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.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why I Had to Stop Dating... Reason #4

Emotions can be a tricky thing and when they are untethered, they can encourage getting carried away. When emotions are the filter you are seeing life through, you may not be able to see things for what they really are. Since I can tend to be a very emotional person, dating wasn't a good idea for me in that season. I really needed Jesus to satisfy my soul and teach me to keep a bit in my emotions mouth.

"BUT I LOVE HIM!" - Fear and Immaturity
When you haven't eaten for a long time, you will end up eating just about anything. A long time for some can be years of waiting. For me a long time was about 2 months, then I was parched. When we greatly fear our biological clock, being alone for the rest of our lives, or never experiencing love, we are more susceptible to looking at the first thing we see without a wedding ring and shouting, "THAT'S MINE!"

We can be easily blinded by the emotions that accompanies these desires (sinful or not), which can engulf us and renders us unable to see things with discernment. Community is crucial for this. They can help us see what we cannot at the moment. Rejecting wise counsel and flying solo disqualified me from dating well. Due to my submission to my desperate emotions, I couldn't the person I was in relationship clearly. Looking back it was incredibly obvious we weren't going in the same direction and our relationship wasn't really fruitful. Our facebook status change wasn't necessary and we should have just stayed friends.

The bottom line is: Christian, don't date if you have no intentions on marrying this person.

Enjoy friendship. Embrace community. Think about it, pray about it. It's okay to wait. Just don't be disobedient and fearful in your waiting that you don't do anything!

This is the second most important decision you will make in your life but remember you don't make it alone. By God's grace, he will not bring you to the perfect spouse, but guide you to a repentive, God-fearing best friend! That's worth waiting for.

Whether you are single, dating, or married, can you relate to any of these?
If you are single, ask the Lord to help you be patient and trust in his love for you. Ask him to daily remind you that your satisfaction is in him alone, to mold you into the God fearing person he created you to be, and to help you build strong friendships with those around you that may one day blossom into a marriage.

If you are currently in a relationship, ask God to help you find community that will walk with you through this exciting time. Ask him to empower you by his Spirit to help you keep the wise and tested boundaries placed by him through your leadership. Ask him to remind you that those boundaries are not set to crush all of your fun but helps love you and your significant other well and will lead to great fruitfulness.

If you are married, ask the Lord to purify your heart and remove the burden of insecurities, fear, and works based love. Ask the Lord to pour himself into any part of y'all's foundation that is not built on him and create health and strength in that area. Ask him to help you forgive your spouse and remove any condemnation. Remember that this is his marriage, for his glory and for your joy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Why I Had to Stop Dating... Reason # 3

"Hey Sweet Thang!"
"Looking good Hot Stuff!"
"Come over here!!"
"Let me holla at you!"
"Please be over 18!"

It didn't matter if I was trying or not. These were the types of things I would hear from men of all ages while growing up. With all this adoring attention, I began to notice that I had something they wanted. And I figured out how to use it to my advantage. This is reason number three of why I had to stop dating.

"Put it out, and it will bring them in!" - Promiscuity and Immodesty

I was the worst of them all. I knew all the lines to say, the walk to strut, the looks to give in pictures and as they passed by, and had the wardrobe to reel them in right where I wanted them. But what I didn't know was I was banking on a foundation that wasn't going to last.
Beauty is fleeting. This vanity is easily linked to promiscuity.
I'm putting something on the market that I desire someone to pay full price for, but my marketing tactics are saying I'm giving it away at a Clearance deal. And that's what they come in for.

This does not promote friendship within the relationship but promotes a business proposition. "You give me that, I'll give you a little bit of this." Foundations made of sand will shift and crumble, taking down all that is built on it. Emotions, plans, experiences, money, everything. Or worse, the wind could shift (new girl will walks by) and they will be gone. Then what.

Please know, sweet girl, you are worth so much more. This is not to build up your head in pride but to fill your heart with truth. You have been bought with a heavy price by the One who loves and created you. Do not give away what is not yours to give. Yes, the compliments feel really good. Yes, it feels empowering to know you have something someone else desires. But your body is not a weapon, it is a temple for the Holy Spirit. Remember that when you are tempted to sacrifice yourself at the alter of that temporary, hollow pleasure. Jesus' blood can wash away every stain. He is the only One who can make all things new. Turn to him.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why I Had to Stop Dating... Reason # 2

Something I continually found myself doing, was pushing away from anyone that tried to tell me what to do. Authority... No thank you. Especially when it came to stopping me from getting something I wanted. Here is my second reason why I had to stop dating.

"Mind your own business!" - Pride, Rebellion, & Arrogance

There was a family that took me in after I first became a Christian. This was family of believers, with a loving father and a gracious mother, that offered to help protect me, provide for me, and love me. I saw the fruit of their labor and could tell they had a deep love and trust in Jesus. So when they offered to protect my heart, I quickly obliged.

Not soon after that, I met Derek. My first crush since becoming a Christian. I had no idea God had an intentional plan that covered me so my relationship with Derek would be full of honesty, transparency, and wise and biblical boundaries set by leadership, who have all been there and done that. Now I know that this was beautifully designed by a God who so deeply loves us and knows us. His goal was not to keep us from having "fun", but encourage us in truth, build relationships with substance, and know each other purely and deeply. Although at the time I was fine with being honest with them because I quickly learned that what I talked to Derek about should be things I wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with this family. But boundaries? Really?

 My thoughts were, "Umm, excuse me, but I'm a grown woman (I was 19 at the time). Don't tell me I can't be alone in the car, late at night, with the man that I want to marry. Don't tell me it's not a good idea to go off by myself with him whenever I want and do whatever I want to. And don't tell me that talking to him after 11 pm on my cell phone will most likely lead to immodest discussions. Come on! I'm a Christian. I got this."

I eventually told them off all together and cut ties so I didn't have to obey their rules. Not too long after that, I entered into sexual sin with Derek. We were good at first and even set agreed defined boundary lines between us, but in the heat of the moment, there was no stopping us. I seriously thought I was in control. But we wanted to fulfill our desires more than we wanted to honor God by trusting leadership's experienced wisdom and wait to indulged until we were in covenant. We added so much unnecessary heartache to our relationship that could have been avoided by obedience and trust.

Having someone, that has a marriage that you wouldn't mind mirroring, walk with you openly and honestly through dating is incredibly loving and very wise. They will be able to discern abusive behavior, unreasonable expectations, and sin. There is so much beauty in biblical boundaries. I urge you! If you are in a relationship, be in community.

I mean, come on! We are talking about obeying the Creator of everything, including sex. You don't think he would know how things work best? I don't know about you, but I don't just want great sex in my marriage, I want a meaningful, intensional relationship.
Thankfully, God's grace has kept us and has healed us where sin had harmed us. Your situations isn't any different. Ask him to do the same.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why I Had to Stop Dating... Reason # 1


What an exciting, yet super scary word!

It's not every day you get the chance to slip away to a cafe, restaurant, or bowling alley to exchange conversation and flirting gestures with a, hopefully, good looking someone who has found themselves in the same Facebook status as you. Hopefully.

Our hands sweat, but our hearts race at the thought that we may be sitting in front of the one we will share our last moments on earth with. What a romantic endeavor.

There are so many things that play into having a good and healthy relationship. Sometimes our actions and expectations are normally ruled and driven by what we think we are entitled to while in the relationship, why we think we need one, and when we think we should have one. Alot of how I felt about relationships mirrored those that were around me. Whether they be kind, giving, abusive, manipulative, or lonely relationships, I took close notes and observed what produced the results I desired and then did it. Can you see the poison?

This brings me to why I had to stop dating (yes, before I met Derek). Getting to know Jesus more, my heart began to change about relationships. I began to want to date for marriage and stop jumping from this person and that, looking for what culture says was a "good time." I began to realize, I couldn’t find what I was really looking for by using the same hunting tactics as I had before.

Over the rest of the week I will be sharing four comments [tactics] I made [and used] that eventually encouraged me to stop dating. Seeing this in me I saw what I was doing to myself and others, and desired to learn how to date well for one last time, by God's grace.

"What have you done for me lately?" - Narcissism

I loved being on my throne. My feelings and I determined the standard that was to be met by my significant other. Which, if we are being honest, were mostly unhealthy, selfish, and sometimes even unreasonable expectations. Now say they didn't do or give what I expected. I would then make them know it and pay for it by sour remarks and a very "high and mighty" demeanor. I would withhold and manipulate them until I got exactly what I wanted, or I would just leave them high and dry. This is such an unhealthy attitude to have period. Now you want to add another person into the equation and this is a sure recipe for a quick and devastating disaster. The other person is now the subject of your unsatisfied wrath. What kind of love is one that the other person must walk on egg shells and heel or kneel where you demand? That's called having a slave, not a "boyfriend." Your love for them is based on their performance, which is dangerous and unloving. Talk about some serious pressure. And for me, this attitude disqualified me from dating well. I needed to repent and ask for guidance on how to love the other person better than I loved myself. Which, as you can tell, was a lot!
Narcissists do not date well nor are they pleasant spouses.

Food for thought:
Is your world all about you? I'm not talking about having standards that are wise and biblical that should not be compromised in hopes of having a relationship. I'm talking about the self-seeking and self-indulging motivations that tend to become more evident while dating. If this person you are involved with doesn't come when you call, are they a goner? If they don't compliment you, stroke your ego, or notice your new hair cut, do you get angry and make them pay for it? Let's step off of the throne, and allow God to reign in our hearts and let Jesus be our identity, no longer allowing yourself or your significant other to worship you. You can love someone well without worshiping them. You can be loved well and not be worshiped. Remember, we are no longer our own. We can no longer lean on our own understanding, and try to manipulate to get what we want, because in the end it won't really be what we wanted after all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Way Back Wednesday: Sailing to Seattle - Final Week

On April 30, 2013, we turned in our apartment keys and began to head to Conroe for our last Chick-fil-a sandwich with Derek's parents and sister. We had a 5' x 8' U-Haul cargo trailer hitched onto our 2004 Honda Civic. If you know anything about cars, you're probably making a funky face right about now and wondering why our 4 cylinder sedan is towing a trailer. Well, because the U-Haul rental store in Katy, TX said I could...
We didn't even make it to Fort Worth, and our car, which just had a full tune up, brand new tires, and was completely ready to drive across country, began to overheat and could barely get over small bridges without getting into the high numbers of RPMs. It was getting dark and and we were still 5 hours to Amarillo, which was our first hotel reservation.

We called a local U-Haul store which was 25 minutes away, and they closed in 15 minutes and refused to stay open for us and told us to just call roadside assistance if we broke down...

We needed to do something, and we needed to do it now. We didn't have enough money to stop there and we didn't want to turn back, but we knew, with this load, our car would not make it through the rocky mountains. So, we prayed.

We googled a Goodwill on our phone and found one right around the corner from where we were. We pulled into the parking lot and looked each other.

Me: "Is this what we are supposed to do?"
Derek: "I believe so."
Me: "Me too."

We both smiled and began to go through every box we had. We put in my keyboard and Derek's golf clubs in our car first then stuffed that car FULL of everything we could! Anything else that wouldn't fit, we donated right there. We did ship 3 boxes of pictures, and breakable frames and keepsakes, but everything else went away. We weren't joyful about this, but we did have peace so we stepped out in faith.

The next morning we dropped off the empty trailer and Sweet Ol' U-Haul charged us for our horrible drive from Katy to Amarillo. I called and complained with U-Haul. I even requested the copies of the recorded conversations where three different personnel said I should have never been sold the hitch and the trailer, but they just so happen to never send them to me, now they cannot be found. Merry-Go-Rounds aren't that fun, so I jumped off of this one. We believe'd we were being obedient and God will honor that. "Don't contaminate yourselves with plunder." Isaiah 52:11 (MSG)

Needless to say, I will strap my stuff to donkeys before I use U-Haul again though.

We are confident in God's provision. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3a). Now, that may look way different then we or others may expect, but we can trust in Him. He's a good Dad that loves us deeply.

We kept going. We ended up being so grateful we dropped the trailer when we did, because we drove right into a crazy blizzard while driving through the Rocky Mountains and had a hard enough time in that small car. God sees the whole picture. And I'm so grateful.
We pulled into Seattle, May 4th. We were greeted by the Winston's so warmly and we immediately jumped into community. We went to a Cinco de Mayo party the next day, and church Sunday. They even through a meet and greet party that night. Monday was prayer, which was awesome! Heard our pastor pray out loud and was like, "Yep! We are in the right place! That man loves Jesus!"

It was so neat. People were expecting us. They already knew our names, had been praying for us, and were so excited for us to be there. :)
As we met new people, Derek mentioned he didn't have a job yet. The owner of a local Segway tour company offered him an interview and actually offered him the job. That's right! Two days after arriving in Seattle, Derek, my Texan husband, got an awesome job as a Seattle Segway tour guide. He was really good at it too. God's grace is hilarious!
Derek is also an excellent, experienced poet and really enjoys writing music. He applied to be an intern at our church and was placed in the production team. He has learned so much, and has gotten clarity on what he wants to do professionally. Also through the internship, we were offer housing for 12 months with an incredible family.

The Plaschs love and encourage intensional community and discourages checking in and out of the church on Sundays but to be the church throughout the week by loving people. They have two beautiful babies, and they have gladly and graciously opened their home and lives to us. They have seriously become like family. We have been able to see and experience what raising your children according to the gospel looks like. Which is seriously revolutionary and has been began to prepare us for one day when we have little Maffetts. :)
Oh, remember all of our stuff we donated. Yeah, that would have been in a storage unit which was estimated to cost about $109.45 per month. We would have had to store our stuff for about 16 months equaling about $1751.20. Which was just about the cost of all of that stuff anyways. Jesus knows everything. Seriously.
In 47 days, we will have been in Seattle for one year and so much has happened since we first landed which I look forward to sharing as my blog continues. There has been many glorious sights, lots tears, tons of laughs, and a bunch of memories made through this whole process. I am so grateful for God's grace through it all and look forward to all he has in store for us.
I want to encourage you to note what is going on in your life. No matter how small or deep the events or experiences around you may be, take time to write what is going on. Write about the things that weigh on your heart, and what you believe the Lord is doing through you. I'm not telling you to start a blog, but I am telling you to build pillars to remind yourself of God's goodness. See the progression in what he has done in you. In the moment, it may not be evident, but overtime a transformed heart can't help but sing of God's incredible power, might, and love. God is not dead, and He greatly loves you and is highly active in your life. Tell someone about it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Guest Post: Tomato Glazed Meatballs With Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

This week I am so very excited to again be featuring my blogging pal and good friend Erica. Erica runs her own wedding + event design and production house.  She shares recipes, DIY’s and beautiful photos of her events. Check out her blog if you already haven’t!

Hello again, I'm Erica from Paper Hearts + Co. (!

Thank again, Courtney! today I will be sharing another one of my favorite recipes from one of my favorite bloggers.

So I am seriously obsessed with the Smitten Kitchen. It is one of my very favorite cooking blogs. The Husband bought me her new cookbook for christmas. Not that he could forget because I hinted about it nearly once a day the entire month of December. So over the last few months I have put the recipes to test. Surprise, surprise, everything I have made so far has been delicious.

The first recipe on the docket was her tomato-glazed meat loaves with brown butter mashed potatoes. I paired them with garlic sauteed asparagus and green beans. Now if you are hesitant don't be, my house is a strictly a no "MEATLOAF" house. I am not a big fan and the Husband hates it! However, I was a bit tricky when I made these I called them meatballs on the weekly menu. Yes I know that they are almost the same thing. However my experience with meatloaves has been huge chunks of soggy bread with large undercooked veggies yuck! These however are really great, REALLY! The recipes calls for many of the normal ingredients found in meatloaves but it is how it is all prepared and put together that makes all the difference. So meatloaf haters unite and give these a try!
I did make a few adjustments and I have included them in the recipe:

4 tsp. canola oil
1/3 cup. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
4 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp. brown sugar

Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, and simmer, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Set aside. I usually make a double batch because we like lots of sauce!

Meat Loaves:
2 slices of sandwich bread
1 medium onion, finely chopped,
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium stalk celery, chopped finely
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
Olive oil, for cooking
2 lbs. ground beef
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper for vegetables

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Tear the bread into chunks and then blend it, in a food processor, into breadcrumbs. or if you don't have a food processor store bought ones are fine just use 1 cup. Place breadcrumbs in a lard bowl. Add the vegetables to processor and finely chop or do it by hand.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, coat the bottom with olive oil; add the finely chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetables to the large bowl with breadcrumbs, then add the remaining ingredients. Stir together with a for. With wet hands, form the mixture into twelve 3 inch meatballs.

Space the meatballs so that they are not touching, in a baking dish, Drizzle or bush each with a tsp. or so of the tomato glaze. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve on a bed of brown butter mashed potatoes.

Brown butter mashed potatoes:
2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes pealed
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter or 1 stick melted and browned
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over heigh heat, once it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes until tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan.

Brown the butter in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and then it will start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Don't wait too long the time in takes to brown vs burning is the difference of about a minute.

Add browned butter, buttermilk, salt and pepper to taste and smash them with a potato smasher until smooth or put them in your stand mixer and beat them till creamy. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Way Back Wednesday - Sailing to Seattle - Week Seven

*This is a pre-written blog post from April 12, 2013 to look back on why we left Texas to live in Seattle.*
Now if you don’t personally know me, let me be the first to tell you that I can be some what of a “Drama Queen.” I dramatize a lot of things in my life some being sinful and some being quite humorous, but I would like to assure you that what I am about to tell you, is completely true. Might I warn you, this might seem like a rant, but stick with me. I have a point.

I’d like to say, I get paid a nice salary. Shoot, I HAVE A JOB! That’s really something to celebrate about and to be thankful for!

But for the past two years, honestly, this has been super hard on me. All of me. I’m talkin’ my mind, emotions, paitence, and body. Everything. I wake up everyday super early (if I want to look decent), I keep off a majority of the lights off so Derek can sleep in, and I have to leave the house by at least 6:30 a.m. to make it to the office by 8:00 a.m. I fight Houston traffic from anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half with people who are half a sleep, reading newspapers, doing make-up, and/or talking/texting on their phone, who just so happen to be mad at the world and flick me off because I’m in their way, which makes me a victim of road rage, at least, three times a month. Not to mention the sun is directly in my eyes the entire way there. So, when I finally get to work and I actually enjoy what I do. I grown in relationships with my co-workers, but they are all much older than me, and openly think I’m just a kid and have no clue of what I’m doing no matter how many times I’m proven myself, which is super demeaning. Some of them truly hate their lives and seem to enjoy taking it out on me. It’s exhausting. Slowly 5 o’clock comes, and everyone on the road is rushing home, the sun is once again frying my retinas, and I’m falling asleep at the wheel. The stress and anxiety from it all has given me a pinched nerve in the back of my neck and I tend to block out my whole day to the point that I don’t even remember how I got home.

I can’t live like this. I don’t want to do this for the next 10 years of my life better yet, another year. And I started to resent Derek for it because I felt he wasn’t doing anything to change the fact that I had to stay employed there, or we wouldn’t make it financially. (This is all my assumptions, of course.) I would come home crying from exhaustion, yelling because this sucked, and hurts. And I wanted it to stop, now.

When Derek called me and told me what the Lord placed in his heart, he sounded excited and happy! My mind tried to take it all in… wait, Derek says he wants to move to Seattle and grow our family… while serving as members of Mars Hill…? Wait, is this Derek? “Yes, Babe! We are moving to Seattle.”

Well, how’s that going to work? Calm down, Courtney, just breathe. Let Derek lead you and let him be led by the Holy Spirit. Because if you try and make anything happen and Derek follows you and not the Lord, all the blame is coming back on you when it all falls apart. Moving across the country has to be God, if not this is gunna be hell.

We found out our friend from Texas Bible Institute, Pancho, was actually interning at Mars Hill at that time. So Derek called him to pick his brain, and ask him some practical questions about Seattle and the ministry. Derek said he sounded way different from the Pancho we remembered for TBI. His spoke of God's grace and the glory of God, and how the Lord had changed him from thinking the gospel was all about him to being truly all about Jesus. THANK YOU! (Good fruit of the Ministry!) He also said that he was staying with a host family during his internship, and how they saw it as their ministry to open their home to young people, AND a married couple, who had being staying there, just moved out. Pancho offered to ask them if we could use the room when we got to Seattle. Derek was shocked and quickly said “YES!”

We prayed. What an opportunity. This would be a great confirmation and an open door.

Pancho called Derek and said the Winston’s would love to have us! WHAT?! These people don’t even know us, and they are willing to take a young married couple from Texas in. Thank you, Jesus.

It was January/February and our lease on our overly expensive apartment was up by the end of April. Derek had just gotten braces and was summoned to a 6-10 month sentence. But now that we knew where we were going and we had a place to stay, “What are we waiting for?! LET’S GO!” I said. Looking for an escape rather than looking for God’s will.
"Just leave, but leave clean!" That sentence became an annoying reminder of how this wasn't going to be about me.
I was so done working for this company, I was grateful but so done. I just wanted to move!!!!! (Now I was being dramatic.)

I even devised plans against Derek, thinking if I got a crappy, easy, minimum wage job in Seattle, I would get to have an easy life and be the one coming home early, and Derek would have to get a better paying job and work harder than me, because that would make him “the leader.” (Through this whole experience, I see just how deceived I was on marrital roles and have come to find the depravitiy of my heart. There is nothing good in me truly, but Jesus. My hope.)

HOW EVIL! What kind of team is one against itself? I had to come clean with Derek and repent to him and God. I don't want that attitude to be forgotten and overlooked because it will dig itself super deep in my heart, sprout more roots, and eventually rear it's ugly head back up and ain't no body got time for that.

He forgave me. We took time to be honest and we got to work through some deep hearted issues that we both were just living with rather than actually dealing with. Through that process, we grew closer. But I still wanted to just pick up and go and the Lord plastered what He said on my mind.

“Just leave, but leave clean.” But I don’t want to… I wanna leave now… Sin.

I tried to pursuade Derek, but he knew we weren’t supposed to break our lease, drop our jobs and just walk away. How is that leaving clean? We made promises and obligations. Were we being obedient by breaking them? Of course not.

Okay Courtney, time to put your big boy pants on, repent of your pride, and keep trusting. Be obedient. Plus I knew, I knew! that was what the Lord wanted us to do, but I let my circumstance be louder than my Lord.

We needed a plan. Derek spoke with Doc (the dentist) and she told him that if his teeth are obedient and move that there was a high chance he could get his braces off by April! WHAT?! Thank you Jesus.

We also knew, if we both got part-time jobs, we would be able to move comfortably, have a savings, and pay off our medical debt. Derek was reluctant on me getting a second job because it didn’t seem like I could handle the one I already had. But I was persistant and wanted to help, so after three weeks of interviews (?!?!) I got a part time job at Panera Bread, one of my favorite cafes. Sadly, they weren’t offering much money or hours, which now I can see was the Lord. I would be fully cooked if I had the 30-35 hours extra hours of work a week, but the little I have made helped. Thank you Jesus.

Derek got a part-time job with Mission Burrito and he seemed to really like it. But he works hard, really hard. He would leaves home between 8-9 am for his first job and get home between 2-4 pm to then go to his next job between 4-6 pm and didn't get home til 11-11:30 pm. That’s a lot! But I’ve never heard him complain once. My hero.

We called and talked with the Winston’s, our host home. They asked us about ourselves, gave their expectations from us, and prayed with us on the phone! These people are amazing! They pray! This really gave us peace. We have a direction and we have  some clarity.

I starting applying online for jobs in Seattle that I thought I qualified for. I got a call at the end of March to do a phone interview with Princess Cruise doing Accounting. I was honest that we were not going to be there till May 5th, and I found out their new program didn't start till May 15th. I got the job. Two months out on a phone interview... Yep. Thank you, Jesus. Couldn't be more clear. :) 

I can drive in the sun for a couple more months with this on the horizon. I can wake up early, I can do the job I'm currently with well, because I know it’s “You’re not running from anybody! God leading you out of here…" God was doing something, something big. And we get to be a part of it.

Thank you for reading my blog! This has been fun to reminisce the Lord’s work in our lives. We want to remind ourselves of God’s goodness and Fatherly love towards us, because too often we forget and act out on our forgetfulness. Check out next week for the follow up post of what's been happening since we Sailed to Seattle.

Worship - How Deep the Father's Love

One of my favorite worship songs, which we (The Loyal Strangers) got to do this weekend. I was honor with getting the chance to sing lead. The lyrics to this song is so powerful. Worship with us.

Click Link Below!!!

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds

Lyrics and Music by Stuart Townend
Arrangement by The Dispatch/The Loyal Strangers

Feel free to share or comment!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Way Back Wednesday - Sailing to Seattle - Week Six

*This is a pre-written blog post by my husband, Derek from April 9, 2013 to look back on why we left Texas to live in Seattle.*
Seattle... Mars Hill.. hmmm...

So, I’ve decided there were 3 main reasons I did not want to give Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill a chance…

  1. My wife seemed to be “in love” with him! Lol. She really admired him and his wife and his teaching and talked about them all the time. So, of course, I got a little jealous.
  2. I honestly thought that “Calvinism” was a denomination and in the genius, pride of my mind, I rejected it without any further investigation. (Check out Calvinism & Arminianism. Using resourses like the Resurgence really helped me practically and theologically.)
  3. The little that I heard from Mark Driscoll was yelling at men… And being immature and irresponsible myself, I’d get offended and why would I need anyone else to yell at me besides my wife?! Lol I love my wife.
I do however prefer Bible teachers and preachers to preach and teach the Bible! Convicting or controversial as it may be at times!
There were tons of podcasts on our laptop of Mars Hill, so little by little I would listen occasionally as the Holy Spirit led and I finally decided that at the very least, this man can preach The Word of God without compromising or watering it down.

I like him.

Would I serve or support Mars Hill ministry? Probably not. (Remember, I still haven't researched the ministry and their beliefs, only watched podcasts.)

So we still have a BIG issue!!!

Where are we going!!!??? I'm the leader, I don't do all of the decision making, but all of the responsiblity of these decision are on me. During this time, I was VERY cautious of who we counseled with. We know how important a multitude of counselors is. We also know how dangerous counsel can be when woven with sinful or ignorant motives, which can canse confusion, doubt, and fear between Courtney and I. Honestly, it seemed as if most people we talked with were saying to stay, "Y
ou're young," "Take your time," "Whatever you want to do somewhere else, you can do here." No one had given us any alternative route, scripture, etc, it was only - "don't go".
God said “out of here! Leave!” … Soo... 
Again..where?… How do I decide, and be sure? ...Now, hold that thought..
“Purify yourselves in the process of worship”
My immediate reaction to this is I listen to worship music all day, every day. Check!

Although that wasn’t entirely accurate, listening to worship music did help.

Anyways, so what does that mean? How do I do that?

I started reading in Ecclesiastes, and I looked to see if Pastor Mark Driscoll taught anything on it. I learned through that and the series on Doctrine a sermon called “Worship” that I was not created TO worship.. I am created worshipping. And unfortunately I was worshipping the wrong one most of the time. My life is constantly giving glory and praise, to either God or something or someone else… Most of the time, it’s been myself.

This revelation of worship completely changes the way a Christian in America lives… No longer defined by culturally accepted Christianity and traditional religion.

Do all things out of praise and thanksgiving to Jesus!

That’s it… NOT ONLY… Talk about Jesus, give to and serve people, go to Church, pray, read,  & sing because “that’s how you be a Christian.”

Jesus saved you and made you alive!!! And you did nothing to deserve it! Now if you truly believe that, how would you respond to that? … aka – the Christian life.

Enjoy and appreciate creation: people, places, things.
But Worship and give all the glory to Creator of everything: God.

Now.. back to the pending question… How do I make this decision or any decision for that matter?
(Insert one of the top 10 quoted and misunderstood scriptures) – “delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” NOT you get whatever you ask or want! If God gave us everything we wanted, He would be a terrible God and Father with many rotten children because we rarely know what we want and what's good for us. He does. He withholds no good thing from us.

Delight: find satisfaction and fulfillment in Christ and He will transform your desires into His desires or he gives you the “desires” of your heart …. Have you made the connection yet?!!!
“Purify yourselves in the process of worship”!!!!! This is the key to making a BIG decision!!!! Naturally, my heart is deceitfully wicked, but Jesus has given me a new heart and continually changes my desires to His desires as I submit to the Holy Spirit.

ONE SIDE NOTE: There are many factors to making wise, Godly decisions, such as discerning things through the bible, research, counsel, prayer, and many others. HOWEVER, the reason why I'm stressing worship and motive of the heart is because of what Courtney and I have been through, which is so much heartache, sorrow, betrayal, bitterness, and faith-crushing experiences, that the position of our hearts, and motive, was the most crucial element to this decision. We knew ultimately, God would have His will despite us.

At this point, I had finally begun researching all of our options in depth, Courtney and I had been praying and reading the Bible, living life, going to work, thanking God for all the grace and mercy He had lavished upon us in our time of weakness, and how much he saved us from our ignorance…

And then one day at work, while cleaning a pool…

Considering the 2 to 3 options on the table, thinkin about it all…

“I would love to serve, grow, and build a family and life at Mars Hill in Seattle for however long God would have us there!” …. I swear it’s like that thought just crawled down into the bottom of my stomach and just settled there and it said “I ain’t goin no where!”

I gotta call Courtney! … I know.
… Really, ya think ? … Yea! I KNOW.
So I called Courtney.