Calm in the Craziness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved        

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

Early Morning Musings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved       

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

National Adoption Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved       
The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

Goodness of God . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Goodness Of God”
Bethel music and Jenn Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved      

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

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

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

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

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

You’re welcome for that last one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

“Just Say No”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A time to kill, And a time to heal;

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

A time to weep, And a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, And a time to dance;  

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

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

 A time to gain, And a time to lose;

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

A time to tear, And a time to sew;

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

A time to love, And a time to hate;

A time of war, And a time of peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV
Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved     

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.
"Just Say No" Campaign, 1986

Call Me . . .

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

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

A: “Call me if there’s a storm . . .”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved    

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

Bless the Lord

“Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5 NKJV

How do you start off your prayers to God? Do you start them with praise or with a pity party? Because if I’m completely honest, I don’t always, maybe not even often, start with praise. The truth is I’ve been known to launch into a list of concerns a mile long without once stopping to think of the WHO to which I’m really speaking. But I’m praying to the one and only Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the Creator of the universe.

I think back to the account of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. The prophets of Baal cried out and cut themselves until their blood “gushed out of them”, and “they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice . . .” (1 Kings 18: 28-29 NKJV).

Enter Elijah . . .

He repairs the altar of the Lord. He digs a trench around it and sets it up for a sacrifice, but then he soaks the altar and the sacrifice with water, not one, not two, but three times . . . he soaks it to the point where the water runs off and fills the trench surrounding it . . . then he says, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” (1 Kings 18:36-37 NKJV).

And the Bible says, “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38 NKJV) Consumed . . . it doesn’t say singed or scorched . . . it says “consumed” . . . “the fire of the Lord fell and consumed . . .”

This is the God we serve . . . this is the God to which we pray . . . “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!” If that’s all there was, that would be enough. And that’s where we need to start every single prayer. Not for God because He doesn’t need our praise. But for us because we do need to remember WHO it is we serve. But the Psalmist, King David, beloved of God, didn’t leave it at that, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits . . . “. No, he knew that we also would need to call to remembrance all the benefits that come with serving our God, the one and only true God.

“Who forgives all your iniquities ”

All my inquities. All my sins. All my wrongdoings are forgiven through the blood of Jesus. Without that forgiveness nothing else matters.

“Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

If you’re sick, He’s your healer. If your life is utterly destroyed, He’s your redeemer. He’s not just here to fix you though. That’s the truly awesome thing. He goes beyond the fixing, and straight into the blessing. He “crowns” us with “lovingkindness” and “tender mercies”. He “satisfies” our “mouth with good things”. He “renews” us.

I’ll say it again . . . This is the God we serve . . . This is the God to which we pray. Hebrews 12:29 tells us, “our God is a consuming fire”. Don’t ever forget that. You may feel beat up, sick both emotionally and physically, afraid, and exhausted, but if you’ll take a moment to remember WHO it is you serve, I promise your life will be forever transformed.

Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved   

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

The One

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14 NKJV

Cory Asbury sings a song entitled “Reckless Love” and the chorus says:

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah”

Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines the word reckless as “marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences”. And that gives me pause. Never in the history of my life, had I thought of God as reckless, but when I read that definition, when I think of Christ enduring the suffering of the cross, and know that He did it for all, but He’d also do it just for the one, there is very much a lack of care for the consequences in that. There is something very incautious about that.

We do not serve a careless Savior, but we serve a Savior who was “careless” about the consequences to Himself because He cared far more about saving us. Maybe you don’t think you’re worth saving. Maybe you don’t see your value. I’m here to tell you that you’re not just valuable, you’re the most valuable to Jesus. We all are.

The parable of the lost sheep is not one of a shepherd wandering through lush pastures looking for a sheep who may be slightly off the beaten path. No, it’s a picture of a shepherd leaving everything and heading into treacherous territory to seek that one sheep who has gone so far astray. It’s a picture of a shepherd desperate to not let go of even one. It’s the picture of a Savior willingly crucified and taking upon himself all the sins of mankind so that we do not have to suffer condemnation.

If ever you think, for even a millisecond, you don’t matter, look no further than Matthew 18. You are that sheep. You are that loved. You are never too far gone or too lost to be found. And all of heaven rejoices at your rescue.

Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

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

The Act of “Sabbath”

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” – Exodus 20:8 NKJV

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]” – Psalm 91:1 AMP

I’ve been thinking a lot on the concept of Sabbath here lately. The word Sabbath actually comes from the Hebrew Shabath which means to “cease, desist, rest” ( ). We use Sabbath as a noun, but its root is a verb. It’s not a thing, but an action. I think we often look at the word Sabbath, and think “went to church checking that one off the list”, but you know what? That’s not what God was getting at. I’m not even fully sure how we made the leap from Sabbath being a day of rest to “must attend church”. Not that we shouldn’t go to church, we should (“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25 NKJV – no one come at me about not attending church), but when God is talking about the Sabbath, and keeping it holy, He’s actually telling us to cease and desist from our labor and instead, rest. There is holiness in rest. That’s kind of a foreign concept in our modern world.

I struggle with rest. I always have. Sleeping through the night has never not been an issue for me. Taking time, much less a full day, to rest is HARD for me. I find that I feel guilty when I rest. And even when I am “resting”, I’m not. Because rest is more than just a posture or a removal of work. It’s a state of mind. If we are “resting”, but our mind is still mentally going through all the things, I think we’re missing the point.

So back to Sabbath. It’s not just a day to check off the list. And I don’t think it’s about whether it’s the first day or the seventh day of the week (yes, I know the significance behind each of those days), but more about actively resting in God. And if you’re in the ministry, in any capacity whether that be individually or as a family, you know that Sundays are about as far from restful as you can imagine. I would love to be able to take a day out the week to do absolutely nothing . . . okay, I’m probably lying here . . . I’m not sure how much I would “love” it, but even if I could, I have kids, and a husband, and a dog (she’s kind of high maintenance), and I’m not sure that doing absolutely nothing for an entire 24 hours, no matter what day it is, is going to be a feasible concept at this point in the game.

But I’m also becoming increasingly convicted regarding my inability to rest . . . my inability to have a Sabbath state of mind.

Psalm 91 is one of my favorite passages of scripture. Years ago, when my oldest was very little, I memorized most of it, and what I didn’t memorize, I can pretty well paraphrase. I didn’t memorize it so I could come on here 10 years later and flaunt my impressive scripture memory skills, but because I have always struggled with anxiety. The catalyst for memorizing Psalm 91 was actually the great swine flu outbreak of 2009. I’m sure some of you remember. My son wasn’t even two when it started, and I. Was. Terrified . . . almost immobilized with fear. So I sat down and committed Psalm 91 to memory, and almost daily, I find myself quoting portions of this passage of scripture. But I also realized that the first verse . . . the one about resting . . . I kind of skim over as I hasten to make sure I remind God that He’s supposed to deliver us from the “perilous pestilence” and “give His angels guard over us”. You know, because I’m pretty sure God doesn’t remember from day to day . . . read the sarcasm.

But y’all . . . rest . . . it’s very well and good to memorize and quote scripture, but we, I, also have to find that place of Sabbath, Shabath, in our lives. Not as a noun but as verb. There comes a point where repeatedly hurling scriptures back at God like it’s some sort of magic is kind of counterproductive. We have to come to the place where we believe that God is faithful to His word and commit to the action of resting in who God is and what He has done for us.

I haven’t arrived in this area. Not even close. For me it looks a lot like letting go of little things on a daily basis. Of refusing to be ruled by the guilt of not doing the next thing on my list. My life is an ever evolving work in Christ, but I also know I’m not alone in this struggle so I challenge you to look at how you can you can just rest and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty today.

Copyright 2019, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

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