The Little Things

So most of you will already know this from twitter, but my little sister Lanee Beth's weenie dog died last Friday :-( Sometime during the week Chewie(the weenie dog) was bitten by a snake (for the second time I might add) and didn't respond to the antibiotics. Mom had called me earlier in the week to let me know it wasn't looking good for Chewie. I knew Lanee would be heartbroken. When you are in fourth grade, your dog means the world to you! So I went to my fastest source of getting others to pray with me-twitter. Except right as I typed out the tweet, I suddenly felt silly. I mean, who is really going to pray for my little sister's dog. Can you even pray for dogs? I mean I know that you can, but in the grand scheme of things, a dog seems like a small thing. And then I found myself questioning whether or not God even pays attention to small prayers like that. I know that is terrible, but I just kept thinking, "I know this is a huge deal to Lanee, but compared to all the bigger problems in the world, how silly is it for me to be asking my friends to pray for my little sister's weenie dog. I mean, lets just be real for a second. We all know those kids from sunday school that always had a huge list of prayer requests like, "My fish was swimming funny yesterday" or "I lost my favorite toy" and whenever the sunday school teacher asked for prayer requests and they raised their hand, you just rolled your eyes because you knew it was going to be a whole list of seemingly unimporatant things. (hopefully I'm not the only one who ever felt that way or I look like a biiiig jerk right now.) The point is, I didn't want to be that kid via twitter, but I went ahead, and had a suprisingly large amount of people respond and say they were praying for my sister and her dog (which is just a wonderful example of the amazing community we have here, but thats another blog lol)

Anyways, I started digging through some blogs I read and my Bible to try to figure out how God responds to our small prayer requests and I was reminded of a story from 2 Kings. If you know me very well, or have ever read my blog really, you know I'm a BIG Old Testament fan, but 1&2 Kings are probably in the top 5 of my favorite Old Testament books. I was reminded of the story of the man and the floating Ax head.

Basically, just for some context, Elisha just healed Naaman of leprosy (which is a pretty big deal) and then Israel’s army is delivered from the Arameans(which is a very big deal.) After all these big things, the prophets following Elisha are chopping some trees. One of the men's iron ax head fell into the water. The guy starts totally freaking out because he had borrowed the ax head. So Elisha hears this guy freaking out and asks him where the ax head fell. The man takes Elisha to where he dropped the ax. Elisha cuts a stick, throws it into the water, and then the iron ax head starts floats to the top so the man can just reach down and lift it out of the water. Now I didn't learn much in Physics I or II, but I do know that iron isn't supposed to float in water, so obviously, it was a God thing.

This guy wasn't anybody special, I mean, he didn't even have enough money to buy his own ax, he had to borrow one from a friend, but God still cared about the things that were going on in his life. To anybody else, losing an ax head probably doesn't seem like a big enough deal for God to intervene. It's not like he was some important man who had leprosy like Naaman. However, the man was serving God where he was at in life. He was building a hope for the prophets so God's work could be furthered. Because he was one of God's children, God cared about the small things in his life, like the ax head, and lead Elisha to meet the man's need, no matter how trivial it seemed.

In the new testament, Jesus says we don't have because we don't ask, and when we do ask we ask with wrong motives. When we are truly serving the Lord, we aren't going to be seeking things that don't line up with that, but we are still going to have problems in our life that are trivial in the grand scheme of things (like the man and the ax head). Even though those things seem small, God cares, He listens, and He acts. In my case this week, He decided not to heal Lanee's dog, however, He brought the blessing of two new puppies into her life not even a week later. (and these are blurry pictures, but they are the cutest things ever!)  

Since I've learned this little lesson, I've been trying to talk to God about the small things. For me, its helped me have a more comfortable praying relationship with God already. I'm not trying to prepare what I need to tell God, and what is too small for him to worry about, I'm just talking to him, and it has helped me just start automatically talking to him a lot more. So I'd encourage you to start sharing the small stuff you worry about with God. Or even just the small stuff that drives you crazy! Talk to God about how much you don't like doing laundry and how you need a better attitude about it! Talk to God about how you really want to yell at that person who just cut you off in traffic. Talk to God about how you don't know what mother's day presents to get for the special ladies in your life! Because He cares about the small stuff :-)


Confessions from the Self-Checkout Lane

So this blog was supposed to be posted like a week and a half ago…oops. :-)
     A few weeks ago at Journey Campus on Sunday we had a baptism service. It was one of the most amazing services I have ever been a part of. I love baptisms anyway. Just seeing people who have been so changed by the love of Christ get up and make that public is so touching. I really love the way Central/Journey Campus does baptisms too because they play a video before each person of them telling their story. I think that is actually my favorite part. Just hearing people tell others how they were once in a life of sin and how God rescued them out of it just blesses my heart.
     One of the most amazing things about the baptism service was that they asked the people in their interview who they would like to thank for helping them in their journey to Christ. All of the people had been reached by someone who had just loved on them. They hadn’t gone to a life changing service. It wasn’t anything the pastor said. It was people. People and simply the way they lived, the fact that they simply showed them Christ’s love.
     It really got me thinking about my life. I thought, who am I investing in that may one day be telling their story to a group of people? As embarrassing as it is to admit, I couldn’t think of a single person. Sure, I have people that I invite to church or events or even to journey groups, but all of them are people that are already believers and new to the Jonesboro area, looking for a new church, etc. And I’m not saying that I don’t believe I am having some discipleship influence on these people, because I do and I think that is really important as well. But I couldn’t remember the last person I just loved on someone I didn’t know, someone that might not know Christ.
     At Journey groups we talked about the baptism service and some other people felt similar things. We talked about how the people who had made an impact on those people who were baptized weren’t necessarily going out and looking for lost people (not that I am saying we shouldn’t), but that they were simply taking time to live a life of love.
     I don’t think that I’m necessarily not a loving person, in fact, I feel the opposite. However, I tend to get extremely busy, and when I do get busy I get this tunnel vision and I don’t even notice people around me. This may sound silly, but one of the first things I thought about was grocery shopping. Everyone has to go grocery shopping, and most people don’t exactly enjoy it. I usually go to Kroger and one of my favorite things about Kroger is the self-checkout aisles. If I write out a list beforehand, I can get in and out of Kroger super fast and without having to make any human contact, which in the busy-ness of life, I thoroughly appreciate. Lately though, as silly as it may seem, I have actually been convicted about that. I know right, self-checkout conviction sounds a little ridiculous, but how many opportunities could I be missing? If I go grocery shopping once a week (not counting all the times I have to drop by because we forgot something) then that is once person each week that I am giving up on the chance to invite them to church, or journey group, or even to just smile and show them a little love from a customer not upset about the ridiculously high and rising prices. Is it really worth getting out of the grocery store 5 minutes quicker?
     Now, I don’t think you are sinning if you use the self-checkout aisle at Kroger. ;-)But I just challenge you to think about areas of your life where you could just be too distracted to notice opportunities God may be sending your way. Sometimes we act like we don’t understand why God isn’t using us. But God wants to use us, we just have to make ourselves available.
Much Love!

Take Your Man to Jesus

So for the past ten days, I went on a prayer journey with a few close friends. It's called "Take Your Man to Jesus" and its basically just ten days of intentional prayer for your husband/boyfriend. It gives you a different topic to pray over everyday. I went into this prayer journey thinking that it would be such a blessing to Matt, and I think it has been, but I think it has been even more of a blessing to me.

I've learned so much the past ten days about how I can be a better wife and better support Matt. I also learned how little I actually pray. But I think the most important lesson I learned is that God listens. Sounds simple right? You are probably all thinking, "Gee Court, glad you finally figured that out." I realized though, through my surprise as I watched God work through my prayers, how usually when I pray, I don't really expect God to do anything.

 The first day we prayer for our husbands as leaders. First of all, it was really good for me to sit and think about all the different ways Matt is a leader, and think about how much pressure that has to be. Then, when Matt got home from band practice that night, he couldn't stop smiling and talking about how well it went. I thought, "Okay God, you helped Matt be a good leader at practice today. That's cool thanks." Then the next day we prayed for their worship. One of the things we specifically prayed for was that God would give them a sense of freedom in their worship. That night at Elevate, as Matt was leading, his guitar came unplugged from the speaker. He ended up at the end of the service just putting the guitar down and just singing and leading us in worship without an instrument. He couldn't stop going on about how freeing it was and how he felt like it really grew him in his worship. These kind of things happened all week. On the day that I prayed for him as a father(which was particularly hard for me with my opposition to us having children anytime soon), Matt showed me a list he wrote of things he wants to do with his future children that just blessed my heart. On the day I prayed for his family, Matt's Mom sent me a message on facebook about how she was so happy I was a part of the family and how she couldn't have picked a better mate for her son. And like I said, these are just a few examples of how God truly listened and answered to my prayers last week!

Honestly, sometimes I'm not even sure if God is actually hearing my prayers, much less praying expecting him to respond. But this week, He has really shown me that HE HEARS US, and not only does he hear us, but HE RESPONDS!

What if we truly prayed expectantly in other areas. After taking this prayer journey, I really feel that we are called to be a people of prayer, women of prayer. The Bible frequently talks about prayer! We are told that we don't receive because we don't ask! Or when we do ask, we do so with wrong motives! I have really seen that played out in my life this week. I was praying out of pure motives to truly bless Matt and help him become the man God has called him to be, as well as helping me become the wife God has called me to be, and God showed me that when you truly pray, he will hold up his end of the deal.

So now, I challenge you, not to a ten day challenge, but to make prayer a regular thing in your life. And not to just say a quick prayer or go through a list of requests, but pray with pure motives and pray expectantly. You can start out by just making sure you have 5 minutes of uninterupted prayer a day, that's what I am doing. I know it sounds simple, but sit down and try it and see how hard it actually is, which is so sad. Add 5 minutes every week. Have prayer dates with God where you and him sit down with a cup of coffee and just talk. You'll be amazed at how it changes your life, and when it does, shoot me an email and let me hear how God is blessing you :-)

I'm Baaaaccckkk :-)

So I haven't blogged since December...don't judge me. Turns out having a wedding, moving to a new apartment, starting school again, trying to figure out marriage, and helping serve in a church plant makes for a busy life. However, my New Year's resolution was to blog more (oops) and I really feel like it is something God wants me to be doing at this point in my life, so be prepared for more posts...hopefully. :-)

If you have ever looked at my blog before, you are probably noticing it looks a little different. I gave it a makeover :-)

Soooo life catch up, I'm a junior in school and I'm married now :-) We are a part of a new church plant that is a part of Central Baptist called the Journey Campus. I'm still baby-sitting Sadie, which is as fun and interesting as ever, and Matt is now not only working at the Alumni Office on campus, but also as an intern at the Journey Campus. I'm also currently doing, well finishing up really, a 10-day prayer plan called "Take Your Man to Jesus" with a few amazing friends, Heather Patterson (view Heather's blog) , Sarah Stevenson-soon to be Miller (view Sarah's blog)  and Meagan Pearson (view Meagan's blog) . It has been amazing and I'm sure there will be a blog about it soon ;-)

Matt and I are doing this bible reading plan together (well, we are reading seperately but we are doing the same plan) that goes through the Bible in a year. We figured there is no better way to start off our marriage than to compeltely cover it with scripture, and although it is hard to keep up with it sometimes, I am learning a lot. In fact, I'm really not sure which thing I want to blog about first.

Now to explain the new layout of the blog :-) I felt it was appropriate since I was starting a new phase of life. Plus, God has really laid Psalm 19:14 on my heart as a verse to live by. It says, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Something you really learn in marriage is how everything you say can affect someone else. Like James says, the tongue has the power to set relationships on fire, and once they are set on fire, it is hard to put out. The Bible says that our words are an overflow of our heart. This has really convicted me lately. Whenever I say negative things (whether it is in a joking manner or not) those things had to come from somewhere-my heart. I want the meditation of my heart to be pleasing to God so the words of my mouth will be as well. That's my challenge to myself right now, or I guess, God's challenge to me, so I decided that I wanted my blog to be an example of my pleasing meditations to him. And those times when I'm not pleasing and He has to whip me back into shape the hard way.

I'm so excited to see what God is going to be teaching me, using me, and how He is going to grow me. So anyways, it will be a crazy journey, but you are welcome to come along for the ride ;-)

Lessons from a cup of Cocoa :-)

So tonight I was going to get in bed super early. I don't have any finals tomorrow, I haven't been sleeping well, and it has just been a long and crazy week. However, I decided to read Heather's new blog post on the Radiant Blog and was pretty convicted about how little quality time I've really been spending with God lately. 

Last night after Christmas on Campus, Matt and I came back to my room. He had to write a paper and I had told him I would make him some hot chocolate to keep him motivated! I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this cup of hot chocolate. I don't know if it is just because I'm super excited about becoming a wifey in 8 days (eek!!!) or what, but I worked so hard on it! I used milk instead of water, which for the record makes waaayyy better hot chocolate, I picked out tons of extra marshmallows, because I know those are his favorite. Basically, this was going to be the best cup of hot chocolate ever! In my excitement, I didn't realize how HUGE this cup of hot chocolate was though. And then, Matt realized he didn't have what he needed to write his paper, so he took a few sips of it and headed home. (Time out to say, I am in no way writing this blog to say anything about Matt not drinking my hot chocolate, lol) I wasn't mad at Matt for not drinking the hot chocolate I had made him, but I was sad that I had put so much effort into making it in hopes that we could take a few minutes out of this crazy week and spend time with each other while he drank it. 

Then, I realized that is exactly what I have been doing with my Jesus time these past few weeks. I have been so busy that I've been just taking a few sips to appease Him, but not really spending any quality time with Him. I will read a chapter or two and then check that off the checklist for today, never really getting anything out of it, never REALLY spending time with the Savior. I imagine that it makes Him sad too. He prepares a lesson or word of encouragement for me and then I just take the first few words of it because I'm too busy to sit and spend time with Him. 

There are a lot of big changes coming in my life. I'm about to become a wife. Matt and I have a lot of big ministry opportunities coming next semester, one being the Radiant Women's ministry I am so blessed to be involved in. Now is not a good time to be ignoring the lessons God wants to teach me(not that any time ever is a good time to do that) 

It is easy to make excuses. We all get busy with stuff. Sometimes, it isn't even bad stuff! For me right now, its school and a wedding and preparations for our future lives. I would say this is really good stuff, but I can't let God get pushed to the side in the process. He can NEVER become an afterthought. Spending time with him isn't just some task to mark off the checklist, its an honor and a priveledge that I so often take for granted. 

This  also reminded me of a verse...
Revelation 3:20 
"Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends." 

Most of the time, this verse is used to talk about people's original salvation, but I believe salvation is a process, and sometimes, we have to remember to open the door and let God in again. It's easy to fill our hearts with so much other stuff, that somehow, He gets pushed outside because its just too crowded for Him. He is a gentleman, He won't come where He isn't invited. He will just stand at the door and knock, ready to sit and have a cup of hot chocolate with us :-) 

Let's not keep Him waiting....


So I'm a big old testament its a little wierd. I think its just because I like the stories. They feel almost like a story book, except they are real and I love just curling up with a cup of coffee and digging into it. To think about all the stuff God has done and the history of our faith is just amazing to me! But I'm getting off subject...

Sometimes though, I find myself wondering why we don't see God act in huge ways like he we saw in the old testament. Then I realized its not that God doesn't show up, its that I am too busy to notice when he is doing amazing things right in front of me. So I'm not really sure what this blog is specifically going to be about, but hopefully I won't lose you along the way :-)

First of all, as many of you know, Matt has had some health issues in the past. Basically, he didn't have an immune system. (Primary Immune Deficiency Disease) When we first started dating, this is something that worried me a lot. I have always really stuggled with worry and fear and the possibility of ending up with someone who is more vulnerable to sickness really scared me. It really took me down a road where I really examined how weak my faith was. To be completely honest, when Matt told me about it, I started thinking of ways to let him down easy. I mean, there was no way God would call me, a girl constantly worried about something, to be with a man with this kind of vulnerability. But everytime I would pray and seek God about the situation (which was a lot that first few weeks lol) I would just be filled with this overwhelming peace, and I just knew I didn't have to worry about Matt, because God was holding Matt in his hands and he could do a much better job of taking care of him than I can. Basically, my faith increased tremendously because of the situation. I learned that believing IN God and actually BELIEVING GOD are often very different things, and that true faith requires us believing God and his promises. Now I'm not talking about that blind faith, I'm taling about faith where you examine the situation and realize the severity of the situation, but you trust that God has a plan and that whatever happens is to your good, whether you understand how it is to your good or not (Romans 8)

A while back Matt had gone to get his immune system check up. A few weeks ago, his doctor called him with the results. She then told Matt that she couldn't really explain these results, but that his tests showed that basically (I will spare you the medical junk, mainly because I would probably explain it wrong) HE WAS CURED!!!! He no longer has to be on medicine, and he has a fairly normal immune system. HOW BIG IS OUR GOD?!

The crazy thing is, I had never even prayed that God would heal Matt. It's not that I wouldn't have thought God could do it, but asking him for something so big and crazy never crossed my mind. I just sat in my room for a while that afternoon crying tears of joy, completely overwhelmed by the power of our God. So many times I have wondered why God doesn't show up like he did in the Bible, and then what does he do? He throws a miracle in my lap to bless me, just because he can. In fact, I like to think of it as our wedding present from God :-)

SO back to what I originally started to write this blog about... Joshua 1.
Since our little miracle :-) I've been trying to pain attention to how God is working in our world everyday. I think we just get so busy, we miss out on so much (but thats another blog for another time ;-) )

I was reading Johsua 1 last night, and the Journey Campus came to my mind. Joshua was sent into a land that God with the promise that God would give it to the people and do great things. God told Joshua not to be afraid or discouraged, because He would be right with them and He would bless them and make their mission prosperous.

I'm really praying this passage over the Journey Campus. I believe that God is sending us in the direction of this new campus because He wants to do great things through us. Sure, its a little scary, change always is. But God is with us, so we are to approach this opportunity with the strength and courage we have through him! I'm so pumped about being a part of this new campus and so blessed to have such an amazing church family and I can't wait to see where God takes us :-)

Body of Christ

So lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of the body of Christ. We’ve been talking about it at Elevate, last weekend on the Belong Retreat, and then I have been reading on it. In journey groups last week, we went through 1 Corinthians 3. Some of the things I learned through this passage have really been sticking with me, so I thought I’d share them. Again, be prepared for this to not make sense, if you have read my blogs before, you know the craziness that goes on inside my head. ;-)

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul was addressing how the Corinthians were quarrelling over things that didn’t even matter, and how these dumb arguments were preventing their spiritual growth. One of the main problems was the disagreements about whose teaching was better, Paul or Apollos. When I read that, I thought, “How silly! They were fighting over who was better presenting the same message!” (which is exactly what Paul tells them, but we will get to that in a minute) But then I thought, how many times in our churches today do we take our focus off the gospel and the amazing-ness of God in general to worry about whose preaching style better fits us or whether or not we liked the songs in worship today. How dare we come into the house of the creator of the universe who CHOSE to save our lowly selves and demand for entertainment? How much more silly and selfish does it get than that? Just like the Corinthians, we take our focus off what it should be and worry about silly things. When we do this, we are choosing to prevent our own spiritual growth. How much different would coming to church be if we were all coming with the attitude of “What worship can I bring to God today to show my gratefulness to him?” Just a thought…

Actually, that’s totally not what I was wanting to talk about when I sat down to write this blog, lol, so back to what has really been on my heart lately-the body of Christ.

So I don’t know about you, but I have always thought that my personal relationship with God is just that, MY personal relationship with God. I’ve always thought that it doesn’t affect anyone but me. Lately, I have realized that is not the case. In 1Corinthians 3, Paul starts talking about how who is presenting the message doesn’t matter, because they are all just servants of God. They are both just trying to complete the task that God has given them. Then he relates each person’s individual task to a part of a building that is God’s master plan. (stay with me here) This reminded me of the story of Nehemiah. He needed to build a wall to protect the city and he needed to do it pretty fast, like impossibly fast. Nehemiah gave each person in Jerusalem the task of building the portion of the wall that was in front of their house, and miraculously, the wall was built in time and the city was protected!

So your probably wondering how this relates to the body of Christ. I think this shows how our relationship with Christ, doesn’t just affect us. If one person would have decided to take a day off and not finished their part of the wall on time, the whole city would have been left vulnerable to attack. Let’s relate this back to us. When we aren’t right with God in our own personal relationship with him, we aren’t doing our part in the task that he has given the body of Christ as a whole, and therefore, we are leaving the WHOLE body of Christ vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. (makes you think twice about skipping your bible study, right?)

An example, I’m usually an encouraging person, I feel like that is one of the gifts God has given me. (notice I said usually) But if I don’t have my personal encouraging time with God, then I am not such an encouraging person. I also struggle with insecurity, so if I am not having my time with God, I forget how secure I am in the fact that I am his child and I let that get to me as well. Basically, if I’m not getting my Jesus time, I’m not encouraging and I’m whiney, overdramatic, and insecure. (yay for character flaws :-/) A few weeks ago I was having a rough day and I didn’t have my friendship time with Jesus that day, or the day before…In other words, I was a yucky version of the Courtney God made that day. Because I was so yucky, I wasn’t encouraging and supporting Matt the way he needs me to be there for him. That night was a band practice night and I remember him calling me and telling me that on days when he is supposed to be trying to really serve God like that, it hinders him to be bickering with me over silly things just because I’m in a yucky mood. I started thinking about that. What if it had been a Wednesday night and he was supposed to be leading worship? My yucky mood would have led to him being hindered in leading the Journey as a ministry into the presence of God. In other words, me not doing my bible study would affect the whole Journey ministry. Now say someone didn’t get the worship they needed that night and then is yucky to someone else because of it. Because I didn’t “build my part of the wall” that day, the body of Christ was left vulnerable.

Now obviously, we aren’t going to be perfect. And thank goodness God is great enough to step in when those kinds of situations occur and fix our messes and protect my part of the wall when I fail. But I’ve just really been hit with how the body of Christ is much more connected than we realize and how we each have an effect on the body and the task God has given us a whole.

I hope this makes sense! Feel free to leave comments and tell me where I’m wrong! Love you all!