best wife or mother or person. Sometimes it’s reading and studying multiple chapters of the bible and deep, long prayers, but I’ll admit, other times it’s briefly meditating on scriptures and praying on the fly. The latter isn’t preferable, but it happens. I will own that. And regardless of how it looks from day to day, God is the most important person in my life. Without taking the time to grow in that relationship, every other part of my life suffers.
  2. Carving out the time to spend with my husband . . . whether that be taking the time to actually sit and talk without interruptions each day, making sure we go on dates, or making plans to get away . . . I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, my marriage is second only to God, and if I want it to thrive, I have to make the effort and pour into it.
  3. Family time . . . I’m sure you can see a pattern here. Relationships matter, and my relationships with my kids matter. Whether it be, sitting down and eating dinner together most nights (this one is at the top of my list of the most important things we do as a family), playing a board game, listening and actually taking an interest as my oldest hashes out every single detail of the current NBA season, or sitting with my youngest and just reading and playing. These are the practices that build a strong family, and I’m not a perfect parent by a long shot, but I am constantly working toward learning and doing better.
  4. Regularly attending church. That’s not to say we never miss a Sunday. We do, but if we’re home, and we’re healthy and able, we go to church. Are there Sundays I’d rather stay home and catch up on all the chores? Absolutely, and there are times when I have done just that. But as a rule, I’ve found that I never regret going to church even when there are million other things going on.
  5. Working out and taking care of my health . . . and this includes preparing and cooking healthy meals for my family most days of the week. I often have to explain to people that the reasons I work out and (try to) eat right (most of the time) go far beyond fitting into a certain pair of jeans or a number on the scale. I firmly believe God created our bodies to move, and we need to move not only for our physical health but also for our mental and emotional health. Sometimes I change it up. Sometimes I give my body a break, but over the years I’ve found that too much time off and too much junk food leaves me feeling moody and sluggish and worn out.
  6. Keeping and following a schedule (within reason). I’m a list maker and a schedule follower, and I need organization to have peace. So I take the time to sit down and work out how each day of our week will look, appointments, cleaning, laundry, work outs, games, meals, grocery shopping, vacations, parties . . . it’s all there, and for me, knowing what is ahead gives me a sense of calm. Having said that, I’ve learned not to hold to my schedule so tightly that I can’t handle a last minute change of plans, whether that be meeting my husband for lunch or taking a kiddo to the doctor.

As I said in the beginning these are my “kind of, sort of” non-negotiables, and I say that because while they are all extremely important and are a huge part of what makes me function well on a day to day basis, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes the schedule crashes and burns. Sometimes I miss a work out and eat junk. Sometimes I’m so exhausted that I crawl in bed with only a kiss and and “I love you” for my husband before I pass out. Sometimes I do stay home from church. And yes, sometimes, I have the best intentions, but I look up, and it’s 3:00 p.m., and I haven’t read even a snatch of scripture or spoken two words to God all day. And it’s on those days that I remind myself that this isn’t about perfection. It’s not about checking things off the list or meeting some unspoken goal. I remind myself why these practices are such an integral part of my life and so important. I give myself grace, and I jump right back in the next day.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

On Resting and Waiting . . . On Walking and Running . . .

My oldest finished school a week ago. My youngest finishes today. These past few weeks have been CRAZY because that’s how May rolls. Absolute insanity. And in the few moments I have between awards and field days and all the end of the year celebrations, when I should be getting all the things done (read: cleaning house, laundry, working out, meal prep, etc.), I find myself procrastinating or moving through things at a snail’s pace and not getting it all done.

Yesterday, I had a few minutes so I went for a run (stick with me these two convos tie together). It needed to be fairly quick so I could get back and shower and get on with my day. I had a distance in my mind, and I had a very reasonable time to complete that distance. But the humidity was close to 100%, the sun was beating down, and although the hour was relatively early, the temps were rising. My legs felt like a ton of bricks. I was sluggish and slow, and frankly, it was pretty miserable. I got within a mile of my goal, and I couldn’t run another step. So I stopped. I thought about quitting. I was frustrated that what typically feels easy was so stinkin’ hard. Instead I made myself walk. I’m not a walker. I hate walking, but walk I did. And I finished what I started. Not as fast as wanted. But also, I didn’t die, and I actually felt decent (and enjoyed that last mile) when I made myself walk rather than power through a terrible run.

And the lesson is this: Sometimes you run, and sometimes you walk. I am the proverbial energizer bunny . . . “still” is not in my vocabulary. Resting or taking it slowly when there things to be done, and there are always things to be done, is not my thing. But sometimes even runners need to walk. Sometimes I need to rest. Sometimes I’m going to knock it out of the park, and get it ALL done. But sometimes . . . well, life is going to be a bit chaotic and my brain . . . my body . . . my spirit. . . all of who makes me who I am . . . are going to need a minute to slow down. And that is okay too because eventually, I’ll finish.

God never told us we were going to run full speed all the time. He rested on the 7th day because He knew we would need to rest. There’s a time to rest . . . a time to wait. There’s a time to walk. And yes, there’s a time to run. The key is leaning into God through every season and every time, hard or easy, fast or slow, calm or chaotic.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

I Will Not Fear . . .

Psalm 91

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

1He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Were you to ask me my favorite passage of scripture, I don’t know that I could give you a solid answer. God’s word is an abundance of wisdom and encouragement, of instruction and guidance, all of it applicable to so many facets of our lives. And I can say that large portions of both the old and new testament stand out as “favorites” for me.

  • Psalm 19
  • Psalm 27
  • Psalm 103
  • Psalm 121
  • Psalm 139
  • Proverbs 31:10-31
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  • Isaiah 5:20-21
  • Isaiah 9
  • Isaiah 26:3
  • Isaiah 40:3-5;26-31
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Isaiah 53-55 (there’s so much in those three chapters)
  • Isaiah 60-61

And that’s just a small sampling of my top favorites. The list goes on well into the new testament. But when I’m having a moment . . . when I start to feel fear try to overwhelm me, and I struggle to think sensically or to know what or how to pray . . . these words, from Psalm 91, are what come pouring out of my mouth.

I memorized most of it years ago. I say that not to brag . . . I memorized these verses when my oldest was very young . . . out of sheer desperation when I was terrified at the total lack of control I felt at everything going on around us . . . at health struggles that seemed to hit us way too frequently . . . at so much unknown in both life in general and in parenting . . . having kids will do that to a person . . . bring you to your knees in ways you never thought possible.

And now that I’m only a few weeks away from 40, one marriage, two kids, tons of joys and victories but also countless losses, tragedies, crises (ranging from minor to major and personal to worldwide), and a couple pandemics into this whole thing we call life, I lean into these words more than ever. I’ll admit that the H1N1 pandemic way back in 2009 made my heart pound and my head swim so can you imagine what COVID made me feel in those early days??? Maybe that’s not the most faith filled statement ever, but it’s an honest one. I have fought fear for as far back as I can remember, and these words have become integral to how I fight.

I lean into these words when the world around me seems so wildly out of control, and things don’t seem to be getting better but worse on so many fronts. I lean into these words when governments are in uproar, and anger and criticalness and flat out meanness seem to run rampant, not only in the world, but in our churches amongst followers of Christ. I lean into these words when sickness and danger seem way too close.

I pray them over my family and my loved ones daily. I’ve prayed them over my children in both sick and healthy seasons. I’ve prayed them when thousands of miles separated us from our youngest for months on end. I pray them as we set out in four different directions each day. I pray them knowing that my God hears every word. I pray them with the authority of someone who is assured that her big, strong Father is standing behind her ready to fight for her.

On those days when everything seems overwhelming, but also on the days that everything seems pretty normal, I return to these words over and over again.

I dwell in His secret place . . .

I rest in His shadow . . .

He is my shield and my buckler . . .

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

Compromise

Y’all I can’t with the compromising anymore . . .

This isn’t one of those posts that is going to make people stand up and cheer. And maybe I should check myself and not write it, but I’m having a moment so here’s goes nothing. All I ask is that you read this in its entirety, beginning to end, to get the whole picture of what I’m trying to communicate.

I keep seeing leaders, famous, infamous, and not that well known, within the church crashing and burning, and it just trickles down into the church. So many Christians are doing a complete about face on solid theology, families are splitting up, ministers aren’t just leaving the pulpit, they’re leaving Christianity altogether. I’m heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for them personally. I’m heartbroken for their families. But I’m also heartbroken for the church.

And I’m left asking, “What is happening?” . . . “How is this happening?” . . . “Why is this happening?”

And the word that just keeps coming back to me is “compromise”. Not one big overt compromise, but one little compromise after another.

We have an epidemic of “Has God indeed said?” in our churches (hello Genesis 3 . . . we want to blame Eve, but we’ve been repeating this pattern ever since).

We are inundated with the need to justify and explain away the compromises in our core beliefs . . . beliefs that aren’t opinions or judgments passed by man . . . beliefs that are based soundly on scripture . . . I’m talking about scripture, inspired by God (FYI: all of it is from beginning to end), that says what it means and means what it says without apology. Here’s the thing, some of it, both old and new testament, can be hard to swallow . . . some of it is gives us full pause because again, “Has God indeed said?” keeps popping into our heads. But y’all if it’s there, it’s there because it matters . . . because God created us, and He knows what’s best for us . . . it’s there because He knows how to grow us, heal us, and protect us.

We are called to live above board . . . to be the light . . . and yet . . . the American church seems to be floundering, and progressive Christianity is causing massive amounts of damage. And I am not saying for a second that we don’t reach out in grace and love and surround those who are struggling and hurting, but also, the issues start way before the big problems become evident. The maintenance isn’t happening, and we’re tearing our lives and the church apart, one small compromise at a time.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying the book of Revelation, and the church of Laodicea is fresh on my mind . . . but y’all there’s way too much of this happening. There’s way too much lukewarm . . . there’s way too much wavering and wobbling and unwillingness to stand in the face of sin (see Revelation 3:14-22).

And I get it . . . it’s hard!

But we are compromising right and left . . .

On kindness and graciousness and goodness and love . . . we’re compromising. And make no mistake, if you think posting/saying/engaging in/laughing at ugly, hateful, cutting, snarky things toward or against others, because of or due to their beliefs, politically, personally, or otherwise, is okay, YOU. ARE. COMPROMISING. And you are damaging the witness for the kingdom of God.

On obedience and order and leadership within the church . . . we’re compromising . . . we’d much rather complain and throw a fit and pout when we don’t like how things are going. FYI: you’re not three, if there’s an issue be an adult and go to your church leadership. And then accept the answer you’re given. (Preaching to myself here.)

On what a solid marriage looks like . . . and yes, I mean the husband is the leader and head of the household . . . we’re compromising. But that has been so twisted for so long that we don’t even know what submission really means . . . let me give you a clue . . . no human being, man or woman, should be dominating a marriage. It is a partnership. Having said that, the word of God clearly states that the husband is the leader of the home, and he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:22-31 . . . this is a whole post in and of itself . . . just go read the entire passage . . . it’s worth your time).

On sexual morality and immorality . . . we’re compromising. We’re excusing behaviors and actions because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but we are failing to bring the light to others in a way that is also full of grace and mercy. That is not love and grace and mercy . . . that is not helpful or healing . . . that is 100% compromise.

On our personal relationships and walk with Jesus . . . we’re compromising.

On sin in general . . . we’re compromising.

Hence the crashing and burning.

And hear me in this. I’m not here to shout hellfire and brimstone. I don’t think we serve a God that’s out to get us. His grace and mercy are so abundant and so good. But He loves us too much to let us keep on living in a way that is harmful, and sin is destructive and harmful.

Just a little taste here.

A little justification there.

Unforgiveness, meanness, hatred, anger . . .

We want to ride the fence, so to speak.

“It’s just a joke.”

“If they wouldn’t do _____, I wouldn’t have to say anything.” <insert shoulder shrug> . . . Oh yeah, I know, I’ve done it too.

“I have the right to be angry.”

“I’m not praying for them. They don’t deserve it.”

“If you understood the situation, you’d understand that I have to . . .”

COMPROMISE!

We’ve got to bring it to a full stop. We’ve got to start standing on the word. And once again I’m drawn back to the book of Isaiah:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21

Growing up we used to sing the song:

“The B-I-B-L-E . . .Yes, that’s the book for me . . . I stand alone on the word of God . . . The B-I-B-L-E . . .”

Sometimes not compromising means we’re going to stand alone. It means others are going to look at us and think we’re judgmental and uptight, and we have to be okay with that. Because in the end, we’re not answering to man. We’re answering to God.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, my moment is over . . . maybe . . .

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

To The Class of 2021

It’s that time of year. School is coming to a close. Summer is upon us. High school graduations are just around the corner. And I have the immense privilege and pleasure of watching a number of “kids” I know and love move into this next phase in their lives . . . the, not always seamless but most definitely amazing, transition from childhood into adulthood. They may follow different paths. Some are going into the military. Some will have careers. Many will go to college or trade school. But one thing holds true, most are pretty dang awesome, and while I have no great delusions regarding my role in their lives, I am so very proud of them.

I’ve been thinking about what I would say to these kids, just moments away from becoming adults, if given the opportunity. And this is what I’ve come up with.

  • This is not the big climax of your life. Sorry, but it’s not. It’s one of the high points, but I hope it’s not the highest. I hope it’s only the beginning. The beginning of big and beautiful and hard things, and no matter what you’re doing tomorrow or next week or next year, you have to take ownership of your future. You have to do your part in making those big and beautiful and hard things happen.
  • Speaking of “hard” . . . hard is well, hard, but it’s not always bad. Hard things can be very good things as well.
  • And having said all that, work hard, but also work hard for the right reasons. There’s a verse in the bible that basically says, “Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord . . .” (paraphrased from Colossians 3:23-24), and y’all this is the best advice I can give you. If you do things for others and even for yourself, you’ll always reach a point where you’re burnt out and tired and disappointed. But when you do things for God, not just in theory but in reality, you’ll find strength only He can give.
  • Don’t rush the next step. We’re always looking for what’s next. Goals are good. Goals are important, but also, as cliché as it sounds, seize the day . . . embrace the moment . . . live in the here and now. You won’t get it back.
  • Speaking of . . . relationships are great, but you are young. Give yourself time to grow and grow up a bit before getting too serious.
  • College is not a career. It’s a means to an end, and a transition into adulthood. So have fun but know when it’s time to wrap it up, grow up, and move into the next phase.
  • Take risks. Not the kind of risks that will give your mama a heart attack (for the most part anyway), but the kind of risks that change people’s lives. Be a world changer. You can always dream bigger. 
  • Don’t drink and drive. Ever. It’s really stupid and not worth anyone’s life.
  • Live generously. Give. Volunteer. Do something for someone other than yourself.
  • Laugh everyday, and be with people who give you life. If someone only takes from you and sucks you dry, it might be time to move on.
  • Find a career you love. And yes, “stay at home mom” is absolutely a career, but so is CEO of a large company. It’s up to you, and you may do both, or you may do neither in your lifetime. But don’t let anyone look down on or put down the path you choose.
  • However . . . on the way to finding that career you still have to work hard, and you might have to settle for the “job for now” in order to pay the bills. See my third point. There’s no shame in any job as long as you show up and do your best. Just don’t get stuck in the status quo.
  • Go to church and build a community, but also seek a personal relationship with Jesus. Trust God. Pray. Seriously, you’ll find that life is much easier and much more meaningful with Jesus than without.

You are amazing, and you are meant to do great things. God didn’t create anyone boring or ordinary. He created unique and extraordinary. And that’s 100% you. Here’s to the graduating class of 2021.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

* Some of you that have been around since the days of my old adoption and family blog may think you’ve read this before. You have! This was brought over from my old blog and tweeked a bit for this space. I’ve been sorting through old posts and will do that from time to time.

The Hard and The Beautiful . . . Preparing to Embrace a New Decade of Life

I have about five different ideas on which to write rolling around in my head, but the honest truth is, they all feel kind of heavy. Not bad. Definitely worthwhile. But still, heavy. And I’m not really surprised. These past 12-13 months have been heavy. I’ve watched as many people I care about experience deep grief. Some of it has been life playing out. Some of it has been due to COVID, and there’s no getting around that. Too many of my friends have lost loved ones to this illness. My own family has walked the incredibly hard road of losing someone we love to the devastating effects of COVID. And even without all the loss and heartache, even with the light at the end of our pandemic tunnel shining brighter by the day, we still have days and weeks where we find ourselves praying for friends and family that are sick, heartbroken, or hurting . . . where we are navigating exposures and quarantines and shut downs/virtual schooling in our immediate world. So, yeah, heavy is just part of it sometimes. There’s no denying that, but today, I’m not pondering all the heavy stuff.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about. In just over a month, I’m turning 40. The big 4.0. As a teenager 40 seemed so OLD. It’s halfway to 80. The turning point, the very definition of middle age, and the top of the hill that starts the downhill slope in the second half of our lives. That sounds kind of depressing, but the reality is, I’m more than okay with, I’m actually embracing, turning 40 even if it comes with a few more wrinkles and the potential for bifocals.

It’s the honest to goodness truth. I’m happy to be turning 40. I’m pretty sure I was born an adult at heart so I’ve never struggled a whole lot with getting older, but there is something about entering this decade, in particular, that I really find myself welcoming. My 30s have been hard. I’ve experienced grief on a very personal level, and I’ve had to work through and fight that grief on my knees in a way I never had before. As a family we’ve had some hard times, a few major health challenges, and some big losses of loved ones. And all of that found me pressing into God like never before. My 30s have also been beautiful. We’ve gained so much. I quit teaching and went to work part time only to end up staying home full time which turned out to be the most demanding “job” I’ve ever held (that whole thing falls somewhere between unbelievably hard/terrifying and amazingly beautiful but most certainly orchestrated by God). We brought Anna home . . . both the biggest and best thing that happened to us as a family and me individually, but there have also been unique challenges and hurdles and lots of opportunities for growth in this stage of our lives. We’ve built two homes and moved . . . twice (Jesus take the wheel . . . the thought of moving ever again makes me kind of want to hyperventilate). We’ve watched my husband’s business grow as he decided to venture out and start his own company. We’ve gained family members (and will be adding a niece to the mix this coming fall . . . woohoo!), and we’ve watched our kids develop into these amazing young people and become much more independent . . . and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve been incredibly blessed in so many ways.

The benefit of all of these challenges and growth . . . of both the blessings and the hard times . . . of learning to lean on and press into God more . . . is that at on the brink of turning 40, I am more confident and self assured in who I am than ever before.

I’m a Christian first and last and in between, and my relationship with Jesus literally dictates every other part of my life.

I’ve figured out that I’m worth it . . . I’m worth taking the time to take care of myself . . . physically . . . which is why I work out . . . emotionally/mentally . . . it’s okay to stop and say “no”, to set boundaries and not feel guilty about it . . . and most importantly spiritually, my relationship with God isn’t about checking off some box or meeting some requirement to read a certain number of scriptures, it’s not about performance or earning His favor . . . it’s deeply intimate and personal, and it’s 100% a non negotiable in my life. Further, I need to take care of myself in order to truly care for those I love.

I’ve learned (am still learning) the art of boldness and honesty . . . of standing up for what I truly believe is right . . . all while being gracious and kind and compassionate. Of balance. For many years I oscillated between people pleasing (still struggle with this sometimes) that kept me from speaking up or expressing my opinion and letting all my frustration build up until I snapped. But being a jerk is never justified, and I’m slowly, albeit surely, through the power of the Holy Spirit, learning to be completely unapologetic and yet, still full of grace and kindness in my beliefs and opinions.

I’ve learned to judge the things that matter, and not care about the things that don’t. And y’all, as I’ve said before, a whole lot of the things we pass judgment on just don’t matter.

I’ve realized the importance of putting my marriage second only to God . . . to putting in the work and embracing the gift that it is. And it’s so hugely worth it.

I’m learning the fine art of letting my children grow and become more independent. Of trusting that God truly loves them even more than I do. Of allowing my teenage son to grow into a young man . . . of figuring out the push and pull of letting him go that starts long before he actually leaves home while at the same time not being “helicopter mom of the year” to Anna (easier said than done).

I have no doubt that my 40s will also bring both hard and beautiful. My kids will both turn 18 before my 50th birthday. Although, Anna will get that one in just under the wire. Andrew will head off to college in a little over five short years, and Anna will grow from a little girl into a young woman. Our next ten years will be filled with a plethora of growth and changes some wonderful, some hard, many a good mixture of both. And I’m sure that, as time seems to do as we grow older, they’ll pass at a lightning fast pace.

So I’m embracing 40. I’m going into it with a lot of prayer and excitement of what’s to come. And for the record, I’d like to let my teenage self know that 40 is far from OLD.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

You Best be Studying . . .

My husband has been a youth pastor for almost 20 years . . . and I’ve been there, in various capacities (it’s definitely ebbed and flowed with young children), for all of those years . . . mostly as “killer of all things dangerous and fun” (Why do dangerous and fun always seem to go hand in hand? And are there any other youth pastor’s wives in the house that can relate to this???).

One of my favorite prayer requests I’ve heard from our teenagers over the years often goes something like this:

Kid: “I have a test tomorrow. Can you pray that I’ll pass?”

Me: “Sure I’ll pray for you. Have you studied?”

Kid: “Well . . . I mean . . . this teacher is really tough . . .”

Me: “Okay, so have you studied?”

Kid: “Well . . . ummm . . . maybe . . . a little . . . not really.”

Cue major side eye from me, “killer of all things dangerous and fun”, because that’s not how it works. It’s how we, not just teenagers but also adults, want it to work, but the reality is, we can’t repeatedly refuse to do the work (read: be lazy), we can’t repeatedly make unwise, sometimes risky, and often foolish decisions then expect God to be our big bail out guy in the sky. God not is not our enabler.

That’s not to say He isn’t merciful. Our Heavenly Father is beyond merciful and gracious and good, and He often does intervene when we absolutely do not deserve it. There is redemption to be found in God and deciding to do things His way. The children of Israel found forgiveness and redemption in repenting and turning back to God over and over again. And many of us have literally seen God restore the “years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25) when we absolutely do not deserve it, but you also have to make the choice to repent and make a change and do the work with the help and through the power of the Holy Spirit (and to be super clear here, I am not talking about salvation . . . the work was and is all Jesus y’all . . . but the choice is yours).

God didn’t create a bunch of robots that don’t have brains. God isn’t manipulating and moving us like the pieces on a chess board. And while He has a perfect plan for all of our lives, He also created us with free will to make decisions and choices. In the book of Psalms, Chapter 32 verse 9, it says, “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.” God is not about the business of controlling every move we make, and I’d venture that there is a whole lot of leeway within our choices. He gave us personalities and preferences for a reason, and a lot of our decisions don’t have a huge effect on our lives or the lives of others either way. I mean if you want to wear red shoes and orange pants together (I own both items so don’t come at me), be my guest . . . unless you’re going to a job interview . . . then don’t.

But sometimes we make choices that carry a lot more weight and will have more lasting consequences, and because we are free to make those choices for better or worse, we have to understand that we must accept the consequences of the things we choose . . . or don’t choose . . . whatever the case may be. God will not just wave His hand and make life perfect for us . . . He won’t just remove the necessity for hard work . . . because He loves us too much and wants a relationship with us, not a bunch of mindless followers. And hard work, with God’s wisdom and guidance, isn’t the enemy.

“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” Proverbs 13:4

“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

So having said all that, I’ll say . . .you’ve got to study for the test . . . save the money . . . pay the bills . . . go to the gym . . . clean the house . . . make the effort with your husband/wife/kids/parents . . . set the boundaries . . . put the priorities in place in your life . . . you’ve got to pray and study the word and ask for wisdom and trust that His ways are the best ways . . .

“So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield for those who walk uprightly.” Proverbs 2:2-7

And just in case you were wondering . . . yes, I still pray for our teenagers to pass . . . I pray that they go home and focus and study and are able to learn and retain the information they need in order to pass their test. I may be the “killer of all things dangerous and fun”, but I’m not a monster.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

Let’s Talk About Sin and Obedience…

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

C.S. Lewis

Let’s talk about sin. This definitely won’t be my most popular post and will likely make some people angry. It’s because of that very thing, my dislike for angering people, I have avoided posting it and seriously considered making it much more general. But sometimes obedience means standing up for what is right and doing what God tells you to do even if it means not everyone is going to love it (or you).

The subject of sin threatens to send most of us packing rather quickly. We’d rather talk about grace, and I am 100% there for that. I wholeheartedly believe we need to dwell on grace . . . I’m firmly in the camp of grace consciousness rather than sin consciousness. But the reality is we have grace, we have need of grace, because we are sinners saved by grace.

And so, I’m back to, let’s talk about sin . . . in particular, sin within the body of Christ . . . this has been circling in my mind for a few weeks now so bear with me for just a moment.

My husband and I were talking about this whole sin thing the other day, and I said, “We (speaking of Christians) want it both ways. We want to willfully live in sin, and we want the blessings and protection of God that only come from the obedience that leads to His covering.”

But that’s not how it works. We don’t get to live in the world and of the world. We are called to be separate. We are called to be different and live differently. (John 15:18-19; Romans 12:1-2)

These past few months, I’ve been camped out in Paul’s letters to the early church. And here’s the thing. Paul talked about grace, and Paul talked about sin. Paul was heavy on grace because there is no other option. Without the grace of God, we are utterly lost. We cannot and do not earn our salvation. But Paul also, regularly, addressed sin. Not because he was overly sin “conscious” . . . not because he was legalistic. He absolutely was not, but because he knew the importance of living a life worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; Philippians 1:27 . . . ). He knew and understood the importance of casting off “the sin that so easily entangles” and running “the race set before us” (Hebrews 12:1-3). He knew and believed in the transforming power of God’s grace (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God does not call us to be the same . . . to match our culture and the world around us. He calls us to change and stand out . . . to reach others for Christ. And because of that calling on the lives of every single Christian, both our input, what we feed on, and our output, the things we do and say, matter.

Far too many Christians see the bible as a set of rules . . . a book of dos and don’ts . . . of can’ts and cans . . . of shall nots and shalls . . . but y’all when God calls us to obedience . . . when He lays out certain rules and ways of doing things . . . they are not arbitrary . . . they are not because He’s the “big Man in the sky” looking to steal all our fun and rain our parade . . . the word of God and the guidelines He sets before us are protective! They are protective for both us and those around us. His commands are protective. Obedience is protective. He created us, and He knows what is best for us.

Obedience to God is the key that unlocks so many blessings in our lives. That’s not to say that Christians never face trials or temptations . . . we do and we will. That’s not to say we won’t mess up. We will, and I am so thankful that the blood of Christ covers all my sin. Nor am I in any way saying that we earn God’s love or our salvation. But the principles of reaping and sowing apply . . . the world calls it “karma”, but the principle was found in the bible long before the idea of karma ever existed. There are consequences for our actions, and too many of our problems, our crises, our drama filled issues are of our own making because we choose not to obey God’s commands. When we choose disobedience and sin, we are moving ourselves out of His protection.

As followers of Christ we are called to both excellence (not to be confused with perfection) and purity. There is an abundance of grace to be found at the cross, but as Paul says in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

Our words matter . . . our attitudes matter . . . our actions matter. We are either shining a light for Jesus, or we’re not.

How we treat others whether they are friend or foe . . . how we handle our finances (yes, tithing and giving matter) . . .how we steward and raise our children . . . how we behave within our marriage . . . even the things we choose to believe (truth matters) and the people we praise, follow, and emulate . . . they all matter.

Christians are not called to be critical, mean, constantly complaining, and stirring up trouble.

Christians are not called to idolatry . . . to put something or anything ahead of God whether that be work, politics, material possessions, even our own children . . . so many good things turn into idols because they take the place of God in our lives.

Christians are called to be diligent and careful about what we feed on . . . in the news we view and read, in the shows we watch (that’s a hard one y’all . . . because “we’re adults . . . we can watch what we want” . . . only can and should are not the same thing), in the music we listen to, the list continues. . . because what goes in is inevitably what will come out and who we will become.

And this one is going to make some people mad, but y’all, as Christians we are called to sexual purity as well, He created sexual intimacy for marriage alone, and you can’t choose to live outside of that boundary and expect God to pour His blessings on your relationship and life. I see it happening over and over and over again, and we are playing with fire on this one. There is absolutely grace and forgiveness for ALL sin at the foot of the cross, and God’s call to purity is incredibly protective. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (and there is more in 1 Corinthians 7).

I could continue to list things we should or shouldn’t do, but that’s not the point. It’s not about legalism or about a bunch of rules. Although right and wrong are definitely and clearly spelled out for us in the Bible. But at the end of the day, it really is a heart issue. It’s about far more than behavior modification. Rather it’s about whether or not we truly trust God that what He says is best really is best and obedience serves a purpose both on this earth and into eternity. I’m just as guilty as anyone of sometimes making choices that are disobedient and wrong, and that’s one of the reasons I wrote this. Because my goal is always to share what God is teaching me, and I mess up and fall short as much as the next person.

Yesterday, my youngest was acting out, and my response was less than stellar. I snapped at her. I yelled. I was super impatient. I wasn’t lovingly guiding her. I was frustrated. And later as I was praying about how I had acted I said, “But I didn’t mean to…” only I was immediately convicted because I knew I chose my words, my tone, and my actions. God has given me self control through the power of the Holy Spirit, but I let frustration at an ongoing struggle and fear regarding the future to dictate how I responded. I chose disobedience over trusting God because, honestly, it was easier and felt a whole lot better in the moment than doing what was right. So I apologized to my daughter and repented and thanked God for His grace. And I’m sure it won’t be the last time I have to do that, but I’m determined to let God have his way in my life in both the biggest and the smallest things. I’m determined to let Him continually transform this imperfect life and heart of mine. And I want nothing less for you.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

Content but Not Complacent . . . Don’t Make Permanent what is Temporary

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

Joseph was both a dreamer of prophetic dreams and the favorite of his father, Jacob. Out of 12 boys, he was loved above all the others . . . it was not only not a secret, it was blatantly obvious. And Joseph’s brothers hated him so much because of this that sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead.

Eventually, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, and through a series of extraordinary, and what can only be seen as divinely orchestrated, events Joseph went from slave to prisoner to second in command only to Pharaoh after interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and advising that Pharaoh prepare Egypt for a great famine to follow seven plentiful years. Joseph lived and ruled in Egypt during these seven years of plenty, and when the famine came, Egypt had a bounty of grain.

Without knowing who he was, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt from Canaan seeking to buy grain and ended up bowing before Joseph pleading for food. Joseph eventually revealed himself and forgave them, and then sent them to bring his father’s household from Canaan to Egypt. What the brothers had intended for Joseph’s destruction, God had set up to save them all. Joseph lived in Egypt into his old age . . . the land that first seemed to lead to his demise was ultimately his salvation . . . and at the end of his life . . . at 110 years old . . . as he was dying, Joseph said, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50:25) And he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. (Account of Joseph’s Life: Genesis 37-50)

Joseph knew that Egypt was never meant to be permanent. Egypt was good to Joseph. Egypt gave Joseph a life and a family and success. Even more so it enabled him to save his father and brothers and as a result, the future of Israel and the Jewish people to come, but Egypt was only temporary.

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who was invisible.” Hebrews 11:23-27

After Joseph’s death the children of Israel multiplied greatly and the new king of Egypt, out of fear of their greatness, enslaved them. He set out to kill all the male children born to the Israelites, but Moses was saved when his mother put him, as a three month old, in a basket and placed him in the Nile river. He was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the house of Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s house, though it was good to Moses, though it saved Moses’s life, was never meant to be permanent. Pharaoh’s house, just like Egypt, was meant to be temporary. (Account of Moses and the Exodus of the Children of Israel: The book of Exodus)

“God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” Genesis 50:25

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

As I read these words this morning it struck me, though Joseph spent the majority of his life in Egypt . . . though he lived and ruled in Egypt for over 80 years . . . he knew the temporary nature of the situation. He knew that one day the children of Israel would leave Egypt, and he made sure they knew to take his bones with them. He didn’t want his remains to reside permanently in a place meant to be temporary.

I can’t help but wonder how often we park ourselves permanently in temporary places?

How often do we get entirely too comfortable in a place we’re meant to pass through, possibly set up camp, but most definitely not build a city?

The children of Israel are famous for turning a 11 day journey into 40 years. They were disobedient, they were whiny, they constantly complained, and sadly (and kind of stupidly), they wanted to go back to Egypt. Because even though Egypt was always meant to be temporary . . . even though it had long passed the point of its purpose . . . Egypt was familiar . . . there was no battle in staying in Egypt.

And that’s often the excuse we use, “If it’s meant to be then why is it so hard? Why do I have to fight?” So we decide that hard means wrong, and we permanently stay where we were only supposed to camp for a little while . . . maybe for a day or a year or ten years . . . but definitely not forever. What we fail to realize is that change and pushing through the hard with God’s help and guidance are what bring about growth in our lives. It’s never change for the sake of change, but change with a purpose.

Maybe it’s an old job you should leave or new job you should take . . . maybe it’s a relationship that’s played itself out (not a marriage relationship . . . see my last post in regards to that) or maybe it’s not allowing temporary struggles to become a permanent fixture in a relationship. . . maybe it’s a big move (or even a small one) that is just a little too intimidating . . . maybe it’s not a physical situation but an emotional one . . . maybe you’ve allowed yourself to sit in grief and despair so long that it’s all you know and seeking help to get out just seems like too much work . . . I can’t tell you what your temporary is and when you’re meant to move on . . . that’s something that only God can do. But what I can say is if we want to see the fullness of God’s good plans for our lives then we cannot stay stagnant . . . we have to embrace change and growth when it comes from God . . . we have to make sure we’re prepared to be moved when the time comes.

Joseph did not see the end of the Egypt. For him it was temporarily permanent, but he knew that it was not forever, and in faith he made preparation for that before he died. Neither Joseph nor Moses, endured a life without hardship. Nor were they perfect. Joseph was mouthy and talked too much . . . it didn’t help his situation with his brothers at all . . . and Moses was a bit hotheaded . . . he killed a man, ran away to Midian, tried to avoid God, broke the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, and bashed a rock to get water out of it . . . he had a temper . . . but God still used both Joseph and Moses and so many other imperfect men and women mightily to bring about change for His kingdom (take the time to read Hebrews 11).

At the end of the day, nothing on this earth is permanent. The only permanent place we have is in eternity. This very life on earth is temporary. And that is why we have to be so careful not to get too comfortable . . . not to look at contentment and think it means were complacent . . . contentment stays consistent through all the changes and shifts of life, but it doesn’t avoid them. Complacency avoids those shifts and changes. Complacency says we’ll stay in Egypt when we should be head to the Promised Land.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.