Attitude, Christian, Love, Reflection

The Perfect Hiding Place

I recently went to Anchorage Alaska on a mission trip. I’ve never been surrounded by beauty like that before. Just looking out the window driving down the highway was enough to take your breath away.
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This is not desktop wallpaper.  I actually took this photo right off the highway.
I couldn’t understand how a place displaying such an abundance of God’s beautiful creation, could be so spiritually deficient. Alaska is the most unchurched state in the United States.
Our mission work was serving children in the parks throughout Anchorage. We played with them, fed them, loved on them, and listened to their stories. The gut wrenching stories these children shared devastated me, and the multitude of the painful stories overwhelmed me. Physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and incest were common.
On the last day of our mission trip serving the children, it rained. We worried that some of our beloved babies wouldn’t brave the rain to come to the park. They were already there. They hid under the park benches and playground equipment until we arrived. They knew the best places to hide from the rain. Rain couldn’t deter them from coming for the love that their little hearts ached for. We set up a tent and huddled together and sang worship songs. Then we piled in the van and turned the heater on. We played and laughed. Leaving the children that day was painful. The children cried out to us “I love you!” so many times as our van drove away. They tried to run next to the van as we drove down the street, until they couldn’t keep up anymore. The ride home was silent except for muffled sobs and the unyielding rain.

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That night, the rain continued. My husband and I went to a beautiful scenic Lookout in Anchorage called the Bluff. We trudged through the woods and made our way out to the cliff. Without the protection of the trees surrounding us, the wind was fierce and the rain was painful. I looked around at what I knew was one of the most beautiful views on the continent, and I could hardly make out a thing. The wind was coming from the same direction where the mountains triumphed in the distance and it stung when I tried to look that way. The raindrops felt like BBs hitting my face.
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“I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:1 TPT‬‬
I thought about the children at the park.
What if you can’t look up to the mountains because it hurts too bad? What if you’re trying to see the beauty around you and you’re bombarded by dark rain clouds, painful sideways rain, dense fog and wind that chills you to the core? Then what?
“But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121: 2‬ ‭TPT‬‬
I’m praying that when it rains, these kids can remember where their true help and protection comes from.
I’m praying God will take the seeds we planted during this mission trip and use that dreadful rain to water them until they grow into something beautiful.
I’m praying that on a clear day, these kids can look at the mountains and know the One who made them.
God is our true Helper and our Protector. He’s our Shelter and our Perfect Hiding Place. His wrap-around presence is our rain coat. His faithfulness is our umbrella. His love is our firm foundation. He is our Guardian, our Defender; He’s our Dad. He never changes and He never lets us down. He loves us, holds us, and protects us during the storms.
“He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall. God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:3‬ ‭TPT‬‬
Love, Courtney
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Adoption, Foster Care, Love, Obedience, parenting, Reflection, Special Education

Walking in Obedience

Sometimes God speaks so loudly to our hearts it silences all our fears. Other voices grow quieter and matter less. That is happening to me now.

It started on New Year’s Day while driving home from church. My husband Andy, said that he felt like the Holy Spirit was urging him to start praying about our family, and specifically what was next for us. We both felt like our family wasn’t complete, but we were not sure in what direction God was steering us. We always just knew before. Our babies turned one year old, and we knew it was time to start planning for the next one.

This time felt different. We fasted and prayed and heard nothing. But God spoke loud and clear in the days and weeks that followed. He placed Foster Care in our paths almost everywhere we turned. He used other people’s voices, strangers, our son, worship music and scripture (Go figure).

For months, I had a whole list of reasons why my answer to God was an emphatic “No.” The list included the safety and ages of my children, my husband’s busy schedule, STRESS, finances, and my intense and unrelenting fear.

My sweet Lord began to tenderly answer back with all of His reasons. The items on my list paled in comparison to My Father’s and one by one became non-issues. Except for the last one. That annoying, overwhelming fear lingered.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27 NLT

I’d read this verse many times before. But the words in my bible suddenly seemed more black and white than ever before.

So I said, “Okay.”

“Sometimes my very best

Is only my weakest yes

You see strength in every movement”

– Steffany Gretzinger

Andy came home from work that day, and with fear in my voice I asked, “So what are we gonna do?” He knew what I was asking and said, “We’re just going to walk in obedience, until God closes a door.”

My face: 😳

So we made the decision to start the process to become foster parents. Saying it out loud made the fear melt away, and I was overcome with His warmth and peace.

“Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble

Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear”

– Mosaic MSC

Even though we only came to this decision for our family a few months ago, I can see how God has been shaping me for this for years. It was early in my teaching career when I realized how deeply I could love a child who wasn’t my own.

I wish I could say things have gotten easier since we decided to be obedient and take steps towards becoming foster parents. That is not true. That is not even in the vicinity of truth. The stress of three little kids and the busyness of our current season has actually intensified. Life seems to have gotten exponentially harder all the way up to this very moment. The fact that we still started taking our preservice classes on Friday is evidence that God is driving this. It would have been so easy to scratch that one off of our never ending, ever growing to do list. But I trust God. He silences all my fears. I have peace. That is the beauty of moment by moment surrender to Jesus.

“And further and further my heart moves away from the shore

Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours”

– Jenn Johnson

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Love, Courtney

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DIY Dinosaur Costumes

My oldest son (5) has always been big into dinosaurs. Since he was 2. So this year he decided he wanted to be a dinosaur, specifically a spinosaurus. According to my son, the spinosaurus is more ferocious and has slightly bigger arms than the T Rex. Also, his favorite color is red. So a red spinosaurus it is. ❤️

My daughter is 3 and wants to do everything my son does, so of course, she wanted to be a dinosaur as well. Everyone knows the Triceratops is the girlies dinosaur, and when given a choice of color, she chose pink and purple. Always. 💜💕

My baby boy (9 months) didn’t have a choice. I get to pick birthday party themes, Halloween costumes, and Christmas presents without his input for the next two years, so I’m thankful for that. He just fell right for him to be a green baby stegosaurus. 💚

My goal this year was to spend as little money as possible on Halloween costumes. I was very committed. Everything I purchased was from the dollar tree, or Goodwill. And I used whatever I could that I already had. My son had a red T-shirt, which I actually think was from the dollar tree, and I found red sweatpants for him at Goodwill for two dollars. My daughter had solid pink long johns that worked perfect as the base of her costume. And my baby had a hand-me-down green T-shirt and sweatpants that worked like a charm. 🍀

I decided to start with my daughters costume, the pink and purple triceratops. I Purchased the following items at the dollar tree, where everything is one dollar. 💸🌳

Styrofoam cones for the horns, in the craft aisle.

These pennants looked like perfect Dino tails! Also in the craft aisle. 😁

Foam sheets for purposes TBD.

Tutu, obvi.

And I decided I can make the triceratops sale using these fairy wings from the dollar tree. 🎀

I had this toddler size Nike hat at home, and while it was a great hat, I decided to sacrifice it for the greater good…#dinosquad.

So I painted it pink. And I don’t feel bad about it all.  💗

Then I formed the fairy wings into a triceratops crown and glued purple felt, which I had in my old teacher stash, to make spikes.

Then I painted the Styrofoam cones purple and glue them on. I also hot glued the crown onto the back of the hat and secured it with a binder clip.  ✔️

I thought these little plastic teeth brushing cups would be perfect for Dino eyes and my assumptions were correct! 👀

Just glued some black felt cuticles to the cups and voila! Eyeballs. I also formed a third smaller horn by rolling up a sheet of foam. I stapled it and painted it purple to match.

I then made big floppy dino feet using the foam sheets and painting them pink. I stapled triangle pieces of purple felt for the toes. Super simple! I cut a crescent shape into of foam for my daughter to slip her foot into. 👣

I also made these dino hands from old gloves but didn’t end up using them as it was about 80° the first day we wore these costumes to the Harvest Fest at ourchurch. 🌞

Finally, I folded the purple pennant to form a dino tail and stapled to the tutu. Easy peasy.

Ta-da!!! Next up was my five-year-old’s spinosaurus costume. I found a red baseball hat that was the perfect size for $2 at Goodwill. 🤑

I just painted the little navy blue circles red to make it solid red. Then I added yellow-orange spikes I made out of felt. I made the eyes the same way as my daughter’s, using the little white plastic cups and felt black circles. I also made the tail the same way, minus the tutu. And I added the yellow-orange spikes. I made his dino feet the same way as my daughter’s, just using his spiny color theme. Additionally, I added lots of long sharp white teeth to the spinosaurus dino hat, as my son requested.

I looked at several pictures of the spinosaurus as I worked. 🤣

Next I had to figure out how to make the sail. The spinosaurus has a large sail on its back. So back to the dollar tree. And guess what I came up with?!

Another pair of fairy wings. So I formed the wings into a spinosaurus sail and painted it that same yellow-orange color to match the spikes. Like this 👇🏼

I added some large sheets of the yellow-orange felt to cover all the glitter that was on the wings. I didn’t mind if a little glitter popped through on my daughter’s triceratops crown but couldn’t have that on my son’s spinosaurus sail. 🙅🏼

Also, I just used cheap craft acrylic paint. I actually had all the colors I needed. But if I had to buy it, I buy the cheapest brand. I think it’s like $.75 a bottle. 👍🏼🎨

Then I hot glued on strips of red felt with a little point on the top. This was the finished product.

It worked great because it already had the elastic armbands attached from the ferry wings! And my son was very pleased with how it turned out, which was most important to me.

Next up was my green baby steggy. I found another hand me down baseball hat, infant sized, and painted green.

Who knew painting hats was a thing? It was my first time. But it worked great for this project. And I think I will be painting more hats in the future! 😁💚

Then I just added blue felt pent pentagon shaped plates to the hat to resemble a stegosaurus. The pennants came in packs of two, so I was able to get four of them for $2. One pack was purple and green, the other was red and blue. So I used the blue felt pennant to cut out the Stegosaurus plates! I made the same eyes I made for my daughter’s costume using the little white plastic cups and black felt circles. Then I hot glued them onto the hat. I used a green pennant, hot glued blue felt plates onto it, and left it flat and attached it to his shirt for his steggy tail.

I made the same floppy dino feet using the foam sheets and stapled blue felt triangles to it for the toes. 👣

Are you ready for the finale?! Brace yourselves…it’s REALLY cute. 😍

Baby stegs 😍😍😍 💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚 Ready for spiny?!?!

He is scary cute!!! 😱❤️ He was so happy with the outcome, and so was I. Love this little dino loving man of mine. ❤️

And here comes my triceratops princess. 💕

#NailedIt Pink and purple triceratops always wear tutus. 💜💓

One more pic for your viewing pleasure.

Gosh I love her.

Here is my dino squad all together. 💚💜❤️

I am one blessed mommasaurus!

3 angry dinosaurs in the this shot! ☝🏼😤

Last one. Beware the dinos. 😉

I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe found something you could use from it! I sure enjoyed making these super easy DIY costumes for my kiddos this year. And I felt super good about my thrifty choices. I hope you all have a “roaring” good time this harvest season and enjoy time with your family and with our good God. 💜

Love, Courtney

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DIY Pumpkin Succulents

I love fall. I really love all the change of seasons, but especially fall. When seasons start to change, it always draws me closer to God. It reminds me that He always goes before me. That He is constant, He never changes. That just when I feel completely tired of a season, like I can’t it anymore… that season changes in a way that is beautifully authored and illustrated by God. New and different kinds of beauty arrive in the colors of the leaves and pumpkin spiced smells, and relief in the cooler temperatures. I feel God’s comfort and presence in all of it. And so to embrace all of this love I have for fall and Jesus, I decorate my house! If I didn’t have 3 little kids and if I had a lot more money, my house would be so different! I decorated the house 7 years ago when we moved in and have only altered it ever so slightly since I had my first kid, 5 1/2 years ago 😜 It just doesn’t seem to make sense to get anything new when you have little kids in the house. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t even make sense to clean. But we do. 😏 And sometimes adding a little something new in my house is kinda the best. I’ve seen those pumpkin potted succulents at Bullseye’s Playground at Target for the last few weeks and always thought…cute. I think they are $3. Then I realized I I have a handful of succulents that I cut off of a bush and used for decorations for a baby shower last year. I also realized I had some of those styrofoam pumpkin decorations. So I thought maybe I can make some myself and not spend money? So I did. 😉 I started with this one ☝🏼️. It’s hard to tell from the picture but it’s pretty big! I think I got it at Big Lots about 10 years ago and the stem had just barely been hanging on the last couple years. So I popped it out and stuck a succulent in it. Easy as 🎃 pie. Original stem. 👆🏼 I had some other pumpkin decorations in my stash. Some from the Dollar Tree and a collection from a box I got at Pier 1 a few years ago. All the stems popped out pretty easy and the succulent stems popped right in. 😎I did buy one pumpkin decoration at the dollar store. It was the only one left and the stem was already missing. Perfect. 😏I work messy, clearly, but the pumpkin succulents look cute in a cluster. 🤗I removed them from the mess and took this picture of them sitting on my kids’ table. On my dining room table. Kitchen counter.Entry way.And on my mantle.  My favorite ones are probably on my mantle. So small and simple but I kind of lurve it. I don’t know if I’d call this a tutorial but I hope you enjoyed this post. 💛 If not, here is the word of God, which is always good.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 

Is He drawing you closer to His heart in this season? 

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Hello Chapter 2

Well, I’m back. And a lot has changed over the past couple years, that’s for sure. I resigned from teaching, had another baby, and my husband resigned from teaching as well. He took a position as the youth pastor at our church and just had his one year anniversary in that role. I’ll be honest, life is pretty crazy right now. Three kids got me like 😜 and it turns out being a youth pastor’s wife is a part-time job in itself. About once a week my husband and I stop and remind each other that we wouldn’t trade our hectic lives for anything in the world. Life is crazy beautiful. Here is my squad. 💓

And God has been urging me ever so gently but clearly to start blogging again. So here we are. I’m not in the classroom anymore so of course this will be a different kind of blog. But I’m praying over this platform, my words, and whatever impact they might have on whoever reads them. I’ll be sharing truths that I feel spirit lead to share, anecdotes from working in youth ministry, adventures in mommyhood, party prep, crafts, and maybe a few old teaching tales. So stay tuned! 📻

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Teachers Pay Teachers More to Love for Back to School One Day Sale!

I love this letter from TpT!

Dear Teacher,

Life doesn’t slow down for back to school time and neither do you. We know you’re determined to create the best school year ever for your students and we’re here to help make that happen. Get prepped, get organized… and get ready for TpT’s More Love for Back to School sale!

The More Love for Back to School sale starts Wednesday, August 19th at 12:01 a.m. (ET) and runs for one day only. Use promo code MORE15 at checkout to save up to 28% on every resource throughout the site.

Get those wish lists ready! And discover great ideas and inspiration below so you can start shopping as soon as the sale is on: Wednesday, August 19th!

Click on the button for the link to the sale and my store!

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Everything in my store is 20% off including bundles, which are already 20% off!  I hope you find everything you need and really LOVE this back to school season!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

(Hebrews 10:24-25)

Love,

Courtney signature