Just Jesus

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

Isn’t it amazing how we as humans will latch onto all the bad news, the fear mongering, the conspiracy theories, the attacks on others, the arguing, the backbiting . . . and we don’t just read or watch it and go on . . . we dwell there . . . we feed on it . . . we dive deep into it . . . and we perpetuate it . . .

I’m as guilty as anyone, and I think we all have a tendency to justify dwelling on and sharing the “ugly” by saying we’re just being informed. But here’s the thing, I think it’s incredibly important to be informed, and I definitely think we are called to be truth and light. The bible tells us we are to “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16) so, as I’ve said before, you’ll never find me buying into the a “denial of reality” theology. But I think it’s important to remember that reality isn’t always what we see (or watch or read) directly in front of our faces.

So in sharing, in speaking, in writing, and even more so in choosing where I’m going to dwell, where I’m going to live my life, I’m more and more convicted that I need to question myself and those giving the “information” before I decide to camp there.

  1. Is it true? Strong’s (227) actually has “true in fact” as one of the usages of this word. Yesterday, I was asked what a “false fact” is, and I explained that when I was teaching we called them “nonfacts” . . . information, presented as fact that in reality is false. Basically, a lie. And the world is full of people, from every walk of life, political persuasion, and even religion, presenting false facts, lies, as facts and truth because it is to their benefit (just turn on any . . . yes, I said “any” news station and you’ll see this). We have to be cautious in what we buy into and what we believe, and if I can’t verify it’s truth, then I need to be very careful in putting it out there and absolutely cannot let it become my dwelling place.
  2. Is it noble? Even if it’s true, is it noble? One of the words used for noble in Strong’s Concordance (4586) is “honorable”. Is what I’m saying and dwelling in honorable?
  3. Is it just? Strong’s (1342) says “righteous” and “correct”. Is what I’m saying, writing, sharing, and believing both “righteous” and “correct”?
  4. Is it pure, lovely, and of good report? Does it have virtue and is it praiseworthy? All pretty self explanatory. And honestly, not always easy.

So what if it’s not a “yes” to all of these things . . . starting with truth but building from there? Should I acknowledge it? I can and may have to. I acknowledge, that right now there is a very real pandemic that can be deadly and dangerous for many. I acknowledge that there are things we need to do to be cautious and considerate and to protect ourselves and others. But at the same time, I refuse to sit and dwell on the numbers, the news reports, and the statistics. And when the fear starts to creep in, and it does for me as it does for many others, I return to Psalm 91 over and over again. That is where I choose to dwell.

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where sin is rampant and “bad” is often the reality we see. But acknowledging that reality does not mean ruminating and dwelling on it, whether it be a news story, a conspiracy theory (which y’all stop with the conspiracy theories . . . please . . . they’re not healthy for you mentally, emotionally, and dare I say, spiritually . . .) whatever it’s source may be.

Jesus himself said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) . . . the “world” where everything is not always going to go our way . . . where in the natural things are not always going to look “good” . . . where no matter what we face, come pandemics, economies crashing, natural disasters, or whomever is in office (seriously, stop making yourself sick over this because guess what? No matter who is in office Jesus is still King . . . we say it . . . now act like it) . . . Jesus is the ONE that has overcome it all, and that is where our focus must land, over and over, time and again.

These words from one of my favorite songs have been running through my head, on repeat these past couple of days, “Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus, You can have all this world, But give me Jesus . . .”*. Start to finish, whatever comes or doesn’t, through Him, we are more than conquerors, and I’ll set up camp with Him any day.

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.
*From the African American Spiritual, Give Me Jesus 

The One Where I Have a Little Meltdown . . . You’re Welcome

I’m generally pretty good when it comes to dealing with things that don’t go my way. I’m not the most flexible person when it comes to schedule interruptions, but when hard things come our way, I’m pretty good at the getting over it and getting on with life. I’ve very much a realist. I always try to see the good in everything. I pretty much believe there is a solution to every problem, but you’ll rarely find me living in the land of denial.

Sometimes, however, I just have a moment . . . or a few hours . . . or maybe even a couple days . . . and honestly, that’s what happened this week. All of it kind of hit me. It wasn’t/isn’t just that I’m tired of all of this. It went beyond that. I just felt such immense disappointment and overwhelmed by all the things.

I love my children more than life itself. But, with the exception of a few short hours here and there and of course, while they’re sleeping, I’ve been with them almost continually since March 13th. A little background . . .

My youngest was adopted, from an orphanage, at almost three and has some special needs due to what she endured in that orphanage . . . some developmental but more emotional and sensory. I don’t talk about them a ton, mostly because she deserves both privacy and protection. She’s an absolute rock star. She’s made massive progress since coming home, and God’s faithfulness has been beyond evident. While, this time has been good for her in many ways, in other ways, it has made her more clingy and anxious as she tries to navigate so much uncertainty. I know other kids are feeling major anxiety right now and may have seemingly similar issues, but adopted and special needs kiddos are just different . . . put adoption and special needs together, and it can be rough. There is a deep seated fear of abandonment coupled with the effects on the brain from past starvation and neglect . . . it’s like comparing apples to broccoli. She is right by my side for a large portion of her waking hours and has had, over the course of the past five months, a handful of pretty big meltdowns. She needs a lot of stimulation and a lot of attention, and we continue to work on all of her academic, social, and emotional skills as well. I adore her. So very much. I adore her kisses and hugs and cuddles, but as someone who needs space and quiet to recharge, the nonstop-ness of it all can leave me drained. And y’all let me add, it’s the middle of the summer, and I’ve read The Night Before Christmas 875 times since March 13th. Jesus take the wheel. The blessing with this kiddo is she’s a pretty awesome and mostly peaceful sleeper . . . many of the other parents have joked that we adopted the only Bulgarian kiddo that likes to sleep.

Then there’s my oldest. He’s sweet, and independent, and helpful, and intelligent . . . but he’s almost 13 and very hormonal. Do I need to say anymore??? Why did God create puberty <insert face palm right here>??? (That’s rhetorical . . . no need to answer . . .) This (man) child has never been a sleeper. And now, he thinks that means he should get to stay up late, with my husband and me, which often leads to lots of heavy sighs, and I’m sure covert eye rolls when we finally make him go to bed (yes, we compromise with him . . . he’s not going to bed at 8:00 p.m.).

My husband often works six or seven days a week and many evenings, and our time together, without any interruptions, is usually relegated to ten o’clock (or later) at night. We’ve never been the type to go on weekly or even monthly dates, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not worked out that way for us. But the fact that we haven’t really done anything alone together since early March coupled with absolutely no dates and cancelling two different trips sans kids (and dog), the pandemic, that in person school for Anna will not start until at least mid-September (and I completely agree with that decision but . . . wahhhh!!!), Patrick’s insane and long working hours . . . which let me say: (1) I’m so thankful for a husband that works so hard to provide for his family so do not hear me wrong and (2) I’m even more thankful for God’s provision at this time . . . and the Groundhog-esque Day situation in which we now find ourselves . . .

I. Had. A. Moment.

That’s it.

If you’ve read this far, you just read a whole heck of a lot of whining, but sometimes you just have to get it all out. And sometimes others need to know you’re right there with them. Even if our situations aren’t exactly, or even close to, the same, a lot of us are at the point where tired has now become the understatement of the year. We’re weary and fatigued, and we feel like there’s no right answer or solution. So I’m here to say, I get it. I get how you’re feeling.

Of course, in the middle of this pity party, I realized that it’s fine to have a moment, my feelings and frustrations are valid as are yours, but I can’t live in this place of disappointment and frustration. I also really did not want to stop feeling sorry for myself. And I absolutely did not want to pray or ask God to help me to work through and process all of this. I half heartedly asked for help, hopeful that I’d be left alone to my own feelings, and God immediately brought this scripture back to my mind <insert smirk here> . . .

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

Here’s the thing, this has been a scripture which God has brought back to my attention, on repeat, for over two years. I’m not great at it. I tend to ruminate on things and let anxiety and emotions build to the point of almost exploding. But I do see small steps toward progress. I’ve gotten better at stepping back and verbalizing what I’m feeling in a way that is more healthy than just lashing out at those around me (better does not equal perfect), and I’ve become much more aware of where my thoughts land. But it’s not an overnight thing. It’s about learning to lean in to God, and the key is not in anything I do or say, but in those last seven words, “O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer”. None of this can be done in my own power. On my own, the most I can accomplish will be behavior modification, but with His strength and redemption I have no doubt I can see a major heart transformation. We all can. And with Him, those things that affect us today can become nothing more than a passing annoyance, if even that, in the future.

So if you’re feeling all the feelings today, I totally empathize. I’m with you, and I’m praying for you.

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 Point at Which We. Are. All. Done. (Alternately, “Are We There Yet?”)

I got up this morning. Poured my coffee . . . read my bible . . . prayed . . .waited on my husband to bring me a taco . . . can I get an “Amen!”?

And I was going to write a very inspiring . . . or not . . . probably not . . . but most certainly, scripturally sound post . . .

Maybe about how we, as Christians, measure different sins differently. Yet, in God’s eyes sin is sin. And we need to take a good, long look at ourselves before pointing fingers.

Maybe about how we should stop being led by what we want to be right and our opinions, following after every crazy whim that comes along, and actually take the time to seek God and do some research before buying into something.

Maybe about how we aren’t promised an easy, perfect life.

Yep, I was in some kind of mood about all the things. And I was going to set the record straight. I was going to use God’s word to make sure everyone, myself included, knew all the ways we need to do better.

I mean I had scriptures to back these things up, and I was ready to swing that big sword.

But then, instead, I googled “Photos of (fill in the blank with all the beautiful places on this planet), and I started clicking through hundreds of breathtaking photos. Some of places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. Some of places I want to visit. Most with mountains . . . because I’ve yet to meet a mountain range I didn’t love . . . large or small, arid or lush, they’re all majestic to me. And while you might think looking at these photos would bring a huge sense of longing when we cannot really go anywhere (thanks COVID), I found it instead brought me a sense of peace. I believe that sometimes God corrects and disciplines us directly, but other times He just gives us a little nudge, through the Holy Spirit, and tells us to google His beautiful creation. Because seeing these pictures served as a huge reminder to me that it’s not my job to fix the world. It’s not even my job to fix those in my immediate circle. I cannot (and most certainly, should not) be in control of everything and everyone, but I know the ONE who is. And believe me, He knows what’s going on.

You see, we’re all sick of it all.

We’re sick of the pandemic.

We’re sick of the politics.

We’re sick of making choices that don’t seem to have a right answer.

We’re sick of the ugly, the pain, and the hurt.

We. Are. All. Over. It. Thank you 2020 for being the year we’ll never forget and don’t want to remember, but also, 2020 has taught me some stuff so there’s that.

And because we are all summarily fed up, we grasp at any thing that promises relief. What that “thing” will be often depends on our own personalities and bents. For some, if staying home longer and wearing masks promises relief . . . we’re there. For others, if opening up the economy and letting this thing run its course promises relief . . . we’re there. For others it may be a drug or a, seemingly, off the wall solution. But we’re all trying. We’re all grasping. And we all want school to start again. Please . . .

In the process . . . in the pursuit of relief and the need to be right and in control . . . because humans do not like being out of control . . . can I get another “Amen!”? We often fail to be kind. We often fail to be gracious. We just often fail.

So I’m here to tell you to turn off the news . . . and facebook (for the love . . . just close the app) . . . and YouTube . . . and go look at pictures of mountains . . . or beautiful beaches and deep blue oceans . . . or vast deserts. Go outside and look at the sky. Take in the deep colors of a sunrise and a sky painted with stars. And remember that the God that created all of that beauty, knows. He knows you. He knows me. He cares about all of us. Deeply. Far more than anything He created, He cares about humankind. And He most definitely is in control.

We’re not going to all agree. Ever. And that’s okay. If you know me, you know I’ve been known to utter the words “Jesus take the wheel” from time to time (thank you Carrie Underwood for the song that brought the words). And I know that it can sound like a joke, and there are those that probably think it’s irreverent, but the reality is, it’s my four word prayer wrapped in a little bit of humor which I’m sure Jesus understands. It’s my admission that even though I’m the world’s best control freak, I want to stop driving my own car. Because y’all, I’m just not that good of a driver.

I like, dare I say “love”, being right. But when it comes at the expense of loving others, it’s just not worth it. It matters far more that we extend grace and love, not only to one another but also, to a world that is lost and searching. And ultimately, that we love and trust the ONE who created this beautiful world from the grandest mountains to the smallest flower. Because He’s not just a god of details, He is the God of details, and He most definitely has us.

“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” Psalm 147:4

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?” Luke 12:27-28 (And definitely take a minute to read this whole passage. It’s very worth 30 seconds of your 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.

A Pinch of Salt, A Pound of Grace

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:6

I don’t always or even often, do well with this . . . letting my “speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt” . . .

I tend to speak before thinking. I have been known to be guilty of having more interest in being right, than being gracious.

The truth is, I do not always have to answer every thing. Whether I agree with what a person saying or not . . . whether what is being said is right or wrong . . . I first need to ask myself why I’m answering the way I am. I first need to seek God . . . before speaking . . . before writing . . . before sharing . . . because at the end of the day, if being right, if setting the record straight, does more damage than good, is it worth it? If it pushes people away from God rather than closer to Him . . . if it hurts my witness . . . then it most certainly is not.

God made us each unique. We have different personalities, different passions, different ways of reacting and responding . . . I believe those differences were very intentional on His part . . . and that means that we can love God and Jesus, and yet, have very different feelings about the same situations (I’m not talking about moral and biblical absolutes here . . . wrong is wrong and sin remains sin . . . that doesn’t change). We can disagree about what we believe and how to handle certain situations and voice our opinions about those things, but we need to first seek God on how we should do that. And rather than stand in judgment because our friends and acquaintances think differently, we, can offer grace upon grace. And yes, we can season it with salt, with truth, but we must remember that a little salt goes a long way, and it’s much more difficult to overdo grace than salt. And at the end of the day, the world would be a rather boring place if we were all formed from the exact same mold.

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.

Two Wrongs . . .

“Two wrongs don’t make one right. Two wrongs won’t right a wrong.”

Dr. Benjamin Rush

“Self Justification – when a person encounters cognitive dissonance, or a situation in which a person’s behavior is inconsistent with their beliefs, that person tends to justify the behavior and deny any negative feedback associated with the behavior.” (Wikipedia)

I’m a Christian . . . a cover to cover, literal bible believing, every single word, jot, and tittle . . . Christian. I believe salvation and forgiveness come only through Jesus Christ; I believe in the sanctity of life from the moment of conception; I fully support marriage and relationships as God created them from the beginning . . . the list goes on. Agree with me or don’t, but none of those things are up for debate. They are absolutes based on God’s Word.

I write that because I think it’s important that people understand exactly where I stand. And while I completely believe in and desire to live out those things, I cannot do it while ignoring the rest of what God has told me to walk out in His word.

He has called us, as Christians, to be different. Yes, God’s judgment is always righteous, and always, always, always (I cannot emphasize that enough) comes from a place of desiring what is best for His creation because God’s motives are always pure. My own judgments, even when on the surface they seem right? Well, sometimes the motives behind the judgment are the bigger issue. My judgment may be biblically sound, but the motive, not so much. When our motives, my motives, come, not from a place of love and desiring what is best for others, but from a place of wanting God to “get those sinners” that is a problem. And when I try to justify wrong actions, by saying I’m standing up for what is right, then the problem grows exponentially while my witness is also completely minimized.

God has called us to reach a world that is lost and confused and searching. And He has called us to reach them through both love and compassion. Trying to scare people out of hell and into heaven has never been particularly effective, and yet, we continue to do it. While there are most definitely moral absolutes in the bible (see above), there are also many things we tend to hold up as absolutes, especially as Christians in the United States, that are not addressed biblically*. They aren’t the moral absolutes of God but the opinions of man (this includes my opinions as well), and I see Christians, daily, trying to justify their opinions (which are neither inherently right or wrong) through wrong actions and responses by measuring them against those of the world. Sorry folks, that just doesn’t cut it. Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong, and you’ll never justify it by saying “Well ____________ did it first.”

“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:1-4, NLT

I think, too often, we look at non-Christians and expect them to behave as if they’re saved . . . newsflash, we shouldn’t . . . while we simultaneously excuse and even cheer on bad behavior from Christians. I look back at all the times I’ve done this very thing, and I pray that God will change that in me.

“Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?’ This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’ Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’ ” John 8:2-12, NKJV

Jesus never excused sin. Not the obvious sin of the woman in adultery, nor the hidden sin of wrong motives from those about to cast stones. He called them all on it, but He did it not to condemn but to draw them to Him.

I’d like to think that I wouldn’t be standing there with a stone in my hand, but the truth is, I’ve been standing there with a stone in my hand more than I care to admit. I’ve justified my wrong actions and motives with the sins of others countless times, and as the saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right.

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.’ ” 1 Peter 3:9-12, NLT

*Note . . . I love our country. I am proud of where I live and where I’m from. I respect and pray for our leaders, but I refuse to hold them in a position in my own heart that God never intended for them or idolize them as more than they are (no matter who it is or how much support them). So don’t even think of coming at 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.

I Choose You . . .

Today is my 17th wedding anniversary. My seven year old, like so many little girls, is quite fascinated with all things wedding . . . especially all that sparkles and shines. And yesterday, when my husband told her that today is our anniversary she insisted on pulling out my wedding dress to play in and looking at pictures from our wedding day. As I was digging out the photo albums, I realized that the only photo we have on display from our wedding is this one, a candid shot from our reception, taken from a distance . . .

It’s not that our wedding and wedding day weren’t wonderful. They were. Many people told me before our wedding day that I wouldn’t remember a second of it because I’d be stressed and distracted so I made a point of being present in the moment, of enjoying the day and taking the time to soak it all in. And I have the best memories from our wedding and reception. No, it wasn’t the lack of a wonderful wedding day that has caused me to relegate our wedding photos to an album stuck in the back of a cabinet, but actually because of it.

You see, that day, July 12, 2003 wasn’t the culmination, the peak, or the height of our relationship. Our wedding was fun. Our wedding was special. Our wedding was beautiful, and I think weddings are incredibly important, not for the dress, the flowers, the people in attendance, or the party, but because they are the beginning of a covenant relationship between a husband, a wife, and God. And at the end of the day, it isn’t about a wedding, but about a marriage . . . it’s about the commitment and the covenant . . . becoming a better person than you were the day before, learning to love selflessly, forgiving when it seems impossible, putting someone else’s needs before you own . . .

So often I see young couples, especially brides, living for the wedding day . . . and again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being excited about and dreaming about that day . . . there is nothing wrong with a beautiful gown and an amazing celebration, but your wedding day is just the start of the ultimate race. Not everyday is perfect. Not everyday is easy. A lot of days will be downright hard. Sometimes it will seem like you’re running straight uphill, in 100 degree temps, and 95% humidity, and sometimes, you’ll feel the sweet relief of a cool breeze and settle into such a good forward pace that you forget that hills lay behind you. But with each step forward you’re building something. Something even more amazing, and wonderful, and beautiful than your actual wedding day.

And that is why, we have one photo of our wedding day marking the beginning of what was to come, but our walls are covered, not in photos from that day, but with photos of our family in various stages over the years. Photos from the early days of marriage that morphed into years with babies and toddlers and eventually, a soon to be teenager. Photos of places visited and adventures from both near and far. Photos that memorialize the beautiful and the hard . . . that tell the story, thus far, of an incredible life built, by the grace of a very generous Heavenly Father, between two people.

Lest anyone think that we have it all together, we don’t. We aren’t perfect by a long stretch. We sometimes fight. We’ve been known to have an argument from time to time. We wake up grumpy and need a cup of coffee before we can be totally civil (okay “we” might be me in this case . . .). But we have this quote hanging in our living room,

I choose you. And I’ll choose you over and over and over. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat. I’ll keep choosing you.

Unknown

And that’s the gist of it. We choose each day to choose one another. On the best days, the most monotonous days, and the hardest days, we choose to show up and let God do the work that needs to be done. And that is what that wedding day is really all about.

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.

Finding True Joy . . .

At the beginning of this week, we packed up our masks and a whole lot of food and moved our social distancing party to a quiet, beach condo for a few days. It was a much needed “break” from our current reality.

Unless you never turn on any news . . . like never ever . . . you likely know that Texas is currently one of the hottest hot spots for COVID in the United States. Oh my goodness y’all, the fighting and the tension and the ugliness. The questions (arguments . . . straight up throw downs . . . ) about what we should do . . . should we start school? . . . what about sports? . . . camps? . . . church? . . . so many questions, and honestly, almost no answers.

And as we were driving home today, I was thinking about and processing everything that’s going on and maybe . . . kind sort of . . . okay, most definitely . . . had quite a pity party going on in my head. I was bummed our only vacation this summer is a few short days at the beach, and I was also lamenting the fact that after cancelling a weekend getaway for Patrick and myself in March, we ended up cancelling our anniversary getaway as well. Even the possibility of a short date is off the table for the moment. Never mind, that we, as a family and as a couple, have been some amazing places in the past and will, I’m sure, have ample opportunity to travel in the future. Never mind, that we were very blessed to be able to take off for even a short amount of time to the beach. Never mind that there are people fighting for their lives right now and any number of essential workers sacrificing so much to keep us safe and healthy. Never mind any of that. Yep, quite the pathetic pity party was being thrown.

Then one of my kids said something that struck me as a little entitled, and I immediately set to work setting said child straight on that particular issue (kids will be kids after all). But as I was giving this stellar lecture (I’m so good at lectures), the Holy Spirit brought to my attention that my thoughts, had they been verbalized, sounded very much like those of an entitled brat. Because the truth is, none of these things we’re giving up . . . trips . . . parties . . . entertainment . . . even going to church in person (no one is stopping us from worshipping . . . no one is turning off the almost constant media stream of church services and teachings) . . . are not truly sacrifices . . . they’re inconveniences, but they’re not true sacrifices. Not in light of what people, Christians, suffer the world over.

If you know me, you know that, in general, all the COVID stay at home stuff hasn’t really bothered me because I am very much a homebody, but we do love to travel. And we do take our kids out to eat and to do fun things periodically (pre-‘rona, of course). However, it often seems like we idolize both entertainment and the subsequent emotional happiness to a fault in our society, and I’ve always felt like I have a God-given obligation to teach my kids that life isn’t solely about them having every little thing they want nor is it primarily about them being happy.

Hear me now before I go any further, I do want my kids to be truly happy and fulfilled. Matthew 7:11 says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” If you’ve ever been to our home, you know my kids are not lacking for much of anything, and believe me, they get plenty of good gifts (like the actual material kind . . . they have all the things so calm yourself down). But I also know that happiness as an emotion can be very subjective, and the things we think will bring us happiness often leave us empty, hollow, and wanting more.

Ultimately, I think the greatest gift I can give my kids is to help them learn that true fulfillment . . . true happiness . . . true joy . . . come not from being selfish and chasing after every want and whim that comes into our heads but from being selfless . . . these things come first, from loving and serving God, and second, from loving and serving others. And I can look at this time, this pandemic, as a curse (which I fully believe the sickness itself comes straight from satan), or I can see it as an opportunity to teach my kids that even when nothing seems to be going your way, you can still choose to love and embrace the life God has given you. The truth is, we’re all a little weary right now. We’re all kind of sick of this “stupid coronavirus”, as my 7 year old calls it. But the bottom line is, I have to walk out what I want for my children and remember that I am here to set the precedent for them. If I’m acting like an entitled brat then how can I expect them to act any better? And the Word of God is so good and it always speaks to whatever it is we’re facing (not just the coronavirus, but every single challenge we come against) . . .

“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:8-9

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of crooked and perverse generation, among who you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14-15

That’s not to say, I’ll never have another pity party or meltdown, but it is to say that I’ll trust God to bring it to my attention and keep me in check when I do. And I’ll keep “fighting the good fight” because as the saying goes “this too shall pass”, but I have no doubt that as long as we’re walking this earth there will always be challenges to face and overcome.

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.

You, Me, the Enneagram, and a Pandemic

Any other enneagram fans out there? Some people see it as silly. Some give it more power or value than they should. But the truth is I find it incredibly insightful. I’ve been an enneagram fan for a couple years (I’ve always loved personality tests). I didn’t really start doing a deep dive into all the ins and outs of the enneagram until about a year and a half ago.

What I love about the enneagram is it’s not just a personality test that locks us into a box. It’s multifaceted and has so many dimensions. It’s a tool, and as Christians, we know that the enneagram isn’t just a means to define ourselves and others, but a way to understand both motivations and fears as well as how to help ourselves (and others) work on being the healthiest version of the person God created us to be (that’s a mouthful). But what I really love is that there are no good or bad personality types (though they all have healthy and unhealthy tendencies). They are all created by God, necessary to our world, and should all be celebrated. God made you the way you are. He made me the way I am.

In case anyone cares . . . I’m a 1 wing 2 (“The advocate” is a great description of who I am). I have very strong traits of 3s, 5s, and 6s, but at the end of the day, at my core, I’m a 1.

From the Enneagram Institute (click on the link to read all about the 9 types)

1 – The Reformer

Type One in Brief

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.

Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective

Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced

Enneagram One with a Nine-Wing: “The Idealist”

Enneagram One with a Two-Wing: “The Advocate”

Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone. (https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/)

When I first discovered the enneagram and saw the word “perfectionist”, I went, “Nope . . . I’m trying to get over that tendency.” And I proceeded to read through numerous descriptions of every other type looking to see where I matched and identified. I took quizzes hoping to come up with a different number. I mean, mistyping oneself isn’t necessarily uncommon. While I knew that I definitely wasn’t the “fun loving” 7 that my husband is, I thought maybe I was that “high achieving” type 3 (I am a high achiever but I don’t do it for others) or the “investigative” type 5 (again I love a good investigation but my investigation goes back to the purpose of needing to be morally right) or even a “peace loving” type 9 (let’s just laugh a little at that . . . I don’t love confrontation but I’m certainly not going to ignore it if it’s necessary), but 1s often carry a negative connotation. At our worst we can be critical and harsh and judgmental and hugely perfectionistic. It comes from a place of wanting things to be right. We have a deep fear of being immoral, evil, or corrupt. But at our best we have a strong moral compass, integrity, and strive for excellence (over perfection). Aside from the fact that it’s pretty painfully obvious I’m a type 1, hearing about the inner critic clinched it for me. Type 1s are forever fighting that internal criticism and imagine my shock when I realized that not everyone fights that battle.

So enter the year 2020. All the crazy pandemic fun . . . the homeschooling . . . the choice about when and how to isolate . . . the criticisms of others regarding our decisions. Having to make the right decisions for ourselves and our kids. The two sides to everything. Striking the balance between keeping everyone physically healthy but also not harming the mental and emotional health of our kids (and ourselves) . . . While most people will say, “we can only do our best,” the stress of not only doing the right thing, but also dealing with so much wrong information being thrown around (I’m looking at you facebook) made me less than my best self more than a few times during all of this. There has definitely been a real fear of doing the wrong thing, both intentionally and unintentionally, that has crept in over the past few months.

It’s really hard to scroll past blatantly wrong info and not correct it.

What if I royally screw up my kids in the process of “homeschooling” them?

Am I being too permissive with screen time?

Am I being too strict with screen time?

Are my children’s days, their meals, their physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs all being balanced well enough? Are mine? Are my husbands?

It’s enough to drive a person crazy at times, and there were moments when I absolutely let all of it get to me. It most definitely showed . . . in my words, in my actions, in my responses, in my emotions . . . but here’s the thing I have had to realize and accept, I can strive to do everything with excellence but that does not mean that I will do everything perfectly. I do my best to do the right thing, but ultimately, at the end (and the beginning) of the day, I have to trust God to lead us and guide us down the right path. Because He’s the only one that is perfect. And this is where knowing who I am in Christ, how I was designed, and how I function has helped me so much. Rather than limiting me, it helps me to see when my responses are trending towards unhealthy and when I need to turn to God and say, “I’m not handling this well at all. Can You help me?” And He does. He always does.

It has also helped me better understand those around me and how they deal differently with the exact same situations. And ultimately, how sometimes there really is not definite right and wrong (I said “sometimes”) but many shades of gray.

Sidenote: If any enneagram expert happens to, by some off chance, read this, I apologize for any cringing you’ll likely do at my explanations. I’m just doing my best to describe my experiences in relation to current events, but I am definitely not an expert.

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 Softest of Answers

She curled her body up in my lap, my long, lean seven year old girl . . . seemingly too big to fit comfortably in her mama’s lap . . . as I rocked . . . back and forth . . . back and forth . . . the gentle rhythm calming her, she relaxed and cuddled up against me.

It was the last thing I thought I needed to do . . . every fiber of my being was screaming at me to do the opposite, not to rock and hold this child of mine. It was another day in a long string of days that had not gone well . . . understatement of the year . . . our strong wills clashing . . . me feeling like I had to bring her under control, discipline, teach, correct, admonish . . . her determined to defy, test, and push her independence.

If I’m completely honest, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I was frustrated. She was frustrated. Yet, in that moment, I knew I had a choice. I could push back, and the fight would continue, escalate, and grow. Or I could do what I knew in the deepest part of me, the part of me where God whispers to my spirit, was necessary. I could offer grace and mercy. I could meet her where she was and try to understand her brokenness . . . the fear that often controls her every move . . . the underlying anxiety that accompanies her throughout her days . . . and we, together, could move one step closer to healing.

And that’s so much what God does with us. Having my oldest child . . . caring for him as a tiny newborn . . . feeding, swaddling, comforting . . . gave me a deeper grasp of what true, unconditional love is. But adopting my second child, out of a place of nightmares and brokenness and trauma, helped to solidify not only the unconditional-ness of that love, but the absolute sacrificial nature of Christ’s love for us. Because it’s not an easy, sunshine and rainbows, kind of love. People will often say to adoptive parents, “All they need is love,” and to that, I respond, “Yes, but it’s the kind of love that fights until your exhausted beyond belief, and then fights more because that’s all you can do. It’s the kind of love that makes your knees hit the floor, and your cries hit the heavens to the only One that can completely heal our babies. It’s the kind of love that’s tenacious, unrelenting, and that comes back for more . . . day after day . . . moment after moment. These children desperately need that kind of love.” It’s a minute fraction of the love and mercy and grace that Christ showed me on the cross. We . . . our sins . . . the sins of all mankind for all time . . . nailed Him to that cross, and He willingly took it all so we could live free from bondage.

Lest anyone think I’m a hero. I’m most certainly not. Lest anyone think I have something special. I don’t. It’s the kind of love with which only God can equip us. I don’t have it in my own right. I’m so far from perfect it’s laughable, and I have zero doubt, even as I write this, that we will have days of victory but also days of struggle. Because, much like my daughter, like all of us, I’m also a broken human in the process of being healed, and plenty of days, I choose the path that ends with a whole lot more drama and a whole lot less peace. But each and every time I choose to listen to that still, small voice, it’s there. And I never cease to be amazed at how the very opposite of what I see as “discipline” brings about more lasting change in my child than hours of lectures, punishments, and hard consequences.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

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.

Beyond Behavior Modification

Sorry for my absence. I don’t really have a good reason, other than life happens . . . you know.

Yesterday, I was listening to a Christian podcast on marriage (currently one of my favorite topics), and it was talking a bit about the book “The Case for Marriage” (Linda J Waite and Maggie Gallagher) . . . in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t read the book but have heard excerpts . . . in listening to some of the evidence from the book supporting the grounds biblical marriage (which I do wholeheartedly endorse and believe in), I really began to think. Not only about marriage, but about biblical, life, “rules” in general.

I should probably point out before moving on with this that I am a full, cover to cover, biblical literalist. So when the bible defines something as sin . . . as dangerous, destructive, and/or forbidden . . . I buy into that. I believe that calling sin what it is, defined by the bible, is not passing judgment but acknowledging God’s truth. But here’s the thing, I don’t believe that it ever, under any circumstances gives Christians license to act in any manner but love. As cliché and sometimes, controversial as it may be, you absolutely can love the sinner and hate the sin. You can hate evil, and its destructive power, while still loving those doing the things that aren’t Godly and in their best interest. These things are not mutually exclusive. And we need to seek God and His word on (1) if it is our place to address those things with specific people because you know what? It’s not always our place or our job, and (2) How we are to address sin, if it is something God is calling us to do.

As Christians (as parents, leaders, teachers . . . ???) we often want to make it about behavior and behavior modification. If we see people doing the right thing, we’re happy. Regardless, of what’s happening in their hearts. And if we look good on the outside who really cares about our hearts? Right?

Wrong . . .

God cares. Hugely.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28

Y’all, Jesus wasn’t talking to the “sinners”. He was talking to the “church” people (if you will). And here’s the thing. Jesus isn’t opposed to good behavior. Quite the contrary. He wants us to do what’s right. He hates sin. Go on and read the rest of the new testament. Paul (and the other writers in the New Testament) doesn’t play around. He’s blunt, and honest, and very clear about the line between right and wrong. But . . . it needs to come from a place of a heart transformation, and not behavior modification.

We don’t behave to get God to love us. We are transformed and changed because of His love for us. And He doesn’t just give us a list of arbitrary rules, right and wrong, to keep us under His proverbial thumb and control us. He gives us His word, the bible and His guidelines, because He created us, and He knows that outside of those guidelines we will forever chase fulfillment, joy, peace, and wholeness . . . but without Him and the help of the Holy Spirit, we will never find it.

So yes, I believe in and am a huge cheerleader for dating relationships and marriage (this is just one example of many issues out there in our world today) designed and done God’s way (and that’s a whole other, multifaceted issue that I can’t even begin to unpack here). He created it that way because He created us, and He loves us and knows how we are to truly thrive. And I’ll never apologize for my beliefs, but also know this, my love for those around me isn’t lessened any by the choices they make. I’m here for you, and I want God’s best for you. I’m not here to beat you over the head and make you behave, but I do pray for God to transform your heart (and mine) wherever and however that needs to happen.

“I will give you new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:26-29

The starting point and the ending point is always, without fail, Jesus . . . our Savior . . . His sacrifice . . . our forgiveness . . . Without His salvation and the subsequent transformation that comes from entering into an intimate relationship with Him, then we are doing nothing more than striving in our power. Not only is it not sustainable, but we’ll never have true peace. That’s not to say, the Holy Spirit isn’t going to work in you, with you, and ultimately through you, but you cannot do it alone.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12: 1-2

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.