First Things First . . .

“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

When God gave me these scriptures at the start of 2020, I knew they were relevant in today’s society, I just had no idea how truly relevant they would end up being for this year. As we’ve watched our world and our society devolve into division, and strife, and at times, utter chaos, these words keep returning to my mind time and again.

But this isn’t just true on a large scale. These words are applicable in my own life on a very personal level. And the point at which I often find myself surprised, is that those things which can seem very good to us, even holy, can often cause pretty major damage in our lives if we’re not cautious . . . if we don’t let God guide us . . . and quite honestly, if we’re not willing to say “no” to certain things.

Evil – distress, misery, injury, calamity (from Strong’s 7451b – “ra”);

adveristy, calamity, disaster, evil, harm, harmful, hurt, ruin, surely, trouble, unpleasant, wickedly, wickedness (from the NAS Exhaustive Concordance/NASB Translation – same as “roa”)

Have you ever set out to do something . . . maybe something really good . . . maybe even something “holy”, as I said above . . . only to find yourself striving . . . only to find yourself struggling . . . only to find yourself trying to get through it in your own power because it’s not really something to which you should be giving yourself at that moment?

We all have a calling.

At the most basic level, my calling is always to serve Jesus and minister to those around me.

But how that looks for me has evolved and changed over time. And I’m sure it will continue to change as my life changes.

This year, in the midst of COVID and quarantines, and being forced to slow down, God has been teaching me so much about priorities.

  1. God – Not church – Not ministry – Just God . . . fellowship with Him. A relationship with Him. Prayer and study and worship and seeking Him for guidance in both the big and the little things.
  2. My Marriage – before my kids . . . I know some of y’all flip out about that, but putting your marriage before your kids ensures a much healthier view of marriage for them in the long run . . . before anything else but God.
  3. My kids and our family as a unit – while I used to think that meant being at every meeting, every party, always volunteering . . . God has been showing me that, in this season of life, it’s about creating a home and an environment that is safe and nurturing for them.
  4. Everything else – church, volunteering at school, writing, all the extras . . .

Priorities are why we’ve decided . . . and this is a personal decision that God has placed on my heart . . . that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone so do NOT read into this . . . that for now, I will not work and beyond that, I will limit my volunteer activities. Since Anna has come home, and we’ve learned to adjust to life with a precious and amazing child with some unique and different needs, my job and my calling is literally my family and by extension creating a home where they want to be. Not perfect . . . perfection is an illusion . . .but warm, nurturing, calm, and safe. And on most days, my biggest focus is doing all the things that need to be done, during the day, while the kids are at school and Patrick is at work so that we can guard our family time in the evenings. That’s not to say every night is family night, or we never have other things going on. Anna also goes to bed very early most nights (she leaves for school by 7:00 each morning), and that doesn’t leave a ton of room for “quality time” after school each day. But God has taught me to guard family time because these days are only for a season. There is something very sacred about these days and nights as a family, and it’s so important to me to cherish things like dinner together (most nights) and playing board games. Because honestly, as my kids grow up, I know this will change. I know these evenings at home will become less and less as their schedules become busier. I know one day, in the not so distant future, I’m going to launch my oldest out into the world.

And what God has compelled me to do and convicted me of in this season, and in my life going forward, is to remember to keep my priorities in order. To remember that I have to keep “first things first”, and I have to do what is best for my relationship with Him, my marriage, and my kids before anything else.

That means saying “no” more than I like sometimes . . . no to certain events, no to certain meetings, no to certain volunteering opportunities, no to certain extras, no to working . . . even when it seems like it could be a very good thing our “no” answers make room for the things God wants us to say “yes” to . . . yes to collecting donations and packing shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse . . . yes to heading up Orphan + Stand Sunday at church . . . yes to doing virtual read alouds for Anna’s class . . . yes to helping with certain parties and fundraisers for Andrew’s class . . . yes to, in the very near future, returning to teaching Sunday School . . . and yes, to other things that God is working on in my heart . . . but what I’ve learned is before I jump up and say “yes”, I need to stop and pray. I need to make sure that what seems like a very good thing, isn’t going to do more harm, either short or long term, than good for my family.

And not everyone will always understand that. In Priscilla Shirer’s devotional book Awaken, there’s a quote that says, “Yes, even Jesus – who (unlike us) could do everything – didn’t do everything. He only did the things assigned to Him. The divinely delegated things that were His to complete.”* What I’ve realized is before I’m called out into the world (to church, to the schools, to whatever it is demanding my time and attention), my most important calling, my divine delegation, if you will, is to my husband and children, and that’s no small thing. I do not take that lightly.

You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first.

C.S. Lewis

* Awaken, Priscilla Shirer, Day 30 – One-Track Mind

Copyright 2020, 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

Never Quit, Never Give Up

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was to us.” Romans 5:3-5

“Glory in” – to boast; I glory (exult) proudly (Strong’s 2744 – kauchaomai)

“Tribulations” – persecution, affliction, distress, tribulation (Strong’s 2347 – thlipsis)

Let’s be real honest here . . . this is not the passage of scripture that we look to for all the warm fuzzy feelings. Paul is telling us here to “glory in” tribulations . . . in persecution . . . in affliction . . . in distress . . .

I’ll be very clear. I don’t often find myself in this place. I don’t find myself boasting in things not going my way. I don’t find myself exulting in the hard.

Enter 2020.

While I’ve been able to see so much good in this crazy year that is 2020, I don’t think anyone can look at this year and miss that there has been some tribulation . . . some persecution . . . some affliction . . . some distress . . . and like most, there have been plenty of moments when I’ve wanted to just quit this whole year (not that you can really quit a year, but believe me I would’ve if I could’ve, and for me, quitting is more of a mindset than an action). Regardless, even with being able to see the good, I wouldn’t exactly say that I’ve “gloried” in these past 8ish months and the tribulations that accompanied them. Not even close. But I recently heard someone say, “Let’s not spend so much time wishing this year away that we miss what God is trying to do here.”

And yet, if we are to do what Paul says in Romans 5:3-5, we shouldn’t merely be surviving we should be glorying in the hard. We should be rejoicing in this whole, weird and strange, year. Why? Not because of the tribulation itself. But because of what can come from this tribulation.

Tribulation produces perseverance . . . endurance . . . steadfastness . . .

Perseverance produces character . . . in a world where people want to quit as soon the “going gets tough”, we desperately need the development of character. Because it’s that character that will see us through time and again.

And here’s the great part, every time you push through . . . every time you refuse to quit or give up in the face of tribulation . . . every time you persevere through the hard and allow character to be developed, you also get the benefit of hope. Hope that walks with you through each subsequent trial knowing that God will see you through. We are going to face trials and tribulations in this world. Jesus even said it, and rather than avoid them or hide from them or deny them, we need to face them.

When my son was four, we, maybe, a lot intentionally and a little unintentionally took him on a rather long hike in the Smoky Mountains . . . we knew it was long . . .we . . . okay, I . . . miscalculated how long. We passed no other children, much less four year olds on this hike, and it was definitely a challenge for him. Yet, no matter how difficult it was, he persevered. He never once sat down on that trail and tried to quit. As his little legs propelled him forward, and we encouraged him that he could, indeed, finish this entire trail, he could be heard repeatedly saying, “Never quit! Never give up!” And he didn’t. This was not only a moment of perseverance, but an experience that instilled character in my young four year old. He learned the importance of and the reward that comes from seeing something hard, something trying, through to the end.

And each time he perseveres through another challenge or tribulation . . . learning to play basketball, completing a difficult math assignment, writing a research paper . . . each time we come alongside him, and encourage him (and also occasionally say, “Hey bud, you’re doing great. We’re proud of you, and because we love you, we aren’t going to let you quit.”) . . . a little more character is developed in him. And beyond that a hope, and a confidence in that hope, that carries him through each trial and challenge that is to come.

So when you’re walking through tribulations, glory in them . . . glory in what they’re doing in you . . . glory in persevering . . . glory in the character that is being developed . . . and glory in the hope that comes from walking through and coming out on the other side of something hard. Because that’s when we really realize where our hope is found . . . in a Savior and a Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit that are unchanging and unwavering in the midst of an ever changing and very unsteady world, and no person or thing, no trial or tribulation, no heart ache or heartbreak, no hard moment, season, or even year, can take that hope away.

Copyright 2020, 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

22 Years and Counting . . . On Celebrating It All!

In just a few days . . . four to be exact . . . my husband and I will celebrate 22 years together. Not 22 years married, but 22 years since the day he said, “So do you wanna . . . you know . . . be my girlfriend?” And I said, “Uh . . . yeah!”

Cheesy? Corny? Maybe even seems a little ridiculous???

I mean we’ve been married over 17 years. Is it really necessary to celebrate a dating anniversary after all these years?

And I’ll tell y’all there was probably a time I would’ve laughed and agreed that it’s a little bit much. But here’s the thing, I no longer think so.

If you’ve hung around for a minute or two, you’ve probably seen a couple posts on marriage and relationships. I don’t write a ton on marriage, but it’s something I’ve become incredibly passionate about over the past couple of years. As I’ve watched marriages of people I love fall apart . . . some ending in divorce . . . some staying together but becoming nothing more than glorified roommates . . . I’ve realized we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to stop looking at marriage as something to merely be survived.

And there are a lot of things that go into that.

First, God, your walk with Jesus, has to be first. Period. No ands, ifs, or buts . . . if I may be so cliche.

Second, your spouse has to be second. Second only to God. Yes, before kids. Absolutely, without a doubt, before kids. This is a huge pitfall for many marriages. We let our kids take a place and a space never meant for them. And not only is it detrimental to our marriages, it doesn’t give them a healthy view of marriage. But also, before work, or church, or ministry, or friends, or whatever else holds space in our hearts. Don’t let any of these things take the place meant for your spouse.

A good marriage takes intentionality and work and effort, but it’s definitely worth it.

So, we will celebrate 22 years of being together. I don’t necessarily mean something expensive or elaborate or over the top (I mean we probably would if we could but you know, Tuesday nights with kids . . .). But we will take the time, a moment or two, maybe a couple hours if we can swing it, to remember and acknowledge this day because that’s where all of “this” . . . our family, our lives, our mutual dreams . . . this life we’ve had the immense privilege of building with God leading us . . . started.

We celebrate because we’ve been through a whole heck of a lot together.

We grew up together.

We dated, long distance, for four long years during college.

We’ve been through major losses and heartbreaks and joys and seasons of growth together.

We’ve had huge fights . . . like huge because we’re both super strong willed. But we’ve also laughed and loved and cried together. No one can make me laugh like my husband does.

We’re best friends, but we’re so much more.

So yes, we celebrate the start of it all, and we will celebrate all God has done in our lives.

And that’s one of the key elements I think we often miss. We forget to remember and commemorate. We forget to celebrate (and again, I’m not saying it takes huge gestures and a ton of money . . . it’s about making an effort and acknowledging what you have). We forget to have fun together. We become business partners rather than life partners. We fail to make time for one another. We neglect to put each other before all the other things of this world. I’ve been guilty of it myself. I haven’t always been great or even good at keeping first things first. I’ve probably been downright neglectful of my marriage at times, if I’m being totally honest. But successful, thriving marriages don’t just happen. They aren’t a magical unicorn that some of us get lucky enough to find. And you don’t stay “in love” by chance. It takes work and effort. But it’s the most satisfying and rewarding work you’ll ever do.

So here’s to 22 years . . . and 22 after that . . . and 22 after that . . . it just keeps getting better . . .

Notes: (1) Y’all I am not over here trying to reinvent the wheel. I am NOT a marriage or relationship expert, but what I am is a life long learner. Along with really taking the time to study the Bible and what God says about marriage because He invented it, I’ve made a habit of availing myself to resources and teachers that are marriage experts. Marriage Today is, hands down, my favorite resource. Their books, teachers and teachings, articles, podcasts (The Naked Marriage and all of The XO Podcast Network), etc. offer a multitude of sound, biblical, marriage advice. So that’s where I learn, and I would be remiss to take credit because it’s not me. (2) My (always) caveat to these posts . . . if you are in an abusive (emotional or physical) marriage or relationship, you need to get help ASAP. You need to remove yourself from the situation and work with a licensed counselor/therapist to figure out next steps. If you are in a marriage where your spouse in unfaithful the same goes. If both spouses are willing to do the work, there is a path to reconciliation and redemption, but it starts with getting out of the situation and evaluating what’s happening from a healthy and safe distance. And sadly, sometimes, when a spouse is unrepentant and unwilling to truly change, you have to make the choice to walk away. My marriage posts are always starting from a place of two people, not perfect, but also not abusing one another (and yes, I believe, like it or not, cheating is a form of abuse).

Copyright 2020, 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.

Mountains and Molehills and Sweating Only the Big Stuff . . .

It is the 15th day of October . . .

In the year of our Lord 2020 . . .

It’s 78 degrees outside . . .

Warm and muggy . . .

My 7 year old wants to listen to Christmas music . . .

And I’m here for it.

I’ve never been a “Christmas can only be after Thanksgiving” purist, but I’ve always kind of been of the mindset that you should at least wait until November.

But if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if someone wants to put up their Christmas decorations in October . . . or September.

It doesn’t matter if they want to celebrate their birthday all month long.

It doesn’t matter how many gifts someone chooses to give their children for any holiday . . . how they decorate their house . . . whether or not they own a television or prefer to read books . . . how many kids/pets/plants they have . . . if they eat ice cream for supper . . . none of it is my business.

It’s just crazy to me, the things we pass judgment on that honestly do. not. matter.

That really have no moral or ethical implications.

The things we think make people right or wrong . . . that are nothing more than preferences or opinions.

There are things in the this world that matter. There are battles worth fighting and hills on which we absolutely need to die. But a lot of the things we make a big deal about just don’t matter.

So decorate your house for Christmas today or tomorrow or at the end of November. Let your kids have ice cream for supper or don’t. Paint your house pink (but check with your HOA first ;)).

Worry about the things that matter, but also don’t sweat the things that don’t. Because life is just way too short to create major issues out of minor things and pass judgment on things that really do not matter.

Copyright 2020, 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.

Anxious for Nothing

Drip . . . drop . . . drip . . . drop . . . some days, some weeks, some months . . . the stress just keeps coming. Not in the deluge of a downpour. Not in one isolated event, but in one small thing after another. One more concern. One more worry. One more thing to juggle.

Drip . . . drop . . . drip . . . drop . . . like a leaky faucet, slowly filling the sink until it overflows.

As far as stressful goes, 2020 is one for the history books. There’s not one of us that hasn’t felt the pressure and stress of this year. And last week, I wanted nothing more than to turn that faucet off. I didn’t want one more thing added to my list, good or bad. I didn’t want to think about COVID or the election, about school schedules or masks, or how to keep my family healthy and safe in the middle of all this chaos . . . I just desperately wanted normalcy to return to our world and my life. But the reality is, things are not changing anytime soon, and even when this storm passes, there will always be new storms on the horizon.

As counterintuitive and dysfunctional as it seems, my go to coping mechanism whenever I’m feeling overly stressed has been to fixate on the problems and worry. I can’t pray. I don’t want to pray. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to let it go. I want to worry. I’m comfortable with worry. I welcome worry and wrap myself in it like a warm blanket. As if by worrying, I can exert control over the situation.

I’ve never known a time in my life where I couldn’t find something to worry about. My earliest memories often have me laying in bed at night, all the “what ifs” running a marathon in my head. Worry is the enemy I’ve become far to comfortable and accepting of. I’ve allowed it in where and when I absolutely shouldn’t, and I let it run amuck in my mind and my life.

But it’s wrong.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

It doesn’t say “try to be anxious for nothing”. It doesn’t say “if you can, be anxious for nothing”. It commands us to “be anxious for nothing”. Letting worry and anxiety rule my life is both wrong and unbliblical.

So I did what I could do. I did what I absolutely did not want to do. For me it was putting on my workout clothes and running shoes. It was grabbing my headphones and pushing myself through the desire to do anything other than work out. I turned the praise music up, and as I ran, on a treadmill in the middle of my gym, I worshipped. And as I did, the layers of worry began to fall off. The anxiety began to melt away. The stressors weren’t gone. They still existed . . . they still exist, but I realized, I had no control, and worrying only gave me an illusion of control. Both obvious and reasonable, I know, but so hard to grasp sometimes. I also had an overwhelming sense of peace knowing that the God who created me and loves me is completely in control.

I don’t serve some distant God. I don’t serve a God who sits back and watches as we all spin out of a control. I serve a God who loves me, and you, intimately, deeply, passionately, and unconditionally. This world, this fallen, broken, world, is going to throw things at us. Things that are hard. Things that are heartbreaking. Things that are terrifying. Things that are stressful and tempt us to worry, and we have a choice, I have a choice. I have a choice to let anxiety rule, or I can “be anxious for nothing” . . . whether it be good or bad or somewhere in between, I do not have to choose anxiety. I can throw on my running shoes (or whatever it is that helps me get my head in the right space), and as I’m running it out, I can praise Jesus because this life is but a blip on the radar. My problems are not permanent nor are they definite, and I can choose to believe that God is constantly moving and constantly fighting for me.

Copyright 2020, 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.

A Bit of Clarification

Sometimes, I get a little sassy, and I post things on social media, especially my personal pages, that, albeit unintentionally, kind of stir people up. The other day I was feeling particularly cheeky and posted two things, one on all my pages regarding leadership within the church and idolization of these leaders, and the second on my personal pages that kind of waded into the political realm . . . which I generally have tried to avoid as of late but felt, based upon some messages and page invites I received, I was at a point where I needed to clarify and express my stance on certain things.

The political post, I won’t address here because I’ve expressed my personal beliefs and viewpoints on certain specific issues in a post entitled Uncompromising Beliefs (and you can click on the title to read the post if you’re so inclined), but beyond that, this is not the place where I have any desire to delve into politics.

But the other post, I quickly realized, I probably should’ve saved for this space versus trying to fit it into social media. A lot of the responses were in agreement which is all well and good, and of course, there are those that flat out disagree with what I was saying. Also, well and good. I do not live in a echo chamber where I only expect to hear the voices of those that agree with me. But there were definitely those that I, honestly, don’t feel were fully grasping and/or understanding what I was saying.

Before I go any further I want to clarify, I rarely (read: never intentionally and only if it’s a mistake on my part, and if it is, I will acknowledge it and apologize should the Holy Spirit bring it to my attention) post anything regarding biblical insight where I don’t feel passionately that God is teaching me and prompting me to share. Sometimes I take pages and pages of notes and never share a single word, but other times, I just feel like I need to share even if there are those that see things differently. The reality is, we’re not going to all agree all of the time, and that. is. okay.

So without further ado . . .

I’ve been working my way through the book of Acts for the past few weeks. I’ve read Acts, in its entirety countless times, but I don’t remember the last time I read it from beginning to end. And I don’t know that I’ve ever read it, in its entirety, where I took the time to take the scriptures back to the original text and meanings. If you’re a believer I encourage you to take some time to spend in the book of Acts, reading it on your own, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and really study it. There is so much wisdom there, but it’s also our history, the history of the church, in its earliest days. And it’s incredibly insightful and important that we read and understand it.

Setting the scene: Acts 14:8-18 – Paul and Barnabas are in Lystra, Paul tells a man, who was “a cripple from his mother’s womb” to get up and “walk”, and guess what? The scriptures say he lept up.

Sidebar: I don’t believe the days of miracles have passed away. I often hear people say, “Well God’s not going to change their ______ or grow a new ______ or make their ______ disappear.” Truth is, I not only believe He can, but He does. While I don’t have all the answers as to why some receive healing on earth while others wait for heaven, it’s not going to stop me for praying and believing for miracles. Moving on . . .

“Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God , who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them . . . “ Acts 14:11-15

Those scriptures led me to share these words:

“Some thoughts as I read Acts 14 this morning. The leaders in the church (speaking of the body of Christ as a whole) are so important. They’ve been gifted by God to teach and lead, but we must be very careful that we don’t shift from holding them in high regard w/respect to idolizing and worshipping them. Paul and Barnabas were greatly grieved at being worshipped and emphasized that they were just men. So many leaders are not grieved at the concept being worshipped by the church. And although it may not look the same, I believe there is worship of men and women in the church today … where even when their “interpretations” (and I use that term incredibly loosely) of God’s word are not sound and their “revelations” are contradictory to the truth of the Bible we still accept it because of who they are. And that doesn’t even get into the the hero worship of political leaders which I’m not going to discuss today other than to say, both are so dangerous. God has given each of us the ability to read and understand the Bible through and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That’s not to say that we can’t learn from and do not need the guidance of church leaders, but we need to pray that as we study the word and listen to, read, and study teachings that truth is revealed to us. And if it’s out of context and/or contradicts the word and the nature of God in any way, it shouldn’t be accepted.”

And while I felt I was pretty clear, it seems that some things need to be clarified (obviously the word of the day). As I was reading this chapter in Acts, I first saw it through the lens of a society where idol worship was rampant, and it’s somewhat easy to say, “Well we don’t live in that kind of society,” or at the very least, “In the church, we don’t have that issue.” But that’s where the Holy Spirit placed a check in my own thoughts. Because here’s the thing, we do often hold men and women leaders in the church up as infallible when they are not.

Does that mean we don’t respect, honor, learn from, and come under the leadership and authority of men and women of God? Absolutely not. I have certain Christian pastors and evangelists for whom I have the utmost respect, and I do take the time to listen to their teachings and learn from their guidance. I also believe in the importance of the authority of pastors over the local churches where they have been called. We need to be learning and hearing from the men and women of God. We need teachers, preachers, evangelists . . .

But I will never just take what someone is saying and regurgitate it. I will always, first, take it back to the word and see if it lines up biblically, and in the cases where the interpretation and revelation of the scripture are questionable, where the proverbial red flags start to go up, I start by taking it in context of the entire passage of scripture. I also go back, as much as I can, to the original text when word meanings and interpretations come into play. I pray for the the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth, not what I want the truth to be, but the actual truth of the word of God. I pray for wisdom and understanding. And if that interpretation or revelation doesn’t line up biblically, no matter how much I love that person, I won’t accept that teaching as truth.

Does that mean that I write them off and never learn from them in the future? Does it mean that I still don’t hold them in high regard and respect and honor them? Again, absolutely not. But what it does mean is that I know that they’re not perfect, they’re human (we’re all human), and I have a responsibility, as both a follower of Christ and a leader, to do the best I can to be certain that what I’m both taking in and putting out is biblically sound.

And that, to me, is the fine line between honoring, respecting, and coming under someone’s leadership versus idolizing them. Because when we idolize someone, we think they can do no wrong and cannot be wrong, and we never question their teachings. And that is incredibly dangerous. But when we see church leaders as God intended, imperfect men and women brought to teach us and lead us despite their imperfections, then we realize it’s okay and actually, biblical, to go back to the Bible ourselves and seek the Holy Spirit for wisdom regarding what we are being taught, and I’d venture that is precisely what truly Godly leaders want us to do.

Sidebar number 2: I am NOT saying we go around stirring up strife and spend all our time denouncing people we think are wrong. I don’t think that brings much in the way of edification to the body of Christ except in very particular circumstances where the person is purposefully and clearly misleading believers for personal gain or where the teachings are continually and obviously contradictory to the bible. It’s also important to note that the absolutes, acceptance of Jesus being the only way, His death and resurrection, the Holy Trinity, etc. are never up for interpretation or debate, but there are parts of the bible very much open to interpretation by both individuals and denominations within Christianity. If we’re reading, praying, studying, and asking God to help us, He will. He will reveal the truth of His word to each of us. But again, we need, spiritual leaders in our lives. I’m in no way saying we don’t.

Resource Note: I often use Bible Hub and Strong’s concordance when I study. There are debates about Strong’s, but as a whole, I feel it’s a reliable resource. I’ll also read various commentaries on things that I’m having trouble grasping, and sometimes, I just have to let certain things lie for a while trusting the Holy Spirit to reveal truth as it’s appropriate. Because we see things through the slant of our circumstances, it’s important to know that will affect all of our interpretations from time to time.

Copyright 2020, 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 Kids . . . Growing Up, Getting Older, & All Those Birthdays

“Don’t blink . . . “

“Babies don’t keep.”

“They grow up too fast.”

All the clichés . . .

In less than two weeks my oldest will turn thirteen. Thirteen! I will officially have a teenager, and when I look at this man child, who is taller than me and almost outweighs me, I wonder how on earth we got here. There’s a tiny drop of bitter that goes with the sweet of each passing year, but even more, there’s this huge privilege that comes with watching our kids grow into who God created them to be.

My baby boy came into this world in a whirlwind, five weeks early, amidst major complications. Statistics and science tell us he shouldn’t have lived, or at the very least, he should’ve had major medical and developmental issues. The doctors and nurses were astounded at the strength and health in that tiny four and a half pound body. They called him our miracle boy. And here we are, almost thirteen years later . . . he’s still our miracle boy.

I don’t take any of this for granted. I don’t for a second take for granted the absolute blessing it is to be able to watch my children grow up, and I always try to be mindful of those who don’t have their miracle babies to hold and love . . . of those who’ve suffered devastating loss and indescribable pain and heartbreak. I don’t have all the answers, nor will I pretend to this side of heaven. Just know there is a God who loves you deeply, completely, and unconditionally.

It is such an honor to raise both of these children. Two of the liveliest, most passionate, funniest, slightly stubborn, and most amazing people I know. Two young people, who came to us in two very different ways. Yet, they both defy the odds of their history on a daily basis, and I am so aware that each milestone, each step of growth and development, is one to be celebrated.

That’s not to say there aren’t hard days . . . exhausting days . . . days when I just want them to go to school or bed . . . either way. I would be remiss in not owning up to those things, and every single mother, admit it or not, would say the same. But even on the hardest of days, there’s always a tinge of sadness that accompanies another passing year. There’s always some bitter with the sweet, but I decided a long time ago, to give myself a moment as each birthday comes . . . a moment to reflect, to be a bit sad, to think back and wonder where the time has gone . . . and then I shift my focus. Because I want to focus far more on the sweet than the bitter. I don’t want to wish away the hours, but I also don’t want to dwell on the past.

In just under six years, our boy will be off to college only to return for holidays and breaks. While six years seems like a long time, y’all it’s not. It’s a snap of the fingers. A blink of the eye. Both of my babies are far from babies anymore. Both are very much in the process of growing into their own people with all of their own feelings and motivations and opinions . . . boy do they have opinions. While their paths may not be identical, and maybe even different than what we envisioned . . . God doesn’t call us to raise children the way we want them to go . . . . He calls us to raise them the way He wants them to go . . . watching what they’ve overcome, makes us embrace and celebrate each passing year and each moment of growth rather than lament them “growing up”.

As parents we want to raise our children to be as independent as they’re capable of being. To grow into the person God wants them and created to them to be. And then one day, we hope and pray, they are able to launch out into that great big world confident in who they are, knowing that they’ll always have our support, but no longer our step by step guidance. And (for most children) there comes a time when we have to “cut the cord” so to speak. Where we complete the shift from the parenting relationship . . . where we guide, provide, and raise . . . to a friend relationship where we come side by side with them as equals. Because that is God’s design. He created us to grow in families and be sheltered, nurtured, provided for, encouraged, and taught by our parents. But that was never intended to be forever. We’re also meant to fly. To grow up and build lives of our own.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife . . . ” Genesis 2:24

“Leave” – forsake and loose (Strong’s Concordance 5800a. – “azab”)

So as we move into these teenage years, I’ll look back on all the birthdays we’ve celebrated and embrace the memories. But I refuse to mourn what has passed. Instead I’ll celebrate the past and look forward to the future in all of its unique beauty. And together, as parents of both of our kiddos, we’ll continue to be here, to guide and protect for a little while longer as we help them find the path God has for them.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Copyright 2020, 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.

Wisdom in Bits and Pieces

I’m 39 years (plus a few months) old . . . for those that care . . . but also, for those that don’t . . . ’cause y’all know I’m telling you either way. In less than nine months, I’ll turn 40, and I find that this impending birthday, one that most people dread, is one to which I look forward. Not only because it’s not happening in 2020. Can I get an amen??? But, getting older has never really bothered me, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the morsels of wisdom I’ve acquired over the past 39 years. So here they are . . . 29 of them because although that number has absolutely no significance, and that in itself kind of makes me twitch, it’s what I came up with . . .

  1. Clean your kitchen every night . . . you won’t ever regret it. There’s nothing worse than waking up to a mess in the morning.
  2. If you don’t like your hair gray, color it. That’s your prerogative.
  3. Make your bed . . . most days . . . but on the days you don’t that’s okay too.
  4. Every time you open a fresh bag of coffee take a deep breath. There’s no better smell.
  5. Sleep and sunscreen keep the wrinkles away . . . but stock up on both before you have kids . . . because once you have them, you’ll never sleep again. 😉
  6. Exercise most days . . . rest too. Balance is a thing.
  7. Eat your vegetables and also, sometimes, eat dessert. Again with the balance.
  8. Read your bible.
  9. Pray. Then pray some more. It’s not “all you can do”. It’s the best thing you can do.
  10. The most perfect parents don’t have any kids. The longer you parent, the more you realize, you’re no expert. Having kids will make you eat every single time you uttered the words, “When I have kids, they will never . . . “. They will. I promise they will.
  11. If you home school . . . you’re right. If you send your kids to private school . . . you’re right. If you enroll them in public school . . . you’re right. Just educate them young’uns . . . however it works for you.
  12. Buy yourself flowers or coffee or chocolate . . . whatever it is that floats your boat. Don’t wait for someone else. Buy it for yourself.
  13. We’re not all the same. God did that on purpose.
  14. Social media is a fantastic tool, but it’s not reality. Don’t let it dictate your life.
  15. And also, don’t fight with people on other people’s posts (or even your own). Move on, unfriend, unfollow, ignore . . . whatever . . . just don’t engage.
  16. Be strong enough to be independent, but also, be soft enough to form relationships where you’re dependent on others.
  17. Your children should never be the priority in your marriage. If you want them to grow up with a healthy view of marriage, put God first (God . . . not ministry, not the church, just God . . . and for the record I believe in both church and the ministry so don’t come at me), your spouse second, and your kids third. Always and forever.
  18. Date your spouse. It sounds cheesy and goofy and maybe even, pointless . . . I mean you live together . . . it’s not.
  19. Don’t be late. It tells others their time isn’t valuable to you. But if you are late, apologize profusely and do better next time.
  20. On the flip side, extend grace. Every chance you get. Give it. You’ll need it.
  21. Separate those bananas . . . if they’re getting too ripe . . . separate those suckers. It’ll buy you at least an hour more.
  22. Read books . . . for no other reason than enjoyment.
  23. Vote . . . even when all the choices stink . . . still vote because it’s both a privilege and a right.
  24. Travel.
  25. Eat good food.
  26. Laugh and cry, they’re both important.
  27. Grieve loved ones lost.
  28. Cherish those still living.
  29. And remember . . . perfection is so overrated.
Copyright 2020, 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

The Shift . . .

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

The air is cool in Texas today. And though the heat will return, it has ushered in those first hints of fall. The promise of cooler days after a long, hot, dry summer. The shifting of seasons has begun.

As each season ends, and a new one begins, I always find myself ready. Even in my part of Texas, where our longest season is summer and the lines between seasons are blurred, I’m still ready for the changes that come . . . however subtle they may be.

It’s not only the change in temperature . . . the shortening or lengthening of the days . . . the different holidays . . . that each season brings. It’s the reminder that nothing is permanent. That no matter where we are today, nothing is forever. And while there are seasons, good seasons, that we wish would last indefinitely. It’s in the differing seasons, the ebb and flow, the ups and downs that stretch and challenge us, that we grow.

For so many, this year has been hard. There is no other word for it but hard. It has brought trials and grief, loss and heartache, and on some days those hits just seem to keep coming. It seems as if it will never end. But if we take a moment to read these words from Ecclesiastes 3, words penned thousands of years ago yet so seemingly relevant to our current times, we realize that as long as the world has turned, there have been both seasons of horrible devastation and seasons of indescribable beauty, often running, not end to end or back to back but simultaneously. It’s one of the greatest contradictions and gifts we’re given in this life, the fact that we can experience immense grief and huge joy concurrently.

This season will end, and with it a new season will enter, and the cycle will continue until our lives on this earth are over. But the one thing we can count on, the one constant and steady in the midst of all the shifting seasons, in both the beautiful and the heartbreaking, is God. He never changes. He’s never unreliable. He promises in Deuteronomy 31:6 that “He will never leave you nor forsake you”. He loved us, He loves us, enough that He sent His son as the eternal sacrifice for our sins, and He sent the Holy Spirit to both comfort and guide us. And in a world that is often uncertain and ever changing, that is what we can count on. That is what we can press into no matter what season we are in.

Copyright 2020, 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.

The Sound of Comfort

I laid in bed in those quiet early morning hours and listened to the whistle of the train in the distance . . . it blows each morning long before the sun starts to make its way into the sky . . . dependable. . . steady. . . reliable.

What is an annoyance to some stirs up nostalgia for me. I grew up in the small Texas town of Luling. A river town that exploded with the oil boom of the early 1900s but was built by the railroad years before. A town known for oil, barbecue, watermelon, and trains. A town known, in its long forgotten rowdier days, as “the toughest town in Texas”. A town where secrets don’t exist . . . don’t even try . . . it’s impossible to keep a secret in Luling, and where you can’t walk down the street without meeting someone you know. A town where “oldish” men (sorry, Dad), and a few women as well, meet for coffee as the sun rises, and win or lose, high school football games reign supreme on even the hottest of fall Friday nights. The town where I grew up, met my husband, graduated from high school, and got married. The town to which I’ll always return for holidays, reunions, weddings, and to say my last goodbyes to old friends and beloved family members.

The railroad tracks run right through the center of town. At any time of the day or night, you run the risk of being stopped by one of the many trains that make their way through each day. In my teenage years, there was little doubt that if I was running late I would be on the opposite side of the tracks from my destination, and a slow train would have the impeccable timing of crawling its way through town clinching the certainty of my late arrival.

But the sound of those trains . . .

I lived just a block away from the tracks that split our town down the middle. I’ve always been a restless sleeper, and many a night, I would lay in bed in listen as the trains whistled their way through our sleeping little city. Those whistles that would seem so disruptive if you weren’t used to them, brought comfort . . . in those drama filled, ever changing, junior high and high school years . . . as I packed up to leave for college knowing I’d only return home to visit . . . on weekends home, seeing old friends at hometown football games and feeling the sameness of being back and yet, a new unfamiliarity that comes once you’ve left home and spread your wings a bit . . . over the decades as life has changed and I’ve grown older . . . I’ve always known, I still know, I can set my watch by the sound of those trains . . . dependable . . . steady . . . reliable.

I don’t live far from my hometown even now. Still, it’s not often find myself back home, flying through town, trying to beat a train, but I can guarantee that if I am home and running late, I’ll catch a train every single time. I can also guarantee that in our ever changing world, no matter where I am or where I travel, there will always be comfort in the sound of a train whistle, and I no longer mind so much sitting and waiting as a train passes by.

Copyright 2020, 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.