Lessons from My Daughter

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Over the course of five years, I’ve taught countless lessons to my children. Many of which were memorable, while others were soon forgotten. The joy of homeschooling is simply that, teaching my children at home. But in this span of time, every so often I get a lesson from any one of my children that impacts me down to my innermost being and changes me at my core.

This past Saturday, on a warm, breezy afternoon, I once again was privy to an amazing tutorial with my sweet daughter at the helm.

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In our family, a new “first” occurred earlier that day. It was the first time one of my kids spent time away from me or my husband’s watchful eye with someone they would’ve considered a stranger. But of course, to us, it was a friend we knew and trusted well enough with our child.

It was one of our daughters’ first sewing lesson and she was very much thrilled to begin. She’s had an interest in fashion for quite some time, so it was a no brainer when the opportunity presented itself for these lessons.

For days, leading up to the class, she cheerily chatted about all she wanted to learn and daydreamed about what she would sew.

However, as the time to be dropped off drew near, some of her excitement waned and was replaced by nervousness. The realization that she would be on her own, away from us, with someone new was a bit scary.

After working through this bit of angst, she was back to her bubbly self. No later than she was off to her class did I look up at the clock to see she’d soon be returning home. Upon her arrival, she enthusiastically shared all about her achievements. It was apparent she had long forgotten about her earlier fears.

As the day continued, we found ourselves en route to Kelly Drive in order to enjoy the sunshine. On our ride, my daughter and I once again discussed her courage to participate in an unfamiliar setting. The topic soon turned to how she enjoyed her new teacher and we talked about what qualities make a good teacher:

Patient…

Willing to answer your questions…

And so on.

It was at this point where things took a particularly interesting turn. With no warning, my daughter offered up more than I bargained for when she blurted out,

“You’re a good teacher too, Mommy, but sometimes you can be harsh.”

This statement flowed so matter of factly from her sweet little lips I was floored!

Between my gaping mouth and eyes the size of saucers, it was beyond apparent her pronouncement had taken me aback. So much so I didn’t yet have a compartment in which to place her assessment.

I was stuck in a state of bewilderment.

In that moment her brutal honesty came from her being innocently unaware of the expected roles between mama and child. You could tell my daughter didn’t take her cue. In the typical mother-daughter relationship, her words bordered on the fine line of having the potential to get her into big trouble.

But within a matter of seconds, her childhood survival instincts kicked in and she immediately realized she should somehow find a way to soften the blow of her words. In a snap, she countered with, “I’m not trying to be mean, Mommy, just honest.”

I quickly understood her backpedaling was coming from a place of intuitive regret for having possibly placed her in the realm of consequences. I softened my face so as not to convey contempt.

Funny enough, in that instant, I actually appreciated my daughter’s candor.

I welcomed it.

I’ve always tried to foster an environment of honest reflection between us, where we can be ourselves and share openly with one another. Respect goes both ways between us while still having the freedom to exchange our ideas about how we’re impacting one another. This, my friends, was simply another one of those moments in our relationship. And I didn’t want to squander the moment by penalizing her for giving me insight into how she receives me.

The first lesson I learned that day:

Just because I didn’t like her message didn’t mean it wasn’t valid.

You see, I had a choice to make. I could’ve either come down hard on her for telling me what I didn’t want to know.

Or,

I could have simply embraced her truth. After all, this was the mommy she had come to know in times of frustration.

And with that, I sealed my fate by choosing the latter response.

I told her, “It’s okay, I appreciate your feedback.”

From there, I licked the wounds of my bruised pride and we moved on without any more incident.

But my daughter’s evaluation of my response to her in times of pressure stayed with me. I’ve turned her words over and over in my head since that afternoon.

I’ve prayed.

I’ve read the Word.

I’ve searched my heart for any truth I might uncover.

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And ya know what? As much as I hate to admit it, I did find some truth there.

Lesson #2:

My daughter’s words revealed my attempts to hide my a tendency to not be slow to anger when things don’t go my way were feeble at best and ridiculous at worst.

What’s less shocking but equally disappointing is the fact that this area of unbridled anger is not foreign to me.

It has shown up time and time again when the pressure cooker of life is on. I can’t excuse it away, smile it away or even explain it away.

Disobedient children? Frustration is my comfort food.

Friends or situations who disappoint me? I get mad at the world.

Forgetful husband? I blame every unrelated problem on his absentmindedness!

With a heart unwilling to yield its full emotional capability over to a God who is more than able to handle it, the options of how to let off steam are endless.

As I parked our van on Kelly Drive in preparation for our light hearted walk, God was once again at work in the classroom of my heart. This time, he wasn’t afraid to put my daughter in the professor’s chair.

The third and final lesson of the day AND possibly the most important:

In God’s Kingdom, he uses the foolish things of this world, the childlike things if you will, including the boldness of a nine year old little girl to speak his loving words of correction to His hard-headed daughter.

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

Well, my daughter played double duty that day as my friend and she faithfully wounded me.

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But oh am I so glad she did!

God got my attention that day. And by His grace, he will keep it.

I pray the same will be true for you when it’s your turn to put on the pupil hat.

This is why I submit to you; have you needed to ask those closest to you some similar test questions?

  • Do you have a tendency to be uncontrolled in your speech when under the gun?
  • Have you grown accustomed to delivering empty promises to your children?
  • Are you a distracted listener when your precious kiddies truly desire your undivided attention?
  • Does your spouse feel replaced by Facebook or other forms of social media?
  • Are you moving towards compromise in some of your friendships or other relationships?
  • Are you allowing drift to creep into your most important relationship with your Heavenly Father who wants all of you?

Trust me, seeking answers to these questions may seem pretty scary. But the good news is the sooner we work up the nerve to ask, we’ll be all the better for it.

It’s true, the lessons my daughter has taught me sometimes makes the role of pupil not so fun.

But,

They give me the answers I desperately need in order to grow into who God wants me to be. Will you allow him to do the same for you?

Thanks for reading and if you like what you see, go ahead and hit that follow button and I’ll catch you next time!

Blessings,

Courtney

An Unlikely Call or Snow Day Musings

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Who would’ve thought it’d be snowing like this on a Wednesday afternoon in March?

Yet here we are!

In fact, there’s a lot of unexpected things I’ve been encountering as of late. Its been a while since I’ve updated the old blog but once you read this post, you’ll see why.

As of January 12th, we welcomed a new little cutie into the Dunlap fold and have been off to the races.

Nyla at birth

I jokingly tell friends who have been asking how we are doing since our daughter’s birth that this was all a set up! You see, its been nearly five years since the last infant graced our threshold and that little guy was the EASIEST baby you’d ever imagine.

Well, this new little one has surely been giving us a run for our money to say the least! But ya know what, its been a welcomed disruption as the days and weeks leading up to her entrance into this world were marked with difficulty, uncertainty and even unknown danger.

You see, she has multiple cysts on her right kidney which were discovered in utero. (Random little nugget here, but her oldest sis has the exact same condition and it was detected the same way!) So that threw us for a loop as we thought this pregnancy would be smooth sailing for the most part. So when God allowed this repeat of a condition, in a way, our hearts were already prepared, we just didn’t know it yet.

He’s so merciful like that, ain’t he?

To be honest, that wasn’t even the most concerning part of this whole birth story.

About 34 weeks into my pregnancy, at a routine ultrasound to continue monitoring the kidney condition, the doctor found that she had begun slowing down in her growth rate. The doc wasn’t necessarily worried but more so precautionary and wanted to to do another ultrasound the following week.

At subsequent appointments, another doctor found more of the same prognosis. In fact, his concern was so great that he was now talking to us about an induction in order to preserve our baby’s only functioning kidney. This troubling possibility was held in the tension of an awareness that I was not yet full term and the risk of having to care for a preterm baby with underdeveloped lungs was now on the table.

Talk about a “Woo sah moment”!!!

You know this is usually the part of my story where I start telling you guys how much I was freaking out and crying and praying and praying and crying and then freaking out some more.

BUT, God y’all!!!

Can we just take a parenthetical pause right here and have a quick two second praise?!

Let me tell you, the Lord really delivered on his promise from Isaiah 26:3:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

Am I saying I wasn’t concerned?

No.

Am I saying I wasn’t hoping for a good outcome?

Nope, not in the least!

Am I saying that I wished we weren’t at this point and really wanted to make it to my due date that was in three weeks, let alone the Milk & Cookies event we were planning with our friends as a sort of “un-baby shower, baby shower” that was only days away?

Absolutely not!

But what I am saying is despite all the mounting bad news, the worsening projections and worrisome possibilities, the overseer of my soul kept my heart still.

He was faithful to His Word!

Before I knew it, I was three weeks shy of our little love’s due date and in the path of a scheduled induction.

What else could go wrong?

Well, as it would go, induction day came and went. An unlikely uptick in impatient babies wanting to come that day caused a major back up in our hospital’s labor and delivery department. But by 6 am the next day, we were ready to go!

For the most part, the majority of my induction was pretty uneventful. I mean, minus the fact this was my third pending VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). As an aside, my oldest daughter was delivered via Cesarean but my second and third births were both successful VBACS. You could say this “return customer” was pretty comfortable with her midwife’s track record and was ready for round three!

I had labored through most of the day and spent it by watching movies, kicking it with my boo, entertaining myself on Facebook and participating in hilarious text threads with my friends. I was calm, cool and collected and things were actually ahead of schedule in terms of my labor’s length.

Yet, when it came time to push, fatigue, frustration and discouragement were beginning to set in.

The last hour before our baby’s birth was one of the most trying of all my labors. It was like a physical culmination of all the stop and go, great news and then sucky news, and worry and angst of the past month all wrapped up with an ugly bow!

I didn’t want to feel another contraction.

I didn’t want to push anymore.

I had mentally tapped out.

Thankfully, I’m married to a man who moonlights as a cheerleader or at least that’s what I’d like to think. He saw the look in my eyes and knew I was no good. His strong, calming and compassionate presence was what I needed to get me over that hump.

And so, with the Lord’s strength and of course one final push from me, Nyla Rose Dunlap made her entrance into this world!

Nyla Rose

Yet, unbeknownst to me, my hubby, and even our docs was a ginormous (is that a word?? I don’t know but let’s go with it okay) knot in Nyla’s umbilical cord!

What an unwelcome surprise!

We had had absolutely no clue. It wasn’t detected on any of the ultrasounds and it sure as heck was the furthest thing from our minds when it came time to induce. And still, this unseen threat was literally blocking the life my daughter was destined to have even before she took her first breath.

Knot in Nylas cord
This knot is CRAY right??!!

It’s funny how in the weeks leading up to Nyla’s birth, I found myself meditating on Matthew 6:25-34. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t shake it.

What I didn’t know was it was exactly what I needed. When it came time for me to implement Jesus’ mandate to not worry, there was Matthew 6 holding my frayed heart together. It was keeping me from going down the crazy rabbit trail of what else could be lurking around the corner.

This whole ordeal encounter with God’s Sovereign hand will forever be etched on my heart of pure evidence of His love for me and care for my family.

To be quite frank with you, this pregnancy was a lot. It was almost too much! Although it was planned, it turned out to be more than what we bargained for. And more than that, since having Nyla, her presence in our family has been a welcomed disruption. In my heart of hearts since delivering her, I’ve had thoughts about how her cute little face has changed up everything, never to be the same again.

For about a good month after her arrival, I wasn’t feeling what this newness was bringing.

You see, we had had a good thing going for about five years. We were settled into a groove of life — a rhythm really.

I don’t know why but if the craziness of her birth is any indication of what else is in store, I must admit that I’m going to need more than just a couple of scriptures to keep me sane. I’m going to need the WHOLE counsel of God’s Word, His Holy Spirit and lots and lots of grace to make it through!

And you know what, that’s okay! I think that’s exactly right where God wants me to be really. Isn’t that what he requires of all of us who call ourselves believers?

Unabashed childlike faith that is full of dependence on Him and His Word!!!

And if you have found yourself in a similar place of uneasiness, disrupted by life’s curve balls, what I will say to you, weary one, is He too calls you to this same place. I implore you to wholly throw yourselves upon the Savior’s love and entrust yourself to Him.

He is faithful to His Word. He can and He will uphold you!

God bless you, thanks for reading! Until next time…

In total surrender,

Courtney

 

 

 

Allow me to (re)Introduce Myself!

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All I can hear is the first line of that Jay-Z song as I title this post! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, its cool. 😉

For a while now, I’ve toyed around with the idea of changing my blog’s name to more accurately associate it with what I’m most passionate about. Writing is still my thing. Hence the reason behind the creation of this blog to begin with. But as my time as a blogger has evolved, I’ve found my posts to be less about my writing journey and more about my life in general. It’s only fitting to have a blog name that depicts that, right?

So allow me to (re)introduce myself…

Welcome to Able to Teach!

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Don’t worry, I’m still the same old Courtney.

Silly. Energetic. A lover of art and exploring new things. Excited about teaching and learning. In love with my three crazy kids aka my rabbits. Head over heels for my boo-thang, my main man, the Mr. to my Mrs. and Passionately committed to Jesus.

But as for this blog, I’d love for you to be crystal clear on what the content is you’ll be reading. And to date, its been about simply that, my motherhood experience and the crazy-fun homeschooling journey I’ve been on the past five years.

My passion is to teach my children. But more than that, it’s my desire to inspire any and everyone who’d ever say, “You know what, I think I am too!” So though the blog name “Able to Teach” is new to you, its been stirring in my heart for some time now.

So keep riding with me folks, we’re in for a good time!

Thanks for reading and following me thus far! I look forward to many more good conversations ahead.

Here’s to our newest journey…together!

Blessings,

Courtney

Confessions of a Glory Hog

Wow! What a year! I can’t believe July 1 of this year marked my blog’s 1st anniversary! And as we welcome August today, I must celebrate my 1 for 1, i.e. the 1 year, 1 month anniversary of my Writeaway31 blog!!!

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WOO WHOOOOOO!

I must apologize to those of you who haven’t heard from me in the last three months as much has happened. Our very successful homeschool year ended and now my girls are happy campers enjoying Camp Hope. My little Batman and I have been hanging out a ton this summer but on top of all that, I’m expecting baby #4!!!

In a nutshell, life has gotten pretty busy. I’ve had to navigate some morning sickness and lots of fatigue but now that I’m in my thirteenth week of pregnancy, I can gladly say it seems the worst is behind me!

As I get my mojo, back I’m excited for what’s to come — more writing, more fun and even more homeschool adventures! That brings me to my happy place!

So why’s that important? Why does it matter that I’m even sharing all this with you guys?

Hmm

Well for starters, I guess it wouldn’t be a blog if I didn’t. Haha

But more importantly, I’d say that as life goes on, and my kids’ pants become high waters and they begin to wear what I like to refer to as the “Winnie”… (you know how Winnie the Pooh always had on a belly shirt?), my kids are growing bigger and bigger and things are changing. But as that happens, I can’t get caught off guard when my plans must also change.

At the start of the summer, I had high hopes to enjoy a huge chunk of writing but that didn’t go down. Instead, I spent many days as prisoner to Netflix episodes of Ninjago on repeat while confined to the couch in misery.

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But was this still not what God intended or had in mind for me this summer?

My plans were nothing close to what actually occurred. I envisioned cute little mommy and me outings for my sweet rambunctious little boy. However, in all actuality, I counted it a win if I saw his sisters off to camp and showered each day.

The truth is, I have been a little bummed that the dreams I had of completing tons of submissions for my book and obtaining an agent went largely unfulfilled. But as I recently told my sister in a conversation in which she was feeling a little unsure of some things (you see she also happens to be expecting but this is her first child), without hesitating, I said, “That’s motherhood girl! Prepare to be unprepared.”

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In all honesty, I think every mother would attest to this one way or another.

But why then is this simple concept so difficult for me to grasp?

I’ve been around this block going on four times now! Yet I still get caught up on minor details, plans not materializing, feeling inadequate and self-doubt overstaying its welcome a little too long.

Why is it that I feel something must be wrong with me when that happens? Why do I think there’s some lucky shirt I can just put on each morning that will allow me to avoid the pitfalls of every day life happening to me?

One of the many answers to this is because of my own inflated notion of a successful track record.

What I mean is, I like to consider myself as successful at the art of motherhood.

My kids are well behaved…for the most part…

They don’t embarrass me in public…on most days…

They seem pretty well adjusted in this life…when they’re not freaking out…

And they’re all around likable kids.

All this adds up to is the credit I like to give myself (and my husband) for playing a part in this success.

But what is reality?

If it was not for the grace of God on my life every single day which allows me to mother the way I do, love them the way I do, shepherd their little hearts the way I do, it would all be a wash. Their personalities are even a testament to God’s grace on our lives!

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When I was pregnant with my first child, I was concerned with how she’d fit into Curtis and I’s relational dynamic. Many times we found ourselves praying God would help it be a smooth transition so our couple wouldn’t turn into three’s a crowd. And I believe God heard us and answered. In fact, he has done so three times over!

So now, the rowdy, silly, crazy and funny little rabbits we have are not because of our own doing. Any credit we think we deserve is wholly and fully due to the gift God has given us in being able to parent them the way we do and them willingly receiving it the way they do.

When I try to steal God’s thunder by taking the credit due His name, I inevitably become a glory hog.

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In the last days and weeks, I’ve become acutely aware of my tendency to do just this. I’ve felt the need to repent of it often. Sadly, this sinful tendency as of late is my Achilles Heel. As annoying as it is to come face to face with the reality of my brokenness in this way, I am grateful to know God doesn’t do away with me or punish me by letting my kids act a fool to teach me a lesson. He graciously waits for me to recognize the error of my ways and turn back to him.

As I think about how God is growing and shaping my ability to mother my children, I am thankful for the opportunity. It is not uncommon for me to be asked if the life I now live was my original plan…you know, being a homeschool mom and all.

Even now, as I think about this question, I’m chuckling because the answer is absolutely not! I never once had the thought cross my mind. Not in childhood, not in college, not in grad school and not even when I was initially married!

The funny thing is, now that I am, I can’t see myself doing anything else…at least for right now.

I absolutely love what I am and what I do with my whole heart!

I am confident in who I am and what God has allowed me to be. I’m riding this thing out until the wheels fall off!

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This is why its so important for me to remember that it is God who has put me here and not slip into thinking it was by any of my own doing.

When success comes, I must celebrate him!

When trials come, I must remember him!

And when life gets interesting, I must know he is the author of my life and if not for him there would be no me!

Well that’s all I’ve got, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post, if you did, feel free to hit that follow button and do me a solid by sharing this post!

Until next time…

Blessings,

Courtney

 

A Good Good Father

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I’d like to think my husband is a good father. On any fatherhood aptitude test, he’d knock it out the park!

He is a patient man! I mean, you’d have to be in order to endure the most determined of gut punches from a relentless three-year-old little boy.  And to be honest, some of those land in “parts unknown” (if ya know what I mean), which takes the utmost stamina to withstand.

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Each day he leaves for work, my hubby humors our three kids’ insistence on carrying out their tailor-made goodbye rituals, some of which last one whole minute per kid! During the slow-ticking sixty seconds, he receives repeated forehead and cheek kisses, a nose rub and in the words of our son Curt-Curt, a “pound it” (or fist bump) for good measure.

But what floors me the most, is how he handles times of pressure. I would say he takes the cake every time by remaining cool-headed in these trying situations. That’s actually what I admire the most about his parenting style. I learn a lot just by watching him manage overly worked tears, emotional breakdowns and in many times complete madness.

Wait, that’s from me! 😉

But seriously, he really impresses me when we face a crisis of some sort with our kids. This is why when midnight drama ensues from one of them, I usually follow his lead. 

I know I’ve written about our kids’ twilight escapades before. I’m writing about them now in this post and I’m pretty sure I’ll write about them again. It just happens that way when you have young children. 

For the last day or so, we’ve been dealing with a developing situation in which one of our kids has been struggling with fear. This isn’t foreign to us. And quite honestly, I can’t complain because for years, my poor parents dealt with the same antics from me.

The running joke that I can’t live down at any family dinner is how I laid claim to a spot right on the edge of my sister’s bed. This happened more nights than I’d like to admit up until I was thirteen! 

So, you’d think what I’m going through with my own kid would be a cake walk. But it’s funny how now that I’m on the other side of things as a parent, my child’s fear seems completely unreasonable! 

Last night, against our typical rule of thumb when it comes to sleeping arrangements, it was evident we needed to budge a little and allow this child a space in our bed. All signs were pointing to a meltdown if we didn’t. And let’s face it, who really wants to deal with that at 1 A.M.?! 

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Once we turned on a light, closed the door to our dark closet and the child in question was safely cradled in daddy’s arms you would’ve thought that would’ve been the end of it. 

Well, not this time. Their little body quivered even more. The tears continued to flow and that tiny face was buried deeper under the blankets. 

Remember how I said I’m not typically as long suffering when it comes to these sorts of things? Well, just as I began to wonder how this set up didn’t resolve things, I then knew our coaxing was falling on deaf ears. Despite the obvious fact, Mommy and Daddy were right there. 

Next, we tried a different approach. We sang worship songs to try and soothe this troubled heart. Our hope was that singing about the enduring truths of who God is would calm them. 

Wrong again! It turns out my 1 A.M. “husky register” is not for the faint of heart! 

Even playing the worship song, “Good Good Father”, popularized by contemporary Christian artist Chris Tomlin, on our iPhone couldn’t solve our dilemma.

With nothing else to lose, we decided to turn in prayer to the one to whom we sang.

It was then the good, Good Father stepped in. 

Before we could utter an amen, all shaking had subsided. Hyperventilation ceased and the soft rising and falling of our young one’s chest indicated sleep had found its rightful place with this child. 

I was blown away how as soon as we entrusted the ultimate care of our child to their Heavenly Father, he did the rest. 

This doesn’t mean my husband isn’t a good dad or that I’m a subpar mom. No, we aren’t too shabby as parents if I say so myself (lol).

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But it was in this moment I was reminded of Psalm 139:13, 15-18. It’s a clear picture of how the Good Father cares for His children.

It says:   

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb…

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
They cannot be numbered!

I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!”

Hands down, the Good Father is a much better father than the most deserving recipient of that oversized hand-shaped foam glove scrawled with the words “#1 Dad”!

He. Just. Is. 

Period. 

The way I saw God the Father intervene and take care of our child right before our eyes was breathtaking. Once he stepped in, our warm-hearted calming attempts couldn’t compare. He showed us right then and there that he truly is not only a good father, but THE good, good Father!!

Father God

Thanks for reading! If this encouraged you, feel free to share it and if you haven’t done so already, feel free to hit the “follow me” button so you can get more posts like this!

Blessings,

Courtney

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is how my 1 A.M. solo was supposed to go!  

😉

When Jesus Says Yes

When Jesus say, “Yes,” nobody can say, “No.”
When Jesus say, “Yes,” nobody can say, “No.”

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This hypnotic melody sung by Michelle Williams definitely speaks truth! If you’re a bit unfamiliar with her, she is 1/3 of the hip shaking, hit making, chart breaking early 2000’s girl group Destiny’s Child.

Though she once passionately implored us, “ladies leave your man at home!”

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On her 2014 cross-over Gospel hit, Say Yes, my girl Shelley hit the nail on the head!

The underlying tone and mood of the music video speaks volumes. In it, you see Michelle with her famous friends grooving to the beat while celebrating life, laughter and friendship.

The lyrics themselves set the stage for the message she hoped to communicate:

“I’m not worried ’bout a thing

‘Cause I know You are guiding me

Where You lead me, Lord, I will go

I have no fear ’cause I know who’s in control”

Powerful!

In my house there’s two little girls who love to dance and sing so this song is on continual repeat. If I’m honest, I like it too. There’s just something about singing about our God!

However, there’s another side to this song that we may overlook. It’s true, when Jesus says, “Yes!”, nobody can so no. But what about the times when his “yes” comes in a form we least expect? Or what if it’s (gasp) a “yes” we don’t like?

In June 2012, I found myself staring down this reality. My husband and I had just discovered we were going to have a ‘destiny’s child’ of our own. See what I did there? 😉

With most of the early memories of this pregnancy pretty hazy, one thing is for sure, I’ll never forget the reaction I had once the pregnancy test gave me a “yes” of its own.

You see, we were in the throngs of a very trying season. We already were the parents to two amazing little girls, who were only one and three years old at the time. Then, at some point in the equation (we didn’t plan on it), but we found ourselves apart of the tax-payer funded food stamp program. Debt collectors knew ALL of my numbers and shut off notices were the norm! To top it off, the Master’s degree I once found pride in, offered no relief in the midst of all this struggle.

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Upon learning another baby was on the way, I was none too thrilled! In my shock, anger and extremely visible disappointment, I was becoming bitter with God. One day, I declared to my husband that I had decided we wouldn’t be announcing the coming arrival of this baby until my belly could tell no more lies. However, if you knew me at the time, you’d find this pretty hilarious since I was skin and bones despite already being a mother of two!

Nevertheless, I made up my mind to want no parts of Jesus’ “yes” for my life. The only yes I wanted to hear would relieve our present circumstances.

It’s interesting how so many of us can hear a song like Michelle Williams and get carried away with rocking to the beat and miss the heart of the lyrics.

I can’t knock any of you if that’s your story because it was obviously mine. Shoot, I was so caught up with singing the ad libs to even notice Jesus runs everything!

This is why it’s crucial for those of us who are Christians to not only read the Word but to also be students of the Word. God in His mercy, will reveal so much more to us if we would turn down the music and give him a listen instead.

I think Michelle would agree that our old friend Job knows a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ about when Jesus says, “yes”. Oh and that’s pronounced [J-O-E-B]. You know with the hard “o” sound not the soft “o” that we typically hear in the actual word ‘job’. As in the job we need to clock into every day to get paid! Lol Okay, let me get out of my homeschooling phonics bag. I’m sure I’m going to catch major side-eye from my husband due to all this corniness! 🙂

Job (from the Bible), not who you may have seen depicted on a South Park episode, faced some pretty peculiar challenges.

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He found himself experiencing the symptoms of God saying, “yes”to a rather shifty character!

Job 1:6 sets the scene. There was a day when the angels came to present themselves before the Lord and who would show up but Satan himself!

I know, the nerve right?

Well, this creature of old, that sly serpent and OUR adversary, decided he too would go and have a few words with the Almighty.

When God asks where he has been, Satan replies, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Ugh, doesn’t he just make your skin crawl?!

Anyway, as the exchange continues, we learn Satan doesn’t balk at the opportunity to do exactly what scripture tells us he’s a pro at, seeking someone to devour. He proceeds to wreak havoc on Job’s life.

And with God’s permission no less! Maaaaan, that’s a blog post for another time!

Soon, the negative side effects of Job’s unsuspecting involvement in a heavenly wager start to take their toll.

He loses his children, his wealth and ultimately his health, just shy of losing his very life. Can you imagine the salt in Job’s fresh wounds when his unhelpful friends come for a visit? Not only do they question Job’s character, they actually may have won the award for “Worst Human Beings to Ever Live” when they suggest he chuck something other than deuces at God and commit suicide.

This unwanted sick and shut-in ministry may seem disturbing but there’s a glimmer of hope…

God’s MIGHTY hand in all this was big enough to hold Job together despite all his problems!!

By the close of this drama, we find a much happier ending. Job does not curse God. And Job does not die. In fact, quite the opposite happens. May I suggest you read the rest of the story so you can marvel at the awesomeness of God?

Well, you may be wondering how this relates to the start of my post.

You see, the underlying assertion in Michelle’s song implies that the yeses of Jesus are about happy, go-lucky sorts of things.

This is correct.

But…

 I would go one step further and add when Jesus says “yes” we have to also accept the fact that His yes transcends the boundaries of our preferred yes.

My “yes” and/or the “yes” I want to hear from Jesus is often a self-centered yes. I mostly want his yes to lead to my happiness, my peace, my blessing, and ultimately my comfort.

I must never neglect the reality that he actually is Lord over all and can say yes whenever, wherever and however he likes! To sum this up in a word…he is Sovereign.

Its my job as his follower to accept this and Him as such.

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Though, right now, I’m not suffering from the heart ache of child-loss or the physical pain of boils like Job did, I still face some pretty hard yeses from Jesus at times.

If we read the receipts of countless others in Scripture we might realize our need to open our ears a little bit more to what a “yes” on Jesus’ lips sounds like.

Ask Abraham. Ask Samuel. Ask David. Ask the three Hebrew boys. Ask the disciples. Ask Paul. And then ultimately, ask Jesus himself!

I’m sure they all experienced many joys from a Divine “yes”. But let’s not be too hasty to forget they were also well acquainted with some equally painful yeses.

The next time we find ourselves humming along to our soul’s rendition of Say Yes, we may benefit from not only mouthing the words but by also prudently heeding them.

It’s for sure that on this one, Michelle definitely got it right.

And so can we!

We merely have to tune our heart’s radio to Jesus’ heavenly chorus in order to experience the fulness of life that he brings.

Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next time!

Until then, I’ll fade you out with this:

Pain Medicine

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Despite what modern day thinking and medical practices currently show, for the Christian, pain doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility to remain active. In times of spiritual drought, emotional or physical pain, fatiguing situations and nagging problems, we must commit to still follow THE Doctor’s orders. God Almighty, the doctor of our souls, has been giving us life saving instructions since the beginning of time.

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 His Holy Word, the Bible doesn’t say, “Obey my commands when you’re feeling up to it.” It doesn’t comfort us with, “Read two scriptures and call me in the morning.” Nor does the Eternal, Triune God say, “Once this season of weariness is over and you’re feeling up to it, we’ll find time to reconnect again.” Nope, nada, I don’t think so!

Over the course of history, the inspired word of God has told believers, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” (Jn. 14.15)

Lately, I’ve been encountering emotional, spiritual and interpersonal pain that has severely taxed my mind, body and soul. It’s led to nights of tears instead of sweet slumber, days of ruminating instead of relaxation and headaches that linger with no relief in sight. 

This weekend, as I spent time on a plane traveling with my mother-in-law to a girls’ trip for just the two of us to celebrate her 60th birthday, sleep on the plane did not come easily. 

When I tried to shut my eyes and get some rest, my thoughts traveled to my present circumstances, wondering what I should do. I prayed silently, asking God for wisdom on how I can obey him in these situations; fully aware that I have no clue how to exactly do that. 

I opened my notepad on my iPhone and reread the numerous scriptures I typed out a day earlier to gain some clarity, encouragement and direction. 

One verse in particular from 1 John 2 at the end of verse 5 and continuing into verse 6 reads: 

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

The last part especially struck me as something to ponder more deeply…

“Must walk as Jesus did.” 

There was no mistake, coincidence or fluke that the Holy Spirit led John to write those hallowed words. 

It actually makes complete sense. If we say we are Jesus’ followers, it’s only natural for us to then walk as he did. 

I have a five year-old-daughter who absolutely LOVES to play copycat. You remember that annoyingly fun, childhood pastime everyone hates to love. The gist of it goes something like this:

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At any given time, usually without warning, some kid would choose to mimic any and everyone around him. What’s crazy is it didn’t matter what those people said or did, the more extreme, the better. 

Most times it got pretty interesting if the person being copied decided to do something totally gross, even if that meant sticking a finger in their nose. 

The unspoken question of the hour for the self proclaimed mimic would be, are you willing to go the distance and follow their lead no matter how ridiculous the cost? Or, are you going to break your game and go on with life as usual?

The same can be asked of any believer, the only difference being we haven’t chosen our roles. It’s been etched out for us. Those of us endowed with faith in our hearts to believe the Gospel, are given the title of Christian. In fact the Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph. 2.8).

Because of this, we are literally “Christ Followers”. The five year-old translator in me would say, we are “Christ copycats”! 

So, what now?

The age old call of any believer to discipleship is a willingness to follow Christ as he leads his church. Individually speaking, once we are a Christian, will we do as Eugene H. Peterson puts it and walk out “a long obedience in the same direction”? 

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It’s all fun and games when following Christ leads to good gifts from our Father of heavenly lights. But what about when following Christ doesn’t leave you with the same warm and tingly feeling you experienced the first day you met him?

What about the “icky” times? When you’re not feeling so well – spiritually speaking that is? What about when he calls you to give up some things? He may not bid you to copy him by sticking your finger in your nose but what about when he asks you to do something just as awkward? 

It’s in these times of trial and testing that we all must look in the mirror of our souls and ask ourselves, “Am I willing to follow the Doctor’s orders?” Will we follow  Jesus and walk as he did even if it doesn’t make sense? Even when everything and everyone around us is pointing anywhere but where he wants to lead? 

My earnest prayer is that we can AND will cry with a resounding voice, “YES!”

For that truly is the only medicine for our pained and weary souls. 

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God bless you and thanks for reading. I hope to talk with you soon.

Be encouraged.

Blessings,

Courtney