A Sabbath State of Mind

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11

The Sabbath was so important to God that He included it in the Ten Commandments. Sandwiched between not taking the Lord’s name in vain and honoring our parents . . . in the same list that commands us not to murder, lie, or steal . . . we find the command to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. We are commanded to both worship, for the Sabbath is the Lord’s, and rest. Worship and rest are not necessarily mutually inclusive. They are not two concepts typically paired together. We can worship without rest, and we can rest without worship. God could’ve created a day of worship that neither included nor excluded rest. He could’ve created a day of rest that neither included nor excluded worship, but instead He created a union between worship and rest and told us to keep it holy.

If you know me, you know I struggle with the “rest” part of the Sabbath. I struggle with rest in general. It seems as if there is always something to be done, and my list of “to-dos” is never complete. For me, keeping the Sabbath, like so many other things, is a work in progress. And I’m learning that keeping the Sabbath, honoring and worshipping and resting, is about far more than attending church each Sunday and sleeping the day away afterward. Before anyone comes at me, I believe that attending church is so important (“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together . . .” Hebrews 10:25), but worship is not exclusive to church. It’s not a guarantee that just because we’re showing up at church every Sunday, we’re actually worshipping. Likewise, resting isn’t always about that Sunday afternoon nap. Although, again, I’m not telling you not to nap. Jesus napped. Naps are good. Rest does not always equal naps, and naps don’t always equal rest.

There’s a quieting of both the mind and the body that comes with keeping the Sabbath. And there is a benefit, to us, in making the time and creating a space to honor this practice. In a world that never stops, it brings stillness. In a culture that, even within the church, says “go hard or go home”, it brings both quiet and peace. There is so much value, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, that comes from practicing the Sabbath.

Under the Levitical law the rules were incredibly strict regarding what you could and could not do on the Sabbath. In Matthew 12, Jesus goes head to head with the Pharisees regarding the “rules” surrounding the Sabbath. The Pharisees had created, as humans are so apt to do, a legalistic, performance regarding the Sabbath. But they had missed the point altogether. It isn’t about not plucking heads of grain, as the disciples did in Matthew 12 or not washing a few dishes, as one might need to do nowadays if they happen to have a houseful of children. Jesus came not to abolish the law but fulfill it, and so there is much grace even in this. It’s not about checking the right boxes while avoiding all the wrong ones. It’s about worship and rest and Jesus.

Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the secret place (shelter) of the Most High shall abide (rest) under the shadow of the Almighty.”

There is value in taking a day of rest each week, but even in our busy-ness, in our day to day lives, there is value in having a Sabbath mindset every single day. Of dwelling in that secret place . . . daily coming to God and submitting to His leading and guiding and sometimes, correction, but also peace . . . because it’s in that place that we find rest. Even when the world and life are swirling around us at a pace with which it seem impossible to keep up, we can be totally at rest.

And that’s where I find myself. Allowing God to teach me and guide me toward resting and worshipping in such a way that I honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy, but also in allowing God to teach me to dwell in His secret place and abide under His shadow. Having said all this, I find myself striving in areas where I neither desire nor have a need to strive. And one of those areas is in this space. This past year, the number of people reading and sending messages and emails increased, and that’s great. But I never started writing to get more readers, and I never want to write to earn more followers. I write because I feel it’s an area where God has gifted me, and while I am not the most eloquent person when speaking aloud, I do a far better job conveying what I’m learning and walking in with the written word. However, there is wisdom in taking a Sabbath, even when it’s something we love. It gives peace, rest, and direction. All that to say, a little break is in order. Not forever but between now and Christmas, I won’t be writing here (and likely only sporadically on social media). I’ll continue to write, the old fashioned way, via pen and paper in my journal. But I’ll also take the time to ask God to guide me, to speak to and through me, and to rest and enjoy this Advent season, celebrating the birth of our Savior, with those I love the most.

I pray you’ll take the time to do the same. To embrace rest, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally and to live fully in the moment with those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

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

Anxious for Nothing . . .

It’s quite possible I’ve used this exact title before, but it’s relevant today so if I have . . . well, I guess I’m sorry . . . maybe.

I love, love, love (maybe that’s one love too much? Nah . . . ) the holiday season. There’s something about the months of November and December . . . the blur of Thanksgiving into Christmas . . . and yes, like it or not, it all runs together . . . not to worry though, we love and celebrate all the holidays. We gobble ’til we wobble whilst decking those halls. But let’s be real Jesus trumps it all because He literally is the reason for the entire season, whether it be Thanksgiving or Christmas, as far as I’m concerned. (And I’ll stop with the clichés now . . .)

But also, November, in particular, is a crazy month that leads into an equally busy but slightly calmer December. From mid October to yesterday, between church and school, I ended up either being in charge of or very involved in helping with five different but important, events. While I generally am an advocate for either delegating or flat out saying “no” to things that take time and energy from my marriage and family, these events are ones that I feel the need, not compulsion but need, to say “yes” to. Because sometimes a “yes” is necessary. Add to that the normal holiday season stressors . . . family dynamics . . . upcoming holiday parties . . . disagreements about “stuff” . . . all the normal, read: crazy, that goes into all of it . . . and along with the love, love, love can come anxiety, anxiety, anxiety.

Anxiety is something with which I’ve wrestled my entire life. It can present in different ways, sleepless nights, my brain refusing to shut off, an upset stomach, or sheer exhaustion, but there are certain times when it amps up exponentially. And when I let anxiety get going I become rigid, my perfectionistic tendencies multiply, and I start to worry about and take on other people’s problems, to allow myself to be drug into the drama, when it is neither my place nor my issue.

Here’s the the thing. Anxiety is a liar on so many levels. It tells us we’re broken and unfixable, a total failure at everything . . . it tells us we can maintain control by worrying about all the things going on around us (this one is my personal favorite and one I find myself employing way too often) . . . it tells us we must do more, be more perfect, try harder but also, we are never going to measure up no matter how hard we try . . . which isn’t totally a lie because none of us are Jesus and that’s why we can’t measure up . . . He is our righteousness . . . He is our goodness . . . trying harder and doing more only lead to more exhaustion.

So what’s the solution to all the crazy? Because I know I’m not alone in this.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

Paul gives us step by step instructions here:

  1. “Rejoice (be glad) in the Lord always.” Always . . . all the time. And then he says it again . . . with an explanation point for good measure. “Again I will say, rejoice!” I can honestly say that I’m never more willing to relinquish control than when I’m praising God. It reminds me over and over that He truly is in control, and any control I have is only an illusion.
  2. “Let your gentleness (let your gentle spirit) be evident (known) to all men.” Full confession. Gentleness isn’t one of my natural tendencies, but thank God I am redeemed. Galatians 5:23 says that gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and I have the Holy Spirit dwelling and living and operating in me ergo I am gentle. It often means stopping and asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me and through me before I plow ahead. It means filtering my words and deeds through Him first. It’s definitely a work in progress, but it is a work that He is doing.
  3. “Be anxious (have care) for nothing (no one, nothing), but in everything by prayer and supplication (a need, entreaty), with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” The Bible says it, not me so if you don’t like it, take it up with God. It’s so simple, and yet, I struggle with it so hugely. I have to make a conscious effort to give it, whatever it may be, over to God. I have to be willing to give up control and basically dump all my junk, all my cares and worries on God. I have to earnestly pray and be thankful, knowing He does hear and He does listen and trust that He is working even when when I don’t see it. God wants us to communicate with Him. He wants us to ask. He wants to hear from us. It doesn’t have to be eloquent. It just needs to be real. And it’s okay to tell Him you’re struggling with anxiety.

And the promise that follows, in verse 7 is so very sweet, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding (comprehension), will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

But in order to receive that incomprehensible peace we first have to let go. I’ve said before that I can often be heard muttering, in a half joking manner, “Jesus take the wheel”, but the reality is, I never utter those words unless I really mean them. While the words may be lighthearted, the prayer is very real. I am totally unqualified to drive this vehicle without God, and when I try, the tension and anxiety mount until they are almost unbearable. I can buckle down and keep on trucking, or I can turn back to Paul’s words in Philippians. I do not have all the answers, but I know the One who does. The world may be absolute chaos around me, but I have a personal relationship with the Prince of Peace. Others may be harsh and unyielding, but I can allow gentleness to reign (amongst other things . . . see Galatians 5). I can trust God for peace and protection no matter what comes. However, all of it only happens if I seek God first and allow the Holy Spirit to have control of my heart and my life.

So here’s to Peace this holiday season. Here’s to remembering, amidst all the crazy, why we celebrate. Here’s to letting go.

Copyright 2021, 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.

No Justification Necessary

“Do you work?”

It’s a common and innocuous question.

Instead of just answering that I stay home, I often find myself launching into a detailed explanation, a justification, of why I no longer work a paying job.

I spent four years in college . . . I don’t regret one day of those years nor do I feel they were a waste. I grew so much in that time and was afforded a safe place, a space somewhere between childhood and full on adulthood that I know is an immense privilege, to grow up and into myself.

I spent ten years in education for which I’m immensely thankful. Those ten years taught me so much. They weren’t without a few tears but also brought a ton of joy (and lifelong friendships). In those first years of teaching, I thought I would return to school, earn my masters, and work my way up the admin ladder. Then, five years in, I had my son, and in the weeks following his birth, I realized that my desires had completely flipped. The desire to work my way to the top was replaced by a deep desire to stay home. It was five more years before I was able to transition from teaching full time (and then some) to working part time for my family’s business. Another two and half years passed before I was able to fully realize the dream of staying home when we brought our daughter home from Bulgaria.

So, no, I don’t go to work at a job that pays. But I do work. Probably harder than I ever worked in the years I was paid to show up and do a job. That’s not a play for sympathy . . . not in the least . . . but I am determined to stop apologizing and justifying the fact that I stay home.

And I’ve come to realize some very important truths regarding being a stay at home mom/wife:

  • It needs no justification. Unless you are directly affected by my choices, I owe you neither justification nor explanation. No, not everyone is afforded the privilege of being able to stay home (so please don’t send me an email or comment about how you were not able to . . . I fully realize it’s a blessing), but also, we work hard to make it work. And we do the things necessary to make sure I can continue to stay home.
  • It is not less than. What I do . . . day in and out . . . cleaning, laundry, cooking, grocery runs, taxiing kids, helping with school events, being available to help my husband with whatever “stuff” comes up (on the rare occasion the need arises) . . . it is not less than . . . it is important. We glorify careers. We see them as “more than”, while performing household duties is somehow “less than”. But both have value and purpose.
  • And to the last point, just like having a career isn’t for everyone, staying home is also not for everyone. We are not all called to the same things. We do not all have the same talents and giftings or the same desires. What you decide to do or not do is between you and your spouse and God. Period.
  • It’s hard. My children do have chores, but the lion’s share of the housework is my responsibility, and the never-ending cycle of tasks that come from staying home can be mundane and tedious and exhausting sometimes. It’s a 24/7/365 kind of job, and sometimes it can feel like all I do is wash clothes and dishes and clean floors and feed people (these people eat so. much. food.), but hard does not mean horrible. AND it’s also an incredibly precious gift and blessing to be here in this place, at this time, helping to create a safe and happy home for these people.
  • Finally, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m not June Cleaver, and this isn’t Leave it to Beaver. So if we order a pizza sometimes or the floors don’t get mopped one week, the world will not stop spinning on its axis, and my family won’t cease to function well . . . honestly, they probably wouldn’t even notice.

So the next time someone asks me if I work, I can give a witty answer . . . “I’m the CEO of my home” . . . or I can be humorous . . . “I’m a domestic goddess” . . . or I can simply say, “I stay home.” No explanation or justification needed.

This isn’t exclusive to my life or situation. Too many of us walk around making justifications and offering explanations when they absolutely are not necessary. There are times when we need to explain things to those closest to us, but also, we need to normalize not offering an explanation to the whole wide world every time we make a choice or decision. Likewise, on the flip side, sometimes we need to let people’s yes be yes and no be no without demanding an explanation or justification.

Copyright 2021, 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.

When Criticism is Valid

Raise your hand if you love receiving criticism. FYI, I’m not raising my hand over here. I hate criticism. I hate being wrong. Most of us do. It’s a pride problem. It’s a sin issue.

I witnessed an exchange earlier this week where a person, in Christian circles, received what was some very valid and constructive criticism on a recent book they had published, and rather than reflect on the actual feedback, said person called out the critics in a very dismissive way. (Yes I’m being intentionally vague. No I won’t tell you who or what was being criticized. That’s not my point here.)

It made me stop and think about criticism, feedback, correction . . . whatever name you wish to give it . . . and how I handle it. Do I take criticism well? Do I stop and ask myself if it’s valid and helpful? Or do I dig in my heels and insist I’m right?

Because the reality is criticism that is constructive has both a place and a purpose.

Criticism is not always a dirty word. Can it be damaging if given with the wrong intentions? Absolutely. But it can also be something that affects great change if used and given wisely.

Criticism gives us the opportunity to reflect and work toward meaningful change.

Criticism can often be protective. Especially in instances where we are leaders . . . sometimes we must both criticize in a constructive manner and receive criticism in order to protect those around us . . . those we are leading. We must be both discerning and wise about what and who we let in, and often times, that discernment can be perceived as having a critical spirit to those who disagree with us. Further, if we are above receiving and reflecting on constructive feedback, then we are below being a leader.

There’s a vast difference in being a fault finder . . . a complainer . . . or as we would say in Christian circles, having a critical spirit, and issuing criticism when it is necessary and needed.

Likewise, there’s a vast difference in coming under condemnation, which is neither helpful nor good and allowing constructive criticism to be a vehicle for positive change.

As I said in the beginning, I’m not a fan of criticism, correction, or feedback, but that issue is typically with me and not the person giving it. There are times, when, yes, people are critical just for the sake of being critical, but there are also times when someone is genuinely trying to be helpful in what they are saying . . . where that person is looking to help me see a different perspective. And rather than get in a huff the moment criticism comes, I am learning, albeit very slowly and not always super well, to stop and pray and ask the Holy Spirit if what is being said is valid. To listen rather than immediately respond and defend myself . . . to reflect on what is being said and why. Because if the criticism has merit, getting offended is only going to cause more harm than good.

I am also learning to pray for discernment and stand by what I feel God is teaching and telling me knowing full well that if ever I’m in error, He will show me. Yes, sometimes that means that people will be angry. Sometimes that means that people will walk away, but as long as I’m speaking the truth in love, at the end of the day, I answer only to God.

In Galatians 2:11-21, Paul openly tells the Galatians that he confronted Peter when he felt Peter was wrong. It wasn’t that Paul was aiming to humiliate Peter, but what Peter had done and said lead others astray. Paul had a responsibility to publicly correct that. I’m sure there were those that wondered if it was really necessary for Paul to call Peter out as he did. It was. In order to further God’s kingdom, and correct erroneous teachings, it was absolutely necessary.

There are two scriptures, from the same chapter of God’s word, that I think are so important to both giving and receiving constructive criticism.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” Proverbs 15:1-2

May the words I say always be said in a way that turns away wrath. May they bring peace and healing even while they are bringing correction.

“The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdain despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.” Proverbs 15:31-32

May I receive rebuke, reproof, in a way that brings both understanding and life even when, in the moment, it may feel unpleasant and uncomfortable.

Copyright 2021, 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 Power of the Tongue . . . Choose and Use Your Words Wisely

“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” James 3:1-12

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Our words . . . the words we say . . . the words we type . . . the words we repeat (i.e. share) . . . the words we put out there in person or on social media . . . whether they be spoken or written . . . matter. They carry so much weight.

We like to downplay them. They’re just words after all. How much damage can they really do?

Don’t ask me. Go straight to the book of James. He had some pretty strong feelings on how we use our mouths and control our tongues. He says our tongues are “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”. That’s pretty strong language. And then he goes on to address what seems to have been an issue then and continues to be an issue now. “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things out not be so.” Let’s be totally honest. This whole passage is incredibly convicting.

I’m good with words. I’m a words person. Words matter a ton to me. But the thing about being good with words is I can also be very dangerous with them. I can weaponize them easily and use them to utterly destroy . Given the right circumstances, I will take you down with my words. I’m not saying that as a point of pride. Quite the opposite. But I think we need to acknowledge the power our words hold. We need to understand that we are called to choose and use our words carefully. Because words, once put out there, can be apologized for, but they cannot be taken back. They cannot be retrieved and put away as if they were never spoken.

“See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

I think we get lost in the simplicity of this scripture from Proverbs. We overcomplicate it and try to make it mean something it doesn’t. We need to take it at face value. Our words can destroy. They can tear down. They can do immense harm. But they can also heal. They can build up. They can encourage and strengthen. So simple. And yet, it is so difficult.

But no man can tame the tongue.”

The thing is, I can’t tame my own tongue. Without the power and the leading and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I’ll utterly fail at controlling my tongue. So I have to turn it over to Him. I have to let Him speak to my heart, “Don’t repeat that . . . Don’t share that . . . Don’t say that . . . Don’t think that” but also “Do say this . . . Do share this . . . Do give encouragement . . . “. I have to submit to Him in order to ever have any hope of taming my unruly tongue.

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

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved  

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

Never Good Enough

My righteousness is like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) . . .

And I’m okay with that.

Nothing I do will ever cause me to measure up . . .

And I’m good with that.

I am not, cannot be, good enough (Romans 3:10) . . .

And I actually find peace in that.

Not because I want to be bad . . . to sin . . . to mess up . . . quite the opposite is true. I want to be clean, right, and good. But the reality is, I could outwardly be the best person in the world, and my heart and soul would still be stained with sin.

Paul called himself the “chief of all sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), and in Romans 7:15 he said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

So how can all this be good? How can all this bring peace? It can’t. The fact that we can never do enough, perform well enough, be clean enough to earn our way into God’s favor is not the “good news”. But here it is. Jesus . . . Jesus wiped all the sin away. Hanging on that cross over 2000 years ago, He took it all and redeemed us. The weight He carried, the sins of all of mankind for all time, wasn’t just a tremendous weight, it was utterly and completely crushing. It separated Father from Son as our Savior cried out “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). But while it may have killed Him, it did not defeat Him. In that moment, my sins and your sins were covered by the blood of our Savior, and on the third day, He rose again.

That is the “good news”!

That brings enormous peace.

That is why I’m okay with not being okay.

Because when that, not so quiet, voice starts echoing through my mind, “You’re not good enough . . . if only they knew . . . you mess up and then mess up again . . . ” I don’t have to stand in defense of myself. Jesus stood for me. I don’t have to fight it or try to justify. I don’t have to perform more or try harder in hopes that the good will somehow outweigh the bad on some great cosmic scales of justice. Spoiler alert: it will never happen. I just acknowledge it. My own righteousness is as filthy rags, but I know a man, who is also God, who gave all to redeem me. And where my good-ness utterly fails, His perfection and righteousness forever triumph.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:23-26

The grace and goodness of my Savior cover every fault and every sin, and spur me on to do better and be better. Not because I’m trying to earn my way, but because I’ve been given so much and loved so deeply despite my filthiness. It’s that grace and goodness that cause me to desire to live a life marked by redemption and obedience . . . a slave not to sin but to righteousness.

“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:15-18

Our goodness starts not with us but with a Savior.

Our salvation is not our own to earn but His to give, and ours only to accept.

It’s that simple, and yet, it’s that complicated. Nothing we can do . . . no performance . . . no good deed . . . will get us where we want to be.

Only Jesus.

So the question is, “Do you know my Savior?”

Copyright 2021, 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.

100% Guaranteed

My husband and I are coming up on 23 years of being together (18+ married). If you’ve been around here for more than a few minutes, you know that I’m a big believer in marriage . . . God ordained, thriving marriages. If you were to ask me if I have a good marriage I’d respond that we have a “great marriage”. If you were to ask me if I have a perfect marriage I’d laugh . . . not by a long shot because the reality is we are two very imperfect, very stubborn, people. But perfect and great are not equivalent.

There’s another reality that isn’t as often addressed. We are not lucky. We are not lucky to have found one another or lucky that we just happened to have married our “soul mates” (I don’t buy into the idea of there being one perfect soul mate for everyone). We ARE very blessed to have been given one another, but our great marriage? It takes work and partnering with the Holy Spirit day in and day out to be the best spouse we can each be.

Jimmy Evans, the founder of XO Marriage, can frequently be heard saying, “You’re marriage has a 100% chance of success if you do it God’s way.” Did y’all catch that? Not 95%. Not 98%. Not even 99.99%. 100%. It’s one of my favorite truths.

But here’s the other part of that truth, it only works if you’re both willing to do it “God’s way”. If you’re both willing to put Him first and your spouse second only to Him. If you’re both willing to put in the work. Not that you’ll do everything perfectly. You won’t. Not that you’ll never fight. You will. But you keep coming back to God, putting Him in His proper place at the forefront of your lives, and seeking to love and serve, to honor and respect one another above everything except God. That is a 100% guarantee of success.

Maybe you’re on board, but your spouse? Not so much. Unless there is abuse and unfaithfulness (in which case you need to get to safety and get professional help), I encourage to do your part. Put in the prayer, make the effort, continue to love and honor and serve your spouse, and trust God to change your spouse’s heart.

And so coming up on 23 years of being together, this is what I’m pondering. I’m very thankful for my husband and my marriage, but I’m also incredibly aware that I have to continue to put in the work and the effort on a daily basis in order to not only maintain but also grow in my marriage. I’m also incredibly aware that not everyone has this, and that’s why I share. Not to say, “Look at us. We’re so awesome! We have it all together.” Because we don’t. But because I know that God is no respecter of persons, and what He has done for us, He’ll do for you. But only if you’re willing to submit yourself to His way of doing things. I encourage you to start by putting Jesus in the proper place in your life if you haven’t yet done that, and then ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you work toward have a great (or even greater . . . as the case may be) marriage.

Copyright 2021, 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 Hardest Words . . .

I was wrong.

I am sorry.

Six simple words.

Two basic phrases.

Why are they so hard to say? Why is it so hard to admit when we’re wrong? Why is saying “I’m sorry” so difficult?

I’d venture that 95% of it is pride, plain and simple.

Or maybe it’s just me?

Because y’all these words, these phrases, are HARD for me.

If you read my last post, Pride and Destruction, then you know I know (that’s a mouthful) how dangerous pride is, but at the same time, I think it’s a constant battle that most of us face. And it’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that any of us are ever going to win that battle.

Three things I’m learning about being wrong and apologizing . . . about not letting pride win.

First, we can be totally right and still be very wrong. We can have the right moral stance, yet have the wrong attitude. Our outward actions can look so good . . . so pious . . . while our hearts and our motives are anything but.

Second, just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong. I know that one is so obvious, but it’s ironic how often we pass judgment on things that just don’t matter. Yes, there are moral absolutes. But a lot of times we go to battle over differences of opinion, over preferences, that have absolutely no moral implications.

Third, a lot of times the faults we see in others (both in our day-to-day personal lives and in society as a whole) are also issues we struggle with personally. Not so much when it comes to black and white, right and wrong, issues, but more when it comes to opinions, pervasive attitudes, and character flaws. We can see those flaws . . . that person is too picky, rude, selfish, judgmental, easily offended, argumentative, the list goes on . . . as clear as day in those around us, but we are blind to it in ourselves. In short, we tend to be hypocrital, to say the least.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5

In case you were wondering, those words are in red . . . straight out of the mouth of Jesus.

A lot of times we throw around two parts of this, “judge not lest you be judged” and “remove the plank from your own eye”. But we really have to take the passage as a whole. We do not judge by our own standards. We do judge by the standard set by the word of God, but before we can do any of that, it starts with ourselves. We first have to do the work on our own hearts, our own attitudes, and in our own lives. Then we can help others not from a place of judgment and self righteousness, but from a place of love and grace and mercy.

It starts with admitting that sometimes we’re wrong and sometimes we need to just say the words, “I’m sorry”. No matter how hard that might be.

Copyright 2021, 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.

Pride and Destruction

Reading Ezekiel 30 the other day, I was struck by these two verses regarding Egypt:

vs 6a – “Those who uphold Egypt shall fall, and the pride of her power shall come down.”

vs. 18b – “And her arrogant strength shall cease in her; as for her, a cloud shall cover her.”

While I recommend reading the entire chapter for context, two words in these two specific verses jumped out at me, pride and arrogant. A simple word study leads you realize that they are actually both the same word in the Hebrew, gaon* meaning “exaltation“. Egypt exalted her own power and strength over all else. It caused her to sin. It caused her to become exceedingly evil so much so that in chapter 29 verse 3 of Ezekiel pharaoh is referred to as a “great monster”. And ultimately it was her pride and arrogance that also led to her destruction.

Just six books before Ezekiel you’ll find the book of Proverbs. A book full of well known wisdom and guidance, and some of the most oft quoted scriptures of all can be found in chapter 16 verses 18 and 19, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Pride . . . once again the exact same word is used, gaon. Once again we’re warned against self exaltation. And I couldn’t help but wonder, “How often do we blame everything but the right thing for our falls? How often do we seek to blame those around us . . . do we give satan credit where it absolutely is not due. . . do we cast responsibility on anyone and everyone else . . . when in actuality we should be blaming our problems and our falls on our own pride and arrogance?”

Pride is such an insidious sin. It’s not always front and center. It sneaks its way into our hearts. It often presents as moral outrage and masks itself as false humility. Too often we use the guise of righteousness to justify arrogance, pride, haughtiness, and downright meanness. And the problem isn’t with our morals. I will stand on biblical principals and morals until my last breath. The problem is in our hearts. It’s a haughty and arrogant spirit, and I believe that all too often that spirit, that attitude, is our downfall.

I am convinced that God is far more concerned with the character of our hearts than with seeing our earthly plans come to fruition. That’s not to say He doesn’t want good for us or have good plans for us. He absolutely does (Jeremiah 29:11), but ultimately everything we do is supposed to be for His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.

Make no mistake, I’m not throwing any stones here. When I say “we” I completely mean me. I keep returning back to Proverbs 16:19, “Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Humble and lowly are hard. And I think we often confuse humble with compromising. Humble in no way equates compromising. But it does mean that we’re steadfast, not only in our beliefs but also in our love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. It means that we daily walk out Galatians 5:22-23, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. It means that we take no pleasure in the hurt and fall of others and want what is good and right for them. It means that we look at others through the eyes of Jesus and seek to love as He loves. And love, true, agape, Christlike love is never rooted in pride.

I don’t think there are any words that better express this than the following, and I believe that they should serve as our guide for not only our outward actions but our inward thoughts:

“Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rude, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a

Copyright 2021, 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.

* https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1347b.htm

I See Color . . .

I see the color of your eyes, your hair, and yes, your skin.

I don’t say that because I’m trying to be relevant or woke or politically correct . . . or not. Maybe saying that is none of those things. Maybe this post will offend a number of people, and that’s never my intent, intentionally bringing offense. But it’s the truth . . . a fact . . . I see color.

There was a time when I thought not seeing color was the right thing to do. And I stand corrected. Judging, treating others as less than, based upon skin color (or any other trait) is always unequivocally wrong. I want to be very clear about that. But acting as if we’re all the same, as if our differences don’t exist, is also not right.

I see color because I’m a (very) white (thank you to my Irish heritage) mother of a child with beautiful deep brown skin. Denying we’re different is ridiculous. And I see color because she sees color.

She notices freckles and shades of skin . . . eyes and hair, both texture and color . . . She looks for those that look like her and those that do not. Never in a judgmental way. Always in an observational way. What she has taught me is that our differences aren’t things to be ignored, as if they don’t exist, but something to be celebrated. Each of us uniquely created, our skin, our hair, our eyes . . . the list goes on . . . and so when she notices that her skin is “brown” and mine is “white”, I don’t shy away from that. I don’t hush her saying it’s “something we don’t discuss”. As if different equals bad. Instead, I take the opportunity to teach her that we are all special and beautiful and unique, carefully crafted by and made in the image of the Master Creator. We aren’t just a result of a genetic lottery but have each been formed and created with so much love.

So yes. I see color. And I will celebrate every single beautiful shade of color God has given us.

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
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 2021, 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.