Full of Grace, Full of Truth . . .

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

As a babe, born in a manger . . . as a man, crucified on the cross . . . as a Savior, risen from the dead . . . fully God . . . fully man . . . “full of grace and truth”. . .

Grace and Truth . . . two words . . . two concepts which are not mutually exclusive. Yet they often are treated, by Christians, followers of Christ, by me, as if they are.

The end of the year isn’t my favorite. After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can feel like kind of a let down. Anticlimactic if you will. And in that, I’ve never been one to make resolutions or big, lofty, or even un-lofty, goals at the start of the New Year. But last year I asked God to place on my heart a scripture for the year, and the verse He gave me comes from Psalm 19.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Because I’m still very much a work in progress, I will be carrying this scripture into a new year, a new decade. But this morning, as I often do, I opened my Bible app to read the scripture of the day, and I skimmed down to read those words in John 1:14. I’ve probably read them a thousand times over. And, as it should be, my focus has always been on the first parts of the scripture . . . the Word becoming flesh . . . the glory of the only Begotten coming to live among us. But He didn’t just come to live among us. He came “full of grace and truth”. Those words, grace and truth, are not just an afterthought tacked onto the end. They are a description of exactly Who our Savior is. Fully God . . . fully man . . . “full of grace and truth”.

So as we look forward to a new year and a fresh decade, I pray that through the power and grace of God, the words I say, the thoughts I think, will be full of both grace and truth. To speak the truth with boldness but not bitterness. To speak the truth with grace and not condemnation. To speak the TRUTH that changes lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. To think on, dwell on, meditate on those things which are pure and right and holy. Those are my goals for 2020.

Copyright 2019, 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.

Have Yourself A Peaceful, Little Christmas . . .

I could feel the panic rising in me. The fear that “it” wouldn’t all get done. That “it” wouldn’t all be perfect. That someone would feel let down. My kids had been sick for going on two weeks. Christmas parties were missed. Plans cancelled and changed. My days focused on comforting sick babies (okay not exactly babies . . . but yeah . . . ) and disinfecting and then disinfecting some more. Cans of Lysol . . . Gallons of bleach . . . Towels, and sheets, and blankets all washed then washed again for good measure. And the daily chores? The normal daily cleaning, and cooking, and running of the house? All but forgotten. So how on earth would I get caught up for Christmas? I was not keeping it all or even a little together. I felt like that particular train had derailed about 10 miles back.

Christmas time . . . the most wonderful time of the year . . . Christmas time . . . the most stressful time of the year.

But then that still small voice broke through the loudness of all that was happening.

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Christmas time . . . the most beautiful time of the year . . . not because of anything any of us can do. Not because of gifts or family or parties . . . all of which are wonderful and well and good. But because of Him. Because of a Savior come to earth as a babe and laid in a manger. Perfection in human form.

“His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace . . . ”

Christmas time . . . the most peaceful time of the year if only we’ll let it be . . . because amidst the busy-ness and bustle, the loudness of the season, He wants to be our Prince of Peace, our place of calm in the crazy . . .

May you have the Merriest of Christmas remembering why we celebrate.

“Mary Did You Know?” . . .

Maybe the most controversial Christmas song out there. Which, honestly, Christmas carols and programs and so on aren’t notorious for being theologically correct so there’s that . . . I mean there were no wise men at the manger . . . there was no little drummer boy . . . it likely wasn’t a silent night in Bethlehem . . . shall I go on?

Yet, I actually love all of these, and “Mary Did You Know?” has always resonated with me.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God

Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am

Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know

Songwriters: Buddy Greene, Mark Lowry

Which begs the question, did Mary know?

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” – Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel did not try to hide it from her . . . and later in the same chapter of Luke in vs 41-43 it says, “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” . . . “ and then just a few verses later:

The Song of Mary

46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.””

God didn’t keep it a secret from Mary that she was giving birth to the Savior of the world. And Mary willingly said, “I am the Lord’s servant . . .”. I believe Mary knew. I mean virgin births aren’t exactly common. So, yes, I believe Mary knew, but at the same time there’s knowing and there’s knowing. There’s a knowing that comes from being told something by God. We believe it. We get excited by it. We are willing. But life happens. And doubts creep in even when the impossible has happened. And maybe, we also don’t fully grasp and understand what is happening.

But then there is a knowing that comes from walking through something with God. It’s a knowing that grows and becomes solidified with time and experience, and I also believe that Mary was living that as well.

Mary was not divine or omniscient. She did not have the luxury of hindsight or seeing the full view of God’s timeline, and while I believe she knew, I also believe she wondered exactly what God was up to here. There was no way she knew of all the miracles He would perform . . . all the lives He would transform. No one believed that the King of the Jews was coming to earth as a baby much less coming to save the gentiles (yes, I know . . . Isaiah 9:6-7 is pretty clear to us now).

Twice in Luke 2, the account of Jesus’s birth and childhood, we see Mary pondering what is happening:

Luke 2:19 (after the shepherds have come to visit Jesus): “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:48-51 (Let’s just set the scene: Jesus is found in the temple among the scholars of the day after not being found with his family as they returned from the feast of the Passover. Y’all! Jesus had been MIA for three days! Three days, and they didn’t notice! Talk about free range parenting. Can you imagine that conversation between Mary and Joseph? “Well that’s just great, Joseph! We’ve lost the Son of God! How’s that one gonna look for us?!” And then they find Him conversing in the temple with the wisest of the wise. People were astounded at His knowledge, but Mary? Well remember, this may be the Son of God, but also He was the son of Mary, and she’s a Mama and was none too pleased. And the Bible even tells us they just did not understand.): “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.”

And there was no way Mary really knew all of what was to come. I fully believe God was merciful in that because had Mary known it all, I think the burden would’ve been too much to bear. I believe Mary was both fully aware and yet, totally naïve. And as a mother, I relate with Mary. I’m not raising God come to earth as a baby, thank goodness, but I’m raising these precious people that He’s entrusted me with. And even though, He has spoken great things to me about these little (and not so little) people, there are moments when I think, “What are you up to here God?” Because even though I know, I don’t always fully know until I see it through.

So theological debates aside, I love Mary, not because she was superhuman, but because of her humanity and willingness to serve God through it all . . . not because she’s to be worshipped or revered . . . worship is for God alone . . . but because I can see just a tiny bit of myself in Mary . . . especially in those moments when she just doesn’t have it all together . . . although, in this day and age, I do recommend keeping tabs on your kiddos. 😉

Copyright 2019, 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.

Calm in the Craziness

I’m sure you’ve seen this meme floating around on social media. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen it, and like most of you, I laugh. But the reality is, we laugh because it’s true. We laugh because most of us are running circles trying to keep up. By the beginning of December, I had every day scheduled to the max with everything from laundry to mopping floors to basketball games to Christmas parties and programs. Last week we had three different school events, and the Christmas party for Patrick’s office, in addition to the normal, daily chores and activities. Then . . . sickness hit our house. And everything came to a screeching halt. Amidst the mad disinfecting, because that’s how I cope (my house smells of Lysol and bleach), I was thinking about how to deal with the craziness of the holiday season so that we don’t forget the literal “Reason for the Season”. Specifically, how do I deal with things in order to keep my sanity and peace? So without further ado . . . in no particular order (except for number one . . . number one is the most important) . . . <insert drumroll here> . . . also, try to contain your excitement . . .

Courtney’s List for Keeping the Calm in the Craziness of the Holidays . . .

1. The Word . . . I’ve talked about this quite a bit, but when I’m starting to feel anxious and unsettled, I need to stop and do a self check. How much time have I spent with God . . . praying, reading the word, praising Him? Because that’s the foundation for everything in my life, and if I’m feeling off balance, this is the first place I need to stop and evaluate. Sadly, sometimes, too often, it’s also the first thing I let slip when things get crazy.

2. Move . . . and by “move” I mean my body. I learned a long time ago that I have a lot of energy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I have to move . . . exercise . . . work out . . . whatever you want to call it . . . in order to feel my best. If I don’t get enough exercise, I find I start to feel sluggish and irritable. I don’t sleep as well, etc. And I think this how God designed our bodies. He designed us to work our muscles and move. That doesn’t mean it looks the same for all of us. For you, it might look like a stroll outside. For someone else, it might look like a run or a session in the weight room. Whatever it looks like for you, just move. I promise you won’t regret it.

3. Fuel . . . it’s sooooo easy to not fuel myself well this time of year. To not eat what is well balanced for me. And to overindulge. Especially in the sugar department, but also just with junk in general. We’re eating out more. We grab stuff on the go, and french fries always look better than salad. Can I get a witness? So I have to check my fuel source because just like movement, God did not design our bodies to be fueled on junk.

4. Just say “no” . . . Set boundaries. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Sometimes you have to look at everything going on and say “no” to some things. And that’s fine. Will people get mad or offended? They might, but if making it to every single event affects your peace and the peace of your family, then you need to be willing to say “no”. The thing is, our family needs time away from all of it. Time to just be a family with the four of us. My kids need rest, and routine (bedtime is king in our house . . . not sorry), and downtime with Mom and Dad so I rarely feel bad when I set boundaries on outside activities.

5. Grace . . . I give myself and others as much grace as possible. Because things aren’t always going to be perfect. People get sick. Plans get cancelled. And just like I need to set boundaries so do others. The thing is the picture “perfect” Christmas isn’t perfect at all. I’m sure Mary didn’t feel like things were perfect when she gave birth in a stable. And shepherds, lowly shepherds, were the first to hear about the birth of our Savior. Definitely, not perfect by the world’s standards.

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”” 1 Corinthians 26-31 NKJV

Perfection is overrated. It’s not about the things or the events or everyone doing everything right. It always circles back to number one on my list . . . Jesus. When I’m feeling like it’s all just a lot to handle, and I have no time to slow down, that’s the exact moment I need to stop the most and just remember Who it is we’re celebrating this time of year. There is nothing wrong with all the celebrations . . . the family . . . the food . . . the decorations . . . the gifts . . . all of it is fine, but none of it is more important than Jesus.

May you enjoy Peace and Rest in the midst of the busy-ness of this Christmas season.

Copyright 2019, 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.

Early Morning Musings

I was up long before the sun this morning. It’s not particularly unusual for me to wake early which is ironic because I’m not exactly a morning person. At all. I never have been, but I need the quiet early morning hours . . . the time before anyone else is up and moving . . . before everything gets going to read and pray and seek Him. To talk to my Savior about all the things.

As I’ve said before, it’s not a daily thing. Sometimes my “quiet” time is more like reading my devotional while shoveling food in my mouth and getting the kids’ lunches and snacks and backpacks packed. Sometimes my prayers are prayed while doing laundry or dropping off and picking up and running errands. And I fully believe God is there for that. But sometimes . . . more and more as I get older . . . it looks like a 4:00 a.m. wake up call . . . a cup of coffee . . . my bible and my prayer list.

Sometimes I wake up and my heart is heavy for those I know are hurting.

Sometimes it’s burdened for the people I love the most. For them to know Jesus more deeply . . . to know His heart and His love and His transforming grace more and more.

Sometimes the wake up call is for those I’ve never met face to face but still, find myself heavily burdened for the hurt and pain their hearts carry.

Sometimes it looks like conviction regarding my own thoughts . . . my own words . . . my own actions . . . and in that moment it also looks like grace. The grace that says I don’t have to be enough because He is. And He’s the one that will make me better. He’s the one that makes me good. He’s the one that makes me righteous.

Most days, it’s a little of all of these things.

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 NKJV

This morning I read these words from Matthew, and I wondered . . . I wondered about the my own fruit. I wondered about its goodness or maybe, at times, its “badness”. In Romans 7 Paul talks about not doing what he wants . . . not understanding why he does the things he does. And I think there are times we can all relate to that.

These words above aren’t the easiest words. But they are the words of Jesus. And they’re a testament to the fact that what we say and what we do matter. Christians love to throw around grace, sometimes as a justification for their actions. But here’s the thing, what I say is important. What I do carries weight. And you know what? I’m so thankful for the grace of God because I mess up way more than I should. Because a lot of days I’m a lot like Paul, wondering why I do and say the things I do. But here’s the other thing, it’s the grace of God that transforms my heart. It’s His grace and mercy that equips me to do what is right. It’s only through Christ that I’m righteous. It’s only because of Him that my fruit is good. And that makes me want to do better.

So here I am. Up early as the sky starts to lighten. And not really sure how to wrap this up other than to say, there is nothing more important today than seeking the face of Jesus. There is nothing you can chase or do or not do that will bring more peace, more joy, more contentment than Him.

Have a wonderful Monday and a blessed week y’all! I’m off to pack lunches.

Copyright 2019, 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.

National Adoption Month

It’s November 30th . . . I’m not sure how that happened, but here we are staring down the last month of both the year and the decade.

November is National Adoption Month and the month, four years ago, we passed court making our daughter “officially” ours. December is the month we picked her up and brought her home. So it only seems fitting that I use the platform I have to talk a bit about adoption. But I’ve also been sitting with it and really pondering what I want to share because adoption is so near and dear to me that I want to do it effectively.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 NIV

I firmly believe in family preservation whenever possible. I wish we lived in a world where adoptions weren’t necessary. Where children weren’t abused, abandoned, or starved. Where families had the resources to care for their children. Yes, I firmly believe in family preservation, but the reality is it’s not always possible or safe. Because of that, I am also a fierce advocate for adoption. I believe in it wholeheartedly. But adoption does not come without brokenness. Before a child is ever placed for adoption something, somewhere in their young life has been broken.

I often hear our daughter was meant for us. I firmly believe that God brought her to us. I firmly believe His hand was very much involved in matching us. But I do not believe that she was created just for us. There are millions of children without homes and families in this world. And the truth is, I don’t believe God created this one precious life . . . caused her to be born so severely prematurely and in such dire conditions that there was no way her biological mother could care for or provide for her . . . forced her to spend almost three years living in an orphanage where she suffered neglect and starvation . . . just so she could be my daughter. Nor do I believe she is lucky to have us. All of these children are so deserving of families. They are all worthy.

What I do believe is that we serve a God who redeems . . . a God who delivers . . . a God who takes what the enemy means for harm and turns it into good. That’s not to say it is easy. Nothing about adoption is easy. Even those who adopt infants will often tell you that there are repercussions they never imagined just from the trauma of being separated from their biological mother. Take an almost three year old out of an institution, where they’ve never experienced normal life on any level, where they have no clue what “family” is, where they learn to go from adult to adult never fully or completely attached to anyone . . . bounce a child back and forth between foster homes and an unstable and abusive home where they never know what tomorrow might bring . . . the heartbreak that comes from that is hard at best and life destroying at worst.

And yet, as I said above, I am a fierce advocate for adoption because I so believe in it. And I believe in it because I’ve lived it. I believe in it because I’ve seen these children face to face. I’ve seen their suffering and the vacancy in their eyes. I’ve walked the halls of a silent orphanage. I’ve seen children starving, and I’ve seen children dying. I don’t believe I can “fix” my child. I don’t believe I need to, but I do believe God can heal her physically, mentally, and emotionally. I believe it’s a lifelong process. It’s a beautiful and sometimes, tragic process. It’s a road we walk daily. A journey I’m honored to be on as I see God transform my daughter, not in a single snap of His fingers, but in moment after moment, day after day of learning to trust and learning to live life in our family.

I never want to present our situation as any more or less than it is. There are those whose journeys have been much more tragic and heartbreaking than our own. There are those whose children seem to come out of horrible situations relatively unscathed given what they’ve lived. I don’t share everything. Not even close because I want to make sure that I protect my precious girl as much as possible. I want to fight for adoptions and family preservation and orphan care, and I want to share our daughter’s story. But I want to be sure I do it without setting my child up as the poster child for any of it. It’s a fine line to walk, and one I’m still learning.

I, also, never want to present myself as some sort of perfect savior. I’m far from it. I often say that I’m an ordinary person called to do extra-ordinary things by an extraordinary God. What I do want is for people to be aware. To be aware that it’s not perfect or easy, but our kids are so worthy. Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to do something. Maybe, you can support adoptive parents through financial gifts, meals when they’re first home, a listening ear when they’re struggling. Maybe you can foster. Maybe you can provide respite. Maybe you can give to organizations that help these children. Maybe you can adopt.

I’m going to wrap up this, unintentionally, long post by giving you three places, that I trust and believe in deeply, to which you can give financially if you feel so inclined. Next Tuesday is giving Tuesday, and I’m going to ask that you find some way to give back. It doesn’t have to be here. It doesn’t have to be with money. Just find some way to help these children around the world.

All God’s Children International – our adoption agency that also works to prevent families from being torn apart, provides for orphans, prepares those aging out for life outside the institution, places children in homes, and works to change policy in countries throughout the world.

Lost Sparrows – works to stop the flow of children into institutions. To help families care for their children as well as training caregivers to properly care for the kiddos that do come into care.

Trulight 127 Ministries – Trulight is a local ministry that works with foster children in our area. In addition to giving financially, which I know is always welcome, if you live in the Central Texas area there are always opportunities to serve and give in other ways as well.

Copyright 2019, 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.

Goodness of God . . .

I love technology. I love my laptop, and my ipad, and my phone, but at the end of the day, I’m a paper and pencil girl. I have a paper planner that I use to keep track of all the things . . . appointments, events, parties, games, and so on . . . and I have this little notebook that I use to, well, take notes. When I read my Bible, and I feel like God is speaking to me, I write it down in that notebook. I’ve found that the act of physically writing helps to cement it in my mind.

In the same vein, I keep a running prayer list on a random page in that notebook. And I refer back to it regularly. As prayers are answered I check them off. As requests evolve and change, I make little notes. And as new prayer requests come up, I add them.

Here lately, I feel like the list is growing faster than the check marks. Some of the prayer requests are good. They’re what I look at as a preemptive strike against whatever may come. I regularly add expecting (pregnant or adopting) and new mamas to the list, and if you’re expecting and want prayer, I’m here for it. I regularly add those going through big life changes (often good but hard) to my list. I regularly pray for health and well being and protection of those I love. I pray for transformations and touches from God. Those things are never dropping off the list.

But y’all . . . this past month or so, I’ve seen mamas rush to the ER with their very sick babies. I’ve seen people lose loved ones. I’ve seen emergencies and heart break and flat out exhaustion. I’ve been reminded time and again that there are children without families and orphans chained to beds. And I’m here for that too. All of it. I often say, “I wish I could do more.” And you know what I mean. God knows what I mean. I wish I could physically fix what is hurting. I wish I could make all things right. But, newsflash, I’m not God, and at the end of the day, prayer is real and the most powerful weapon we have. Prayer ushers us before the throne of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He is our Father, our Friend, our Creator, our Healer . . . Prayer shouldn’t be a last resort but a first line of defense.

Life is beautiful, but sometimes, life is HARD. Sometimes life is heartbreaking. You are never going to hear me say to those in the trenches of the hurt, “You just need to have more faith . . . you just need to pray more . . . trust more . . . “. That’s why we have one another. I think about the paralytic that was lowered through the roof of a house, by his friends, so that he could meet Jesus (Luke 5:17-26). There was no way he was getting there on his own. Maybe he wanted to. Maybe he didn’t. We don’t really know, but I’ll tell you this, without his friends he was staying right where he was. In that passage the Bible refers to “their faith” (vs. 20) not his faith. That’s what the body of Christ is for. Not to tell you, you need to do better or you need to pray more, but to be there to lower you through the roof to meet Jesus when you can’t get there on your own. To lift you up and come alongside you when you cannot do it on your own.

I was rowing this morning at the gym and listening to music. Working out is one of the few times my brain quiets long enough for me to “hear” God clearly (I have a very loud brain . . . God and I are working on that). And rowing is one of the few workouts I can do where I can close my eyes and not kill myself so I rowed, with my eyes closed (which I’m sure makes me look crazy but whatever), and I listened to these words:

“Goodness Of God”
Bethel music and Jenn Johnson

“I love You, Lord
For Your mercy never fails me
All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In the darkest night You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a Father
I’ve known You as a Friend
And I have lived in the goodness of God

And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now
I give You everything
‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now
I give You everything
‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it keeps running after me

And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God
I’m gonna sing, I’m gonna sing
‘Cause all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God
Oh, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God”

If you’ve lived any amount of time on this earth, you’ve been led through the fire. I think back to 2014 when, in a span of a few weeks, my world came crashing down as our first referral for the baby we met and loved was pulled, and then my grandfather went to be with Jesus. I think back to those last days of 2015 and early 2016 when we had just brought home a child, who was for all purposes a three year old infant. Who had lived all her life in an institution. Who had been starved and neglected. Who was terrified and had no clue how to live in a family. I think back to how she fought against love and comfort with every fiber of her being. I think back through fours years of beauty and four years of, sometimes painful, growth as we have walked through the fire with her. I can recall so much more than this handful of things going back so much further, but I felt like the most recent “highlight” reel conveyed my point. And here’s what I can say . . . In the fire God is there. In the darkness God is there. In the joy and the beauty and the pain and the heartache . . . God is there for all of it. And through it all, God is faithful. God is good.

Copyright 2019, 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.

Reality Check Anyone? (Stream of Consciousness Thoughts for a Saturday Morning . . . )

Disclaimer: Read the whole thing before you form an opinion. Also, sarcasm. I know . . .

It took me five minutes to spell consciousness. I finally googled it. (Insert Face palm) I think my children are sucking the brain cells right out of my head. That’s a joke (sort of). You can laugh.

Thoughts running through my head on this chilly Saturday morning: My coffee is lukewarm. I don’t care. I can drink coffee anyway you want to throw it at me as long as it’s not super sweet. I kind of love coffee. I haven’t written in . . . two(ish) weeks??? I’m not actually going to go back and look because I don’t have the time or the energy in this moment. I have 45 other things that need to be done before noon. My whole family, our neighbors, and half the town had this awful cold two weeks ago . . . I thought I dodged it. My throat hurts. I do NOT have time for this. Pass the ibuprofen and Sudafed. My kids are 12 and 6. Who thought it was a good idea to have them spaced out so much? Oh yeah, that would be me. Our calendar is FULL . . . I’m tired next month. My Christmas decorations have been up for two weeks . . . yes, two weeks. That’s how we roll in our house. If I’m decorating for Christmas it’s going to be up at least a couple months. Also, I did it while I had time. Some mornings I read my bible, take notes, and pray. Some mornings I fly by the seat of my pants, read the scripture of the day on YouVersion, and pray while I’m driving. It is what it is. I burnt my forehead the other day . . . frying bacon.

You’re welcome for that last one.

I’m sure most of you can relate to all of this in some form or another. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also, hands down, one of the busiest times of the year, and it’s easy to look up on New Year’s Day and realize Thanksgiving and Christmas and every day in between passed by in a blur of busy-ness and preparation and execution of all the things. All the meal planning and prepping. All the gift buying and giving. The visits with relatives. The parties and get togethers.

And I’m one of the worst. I’m a list maker and a checker offer (pardon the made up word), and while I wouldn’t say I don’t enjoy the holidays, I also tend to forget to soak them in . . . to really stop and take in the moments.

Yes, I have a lot of laundry . . . and dishes . . . and a million other things to do . . . but in college, when I had to trek to the laundry mat once a week, I realized what a privilege it is to own a washer and dryer, and I’m really thankful I don’t have to pass the time in a cold laundry room while my clothes dry.

My throat hurts. But it’s not terrible. That lukewarm coffee helped tremendously. 😉 And I’ll be 100% before I know it. In the meantime, I’m just super glad we can buy ibuprofen and Sudafed (even if I do have to pull out my driver’s license).

My kids will never be 12 and 6 again. There are no two people I’d rather have suck my brain cells out than these two. Yes, it can be hard making it to all their programs and parties and lunches and games. Yes, our calendar is FULL. But also, what a privilege. What a privilege to have places to be and friends and family to see. What a privilege to love these people of mine.

The Christmas decorations . . . I love them. I love how warm and cozy they make the house feel. I love how much my youngest loves them. She spent all of October asking when we were putting them up, and seeing the joy it all brings her makes my heart happy. She is 100% living her best Christmas life right now.

Then there’s my quiet time. Can I do better? Yes, I can, and I will always work toward that. But also, I serve a God who wants a relationship not perfection. He’s not sitting on His throne checking off whether or not I spent 15 minutes reading and 15 minutes praying. That’s not to say there is not immense value and importance in both, but He meets me in the early mornings when I have the time to really read and study and pray. And He meets me in the car when I’m dropping off kids and running errands and picking everyone up from school. He’s there for it all. And for that I’m immensely grateful.

And the burn on my forehead . . . well, I have bacon . . . and coffee . . . need I say more?

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

“Just Say No”

It’s been a minute since I last wrote. And I never intended to go this long between posts, but life happens . . . travel happens . . . kids’ activities happen . . . housework happens. . . sick kiddos happen . . . life is busy . . . you get the point.

Which brings me to my title. “Just Say No” . . . if you were a child (or a parent) of the 80s you likely remember the “Just Say No” campaign introduced to us by Nancy Reagan over 30 years ago. We were taught from an early age to say “no” to all the bad and harmful things.

What I’m realizing, as an almost 40 year old, that while being taught to say “no” to all the bad was vastly important, we, maybe, should’ve also been taught that sometimes there are good things we need to “Just Say No” to as well.

While out of town last week, I got a text message for a job opportunity that five years ago I would’ve given my eye teeth for. It was something I actively pursued for a time, but it never seemed to work out. And here it was, years later staring me in the face.

For just a second, I thought, “Oh yeah, we have to make this work. I can’t pass it up now. What if I never get the opportunity again?” But here’s the thing, the reason it never worked out all those years ago is because I would’ve had to walk away from that job, very shortly after starting, when we brought our daughter home from Bulgaria. The week before we left on our pick up trip, almost four years ago, was the last time I worked a paying job. From the time I was 14 until November 25, 2015, I had some sort of “job” whether it was part time at the local newspaper and my family’s oilfield supply store, tutoring in math, teaching school for 10 years, or helping my parents run their businesses. And suddenly, I was jobless. Or so I thought. What I didn’t realize then, but know now, is that I was about to embark on the most important, but not necessarily most highly regarded, “job” I’ve ever had, a full time, stay at home mom.

So I stood there and stared at that text, and then quickly forwarded it to my husband, knowing all the while, what my answer would be. Even though a part of me desperately wanted to jump on it, a bigger part of me knew that for my peace, and more importantly, the peace of my family, now is not the time.

Hear me on this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a working mom. I did it for a long time and wouldn’t change that. I actually tried to quit quite a few times, but God’s (and my husband’s ) answer was always a resounding, “No!”. But with an adopted kiddo with special needs, I quickly learned that for the health and well being of my family sometimes I have to “Just Say No”. Graciously and with thanks, but without excuse or apology, I often find myself saying, “This is not what is right for our family right now”. I said it the first time, when I walked away from teaching public school. I said it the again when I decided to stay home full time. And I found myself repeating it the other day, when I declined this job opportunity.

Work isn’t the only area I’m learning that I can’t do it all. I tend to take on too much and push to the point of exhaustion. Sometimes it’s a birthday party, or a volunteer opportunity, or another activity on an already too busy calendar. Sometimes, a lot of times, it’s things that are seemingly good things, but will not lead to a good outcome. “No” doesn’t come easily for me. The perfectionist in me wants to do all and be all. And in this world of social media influencers and Pinterest level parties, I think, more than ever, we push ourselves to be more than the sum of our parts. We push ourselves to do more and be more to our own detriment. So for now, I will say choose to say “yes” to less and “no” to more. I will say “yes” to those things that bring my family closer to one another and closer to God. To those things that bring us joy and peace and build us up even in the midst of the hard. Many of these “nos” are not permanent but are for a season, and I have no doubt that if and when the time is right, the opportunity that I said no to in this season will come around again.

One of my favorite passages of scripture comes from Ecclesiastes 3. It reminds me every time I read it to savor the season I’m in, whatever that may be, because both the passage of time and change are inevitable parts of life.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, And a time to die;

A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill, And a time to heal;

A time to break down, And a time to build up;

A time to weep, And a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, And a time to dance;  

A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;

 A time to gain, And a time to lose;

A time to keep, And a time to throw away;  

A time to tear, And a time to sew;

A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;  

A time to love, And a time to hate;

A time of war, And a time of peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV
Copyright 2019, 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.
"Just Say No" Campaign, 1986 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Say_No

Call Me . . .

My daughter, as a result of spending her earliest years in an institution, has struggled with anxiety for all of her six short years on this earth. From the moment we picked her up, we’ve worked, with God’s guidance, to help her heal and overcome her anxiety. But like so many things, it’s a process, and while I can definitely say I’d rather the healing be instantaneous, there is also so much more growth and learning, for all involved, when you go through the process.

So every night, as I put her to bed, she goes through what I jokingly refer to as her “call me” list. It’s a list of things, whatever may be bothering her at the moment, and she wants me to tell her to “call me” if they happen. It goes something like this . . .

A: “Call me if there’s a storm . . .”

Me: “Yes, call me if there’s a storm . . .”

A: “Call me if the smoke detector beeps . . . “

Me: “Yes, call me if the smoke detector beeps . . .”

A: “Call me if the bed flies . . . ” (yes I know, it’s funny . . . she saw it on Sesame Street so it’s legit)

Me: “Yes, call me if the bed flies . . . “

And we continue in this direction until she’s both, exhausted her list of current anxieties, and I’ve assured her that she can “call me” if each one happens. And it’s pretty obvious, some of these are possible, some are not, and some are totally ridiculous, but all are incredibly important and real in her concerned, six year old mind.

And you know what I don’t do? No matter how unlikely, or improbable, or downright, silly her worries are, I don’t tell her that her fears are ridiculous or unfounded. Instead, I reassure her that no matter what she’s worried about, real or imagined, she can call me, and I’ll be there for her. I’ll comfort her. Because of this, she’s able to sleep much more peacefully assured that all she has to do is “call me”.

God reminded me the other day that He does the very same for us. For me. How often have I gone to Him completely stressed with small, insignificant, and often seemingly silly, worries? And time and again, He doesn’t shame me or belittle me. Instead He comforts me. He hears me. He answers me.

And just like my daughter, because of this, my confidence in Him grows, my peace grows, and my anxiety lessens, and although, I’d love to not have to go through the process at all, it is only because of the process, the growth, that I’m able to help my daughter through the very same thing. I used to question why God ever allowed me to struggle with anxiety or fear even a little. Why didn’t He just “zap” it out of my mind? But looking back, I know that it’s almost 40 years of going through the process that allows me to walk alongside my daughter with empathy.

I’m a work in progress. We all are. I’m far from perfect, as a parent, as a person, and as a Christian, and I’m going to mess up. But I also know that God is transforming me and working on me through each and every moment. And all I have to do is call Him . . .

“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Psalm 138:8 NKJV

“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NKJV

Copyright 2019, 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.