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

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.

christmas kids pic for bloggy

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)