Tag Archives: Death

Rooster is 1!!!!!!

IMG_4707-2

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

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @thecpallen
Can’t get enough? Click here I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Growing Pains and Autumn

img_5586

Listening to Ben Rector is always a good choice in my book but some days, it’s an excellent choice. Have you ever listened to a song many times over, then one day it hits you anew what the song is actually about? I feel the same way when I read a familiar passage in Scripture and, for whatever reason, I see it in a completely different way or learn something I never knew before.

I was driving the other day and listening to an old Ben Rector song, “Autumn”, and was struck by the words of the song. It’s a song about, well, autumn, because Ben wants to be very mysterious in his titling. Here are a few of the lyrics:

 

“So I watched the leaves fall

All of the way to the ground

And I knew that that was what love was

To die so that it could be found”

 

To die so that it could be found. Hmmm.

That’s when my brain exploded.

I’ve been going through some things recently and have not really been all that grateful for where God has me. I’ve been sad and mad and digging in my heels telling God that his Plan A is unacceptable. Then I heard that “Autumn” song and God whispered in my ear, “What needs to die in your life so love can be found?”

Well, shoot.

There God goes again, trying to grow and refine me in the fire. Growing hurts. I remember when my kids were younger, they would wake up in the middle of the night, crying, saying their legs hurt from the “growing pains.” I’m not sure I’ve ever grown in my faith without it hurting. Growth is not my favorite. I like it when it’s over, but during? No, ma’am, it’s the worst.

So, death, huh? I knew what needed to die in my life but I wasn’t ready to let them go.  I needed some long held dreams and expectations to die.

Has this ever happened to anyone else? You have an idea in your mind of how your life is supposed to work, or how your kids are supposed to be, or what your marriage is supposed to look like, then God has a different plan all together? He allows certain things to take place that alter your plan for your life. Honestly, you may not have been aware you even had these dreams or expectations until they were suddenly taken off the table and not an option anymore. Then you have to come to grips with the fact that the story God is writing for your life, or your child’s life, or your husband’s life, may not be the one you wanted. You had a whole different story all worked out for your life and He just up and changed it.

Die so that love could be found. As long as I held on to these dreams and expectations that I had created, I would hold onto bitterness and anger and resentment. But if I let them die, then I could begin dreaming new dreams in the place God has me. I could begin the process of accepting things I cannot change. I could receive the new thing God has for me to love.

Simple enough, right? In case you were wondering…no, this is not simple and it is not easy. I have to choose it every day. I have to choose the new dream, the new perspective, every day. Acceptance is hard, especially when it isn’t necessarily something you wanted. The only thing that keeps me choosing the new, hard thing is the hope that something love-worthy is on the other side. God has never brought me to a hard place and given me a crappy return on my pain. Historically, He has always used my pain to bring something good. That’s something I know to be true; He doesn’t waste my pain. So the sooner I can put these old dreams to death and embrace the new, the sooner I’ll find love, right? That’s what Ben said so it must be true. I’m sure Ben is talking about the love of a girl but I like to leave it open for interpretation.

Anyone else have anything that needs to die and be grieved so you can move on to loving something else?

-Courtney

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @thecpallen
Can’t get enough? Click here I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @cpallen216
Can’t get enough? Click here and I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

A Little Bit About Rooster

IMG_4707-2

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

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @cpallen216
Can’t get enough? Click here and I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Draw Near

It’s taken me all day to write this post. I know I need to finish it but in order to do that I have to go somewhere I don’t want to go. I have to allow myself to sink into the dark place. I’d rather go on about my day and not think about it or pretend hard things don’t happen. It’s so much easier to write light and silly stories. They make me feel good and I hope they make you laugh even if it is at my expense. But several of you have told me you like this blog because it’s honest and real. The honest reality is that life on this side of heaven can be brutal.

There is a family in my community that just lost their 2 year old son. I don’t know them personally but we have mutual friends. The cause of his death was an accident that could’ve happened to anyone and he was gone in less than 2 days. It makes me sick to even think about it. I don’t even want to write about it. It’s too hard. It shakes around everything I believe and leaves me wondering. How does God choose our story? Why do some people get seemingly good ones and other people get tragic ones? What is He doing? Is He really good after all? I hate that when horrific events occur I hurl these questions at God as hard and as fast as I can. Faith is so much easier to explain when everything’s great. Ask me what I think about God when my kids are healthy, my marriage is good, and I’ve got money in the bank. But that’s not faith at all, is it?

This family has been so heavy on my heart this week I can barely give them a thought and the tears come. We’re not supposed to lose our children. Children are the light of our lives so it’s to be expected that when they are taken from us all we’re left with is darkness. I can’t imagine this kind of darkness. It’s unfathomable.

So many people are praying for the Heard family and I am among them. People are praying for all the things you pray for like strength, comfort, rest, peace, etc. and these are all amazing things that God says He offers us. I’ve even prayed those things for them too. But the more I let myself go to the dark place, the more my prayer for them has changed. I find myself praying 2 words: Draw near. The Word says God is close to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18) and I believe that’s true. I imagine it something like this:

Sitting in a dark closet, alone, completely devoid of light. Then God crawls under the door. Draw near. He doesn’t burst in because the light would be too blinding. He doesn’t want to hurt their eyes so He comes into their darkness. Draw near. He sits next to them in silence, just listening to them breath. Knowing this is all they’re capable of doing but it means they’re alive. Draw near. This may go on for a long time. Even if they don’t acknowledge Him, they find comfort knowing that He’s there. Draw near. Then at just the right moment, He lights a match. It’s a small flame, not too bright. They are finally able to see what’s around them. They’re finally able to see the door to leave the dark place. Draw near. They can choose to stay or they can choose to go, either way He’s with them.

 

I pray God is in the darkness with this family who’s endured so much loss. I pray He is cozied up next to them, listening to them breath. And I’m praying that in His time He will light a match so they can find their way out. I have no answers for this kind of tragedy. Many times I can sum up obscene heartbreak because it is the result of sin in our world. But this didn’t happen because of sin. It was an innocent accident. I can’t wrap this one up with a bow. I can’t tie up the loose ends. I’m only left to pray and trust His plan is bigger than my understanding. Some might say that sounds naïve. I say what else do I have? Faith in God is the only hope I’ve got in this world so I might as well cling to it with my everything.

If you have a minute, would you mind praying for the Heard family? They are dear to so many and their loss has affected more people than they know. Thank you in advance for going before the Lord on their behalf.

-Courtney

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @cpallen216
Can’t get enough? Click here and I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,