Monday, December 8, 2014

Mornings with the Maffetts

Today, we are playing the 1, 2, 3 tag game (or at least our take of it). What other games should we play together?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014


My first reaction was, "When it rains, it pours!"

The fact that I even went there, both in mind and on my facebook status, shows alot about the true state of my heart. I gave alot of annoyed sighs, a couple eye-rolls, and I heard myself say, "for real God?" just a few times during this season. But none the less, I was moving forward... Right? Standing firm and enduring my hardship. Look how strong I am!! Or was I? I have found myself, really, just exsisting while taking, what felt like, each progressively, overwhelming surge.

Got into an accident, whip lash and a late night visit to the ER.
The place where we worship is in controversy, lots of prayer and conversations.
I broke my tooth, $300.
We find out more information about our church, lots of tears and more prayer.
Our Honda broke down, $850.
More stuff comes out about our church, now frustration, confusion, and more tears.
Paying for treatments from my accident, $250.
Our Honda breaks down again, $375.
Derek's latest yearly MRI shows 20 lesions when there has been only 3 for the past 3 years, lots of tears and I'm getting scared.
Insurance is refusing to pay for the accident, lots of anger.
More church stuff, I'm starting to get numb.
Our car's engine blows, $3,000+.
Add on the relentless day to day traffic, gas prices, work related issues, trying to build your direct sales business, fighting with my husband, moving and needing to put stuff in our home...

I'm trying! I'm trying to catch my breath. I'm trying to keep a smile on my face and my chin up, but this is HARD. I'm weary and I don't want to fake it till I make it. I want real joy, real peace, and real strength, because I'm really weak.

And that's the point. I've been trying to fight the waves that are crashing into me and they keep showing me my weakness. I'm not strong enough to handle them and I feel out of control and lost. I can't stand anymore.

Yes, I have been blasted by continious waves but I'm beginning to notice that I am laid upon the Rock of Ages. This cleft Rock has me and will not seem to let me go. The waves a wearing and blistering, but this Rock is unmoveable, sterdy, and trustworthy. He is my salvation in the storm. He is my safe ground, the One whom I find my shelter. Despite all things, which cannot be ignored or overlooked, He is ever present. In is presence alone, I am given an odd peace, one I normally wouldn't have in floods like this. He is here. He has made Himself known to me and I will follow him. My circumstance didn't change, just my perspective in light of my identity.

Jesus is to be my joy. Not my means to an end.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Story that's "Weighty"

This story is just that…a story! I happen to live this story, but I'm hoping that it can give you a little insight on how God has used my circumstances to love me, but even more how much I need him. This story illustrates where I currently find myself. I would like to remind you that this does not define me, although it used to. Sometimes I feel like I have "Big Girl" written on my forehead, but my weight, height, cellulite, and stretch marks say very little of my heart. Please read my story, and remember it's just a tiny glimpse into God's huge, overarching story of His Glory. Please note that I am not sharing this for any health advice or weight loss plans. I have a great team around me that is helping me overcome where my heart is, my sin, and my eating habits. I tell this story with the intentions of showing the depravity of my human heart, and ultimately show, once again that I as well as you, have a daily desperate need for a Savior.

"Dang, She got big!"
Those are the words I have overheard friends saying to other friends. I could read them as they rolled off the lips of family members, as they leaned over to whisper into another's ear. I have heard things like, "I would let you borrow my shirt, but I don't want it to stretch out," "I don't want it, but Courtney will probably eat it," and "She can't fit in here," from people on a packed elevator.

Thankfully, no one has asked me the question, "are you pregnant?" No, I'm not! I think I would cry on the spot. I have gained about 51 pounds in less than 3 years. Yes, I know there is a problem. No, it is not my thyroid. Truthfully, sometimes I wish it were a pregnancy, or had a thyroid issue. Then I would have something else to blame for how I look, rather than the truth! The truth is that I need to look at my heart and acknowledge the real problem. This may seem sad, but it's true.

Over three years ago, on my wedding day I wore a size 8 fitted-dress.
I weighed 165 pounds. I looked great, but I was miserable.

Growing up I developed quicker than most of my schoolmates. My birthday was after August so our school held me back from starting Pre-K for a year. I wasn't too self-conscious until I entered 6th grade. Something triggered in me when my best friend, who was overweight, began to hate herself for how she looked. I played outside a lot, played volleyball, and was pretty active. I had a cute body, but I began to see that I looked different from the girls around me. I was taller and my body developed curves sooner then theirs did. I didn't see that as maturity, I saw it as being big. I felt big, no matter my weight, or the pant's size. It became an ever present voice that taunted me in my head. As I feared my weight and tried to control it, my body blew up. It was this massive pendulum that swung from anorexia to gluttony. I considered throwing up, but I was a singer and knew it could damage my vocal cords. Instead I tried to eat my sorrow away, but it never seemed satisfied.
Through high school, I quit all of my sports because a "serious" relationship was taking up a lot of my time. I gained alot of weight, and I gained it really fast. I remember in the beginning of my relationship, this boyfriend begging me with tears in his eyes, "Please, don't get fat! Please!"
I broke up with him and ran away to a bible school (that's a whole 'nother story). I lost a lot of my weight thanks to being broke, having no job, and a low budget cafeteria menu. I became less stressed as the pounds shed, but still in my heart, I felt like a "fat girl."
I was able to stay smaller as I worked at the summer camp which had long hours and small meals. Still, my heart was uneasy and wasn't satisfied. In my eyes, I was bigger than the girls around me. I was convienced I couldn't be anyone's definition of beautiful because I wasn't even my own.

In my mind, beautiful was blond, petite, and super skinny.
Which I was none of the above!

Where did I get this? Why was this my definition? Maybe media, maybe it was the girls I saw with the guys I wanted. Maybe it was because I didn't see myself as beautiful, beauty had to be everything I wasn't.
I was sold a lie, and bought it.

I didn't believe anyone that would try to tell me I was lovely, or that what I was believing was lies! Instead, the rejection of others and lack of praise was what defined me. It was my identity. I was broken. I had no idea who I really was. I didn't believe that what God created (Me!) was good or was ever enough. Even when I had all that my wicked heart desired, the blonde hair and was a skinny version of myself. I was not satisfied.

I met Derek at that summer camp.
He was a masterpiece.
Smart, handsome, funny, and amazingly talented!
I really liked him. He seemed to really like me too.
I felt I had two things going for me at that point. Two things I thought I could slam on our imaginary table and say "Hey Derek! Choose me! I'm worth something!"
1. I thought I was pretty (now that I wasn't as big as I once was).
2. I could sing.
I knew Derek wanted to be a spoken word artist, so I knew I had what he would want in a wife.
I would like to add, God loves his creation. He loves what He has made. He knows all things, which means He also knows what will destroy us. These two things I thought I brought to the table defined me, not Jesus. I was worth something, because I was pretty, and I could sing. Not because I found my hope and idenity in Jesus. 

So what would it mean if I wasn't “pretty," and I could no longer sing... What would I have left?

Let's find out.
Because God loves me so much, He destroyed my idols. It seemed like the day after my wedding I inflated. Five, ten, twenty pounds. I was speeding down a hill and I could not stop. I tried what seemed like everything, but I couldn't let go of the weight.

I grew polyps on my vocal cords, and because I was prideful and angry, I kept singing. I ended up losing my voice and needing surgery, which kept me completely silent for about a month. I never thought I would sing again. I was so angry at God. As I lost control, I thought for sure Derek would leave me because I wasn't the girl he married anymore. I was just waiting for a tiny, blonde girl to come bouncy into our lives and I would have to watch my husband be woo'd away from me.

What happened next, left me in awe.

This man loved me so well during these past 3 years. He has held me as I've cried, complimented me, encouraged me as I worked out, and continued to enjoy me as I am. My inability to believe I was enough played a huge part in many of our fights. Derek has shown me the Gospel by loving me deeply during this time past my body shape. We are still together, our covenant is strong, and we are growing in our love, and enjoyment of each other daily! He is my biggest fan, and my best friend. I'm so grateful for the gift he is in my life.
When do you hear stories like that?
Now, you may think that God was mean to me (I did at the time), or you may even say that this wasn't God. You may think I miss stated something when I said he loves me so much that he destroyed my idols. But I know God loves me! He has convienced me of this truth time, and time again. I know he would preserve me for that which will greatly harm me, I'm not just talking about temporal, but eternal/heart/deep stuff. He cares more about my heart then my happiness, because He knows what my heart is focused on will direct me. When I am naval gazing, I compare, covet, and critize all those around me, losing many friends in the process. I know because it's happened before!!
Let me clarify. Being healthy and strong is not wicked. It's what Jesus intended us to do as stewards of our body. But personally, that was not my heart's intensions in my vanity. I wanted to be hot, admired, and wanted. Those are dangerous desires with ill intentions. I'm glad Jesus didn't let me lose the weight. I could see that the vanity in my heart was quenching any joy out of my day to day life.
I'm learning so much about what beauty really is, and this is why my blog say "Beauty flows from a beautiful heart," it's true!. My weight, my hair color, skin color, even the words people say about me, do not define me. My identity is found is Christ Alone!
My body may not be where it should be, but my heart is growing in a direction where I can become a better steward with it. I want to glorify God with my body, heart and mind and feel confident that my idenity is not found in my pant's size, but whom I hide myself in. Jesus.
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee."
This is certainly not the end of my story, and I can't wait to share more of overcoming gluttony and obesity. I hope to learn these valuable lessons thoroughly, so that I may pass them on to my children.
How do you feel in your skin? Who/What defines that?


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Friendship is Important

Life is busy! There seems to always be something going on in work, at church, or at home. It's hard finding time to have intentional relationships, but they are much needed. I'm grateful that my church encourages community groups to gather once a week. This makes it easy to get to know people in your area and build strong relationships with people you normally wouldn't.
1. Be approachable: I haven't approached some ladies before because they just have this mug on their face that says, "What are you looking at?" I want to say, "Umm, nothing. I'm sorry," and walk away very quickly. Ladies, check your face.
2. Be a good listener: I have the hardest time with this one. I can be really selfish and find great joy in talking all about myself. I can change an entire conversation that starts about someone else and to become about me. Something the Holy Spirit has been convicting me on is to start intentionally listening to anyone that talks with me. What are they saying? Are they passionate about it? I don't have to put my two cents in, I can just listen and rejoice, mourning, or just be with them.
3. Be truthful but gracious: After listening, sometimes there needs to be truth shared. Whether it's sin to be addressed or you can tell they are believing a lie from the enemy, we are to share truth graciously. Truth isn't a hammer to break a person with. It isn't a moment of "I told you so." It's "please hear me out on this, because I love you." Pray first. Ask for wisdom and the words to address issues and share truth. Share Jesus with them.
4. Be adventurous: Your friends may like things that you have never tried or may not be right up your alley but I say, give it a try. They may like rollercoasters, hiking, roller blading, or sewing. Go for it. :) Step out of your comfort zone and try it. You never know, you may like it. I know that one of the things that blessed me, is when my best friend & husband Derek took me to a modern dance class. I love dance, but he does not! But he signed us up as a date night, and we both had such a blast. It was a onetime thing, but it was a memory for the books.
5. Be loving, even when it's hard: Sometimes, we don't see eye to eye and that's okay. We live in a fallen world with sinful people and despite how much we try, we will let each other down and even hurt each other. Don't jump out of a friendship when something happens, stick in there and watch your friendship get strong in the long run. It's worth it.
Are you someone that others consider a good friend? What ways is Jesus changing your heart and mind in order to become a better one?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In Christ Alone

This is a recording from the audience, of our band the Loyal Strangers. I got the opportunity to lead this song.
Written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
What song do you love to worship Jesus with?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dear 13 year-old Courtney,

We need to talk. I know you really don't like reading but I wanted to share some wisdom with you. Mind you, I'm you only a couple years further down the line, so that should scare you enough to keep reading...

First off, DO NOT TRY TO PIERCE YOUR TONGUE BY YOURSELF AT YOUR FRIEND'S HOUSE! That's stupid! Just because a couple of rebellious thirteen year olds in a movie did it, does not mean you should try. It's going to hurt and you're going to pass out. Yeah, you pass right out when you look in the mirror and see that SEWING needle in your tongue! Need I mention it doesn't even work in the end. Please. Just don't.

Secondly, love your family. Yes, I called them your family. Despite everything that has happened, no amount of distance and ignoring them makes them any less your family. Take advantage of your placement with them now because you never know when they will choose to cut off all communication with you or worse, leave this earth forever. Cherish them.

Hey, slow down. Enjoy the ride. The point of all of this isn't to get to the end of the road. It's the journey. There's alot to look at, tons of memories, laughter, cakes, storms, flat-tires, emergency room visits, and alot of the people. Soak it all in. Let that Texas-Tornado, survival-mode mind of yours slow down and smell the flowers, because you're missing them! It's a beautiful world that the Lord has created for us to enjoy and develop. Yeah, it can be pretty painful and at times dreadfully heart-breaking, but all of that draws you closer to Him, in whom we find peace, comfort, and restoration.

Speaking of Him, I want to tell you something. 

(Oh, I know you think you know who I am talking about. You've heard His name and have heard stuff folks around you have said about him, but that doesn't mean you know him. I want to remind you of all the times you were misrepresented by things that people said about you and they based their entire opinion of you solely on hear-say. Pretty frustrating, right?! You really don't know a person until they have revealed themselves to you and actually spend some time allowing you to really get to know them. So, hear me out.) 

You're angry. I get it and it's okay to be angry. He's going to help you in that area, and one of the first things He is going to give you is forgiveness. Then He is going to tell you to give it to others, even the undeserving ones. I know that that is the last thing you want to give because it makes you feel weak and vulnerable, and truthfully you want everyone to pay for what they've done to you. Let Jesus, the creator of everything, be your vindicator and the judge.

Soon, sweet girl, you are going to realize that Jesus has given you forgiveness for everything. Yes, I said, forgiveness for everything. No, you did nothing to deserve it, actually you didn't deserve it at all. This forgiveness was driven, given, and initiated by Love. I want you to look up 1 John 4:8. Now, reread that last sentence.

God loves you.

This love is not like anything you have ever experienced. He cares for you. He was with you and wept with you as you went through what you did. You are His and He is yours. This makes no sense right now and that's okay, but soon after experiencing this for yourself, He is going to enable you to forgive the people you never thought you could. 

Courtney, you have been forgiven. You are loved. You are chosen. I know you may not think you need it right now because you're "a pretty good person," but you will soon see that you are in desperate need of a Savior and you need forgiveness. He is the source of all things and he gives it to you not based on your performance, but freely. Live for His glory. There is so much joy there. That is where your identity is found, in Jesus.

(You in 12 years.)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Since You Been Gone...

One of our dear friends, Pancho, has moved back down to Texas. Derek offered to make the trip down with him and then just fly back after spending a couple days with his parents. Now normally, I am the one traveling which leaves Derek at home. So really, I've never been at home alone for a week at a time. This is weird.

Which has given me some time to notice what he does for me, how much he has inspired me, and just how much I really miss him.
Dear Mr. Maffett,

I need you to know that:
1. I miss your presence. You have given such me a sense of security and I feel very safe around you. I've noticed that I am a little more nervous when I'm on my own. 
2. I really miss your laugh. Your laugh is contagious and I love when I get you rollin'. I'm literally willing to do anything just to keep you laughing after I get you started. It makes me so happy!!! 
3. I miss your wisdom. I make dumb decisions when you are not around. The Holy Spirit uses you all the time to keep me in check, and he is easier to ignore when he isn't audible thru you. 
4. I enjoy your sweet surprises. I miss the small things you do for me. Like flowers for no reason, and hanging my jacket because it's laying on the floor. 
5. I am grateful for all of your acts of service. My phone would always be dead, my alarm wouldn't go off, and my keys would be lost forever without you.
6. I really enjoy our late night talks. You know, the ones I fall asleep during. (Jeez, this list is convicting...) Talking on the phone is nice but I miss seeing the passion in your eyes when you talk about something you believe in or want. 
7. I am thankful for your conviction. You can be bullheaded at times but your relentlessness for what you believe is inspiring. You fight hard for what's right and always stand up for truth.
8. I love to hear your kind words. You are a strong, yet tender man. When you speak, you are intentional and meaningful. 
9. I'm inspired by your love for the Lord. You are always leading me closer and closer to Jesus and testing my faith. You are repentant and forgiving. Thank you. :)
10. I can help but love your sweet dance moves. If anyone drops a beat, you are quick to drop it likes it hot with me. I'm grateful for a man that is so much fun!
I love you. I miss you. Come home soon.
XOXO, Your bride 

Changing up your normal routine is hard. Especially if it involves another person that is out of town for work or in another state seeing their parents. How do you deal with it? What kind of impacts and inspirations has a friend or family member made on you that you don't always notice, until it's missing? How does that make you want to love others on a more consistent bases? 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Seriously, Green Flowers?

I used to love romantic comedies. I love watching as "fate" made a handsome hunk fall helplessly in love with a perfect, dainty beauty that he would do for. It was so ROMANTIC but I've come to find that it is so not real life.
Derek liked me. He liked me a lot. He gave me a promise ring about 2 months after we started to intentionally date/court. Now he tells me, he wished he had just proposed because promise rings are pretty stupid. They say, "I promise to eventually engage you then promise to eventually marry you..."

Through our dating season though, Derek didn't give me flowers, or any special gifts other than the expected holiday stuff. We were both poor college students at the time, which was super understandable why I wasn't being showered in romantic symbols, but that didn't stop me from wanting to be shown this form of love.

My heart got pretty bad for a season. I began to wonder if Derek really even liked me. He would spend time with me, have great conversations with me, and tell me I was pretty from time to time. But for some reason, I just wanted him to surprise me with notes and poems, and sweet things like flowers and I was unsatisfied I wasn't getting that attention.

During our first year of marriage, I had such a hard time dealing with unmet and truthfully, unreasonable expectations that I held on Derek. He wasn't acting like the movies I watched growing up that said he would if he really loved me. I finally opened up about it, and Derek was hurt that I felt so neglected. I felt pretty stupid saying any of it because I would be reminded of all the sweet, whole hearted things he would say and do daily to show his love for me. But my words continued to fall out of my mouth, "I JUST WANT SOME FRIGGIN' FLOWERS!!!"
A couple days past and I came home to Derek's smiley face. "Welcome home, honey!"

As I hugged him, I could see over his shoulder a small vase with bright, neon orange, yellow, and green flowers.
Wait... What?
Neon orange.
Neon yellow.
Neon green.
The first flowers Derek has ever bought me.
Cue internal struggle between my brain and my heart.
Brain - "Shut up, he got you flowers."
"Awe, you got me flowers." I said in my soft, girlie voice. His eyes lit up, proud of his accomplishment. "Thank you so much." I whispered.
Heart - "Does he not know me, at all...”
Brain - "You asked for flowers, you were not very specific."
Heart - "Did I have to be?"
Brain - "Let it go and be grateful. Be patient."

So I thought I had let it go by not saying anything about it, but inside, I despised those flowers and mocked Derek for ever getting them.
Three hours later, we get into an argument about something minor and out of my mouth rolls, "YOU BOUGHT ME GREEN FLOWERS... REALLY!?"

I couldn't be grateful. I couldn't see the fact that he was trying to love me in my "language of love" which is very different from his, which is service and quality time. I made it about what I was getting verses the fact that my husband was blessing me and trying to show his love for me.

It was rough and my heart didn't change immediately.

For a while I used this story as ammo for how I thought Derek needed to step up his game. But I have since realized that I was the fool. I was the one so bent on the color of the flowers that I couldn't smell the sweet aroma of his love for me.

I apologized to him, about a year and a half later, for holding expectations over him (some that I didn't even realize I did) as to how his "real love for me" should look. Derek is not a Hollywood character, nor are we here to write my dream love story. We are a part of God's story, which is more romantic and pure then any "true love" tale ever told. He is kind, gentle, and patient despite our broken gifts and ever wondering hearts.

It has become a running tradition, and a never-failing-laughter-starter, to get some type of green flower in each bouquet that Derek gives me. It reminds me of God's pure love for me and intends for me to experience and give. It reminds me that,
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13

Monday, April 7, 2014

Houston, We Have A Problem...

I was scared.
Geniunely, fearful.

Derek was diagnoised back in 2011 with multiple sclerosis (an amazing story which I'll share later). His amazing doctor started him on a great medicine called Copaxone. The side effects were small and quick, if any at all, compared to the other treatments available. Derek was 24 years old at the time and was covered by his dad's insurance, but we both knew that that would end on the last day of November of 2013 at 11:59 pm. We knew that day was coming and we had no clue what we were going to do about it. So we prayed and kept living life.

Moving to Seattle was so exciting! We came to realize that we were doing something pretty out of the ordinary. We would get strange looks when people would ask what was taking us to Seattle and our answer would be "Jesus." We didn't really have a plan. We just knew we were supposed to do it.

I had gotten a job with Princess Cruiseline over a phone interview while still living in Houston. The program was a temporary position and would begin May 15th and end October 15th. I didn't care. It was a job in Seattle, our next season, and another reason to give people instead of "Jesus" when they asked why we were moving. Plus, it sounded pretty official. "Oh, I got a job working for a cruise line, you may have heard of it. It's called Princess. Princess Cruiseline."

We made it to Seattle, and began to settle in. Derek applied and was accepted to do an internship with the church. That meant he would only have time to work a part-time position. But, I was excited! This is what we had been praying for and it was happening. We were both in agreement that I would be the primary source of income, (funny, huh? see Sailing to Seattle.) and Derek would continue to work part-time as a Segway Tour guide. Yeah, my Texan husband was giving folks a tour around Seattle. :) Jesus is hilarious.

I thought surely I could work my way into Princess. I thought I could show them I'm a good worker and have something to offer the company. But when I got there, I noticed I was one of about 2,000 other temps hired for the Alaska season. They seemed to be favoring others around me and I just couldn't get "in." We all know when we are "in" and when we are truly just temps. This temp position didn't offer any health insurance either, just a nice discount on a future cruise with them.

What am I supposed to do? Derek's medicine costs about $4,000 a month without insurance and God forbid he get hospitalized again. That's about $40,000 we don't have. We needed health care. We needed a good job.

The pressure fell on me like a heavy sack of potatoes. I felt like it all depended on me. So what does Courtney do when she needs to get something done. She does it. Quickly. With not alot of prayer or thought. She jumps on whatever seems fastest and most logical.

So I quit Princess.

I found out that Starbucks gives health care to part-time employees and they just so happen to be hiring down from my house. I applied and got the 25 hour a week job.

It was fun at first. I really enjoyed be a barista. But honestly, we could barely pay our bills, how the heck are we going to pay for health care too. I couldn't just get healthcare for him, I had to pay for mine also... And that was going to end up taking our whole check!! I realized quickly that I had messed up. WHAT HAVE I DONE!?

I was at my breaking point. Fear consumed me. Lies and condemnation flooded my mind.

"What are you going to do now?"
"Your husband will pay for your selfishness."
"God's going to punish you for being disobedient."
"You're done for."

I didn't realize how I saw the Lord until that moment. I began to realize that I saw him as some sort of karmic deity, that would punish me at any slip off of his harshly thin tight rope of righteousness. I couldn't handle it. I believed he would let us fail and crush us because of my fear, hasty decisions, and lack of faith. Oh how, I didn't understand the Gospel.

I believed I was a broken, unprofitable product that was once again failing the expectations of the One whom I just wanted to love me. What I didn't understand was, yes I am. I am all of that. But all of those expectations were fulfilled by Jesus. His righteousness is now my righteousness. His faithfulness is now my faithfulness. And I mean, I knew that. But I didn't really believe that. My mind said, "Oh, yeah, yeah, I got that." But my actions said, "No way. I'm all alone in this." Is it really something you believe if you don't do what you are saying you believe?

"Hey, there is poop in that cookie."
"Oh, okay thanks for the heads up."
Yeah, you didn't believe it.
I cried out. I repented for running in any direction I thought would be my salvation rather than turning to him. I repented for turning to this world in hopes that it would save us from our sure demise. 

I saw no where to go from where I already was, so I stayed at Starbucks. I was determined to be faithful where he has allowed me to be, and really trust that he can bring water out of this seemingly dry rock. I had to trust that God cared for both Derek and I, and that he would provide a new job or sustain us where we were. I would apply to local jobs as I saw them posted online, staying open for any new oppurtunities. I could breathe. The pressure began to lift.

August came quickly, and I noticed one morning I had an email replying an application I had filed. I was requested to contact the HR who had a couple questions about my resume. She made me aware that a couple hundred people had already applied for this position and that this would be a multiple step process that would take some time.

September rolls around. I do a phone interview with this company. I heard alot of "Oh, perfect!" and "That's awesome!" which was pretty encouraging. By the end of September, I, along with 5 others, were requested for an in person interview.

October 3rd, my 24th birthday, I go in for a background check.
*Super intimidating.*

October 7th, I heard "You'll hear from us Friday."
*I'm getting nervous.*

October 18th... I hear, "Monday."
*I am so scared at this point.*

What was happening? Was I going to get this job or not? It's an admin position and I was great at that and November was getting so close. Could I still trust God? Was this all going to worth it?

October 24th, my phone rings. I hear "Congratulations! Check your email."

I read the offer. I was floored. God provided. Derek's insurance would end November 30th, 2013 at 11:59 pm and the new insurance began December 1st, 2013 at 12 am. Derek and I danced and sang and cried.

Literally to the minute, God provided.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dating One Last Time - Part 3

"Which way are you going?"

"Hey, so what do you wanna do with your life?"
"I really like music, I like telling people about Jesus, and I really think I'm going to travel."
"Hmmm... Me too..."

Are you both going the same direction? Does the mission you feel called to seem to walk right next to theirs? Don't get me wrong, Mr. Derek is polar opposite from me. He is a take-it-as-it-comes, wise introvert while I'm a control-freak, quick-to-talk extrovert. And, technically, Derek and I do not look simialiar to anyone from our dating past, so you could even go as far as saying we aren't really each other's "typical type". But we, by God's grace, work. We both love Jesus, and we both want to see his name known. We both enjoy teaching and music, and neither of us mind picking up and leaving when Jesus tells us to. And we really love and enjoy each other. We are super good friends!

Wanting similar primary things will be fundimental for your relationship. By primary, I mean, do they know, love, and serve Jesus.

1. If your friend has not repented from sin and turned to Jesus, then based on scripture, this is not who you are supposed to be with... right now. Missional dating is not impossible and I've hear stories of good marriages that started missionally, but it really isn't your job to convert "hot stuff" by dating them. I would like to remind you that you are not the Savior, you can't save anyone, nor are you responsible for their salvation. You, as their friend can hang out them, invite them to church, pray with them, and rejoice with them as they progress. Then, maybe you can consider a future together.

This can save a lot of unnecessary heartache. So if you have the expectation that, since you are a Christian, if you date "Shorty" and get them to come to church with you, maybe they then will become a Christian, you have a sour motive and this could lead you somewhere you don't necessarily want to go. This person could building their foundation on you and not Jesus, and if you break up or the first time you let them down, they'll probably stop going to church because you were the only reason they came. Remember, we make horrible gods.

2. If you are a Christian and evidently so your friend is too and you KNOW that you are going to be a missionary in South Africa, and home-boy wants to be a CEO of a multimillion dollar company in downtown New York City, then this is probably isn't going to work out. I say probably, because God can do anything and shorten your missionary years and reunite you on the top floor of the Empire State Building and you get married and on and on.

But that being said, pay attention. Sometimes you just know, "yeah this isn't right." Sometimes your prayers may have to be, "help me see truth because I can't get past the fact that he is so fine!!!" If you know you this isn't right, it doesn't make you better then them and it doesn’t make this person second best, it's just, he's not yours (listen to Not Mine) and that's okay.  It just means ya'll aren't going in the same direction. That is good friendship material, but not good spouse material.
I'd like to pray for you.

Thank you for your design. Thank you for your plan to bring your people unto you and unite them with yourself and with each other. Thank you for friendship. Thank you for marriage. Help your children decern which is appropriate for which relationships. Help us let go of what is not good or right for us, and trust that you will preserve any gift (relationship) that you mean for us to have. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dating One Last Time - Part 2


This is where you begin to see what people are really made of. You learn what they laugh at, what they constantly talk about, any allergies, all their favorites, and even how they like their coffee. Friendships tend to take the pressure off of trying to perform in order to woo. This allows you to show yours and to see people’s worldview and character.

"We are all pretty fruity people."

I've always hear,

"if you squeeze an orange, you don't get lemon juice."

As a friend, you will be there to see this person go through daily life and even walk with them through some pretty hard stuff. You get the chance to see the fruit this person bares for what it really is, and skip that sugar coated topping that a sexually-driven, typical dating relationship adds to an already not so tasty fruit. Last thing you want to do is to get into covenant with someone that is NOTHING like they said they were. With a friendship, you see are able to see them more clearly as a sinner that is repentive (saved by grace) or a sinner that doesn't really care and requires you to like it or leave it, in which you should probably just stay friends with them.

This doesn't mean that you can't be their friend, you (if you are a Christian) want someone who has an understanding of grace and is progressing. You will never find a perfect man or woman to call your mate, but you are looking for someone who is striving to be quicker to repent (turn from sin) and turn towards Jesus in all things. That is worth the wait.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dating One Last Time - Part 1

Marriage is so beautiful. Emotionally, physically, and mentally you are bearing your naked self to this other person you have entered in to covenant with. Yes, they see it all. All of your strengths, scars, the sin, and even the flabby parts. You give yourself fully to them and they to you. Covenant is so amazing because it allows a place of safety, truth without reserve, and sweet blessing. When you enter into covenant, you give up the “right” to walk out, when stuff gets hard, when you’re not happy, or the emotions don’t seem to be there anymore. Like the gospel of Jesus, he gives us his all and he wants all of us. No tiny “hidden” parts all to ourselves, no! He wants our whole being.

When it came time to end a dating relationship, I pretty much always seemed to have always bitten off a little more than I could chew emotionally.

I wanted the covenant blessings without the covenant commitments. If they hurt me, I wanted to be able to bounce!
It's so hard changing your daily routines when it consisted of hours of talking on the phone about God knows what. All the times I would ditch my friends just so I could constantly be with this person. Then add on the abrupt rejection from this person whom I made my world. I really just wanted their friendship and now neither of us was able to step back from the position of going "too far.” I lost a lot of potentially good friendships due to my self-centered worldview and fear.

Not all "exclusive" relationships were or ended up being horrible. Some just weren't necessary. They were friendships that should have stayed friendships. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it to be crazy rare to get back to the friends only zone after I became "facebook official."

While dating recklessly, I wasn't planning on getting married anytime soon and definitely not to this person. So why did I so desperately want to have the girlfriend and boyfriend status? I seemed to love to build the substance less intimacy and wanted to be desired. I loved to reach out in the dark to see what I could find and take it as mine. Sorrowfully, I hurt a lot of people along the way.

Here are a couple things that helped me, by God's grace, date well and, thankfully, one last time.

"Will you be my friend? Check yes or no."
“A friend loves at all times.” - Proverbs 17:17

Friendship is an important foundational piece in a healthy relationship. In this area, there is a closeness that is formed just by getting to know the other person without ulterior motives. There is a trust that is given and is shaped through trials and experiences in this platonic arena. “When a friend rebukes you, that rebuke can be trusted.” - Proverbs 27: 6

Getting hurt is hard. It’s hard to forgive, it’s hard to let go, and it’s hard not to assume that everyone else is just the same as that person was. Even friendships can go sour.

One thing I want you to take away from this: In all relationships you are dealing with (just like you) a sinful person. They will hurt you, sometimes unintentionally, which you will hurt them too. They will let you down, they may forget your birthday, or they will be gone when you feel you need them the most. Just as you will do the same to them. But if you are in relationship with Jesus, you have experienced forgiveness. Forgiveness that you did not earn or deserve. And now we are told to share that same mercy with those around us. Yes, even the ones who may not seem to deserve it. We are given the gift of repentance (the ability given by God to turn from wrongful, unlawful, or harmful doing), so we can be reconciled with God and those around us. So please, do not shut yourself off from relationships because of past hurts. Ask the Lord to heal you and help you connect with his body once more, unafraid of hurt and trial, but excited about his mission and glory. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to share the mercy, love, and forgiveness you have experienced with him to others.