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

Love, Reflection, Worship Wednesday

Abundant Life {Worship Wednesday}

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Recently, I have spent a great deal of time trying to answer the daunting question of why a good God allows bad things to happen to people.  I have read stories, watched videos and reflected on my own hardships that life has dealt me  This has been in an effort to explain it to other people and with the hope of them coming to know my sweet Lord.  Personally, I get it.  I don’t really question God’s goodness, because I experience it constantly.  God’s spirit is in me and I love this gift of life.  But the research has been good for me.  It has strengthened my faith, and allowed me to fall in love with God all over again.  But to be completely honest with you, I’m kinda over it.

I wanna talk about good and happy stuff.   There is so much incredible beauty and goodness on this world and we often don’t even notice it, or we turn a blind eye.  Why is it so much easier to talk about our problems?  Why would I sometimes rather complain to others than thank God for my blessings?  Ugh.

I mean God wants us to focus on the good stuff, right?

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

(Philippians 4:8)

Yes, yes yes.  This is what I need.  This is what I want.  This is what God wants.  Win, win, win.

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God is good.  He doesn’t want us to just merely live life {even though it would still be a gift we don’t deserve} . He wants us to live it to the  full.  He wants us to have ABUNDANCE.  The stuff that makes life happy and amazing.  More than we need.  The good stuff.  Let’s talk about some of that for a  minute.

Here are 5 things that made my life a little sweeter this week.

1.) Snickers Apple Salad.  I made it for Easter.  I am no Betty Crocker, but I must say, it was pretty good.

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2) This gal.

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3) The gun show.

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4) Spring flowers during our Easter egg hunt.

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5) Easter day with my family.  Amazing music, a powerful message at church, steak and scallops on the grill.

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I could go on and on.  Let’s be honest; this list is just the tip of the iceberg.

Thank you God for this life.

It is just so good.

Love,

Courtney signature

Christian, Christmas, educators, Love, Reflection, Worship Wednesday

I Can’t Explain How Much I Love My Children {Worship Wednesday}

My children are so amazing.  Says every mom ever.

But when I look at my sweet children, I see masterpieces.  They are so beautiful and they inspire me so much.  Yesterday my son insisted that he and his baby sister wear their matching Christmas jammies.  I realize it was St. Patrick’s Day yesterday, but I kinda liked the idea myself.  So matching Christmas jammies it was. It even inspired me to create a new Christmas themed product for my TPT store. {Stay tuned!}  During nap time, they were both sleeping on my bed next to each other and I just admired them for a moment.  I felt overwhelmed by the love in my heart I have for them and a surge of pride ran through me.

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My children are just. so. amazing.  I can’t explain how much I love them.

And I thank God for them everyday, multiple times.  They make my life so happy, complete and wonderful.

We are currently finishing our basement thanks to my father-in-law slash handy man extraordinaire and it is going to be awesome.  I can’t wait to spend time with my family and watch my children play down there.  We are even putting in a half bath, which will be super nice for my kiddos.  😉

I decided I wanted to contribute to the basement finishing by creating some fine bathroom artwork.  I was praying about my children and thanking God for them when I read this verse.

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So I illustrated it and I am going to matte and frame it with a white frame and put it right behind the potty.  Just another reminder of how good God is and how thankful I am for my babies.  Feel free to use it in your bathroom (or anywhere!) by downloading the file here.

Bathroom Heart Art

It would also be so cool in a classroom.  Perfect, don’t you think?

ALL children are amazing,

BECAUSE they were made in the image of God.

I hope you have a happy rest of the week.

❤ ❤ ❤

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.”

(Psalm127: 3)

Reflection, Worship Wednesday

Here Is My Heart {Worship Wednesday}

Christian Teacher Bloggers unite for a Worship Wednesday Linky Party hosted by Adventures of a School Marm.

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Isn’t that a beautiful picture?

Ok, here is my story and what moved me this week.

I was driving my husband’s car and not too happy about it. My car is always warm in the garage.  My husband happened to have a old Christian mix CD playing.  I had made it in the summer of 2013.  It was a mix of old and new Christian songs, all of which were special to me.  I was clicking through the songs when I came upon one that made me stop.  It was the song that was playing the moment that I decided to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and change my life.

The year was 2000.  I was sixteen years old and was the victim of a broken heart.  My college boyfriend (should’ve known better) had cheated on me with numerous other girls and everyone and their moms already knew about it.  I was the last to find out and I was devastated, humiliated and felt completely alone.

Through a teary blur, I sped over to my BFF’s house, a Christian and the only person in my life who had never let me down.  I let myself in, walked about 10 steps into her bedroom, and fell to my knees.  I cried as the music played, and my BFF and her sister (whom I also love) laid their hands on me and encouraged me to give it to God.

And that is what I did.

That was moment I decided to live for God.  I knew that God loved me so much more than any boy ever could.  And I could feel it all around me.  I decided to follow God.  To read his Word.  To make Him proud.  To not care what anyone thought, except Him.

And my life was saved.

The song that was playing?

Here Is My Heart

By: Out of Eden

“Dear Lord, are You there, listening to my little prayer?
I don’t know exactly what to say
I’ve been told that You love me, hear me when I call would help me when
If I fall, I should let You have Your way

What I guess I’m trying to say, is I need You in my life
‘Cause I know I’m tired of living in the past
I would like to take a chance on a change down deep inside
I believe that this is one that’s gonna last, so, here is

Here’s my heart, it’s been broken, it’s been wounded
But I’ll give it all to You if You would love me, love me
Here’s my life, if You want it, You can have it
I will give it all to You because You love me
Your love is everything I need

Dear child, I’m right here, through your worries, through your fears
I’ve been waiting, for you to call my name
Oh, you know, that I hear you, if you turn to me and trust, my word is true
You will never be the same

Well, I’m standing here to say, that you need me in your life
‘Cause I know that you can’t make it on your own, on your own
If you would take a chance, let me change you deep inside
I promise you will never be alone, so, here is

Here’s my heart, it’s been broken, it’s been wounded
But I’ll give it all to You if You would love me, love me
Here’s my life, if You want it, You can have it
I will give it all to You because You love me
Your love is everything I need

You can turn to me and know that I am always standing by
I gave it all for you, so you could have this gentle peace inside
I will follow you ’cause I believe in everything You are
I am your Father, You are my Savior and in the matters of the heart
I am taking Yours and You are taking mine

Here’s my heart, it’s been broken, it’s been wounded
But I’ll give it all to You if You would love me, love me
Here’s my life, if You want it, You can have it
I will give it all to You because You love me
Your love is everything I need

Here’s my heart, it’s been broken, it’s been wounded
But I’ll give it all to You if You would love me, love me
Here’s my life, if You want it, You can have it
I will give it all to You because You love me
Your love is everything I need”

❤ ❤ ❤

Isn’t that amazing that that was the song that God used to change and save my life?

And when I heard it in my husband’s car this week, I was moved to tears again.

Thank you God for that song.  For my BFF.  For my ex-boyfriend who broke my heart.

For the opportunity to take my husband’s car.

For who You are.

For loving me.

If you want to hear the song, here is the link.

Here Is My Heart: Out of Eden

Love,

Courtney signature

Addition, Fun Stuff, Reflection, September

My Baby Girl Is Here! {*SALE!*}

I wanted to share my girl, Calla Noelle arrived this past Wednesday, September 3 . We almost didn’t make it to the hospital! After speeding like crazy down the highway, we barely made it to the hospital room. There was no time for an epidural so she was an all natural baby. 7 lbs 7 oz and 20 1/2 inches. She has her mommy’s fair skin and her daddy’s big feet. She is beautiful and sweet as pie. God is so good. As a teacher, I try to treat each of my students like I would want someone to treat my own children, and WOW do I love her.

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So I decided to throw a sale in her honor.  🙂   Everything in my store is 20% off (except bundles which are already 20% off the original price!) for the next two days. Click on the picture for the link to my store.

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 I posted ABC Alphabet Letter Sound Charts *FREEBIE* {Girly & Boy Versions} inspired by my 2 year old little boy and my new baby girl.  (I have the girl version framed and hanging in her nursery.) Click on the picture for the link to the *freebie* in my store.

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 “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

Psalm 113:9

Attitude, End of Year, Fun Stuff, Reflection

Teacher Gifts

It made my day when I received a end of the year gift from one of my students.  He is in preschool and left me this on my desk.

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His classroom teacher scribed for him.  This is what it said:

“Thank you playing with me.  Her play outside sometimes with me.  Her plays crayons and letters with me.  Thank you making me silly.  Her play Mickey Mouse game with me.  Her make flowers with me.  Her make me feel good.  Her make me feel happy.”

Love, D.

It was so sweet.  He also left me a flower.

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 I love being a teacher and it’s the little things like this that make it even sweeter.

“A little with the fear of the Lord is better than great riches with trouble.”

(Proverbs 15:16)