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.

More Than a Clanging Cymbal

Just an hour ago, I sat on our back porch as I watched my youngest jump happily on the trampoline. After a string of oppressively hot and humid days the likes of which are all too common during our Central Texas summers, a northerly breeze and low humidity ushered in a rare, “almost cool” June day. While watching her laugh and giggle and carry on an endless string of one sided conversation, completely oblivious to all the serious goings on of the outside world, I thought to myself, “What a perfectly beautiful and peaceful afternoon.”

At the same time, I was keenly aware of the dichotomy in that moment. There I sat, in my peaceful, safe haven of a backyard and realized how at odds it seemed with the current state of our community, our nation, and our world. Our world that after months of stress and stay at home orders, amid the coronavirus pandemic, seemed to have emerged into utter chaos. Tensions and anxiety and anger are beyond high on so many levels. Heartbreak and grief, that begin on a very personal level in my own life (hence the silence as of late) but extend outward encompassing person after person and family after family in our community, seem all too common. Just this morning, I awoke to news of yet another senseless and horrific tragedy coming out of my hometown.

It’s almost impossible to ignore the dichotomy, and I’ll go a step further and say, I do not want to. Instead I want to sit in it and look at everything that is happening . . . everything that is being said and done, and in that contrast seek God. I pray, and I ask God how can I take the peace I feel in that quiet moment on my back porch and extend it outward to others.

There are things that will only come with time and processing. Loss and grief must be processed and allowed to chart their course. There are other things that require me to look inward . . . at my own thoughts, my own ideas, my own motivations and ask myself over and over again, “Am I being the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth? Am I extending the love of Christ in every single action and every single word? From the stranger on the street to the people I see every single day?”

Because so much of the anger and hatred and ugliness, some of it blatant, a lot of it passive aggressive, I see isn’t coming from the unsaved and the unchurched but Christians. We are so busy screaming about our rights and insisting we are right that we fail to see the damage we are doing and the people we are pushing away. We have the right to do a lot of things . . . we have the right to our opinions, and we have the obligation to stand up for truth, but it should always be done in love. When the insistence of my rights comes at detriment of my witness and my service to others, I’ve completely missed the point. And just because I can does not mean I should. Sometimes, a lot of times, reaching others for Jesus means I’m not only going to be inconvenienced, but I’m going to have to sacrifice something.

Some of you might be asking yourself right now, “What in the blue blazes is she talking about?” I’ll admit I’m a little bit vague and all over the place, but if you want to know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about all of it. I’m talking about current events but even more so about pervasive attitudes and conditions of the heart that have become acceptable within the church while simultaneously doing huge harm to our witness to an unsaved world.

One of the most oft quoted passages of scripture is 1 Corinthians 13 . . .

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

It’s one of my favorites. It’s beautiful and brings about all the good feels, but the questions I have to ask myself over and over is, “Am I living it?” Because it isn’t just meant to be a pretty passage recited at weddings. It’s meant to be a way of life for Christ followers.

And then there’s this . . .

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14-21

This one is an even harder pill to swallow . . . because you know what? It’s easy to love those who are like us. It’s not even that hard to love those who lead a different life and have different views, but that are nice to or at least tolerant of us. But put someone in our lives who pushes us, who persecutes us, who attacks us, and suddenly, it all goes out the window . . . I mean does God actually want us to do good to those who have done us harm?

I could ramble on forever . . . but this is already far too long, and the scriptures speak for themselves. As a follower of Christ, I refuse to live in an echo chamber where I only hear my own voice, my own hurts, and my own opinions. That doesn’t mean that I will agree with everything that is said or that comes at me. But what that does mean is I’ll take the time to seek God’s face and study His word (my ultimate basis for truth in every single issue and area) and look at my own heart and my own need to change some things. It means that I will strive to be more empathetic and compassionate. I’m a work in progress. We all are. I haven’t arrived or figured out how to solve all the problems of the world. Heck, I just yelled at my kids so obviously, I still have some work to do right here at home (so much for that peaceful backyard moment . . . ), but I know the one Who has arrived and Who does have it all figured out. And He is working on me. Because I do want to be more than a “clanging cymbal”.

 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.

Righteous Anger

“Be angry and do not sin . . . ” (Ephesians 4:26a)

Six simple words. So easy to set as a standard for others, yet, so difficult to follow in our own lives. The perfect “do as I say, not as I do” scripture that we really wish everyone else would live by. All day yesterday, I turned these words over in my mind. These six words that are neither particularly complex nor hard to understand. And this morning, after asking God to speak through me and use my words to speak both truth and healing, I opened my bible and read the entire passage of scripture surrounding these words because I find that context is always important for complete understanding.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:25-32

My first question, is always, “Who is the intended audience of this scripture?”

We learn and glean from every word of the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Bible, in its entirety, is the instruction manual for Christians, but in this particular case, Paul is writing to the church of Ephesus. These were followers of Christ working out their salvation, learning to walk as Jesus walked. I can assume, by extension, that what was good for the early church is just as relevant today. And this entire passage very much applies to the modern church as well.

My second question is, “What can I learn from this?”

As I read this passage in Ephesians, I took it verse by verse and word by word. Because I wanted to not only know but fully understand what it means to be angry and not sin, and the only way to really grasp that is to know both what leads into those words and what comes after those words.

Paul tells us in vs. 25 to put away lying. Y’all if we are not telling the truth then we are lying. That seems incredibly obvious, and yet, I wonder how often we lie to ourselves and others. Maybe it’s not blatant lying, but refusal to acknowledge reality is, in fact, lying. Living in denial, with our heads buried in the proverbial sand, is nothing more than a fancy, dressed up lie. The starting place is always truth. Without truth there’s no moving forward.

The passage then goes on to tell us to “be angry and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” So many of us are confused. We’ve been taught to see anger in and of itself as the sin, but it’s not. Anger is a God given emotion that has a valid time and place and justification in our lives. In verse 26 anger is an action . . . something done with a beginning and an end. It is not a thing (a noun) that takes root in our lives and hearts. And that’s an important distinction. We have every right to righteous anger, but we must use it to further the kingdom of God and to effect change. We may never use it as an excuse to sin, to cause pain and destruction whether that be with our words or our actions, and if we allow anger to take root, to allow the sun to set on our anger, it will give the devil a foothold in our lives (vs. 27). It will turn us into angry, bitter, and unforgiving people who don’t seek to further the kingdom in any way, who don’t attempt to change the world around us, but instead seek to point fingers at everything everyone else does wrong. It will turn us into jaded, cynical people that no longer see the beauty in God’s creation.

But this passage doesn’t stop with these words. Paul goes on to tell us in verse 29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

Corrupt – unwholesome – rotten, worthless

Edification – the act of building

Are my words building others up? Are they edifying and imparting grace or are they unwholesome? Are they tearing others down? I can’t have it both ways.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” vs. 30-32

I can be very good with words. I can also be very good at using my words badly. And this is something that the Holy Spirit is constantly working on in me. Because when I use my words, in a moment of anger, even the most righteous, justified anger, to harm others, I am grieving the Holy Spirit. But I cannot let “bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (shrieking), and evil speaking” become part of who I am. As a follower of Christ, I must be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. That does not mean I do not stand up for justice and stand against injustice. That does not mean I do not stand up for right. Not for a second. Not even close. But it means the motives of my heart come from a place of knowing that God created every single human being in His image. Every. Single. One. And I am responsible for every word I speak and every act I commit. That’s a heavy weight to carry on my own, but thankfully, Jesus does the heavy lifting for me. Thankfully, He died and rose again for every single one of us.

As I write this, my heart is heavy with the turmoil in our nation. My heart is heavy because in the year 2020 we are still fighting against racism, hatred, and division on so many fronts. My heart is heavy with Christians that continue to sow discord with their words and refuse to acknowledge truth even when it is blatant and obvious. My heart is heavy with the hatred, violence, and destruction that is running deep in our country. My heart is heavy because there are those that see some lives as having more value and relevance than others. But God created every single life, from conception, with equal value and purpose, and He desires a personal relationship with each and every person.

I often hear people say, “Our country needs Jesus.” And I could not agree more. But it needs to start in the church. The people of God have to start standing up for truth in every arena. And we cannot tolerate hatred or discord within our ranks. We have to speak truth in love, and we have to walk it out in such a way that others see Jesus in us.

“Until we become kingdom-minded and not denominationally, class or racially-minded, we will not be Christ- minded, we will not be socially-minded to address divisions between us.” Dr. Tony Evans

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them” Psalm 139:13-16

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.

Lessons Learned in Quarantine

The ‘Rona Homeschool Academy 2020 has officially closed here in the Davis household, and I’m not mad or sad about it! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus! I am confident the angels are singing “glory” right here with me.

My kids will still “learn” during the summer. They’ll read. They’ll write. They’ll even do some math, but we’re doing it on our terms.

These past couple months have been challenging in so many ways (not just on the home school front) . . . and that right there is the understatement of the year. But, like so many, I’ve learned some important things and been reminded of others.

I’ve been reminded that I most definitely do not want to home school my kids, but if I have to, I absolutely can. (Dear God, Please, please, please . . . let these kids go back to school in August. Amen.)

I’ve learned that grace and patience and both extending and asking forgiveness are all more important than I ever realized. Toward ourselves. Toward others. On social media and in real life. Can I get a witness?

I’ve learned that I can be flexible, and y’all I am gloriously inflexible most of the time. But I can be flexible.

I’ve been reminded that I need space and quiet, or I can get grumpy (I know shocker). My children don’t really believe in space and quiet so I’m taking a whole lot of deep breaths and sending them outside.

Along those same lines . . . I’m reminded that cleaning is therapeutic for me so sometimes I put on my headphones, turn on a podcast, and ignore them while I vacuum. Judge me all you want.

I’ve been reminded (and I very much knew this, but oh my goodness, I really KNOW this now) that my kids’ teachers and administrators and support staff and therapists and anyone that does anything with them at all are rockstars. All. Of. Them. And while I think they’re all deserving of . . . I don’t know . . . an all expense paid trip to Hawaii . . . just a few kind words and a simple gift sent to their homes and/or email goes a long way toward letting them know they are appreciated.

I’ve learned that you need to think, research, and filter before you post on social media. Also, that unfollow button is great for peace of mind. And everyone is following someone or something. You’ve just got to take a look at who or what it is you follow. And keeping with this line of thought for just a second, I’m reminded that NO man (or woman) on this earth, including political figures, are without fault. I can take the good and recognize the not so good and the outright bad. And believe me there are all three with everyone. So I will not hold up or idolize anyone but Jesus no matter who they are or where they fall politically (yes, I said “idolize” because sadly, I think a lot of Christians do just this with men in authority both politically and even with leaders in the church . . . they cannot seem to admit that these men . . . and sometimes women . . . are human and can say and do things very wrong at times, and I’ll step off that soapbox now).

I’ve been reminded that I need to work out for my mental health as much as my physical health. And when I don’t want to do it at all is when I need it the most.

I’m reminded how much I appreciate church and being able to gather without worrying about social distancing and all that entails. Attending church is on the top of my list of things that I definitely took for granted. (Please know, that I fully support social distancing and wearing masks and all other measures that ensure the safety of others. I don’t think I have the right to put others at risk. Ever.)

I’ve learned that my kids are the equivalent of human garbage disposals and eat approximately 853 times/day.

I’ve learned that I really like it when my husband is home more. Even though it means that things are little slower than normal in the real estate world. The blessing and the curse is that it didn’t last long (and we are very thankful for the fact that Patrick is busy and working). But I definitely will miss the days of him being home.

I’m reminded how much we love our extended families. We miss everyone and are definitely excited to start visiting again in the coming weeks.

I’ve learned that this time has been something to be cherished. Our calendars and schedules were wiped clean. And we’ve been reminded that the most important things in life are those we love and not the things we do or have. I think we often seek entertainment as a way of filling voids in our lives, but when the outside entertainment became thin or totally unavailable, we learned to make our own fun at home with those we love. And so, even as we slowly return to normal, I hope to never go back to the constant need to go somewhere and do something. I hope we hold on to a little bit of quarantine in our every day lives.

Ultimately, I’ve learned I am more than blessed. Right here. Right now.

*Finally, I’d like thank Amazon Prime and HEB Delivery for helping us through these trying times. The good Lord knows, I couldn’t have made it without them. 😉

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.

Tales from the Coronavirus Quarantine with Anna

We’ve been doing this whole quarantine thing for two (loooonnnnngggg) months. I know I’m not the only mom who feels like on some days the only thing keeping me from losing my ever loving mind is the countdown to school ending, and hopefully, restarting in August (we’ll remember, I’m not about that home school life), a whole lot of prayer, and the good chocolate hidden where the kids can’t reach it . . . maybe . . . I may or may not have threatened Andrew that if he touches my chocolate he will be grounded for at least a week . . . desperate times people . . . I mean, yesterday, I lost a gallon of milk. An entire gallon. I had it. Then I didn’t. I found it, thankfully within a few minutes, in the laundry room.

My youngest, Anna, is a mess . . . she’s beyond hilarious. So much so that oftentimes when one of us is correcting her the other has to leave the room so she doesn’t see us laughing. But she’s still a mess . . . a hilarious mess . . . you never know what new shenanigans each day will bring. And because I never want to be one to keep all the fun to myself, I thought I’d share just a small glimpse of what quarantine life with Anna looks like (it’s like normal life with Anna but on steroids).

She has this habit of shoving things into places they don’t belong. I will find shirts shoved in her jewelry boxes, toys and books and clothing behind the couch cushions, and laundry in the dog’s bed. But her latest and greatest trick is putting stuff through the small openings of the cover and straight into the wheel of the row machine. So I’ll sit down to row, and she’ll say, “No! Don’t row today!” Which is a pretty good indicator that I should take the cover off the wheel and check it, but I rarely do. I usually just try to row anyway, and whatever is in there sounds like rapid gunfire going off and flies out like shrapnel all over the den. At which point, I remove the cover and vacuum up the mess with her screaming about how much she hates the noise and the vacuum and promising to never do it again. No amount of disciplining, threatening, or consequences will stop her from doing it. Believe me. I. Have. Tried.

She wears, at a minimum, two pairs of shorts/pants and two shirts at a time. There’s usually a tutu and a tiara or hat plus a couple (or a dozen) pieces of jewelry thrown in for good measure. I am currently looking for a way to lock up her clothes so she’ll quit with the constant wardrobe changes. On Sunday, we went to a park for a little while to safely get out of the house. She wore shorts under leggings. I didn’t catch this until we were at said park so whatever. While we were walking on the trails she stops and looks at me and says, “Do you smell that???” To which I reply, “Smell what?” And her response (which was 100% serious), “It smells like coronavirus.” So I’m standing there trying not to laugh, “Okay . . . what does coronavirus smell like?” And to finish the whole conversation she looks at me and says, “Like a vacuum cleaner,” and then continues right on her merry way.

A couple days ago she got into a container of Vaseline, rubbed it all over herself, and tracked it through the house. But first, she turned the thermostat down to 57 degrees . . . and set it there. Because she ain’t about that quarantine life, and she’s going to make sure she keeps it interesting.

All that to say, she’s still the best little thing in the world. She lives and loves big and boldly and passionately. She’s emotional and funny and wants me to rub her back all day every day. And even on the days when I think I might legit lose my mind, I can’t imagine life without her.

Note one: Do not give me parenting advice. I’m not here for it. I love my kids. I take care of my kids. I discipline my kids. No one is mistreated. So just laugh and judge me in silence.

Note two: I also have a 12 year old that is an amazing, loving, and funny but also, smelly, hormonal, and a messy kid in his own right. But since he’s older and has opinions about all the things, but mostly his privacy, I don’t share his funny stories much anymore.

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.

Friday Afternoon Ramblings

We made it to Friday . . . again.

We survived another week of stay at home, social distancing, home schooling, craziness . . .

Eight weeks ago my kids left school for spring break, and we thought they’d be back at in week, maybe two or three, at most. Then we personally made the decision to cancel, well, everything in the immediate future, circle our proverbial wagons, and pretty much park ourselves at home. And that was followed by the government making it official. Now we are looking at things slowly coming back and trying to find out where our new normal lies. For each family and person, it’s going to look different. It’s going to happen at a different pace and with different comfort levels for everyone, and that’s okay. Have respect and give grace. That’s the message playing on repeat in my head.

I sat down this morning with my actual, in real life, bible and journal thinking that it had been “a while” since I had carved out more than five minutes to really read and pray and take notes, only to realize that “a while” was over a month ago. True quiet time has been scarce these days, and it seems that staying home has us busier than ever before. It’s not that I haven’t read the bible or prayed for over a month, but it hasn’t been my usual, focused time, set aside to read and pray and write. It has been more snatches of scripture and short devos on my bible app. It has been praying and reading and listening as I’m going and moving and doing and trying to keep up with the demands of two kids home, with me. All. The. Time. Have I mentioned I’m an introvert that loves her peace and quiet and alone time??? I’ll be completely honest, nothing about this situation, especially my current bible study practices and quiet time status, or lack thereof, is ideal nor is it conducive to growth in my relationship with God but more maintenance. Maintenance is fine for a short season, but if you maintain too long, it can easily slip into stagnation. And my relationship with God has never been something that is just meant to be maintained, and it is definitely not something that should ever be stagnant.

That’s not to say, I’m condemning myself or any other person that has found this to be their struggle. We are living in strange times, and we are constantly have to adjust how we do daily life. So grace should be given in abundance, but if I’ve realized anything in these times of “quarantine” it’s every single relationship in our lives . . . whether that be with God, or our spouse, or our kids . . . needs to be fed and lovingly tended. Time together doesn’t always equal quality time, and relationships happen on purpose rather than by accident. That’s not a bad thing. That’s actually a really great thing. It’s worth every effort and any and all work it takes. And if we keep those relationships in the right order and give them the proper priority in our lives . . . God, first, spouse, second, kids, third, and so on . . . then the work is much less stressful and much more enjoyable, and each subsequent relationship seems to be maintained with more ease. So here’s to taking the time and making the effort because whether we’re at home or on the go, the most important parts of our lives aren’t found in material things, or being entertained, or being able to do all things and go all the places, but instead, are found in the relationships we have with those we love.

And that’s it y’all. Those are my thoughts on this Friday afternoon. Nothing life shattering or super spiritual but honest and real and hopefully, relatable to many of 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.