Category Archives: March

Rooster is 1!!!!!!

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I can’t believe it’s been a year. In some ways it feels like it was forever ago and in others, it was yesterday. One year ago today, sweet Rooster was released into the world. She has been so well loved by the families that have known her. I’m beyond grateful for anyone and everyone who has bought her book. Your kindness has been overwhelming. That was the most surprising thing of all. The kindness. When people extend kindness it’s like having a tiny glimpse of heaven. So thank you to all of you for showing me glimpses of heaven this past year.

Writing Rooster’s Balloon changed my life. Rooster helped me grieve the death of my sweet friends’ daughter. She helped me see that children’s questions for God aren’t all that different from adults’ questions. Every time I sat down at the computer to write more of her story, tears flooded my eyes. It couldn’t be helped. I needed to feel her pain. I can assure you this story was covered in prayer and I can say with certainty it was exactly the story I was supposed to write. Thank you for being so accepting of it. I know it’s an especially difficult story to read to your children. Believe me, I can barely get through it myself without getting choked up. But, unfortunately, we live in a world where hard things happen. Children may have to deal with loss before they’re old enough to process it. Rooster gives kids a narrative they can relate to. She asks questions that children may not be able to articulate after a loss. And she lets kids know it’s ok not to be ok. See, kids aren’t that different from adults after all.

So today I want to celebrate Rooster for being one year into the world! And I want to sincerely thank you for all the kindnesses you readers have bestowed upon me, especially this last year. You have humbled me and overwhelmed me and I will not soon forget it. Y’all are my favorites!

And if you never got your copy of Rooster’s Balloon and you want one, just go to the Purchase tab at the top of this page and get you one!!

I also added the video of me receiving ALL the books a year ago. The sight of all the books only gave me slight nausea…

-Courtney

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The Day Time Stood Still

Do you ever feel like time stands still? I’ve heard that when a tragedy happens, time seems to stop. I remember being in Pathophysiology and watching the second hand on the wall clock crawl like a turtle. Sitting on hard bleachers during your child’s practice can also seem like an eternity. Last week, I discovered another place where time stands still.

Chuck E. Cheese.

In a weak moment during spring break, my kids convinced me that going to Chuck E. Cheese was a great idea. Now, this was only after the trampoline/ninja warrior gym we were originally going to go to was packed, so my kids opted to do this another day when it wasn’t as crowded. Because, heaven forbid, the children be bored. I think my kids think that being bored is some sort of punishment. Like if I’m not entertaining them every day when their friends aren’t around, I’m somehow the mean mom. No, children, I’m not mean, I’m just not your cruise director. But on this particular day, I decided to cave and took them to the place germs go to spawn, Chuck E. Cheese.

Upon walking in, the smell of greasy pizza and sweaty kids made me question my decision. Pair that with the blinking lights from 50 arcade games and kiddie music blaring from everywhere and I knew my fate was sealed. I was going to die here. Right here on this ‘80s carpet with old pizza crust and stray tickets.

We go to buy tokens and I told them that when the tokens run out we’re done and going home. Once tokens are distributed, they take off, each to their own games. I go find the cleanest looking table with the least amount of trash to sit and scroll through all the social media. Judge away, helicopter parents. Turns out that takes all of 10 minutes. This is about the same time Caitlin and Blake run up to me and give me plastic cards with their pictures on them to hold until the end of time.

Getting bored, I go find my kids to see what they’re playing. Paxton can always be found playing some sort of racing game. He doesn’t care about getting tickets, he just wants to simulate driving. Unfortunately, wrecking in simulation and wrecking in real life have very different outcomes. Luckily he’s only 11 and we’ve still got time to work on his skills.

I look at my phone to check the time. I feel like we’ve been here at least 30 minutes. What? 16 minutes?!? That can’t be right! Surely we’ve been here longer than that! I really am going to die here.

I found Caitlin playing a bow and arrow simulation game. The more targets you hit, the more tickets you get. She was a decent shot but kept missing the bonus shot at the end. You had to hit an apple that was sitting on someone’s head.

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I asked if I could give it a go to which she obliged since she knew if I could hit the apple, she could win 25 more tickets. No one’s ever called Caitlin a dummy. So I line up my arrow and find that when the timer starts, the bullseye moves just the slightest bit back and forth. Oh, those wicked arcade games! Always so tricky! I kept my hand as steady as possible and shot my arrow.

BULLSEYE!!!! 25 TICKETS!!!! I’m not gonna lie, I was more excited than I should’ve been to hit that apple. Then I realized that I was in Chuck E. Cheese, the place where adult coolness goes to die. I was fine. Caitlin was pumped and wanted to move on to Skeeball. Ah, Skeeball. So many memories from my youth. I love Skeeball. I have hope that I’m going to hit that 10,000 hole every time and every time I’m disappointed. I never learn. I go for it every time and get the lousy 1,000 hole. It’s still my favorite game though.

Blake is shooting basketballs and missing most of them but he keeps trying and hoping just like his mom with Skeeball. Blake likes most anything where you’re shooting something. A ball, a watergun, you name it. He was in between games when he noticed the big Cheese himself walking by. That’s right Chuck E. had come out to see his pint size fans. They were all crowded around him and singing whatever song he was singing. Then he started making it rain tickets on the little children. Like manna from heaven. These kids became lowly beggars crawling all over the ‘80s carpet trying to get as many tickets as possible. I thought it was a bit pathetic then I noticed Blake was down there with them. Sigh.

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(This was before Chuck made it rain)

The tokens finally ran out and it was time to feed the tickets into the ticket counting machine. This could take an hour if you have to put them in 1 or 2 at a time. IMG_4913

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(We had a lot of one offs and twofers)

The best is when you have a long chain of tickets to feed the ticket monster, alas, we only a couple of those.

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(Paxton got the bullseye on his own. You would’ve thought he won $1 million dollars)

After the counting was finished, we went through the excruciating task of picking out prizes. I can’t even. It takes so long for my kids to decide. I took a picture of their loot so you could see how well my $20 was spent. Looong sigh.

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Then, with much anticipation on my part, we got to exit the building. Hallelujah! I survived the hour that seemed like an eternity! I can’t remember exactly when, but I’m pretty sure an hour later the kids were asking, “So, what are we going to do now?” Loooooonger sigh.

-Courtney

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Good Friday

It’s Good Friday. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I’ve been meditating all week on this coming weekend. That I’ve been pouring over Scripture and wearing sackcloth to commemorate this Holy Week. I have not been as intentional as I hoped I would be. But alas, it’s Good Friday.

I did happen to sit down this morning, with cartoons blaring in the background, to read about the night Jesus was taken, sentenced to death, and crucified. It was interrupted several times by kids with questions about the day, a dog that wanted to come in from outside, and stray thoughts that led me down rabbit trails. When I got to the part where Jesus said, “It is finished,” I was struck by the words that followed. I’ve read them many times before and never considered them the way the Holy Spirit revealed them to me today. The Word said:

“and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

He GAVE UP his spirit.

I looked in the other gospels to see if they said the same thing. In Luke 23:46 it says: “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’”

He COMMITTED his spirit.

In Mark, it says He “uttered a loud cry.” And in Matthew, it says: “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.”

He YIELDED his spirit.

Gave. Committed. Yielded.

All of these words, in their action, are ones that require giving of something. It occurs to me that if you have the power to give, you also have the power to keep. I’ve always known Jesus gave His life for me and He chose that, but I guess I always thought that when you die it’s because death overtakes you. Death comes and you have no choice in the matter, it just takes you. These verses showed me that Jesus was in control even in death. He decided when He was going to die. He decided when to give up His spirit. He decided when enough was enough and not a second before. He chose to go into death; death did not steal Him away without His consent.

As I sat there mulling this over, the cartoons and kids and barking quieted in my mind and I was overcome. I sat there with tears in my eyes thinking about Jesus, the God Man, deciding the very moment He would die for me. He chose when to let darkness obliterate light. He chose when He would separate Himself completely from His Father. He could’ve kept His spirit and released Himself back up to Heaven if He wanted. But in His power, He was determined to go into Death for love of His people and obedience to His Father.

I hope I never get over the story of the Cross. The gospel still wrecks me after 25 years of believing it. It is the most powerful story in history. The greatest romance there ever was is God’s love for His people and the lengths He would go to for them. I’m so glad God knows how to write compelling stories that stand the test of time. His Word is full of surprises sometimes I just need to pay attention.

 

Now we just have to wait for Sunday…

-Courtney

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Snippets from life lately

I can’t believe you people. Everyone, all of you, have made this last week one I will never forget. From purchasing the book, to the sweet messages you’ve sent me, to pictures of your kids reading it, I’ve truly been overwhelmed with gratitude. Some of you have brought tears to my eyes telling me your story and why this book means so much to you. It’s been more than I could’ve hoped for. It seems like so many people know someone that needs Rooster’s Balloon. This is precisely why this book was published. My sweet friends wanted others to be helped by this story inspired by their daughters and the outpouring of love over this book has been such a gift. I have never been busier than I was this week and I wouldn’t change it for the world. So from the most sincere place in my heart, thank you.

Getting a book published and marketed takes a ton of time and you must be attentive to detail. That being said, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how I’m doing at it. Details are for accountants and trim painters of which I am neither. I don’t usually feel like I’m great at multi-tasking unless it involves eating and watching TV at the same time. I could medal in that event all day every day. Being focused on getting book orders filled and out the door is taking up most of my brain space. If it weren’t so all consuming, I would write to you about the following events that have happened at my house:

-Grizz the fish was almost a goner when Kyle was cleaning his tank and accidentally dropped him in the garbage disposal. There were tears and screams and punishments for a sibling who may or may not have been laughing. But never fear, Kyle reached down there and grabbed our slippery pet to rescue him from death by disposal. Grizz was only a little worse for wear and some of his strings were left behind but he’s, thankfully, alive and well. It felt like we were living the aquarium scene in Finding Nemo when he swam up the filter and almost died. It was traumatic to say the least. After this fiasco, Kyle told me we needed to get a back-up fish. Um, no.

-Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a balloon filled with flour explode in you car? I had never wondered this either but apparently my wonderings and Blake’s wonderings are different. Probably because he’s 7 and I’m 36. It was an accident he said. He didn’t mean to poke a hole in it he said. The story goes like this: I was driving and Blake said my name quietly a few times and when I finally turned around to answer him, he and his seat were covered in flour. It was so unbelievable I couldn’t even form a sentence to yell. This is extremely uncharacteristic of me. So I did what any good mother would do and snapped a pic. Then he lost it and was completely embarrassed so I erased the picture. I then proceeded to go to the post office and left him in the car, covered in flour. The other kids were in there so I felt ok about it. Then a lady that was in line behind me was getting fed up with her children and wondered aloud why she brought them with her. I told her my kids were locked in the car and one of them was covered in flour. She laughed and said that made her feel better. You. Are. Welcome.

-Since Kyle and I share February birthdays, his parents got us a “we” gift. Little did we know this was actually a gift for our children. They got us an Amazon Echo that goes by the name Alexa. It’s basically a portable Siri. The first week we had “her,” Caitlin asked her no less than 5 times a day what time it was. Alexa is stationed in our kitchen where we also have an oven clock and a microwave clock. I guess the little princess couldn’t be bothered to turn around and use her eyeballs. They also ask her what the weather will be. Every. Single. Day. They ask her personal questions every day to which she usually replies, “I don’t have an opinion about that.” So basically we have a person living with us that knows the facts about everything but has no social skills. Because we really need one more socially awkward person at our house. She’s like me if I were in a room full of engineers and mathematicians except she talks more.

As you can see, friends, major happenings have gone on in our household—fish rescues, flour bombs, a new robot family member—but I just haven’t been able to commit full blog posts to them. I truly haven’t had time to write. Actually that’s not completely true. Sometimes I have time but bingeing on Gilmore Girls usually wins out. I know I know, I’m waaaay behind. Anyway, I’ll try to continue to post about everyday silliness and some deep thoughts too but for now, I’ve got to shamelessly plug the book. That being said, go to the PURCHASE tab and get yours today!! No seriously, buy it now. Why have you not clicked to buy yet?! Quit reading and go do it! Sorry to be so bossy…it’s Court 2.0 coming out. The “new me” might need a few tweaks…

-Courtney

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IT’S HERE!!!!!!!!

IT’S FINALLY HERE!!!!!!!!

I CAN STOP TELLING YOU IT’S COMING SOON BECAUSE IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE!!!!!!!!!!!

So many emotions surrounding today.

I’m excited the book is finally here so I can share it with you.

I’m grateful for all the people who have given me endless support and believed in this story.

I’m humbled that God let my hands write Rooster’s story.

I’m amazed at how many people have told me they need this book for themselves or someone they know.

I’m nauseated at the amount of books that are sitting in boxes at my house right now.

I’m anxious for people to like it.

I’m fearful about all the “what ifs” the devil is using to make me doubt myself.

But mostly I’m just giddy that IT’S HERE!

I’ll be posting a lot on Facebook (Thecpallen) and Instagram (@cpallen216) and Twitter (@thecpallen) to get the word out if you want to follow me over there.

Now, this is me showing you what 1,000 books looks like. Forgive my voice, ya’ll. I would say it doesn’t normally sound like that but I fear it does. Apparently God thought a man voice was the perfect fit for me. Who am I to argue with God? Enjoy! Or close your ears. And just like the video says, you should do everything I say. Bwahahaha!!!

-Courtney

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The “why” behind Rooster’s Balloon

The day is so close I can almost taste it. Rooster’s Balloon is almost ready to debut herself to the world. I’m not sure how to put into words what this story means to me. It was born out of pain and grief for dear friends whose daughter died unexpectedly. I have no idea what it’s like to walk that road of releasing your child back to Heaven. It takes my breath away to even think about it. But as I wrestled with God about why He would allow this; why He would take His daughter back, He taught me something I had never fully considered.

This world is not my home and it was never her home either.

I am only visiting here.

Heaven is my home.

This truth that was spoken to me after Evie’s death has remained so ingrained in my thinking that I can’t escape it. It is the only thing that gives me peace when grieving the deaths of children.

After she died, I wondered if she was scared when she woke up in heaven. I don’t even know if that’s how it goes—if you wake up there, or teleport there, or what have you, but I just thought that being so little she would be scared of a strange, new place. Then it dawned on me— if heaven is our home then it will have the feeling of home. She wouldn’t be frightened because she would be with her Father and she would have a room He prepared for her. He had been awaiting her return all along.

Rooster’s Balloon was a gift to me. God knew exactly what I needed to do in order to grieve and He gave me Rooster. The child in me relates to her so well, I wonder if all of us don’t have an inner child living inside us. After writing the story, I sent it to my friends’ whose daughters were the inspirations behind it. Their kindness still brings me to tears even as I write this sentence. Their support and encouragement has completely overwhelmed me. Because of them, I get to share Rooster with the world. Because of their compassion and kindness, children will be helped by this story. And because of their generosity, much of the proceeds from this book will be donated in Evie’s name to Make-A-Wish Midsouth. Their focus on God’s bigger story is allowing the legacy of their little girl to live on and help others. It’s humbling to be a part of.

I encourage you, sweet readers, to buy this book. If you have children, or grandchildren, or friends who have children, or children you love, buy them this book. This book could be the catalyst that shows them God is writing their story. God has a plan for them. And more than anything, God still loves them even when bad things happen to them. He has not forgotten them or their pain and sadness. Please don’t forget to talk about hard things with your kids. Pretending hard things don’t happen does not help your children because the reality is that hard things do happen because we live in a fallen world. Be brave, friends, for we are only here for a short time. Teach your kids about the love God has for them so they have something to cling to when life gets messy.

 

Ok, I promise I’ll let you know when the book comes in. Until then, look at this sweet little pic. Don’t you just want to give her a big squeeze?!

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-Courtney

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A Little Bit About Rooster

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Rooster’s Balloon is almost ready for release into the world and I’m practically giddy about it! I mean, guys, look how cute she is! Before this book comes out I wanted to give you a bit of background about the story. I say this with all sincerity when I describe it as “The Book You Never Want To Read To Your Kid…until you need to read it to your kid.”

Catchy, right? I’m soooo good at sales.

The subject matter is heavy for kids but the reality is that kids go through heavy stuff. Oh, we pretend like they’re fine and resilient because they’re kids but what if they’re not? What if all they want is to tell someone how they feel instead of acting like everything’s ok?

The story of Rooster is one of grief and hope. You see, Rooster has a sister that died very unexpectedly. She’s doing ok on the outside, but on the inside she still gets angry and sad about it. She doesn’t talk about it much because she doesn’t want to upset everyone. She copes by carrying her sister’s balloon around everywhere. Then she meets a man that knows all about her balloon and all about her. When she finds out that He’s actually the one writing her story she lets him know how mad she is that He took her sister and how sad it’s made her. He says He knows all of that too. He then explains to her that He loves her very much and loves her sister very much. He tells her that just because she doesn’t understand why certain things happen, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t have a good plan for her life. Knowing that He cares so much for her and her story, Rooster is able to eventually let her sister go and trust that the man will take care of her.

If you have a child that has died, or have a friend whose child has died, you need this book. Your other kids need this book. Stories are great tools in helping children relate things back to their own circumstances.

Even if you don’t have a child that has passed away, this book can still be used as a tool to teach your child. Every child needs to know that God cares about their sadness. Children need to know that God knows how to comfort them because He’s been sad before too. He was heartbroken when His Son hung on a cross and died for the sins of the world. He also knew the joy that was coming 3 days later. This is why I can trust that there is a plan for our pain here on earth.

Your kids need to hear this story and I’m so happy Rooster can bring it to them. I really, really can’t wait for the book’s release! I will be shouting it from the blog, social media, and all the rooftops when I get it! Until then, we’ll just have to wait impatiently.

-Courtney

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I’m right and you’re wrong, obviously

Why do I still after so many years with Christ feel like I need my self-righteous pride more than I need to extend forgiveness? Why is it so hard? I want the other party not just to think I’m right, I want them to come around to my way of thinking. I get so puffed up with pride that I think that even though we’ve exchanged “sorries”, you need to know that I’m right and you’re wrong. Instead of offering forgiveness, I want to make sure you really, REALLY understand why I’m mad and, ultimately, why I’m justified in my anger. So I sit in silence and wait. I wait for the other party to come around because if I talk first it will be misunderstood as backing down. No, I can’t back down because then they’ll think they’re right and clearly they’re not and I don’t want them to think that I think they’re right because if I do that it’ll mean I’m in the wrong and I definitely DON’T want to be in the wrong. Whew. There’s so much analysis in being self-righteous.

 

It dawns on me during this season of Lent and Holy Week that God would be in the right if He chose to act this way to me when I sin. It also dawns on me that He doesn’t. When God wants to get His point across, it never involves huffing and puffing. It typically doesn’t involve Him crossing His arms and giving me the silent treatment. He doesn’t use these methods. He forgives me. He doesn’t shout at me the reasons why He’s right and I’m wrong. (Side note:: In case you were wondering, He’s always in the right. I know, it’s a hard pill to swallow.) When I repent, He doesn’t feel the need to continue reminding me of what I did wrong or how it made Him feel. He just forgives me. Done. Move on.

 

Oh how I wish I could be more like this. Thank you, God, for not being like me. You choose forgiveness AND forgetfulness. Thanks for doing things I can’t. I may be able to forgive but some things are hard to forget and the devil has a sneaky way of using my memory to keep score. Keeping score is something You don’t do. You settled the score on the cross. Jesus bore my sin, everyone’s sin, on the cross. I’m sorry mine were so heavy, Jesus. I’m sorry my sins took you away from your Father. My pride and self-righteousness were ugly sins you wore on the cross. Sorry doesn’t seem like enough.

 

It’s good for me to sit with my sin sometimes one, to help me see my need for Jesus and two, to feel the weight of gratitude for what He did for me. During this Holy Week, I hope you can find time to sit and let Christ’s mercy wash over you. He took the death that we deserve. No one will ever do that for us again. If you do decide to take a moment and sit with the darkness of your sin and you begin to feel the weight of it just remember: Don’t fear, Sunday’s coming!

 

Happy Holy Week!

-Courtney

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The Day

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Something you should know about me is that I have a brown thumb. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I can pretty much only grow humans but one day a year I forget what my track record tells me and I believe I can grow something green. This usually means I decide I must drive to Home Depot and buy plants TODAY. It cannot wait. This phenomenon usually occurs when the temperature finally hits 70 degrees, reminding me that winter may actually be over and I can dare hope of spring. My day was yesterday. Before I tell you what I did, let me tell you how my experience turned out a couple of years ago…

 

So I got the itch on a Saturday. It was gorgeous outside. The kind of day you could wear shorts or pants, long sleeves or short sleeves and you feel comfortable. This is my most favorite weather. Kyle wasn’t home so I neglected to inform him this was The Day. On The Day this time, I had visions of planting a vegetable garden. As we all know, having a vegetable garden, chickens, and a couple of goats is SO in right now. The whole farm to table thing. Since I have an unfounded fear of farm animals (a post for another day), I opted for the vegetable garden. Now, I know I said on The Day I forget my track record but I’m not completely delusional. I had no intention of “tilling the land” in my backyard. Our backyard isn’t fenced in and I’ve seen the woodland creatures that reside there. If I were a successful gardener, they would eat up my crops before I could harvest them. Do you like my hopes of “crops” and “harvest”? It’s laughable really. I did think I could manage a box planter. So I found a small, rectangular planter and some potting soil, now all I needed was the vegetable seeds. As I was looking at the vegetables I realized it would be to my advantage to pick things my kids maybe, might, fingers crossed eat. So I picked carrots and cucumbers. I also got basil because I had heard that it was pretty easy to grow. Oh, I should also mention I bought a blackberry bush. Well, it was actually a stick coming out of some dirt that would later yield blackberries. Of course, since I was clearly a master at all of this in my mind, I asked no one for help or advice. This is my way.

 

I get home and see Kyle. I mention that I’d been to Home Depot because I was going to plant and grow vegetables this spring. I’m pretty sure he said something sarcastic but obviously I blocked it out. Ye of little faith. No blackberries for you. I went on to fill my planter with soil and plant my little seeds. Nevermind that I didn’t have the room to spread out my seeds 2 inches apart like the directions said. Nevermind that where the planter would be only gets full sunlight about 3 hours a day. Nevermind that carrots grow down into the soil, not up, so they probably wouldn’t do so well in a planter. Just nevermind all that.

 

I had to move the planter around the first couple of days after I noticed it wasn’t getting optimal sunlight. I felt like I had to keep it on our deck because we have lots of critters running around our yard. So I watered the seeds and watched little sprouts finally push through the dirt. It was magical, so I was diligent. I kept watering and watching. Now, the blackberry bush was a little trickier. I watered and nothing grew. It stayed a stick coming out of dirt. No blooms. No blackberries. Just a stick. Because my vegetables were starting to grow this wasn’t as devastating. (Sidenote: for many, many months Kyle would tell me he was going to go pick some blackberries off our bush. If I am the Queen of Sarcasm, he is definitely the King.) Then I walked out one day to find the part of my planter that had the carrot seeds was completely dug up! I was so ticked! Who knew squirrels could climb onto my deck? Oh wait. Duh. They climb trees, clearly they could climb the wood posts up to my deck. Curses, you squirrels! My cukes were starting to grow and my basil was coming up nicely. But there was problem. My cukes were so little. They looked nothing like the ones I saw at the grocery store. So I waited. And waited. And waited. They weren’t really getting that much bigger. They were even starting to turn white at the ends. It was then I figured out I’d missed the harvest. They had passed their peak and weren’t good anymore. They definitely didn’t taste like cucumbers from the store. Shoot. Luckily I still had my basil. It was doing awesome. Growing basil was my jam. Unfortunately I found out I don’t really cook with basil very much. It looked good but I didn’t even use it. Dang. So at this point I could’ve pressed on but no, I quit. I quit vegetables. I quit gardening. I quit. I stink at this.

 

Fast forward to present day: I can soooo grow stuff! It’s warm outside so that must mean I can grow something! I mean the grass makes it look so easy! It was brown a few weeks ago and now its green. It didn’t look hard at all. The difference this year is that I’m a little more aware of my limitations. I’m not going to start from scratch. We paid someone years ago to put in landscaping around the front of our house. They put in plants/flowers that would come back year after year without us having to do anything. These plants are my jam. Although in the last couple of years my hydrangea bushes haven’t been producing blooms. They look pretty with all their big green leaves but with no blooms it’s hard to call them hydrangeas. So last year I asked my mother-in-law why she thought they weren’t blooming. My mother-in-law is a whiz with flowers so I knew she would know. She asked me, “Well, Court, have you been feeding them?” My response: “More than sun and rain?” I’m such a good gardener. She tells me I need to feed them plant food. Oh. I had no idea. So on The Day this year, I decided instead of buying new plants or seeds, I would feed my existing hydrangeas. Can you tell I’ve lowered my expectations? I feel like I’m a little more realistic about my gardening expertise and talent. In other words, I’ve finally realized I don’t have any. I cut back the dead stuff and shook some of the little balls of plant food on my hydrangeas. Sigh. I stink at gardening. At least I’m not out a lot of money this year on plants I can’t keep alive or vegetables I might grow but won’t eat. Here’s to spring being so close I can almost taste it! I’ll just taste it from someone else’s garden this year thankyouverymuch.

-Courtney

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Movie Love

Love. Books have been written about it, songs have been sung about it, movies have been made about it, yet we still get it wrong. We all want it. We all need it. We all go about it differently. How you grew up is a big factor in how you view love. The world also likes to tell us what love is and what it looks like. Everyone has an opinion on love.

 

Confession: I love a good romantic comedy. In real life I’m not a super gushy person. The Bachelor, while being a riveting train wreck to watch, makes me want to hurl when they start getting cheesy on each other after one date. But when you pair a little cheesy with a little funny, I’m hooked. The movies play into our need for romance. Many women want to be swept off their feet and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one of them. When a man goes to great lengths to prove his love, it’s hard not to fall for him. I mean, what’s more romantic than the guy who is fighting the bad guys to get to his lady? He swims the ocean, climbs the mountain, loses his legs in battle, kills the villain, and he does all this just for a kiss from his true love. Swoon.

 

That being said, let’s switch gears. I’ve been doing a bible study during this season of Lent that has been awesome! You can get it as an app on your phone. It’s called She Reads Truth. It has lots of different studies on there that are either free or just a couple of bucks. So good. Anyway, so I was reading about when Jesus was praying in the garden before He was arrested and I was struck by something. I’ve read/heard this passage many times but never really thought about it like this before.

 

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:41-42

 

I always knew Jesus said this but I guess I never considered what it meant, really. I always thought Jesus wanted to die. In my attempt to make his sacrifice more romantic, I let myself believe that He wanted to hang on a cross and suffer for my sins. After reading this, I looked back at the other gospel accounts to see if they all said the same thing. The 3 gospels that mention Him praying in the garden all include Jesus asking God to take the cup from Him. So basically, asking God to get him out of dying on the cross. Hmmm. I didn’t know what to think about that at first. You mean, my Jesus who loves me didn’t want to be mocked, humiliated, spat on, whipped, and tortured for me? My self-centered nature immediately thought “Well, that can’t be right because He loves me! He should’ve wanted to do those things for me!” Oh sweet love, I have so much to learn. I can’t deny what Scripture says. He specifically asked God to take the cup, or “cross”, from Him. It states it clearly 3 times. This was not the movie love I thought it was.

 

Then I read what Jesus said after He made His request to God. “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Not my will, but yours. Hmmm. He loved his Father so much He would rather do what his Father wanted than what He wanted. Swoon. There’s the movie love, guys. Self-denial is love. Putting someone else’s wants and desires above your own is love. It goes against every single thing the world tells us about love. The world tells us to make ourselves happy. The world tells us if it feels good do it, if it doesn’t then we should bail. The world gives us a version of love that is completely self-centered. By the Bible’s standards, that’s the opposite of what love is. No wonder our world is so disillusioned. We’ve been sold a faulty definition of love.

 

Now, do I think because Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross this means He didn’t love us? Absolutely not. You do hard things for people you love. Sometimes I don’t want to discipline, sometimes I don’t want to forgive, sometimes I don’t want to serve, sometimes I don’t want to listen, but these are things we do when we love others. Clearly, these examples pale in comparison to the hard thing Jesus did. No one’s asking me to hang on a cross for a bunch of people that hate me. Jesus wanted to be obedient because He loved his Dad. And because his Dad loved us, Jesus loved us too. They were one.

 

For a long time I thought Jesus asked God to take the cup because He didn’t want to go through the physical pain. After all, He was human too. I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago His anguish was much more about being separated from the Father than it was about the physical pain He would endure. I can’t remember what book it was that I was reading that talked about this but I remember it blowing my mind. That Jesus would be more sorrowful about being separated from God than the pain that was about to take place on the cross was news to me. He knew His Father was holy and could not be in communion with that which was sinful or unholy. He knew His Father couldn’t be near Him on the cross, He couldn’t comfort Him; He couldn’t take His pain away. This was heartbreaking for Jesus. Jesus, because He was God incarnate, could’ve gotten Himself off the cross. He could’ve gotten out of it. But it meant more to Him to do what God wanted Him to do, even if it was agony.

And to think, God did this because He loved us. Jesus did this because He loved us. He wanted us. He didn’t want to die but He knew He had to get to us and this was the only way. Forget movie love give me Jesus.

If you’ve got a minute, listen to this song by Thad Cockrell called Oh To Be Loved. It reminds me of an old church hymn. Let it run all over you. You won’t be sorry.

-Courtney

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